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01-22-2007, 10:21 PM   #1
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Lens Acquisition

I am a bit concerned about the availability of Pentax SMC DA lenses. I want to buy a K100D or K10D but when I look at various retailers on the web and the brick and mortar stores there do not seem to many Pentax lenses for them.

I know you can use the many other FA lenses (50mm f/1.4 comes to mind if you can find one) with them but if I wanted to go strictly digital there doesn't seem to be much to choose from. Of course the 18-55mm and 50-200mm are readily available. But aside from those it's seems to be slim pickings. Go to B&H and it's mostly "out of stock".

Is it because of the sudden rise in popularity of the Pentax SLR systems that people are grabbing up all the glass? Any ideas on when it may end or is this just the way it is?

01-22-2007, 10:42 PM   #2
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Lens shortage will end when the K10 frenzy dies down a bit-say by the summer of '07. There will be another frenzy in March if Pentax meets delivery expectations for some new lens designs; this is the frenzy that pushes things into the summer months (northern hemisphere--Jun-Aug everywhere).

Shortages like this are part 'fade', part 'need it', part 'need anything', part 'get it-sell it later'. Look for a glut of 'sell it later' in about a year. The other parts will fade as credit card bills arrive, spouses learn of expenditures and simple reality resumes control of peoples life.

Nobody could have predicted the popularity of the K-digitals, they are all solid performers, attractively priced and wildly competitive against other brands; the K10 is simply a show stopper. But this will fade. Learning a dSLR is a lot of effort; once the dSLR players get one, supply will catch and overtake demand--same with the lenses.

Pentax mounts have never been overly plentiful, but a fair amount of stock will soon overtake demand. This is a noticeably larger sellers market than when the ist-D hit shelves--maybe a factor of 10x larger--that shortage lasted about a month; give this one 10-12 months. Sellers markets drive production-here everybody got caught napping. But they will catch up!
01-22-2007, 10:57 PM   #3
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I have to admit I'm part of the new K10D frenzy. I was first interested in getting serious with photography when the Panasonic Lumix FZ30 came out but after some research I landed on the K100D. I was just waitiing for the new year to make the purchase when the K10D cameout late last year. Now I am not sure what to do. Add to that the lens shortage and now I'm at a loss.

I'll probably go with the K10D, 18-55, 55-200 to start with and learn, then maybe the 40mm f/2.8 or 50mm f/1.4, if I can find one, for low light in door pictures.
01-22-2007, 11:13 PM   #4
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I'm sure that the shelves will soon be filled, but personally I'm not overly satisfied with Pentax's current stock. All the DA zooms that are coming around are making quality (generally older) primes go ignored...


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01-23-2007, 06:50 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mo Quote
I'm sure that the shelves will soon be filled, but personally I'm not overly satisfied with Pentax's current stock. All the DA zooms that are coming around are making quality (generally older) primes go ignored...
I would concider the primes if they were not so expensive. (exception being the 40mm f/2.8) For someone like me just wanting to get started, primes seem to be more of a luxury. I guess they're being ignored mainly because of cost and the inexpirence of all new consumers. Also they want to buy lenses that are made spicifically for their new digital camera, not 35mm.

Does that make any sense or am I missing something?

Which primes do you feel are being ignored?
01-23-2007, 10:36 AM   #6
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Personally, I don't understand why good, light, compact prime lenses of lenghts as 10mm and especially 16mm are not in the roadmap. 16mm is the equivalent of 24mm on film... there MUST be such lens.

I know there are zoom that today as as good as the primes of today, but if fast, they are bulky and don't have hyperfocal marks. Do you know how using hyperfocal is so much fast that the fastest autofocus?
01-23-2007, 12:51 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by KFrog Quote
I would concider the primes if they were not so expensive. (exception being the 40mm f/2.8) For someone like me just wanting to get started, primes seem to be more of a luxury. I guess they're being ignored mainly because of cost and the inexpirence of all new consumers. Also they want to buy lenses that are made spicifically for their new digital camera, not 35mm.

Does that make any sense or am I missing something?

Which primes do you feel are being ignored?
I feel that especially the FA* primes are getting ignored
You can't get them new, despite the fact that they are some of Pentax's best glass. The same goes for most manual primes- their quality exceeds that of many lenses today, but I can understand that they're outdated.

If you were a serious photographer and were looking for affordable new tele lenses, Pentax would have none to offer. The only ones currently out there are the FA* 300/2.8 and 600/4, and the prices are just astronomical. Why isn't Pentax continuing lenses such as the FA* 300/4.5, FA* 200/2.8, FA* 24/2, and the FA* zooms? Why are they producing budget FAJ zooms instead of regular FA zooms? Why are none of the regular FA primes still in production?

