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12-01-2011, 08:16 AM   #1
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SMC 55/1.8 and 28/3.5 image quality -- big difference?

Hello everyone,

The story is this: I moved to the UK a few months ago and left my DSLR in Germany. The motives here are so great, though, that I looked for a cheap good-quality alternative. I ended up buying a Pentax SV (M42 mount) with three Super-Takumar lenses: 55/1.8 and 28/3.5, and 135/3.5. I unexpectedly fell in love with the simplicity of shooting with this camera and the 55mm. The photos are warm yet realistic, detailed yet very smooth. You can see some of my recent shots here: View of Trinity College | Flickr - Photo Sharing! if you're interested!

My photos with the 28/3.5 have been less successful -- the few I've taken seem to be hazier and generally a bit bland. What I would like to ask you experts is this: Is the 28mm really markedly inferior in terms of resolution and colour reproduction or have I just been a bit unlucky? On a DSLR, I'd just take lots of photos to see, but it's more difficult with film...!

Thank you very much for your help,
Regards,
Martin

12-01-2011, 09:45 AM   #2
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I have the 55/1.8 and 135/3.5 and they're stellar lenses. I haven't the 28/3.5 but it's pretty highly regarded. All the user reviews here say it's sharp. The complaints are about its fairly slow speed, and some whines about corner softness and even vignetting. But nobody says it's bland. Maybe you have a bad copy?
12-01-2011, 11:15 AM   #3
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I'm not so sure there is a "bad copy" as such, I doubt one would ever be shipped, but perhaps you need to look into a good hod for the lens.

My experience is that older lenses are prone to flair and lack of contrast due to the poor (relitive to today's) coatings.

Although SMC Taks are the best there were at the time, it doews not make them perfect.

Also look for internal hazing, or over shiny parts inside, maybe a bit of internal reflection?

Best of all, can you post a sample or two?
12-01-2011, 05:37 PM   #4
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I've loved the 28mm f3.5 for its handling, but the image quality was quite average - very high CA's, very bad sharpness fall-off at the borders, cold colors, pronounced vignetting, and the images do look sort of bland as you've said (I think its because of low saturation). So to answer your question, the 55mm delivers much better images.

12-01-2011, 07:58 PM   #5
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I haven't shot a lot with my SMC tak 55 but I think it's right below my A50/1.7 overall. And I don't think the K/M/A Pentax 24/28's are comparable to the 50's produced at the same time. It's not really a knock on the 24/28's but rather that the 50's are awesome lenses.

But it's possible that your 28 might be slightly damaged (haze/fungus/scratches/etc...).
12-01-2011, 09:03 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by abacus07 Quote
But it's possible that your 28 might be slightly damaged (haze/fungus/scratches/etc...).
That's what I meant by "bad copy" -- traumatized or infected, not misbuilt. Even fine Takumars can suffer from the vicissitudes of time and trouble, alas.
12-02-2011, 04:15 AM   #7
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I can't say I think the 28/3.5 (I have the K version) is inferior to the 55/1.8 (of which I also have the K version), Rather the other way around. The 28/3.5 should be a stellar lens so I would check it to see if it has some hazing or lens elements detaching from each other that could explain why it's not really performing.
12-02-2011, 05:26 AM   #8
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strange, that's the first time I heard the 28/3.5 to be bland, hazy and less saturation.

there are factors that might caused this, starting from the obvious,

1.> bad copy ( optics have been damaged or misaligned in some sort of way).
2.> could be the Super Tak version ( like Jim, I own the K version which is one heck of a solid performer in terms of resolution and nearly as good as it's K 35/3.5 cousin).

btw, I tend to agree with you about what you found about about the 55mm. it's sharp, warm and has a very smooth bokeh. too bad it's not AF.

12-02-2011, 08:12 AM   #9
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The K and the tak 28's are different lenses (element and groups) unless you know something that I don't. And based on everything that I've read the K28/3.5 and K35/3.5 are the best 100ish USD (current value) 35mm or wider lenses that Pentax ever made. Someday I'll get my K35/3.5 shipped to my side of the world to find out.

But I still think the tak 28 could be slightly damaged. Perhaps we need some examples of the blandness.
12-02-2011, 08:18 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jimfear Quote
I can't say I think the 28/3.5 (I have the K version) is inferior to the 55/1.8 (of which I also have the K version), Rather the other way around. The 28/3.5 should be a stellar lens so I would check it to see if it has some hazing or lens elements detaching from each other that could explain why it's not really performing.
We aren't talking about K 28mm f3.5 (which is a terrific lens!!!), we are talking about Takumar 28mm f3.5. I've had a SMC Tak and a Super Tak, both were not very good, hence my low rating in the review. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to knock on these lenses since they were part of my collection for a while and I absolutely loved them, but praising them when they are not worth the praise is just plain wrong.
12-02-2011, 06:22 PM   #11
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I looked at some of the pictures - very nice! But I can't tell for sure which was which to inform my discussion of the problems. A side-by-side comparison of 2 representative shots would be useful, if that is possible.
12-02-2011, 09:33 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jimfear Quote
I can't say I think the 28/3.5 (I have the K version) is inferior to the 55/1.8 (of which I also have the K version), Rather the other way around. The 28/3.5 should be a stellar lens so I would check it to see if it has some hazing or lens elements detaching from each other that could explain why it's not really performing.
I have shot with both and concur that the 28/3.5 is the equal or better to the 55/1.8.

Here is a link to my photos on Flicker taken with the 28/3.5 using the "Sightseeing Screwmount" SV:

Fotostevia: Super-Takumar 28/3.5


Steve
12-03-2011, 02:03 AM   #13
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Thanks a lot for all your replies!
Unfortunately, I don't think we'll ever clear this issue up; my 28mm was just stolen at a train station... Now I'm trying to convince myself it was definitely a bad copy! :-)
I'll see if I can find a few older shots to show you what I meant, though.
Best wishes,
Martin
12-03-2011, 03:42 AM   #14
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Thanks to everyone who corrected my error. I hadn't checked if the Taks and K version were the same, I just assumed as this is often the case. Usually you have the same optical formula and changed the mount, not this time. So for the Tak 28/3.5, I know nothing about it.
12-03-2011, 06:59 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by noctilux Quote
Unfortunately, I don't think we'll ever clear this issue up; my 28mm was just stolen at a train station...
Bummer. Was anything else stolen? Now you have an excuse to get a good copy!
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