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06-05-2013, 01:36 PM   #1
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Quality of available Pentax compatible lenses

I told my father that I was interested in getting a K-30 kit. He advised me against going with Pentax. Yes, the K-30 is a good, great, exceptional camera but there are no good lenses available for Pentax. He also doesn't see any great lenses coming out for Pentax DSLR camera in the next five years. Canon has the most good lenses available and they are followed by Nikon. If I want to build up a long lasting relationship with equipment then Pentax is not the lady to dance with. This was very odd for me to hear from him because he was a huge Pentax fan in the 80s. I thought Pentax had plenty of its own lenses and oodles upon oodles of 3rd party lenses. Am I missing something?

Now, I have to add that he is the enthusiast's enthusiast. He rents, buys, and sells lenses to measure, rate, and rank them. Being retired he has plenty of time (and apparently resources) to do this. I think deep down he wants to hold Pentax up on a pedestal but, being the data driven man that he is, can't find the data to so.

Any comments? I'm genuinely confused!

-=- Boris

06-05-2013, 02:03 PM   #2
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Clearly Daddy hasn't held, seen, or heard of the 31/1.8, 43/1.9 and 77/1.8 Limited - least he'd not say what he did.

I'm not a historic pentaxian....I went to Pentax explicitly because these 3 lenses (and, particularly, the 31mm) existed, and to use them a K-mount body was needed.

I've since added more than a few other Pentax lenses, and while I'm sure that some test somewhere will measure them to be less than an equivalent of another brand, frankly, they all are capable of much better pictures than my photographic skills.
06-05-2013, 02:14 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
Now, I have to add that he is the enthusiast's enthusiast. He rents, buys, and sells lenses to measure, rate, and rank them. Being retired he has plenty of time (and apparently resources) to do this.
Seems like it would be more enjoyable just go out and shoot with whatever you had than to constantly measurebate. If you like the results then it is a good lens. I'm sure he would turn his nose up at every piece of glass I own and it really doesn't matter since I like them. Even a lowly Pentax A 50mm f2 can give fine results.
06-05-2013, 02:28 PM   #4
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Pentax, is not the camera it used to be. I remember the day , walking around with my SPotmatic, sneering at those canon guys with their funny little coupled light meters attached to the hot shoe. No one in Ryerson Photo Arts ever mentioned Nikon. They aren't what they used to be... they are what they are. Now they have small high quality lenses that in many cases are niche lenses for the outdoor enthusiast. Being an outdoor enthusiast, they cater to me, and I think they're the cats meow. If I were to put my schooling to use and open a studio, I go for something with better low light focusing and a larger viewfinder. But the thing is, if I'd opened a studio in 69, I would have used an 4x5 view camera. I wouldn't have used a Pentax then either. Pentax is what it was. Portable, designed for ease of use, technically good for what it is, not trying to compete with what it's not.

This isn't the golden age of Pentax, and the company could die at any moment, at least from my perspective. But I'm still along for the ride.

Your dad is barking up the wrong tree. He's thinking film days, when every one made different cameras, but the sensors were the same in every camera. The strength of Pentax is in their processing engine and how they seem to get the most out of the sensors they use. In film terms they make the best film. You dad is not going to know a thing about the Dynamic Range in a K-5 because, he doesn't test that. I agree with him in terms of lenses though.

That being said, ask him what he thinks of the Pentax 31. It's a famous lens that goes way beyond the numbers in terms of it's reputation. I've read a couple independent reviewers claim it's one of the best 3 lenses ever made. If he doesn't know it, I doubt he has much knowledge of Pentax. If he does know it but says Canon and Nikon have surpassed it, (because 5 years ago when this conversation was taking place, neither Canon nor Nikon were in the conversation in terms of top 3).. well he tests these things , I don't. I'd just want to know if he knows what he's talking about before I took his word for it.

Canon and Nikon make some top notch lenses for sure, but when you look at the top lenses for those mounts, the Sigma 105, 85 and 70, 3 or 4 of the Samyangs , the Tamron 90, those are all top rated lenses on every system they are released on and they are available in a Pentax mount. So even if Pentax has fallen behind (which I doubt), you can still get great lenses on it, and it still get's more out of it's sensor than the other guys. Pick up a Pentax and compare it to what ever you think you think is better. You might like it. Stranger things have happened.

06-05-2013, 02:38 PM   #5
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Most reviewers hold Pentax high when it comes to lens design, so I don't think he's being fair. Yes, they lack some standard lenses but they got some unusual ones ones and for most people they have everything that they'll ever buy, at affordable prices. Yes, they lack many super-pro alternatives, but if you're going for the 10K lens alternatives plus a 3-5k camera you can afford a shift of system too.

How many great pancakes do Canikon have?
How much do you need to pay for a high quality weather sealed kit?

