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03-02-2014, 02:10 AM   #1
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Older 35mm AF Glass on a DSLR (K5 and K10D).

Hi,
Just recently signed up to post, although I have been reading the forums for quite some time. Great forums/discussions/threads and the Pentax forums are my "go to" general guide/reference for reviews on lenses/cams etc for quite a while. Enough of that as you have heard it thousands of times
I have been shooting pro for about 20 years. In 1992 I snatched up on sale a PZ-10 and later on a PZ-20 because of the auto-focus (the PZ-10 was my first auto-focus camera), I do not have the best of vision/eye-sight and the AF was a godsend to me after shooting manual focus lenses since the mid-70's and having lost many great photographs because of crappy eye sight and the introduction of auto-focus lenses/cameras made my photographic love/experience and career more realistic.
I have, over the years acquired many lenses. All of them auto-focus (post 1992). Around 1998 when I went "digital" (but still offered customers 35mm photography, and I still do) things got more complex. But I decided around 2006-2007 to purchase the K10D because the camera was backward compatible with existing 35mm APO AF lenses and it saved me a ton of cash from buying a new camera brand and new lenses as I had at that point acquired thousands of dollars in lenses and Pentax was "my brand" and I was a committed Pentax lover.

Currently using: K10D and K5

My question to fellow Pentax users who still use/experiment with the "old glass" is:

What is your experience with it and how do you make the best of it?

My personal experiences find that it has very "soft" results and tends to leave a yellow or green hue (hue and color correction is easily corrected in Photoshop) and sharpness is minimal but results are unique, but to me not of professional grade although in 35mm they come out perfect.

How is this corrected? How do you compensate for the quality? Is it just me?

I also am curious as to why this effect and/or result happens as it is decent/okay glass but the effects and results are different when attached to a DSLR compared to a 35mm camera.
On the K10D and K5 I use:

Sigma DC 18-200mm f3.5-6.3
Pentax (kit) 15-55mm SMC DA F3.5-5.6
Pentax "prime" SMC DA 50mm F1.8
Penatx "prime" SMC DA 35mm F2.4 AL
I have excellent results (no complaints) using the "digital" glass.

My Old AF Glass:

Sigma 170-500mm F5-6.3
Sigma 75-300mm F4-5.6
Sigma 28-300mm F3.5-6.3

Other older lenses I have acquired/purchased but very rarely use, these were the most commonly used.

Would love to hear your input and suggestions/opinions.
~Dave

03-02-2014, 08:08 AM   #2
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I don't think it's just you, but you've got some fairly radical old lenses there, and you're comparing them to some relatively conservative newer lenses.

170-500 is more difficult to deal with on digital, because of the 1.5x factor, and when you get out past 200-300mm, really only the best lenses could hold up well, even on 35mm. The 75-300 was a fairly early effort in that class of lens, as was the 28-300. You're comparing those to relatively conservative digital lenses (well, the 18-200 not as much.) It could be - perhaps would even be likely - that comparing moderate-aperture or high-end primes from the pre-digital era would give you different results.

There have been some advancements in both lens design and coatings since your older lenses were made, but those things show up much more in complex lenses (large aperture or wide-range zooms) than in, say, a 135/3.5.

However I also think that old lenses get a bit of a pass around the forum, partly because it's hard to complain that much about something you might have paid $50 for vs. $500. And I think Pentax-brand lenses sometimes do too, on average. That's not unique to Pentax - it's like that with other brand-related forums too. So when you read a super-enthusiastic report, you might want to factor that in.
03-02-2014, 08:49 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forum, although it seems you are a long time Pentax user.

The APS-C sensors are a bit more demanding on the lens optical quality on account of the smaller image circle, which leads to the x1.5 cropping factor. So the long lens will suffer most. IMHO, the older Sigma glass you are commenting on are not particularly good optically. These are all fairly early versions of long FL with some extreme zoom range (for their day). And are not optimised for digital; so colors, CA and such-like performance might not be great.

Something to try on your 170-500 is to only shot at f/8 to f/11. I have the DG version of 170-500, and at 500mm the lens is very soft wide open, but improves markedly when stopped down. You will also need to look at good technique and/or tripod at 300-500mm as you are at the same magnification as 450-750mm on 35mm film format. I shot TAv on K-5 so I can keep shutter speed high and aperture stopped down while floating ISO to suit.

Hope this helps a bit.
03-02-2014, 10:26 AM   #4
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I bought a Sigma 170-500 back in 2003, and got rid of it. I did better cropping my ancient M 400/5.6. Nice range, but lousy at the longer end. And that was on film. I've never used the other two Sigmas, so cannot say anything about them.

