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05-31-2014, 01:01 PM   #1
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Good old lenses?

Hi everyone. I am new on here but have been reading the forums for weeks since I decided to save up for my K-5 (body only)...almost there! Having read these forums and lens threads for weeks, you'd think I would know by now what type of lens I need!

Since I am going to be practically broke after purchasing the K-5 body, I will probably be looking for one or two good second hand/old lenses to tide me over until I can save up for a good new one.
Aside from them being cheaper, would also allow me to try various focal lengths to find the ones that suit me, then when I come to buy new expensive lenses, I will know I am buying the right length,
I am aware that you only get what you pay for so I can't expect too much from a budget of around 100 pounds. But that's where I need you guys...

(For a super zoom for my birds and wildlife, I will be looking at newer lenses much later on, so for now I don't think I need anything more than 70mm.)

For now I need something for my landscapes, night skies and portraits.

I have read that if you like sharpness and clarity then fixed lenses are best, so I should get one lens for landscapes/sky, and one for portraits. Do you agree? If so, what are your favourite old fixed lenses?

If you do not agree with the fixed lens thing, could you let me know what you favourite old zoom lens is that has good clarity/sharpness?

I am fine with manual focus!


Thank you all in advance.
Cheers tae dee ;o)

05-31-2014, 01:46 PM   #2
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I've long advocated purchasing an inexpensive medium and long zoom to explore the desired prime views you'll eventually find natural. If you're new enough to the DSLR to be asking for advice you'll likely not be making images where the 10% difference between consumer and 'pro' quality will make a noticeable difference until you have some personal preferences well in hand and ready to purchase YOUR favorites from actual, hands on experience - a rare thing these days

Learn to look through the lens and explore the fields of view and perspectives that work for you. Those economy zooms can be 'locked' at the various FL's you want to play with (tape/rubber band) so they act like a pocket full of primes forcing you to use fixed FL techniques too.

Think of the money you spend on economy zooms like textbooks for a Photo 101 class knowing you can sell 'em back if they no longer have value to you.

Once you KNOW what FL's you use, you can buy primes with confidence you'll be choosin' lenses you'll actually use.
05-31-2014, 01:48 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Hey, welcome!
I'll try to write down the key concepts for old lenses on your Pentax DSLR
a) Zoom vs. prime: Lenses with a fixed focal length are called prime lenses. They have one one field of view and it cannot be changed. They (should) give higher quality rendering and better low light performance. Zoom lenses are the ones with a "zoom ring" where you can change the effective focal length. So you can zoom out or zoom in. Do not get this confused with "tele lenses" which just make faraway objects appear close (tele lenses are the opposite of wide angle lenses). Modern day zoom lenses are very complex and can deliver pretty good image quality! But if you are buying lenses older than 15 years, you should probably avoid zoom lenses and stick to primes. This gives you a better chance of getting good image quality
b) Manual vs. automatic: At one point, autofocus was invented. Lenses made before that, do not have the AF mechanism, so they need to be focused manually, by hand. Even aperture control was invented at one point, so lenses before the Pentax A series do not allow you to control the lens aperture on the camera - you need to control it by hand on the lens itself. The Pentax K and M series (and older) need to have aperture adjusted on the lens, which means continuous metering is also not possible. Basically, if you buy a lens with the letter A on the aperture ring, it will be easier to use. Pentax A series lenses have automatic aperture control, but no autofocus. These are often good deals and allow you some more automation than M series lenses.
c) Wide angle: In the past, lenses wider than around 24mm were rather rare and not as good as modern day wide angle lenses. So you should probably avoid those.
d) 35mm, 50mm! These focal lengths were very common and popular in the past, so they are not too expensive and deliver good image quality. Especially 50mm lenses. I have a Pentax M 50mm f1.7 that I bought for under $60 and it is a great lens. I think the optical design is almost the same as the modern Pentax DA 50mm f1.8 - but the DA has modern lens coatings and automation like AF.
e) lens hood, filters: The older the lens is, the more primitive its lens coatings are. Especially on digital cameras, this can affect the image quality. To help with this, buy a lens hood for the lens. It can make a big difference, especially in sunlight. The lens hood must be appropriate for the lens' focal length. You can find many cheap chinese knock offs on the ebay or other such websites, often for under $20 and with free shipping. Regarding filters, you probably don't need anything. UV filters were important on film, but are practically useless on digital cameras (some use them for "protection" but some don't even accept that). Polarizing filters might be useful for landscape photography and flower photography, but no need to rush. There are also many threads about filters if you want to read up

