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01-21-2013, 10:32 AM   #31
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Well i have several Pentax lenses ranging from the old Takumar (M42) to the latest DA and DFA and i have no complaint to make about their IQ. Like others said sharpness is not everything. I see no points of shooting with a very sharp lens if the photos are dull and lack character. Pentax lenses have something special to them, i've shooted with Canon and Sony lenses but i prefer my Pentax lenses rendering.

I shoot everything from Macro, Wildlife and Landscape and here is my favorite lenses, very sharp and great IQ:
- DA14
- DA 35 Macro Ltd
- DFA100 Macro WR (hard to beat)
- DA*50-135mm/2.8

01-21-2013, 10:59 AM   #32
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In my experience, Pentax has a very special way of rendering color and contrast -- probably has something to do with the SMC coating. You can almost determine whether a photo was taken on a Pentax vs. some other competitor. I recently ordered the DA15 Limited, aware of the slight decrease in corner sharpness, but really, how often do you look into the extreme corners of a photo? Even so, you will only notice this decrease when pixel peeping or printing something large (in which case you should probably be using a full frame high-MP camera anyways...). Honestly, Canikon have some amazing lenses that will often trump the Pentax equivalents, only they will run for about 2x the price, and again, you'll only see the difference in sharpness when you LOOK for it.

Pentax itself is a sort of niche market. You don't have as many "current" lenses as Canikon, but you have millions of old, high quality lenses available for relatively cheap prices. Limiteds are also in a class of their own -- metal construction and compact build makes for an extremely unique lens. I bought an old 50mm f/1.7 Pentax smc-M lens for $55 a few weeks ago, and it is absolutely the sharpest lens I have ever seen. I don't think corner sharpness will ever matter with this lens as it's 50mm, so you probably won't need to have everything in-focus. It's more of a "fun" and portrait lens, where the corners will most likely be out-of-focus anyways. But in my limited experience with it, there's absolutely no falloff in the corners when shooting something relatively flat (i.e line of trees). Sharp all the way through, color, contrast and bokeh are superb. An amazing lens for $55.

Davidw0815 put it best on the first page of this post: Benchmarks just tell you which lens is best for shooting brick walls.

EDIT: Also, I think the reason competitors have more lenses is simply because they offer many lenses that are very similar to each other. Pentax doesn't seem to do that. For instance, there's a Canon L 24-70mm and a L 24-105. I don't see the point in having two L-glass lenses that differ by 35mm on the tele end. Surely both of them must be of extremely equal quality since they are L glass. Also, they have versions of the same lenses where one has stabilization and the other doesn't. You have to look into the actual variation between lenses, not just the number of lenses offered.
01-21-2013, 11:46 AM   #33
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There are worse and better performers in the Pentax line-up, just as other brands. As an example Pentax got some things they need to fix, the 16-50 and 12-24 need to get a tad better to be up there with the competition and get praised by the important review sites. Note the 12-14 got a successor on their map over upcoming lenses.

They also got some really good ones.

The 50-135 renders just beautifully and after my brother got his focus adjusted (under warranty and really quick) it's tack sharp too! If only the AF was a tad faster and the SDM issues got fixed, something Pentax claims they fixed now, it would be a top rated lens in my eyes.

The 55/1.4 should be compared to something in between 50/1.4 and a 50/1.2 speed-wise as it is slightly longer than the standard 50mm. As far as reviews go tests, except the DXOmark one, seems to praise it for being up to par with the competitors and the different but really nice rendering. Vignetting is really low for a lens like this. Being WR it is on the top of my wish list!

300/4 is a tack sharp WR lens. It actually got enough resolution to be used on the Pentax Q, without any apparent loss of resolution. That is really impressive and proves that it would handle much higher resoluting sensors.

This is just a few of the outstanding lenses like the sharp 15/4, 31/1.8 and 70/2.4 and the very special rendering (not highest res in test) 43/1.9 and 77/1.8.
01-21-2013, 12:38 PM   #34
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Most here agree that Pentax lenses are excellent in IQ, not just build quality. The 'cheaply' produced DA 35/2.4 and DA50/1.8 are optically amazing for their price. The FA and DA Limited lenses are top notch in every aspect. The kit 18-55 has long been considered the best of all systems' kit lenses. The 16-50 has been given a bad name for its barrel distortion at the wide end as well as its SDM failures. In my experience with this lens, putting it through heavy use in weddings, landscapes and general purpose shooting, I can vouch for its excellent image and build quality, but it is better suited as a general purpose/wide portrait lens than a landscape lens, and the SDM had been a let down in terms of focusing speed and troubles with infinity focus.