03-02-2014, 11:21 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
I bought a Sigma 170-500 back in 2003, and got rid of it. I did better cropping my ancient M 400/5.6. Nice range, but lousy at the longer end. And that was on film. I've never used the other two Sigmas, so cannot say anything about them.
Agree about the 170-500. A very very nice handling lens, small and light, but not sharp enough at 500mm.
03-02-2014, 11:21 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
I don't think it's just you, but you've got some fairly radical old lenses there, and you're comparing them to some relatively conservative newer lenses.

170-500 is more difficult to deal with on digital, because of the 1.5x factor, and when you get out past 200-300mm, really only the best lenses could hold up well, even on 35mm. The 75-300 was a fairly early effort in that class of lens, as was the 28-300. You're comparing those to relatively conservative digital lenses (well, the 18-200 not as much.) It could be - perhaps would even be likely - that comparing moderate-aperture or high-end primes from the pre-digital era would give you different results.

There have been some advancements in both lens design and coatings since your older lenses were made, but those things show up much more in complex lenses (large aperture or wide-range zooms) than in, say, a 135/3.5.

However I also think that old lenses get a bit of a pass around the forum, partly because it's hard to complain that much about something you might have paid $50 for vs. $500. And I think Pentax-brand lenses sometimes do too, on average. That's not unique to Pentax - it's like that with other brand-related forums too. So when you read a super-enthusiastic report, you might want to factor that in.
Hi Tib,
Thanks for your response and input. I do realize lenses have come a long way in design and technology and it was a little baffling to discover that the older glass wasn't performing as well as I had hoped, as it did well with my 35mm Cams. But I do understand with what you have said and it does explain a lot. I wasn't expecting them to perform as well as the newer lenses but was mildly disappointed with the results as Pentax had claimed "compatibility" with older lenses in which they are correct but just not as compatible as I had hoped.
Thanks again for your post
03-02-2014, 11:46 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by KevinR Quote
Welcome to the forum, although it seems you are a long time Pentax user.

The APS-C sensors are a bit more demanding on the lens optical quality on account of the smaller image circle, which leads to the x1.5 cropping factor. So the long lens will suffer most. IMHO, the older Sigma glass you are commenting on are not particularly good optically. These are all fairly early versions of long FL with some extreme zoom range (for their day). And are not optimised for digital; so colors, CA and such-like performance might not be great.

Something to try on your 170-500 is to only shot at f/8 to f/11. I have the DG version of 170-500, and at 500mm the lens is very soft wide open, but improves markedly when stopped down. You will also need to look at good technique and/or tripod at 300-500mm as you are at the same magnification as 450-750mm on 35mm film format. I shot TAv on K-5 so I can keep shutter speed high and aperture stopped down while floating ISO to suit.

Hope this helps a bit.
Hi Kevin,
Thanks for the comment. Well written and informational. Excellent suggestion with the longer lens, I will definitely give it a try maintaining the f8-11, stopping down and varying the ISO and do some experimental shots, probably the best idea would really just spend a day running these lenses through a battery of tests/ranges and find the best results. I didn't have any major issues when using them on the 35mm cameras as I knew the lenses well and typically had satisfying results over thousands of photos taken with them, I guess I basically have to re-learn the lens and its capabilities as it applies to digital in this case. I definitely appreciate your reply and will use your suggestion as a starting point and take it from there. Thanks again
03-02-2014, 11:55 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Canada_Rockies Quote
I bought a Sigma 170-500 back in 2003, and got rid of it. I did better cropping my ancient M 400/5.6. Nice range, but lousy at the longer end. And that was on film. I've never used the other two Sigmas, so cannot say anything about them.
Hi Canada-Rock,
I was very satisfied with the 170-500 on 35mm overall, obviously not a high end lens, but at the time, bang for the buck it was quite satisfying. It did take a bit and a lot of test shots to learn the lens but once I got rolling with it, it was pretty cool. 90% of my work with that lens was done on a tripod. In the 35mm aspect you may have jumped the gun getting rid of it that fast.

03-03-2014, 10:48 AM   #9
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Hi Dave. Something else to try is to back off a little on the FL of the 170-500. If you are used to it on 35mm format, you only need to zoom to about 350mm to get the same field of view. The lens is also markedly better at <400mm than 500mm.

Have a look at this review of the S135-400 baby of 170-500 Sigma AF 135-400mm f/4.5-5.6 APO Aspherical RF - Review / Test Report This highlights some of the lens limitations and character.


Regards
03-03-2014, 11:45 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by njphotog Quote
Hi Canada-Rock,
I was very satisfied with the 170-500 on 35mm overall, obviously not a high end lens, but at the time, bang for the buck it was quite satisfying. It did take a bit and a lot of test shots to learn the lens but once I got rolling with it, it was pretty cool. 90% of my work with that lens was done on a tripod. In the 35mm aspect you may have jumped the gun getting rid of it that fast.
No, it just wasn't anywhere near the image quality of the M 400/5.6 on MZ-S and film. I had thought I might like the flexibility of the zoom ratio, but it just did not work for me.

