Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
09-09-2015, 08:02 PM   #1
Veteran Member
Nick Siebers's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Madison, WI
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 2,159
Are SLR lenses getting bigger? A theory

It seems like SLR lenses, especially primes, are getting bigger and heavier recently. First the Samyang, etc. versions, then the Sigma ART, and now even the new Tamron SP primes are significantly larger than most Pentax primes of the past. I haven't experienced many legacy primes that were that big, with the 28mm f/2 in the ballpark but still manageable. I really only know Pentax, though, not what has happened with other brands. Even the DA*55 dwarfs the previous generations of fast 50s. Is this a new thing? Or am I imaging it?

My hunch is that the various mirrorless options are drawing away the people who value compactness, leaving the SLR makers trying to "swing for the fences" and greenlighting big heavy optical designs they never would have in the past, in the pursuit of best IQ possible. And the fastest lenses with the most light gathering. Especially for the full frame models I suppose that would make sense. But is there something else I am missing? Advances in design? New materials?

I for one really appreciate the compactness of the Pentax primes, Limiteds especially. Maybe I am not squeezing the utmost out of my APS-c sensor, but at least I can still carry the thing around for hours. And I believe there are advantages over a smaller sensor, at least for the moment. I hope the Pentax lenses of the future don't follow this growth curve! I guess we will see.

ps obviously I am not talking about the long lenses, which have always been long, and probably always will be!

09-09-2015, 08:16 PM - 1 Like   #2
Administrator
Site Webmaster
Adam's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Arizona
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 48,425
QuoteOriginally posted by Nick Siebers Quote
It seems like SLR lenses, especially primes, are getting bigger and heavier recently. First the Samyang, etc. versions, then the Sigma ART, and now even the new Tamron SP primes are significantly larger than most Pentax primes of the past. I haven't experienced many legacy primes that were that big, with the 28mm f/2 in the ballpark but still manageable. I really only know Pentax, though, not what has happened with other brands. Even the DA*55 dwarfs the previous generations of fast 50s. Is this a new thing? Or am I imaging it?

My hunch is that the various mirrorless options are drawing away the people who value compactness, leaving the SLR makers trying to "swing for the fences" and greenlighting big heavy optical designs they never would have in the past, in the pursuit of best IQ possible. And the fastest lenses with the most light gathering. Especially for the full frame models I suppose that would make sense. But is there something else I am missing? Advances in design? New materials?

I for one really appreciate the compactness of the Pentax primes, Limiteds especially. Maybe I am not squeezing the utmost out of my APS-c sensor, but at least I can still carry the thing around for hours. And I believe there are advantages over a smaller sensor, at least for the moment. I hope the Pentax lenses of the future don't follow this growth curve! I guess we will see.

ps obviously I am not talking about the long lenses, which have always been long, and probably always will be!
Those are all fast primes, which need to be big. At the same time we're getting ultra-compact lenses like the Da 18-50mm, Nikon's 18-55mm II, and Canon's new line of pancake lenses. There's a bit of everything out there

Adam
PentaxForums.com Webmaster (Site Usage Guide | Site Help | My Photography)



PentaxForums.com server and development costs are user-supported. You can help cover these costs by donating. Or, buy your photo gear from our affiliates, Adorama, B&H Photo, or Topaz Labs, and get FREE Marketplace access - click here to see how! Trusted Pentax retailers:

09-09-2015, 09:36 PM   #3
Pentaxian
Edgar_in_Indy's Avatar

Join Date: May 2010
Location: Indiana, USA
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,670
Maybe it's also due to the increasing resolution of digital cameras, and people's tendency to pixel peep.
09-09-2015, 09:52 PM   #4
Veteran Member
hks_kansei's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 828
I feel that they are getting bigger, but not that much larger since the late film days.

My personal theory is that it was the more common use of plastic that helped contribute.

Many of my older lenses are quite heavy for their small size, probably due to them being mainly metal and glass.
Later film lenses, and of course most digital lenses, tend to be made with plastic barrels (obviously the glass remains)

About the same time that the lenses got bigger the bodies seemed to as well (or at least less pocket friendly)

I suspect that at this time instant cameras with inbuilt zoom lenses seemed to have become cheaper, and so those wanting compact pocket cameras went for them and the SLR became more for those wanting the greater flexibility and quality available, and were less concerned with the size.

Since the body had already got to the size where it was beyond the pocket, there was not much reason for lenses not to do the same.
And the greater use of plastics also allowed the lenses to be larger without adding too much to the weight.


In short, companies realised people were buying SLRs for reasons other than the size, and probably figured it's not worth spending time making a camera compact if people dont care.

There's alos likely a bit of marketing there, since many people (then and now) think bigger cameras = more professional.

09-09-2015, 10:06 PM   #5
Pentaxian
calsan's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Perth, Australia
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,436
Lens makers also aren't allowed to use thorium anymore. That may be part of the problem.
09-09-2015, 10:10 PM   #6
Otis Memorial Pentaxian
Loyal Site Supporter
stevebrot's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Vancouver (USA)
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 32,639
They are getting larger, but not on an apples-to-apples comparison with older models. The problem, of course is finding the older lens with the same specs as the new. A good example would by the current crop of 70-200/2.8 internal focus zooms with built-in AF motor. The FA* 80-200/2.8 is both lighter and smaller than the yet-to-be-released D FA* 70-200/2.8, but the latter has more glass and that nice quiet motor.

My most compact FF lens is a Tamron Adaptall-2 28/2.5 that dates to about 1980. I would expect that a modern 28mm f/2.8 lens for 35mm format might have similar size/weight if it were manual focus. If you add in a requirement for AF and faster maximum aperture, you have something closer in size to the FA 31/1.8 Limited and even larger if it must hold a DC motor.


