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01-21-2013, 08:04 AM   #16
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Optically, I think that Pentax lenses are excellent. Talking about high grade lenses (LTD and DA*), not all of them are optically superior to the competition, but they are certainly up to standard.

Except for the SDM, built quality of Pentax lenses is 2nd to none, specially the LTD's. The SDM could be faster and more reliable, but that's another story.

My only complaints of Pentax lens are: 1) completely out of whack prices, and 2) very limited selection of lenses in production (no pun intended).

01-21-2013, 08:20 AM   #17
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All good points, but it all depends on what you are shooting, and how you are shooting it, as to what lens to choose. Something that many over look is technique as well. If you hand hold a wide angle lens you will almost certainly get camera shake caused edge softness. The further you are from the center line the more the camera shake is magnified (simple physics). Also take into account that landscapes often require long exposures to use the small apertures preferred to get maximum depth-of-field and the slower shutter speeds allow branches, grasses, and other loose object to move during exposure that can soften an images appearance along the edges (which are typically what is along the edges of a landscape image, background objects).

My 2 cents worth,

Ray
01-21-2013, 08:25 AM   #18
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One other thing about the DA 15 - it performs a bit weak on paper (soft corners on flat objects). This is natural, as it has field curvature. Upon real world use, you'll find that it actually has sharp corners.
01-21-2013, 08:33 AM   #19
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Just from another perspective, most Pentax lenses are designed to be stellar portrait lenses. The exception being the DA 35 2.4, the DA* 60-250 and others that are relatively new. As a landscape lens a K-5 is a great mount for a Tamron 17-50. If you go to DxO and look at their highest rated lenses, many of them are 3rd party and available for Pentax. There are a few top performers from major camera companies, but until Pentax releases an FF camera, we may have trouble determining what they are. The Tamron 28-70 is also a great performer on whatever mount it's on.

The best you're going to do in the numbers game is Samyang lenses on Pentax, and they are right up there with anyone's lenses in MTF scores. But you do have to take into account Pentax's philosophy..." We design lenses to take pictures the way people take pictures, not to do well on numerical scores." Pentax has developed some kind of philosophy of lens design that goes beyond strictly MTF comparisons. Many Pentax lenses have extreme centre sharpness. The trade off seems to be not as good edge to edge sharpness. So in a way, you've chosen to compare their performance in an area for the most part Pentax has chosen not to compete in. Many of their recent releases, the DA 15, DA 70, DA 35, DA* 60-250 are very good MTF lenses across the frame as well. But it's hard to find comparison with lenses from other manufacturers. The test sites rarely test non Pentax lenses on Pentax equipment, so it's difficult to understand how lenses stack up against even 3rd party lenses, forget about Canon or Nikon lenses.

About the best you can say is, try them, you might like them. Pentax lenses hit way over their MTF scores in terms of producing great images.


Last edited by normhead; 01-21-2013 at 08:45 AM.
01-21-2013, 08:50 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by brntoki Quote
For example, there is a sample photo where the image looks great, but the corners are sickeningly soft. Imagine my surprise when I learned it was one of the "star" (literally) lenses, the 16-50. And it was shot at f/8 24mm (on a K-30 iso 100 1/500).
There are some fans of the 16-50. I am not one of them. Compared to other brands and similar lenses, few people on Pentax seem to purchase that lens.


QuoteOriginally posted by brntoki Quote
I was reassured by reading, here mostly, that users think the lenses are fantastic.... For example, pulling up charts on DxOmark I was surprised that the 55 1.4 was sitting at 306th overall on the flagship K-5.
Most of the lenses are quite good. Several of them are best in class for various reasons IMO.

DxOMark does a fabulous job rating sensors and electronic processing. They don't attempt to rate cameras, a decision which I agree with.

DxOMark does attempt to rate lenses. They botch that attempt horribly. According to their metrics, just about any lens on full frame is better than any lens on APS-C. No bokeh consideration, no contrast consideration, no build consideration, no weather sealing consideration, etc., etc. Very little is weighed other than resolution.

Go to photozone if you want to see a good comparison of lenses. Keep in mind that you shouldn't compare one resolution number to another (they're taken on different-resolution sensors), but you definitely can compare overall ratings, see resolution falloff at the corners, etc., etc.

I've used Nikon lenses professionally (albeit scientifically-professionally) and have tried various Nikon lenses personally. I prefer Pentax lenses.