01-21-2013, 02:40 PM   #35
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Pentax has unique lenses and sadly they do not make fast lenses (they did, but now discontinued). The three kings (31,49,77) looks a bit outdated, though great IQ and build. I'd love to have 77mm lens, however CA and slow AF is not really convincing me to buy it. There are some great, little, unobtrustive primes, like 15,21,40,70. I love their size, design, they weight almost nothing but at the same time they are very well build and nice to handle. Also they are very very good optically. I used to have 40 and 70. Both are known for being tack sharp and yes, they are,but i sold them. Why? Because of lack of faster aperture. You can get 40mm and 2.8 in a zoom, and the IQ difference won't be striking if will at all. And DA70.... I sold my Sigma 70-200 for DA70, because I wanted something small and yes,the lens was great,absurdly sharp at 4-5.6 from corner to corner,however after having it for just 8 months i finally sold it because of 2.4 and not very accurate focus (but this can lead to K-5 large focusing points, so let's say it's not lens fault). 2.4 is not really great step from 2.8 and I missed DOF control not once, not twice... Great lens, extremely sharp but slow.. So I sold it and planned to get Samyang 85mm 1.4 but for some reasons I didn't so I bought a soviet Jupiter 9 85mm f/2.0. Not that sharp but DOF control amazes me and bokeh is spectacular. Stepless aperture is a bonus. Not that I am comparing those two, but the whole thing is that while Pentax wins in discreetness, makes a toys that are joy to use however they are losing in speed (both AF and aperture). You have to choose carefully. There might be great alternatives from Sigma/Tamron and sometimes Tokina. Otherwise, if you have tons of money you can always look for legacy fast lenses (like FA85 1.4 or so),just remember, Sigma is always ready to be purchased and make you happy with it's silent AF ir great IQ while Pentax can make you wait longer than you expect.
01-21-2013, 07:40 PM   #36
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Well, thanks again to you all.

If I do go with a D600, I'll have to stick to primes I think to make it a little more accessible up front financially. Not that it's a bad idea anyway, as there are some stellar lenses at ridiculously good prices, which makes it hard to not go that route.

That said, the body is about twice the price as the K-5IIs, is not going to be as nice to use ergonomically, doesn't have in-body SR, questionable in my mind it will last 5 years, etc., etc. Add to that the fact I am really pushing my luck using this monitor that should have died 5 years ago, and I'm being pushed to upgrade my OS (XP x64 currently), and need to get another calibration system (can you tell I like to use things until they just are unusable anymore?) . . . I think I'll almost certainly be going with the Pentax.

Whatever I do, though, I can say very sincerely that you guys and gals have been a tremendous help. It's been fun to see some of my feelings vindicated by users and also that you guys are even-handed in your evaluation of the gear that gets the job done: That's what it's about.
01-21-2013, 07:54 PM   #37
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Whichever you choose you will be just fine and I doubt that you would regret getting either of them. I hope to see a post of which one you chose and pics with/of it!
01-21-2013, 09:46 PM   #38
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I can't speak for the digital lenses, don't have but one actual Pentax digital, and that's the kit, but I sure think so otherwise. I have a couple of Nikon lenses, had Yashica and Minolta and a few others. Some of them were good, some were pretty darned good, but in the end not one lens in those groups can stack up to a similar MM Tak, sorry, but it can't, and for the most part that's true of most of my A-series lenses and my M-series lenses too. The only lenses I've ever had come close were a couple of my Viv's and in the end I still had to vote the Pentax versions were just a bit better. I like my Viv's but my Taks and so forth, they're just better and I end up using them a lot more because I just love how my photos come out using them. Digitally speaking I only have one lens that's close to the specs of the kit lens and the Tamron doesn't even begin to touch it in terms of quality. The Tamron 75-300 is pretty good, so is the equivalent Sigma, but I'm still betting the 55-300 from Pentax is probably better given the performance of the lenses I have vs the Pentax kit lens and that's why I want it eventually. Most likely I'll replace the Tamrons completely with Pentax lenses at some point and won't miss them much. I think the 18-135 and 55-300 will just do me better...

01-22-2013, 02:20 AM   #39
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QuoteOriginally posted by magkelly Quote
I can't speak for the digital lenses, don't have but one actual Pentax digital, and that's the kit, but I sure think so otherwise. I have a couple of Nikon lenses, had Yashica and Minolta and a few others. Some of them were good, some were pretty darned good, but in the end not one lens in those groups can stack up to a similar MM Tak, sorry, but it can't, and for the most part that's true of most of my A-series lenses and my M-series lenses too. The only lenses I've ever had come close were a couple of my Viv's and in the end I still had to vote the Pentax versions were just a bit better. I like my Viv's but my Taks and so forth, they're just better and I end up using them a lot more because I just love how my photos come out using them. Digitally speaking I only have one lens that's close to the specs of the kit lens and the Tamron doesn't even begin to touch it in terms of quality. The Tamron 75-300 is pretty good, so is the equivalent Sigma, but I'm still betting the 55-300 from Pentax is probably better given the performance of the lenses I have vs the Pentax kit lens and that's why I want it eventually. Most likely I'll replace the Tamrons completely with Pentax lenses at some point and won't miss them much. I think the 18-135 and 55-300 will just do me better...
Thanks. This is definitely an area of interest to me. I quite like using MF lenses, and from what I can tell, shooting at infinity focus using them on a good Pentax body should be a good bet.
01-22-2013, 04:48 AM - 1 Like   #40
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I'll just chime in to say that you won't be limited either with Pentax or with Nikon by the lenses available (may be limited more by your budget...). I own the 16-50 and it is a good lens. At f8, you will certainly have decent sharpness across the frame. That said, better landscape lenses with Pentax are probably the DA 15 or the DA 12-24. The other thing I would say is that build quality is going to better with a K5 II than with a D600. But Nikon has plenty of good lenses, some of them quite expensive, some of them not so much. If you can try out the two bodies and compare how they feel to you, that would make the difference.