BTW, if you're looking for a cheap and extremely sharp prime, try the FA 35/2. It's only $299, yet it delivers crisp photos with great color reproduction, just like the * lenses. There are still a few new ones lying around on the shelves

I have more manual lenses than AF lenses, so I guess I've gotten to appreciate their quality a bit. I like my A*'s and FA*'s much more than any DA lens, and the quality is far superior (plus, they support full-frame).

Speaking of DA's, however, my favorite that's out there right now would have to be the pancake (the real pancake). Being based on an older optical formula but with added aperture blades (9 instead of 5) and superior (ghostless) lens coating, it definitely beats its M-series predecessor. Remember that this one also works on film bodies, so if not for its novel design, it should have been a member of the DFA series.

I understand that making all the other DA lenses only fit digital bodies makes them smaller and lighter (yet none of them have exceedingly fast apertures), but it really takes a lot away from the value and appreciation of the lens. And they have no aperture rings, either...

As for all the others, namely the zooms, I'm really shocked by the poor plasticky construction. I hope Pentax picks things up with the release of their new DFA and DA* lineup.

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01-23-2007, 01:14 PM   #8
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I wonder

if anyone can tell the difference between photos taken with an older non-digitally-optimized lens and a current offering.

I sincerely doubt it.

01-23-2007, 01:30 PM   #9
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There usually is little difference, but the point is that the DA series doesn't offer much (yet).

I'll post a few comparisons later today. Here's what I'll try out:

-DA kit at 18mm vs K 15mm (both at F3.5), at 35mm vs FA 35mm (both wide-open)
-DA 50-200 at 200mm vs A* 200mm (both wide-open)
-DA 12-24 at 24mm vs FA* 24mm (both wide-open)
-DA 40 vs M 40 (both at F2.8)

Of course, the difference can usually be seen in landscapes (haze, distortion, etc.) and other practical shots, but the test shots can present a general idea. It's significant enough to make you ask yourself why the quality lenses are no longer around...

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01-23-2007, 01:36 PM   #10
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Actually I did such a test between my new 50~200 DA zoom and two SMC primes, a 135 f/3.5 and a 200 f/4. I had considered both the primes excellent and have had them for years.
I shot several objects with the primes and then duplicated the views with the zoom. The increase in quality in the DA images was very noticable, as well as a much better contrast. So, in this zoom range, I find the zoom DA to be the better bargain. With the rebate that I got it made a good deal even sweeter!!

Walt
01-23-2007, 01:51 PM   #11
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The DA zoom has ED elements, so you should try comparing it to a lens that has ED too

That's still interesting, though. Since I have both those M lenses, I'll run a test with them as well.

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01-23-2007, 08:18 PM   #12
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I forgot to use the same aperture on some of the lenses I tested, so I'll re-do those tomorrow. I also forgot to take the M 135 and 200's out for a spin

Here are the reliable results so far, however:

SMC Pentax A* 200mm F2.8 ED
(ISO 100, F2.8, 100% crop, no PP)



SMC Pentax DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED
(ISO 100, F5.6, 100% crop, no PP)


In this first set, you can see that the A* has a much sharper and clearer image. When wide-open, the A* shows rare chromatic aberration in OOF areas, as it does in the above photo. The DA has a larger DOF at F5.6 and therefore had no problems.

Overall, the better lens is: The A* 200mm/2.8


SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.4
(ISO 100, F1.4, 100% crop, no PP)


SMC Pentax-DA 50-200mm F4-5.6
(ISO 100, F4, 100% crop, no PP)


Both of these shots present great detail and clarity. The A delivered a sharper yet slightly more hazy image wide-open. Considering the aperture difference here (2 stops), the A is definitely the winner.

For the record, though, I'll run a test tomorrow with the A set to F4 in addition to one involving the A 50/1.2.

Overall, the better lens is: The A 50mm/1.4

SMC Pentax-M 40mm F2.8
(ISO 100, F2.8, 100% crop, no PP)


SMC Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited
(ISO 100, F2.8, 100% crop, no PP)


I've posted another thread about the fact that the DA 40mm has a slightly larger angle of view than the M version.

According to these images, the M is sharper, but from my practical experience, it really isn't. I'll do further tests tomorrow to come up with something definitive.

Overall, the better lens is: Cannot make a conclusion


SMC Pentax-K 15mm F3.5
(ISO 100, F3.5, 100% crop, no PP)


SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL
(ISO 100, F3.5, 100% crop, no PP)


Although the 15mm image is slightly overexposed, it doesn't seem to have the orange fringing that the 18mm shows. I'll run further tests tomorrrow to make a conclusion.

Overall, the better lens is: Cannot make a conclusion

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