Hope this helps!
01-21-2013, 08:54 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by brntoki Quote
I'm looking for a system to get into, and really was thrilled about the Pentax system primarily because K-5 quality and price. My first check on lenses, however, stumped me a bit.
If you like the Pentax bodies, but not the Pentax lenses so much, have you considered looking into third party or older lenses? I switched from Canon to Pentax a year ago because I loved the handling and ergonomics of the Pentax bodies. I bought quite a few lenses in those first few months, very few of them Pentax. I don't have the funds to buy the manufacturers lenses exclusively for any system, especially Pentax. So I go with either 3rd party or used lenses a lot. And that's a big advantage of the Pentax bodies. You have 50 years of lenses to choose from. And being a landscape photographer you have the time to manually focus and set exposure.

I think Pentax is the easiest system to build up a set of nice lenses for. And the bodies as you know are top rate, especially for the price. But if you're looking for 1 body and 1 or 2 nice lenses and that's it, you may be better off with another system, especially if you're a pixel peeper. There's nothing wrong with being a pixel peeper it just seems that Pentax lenses aren't tuned for that.

I too shoot mostly landscape, but my style doesn't demand a sharp field from edge to edge. If I can get it that's nice, but it's not a must have. If you're shooting wide open vistas you need edge to edge sharpness. If you're shooting rock formations and the rest of the field is 'fluff' then having a little softer edges draws your eye to the subject. So please, consider your style when your looking and not just mechanical reviews.
01-21-2013, 09:19 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
However, a k-5IIs and a DA 12-24 will perform just fantastically. It's sharp edge to edge, sharper than the DA 15 . . .
Thank you! I thought my eyes were telling me the exact same thing but I was afraid, especially as a non-user, to say such an apparently heretical thing on this board. That sucker is good.

I appreciate your insight.
01-21-2013, 09:26 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by brntoki Quote
Quick reply to all to say thanks for your thoughts.

I should have said I am mostly interested in landscape work, therefore the need for better sharpness across the frame.

Also, I agree that lens tests don't necessarily translate into actual IQ in real photography. I didn't start with lens tests, but actual photos that looked weak in some areas (edges). As I said, I put it aside because of many users' enthusiasm. In fact, one of the reviews here showed this very thing. The 12-24 did not seem to do very well in some of the tests, but man! That thing is a gorgeous performer (although I now forget if I inspected the edges of the sample photos). Anyway, my initial concerns came from actual photos (full res. of course), and then some of the lens test scores seemed to bear out what my eyes were telling me.

I'll say also that I'm debating either a D600 or K-5IIs. I really, really want to get the K-5 for handling, durability, in-body SR, etc. The D600 is attractive mostly for some of the lenses that are on offer at reasonable prices, along with the fact that those lenses are forward compatible with other FF bodies, which seems the way the market will eventually go full on. I think APS-C is the monkey in the middle right now. Still, I would love to get a K-5 and use it more than the Nikon. In some ways it's hard to justify, though.
The Pentax 12 -24 was rated as the best of the bunch for wide angle zooms by Popular Photography.....and that included every lens manufacturer.

I have used one for about 3 years and believe me...it takes second to no other manufacturer.

01-21-2013, 09:37 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by brntoki Quote
.... I think APS-C is the monkey in the middle right now. Still, I would love to get a K-5 and use it more than the Nikon. In some ways it's hard to justify, though.
For landscape photography, APS-C has one potential advantage over larger formats - greater depth of field at equivalent focal lengths.
(Also, it's hard to beat the way the K5 feels in the hand!)
01-21-2013, 09:37 AM   #25
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Thanks everyone. You guys are well reasoned and practical in your approach it seems. Very praiseworthy.

Normhead, thanks for your thoughts again (you also chimed in on my DSLR acquisition thread). I was again floored just as with JinDesu's response. I thought it would be heresy also to think so highly of the Tammy 17-50. If I get a K-5 after all, that is probably what'll be mounted on it from the first. As you, and now others, have pointed out, third party lenses seem in many cases the better option depending on what one wants to do. I think I can say definitively now that if it weren't for the third party options, I'd already have moved on ahead to Nikon land. There's still hope, Pentax As I said, I really like the K-5.

