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03-29-2012, 03:42 AM - 1 Like   #1
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In praise of the A's

Like many of you on this forum I have been a Pentax shooter for a very long time (around 30 years) starting with the masterpiece MX through the Legendary LX to the Kudousistical K5 (okay I cheated a bit with the alliteration). There have been many other bodies and the number of lenses I have owned has been well over a hundred (yes - mulitple copies), so I consider myself fortunate to have "played" with a fair proportion of Pentax Glass. Generally speaking I accept the march of time and upgrade camera equipment along with much of the world. I am now fully accepting that Zoom lenses can be Quality (DA*'s in particular) and that images from Digital SLR's has surpassed Film SLR's. Yet I still hold the Pentax A series lens in the highest regard and find them equal, or better in some cases, than newer equivalents.

So what is it about the A's?

Firstly, the build - Beautifully compact, when they came out some people said they were not as well built as the K or M series. But 25 years later there still seems to be a massive number of them around.

Secondly, the range - around 40 lenses in the series, Ultra-wides, Macros, Portrait, Telephoto, Super-fasts. Anything missing?

Thirdly, the quality - some of these lenses are still praised as being the highest quality optics ever produced (85mm f1.4*, 200 f4* Macro, 135mm f1.8*, etc) - indeed the optical design of several was carried for into much later lenses (with AF added).

Fourthly, the compatability - they fit all cameras from the original K series to the current K series (1970's to now), okay you might have to tell the camera the Focal Length - but once that's done you've got an image-stabilized, auto-metering, quality lens.

My praise of the A's is tinged with a little sadness though - my eyesight is not getting better as I get older, and although Pentax Viewfinders are pretty good they are not as good and don't seem as bright as they used to be to me. So I find I am now gradually letting go of my prized possessions and will probably end up with all AF lenses - but then again there's a lot of fun to be had in replacing an A* 85mm with an FA* 85mm

All the best
LennyBloke

03-29-2012, 06:34 AM   #2
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Compatibility is overrated. An old A lens has trouble in the digital world. There may be few exceptions. All reviews in the lens section rate lenses close to 10, that does not mean anything. It always depends who is praising and what background they have. Some people think the 1.8/135 is crap or not suitable for digital use.

The range was really OK, but not much different from any other major player

Pentax should show more enthusiam in the present/future line up if they want to stick around.
03-29-2012, 06:46 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by zapp Quote
Compatibility is overrated. An old A lens has trouble in the digital world. There may be few exceptions. All reviews in the lens section rate lenses close to 10, that does not mean anything. It always depends who is praising and what background they have. Some people think the 1.8/135 is crap or not suitable for digital use.

The range was really OK, but not much different from any other major player

Pentax should show more enthusiam in the present/future line up if they want to stick around.
I think you have the Pentax SMC-A series lenses mixed up with some other lenses to dismiss them the way you have. I shoot primarily with A series lenses and find they have no trouble what so ever in the digital age. Matter of fact they seem to allow the camera to keep shooting and shooting as they don't suck any power to autofocus.
03-29-2012, 07:12 AM   #4
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I picked up an A24/2.8 from KEH a few weeks ago, and am very impressed with it.
Along with the ZK25/2.8, it's one of the best current options for the 24mm/1in focal length,
especially if you don't want AF.

QuoteOriginally posted by LennyBloke Quote
My praise of the A's is tinged with a little sadness though - my eyesight is not getting better as I get older, and although Pentax Viewfinders are pretty good they are not as good and don't seem as bright as they used to be to me.
Have you tried using Catch-In Focus/Trap Focus?

Back in the day, I used to have trouble with the microprisms on the Spotmatic screen,
so I'm not one to complain about manual focusing on DSLRs myself.

03-29-2012, 08:43 AM   #5
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Catch-in focus/trap focus is a godsend with A lenses. It uses the same principle as with your auto focus lenses, only you do the focusing instead of the lens.I use it with excellent results with my Pentax-A 50mm 2.8 and also my 200-A* F4 macro with great success, give it a try.
03-29-2012, 09:00 AM   #6
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The A28/2.8 and A50/1.4 have a permanent place in my bag. The only prime I use more is my Sigma A 50/2.8 Macro.

The A50/2 was my first SLR lens. As such, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for it. I don't care what anyone else says, it's a better lens than the Canon 50/1.8 or the Nikon 50/1.8.
03-29-2012, 09:09 AM - 1 Like   #7
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The only A series I got is the 50mm f/2.8 macro, but I like it a lot.


03-29-2012, 09:31 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by zapp Quote
Compatibility is overrated. An old A lens has trouble in the digital world. There may be few exceptions. All reviews in the lens section rate lenses close to 10, that does not mean anything. It always depends who is praising and what background they have. Some people think the 1.8/135 is crap or not suitable for digital use.

The range was really OK, but not much different from any other major player

Pentax should show more enthusiam in the present/future line up if they want to stick around.
I believe it is for posts like this that the kids came up with the term, "lolwut"?

As for "enthusiam {sic} in the present/future line up," have you checked out the lens road map released earlier this year?

03-29-2012, 11:00 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Nice job on that shot you make that little 50 totally rock!
03-29-2012, 11:13 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by zapp Quote
Compatibility is overrated. An old A lens has trouble in the digital world. There may be few exceptions. All reviews in the lens section rate lenses close to 10, that does not mean anything. It always depends who is praising and what background they have. Some people think the 1.8/135 is crap or not suitable for digital use.
Funny guy...and you have tried the 135/1.8 I presume?
03-29-2012, 07:43 PM   #11
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As an A supporter I can see why someone doing more technical shooting would consider them outdated, they are more of an artistic lens to me. I've noticed the variable aperture AF zoom I picked up produces much more realistic colors and tones without any fiddling around and has much crisper images which are crap to look at hanging on a wall, but if it was a pic of something for a magazine it would be just the thing. Then there's auto focus, not necessary for me but god do you get spoiled quick when you first use one.
03-29-2012, 08:21 PM   #12
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I do love the A series. It pains me to have sold off my last two just recently, but I am moving to all AF. Even CIF is no match for a rampaging toddler.
03-29-2012, 08:25 PM   #13
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Old or new...if it rocks I want it on my cams.
03-30-2012, 02:32 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by zapp Quote
Some people think the 1.8/135 is crap or not suitable for digital use.
If you have this crap lens, or if you know someone has it, please send it to me. I am searching for this crap lens for years.

I am still using takumars ;-)
03-30-2012, 03:53 AM   #15
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A lenses seem to be far, far rarer than M or K lenses in my neck of the woods. I only have one, the 50mm f/1.7, and I like it a lot. It was my fast 50 for a recent trip to Paris and it performed superbly. The colours are maybe that bit better than from my other 50s, even the M & FA versions of the f/1.7, but that could just be my imagination. A series lenses are also significantly more expensive than their predecessors, and as I'm used to M lenses, the extra compatibility doesn't merit the additional cost, especially with the lower build quality of the As.

If the A series were made of metal then they would be much nicer, I use my M version more because of the tactile feel of it, not because of ease of use or IQ.
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