Steve
09-09-2015, 11:21 PM   #7
Senior Member
Mothballs's Avatar

Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 266
Basically what everyone els has been getting at; the moment you add AF, the size goes up.

But, as well, if we're talking the Sigma ART 50mm...



Vs thew SMC 50mm 1.4




The Sigma is 13 elements in eight groups; The Pentax is 7 elements, 6 groups.

All the extra glass to bring up image quality, correct aberrations, etc. means that It has to be physically larger.
09-10-2015, 01:07 AM   #8
Veteran Member




Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Lyngby, Copenhagen
Photos: Albums
Posts: 742
Speaking of the Sigma 50 ART, I remember this interesting comment by a Frank Dernie in a dpreview discussion thread:
Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM review: Digital Photography Review


Sigma seems to lift the size and weight constraints to pursue better (more corrected) IQ.


Regards,
--Anders.

09-10-2015, 02:17 AM   #9
Loyal Site Supporter
Loyal Site Supporter




Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Tumbleweed, Arizona
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,412
QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
They are getting larger, but not on an apples-to-apples comparison with older models. The problem, of course is finding the older lens with the same specs as the new. A good example would by the current crop of 70-200/2.8 internal focus zooms with built-in AF motor. The FA* 80-200/2.8 is both lighter and smaller than the yet-to-be-released D FA* 70-200/2.8, but the latter has more glass and that nice quiet motor.

My most compact FF lens is a Tamron Adaptall-2 28/2.5 that dates to about 1980. I would expect that a modern 28mm f/2.8 lens for 35mm format might have similar size/weight if it were manual focus. If you add in a requirement for AF and faster maximum aperture, you have something closer in size to the FA 31/1.8 Limited and even larger if it must hold a DC motor.


Steve
... and in the case of Canon and Nikon, adding their image stabilization systems in, makes them even larger and heavier.

09-10-2015, 02:29 AM   #10
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Gladys, Virginia
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 19,732
A lot depends on expectations as far as resolving power of a lens and correction of distortion. Lenses like the Otus 55mm and the new Sigma 50mm f1.4 are designed to have nice sharpness wide open, whereas the fast 50s of the past really didn't sharpen up till they were down to f2.8.

Sony has several lenses that they have tried to keep small and they require a lot of computer cooking of images to get a reasonable result. I personally would rather have a little larger lens and then have it usable wide open.
09-10-2015, 03:15 AM   #11
Veteran Member
bassek's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2011
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 642
More pixels result in smaller pixels that require more light. So you need a faster lens that is bigger and costs more.
The other option would be less (<12 MP) more light sensitive pixels that allow to ramp up the ISO without (major) IQ loss.
So we would end up with slower compact supersharp (like 30mm f/3.8) lenses that everyone would be happy with...

Seb
09-10-2015, 03:37 AM   #12
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Gladys, Virginia
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 19,732
QuoteOriginally posted by bassek Quote
More pixels result in smaller pixels that require more light. So you need a faster lens that is bigger and costs more.
The other option would be less (<12 MP) more light sensitive pixels that allow to ramp up the ISO without (major) IQ loss.
So we would end up with slower compact supersharp (like 30mm f/3.8) lenses that everyone would be happy with...

Seb
I think a lot of folks shoot faster apertures to achieve shallow depth of field and not because they are pushing the extremes on iso. I know in the old days, the reason for faster lenses was for low light shooting, but it doesn't seem like that is case any more.
09-10-2015, 03:50 AM   #13
Veteran Member
bassek's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2011
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 642
QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I think a lot of folks shoot faster apertures to achieve shallow depth of field and not because they are pushing the extremes on iso. I know in the old days, the reason for faster lenses was for low light shooting, but it doesn't seem like that is case any more.
I fully agree with you.

Seb
09-10-2015, 05:31 AM - 2 Likes   #14
Site Supporter
Loyal Site Supporter




Join Date: Mar 2015
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 6,291
This is why I like the older Pentax philosophy of screwdrive and IBIS. It keeps the lenses smaller and lighter, all else being equal, not to mention cheaper, since you're not sticking IS and AF technology into every single lens that goes out the door. Everything that goes inside the outer casing is an exercise in packaging and ensuring reliability, and that increases complexity, which increases costs in order to maintain reliability. If Ricoh decides to run a second-tier line of lenses with good optics, WR, quickshift and screwdrive and leave off the DC motors, I will be well content. Unfortunately I fear this isn't the way things are going to go.
09-10-2015, 06:14 AM   #15
Junior Member




Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Voorschoten, The Netherlands
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 37
QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
This is why I like the older Pentax philosophy of screwdrive and IBIS. It keeps the lenses smaller and lighter, all else being equal, not to mention cheaper, since you're not sticking IS and AF technology into every single lens that goes out the door. Everything that goes inside the outer casing is an exercise in packaging and ensuring reliability, and that increases complexity, which increases costs in order to maintain reliability. If Ricoh decides to run a second-tier line of lenses with good optics, WR, quickshift and screwdrive and leave off the DC motors, I will be well content. Unfortunately I fear this isn't the way things are going to go.
Fully agree on that!
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
camera, cameras, corner, f/1.4, k-mount, lens, lenses, macro, pentax, pentax lens, plane, primes, sensor, sharpness, slr, slr lens, slr lenses
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Nature Some cats are bigger than others ...... daacon Post Your Photos! 13 06-21-2015 05:56 AM
Additional lenses for a film SLR newbie chiaroscuro Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 5 11-16-2014 12:02 PM
getting bigger&closer macro shots happyprince Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 4 03-21-2013 01:17 PM
What are your favorite SLR lenses for under $100? briankemper Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 135 07-18-2012 05:22 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 12:10 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top