(obligatory 16-50 photo)


01-22-2013, 10:45 AM   #41
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Great discussion! And nice woodland pic!
01-22-2013, 11:28 AM   #42
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QuoteOriginally posted by brntoki Quote
That said, the body is about twice the price as the K-5IIs, is not going to be as nice to use ergonomically, doesn't have in-body SR, questionable in my mind it will last 5 years, etc., etc. Add to that the fact I am really pushing my luck using this monitor that should have died 5 years ago, and I'm being pushed to upgrade my OS (XP x64 currently), and need to get another calibration system (can you tell I like to use things until they just are unusable anymore?) . . . I think I'll almost certainly be going with the Pentax.
[about screen]
Something that might help you, i've read that ASUS will be going to sell some IPS screen calibrated during the construction process, with a delta lower than 5 (ref : PA249Q ), and Dell (ref : UltraSharp U2413 or U2713H) is offering some IPS screen with a Delta lower than 2. So no calibration needed for the Dell's one, and a small one with the Asus one
Considering the price of calibration in Europe (and guessing they are the same on your side of the world), this can probably be a good news for you ?
01-22-2013, 09:04 PM   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by aurele Quote
[about screen]
Something that might help you, i've read that ASUS will be going to sell some IPS screen calibrated during the construction process, with a delta lower than 5 (ref : PA249Q ), and Dell (ref : UltraSharp U2413 or U2713H) is offering some IPS screen with a Delta lower than 2. So no calibration needed for the Dell's one, and a small one with the Asus one
Considering the price of calibration in Europe (and guessing they are the same on your side of the world), this can probably be a good news for you ?
Thank you. I had noticed a lot more selection of IPS panels for good prices recently.

As for calibration stuff, I just need a better low end system; ~$150ish or so. I can also pick up a used spyder or like "puck" and use it with Argyll and DispcalGui. If things are too pricey where you are, look into picking up a used piece of hardware that will work with Dispcal.
01-22-2013, 09:52 PM   #44
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QuoteOriginally posted by VisualDarkness Quote
There are worse and better performers in the Pentax line-up, just as other brands. As an example Pentax got some things they need to fix, the 16-50 and 12-24 need to get a tad better to be up there with the competition and get praised by the important review sites. Note the 12-14 got a successor on their map over upcoming lenses.

They also got some really good ones.

The 50-135 renders just beautifully and after my brother got his focus adjusted (under warranty and really quick) it's tack sharp too! If only the AF was a tad faster and the SDM issues got fixed, something Pentax claims they fixed now, it would be a top rated lens in my eyes.

The 55/1.4 should be compared to something in between 50/1.4 and a 50/1.2 speed-wise as it is slightly longer than the standard 50mm. As far as reviews go tests, except the DXOmark one, seems to praise it for being up to par with the competitors and the different but really nice rendering. Vignetting is really low for a lens like this. Being WR it is on the top of my wish list!

300/4 is a tack sharp WR lens. It actually got enough resolution to be used on the Pentax Q, without any apparent loss of resolution. That is really impressive and proves that it would handle much higher resoluting sensors.

This is just a few of the outstanding lenses like the sharp 15/4, 31/1.8 and 70/2.4 and the very special rendering (not highest res in test) 43/1.9 and 77/1.8.
I agree with a lot of what you say, except for your assessment of the Pentax 12-24. I have one and have taken 1000's of photo's with it, primarily vintage vehicles. The quality is wonderful and that's not just me. Popular Photography rates it as the best of the bunch and that bunch includes all super wide angles .

It's only F 4...and it would be nice to have it as an F 2.8...but other than that for sharpness and fine optical quality...top notch.
01-22-2013, 10:02 PM   #45
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QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote
I agree with a lot of what you say, except for your assessment of the Pentax 12-24. I have one and have taken 1000's of photo's with it, primarily vintage vehicles. The quality is wonderful and that's not just me. Popular Photography rates it as the best of the bunch and that bunch includes all super wide angles .

It's only F 4...and it would be nice to have it as an F 2.8...but other than that for sharpness and fine optical quality...top notch.
I haven't even tried it (my widest lens is 17mm) so I believe you. I'm just basing it on how most sites rate it, even the user reviews here, and it makes people bash Pentax simply for not having a great super-wide zoom in their line up. Also it would be great to actually have a WR one for all the "Pentax weather" landscapes.
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