---------- Post added 2014-03-03 at 11:50 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by KevinR Quote
Hi Dave. Something else to try is to back off a little on the FL of the 170-500. If you are used to it on 35mm format, you only need to zoom to about 350mm to get the same field of view. The lens is also markedly better at <400mm than 500mm.

Have a look at this review of the S135-400 baby of 170-500 Sigma AF 135-400mm f/4.5-5.6 APO Aspherical RF - Review / Test Report This highlights some of the lens limitations and character.


Regards
This sort of confirms my impression of the 170-500 - rather soft at the long end. On film the CA did not show up as much, but having the M 400/5.6 already, the 170-500 just did not cut it, so it went away. A bit of a hit on the wallet, but why hang onto something that doesn't work the way I wanted.
03-03-2014, 01:57 PM   #11
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Old zooms in general, with very few exceptions, did not deliver sharp results, and even those that did, have severe PF problems on digital sensors. They have gotten much better in recent years.

Older primes on the other hand, deliver the results.
03-09-2014, 04:52 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by KevinR Quote
Hi Dave. Something else to try is to back off a little on the FL of the 170-500. If you are used to it on 35mm format, you only need to zoom to about 350mm to get the same field of view. The lens is also markedly better at <400mm than 500mm.

Have a look at this review of the S135-400 baby of 170-500 Sigma AF 135-400mm f/4.5-5.6 APO Aspherical RF - Review / Test Report This highlights some of the lens limitations and character.


Regards
Hi Kevin,
My apologies for the late response, I haven't logged in for a bit and was very busy over the last week or so.
I am very familiar with crop factor and do take that into consideration, with your suggestion and you are correct I basically need to re-establish and re-orient myself with the older glass as I realize that a re-education is in order. I def appreciate your response as I appreciated everyone that responded to my question/post. I am waiting for the weather to ease up a bit here in NJ and I plan on spending a few days re-evaluating my lenses as to what is needed (for my style and work) and what is important by doing a series of various test shots at all focal lengths (etc) on all my lenses.
I did a quick inventory on my "collection" of lenses tonight (I do have several others that are not listed and in hiatus/storage) but this is basically my revised addition from my original post. I plan on selling off a few on ebay and maintaining a decent balance of necessary lenses, some I love and swear by and others are so-so. I do run the K10D and K5 for event photography and strictly use the K5 but my back-up is the workhorse K10D. The K5 and K10 has carried me through magazine ads, concerts, news photography, portrait, real estate and product photography.
My updated lens list (arghhhh)...

Pentax Lenses:
Pentax 18-55mm kit lens X2
Pentax SMC 50mm DA f1.8
Pentax SMC 35mm F2.4 AL

Sigma Lenses:
Sigma 28-300mm (macro) f3.5-6.3
Sigma DL 75-300mm F4-5.6
Sigma DC 18-200mm F3.5-6.3
Sigma DC 17-70mm F2.8-4
Sigma APO 170-500mm F5-6.3

Tokina AT-X Pro AF 80-200 F2.8

It is tough learning a lens and then not using it for several months and having to use it again and trying to remember that "magic spot" that worked so well during the previous use, I would like to cut down on my collection and just have available what would cover my basic needs.
~Dave
03-09-2014, 06:24 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by njphotog Quote
I plan on selling off a few on ebay
The Marketplace here also offers an opportunity to sell (after a small donation).

On digital, I've been using primes that date back to the 1960's,
but it was interesting to see your comparison
of older zooms on film and digital.

Is your vision good enough for focus-peaking?
If so, you might still be able to use any old MF lenses that you may have,
on one of the more recent bodies,
at least for static portraits, real estate photography, product shots, and such.

Focus confirmation and catch-in-focus are also useful.
One of our former contributors, RioRico, had really bad eyesight,
but seemed to get on well with catch-in-focus.
03-10-2014, 12:34 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by njphotog Quote
I did a quick inventory on my "collection" of lenses tonight (I do have several others that are not listed and in hiatus/storage) but this is basically my revised addition from my original post. I plan on selling off a few on ebay and maintaining a decent balance of necessary lenses, some I love and swear by and others are so-so. I do run the K10D and K5 for event photography and strictly use the K5 but my back-up is the workhorse K10D. The K5 and K10 has carried me through magazine ads, concerts, news photography, portrait, real estate and product photography.
My updated lens list (arghhhh)...

