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07-09-2015, 04:34 PM - 7 Likes   #1
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A Gentle Reminder: Keep those reviews on point

Looking over the reviews for the SMC M 85/2, I'm struck by the number of reviews which have dinged this
lens for issues which are of no bearing to the lens itself.

Four reviews list lack of aperture automation, (no "A" setting), as a Con.
Two reviews list lack of Auto Focus operation as a Con.
Six reviews list the minimum aperture of f/2, ('could be faster), as a Con.
And One review has dinged the lens for not being a Zoom.

None of the above is relevant to the SMC M 85/2. Remember that this >is< a M series lens. No M series lens
features Aperture Automation. No M series lens features Auto Focus, save for the the anomaly that is the AF 35-70.
(Surely no one is wishing for a SMC M AF 85/2 with battery powered AF that can only work on the ME F??)

The desire for a bit more speed is understandable, but it's still irrelevant to wish the lens were a f/1.8 or f/1.4 or
whatever. It's a f/2. No more, no less. And a marvel at that. Consider that the M 85/2 weighs a third less than
the 85/1.8 or 85/1.9 Super Taks and is less than half the weight of the A* 85/1.4. That's its schtick. Pentax
obviously decided to make an undeniably "M"iniature 85mm for the M series. I marvel that Pentax were able
to make it as fast as f/2 while producing a lens so small. Now, >IF< this f/2 were as big as a f/1.4, then such
a Con might be relevant. Or >IF< it were stated to be f/1.4 but in actuality was only f/1.5, then such a Con would
be relevant.

Not sure what to make of the desire that it might be a zoom.......

To put all this in perspective, all of these Cons are equivalent to dinging the K1000 for not having a USB port,
or the K-5 for not taking 120 film. It's akin to stating the DA15 is too wide for birding or the DA*300 too narrow
for panoramic landscapes. In other words, you can't fault a lens for lacking a feature that was never intended
or available at that time.

07-09-2015, 04:40 PM   #2
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07-09-2015, 04:46 PM   #3
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To me the prevalence of such comments comes as no surprise, since lots of users opt for manual lenses as more affordable alternatives to modern AF glass. This is a key selling point of the Pentax system. Of course not having AF is a drawback for them- but the lens certainly isn't to blame, as you point out Now, if the M 85mm were released in 2015, there might be room to talk

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07-09-2015, 05:00 PM   #4
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but I see tvd's point in that if you know that it's a manual lense, if you know that it is prime lense - how can you say that it's faults include a lack of autofocus or it's not a zoom.... that would call into question the rest of the review..... wouldn't it?

07-09-2015, 05:17 PM   #5

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It makes sense to me.. they are comparing lenses across the board.. not having Auto focus or auto aperture might not be known to people unknown to ancient camera lenses (possibly older than them)... and knowing it doesn't have auto aperture is something I'd mark as a big negative on a lens today.

Last edited by mee; 07-09-2015 at 05:31 PM.
07-09-2015, 05:34 PM   #6
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Unfortunatley these days, more and more reviewers don't seem to have a clue on what they're talking about. Sometime, I even wonder if they know how to use a camera at all.
07-09-2015, 05:56 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by tvdtvdtvd Quote
or the K-5 for not taking 120 film
To be fair, that's why I never bought a K-5.

QuoteOriginally posted by CarlJF Quote
Unfortunatley these days, more and more reviewers don't seem to have a clue on what they're talking about.
If you think it's bad here, check out YouTube. I saw one video where the guy said that the ISO dial on an Electro 35 GSN was the shutter speed control.

I agree with both points fully. As someone who writes reviews and does reviews and instructional videos for camera gear on YouTube, it's maddening how many views people get with incorrect and misleading information. And it's infuriating that people don't question what they hear, even if they're 100% sure that it's factually incorrect. It reminds me of when I taught college and my students didn't understand why I wouldn't accept Wikipedia as a reference source.
07-09-2015, 06:13 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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I dinged the lens in my review because I bought it second had and it did NOT include a pony. I thought for sure Pentax gave everyone a pony with this lens...(sarcasm!)

07-09-2015, 06:19 PM - 5 Likes   #9
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I'll offer a differing point of view, and everyone can dump on me instead of the review. A user review is not about the "fault" of a lens. It is not about whether its designers in 1980's did a bad job or whether it was in fact a superb piece of engineering for its time.

To me, user reviews are about the practical pros and cons of owning and using this lens compared to others. I have shot Pentax for more than 40 years and have quite a few M, K and A lenses, but I do not expect that everyone else knows all the ramifications of an "M" lens. The degree of difference between and M lens and an A lens is not nearly comparable to whether a K5 is a film camera, especially in a line which prides itself on the usability of older lenses on current bodies.

A "con" is not an insult. A "pro" is not a compliment. It is just information. Maybe I don't need some of that information, but many, many people look at reviews on this site who have far less familiarity with the history of Pentax lenses.
07-09-2015, 07:22 PM   #10
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I understand your desire that reviews be more relevant. However, since they are user-supplied, they're about as useful as reviews on any such peer-review site. Meaning not much. You really have to read the text of reviews to get a feel for the reviewer and his or her experience before you can take any comments seriously.

