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05-11-2014, 02:54 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Best manual focus travel lens

I have a few questions but they are all related, so I won't bother you by making several threads.

I am looking for an old school inexpensive (<~$100) travel lens for my K-30. I already have some manual focus prime lenses and I love them all. But changing prime lenses on-the-fly is a pain.
I don't want to pay much for a modern hyper-zoom lens. I wonder if it is a good idea to get a manual focus zoom lens and use it on my K-30 instead? Something like a 70-210mm Vivitar Series 1? What's your suggestion?

I found a Vivitar, Series 1, 70-210mm 3.5, MACRO for $40, but it's a Nikon mount lens. I heard that some Nikon lenses mount on Pentax cameras with no modification. How about the one that I told you about? Is that an AI or non-AI one?

Thank you all.

Edit: Thanks to the lovely users of pentaxforum, I got some great responses. I try to summarize the answers here for later reference and for my and for others' convenience. I update the list as I get new answers.

The list shows the name of the lens with a link to the review page of the lens in the pentaxforum lens database, as well as the average ranking and average price of the lenses. Please let me know if there is a mistake in the list.


Short range zoom:

Mid range zoom:

Long range zoom:




Last edited by galaxytab; 05-11-2014 at 07:03 PM.
05-11-2014, 03:24 AM   #2
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The best lens that would fit the bill I think is this : SMC Pentax-M 35-70mm F2.8-3.5
I own it and it is a joy to use. With 35mm at shot end it gives you a great normal view with f2.8 - and then travels up untill 70mm which is roughly a 105mm with f3,5 - that is a classic portrait lens with only half a stop slower wide open than f2.8 - pretty much amazing lens with great sharpness across the zoom settings.
Only downside is lack of close focusing.

Other than that I would recommend this :
SMC Pentax-A 35-70mm F3.5-4.5
The size of a small prime but with the same zoom range but slower speed - biut that is compensated by really good macro mode - I like this lens very much and although I am not using it that often it has produced some amazing shots ( I should add my review there in fact ) - don't get detracted by some of the reviewers - perhaps their copies weren't good - but a good copy is a terrific lens !

>>-manntax-->
05-11-2014, 04:56 AM   #3
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Thanks manntax. I upgraded from a Fujifilm HS-10 with 30x zoom, so I could hardly understand the difference between a prime lens and 2x zoom lens
But your descriptions helps a lot.
05-11-2014, 06:38 AM   #4
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There are several adaptall lenses that could fit the bill.

The 35-70mm 17A offers the same/similar specs to the pentax 35-70's cited but is much more readily and cheaply available (though the mount is extra). The 01A 35-80 has the best reputation but price is correspondingly 2-4x higher. The later 28-70mm 44A is also good. The 28-80mm 27A has mixed reviews but pics posted online suggest that good IQ is there. For more range then the 35-135mm adaptalls 22A and 40A are both worthwhile (40A generally consider better), also the 28-135mm 28A but that's a bit scarce.

If TP range is a priority then there are a number of recommendable adaptall choices but the lens often referred to as the "Swiss army knife" of lenses for its versatility is the 60-300mm 23A: good IQ across its trange and good macro mode.

Approx typical auction prices: 17A 10-30, 01A 30-80;44A 10-25, 22A/40A 10-25; 27A/28A 20-40; 23A 30-70; (UK but I would be surprised if USA was much different)
17A is common and can sometimes be picked up for next to nothing.
Mounts: PKM 5-10, PKA 35-55 PKA mounts crop up pretty regularly and I would say its not difficult to pick one up for around 40+. By and large IME I would say your chances of being unlucky and picking up a bad one are small.


Last edited by marcusBMG; 05-11-2014 at 07:00 AM.
05-11-2014, 07:18 AM   #5
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Thanks marcusBMG. That's a nice list. I'd have an eye on ebay and local markets and buy one when I found a reasonable price. I am actually looking for a long zoom lens since I already have a 18-55mm kit lens which is not so useful for me.
05-11-2014, 07:38 AM   #6
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I have used the VS1 70-210 mm in both the 2nd and 3rd version, and seen test of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd version. I would suggest you wait for a PKA 3rd version. If you are looking for a long zoom this is excellent and gives you a useful macro range as well. It is optically superb--I think it is as good or better than the Pentax (K) 135mm f2.5 and Pentax Super Takumar 200 mm f/4. But it is push pull which some people don't like--personally I am a huge fan of this kind of construction. And It is not parafocal (i.e., focus does not change as you zoom.)

Version 3 is 62mm, f2.8~4, and the rubber is regular with a strong (standard type) relief pattern. It is not smooth rubber and does NOT have vivitar (and/or series 1?) moulded into the rubber--mentioned to avoid your getting a later (inferior) version of this series 1 lens.

