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10-28-2013, 07:23 PM   #1
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Will the HD lenses really be better than the DL limited?

Just noticing how similar the DL limited and the HD lenses look in design, yet with a bit of a price difference. Evidently it has something to do with the coatings but Will they truly have better definition? Any experience in this area yet?

10-28-2013, 08:09 PM   #2
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Coatings and more-rounded aperture blades are all anyone has heard. Given the Limited's reputation it's hard to imagine a micron-thick coating improving much, but improved flare protection might be a result. More will be known pretty soon as they are just coming out.
10-28-2013, 08:32 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by OldNoob Quote
Just noticing how similar the DL limited and the HD lenses look in design, yet with a bit of a price difference. Evidently it has something to do with the coatings but Will they truly have better definition? Any experience in this area yet?
The updates include both new coatings and rounded aperture blades on all lenses involved. I can't speak to the specific nature of the "HD nano coating" - while I completely trust the explanation that there are subtle or profound differences in the various Pentax coatings (super-protect, ghostless, the well known SMC, etc.) rather than just being marketing hype, I don't pretend to know exactly how lenses benefit from a specific technology. Bojidar Dimitrov's Pentax K-Mount Page has a page which might be insightful, although he has not yet updated the site to included information about the HD coating. I seem to recall a Pentax exec saying in an interview the HD coating was developed as an improvement over a previous formula which, as good as it was to fight flare and the like, it wasn't as tough as they would have liked.

As for the rounded aperture blades, the conventional wisdom is that rounded blades mean a more pleasant bokeh with smoother transitions and round, disc-shaped highlights (although I believe I've heard the number of elements or optical formula in a lens has a big impact on bokeh, as well). I'd be happy to hear any other contributions to the benefits of round blades, if there are any. A few sights like Photozone.de will occasionally remark on the shape of highlights with round or geometric shapes, although its rarely a deal breaker. Usually, the emphasis is more on how "rough" or "nervous" the bokeh can be.

Beyond the coating and aperture blades, the HD lens designs appear to be the same as their predecessors. I can't imagine the differently shaped blades would require anything different about the construction besides the blade parts themselves. For what it's worth, I'm curious to see how the ultra-wide-angle HD Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited tests. For a while I was gunning to get one of the original designs, however some sample shots betray corners that were a bit too soft for my liking. That being said, I've seen some fabulous images taken with the 15mm, and that lens has many enthusiastic fans. I don't expect the sharpness performance to change for the HD Pentax-DA 15mm F4, but maybe I'll be surprised. Likewise, the original version of the DA 70mm 2.4 is already crazy good; how much better could it get?!
10-28-2013, 08:49 PM   #4
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Great info Low. Thanks.

I was considering getting the 35mm macro,, but wondered if i should wait for the rounded shutter blade version.

10-28-2013, 08:49 PM   #5
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I seriously doubt anyone will notice any difference, except the price gouging cost of the HD versions. Ironic, considering the HD coating is supposed to be cheaper to manufacture.
10-28-2013, 08:49 PM   #6
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Your photos will be phenomenally sharper and far more colourful, even in black and white.

They will glow with an aura bestowed by angels and the difference will make people first wince, then stare, then drop down in awe.

Even just looking at these lenses with their rounded aperture lades and teasing red ring will make the mouth water and other glands arise.

It will be madness and joy and photographic fulfillment beyond all comprehension.
10-28-2013, 09:17 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by OldNoob Quote
Just noticing how similar the DL limited and the HD lenses look in design, yet with a bit of a price difference. Evidently it has something to do with the coatings but Will they truly have better definition? Any experience in this area yet?
It's like Nikon lenses with nano coating vs. those without. The difference is there but it isn't huge. Most people prefer to go for the older glass and save the extra cash for other things.

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10-28-2013, 09:20 PM   #8
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One big question, though not many will admit to having it, is if the new 15/4 will still produce such great star/sunbursts with the rounded blades. Not that the lens is a one-trick pony, but it is fairly unique in it's ability to do those so easily and so well. It's also already pretty danged flare-resistant, so any improvement there would be gravy. As far as the rest of them, I would think incremental improvements in flare resistance and possibly bokeh would be all that one could reasonably expect. I do think they look a little more upscale, fwiw.

10-28-2013, 11:19 PM   #9
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I sold both('15 & '21)and will purchase the HD versions. I won't complain about the price considering that when I joined this site, I learned that I needed the "Trio" then I needed them in MIJ form and then in the early version in silver. I had to have the "Duo" and to had to get the A50 1.2 .

The cost of the lenses will pale in comparison to what I've already spent.

Last edited by tabl10s; 10-29-2013 at 12:01 AM.
10-28-2013, 11:39 PM   #10
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Personally i'm among the skeptics - I doubt these "improvements" will add up to much in terms of image quality.

QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
Even just looking at these lenses with their rounded aperture lades and teasing red ring will make the mouth water and other glands arise.
...increased salivation and enlarged glands is also a symptom of rabies, so get yourself tested.
10-29-2013, 01:24 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by LowVoltage Quote
I seem to recall a Pentax exec saying in an interview the HD coating was developed as an improvement over a previous formula which, as good as it was to fight flare and the like, it wasn't as tough as they would have liked.