A good resource is the Pentax forums lens review database, where you can check how others feel about a certain lens:
Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Maybe you already know a lot of this, but this is the basic info that will get you started in the exciting world of legacy lenses.

tl:dr; To start off, I would suggest you buy older 50mm or 55mm lens (preferably with f-number smaller than f2) for portraits and a 24mm lens for landscapes. The ones with the letter "A" on the aperture ring, will be easier to use, but will cost a little more than the ones with manual aperture rings.
But! I hope you get the kit DA 18-55mm lens with your camera. Its not an amazing lens, but it is a good learning tool. And often its very handy to have a nice zoom range and decent AF. Especially if you get the WR version of the lens, then you can go out in poor weather! Remember that the lens has to be WR, too if you want to go out in rain

Also, here is a great thread to help you with the technical part of actually using old manual lenses, once you actually have them:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/54-pentax-lens-articles/110657-how-use-me...k-x-k-7-a.html

Last edited by Na Horuk; 05-31-2014 at 01:56 PM.
05-31-2014, 02:38 PM   #4
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Pacerr, thank you for your reply, I hadn't thought of the elastic band thing! I have been really looking at primes. I used my mothers prime 50mm on her camera just to get an idea of it, and found it really awkward at first as I have only ever used zooms. In fact for the past 3 years I have been stuck with a non interchangeable 24-720mm! I still have the feeling I'm a prime person, lol. I don't mind changing lenses every 5 minutes, as long as the result is good.

Na Horuk! Wow that was so helpful and informative! Thank you! And you also reminded me that it would probably make more sense for me to go for a WR lens. I totally forgot that one of the reasons I am buying the K-5 is that it's weather resistant and living up here in shetland, that's very important, it's rains loads! If I am to get legacy lenses then I must remember not to use them in the rain.

I will have a browse through some 'A' prime lenses on ebay and see whats there.

Thanks again!

05-31-2014, 03:23 PM   #5
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One thing not mentioned yet is the difference between lenses designed for full frame film cameras and those designed for the smaller APSC sensor size of a DSLR. The crop factor effectively makes a film lens in say 50mm focal length more like a 75mm focal length lens.

Read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_factor
05-31-2014, 04:42 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mirrie Dancer Quote
Pacerr, thank you for your reply, I hadn't thought of the elastic band thing! I have been really looking at primes. I used my mothers prime 50mm on her camera just to get an idea of it, and found it really awkward at first as I have only ever used zooms. In fact for the past 3 years I have been stuck with a non interchangeable 24-720mm! I still have the feeling I'm a prime person, lol. I don't mind changing lenses every 5 minutes, as long as the result is good.

Na Horuk! Wow that was so helpful and informative! Thank you! And you also reminded me that it would probably make more sense for me to go for a WR lens. I totally forgot that one of the reasons I am buying the K-5 is that it's weather resistant and living up here in shetland, that's very important, it's rains loads! If I am to get legacy lenses then I must remember not to use them in the rain.

I will have a browse through some 'A' prime lenses on ebay and see whats there.

Thanks again!
It would probably help if you identified what aspect of the results you were getting that you didn't like about your 24-720mm experience. Certainly the range of focal lengths was probably not the issue.
05-31-2014, 04:49 PM   #7
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For island landscapes,
I'd recommend the K24/2.8 as a relatively cheap lens
with a wide angle and good colour reproduction,
and the M100/2.8 for portraits and the long view.

However, while you might find an M100/2.8 for less than 100 pounds,
wide angles are more expensive.
The M28/2.8 is cheaper, but more of a normal lens on the K5.

These old lenses are not designated "WR",
but you can always wipe them off if they catch a few sprinkles.
A black umbrella is a useful photo tool in the rain.
05-31-2014, 05:22 PM   #8
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SMC Pentax-F 35-70 f/3.5-4.5 - nice little all around lens, could be found for about $50. "Normal" to portrait length, a decent macro mode, and very portable. Not that fast. Has AF.

