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05-27-2012, 03:31 PM   #1
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Pentax A 35-105mm f/3.5 vs Sigma 50-200mm f/4-5.6 OS HSM

Hi Guys...

I am new for the forum as well as photography, but i've been reading your posts for long time...

I bought a Pentax k-x and I was looking for a good lens for that. I did a survey and at the end I had to choose between Pentax A 35-105 f/3.5 and Sigma 50-200mm f/4-5.6 OS. After reading many positive comments on Pentax lens, I purchased Pentax lens.
Now I feel the pictures are not good as those produces by Sigma lens. My friend owns a Sigma 50-200mm OS attached to Nikon D5100. We took pictures of the same object in same time and those photos easily beat mines. I am wondering which one is the problem, Lens? Camera? or Me? Me and my friend are leveled in knowledge on photography, that is we are very beginners.


I am looking for some helpful comments from you.

05-27-2012, 04:39 PM   #2
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The Nikon's sensor is one step above the K-x's, more like the one on the K5.
I was also tempted by what some people had said about the A35-105,
but I found the recent review
SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5 Reviews - A Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
by gofour3 to be a good reality check.
The Sigma lens isn't the greatest, but it's a modern, "digital" lens,
and does seem to be respectable over the range it shares with the A35-105.
05-27-2012, 04:51 PM   #3
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Thank you very much for the reply. So, do you think I could capture better pictures if I use a Sigma lens with my camera? Is it worth to do a replacement?
05-27-2012, 05:00 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by toaruna Quote
So, do you think I could capture better pictures if I use a Sigma lens with my camera?
I'm no fan of Sigma lenses, and I generally prefer primes.
The only Sigma I've contemplated is their new 8-16 zoom,
to cover wider than my DA 15/4.

I don't think any particular brand of lens will help you specifically.
If you have the DA 18-55 kit lens and the A 35-105,
you have good enough coverage to go out and take lots of photographs.
Find out what kind of photography is attractive for you.
I'm sure this forum will be able to give you lots of input
once you've got that figured out.

05-27-2012, 05:30 PM   #5
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I haven't used either of those lenses, but I can talk about lenses in general.

First, those two are very different, from widely separate epochs. Zoom lenses have (generally) improved greatly since the A35-105 was made. Some zooms from that era are very good; many aren't, not when compared to modern zooms. I have a zillion lenses and a couple dozen zooms and only half those are MF zooms. I'm VERY picky about older zooms. The A35-105 ain't on my want list.

Next, you say you're new to photography. Shooting well with older manual-focus zooms is not easy. I shot for about 40 years before I got my first AF and my first zoom, so I had a little preparation for them, and I'm still challenged by some manual zooms. I must constantly work on my technique: bracing myself, using SR or not, choosing the right settings, etc. The lens doesn't take pictures. The camera doesn't take pictures. *I* take pictures, and I must really concentrate to do it right.

And, as mentioned, the Kx and D5100 are different classes of camera. Don't do an apples vs oranges comparison.

My suggestions:

1) Practice practice practice. And experiment experiment experiment. Shoot the A35-105 at all possible settings: the JPG variables (contrast, saturation, sharpness, etc); various aperture + shutter speed combinations; all the focal lengths; various ISO and noise-reduction settings. Shoot handheld and with tripod, in all metering modes. Learn what the lens+camera will do.

2) Study study study. Read how other people make pictures. Memorize your camera manual. Get to a public library and read everything about photography. Everything. You'll be glad you did.

3) Look for some inexpensive AF zooms (they're a bit easier than manual glass). Besides the DA18-55 kit lens, my favorites are the F35-70/3.5-4.5 and FA100-300/4.7-5.8 (silver), both with great optics, both exceptional bargains. Also, to improve your photographic skills, look for some manual primes. The M50/1.7, Toyo|TOU 28/2.8, Sears or Focal 135/2.8, are great.

A lens is a tool. Work with it. Have fun!
05-27-2012, 05:55 PM   #6
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I'm not familiar with the Sigma lens, but I would be surprised if it really were a better all around lens than the A 35-105. I suspect there may be any number of problems, including focus errors, camera shake, lack of PP, better in-camera settings with the Sigma lens, and/or non-optimal light, which account for the better images with the Sigma glass. If you really want to compare the two lenses, you can't just take pics of the same subject, you also have to use the same f-stop, shoot from a tripod, shoot in raw, and post-process each image to get optimal results.

I would also note that it's rarely true that one lens is in all respects better than another. The A 35-105 is an old 15 element lens from the mid-eighties. It generally doesn't have as much micro-contrast as newer zoom lenses, because of improvements in coating technology. This means that in harsh lighting conditions the A 35-105 may not produce images that look as good, straight out of the camera, as the Sigma lens. The A 35-105 images may require more post-processing to get the most out of it. And you also need to nail the focus with the A 35-105, which can be difficult because it's a manual focus lens (and focus confirmation is not always reliable). And because it's a heavy lens, it's prone to shake (and SR is difficult to use with it, because it has to be programmed for each focal length used).