As for the rounded aperture blades, the conventional wisdom is that rounded blades mean a more pleasant bokeh with smoother transitions and round, disc-shaped highlights (although I believe I've heard the number of elements or optical formula in a lens has a big impact on bokeh, as well). I'd be happy to hear any other contributions to the benefits of round blades, if there are any. A few sights like Photozone.de will occasionally remark on the shape of highlights with round or geometric shapes, although its rarely a deal breaker. Usually, the emphasis is more on how "rough" or "nervous" the bokeh can be.
As for toughness, I think they were talking in comparison to the "Aero Bright" nano coating, which is used on some internal elements in e.g. DA*55 or DA*60-250. IIRC, they also said that HD was "almost as good" as Aero Bright in terms of flare resistance - in other words it is slightly worse than what we already have in some lenses .

As for bokeh, it is mainly dependent on the optical formula as such (in particular the correction of spherical abberation), so there won't be major differences other that the shape of the out-of-focus highlights, which only contribute to a minor extent to the perceived smoothness or harshness of bokeh. Personally I find the bokeh of all the DA limiteds not very smooth in most situations due to the lightness distribution in the out-of-focus discs (which is dependent on the optical formula). Often you'll find strong outlining effects (i.e. the border of the discs is brighter than the center) in the out-of-focus highlights, especially with the DA 15 or 21, which contributes to a rather harsh look.

Another thing that has been neglected so far are differences in color. Coatings can be used to fine-tune the color balance and "look" of a lens, so we can probably expect certain differences in the rendering of the HD limiteds compared to the older ones.
10-29-2013, 01:32 AM   #12
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I think the differences will be visible in some shots but will be minimal, certainly not something that's worth paying an extra 50% for. I will be sticking with my original DA ltds.
10-29-2013, 02:01 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by sTi Quote
Personally I find the bokeh of all the DA limiteds not very smooth in most situations due to the lightness distribution in the out-of-focus discs (which is dependent on the optical formula). Often you'll find strong outlining effects (i.e. the border of the discs is brighter than the center)
Here is a good example of this:

Pentax K10D - DA15mm f/4 EX ASPH Limited - 1/60th f/5.6 @ ISO 100


Paradoxically the best Bokeh I have ever seen from the DA15mm f/4 was when the lens is stopped down to at least f/11 at close focus distances:


Pentax K7 - Pentax DA15mm f/4 ED ASPH f/11 @1/30th ISO200 - Look to the lower left and you can see signs of the astigmatism inherent in this lens.

I ended up selling my DA15 - The first and only one I bought was a perfectly centered copy, but its incurable astigmatism and field curvature made it a rather annoying little lens to work with. Make no mistake it is a fun lens, somewhat addictive really if you can overlook its quirks - but for me, this little lens has some really annoying flaws that made it difficult to tolerate, especially when I got the sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 ASPH - which I compared to the DA15mm @ 15mm and it won by being noticeably sharper in the corners than the DA15 - but to be fair the DA15 is spectacularly sharp in the center - but that is for me what made the poor corner performance even more obvious when I used it on my Pentax K5IIs.

Last edited by Digitalis; 10-29-2013 at 02:35 AM.
10-29-2013, 02:29 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
Here is a good example of this:

Pentax K10D - DA15mm f/4 EX ASPH Limited - 1/60th f/5.6 @ ISO 100


Paradoxically the best Bokeh I have ever seen from the DA15mm f/4 was when the lens is stopped down to at least f/11 at close focus distances:


Pentax K7 - Pentax DA15mm f/4 ED ASPH f/11 @1/30th ISO200 - Look to the lower left and you can see signs of the astigmatism inherent in this lens.
Thanks for your examples - it's good to see I'm not the only one who misuses the DA 15 as a (sort of) macro lens . I've recently experimented with adding a close-up lens (the one that came with the Vivitar 100/3.5 "macro" lens conveniently has a 49mm filter thread) and it's really fun to create extreme close-ups with lots of wide-angle perspective distortion.
BTW, I don't find the bokeh in your first shot very harsh, I've seen a lot worse with the DA 15 or 21. It seems to do slightly better in extreme close-ups and, as you pointed out, when stopped down a bit. At its worst, it can exhibit ugly doughnut-shaped bokeh almost like a mirror lens.
10-29-2013, 02:43 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by sTi Quote
I don't find the bokeh in your first shot very harsh, I've seen a lot worse with the DA 15 or 21. It seems to do slightly better in extreme close-ups and, as you pointed out, when stopped down a bit. At its worst, it can exhibit ugly doughnut-shaped bokeh almost like a mirror lens.
Take a look at the offending hard-edged polygon in the upper left of the top image. I have different standards when it comes to Bokeh - I am a bit of a lens aficionado, and I consider the DA limiteds to be rather average in this respect*. I think that using the DA15mm f/4 @ f/4 is just asking for hideous bokeh - I do have better examples of how bad the bokeh from the DA15 can get. But I refuse to post them for ethical reasons - trust me; in these bokeh tests, even a mirror lens would have made a vast improvement over what the DA15 produced.

*though the longer DA limited lenses like the DA35 macro, DA40 and DA70 to be generally quite good - with the DA70 being by far the best, but it still falls short of the exquisite FA77 f/1.8.


Pentax K5IIs - Pentax FA77mm f/1.8 Limited

Last edited by Digitalis; 10-29-2013 at 02:50 AM.
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