SMC Pentax M 50mm f/1.7 - about $60, tops, and great for portraits. All-manual. (Any of the K, M, A, F or FA 50/1.7s or 1.4s would work here, as would the new DA 50 1.8, but it isn't old.)

05-31-2014, 09:54 PM   #9
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If quality is a big deal then Pentax A series primes are the best balance of convenience, cost and quality on a DSLR. Basically every feature but autofocus is present and working.
I would go nuts if I couldn't quickly use the front and rear dials to set aperture and shutter speed. Very worth getting A series for a DSLR.
There is a little green light thing and a red focus point box that light up in the viewfinder when you have focus correct (you will see what I mean when you get the camera), using that is easier and cheaper than trying to swap out the focus screen right from the get go.

I mainly use the FA28-70 F4 (good cheap lens) and the FA80-320 F4.5-5.6 (adequate very cheap lens) and A50 1.4 (great lens) on my K5 now and the rest are in the film camera bag which sees just as much use.
06-01-2014, 02:32 AM   #10
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Racer x 69, I did not know that! That's made things even more confusing / Thanks for that info.

Tibbitts, I forgot to mention that that 24-720mm lens I've been using is just a non interchangeable lens that is on my fuji SLR. There is nothing I dont like about it as it's all I've known. I don't own my Pentax yet, Im almost saved up for it. Im researching what equipments I'd need ;o)

Most of these lenses are getting really great reviews guys, so I will be keeping an eye out for some of them on ebay. Particularly the F 35-70 f/3.5-4.5.

Even if I did do a u-turn at the last minute and decide to go for a newer lens, I would probably still want to get some of these old lenses as I really like the retro colour they produce in portraits.

PPPPPP42 thanks for that advice about the focus screen. I will need to start writing these tips down.

Yes the WR issue, now that I think about it, I don't often shoot in crazy weather. As long as I dont fall into the sea on the beach with my camera like I did last time then I should be ok. Lol
06-01-2014, 07:23 AM   #11
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Regarding crop factor.. the angle of view of all 50mm lenses will be the same on your camera. Doesn't matter if it was made for film, for medium format, etc. Crop factor is only important if you compare a lens' field of view on a film camera and then on a crop sensor digital camera. So the 50mm on a film camera will appear a wider angle than if you put the same lens on a crop sensor camera. With crop, its the camera that is the limit, not the lens. Simply put, better not worry about it
06-01-2014, 08:11 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mirrie Dancer Quote
Racer x 69, I did not know that! That's made things even more confusing / Thanks for that info.

Tibbitts, I forgot to mention that that 24-720mm lens I've been using is just a non interchangeable lens that is on my fuji SLR. There is nothing I dont like about it as it's all I've known. I don't own my Pentax yet, Im almost saved up for it. Im researching what equipments I'd need ;o)

Most of these lenses are getting really great reviews guys, so I will be keeping an eye out for some of them on ebay. Particularly the F 35-70 f/3.5-4.5.

Even if I did do a u-turn at the last minute and decide to go for a newer lens, I would probably still want to get some of these old lenses as I really like the retro colour they produce in portraits.

PPPPPP42 thanks for that advice about the focus screen. I will need to start writing these tips down.

Yes the WR issue, now that I think about it, I don't often shoot in crazy weather. As long as I dont fall into the sea on the beach with my camera like I did last time then I should be ok. Lol
I understand the 24-720 is a superzoom, but the point is to identify what you find inadequate about the superzoom. Maybe it's maximum aperture, maybe noise, maybe lack of coverage below 24mm, etc. In other words, it would help to know why you're leaving the superzoom world.

You have to keep in mind that this is a Pentax forum, and you may find the reviews a little more generous when it comes to older Pentax lenses. Even outside of Pentax lenses, you might find that reviews are a little less picky for lenses that cost $50 vs. ones that cost $500. So an "8" for a $50 lens doesn't necessarily mean it would rate an "8" if it cost $500.

Personally I don't get the color issue that everybody talks about - and didn't even in the Kodachrome days. The color variation in processing - even with Pro emulsions - from one roll to another was more than the variation in lenses. And now we have sensors that vary in their color response from one camera to another, and various software that interprets the data coming off the sensor differently, and monitors that display the colors differently. You can put together a workflow that will control color to various degrees within your own little world, but the reality today is that people are going to view your images on whatever device they have, and that device is going to interpret your images any way it sees fit. So I can see evaluating lenses based on sharpness, distortion, etc., but color would be way, way down on my list.
06-01-2014, 08:30 AM   #13
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Every lens projects a cone of light toward the sensor/film plane. That cone of light never changes regardless of the camera type or sensor size.