To some other points: Yes, I've been mostly looking at Photozone where they include samples, bokeh, and other qualities. DxO I thought was probably not good for reasons I already posted, though I assumed there was some correction taken into account for higher resolution cameras.
01-21-2013, 09:39 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by yorik Quote
For landscape photography, APS-C has one potential advantage over larger formats - greater depth of field at equivalent focal lengths.
(Also, it's hard to beat the way the K5 feels in the hand!)
Yes. This is one factor that hasn't escaped me and has to be kept in mind.
01-21-2013, 09:59 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by brntoki Quote
Thanks everyone. You guys are well reasoned and practical in your approach it seems. Very praiseworthy.

Normhead, thanks for your thoughts again (you also chimed in on my DSLR acquisition thread). I was again floored just as with JinDesu's response. I thought it would be heresy also to think so highly of the Tammy 17-50. If I get a K-5 after all, that is probably what'll be mounted on it from the first. As you, and now others, have pointed out, third party lenses seem in many cases the better option depending on what one wants to do. I think I can say definitively now that if it weren't for the third party options, I'd already have moved on ahead to Nikon land. There's still hope, Pentax As I said, I really like the K-5.

To some other points: Yes, I've been mostly looking at Photozone where they include samples, bokeh, and other qualities. DxO I thought was probably not good for reasons I already posted, though I assumed there was some correction taken into account for higher resolution cameras.
I'll chime in on that Tamron 17-50. I have it and love it. If it were weather sealed that would make it perfect, but even so it is my most used lens.
01-21-2013, 10:00 AM   #28
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Photography is about a round peg into a square hole. Literally. Round lenses, projecting onto a flat square/rectangular image plane. There will NEVER be a lens that get's it perfect until there are curved image sensors in the distant future.

So any image will get softer the further you move away from the center of the lens center.

Now that I've said that, I don't routinely use probably 10-20% of any given image because of cropping or other reasons, so the soft edges on a single frame are totally moot.

If you want perfect images (or near perfect) get a good pano setup and take small degree panos and stitch them together.
01-21-2013, 10:17 AM   #29
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I used: Tamron 17-50/2, 8 - Sigma AF 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC - Sigma 18-125mm F3.5-5.6 DC - Sigma AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO DG - Sigma 12 -24mm f/4.5-5.6 and I replaced all of this is written in the signature, a reason in favor of the Pentax, because of the sharpness of a uniform quality throughout the range and breadth and the beautiful colors and the quality of the workmanship
01-21-2013, 10:20 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by brntoki Quote
Sorry if the thread title seems a little forward, but I'm struggling with something a bit here and would like to ask this very serious question.

How do Pentax lenses really stack up, optically speaking, to Canon, Nikon, and even Tamron and like third party makers?

The reason for the question: I'm looking for a system to get into, and really was thrilled about the Pentax system primarily because K-5 quality and price. My first check on lenses, however, stumped me a bit. I was doing my on-line duty "pixel-peeping" and whatnot, and thought the lenses were not so good, mostly because the center and edge sharpness can be drastically different. For example, there is a sample photo where the image looks great, but the corners are sickeningly soft. Imagine my surprise when I learned it was one of the "star" (literally) lenses, the 16-50. And it was shot at f/8 24mm (on a K-30 iso 100 1/500).

I was reassured by reading, here mostly, that users think the lenses are fantastic. I put the question aside and figured the lenses must be good. But, again, doing my on-line duty of researching before spending, I started to notice again that the lenses didn't seem as good as I'd have expected. For example, pulling up charts on DxOmark I was surprised that the 55 1.4 was sitting at 306th overall on the flagship K-5. This is a little misleading as an overall score, perhaps, since identical lenses that outperform the Pentax are listed multiple times with different mounts and on different bodies. Nonetheless, it seems like the lenses are a little sub par. Center sharpness seems great almost as a rule with Pentax. But, are soft edges something that users have learned to live with? Or am I incorrect that this is the case?

Perhaps I'm looking at things incorrectly, though. What do you Pentaxians think???
The 16-50mm isn't Pentax's best lens for sure (the Sigma 17-50mm will get you better IQ), but I'd say that at least for DX Pentax lenses are on par or better than with the competition (can't beat those limiteds!).

Pentax doesn't have a FX digital body so it's hard to pixel-peep using their FA and older lenses on full-frame, thus I can't comment there. Nikon FX lenses tend to be very sharp but most of the ones I've tried (F1.4 primes and the 24-120mm) have a bit more distortion and vignetting than I'm used to seeing.

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