Pentax Lenses:
Pentax 18-55mm kit lens X2
Pentax SMC 50mm DA f1.8
Pentax SMC 35mm F2.4 AL

Sigma Lenses:
Sigma 28-300mm (macro) f3.5-6.3
Sigma DL 75-300mm F4-5.6
Sigma DC 18-200mm F3.5-6.3
Sigma DC 17-70mm F2.8-4
Sigma APO 170-500mm F5-6.3

Tokina AT-X Pro AF 80-200 F2.8

It is tough learning a lens and then not using it for several months and having to use it again and trying to remember that "magic spot" that worked so well during the previous use, I would like to cut down on my collection and just have available what would cover my basic needs.
~Dave
Your Pentax lenses are all good, the Tokina should be a gem according to the reviews Tokina AT-X 828AF PRO 80-200mm F2.8 Lens Reviews - Tokina Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database , so I would definitely keep those.

I like my Sigmas, but they all have a shorter zoom range than yours, I would maybe keep the 17-70 and the 170-500, and one of the superzooms (18-200?) for travel reasons.

Seb
03-15-2014, 12:42 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
The Marketplace here also offers an opportunity to sell (after a small donation).

On digital, I've been using primes that date back to the 1960's,
but it was interesting to see your comparison
of older zooms on film and digital.

Is your vision good enough for focus-peaking?
If so, you might still be able to use any old MF lenses that you may have,
on one of the more recent bodies,
at least for static portraits, real estate photography, product shots, and such.

Focus confirmation and catch-in-focus are also useful.
One of our former contributors, RioRico, had really bad eyesight,
but seemed to get on well with catch-in-focus.
___________________________________________________

My apologies again for slow replies, I have been extremely busy and I love the Pentax forums, I am a new member here and dont want to appear as someone who is uninterested in the forums/threads here.
My eyesight is good enough for average daily functions. I have a bad right eye (extremely bad). No diopter on any camera will ever compensate for it. My last visit(s) to the eye doctor consisted of 11 trips with a specialist brought in and with an end result of a pair of glasses that are so-so...not perfect. I very much depend on auto-focus. I did "sign-up" for the nifty-fifty traveling lens and will make the best of it should it make my way in the distant future. I def avoid manual focus lenses and had rid myself of them back in the early 90's with my purchase of my first auto-focus Pentax camera. Basically my right eye drifts in and out of focus and also is a "lazy" eye. It tends to drift away when not focusing on a specific subject, I wore an eye-patch (on my left good eye) as a child in attempt to correct it and force the lazy eye to look forward and focus and strengthening the muscles in that eye. I was informed that it was a great thing as my eye would be useless to this day if the patch wasnt worn back then. I can never get contacts because the focal center point with eye glasses forcing my right eye to look forward would be moot, allowing it to drift.
Hence my eyesight issues. :/
I never really attempted the catch in focus mode and never actually experimented with it as I guess I have become more dependent on AF. With auto-focus I have no issues and my photography has not suffered in any way, I do have a business partner/assistant and if I run into a tough situation..."hey, you do this one". No prob
~Dave

---------- Post added 03-15-14 at 04:24 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by bassek Quote
Your Pentax lenses are all good, the Tokina should be a gem according to the reviews Tokina AT-X 828AF PRO 80-200mm F2.8 Lens Reviews - Tokina Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database , so I would definitely keep those.

I like my Sigmas, but they all have a shorter zoom range than yours, I would maybe keep the 17-70 and the 170-500, and one of the superzooms (18-200?) for travel reasons.

Seb
Hi Seb,
Yes. My thoughts are very similar. The Tokina ("Tank" at 3lbs) is a beast and I would never give that up, a beautiful, beautiful lens, the 17-70 I just recently acquired and love it, the 170-500 is my old glass and doesn't have that "punch" and clarity (with my k5 and k10) although I got some incredible shots a few years ago of Jupiter and its moons and Venus and also the Space Shuttle being piggy backed flying into NYC from Liberty State Park (NJ). The 18-200 and 175-500 I can't use professionally but like you said about the 18-200, for personal use it is very adequate. The focal range is just too great on the 18-200 to get a true professional image although it does have its magic spots that do work well. I actually put it on my k10 while doing a model shoot in NYC in 2012 for the hell of it and had some pretty damn good results. With controlled lighting (soft boxes/reflectors) I was able to get some outstanding shots shooting at 100th/sec at a mid-range f-stop in the 70-80mm range. I wouldn't recommend it for shooting models but it was an experiment for about 10 minutes at the time and it did quite well. Don't try this at home!
My Pentax lenses overall I am very happy with.
Being a new member to the forum, I was VERY surprised to find members preferring "light" lenses (as in weight). This I will never understand, although I do in a way understand it takes a load off hand-held photography but I have always found a heavier lens to be more stable especially shooting at lower shutter speeds. A heavier lens definitely provides more stability as its own weight acts as a center of gravity/stability point. Probably just me and my preference but i will take a 3lb Lens over a 1.5lb lens any day assuming they have the same qualities/features.
~Dave
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