Some even rank Pentax extremely high: The Online Photographer: The World's Great Lens Makers

The Pentax 55/1.4 is fully weather sealed and beats most other normal lenses. I got it super cheap used so I didn't over pay for my copy. Pentax smc DA* 55 mm f/1.4 SDM review - Introduction - Lenstip.com

As you can see many people seems to underestimate Pentax without doing the research. It's a smaller system when it comes to modern lenses, huge when it comes to older ones and quite uniquely set up. Check reviews and most of all check pics!

Look at Pentax line up and look for yourself. Do you find yourself drooling over affordable lenses, buy the K-30. Do you find yourself searching for lenses that you can't find, buy another system.
06-05-2013, 02:43 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
I told my father that I was interested in getting a K-30 kit. He advised me against going with Pentax. Yes, the K-30 is a good, great, exceptional camera but there are no good lenses available for Pentax. He also doesn't see any great lenses coming out for Pentax DSLR camera in the next five years. Canon has the most good lenses available and they are followed by Nikon. If I want to build up a long lasting relationship with equipment then Pentax is not the lady to dance with. This was very odd for me to hear from him because he was a huge Pentax fan in the 80s. I thought Pentax had plenty of its own lenses and oodles upon oodles of 3rd party lenses. Am I missing something?

Now, I have to add that he is the enthusiast's enthusiast. He rents, buys, and sells lenses to measure, rate, and rank them. Being retired he has plenty of time (and apparently resources) to do this. I think deep down he wants to hold Pentax up on a pedestal but, being the data driven man that he is, can't find the data to so.

Any comments? I'm genuinely confused!

-=- Boris
Pentax's lens quality is actually quite good, but there are fairly big gaps in their lineup compared to the competition. Pentax is also an APS-C only system at the moment unlike Canon/Nikon.

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06-05-2013, 03:04 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
He rents, buys, and sells lenses to measure, rate, and rank them.
Most of us use lenses for photography. Depending on your interests and budget, Pentax may or may not be right for you. If you are a hobbyist looking for a great mid-range setup Pentax is a strong contender. If you want to spend $2200+, then Canon and Nikon have more options than Pentax. If you want to spend a lot then you have the Pentax and Nikon pro models or the Pentax 645D.
06-05-2013, 03:31 PM   #8
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Is this about quality or quantity?

My cousin tried to talk me out of Pentax last year, citing the gaps in the Pentax lens lineup. And sure, without question, there are more current-production lenses for Pentax and Nikon.

But some of those are real low-end, or really expensive high-end, lenses. The lenses currently available for Pentax are all very good. Generally, the thing that drew me to Pentax was that everything was good, professional quality stuff, not too many frills (except for colors).

So I don't really feel there is any shortcomings in the lineup, in fact I am so embarrassed by how many brand new Pentax lenses I bought in the last year, that I won't put them in my sig. As others have noted, the Limiteds are "living legends" to anyone who is a photo enthusiast. I am looking forward to seeing my cousin at a family reunion later this summer, where I will put my FA31 up against his L-series Canon lenses.

Third party support for things like flashes or other accessories is also mostly Canon and Nikon. No surprise when Canon has like 50% (or whatever) of the market volume, and Nikon around 25%, that doesn't leave much for all the others. So from that perspective, I wouldn't blame anyone for shying away from the smaller market-share players. You have to do what you are comfortable with.

06-05-2013, 03:39 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
but there are no good lenses available for Pentax. He also doesn't see any great lenses coming out for Pentax DSLR camera in the next five years.
Sorry but that's BS.
First, Pentax has lenses that are more than competitive. I'll grant they are missing parts of a full lineup, but to say they have NO good lenses is just plain wrong. They don't compete in certain areas, Full Frame, fast sports, extreme telephoto for example but for the average photographer and general enthusiast there is a fairly complete line of both top quality 'pro' level lenses and good solid value consumer lenses. If the only thing you consider 'good' is a 400mm f/2.8, then I guess your dad is right, Pentax doesn't have one.
Second, how on earth is he predicting what Pentax is going to bring to market over five years? Good grief, the pundits cannot figure out what Pentax is doing today much less 5 years from now.

Instead of worrying about what dad says, lay out on paper what lenses you think you need. If those are available in Pentax then you are good. If not, look elsewhere, but check the pricing and I think you will find Pentax to be very competitive.
06-05-2013, 03:53 PM   #10
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Hi Boris,

Pardon me while I donning fire-retardant suit ... because I am sure there will be flamethrowers aiming my way.

I agree with you father totally. I have been using Pentax since 1982, but if I have to start up again today, I will go with Nikon.
06-05-2013, 03:56 PM   #11
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Canikon has all the good lenses? Me, I'll take a Takumar that's older than me over anything Canikon...

But maybe that's just me.
06-05-2013, 04:29 PM   #12
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Your father's entitled to his opinion, but it is just an opinion, even if it is formed on the basis of a lot of comparison testing (whatever that means). I've had more than one Nikon person look through my K-5 with a DA*, FA* or Limited lens mounted, and momentarily query whether they should have been sold their Nikon gear.

The bald statement about Pentax not making any good lenses is just wrong - you can call it an exaggeration for emphasis if you like, but zero is an absolute number.