---------- Post added 05-11-14 at 07:50 AM ----------

BTW I believe the site: Gary Reese Lens Tests - Zone-10 - Beyond the Light
has tests of this and other possible 3rd party choices

---------- Post added 05-11-14 at 07:57 AM ----------

Oh--you do know this lens (and other similar FL/f stop/macro range lenses) are/must be rather large (and metal construction/heavy)! For me it is my standard theater photography lens mounted on a 2nd camera, as you propose to do; but for hiking I would be looking to use my 200 f/5.6 tele takumar if I wanted 200 mm.
05-11-2014, 08:04 AM   #7
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If you want a tele zoom, the Tamron SP Adaptall 23A 60-300 is excellent, and it has a superb macro mode. The IQ is right up there with the Pentax DA 55-300. It is a bit long & heavy, though.
05-11-2014, 08:15 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by galaxytab Quote
I found a Vivitar, Series 1, 70-210mm 3.5, MACRO for $40, but it's a Nikon mount lens. I heard that some Nikon lenses mount on Pentax cameras with no modification. How about the one that I told you about? Is that an AI or non-AI one
This Vivitar is large and heavy. I personally would not use it as a travel lens.

If changing lenses is the issue, have you considered buying another body to use with your existing primes?


Last edited by freerider; 05-11-2014 at 08:20 AM.
05-11-2014, 08:40 AM   #9
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Why not an old AF lens? I got my hands on a Tamron SP AF 24-135 f/3.5-5.6 MACRO for my K-x (it's now on my K-30) a while back and I hardly take it off when on vacations. . Being an SP lens its buit and IQ are quite good. The MACRO is actually very good. Besides the fact that it is a bit more expensive than what your looking for (more in the 175-225 US$ range) and it is a bit heavy (530 g) I think this makes an excellent all around travel lens. I got it because I was tired of getting dust on my sensor when changing lenses when hiking and it took care of my problem very effectively.

Edit: Also if 24-135 is too short for your needs. The sigma 75-200 f/3.8 AF (ok AF again) is really cheap (100$) and very sharp. Plus for the price you're looking for you get AF.

Last edited by SunValley; 05-11-2014 at 01:06 PM.
05-11-2014, 09:17 AM   #10
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Another suggestion, slightly left field but common and cheap and surprisingly decent, and absolutely in the travel lens category, is the compact tokina sd 70-210mm zoom. This normally comes with pka mount too. Well worth picking up for $20 odd (estimate) in any event - you can't go wrong with this one at that sort of price.
05-11-2014, 09:22 AM   #11
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Another odd AF bargain is the Quantaray 28-90 1:2 macro; it's f/3.5-5.6 so not for low light, but sharp talented & inexpensive - and lightweight to boot Pair this with the Q-ray 100-300 f/4.5-6.7 and you have two sunny-day champs for about $80 (my two cost $65 total).

05-11-2014, 09:25 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by galaxytab Quote
I have a few questions but they are all related, so I won't bother you by making several threads.

I am looking for an old school inexpensive (<~$100) travel lens for my K-30. I already have some manual focus prime lenses and I love them all. But changing prime lenses on-the-fly is a pain.
I don't want to pay much for a modern hyper-zoom lens. I wonder if it is a good idea to get a manual focus zoom lens and use it on my K-30 instead? Something like a 70-210mm Vivitar Series 1? What's your suggestion?

I found a Vivitar, Series 1, 70-210mm 3.5, MACRO for $40, but it's a Nikon mount lens. I heard that some Nikon lenses mount on Pentax cameras with no modification. How about the one that I told you about? Is that an AI or non-AI one?

Thank you all.
I'd recommend this one:
SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5 Reviews - A Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

The only issue with older zooms is that they're not very wide on APS-C. So you may be better off with the 18-55mm for instance...

Adam
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05-11-2014, 09:28 AM   #13
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I would go for the autofocus F70-210 or the cheaper and slightly inferior takumar-F 70-200. The downside is poor MF abilities, the gain is snappy AF and good IQ. Or then the F35-105 if you need a shorter lens.

Seb
05-11-2014, 11:18 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by bassek Quote
I would go for the autofocus F70-210 or the cheaper and slightly inferior takumar-F 70-200. The downside is poor MF abilities, the gain is snappy AF and good IQ. Or then the F35-105 if you need a shorter lens.

Seb
AF zoom lenses have an advantage - they report focal length to SR so you don't have to. The F70-210 is very good for travel. It looks slow at the long end but is very sharp wide open, more usable than a lot of older lenses rated f3.5. The Vivitar Series 1 might be competitive here. The F70-210 is somewhat heavy but very compact, definitely better than the Vivitar.

A compromise might be the Pentax-A 70-210mm f4.

If I don't expect a lot of telephoto shots, I'll bring something like the Pentax-M 135/3.5, or lately the Pentax-M 120/2.8. They are definitely travel size.
05-11-2014, 11:24 AM   #15
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That heavy lump is grossly over-rated
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