I have a big problem with the numerical ratings. They're nowhere near normalized to -- what? The best example in that lens's class? The best lens possible? The worst possible? None of the above. The majority of lenses aren't 5's, although really they should be. They're all 7's, 8's, or 9's. Sparse lenses (with one or two reviews) are almost certainly the most skewed, although there are a few of those that are probably spot-on because they're less likely to be reviewed by someone who only knows that lens. This is what you get when you allow anyone who wishes to post a review. However, think of the amount of effort it would take to vet each review, or have "an experienced reviewer" review each and every lens that's currently in the database. And "peer review of reviews" systems have their own problems -- it just adds an extra layer of things to sift through, complete with accompanying arguments. I'd rather have a sampling of skewed reviews from unrelated people than no information on a lens I'm looking at.

I really do understand your frustration. As a recent proselyte to the hobby of photography, I have no prior knowledge of expected lens performance or limitations. I don't know how much fuzzier a zoom is supposed to be than a prime, or how poor a "pretty good super zoom" really is compared to a mundane "non-super" example. But everything is really relative, and it's especially relative to the mindset of the reviewer. This is the main reason that the "full staff reviews" are more useful -- I've seen examples in the numbers where a reviewer rates a lens higher because it's "so difficult" for a lens to do something, yet the lens being reviewed does it "really well" for its type; however, that is still subjective relative to that lens, whereas a sharpness rating, or a bokeh rating (however those are made) should be absolute compared to the best example around. The full staff reviews allow you to know more about the reviewer, and in so doing, get a better idea of the things he isn't directly saying.

I don't know of anything reviewed anywhere that doesn't suffer from these problems. This is why certain reviewers (movie critics, book critics, art critics, Jeremy Clarkson - Home, etc.) are famous more than anything else -- they each define their own absolute standard. Not that their standards are better than anyone else's, just that they were in the right place at the right time to get wide exposure, and each became their own sort of benchmark.

There really is no substitute for trying things yourself, but since I'm not rich, I'll grab my salt shaker and read the reviews here thankfully.

Last edited by fredralphfred; 07-09-2015 at 07:41 PM. Reason: Thought of a clever title!
07-09-2015, 08:05 PM   #11
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The stated examples of poor CON criteria would be more appropriately placed in an "Other Comments" section.
07-09-2015, 08:17 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote

A "con" is not an insult. A "pro" is not a compliment. It is just information. Maybe I don't need some of that information, but many, many people look at reviews on this site who have far less familiarity with the history of Pentax lenses.
I agree here. I can't say that I fault a reviewer who puts an honest effort in and offers clarity as to why they offered the ratings they offer.

And it can be confusing for the opposite reasons as well. What does a new camera user think when he sees the M 50mm 1.7 get a 9.35 rating
and a 50mm 1.8 get a 9.29. Must both be about the same, yet if anyone here were offered the choice of either lens for $100 most would consider the 1.7 overpriced and 1.8 of good value.

While I understand the goal of comparing M's to M's and DA's to DA's many users just want to know which ones work best and why, or what limitations of each lens do to the value.
07-09-2015, 08:23 PM - 1 Like   #13

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I think it's okay to list features that a lens might be lacking to facilitate comparisons against other lenses. I'll use the example of the FA 43 Limited. That lens has a lot of coma distortion. I never spotted that distortion during daylight photography but it's very noticeable in astrophotography. Should a review mention the coma distortion? I think yes, but the OP could say that the lens wasn't designed to reduce coma distortion so it should not be in the review.

If we only evaluate a lens based on its stated design goals then every lens is perfect. Slow focusing lenses weren't designed to be fast focusing. Lenses that aren't very sharp weren't designed to be. Etc.
07-09-2015, 09:03 PM   #14
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I see this kind of stuff all the time and I just shake my head and ignore it. To me, listing something as a "con" should be bringing up something the lens should do, but doesn't. My favorite "con" are the idiots who list barrel distortion in reviewing the DA 10-17 Fisheye. Without the distortion, it wouldn't be a fisheye. All macro lenses have a long focus throw by design which results in a somewhat slower AF. Complaining about such things shows a lack of knowledge about photography in general.

I know some things can be difficult but I can't really consider it a con that an f/4 lens doesn't have an f/2.8 aperture. Things like coma and flare are valid to list as cons. A soft lens is con with the exception of certain lenses that are called soft like the wonderful 85mm soft lenses Pentax has made in the past. I have some really dirt cheap lenses that are surprisingly sharp. We all have our likes and dislikes. As I have grown older and my eyesight isn't what it once was, I rely more and more on auto focus lenses but I think I would be a little off the wall mentioning lack of AF as a con when reviewing a MF lens and yes, I have seen that.
07-09-2015, 11:11 PM   #15
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I think that the reviews are something like Yelp. You can toss the top two and bottom two and have a good idea of what the lens is like. You get the guys who claim that a famously wonderful lens is a piece of moose dung and those who say the 50mm f/2 is tack sharp in the corners wide open. As far as saying a great lens isn't good, it could be that the used lens they bought has something mis-aligned inside or they don't know how to do a test. As far as a weak lens doing well, for some people that picture of their grandchild is wonderful no matter what anyone says. tvdtvdtvd is right, but sometimes you get what you get. And sometimes the information is useful.

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