Sometimes you have to honour your father by not taking his advice, or perhaps just taking it at face value and making your own judgments.
06-05-2013, 04:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
Your father's entitled to his opinion, but it is just an opinion, even if it is formed on the basis of a lot of comparison testing (whatever that means). I've had more than one Nikon person look through my K-5 with a DA*, FA* or Limited lens mounted, and momentarily query whether they should have been sold their Nikon gear.
I know one person waiting for a Pentax FF so she can switch over from Canon. She loves the robust Pentax feel and both their new and old lenses, especially the limited's.
06-05-2013, 05:37 PM - 1 Like   #14
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Wow, very passionate replies! I kind of thought this would be like kicking the hornet's nest.

So, a bit more background here...

My father believes that the heyday of Pentax has come and gone. Come due its high quality, robust designs in the past and gone due to a string of bad luck and bad decisions. They missed their chance to get on the digital bandwagon, missed the target when they aimed for it, and having been bought and sold and bought and sold they couldn't focus on their products like they probably should have. Internal budgets went down and along with that new product innovation. While Pentax was gasping for air, Nikon and Canon surged ahead. Fortunately Pentax didn't get swallowed up like Minolta or broken down like Kodak. Pentax is probably on the path to recovery but it will be a long journey. So sayeth the father.

I took a quick minute (which turned into a long minute) to Google this on my own and I found some articles and opinions posted that seem to confirm the shaky ground Pentax is standing on. Canon and Nikon do indeed take up the lion's share of the market followed by a decent portion held by Sony, Olympus, and Panasonic. Pentax just barely shows up in some cases and when it does the share is in the low single digits. Professionals have run away from Pentax to the other camps. High end enthusiasts have run away from them. If I was a third party vendor trying to place a bet on who to make accessories/lenses for and I saw how small of a market Pentax then I would probably would run away too. The big bucks and market seem to be elsewhere at the moment, along with the broadest selection of top-rated lenses and product development investment (Canon seems to have taken that spot).

What was interesting to me was that I found articles and posts all around saying how much everyone wants Pentax to make a comeback. It's a favorable brand it seems and people want flock to it but with only three official DSLR models there's not much to flock to. And if there's not a lot of money coming in from what little there is to flock to then there is a danger of little more being developed. Nikon, Canon, and Sony seem to have more models (even if it's just repackaging the same guts - marketing works!) so they have a bigger presence. Popularity builds popularity as one article stated. So the question is, can Pentax produce their equivalent of an iPod/iPhone/iPad that will catapult them back to the top which would give them the capital to develop a modern line up of lenses for multi-generational use as owners move from one DSLR to another? The K-30 and K-5 seem to be starting an almost cult-like following with many passionate owners. Are the few models that Pentax produces today planting the seeds of passionate ownership of tomorrow? We could be feeling the development of yester-year today. When Pentax held a leadership role in the 70s and 80s there were millions of lenses made for the K-mount. We see K-mount lenses everywhere today that were top-notch in their day (and probably still good today)!

Personally, I agree with the idea that I should think about what I want to photograph and find the right lens to do it with. A company need not have the best of everything. Gaps are OK as long as only a few want what would fill the gap. Stop splitting hairs, end the "paralysis by analysis", and just enjoy the hobby. Could Pentax disappear like the Twinkie? Sure, but the Twinkie was big enough that the market could not let it completely disappear. Pentax and the K-mount system will always exist in some capacity, if even under a different name. It may not have the "best" lens according to the data or the smallest package in product line-up comparison but there will always be great options for those who want it.

I guess I have a good discussion coming up with dear old Dad when we talk on the phone next time.

-=- Boris
06-05-2013, 06:53 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
My father believes that the heyday of Pentax has come and gone. Come due its high quality, robust designs in the past and gone due to a string of bad luck and bad decisions. They missed their chance to get on the digital bandwagon, missed the target when they aimed for it, and having been bought and sold and bought and sold they couldn't focus on their products like they probably should have. Internal budgets went down and along with that new product innovation. While Pentax was gasping for air, Nikon and Canon surged ahead. Fortunately Pentax didn't get swallowed up like Minolta or broken down like Kodak. Pentax is probably on the path to recovery but it will be a long journey. So sayeth the father.
And that statement I can agree with 100%. But "Pentax has no good lenses", sorry that is just not true. And I'm sure you expected to kick a hornet's nest with that lead.

But one thing with being #5 or 6 or whatever is Pentaxians have few illusions about Pentax. Pentax has good points and bad ones. The ergonomics and build quality are in my opinion superior to the competition. The Limited primes are true gems. The basic lens lineup is competitive if not robust. The value equation for a complete system is very good.

So if what they do fits you, great but don't try to make them into Canon or Nikon because they aren't. If you need to shoot sports, or need a 400mm f/2.8 or need a robust flash system or studio tethering or full frame then this is not your brand. Find a store (if you can) and pick up the k-30 or the k-5. Compare how it fits, how it feels, how the menus work, and the button layout to any camera at a comparable price point. I think Pentax wins hand down.
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