Every lens has a designed registration distance - in simple terms, how far is it from the base of the len to the sensor/film plane. In essence, registration distance also doesn't change for a given brand of camera.

The only thing that changes is how much of that cone of light is captured by the sensor/negative at the designed sensor/film plane.

A larger sensor (i.e., a 35mm negative) will "see" a larger portion of the cone of light than a smaller sensor (say APS-C, which is roughly half the size of the 35mm negative) at the same registration distance.

It's only the RELATIVE area of the captured cone of light that changes with the smaller capture area of the APS--C sensor making it APPEAR to be taken with a longer FL lens RELATIVE to the 35mm image.

For all practical purposes, simply understand that lenses used with an APS-C DSLR will appear to be taken with a lens about 50% longer than if that same lens was used on a 35mm body (just a common point of comparison and often referred to as a full frame body). There will be similar image size differences relative to all other digital sensors with a different size than APS-C.

Again, a little experience with an economy zoom will quickly show you what FL's you favor regardless of the confusion of crop factor.
06-01-2014, 09:06 AM   #14
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Since you are short in funds (and I do know the feeling - especially when starting out), I would suggest the kit lens - the 18-55. Why? Well, it is pretty inexpensive, you get a wide variety of focal lengths - wide angle to short telephoto. For what you want to do, it seems to fit the bill. Also, if you are going for a single lens (at least initially), it gives you some latitude. Here are some samples...
06-01-2014, 10:29 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
Since you are short in funds (and I do know the feeling - especially when starting out), I would suggest the kit lens - the 18-55. Why? Well, it is pretty inexpensive, you get a wide variety of focal lengths - wide angle to short telephoto. For what you want to do, it seems to fit the bill. Also, if you are going for a single lens (at least initially), it gives you some latitude. Here are some samples...

Thanks for this advice. I think I would rather have a fixed lens with better IQ than a zoom lens with a better range but not-so-good IQ. I have read in so many places that the kit lenses are really not at all good /

---------- Post added 06-01-14 at 06:47 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
I understand the 24-720 is a superzoom, but the point is to identify what you find inadequate about the superzoom. Maybe it's maximum aperture, maybe noise, maybe lack of coverage below 24mm, etc. In other words, it would help to know why you're leaving the superzoom world.

You have to keep in mind that this is a Pentax forum, and you may find the reviews a little more generous when it comes to older Pentax lenses. Even outside of Pentax lenses, you might find that reviews are a little less picky for lenses that cost $50 vs. ones that cost $500. So an "8" for a $50 lens doesn't necessarily mean it would rate an "8" if it cost $500.

Personally I don't get the color issue that everybody talks about - and didn't even in the Kodachrome days. The color variation in processing - even with Pro emulsions - from one roll to another was more than the variation in lenses. And now we have sensors that vary in their color response from one camera to another, and various software that interprets the data coming off the sensor differently, and monitors that display the colors differently. You can put together a workflow that will control color to various degrees within your own little world, but the reality today is that people are going to view your images on whatever device they have, and that device is going to interpret your images any way it sees fit. So I can see evaluating lenses based on sharpness, distortion, etc., but color would be way, way down on my list.
I will probably get a superzoom at some point in the future for wildlife etc as I know how useful they are as all rounders. I am making the assumption that for my money at the moment, I would be better off with a couple of high IQ wide angle/ normal lenses for landscapes and portraits. My current camera, the Fuji, has so many problems with noise and blur and distortion that I cant really base my decisions about lenses on it. Half the issues could be the camera itself. So I am basically starting from scratch as if I never own a camera before, and choosing lenses purely on reviews and advice from others.

The colour thing, yeah you are right, you can change colours in PP too. It's no big deal. I am getting a bit fussy for someone who has;t even got their camera yet. I think that has come from reading too many reviews.. If I hadn't read any reviews on any lenses I'd probably find nothing wrong with the kit lens, but it's too late now! Lol.
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