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10-11-2013, 02:34 PM   #1
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Off Brand Lenses

Bought a K-30 and really love the camera. Came from the old school Asahi Pentax Spotmatic era so you know I'm not a young pup anymore. Back then we only had manual lenses and since I've gotten my K-30 I've purchases a couple lenses at a reasonable price but get confused when looking on ebay or craigslist when it comes to all the different brands out there. Can some of you more knowledgeable members give some direction as to what brands are usually good purchases and others to stay away from? I'm not looking for specific focal lengths and such. But you see brand names like Conicar, Focal, Sears, Albinar, Soligar and tons of others and one doesn't know if you purchase one of those names that you are getting something good or actually a piece of junk. I hope I'm not being too vague in my request. When one sees for instance a pentax 28mm f2.8 and it is under the name of promaster, or focal, or Gemini, I'm sure there are some brands that one would want to stay away from. Hope this makes sense. I've looked on the lens guides listing here and that has helped a lot but wondered if there is a general rule of thumb for some brands. Any help would be appreciated.

10-11-2013, 02:48 PM - 1 Like   #2
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All brands have their good and bad glass, you can't really judge anything by a brand name, especially since most of them don't actually make anything. Tamron, Sigma, Tokina, Komine, Kiron and many others are the actual manufacturers of these off-brand lenses. Most Soligor stuff is Tokina made and quite good, but there are bad ones out there.

There is also variation between copies, so even though I like my Bushnell 35mm f2.8 (Tokina made), your experience with a seemingly identical lens might be different.

The only rule of thumb I can give is to avoid the zooms, though there are exceptions to that rule as well.
10-11-2013, 02:56 PM   #3
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Afternoon,

In terms of M42 (screw mounts) and the K mount, there are lots of brands available. One of the first things I would do is to check the lens database. Scroll up to the top of the page, and then across the menu bar there is the item "Lenses", click on that and then click on third party and that will put you right at this link.This lists most of the major vendors / brands - obviously not all. You can walk through the lists and the individual lenses, which are rated. That should help with what are the good ones vs the dogs and cats to some extent. Also, here are some links to whats available in mounts...There is a whole knowledge base of what lens was produced by what manufacturer and sold under what name, what is good and what is crap, out there behind the keyboards sitting on chairs. It is just nor really written down, distilled and consolidated into an easily accessible database.

10-11-2013, 03:17 PM   #4
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You might want to check out the off-brand lens club on this site:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-clubs/31353-off-brand-club.html

As for rules of thumb...
  • It is hard to find a truly bad 28mm, 50mm, or 135mm
  • Most off-brand lenses were sourced from a relatively small number of makers, some of which made consistently good stuff
  • There is off-brand and there is off-brand. A good example might be late 70s to 80s era zooms. Almost any Tamron of that era will be on a par with the similar offerings from the major camera makers. On the other hand, most Focal zooms and other house brands are pretty lousy (Focal was house brand for K-mart in the U.S.).
  • Sigma was not as good in the past as it is today
  • Sears is often rebadged Ricoh, though that was less true into the later 1980s
  • East German and Former Soviet Union (FSU) are often quite good
  • With a few very prominent exceptions, elliott's comment (above) regarding zooms is accurate
  • Most are cheaply had, so there is little risk buying and trying
  • Don't pay premium price even with a claim of rarity by the seller.


Steve

Note: The Off-brand Club preceded the Soviet and other niche clubs on this site. As a result, there is a good sprinkling of just about anything not mainstream.


Last edited by stevebrot; 10-11-2013 at 04:03 PM.
10-11-2013, 03:19 PM   #5
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Lenses I use the most are a 28mm/ 2.8 auto aperture and an M42 55/ 1.7. Both are Chinon and both take fantastic photos. I got both for less than $100.
10-11-2013, 05:00 PM   #6
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Some rules for buying on evilBay or anywhere else for that matter...

If it costs the same as a sandwich buy it. If it costs as much as a deluxe pizza think about it. If it costs as much as a fancy dinner, ask your spouse.

Bid low, bid often, and lose more than you win.

And remember, even a "bad" lens will have its fans.

Lomography ? The Home Of Creative Analogue Photography & Cameras

Last edited by boriscleto; 10-11-2013 at 05:06 PM.
10-11-2013, 06:52 PM   #7
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Hi,
Is anybody using a Koboron MC Zoom macro 1:3.5 ~ 4.5 f= 28 ~ 105mm ?
I was given this with Canon FD mount, I am using it on an A-1.
It seems a nice old lens with the one touch push pull/rotate. I have not finished the film yet.