The A 35-105 can be a challenging lens to use. It's not prime sharp, and it's not as contrasty as newer zooms. Back when it was still an instrumental part of my kit, I sometimes was frustrated with it, as it had trouble keeping up with my prime lenses. But when at last I decided to find a better option, I had a heck of time finding a zoom lens in comparable focal length that could out perform it across it's entire range.
05-27-2012, 06:46 PM   #7
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I'm not understanding why you wouldn't compare the 50-200 sigma with the 50-200 pentax da.

In any case, you should put your camera (and the 5100 if you'd like) on a solid support, and take photographs (maybe with the self-timer, or mirror lock) of identical subjects. You have to be careful that, for example, if you photograph outside, the lighting stays the same (sun doesn't come and go during the test, for example.) You want to choose a subject at a distance similar to what you usually shoot - so distant subjects for landscapes, for example. I sometimes test using a distant street sign, and (with auto focus off, and no focus changes between shots) place the sign in the center and then in each corner of the image. Repeat the tests at several different apertures and focal lengths. Use raw, and display using the camera's native software. Don't sharpen untill you've looked at the pre-sharped images.

Then, compare the results at 100%. If some results are surprising, redo those tests (maybe focus moved, for example.)

One thing to consider if you do the 5100 comparison is that 100% on a 5100 and K-X is different due to the sensor/pixel count, but sometimes lens results can actually look worse on a higher pixel count sensor (the 5100), since 100% is effectively demanding more from the lens, so you might want to compensate for that in some way (less magnification on the 5100 results, for example.)

Paul
05-27-2012, 07:05 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
gofour3 to be a good reality check.
He was shooting on film, then scanning the images up. It's not the best process by which to showcase any lens.

I took my 35-105mm out recently to shoot some live music, which is always challenging when using manual focus lenses. Optically, when everything comes together with the lighting and your technique, the 35-105 is a wonderful lens. I was very impressed at the detail at 100% (when I pixel peeped some of them) and the colour rendering of this lens on a K-5. But yes, it is heavy, and somewhat awkward to use, but it is built in such a way that it will probably work wonderfully for another 20 or 30 years. It's about the best $100 I have spent on a lens.


Saxophonist - Blackbirds - 'Rock the Gate' concert


Renee Simone - 'Rock the Gate' concert


Dubmarine 3 - 'Rock the Gate' concert

05-27-2012, 08:04 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
He was shooting on film, then scanning the images up. It's not the best process by which to showcase any lens.
It was the summary text rather than the images that cured my attack of LBA.
However, you're not exactly helping my recovery.
05-28-2012, 04:13 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by toaruna Quote
I am looking for some helpful comments from you.
Pls post some images that show the two lenses shooting the same subject, with EXIF attached, or at least noting the camera and lens settings used. That would help folks to see what you are seeing, and get a handle on what is going on.

Also I hope you aren't using a UV or any other filter on your 35-105 - filters are a common cause of poor lens performance. Shoot without them, use a hood etc.
05-28-2012, 04:28 AM   #11
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The A 35-105 is a terrific lens & it's VERY sharp. It's probably the best performing zoom of any kind I've used, and I've owned quite a few. I use it on a K-x & it performs superbly. If you're getting lackluster shots with it, you might not be quite nailing the focus, or you could just have a bad copy.
05-28-2012, 05:03 AM   #12
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Thank you for the replies... I'll upload those photos after I receive my friend's photos (I did not take copies of her photos).
And I have to tell you, I am so impressed on this forum as I am getting very helpful and quick responses.
Thank you again guys!!!
06-27-2012, 01:53 AM   #13
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Hi Guys...

I am sorry for the late reply.

Yes, you were correct. 35-105mm is a great lens. I just had to get used to it. I could not do the comparison with Sigma lens and I do not want to do that since I found I can get what I need from Pentax lens. I am attaching some photos I took with it in this post.

However, I am thinking I need more reach so I decided to buy a 50-200mm lens. Again I have 2 choices. First is the Sigma lens, the Sigma 50-200mm f/4-5.6 OS HSM (new) for 18,000 Japanese Yen. And can go for a Pentax DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED (used) for 10,000 Japanese Yen. (I am going to put this as a fresh post)

What do you recommend me?

Regards!






Last edited by toaruna; 06-27-2012 at 02:14 AM. Reason: Forgot to attach the Images
06-27-2012, 06:46 AM   #14
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I have no experience of either of those 50-200's, but user UnknownVT on this forum (eg in many of the photos in this thread) uses the Pentax 50-200 a lot and gets great results from it, often under challenging circumstances. However the Sigma seems to review a little bit better than the Pentax:

Sigma Lens: Zooms - Sigma 50-200mm f/4-5.6 DC OS HSM (Tested) - SLRgear.com!

Pentax Lens: Zooms - Pentax 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED SMC P-DA (Tested) - SLRgear.com!
06-27-2012, 01:40 PM   #15
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The A 35-105 was a great lens and still is. It just a bit heavy and manual focus.

I also suggest you get a split screen to aid manual focus. There are several types: horizontal split, like film bodies, diagonal split, or no split but display the in-focus areas better than original screen, like canon ee-s type. Try to find one that match your camera without additional shims/washers. Better handle over to someone experienced with installation and calibration. You will have a complete different feeling when using your camera with manual lenses.
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