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01-14-2015, 10:46 AM   #1
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SMC Pentax-F build quality and construction tolerances (17-28mm zoon)

I recently picked up the SMC Pentax-F Fisheye Zoom 17-28mm. Interesting lil lens, something really nice for a FF !!

Question:
This is the only F series lens I've personally handled, so I'm not sure what to expect from it's plasticky construction. What is the norm for the "slack" in the AF with camera off?
I can turn, push in and twist from gear tooth to gear tooth and get enough slop that on a MF lens I think it would be loose. Just handling the lens solo you can feel this lil bit of movement and hear it.
Is this on par for the F series lenses ??

Lens seems to be a decent performer, AF works fine, zoom is fine, glass looks great. Testing on APS-C K-01 reveals fairly uniform focus on a wall across the cropped frame.

Can anyone confirm or comment on the build quality of the 17-28mm FE zoom?

01-14-2015, 11:26 AM   #2
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That does not seem right. On mine the AF is quite tight, no different than any of my FA or DA lenses. There is maybe 1/16" or 1/8" of play in the AF ring with camera off.

Generally the F series is quite well made. There are some issues with some plastic parts on some models not holding up, mostly the cover on the distance scale, I think they were not familiar with how to work with plastics yet at that time.

There are two distinct 'styles' in the F series, the light gray and dark gray. The only dark gray model I have is the 17-28. I think maybe the dark gray were later and look more like the FA series. I quite like the F glass:

01-14-2015, 11:48 AM   #3
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Thanks jatrax, that amount of slack 1/16-1/8 sounds about the same. But when you pick up one and move it around is it normal to feel and hear this movement internally?
01-14-2015, 05:10 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
That does not seem right. On mine the AF is quite tight, no different than any of my FA or DA lenses. There is maybe 1/16" or 1/8" of play in the AF ring with camera off.

Generally the F series is quite well made. There are some issues with some plastic parts on some models not holding up, mostly the cover on the distance scale, I think they were not familiar with how to work with plastics yet at that time.

There are two distinct 'styles' in the F series, the light gray and dark gray. The only dark gray model I have is the 17-28. I think maybe the dark gray were later and look more like the FA series. I quite like the F glass:
Nice collection you have there. I've only got the 35-70 macro, but I love it. I see you're missing the 100 Macro though. What are you waiting for?

01-14-2015, 05:28 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
Agree with jatrax but wanted to add that the filter thread on several of them is made out of very brittle plastic. My only real complaint about them, really.
Good point, you have to watch carefully as a lot of them for sale do have broken filter threads.
QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
Nice collection you have there. I've only got the 35-70 macro, but I love it. I see you're missing the 100 Macro though. What are you waiting for?
Actually I do have it but have not taken a new family portrait. I'll have to get on that. I also have the 85mm 'Soft' that is not in that picture. Did not realize the picture was so dated.
Leaves me looking for a 300mm, 600mm, and 250-600
01-15-2015, 04:18 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
That does not seem right. On mine the AF is quite tight, no different than any of my FA or DA lenses. There is maybe 1/16" or 1/8" of play in the AF ring with camera off.

Generally the F series is quite well made. There are some issues with some plastic parts on some models not holding up, mostly the cover on the distance scale, I think they were not familiar with how to work with plastics yet at that time.

There are two distinct 'styles' in the F series, the light gray and dark gray. The only dark gray model I have is the 17-28. I think maybe the dark gray were later and look more like the FA series. I quite like the F glass:
From my old SF 10 I had the F 35 -70 which was entirely plastic construction and it was very loose and wobbly even when new. It looked and felt like a cheap kit lens. I eventually gave it up when I went digital. I also bought the F 28 mm 2.8 and the construction is far better. The outer barrel is the typical gray plastic but the inner barrel is metal and feels more like my DA limiteds. This one I kept and still use on my K-5 and K-3. How are the other F primes constructed? I would consider a used F 50 mm 1.4 if its construction is on par with the F 28 mm 2.8. Any feedback appreciated.
01-16-2015, 05:18 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jddwoods Quote
From my old SF 10 I had the F 35 -70 which was entirely plastic construction and it was very loose and wobbly even when new.
Are you sure that was not the F 35-80? I have the 35-70 and construction is comparable to the F 28. Identical I think except the interior barrel is plastic instead of metal.

The 50mm (1.4 and 1.7) are identical to the F 28 including the metal interior barrels. The 50mm macro. 100mm macro and 135mm all have metal interior barrels as well as a metal outside barrel with plastic accents and distance scale covers.

If you like the 28mm the other primes are all similar or better in construction except the 85mm which is something completely different.
01-16-2015, 05:51 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Are you sure that was not the F 35-80? I have the 35-70 and construction is comparable to the F 28. Identical I think except the interior barrel is plastic instead of metal.

The 50mm (1.4 and 1.7) are identical to the F 28 including the metal interior barrels. The 50mm macro. 100mm macro and 135mm all have metal interior barrels as well as a metal outside barrel with plastic accents and distance scale covers.

If you like the 28mm the other primes are all similar or better in construction except the 85mm which is something completely different.
Thanks for your feedback. It was definitely the 35 to 70 which was the kit lens when I bought the SF 10. A year later, about 1990 I bought a new F 28 mm 2.8. Once I tried the F 28 mm I immediately noticed the build quality and picture quality difference. Now 25 years later the SF 10 is long gone, along with the 35 to 70. The F 28 mm still sees use on my K-5 and K-3 bodies and it is in like new condition. I am considering a good used fast 50. Having the F 28 mm and 4 of the DA limiteds on a K-5 and K-3, I am spoiled by top notch build quality. DA* 55 is too expensive but if the F 50 mm 1.4 has same build quality as the F 28 mm I will look into finding a good used one, more over the plastic FA 50 mm 1.4. Too bad I did not know then what I know now and get the 50 mm 1.4 back then.

01-16-2015, 06:23 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jddwoods Quote
Too bad I did not know then what I know now and get the 50 mm 1.4 back then.
F 50 1.7s are fairly easy to come by but the 1.4 version seems fairly rare, and thus more expensive. I had the 1.7 and really felt that was all I needed. But my wife and I stopped at an estate sale and she picked up this little black case on a table and opened it. Then asked me if the lens inside was worth anything. Yep, a pristine (as in it looks never used) F 50 1.4. I offered them $75 and they were happy as clams. So was I
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