I have a few old off brand K mount zooms here

-An old Sun Opt Sun Zoom Macro 1:3.5 39 ~ 90 mm
https://app.box.com/s/uipc3eup9wg8ukou5jne

compared on the K-01 hand held, both at f/5.6 and at 50mm
with the SCM Pentax DA 1:3.5 ~ 5.6 18 ~ 55mm AL
https://app.box.com/s/bo8v50zqygjfq6m82nce

The black fence pickets are a tough test and clearly show both lenses fall off sharpness at sides, that I typically see on old zooms here.
In this case the Pentax DA is slightly better (and about 25 years younger!)
10-11-2013, 07:16 PM   #8
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I've managed to collect a number of Sears stuff. In addition to Ricoh, Sears are also Tokina and Chinon made, depending on the lens and the age. I have a 75-260 zoom that has an identical RMC Tokina brother I've spotted out there in the wilds.

I also have a set of 'A' 28-70mm and 70-210mm Sears lenses. The 70-210mm is amazing, the 28-70mm is very much not. They were both practically NIB for me, so I know its pretty much the lens and not age at play here with them.

In my experience, the better old zooms are the ones that try to sneak a 'macro' or 'close focus' label in on them. I think its because they needed to be built slightly better in order to use that marketing ploy and get away with it.

If you go for primes, as mentioned its hard to get a bad 28mm/50mm/135mm. I suppose its possible, but I haven't really hit something yet that was inherently bad due to design.

10-11-2013, 08:44 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sagitta Quote
In my experience, the better old zooms are the ones that try to sneak a 'macro' or 'close focus' label in on them. I think its because they needed to be built slightly better in order to use that marketing ploy and get away with it.
The best ones had the separate macro ring on the rear. This had a helicoid that moved all the lens elements in unison in relation to the focal plane (sensor)
So the lens could be fine tuned for each setting. The distance from the rear group to the sensor plane is most critical and in modern zooms we have to take what the scrolls and plastic trunnions give us
I have 2 old zooms with separate macro ring, one is this old NASA Kodak Ekton and it is interesting to use, notwithstanding its infinite depth of field.
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10-14-2013, 06:28 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone for your replies. I've purchased a Hoya 70-210 and an Pentax 50 F1.4 and paid less than $70 for the both of them. So far so good. I'm no expert but I've been pleased so far. I'll take all your suggestions under my wing and see what happens. It's funny that you all mentioned the 28/50/&135 as the 28 I'm really looking for since I already have a good 50. Again, thanks to all of you.
10-14-2013, 11:14 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by macdaddy50 Quote
Thanks everyone for your replies. I've purchased a Hoya 70-210...
Are you certain its a Hoya lens and not a Hoya filter on another brand lens?

A lot of times people list lenses on eBay and elsewhere using the filter name since that's what's most prominent and in reality the lens is something else since the branding is covered by the filter.

You can get really, really lucky sometimes when you see someone selling a "50mm Hoya" or something similar and it turns out to be a something far more valuable instead.
10-14-2013, 05:27 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sagitta Quote
Are you certain its a Hoya lens and not a Hoya filter on another brand lens?

A lot of times people list lenses on eBay and elsewhere using the filter name since that's what's most prominent and in reality the lens is something else since the branding is covered by the filter.

You can get really, really lucky sometimes when you see someone selling a "50mm Hoya" or something similar and it turns out to be a something far more valuable instead.
It might be something like this:

hoya 70-210 f3.8 macro


Hoya made a 70-210/3.8 with HMC sometime in the distant past.


Steve
10-15-2013, 11:36 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sagitta Quote
Are you certain its a Hoya lens and not a Hoya filter on another brand lens?

A lot of times people list lenses on eBay and elsewhere using the filter name since that's what's most prominent and in reality the lens is something else since the branding is covered by the filter.

You can get really, really lucky sometimes when you see someone selling a "50mm Hoya" or something similar and it turns out to be a something far more valuable instead.
I checked it at lunch and I misspoke. It is a Vivitar 70-210mm PK A/R Macro 4.5-5.6 Lens w/a Hoya 49mm filter. I picked it up for $19. No fungus, etc. Has a good feel to it. Didn't mean to mislead.
10-15-2013, 12:36 PM   #14
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Careful with that Vivitar, PK-A/R means it likely has a Ricoh pin.
10-15-2013, 05:43 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by elliott Quote
Careful with that Vivitar, PK-A/R means it likely has a Ricoh pin.
What he said. The ball-type pin is seldom a problem, but the pin-type pin can be a cause for weeping and gnashing of teeth.


Steve
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