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08-04-2008, 12:50 AM   #1
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Review: Smc pentax 1:5.6/400

Hi all,
here is quick review of SMC PENTAX 1:5.6/400 or maybe otherwise known as K 400.
I haven't had this lens for long, so here are my first impressions and som samples.
To start with let us say, that this lens was manufactured good 30 years ago (1975-1977).

BUILT QUALITY:
This lens is very well put together. There is no "play" in part. Seems like all metal to me, with rubberized focusing ring, and plastic grip close to the mount for easier putting on/taking off. There is built in sliding hood. It doesn't lock into position, but in my copy (despite it's age) it holds nicly in whichever position it is, so there isn't any unwanted sliding up/down. There is a metal tripod collar, which can be taken off when lens is off the camera. Overall I'd say the built quality is exeptional.

SIZE AND WEIGHT:
Measurments are: 277x85mm. Filter thread is 77mm. And the lens turns in just under 1.3kg. Though, if you are shooting handheld (as I did on my first outing) it feels much more after 50 shots .
In combination with K100D it balances nicely, though I belive with K10/20D it would balance better. With grip it would be even better. With K100D combo we are talking just under 2kg. So you will need strong hands and sturdy tripod.

PERFORMANCE:
Haven't had too many chances of putting it through any rigorous tests, but here is what I've noticed so far. At f5.6 bit on the soft side but still usable (I think, maybe some will find it too soft). Sharpens up nicely by f8 and is really good at f11. There is some chromatic aberation visible, but not too dangerous, and it is reduced by stopping down. On some shots in certain contrasty situations there is purple fringe, but not too bad. I'd say it's better then on my Tamron 70-300.

GENERAL NOTES:
Compared to new lenses the apperture ring is untraditionaly positioned between the fron element and focusing ring. It's not bad though, especialy if you're handholding. F.E> I have big hands, so for me it's easy to position my index finger under the barrel, with my middle finger resting on apperture ring, and my thrid finger on fucusing ring and thumb moves betveen those two as needed to assist turning whichever is needed to turn. This means I can confortably hold the lens, focus and then stop down the lens without having to move my hand.
The diaphragm on this lens is fully manual, which means every time you turn the apperture ring, it closes down. Down side is that by f11 the VF gets really dark (especialy with pentamirror VFs). Upside is that lens can be used in Av mode, and therefore there isn't any need for annoying stop down metering. Easiest way around is to fucus wide open and then stop down, though at f8 the focusing is still quite easy even in medicore light.
The focusing ring turns nearly full circle - around 320 degrees by my laiman judgement. So precise focusing is possible, which is really needed because the DOF is really minimal until f11
Only realy downside of this lens is it's close fucus (IN)ability. The closest focusing distance is 8m. Which can be bit anoying (especialy shooting small objects). But I think it can be easily resolved by using extension tube.

CONCLUSION:
I bought this lens for 150, and I think it's well worth it. I think considering the age/price/performance ratio, this lens is certainly one of the better I have. I can now see myself getting more and more interested in bird/wildlife photography.

PS: here are some 100% crops. Row with marked f stops is sharpness test. JPG out of camera (sorry I forgot my settins on sharpening +1), focused on infinity, no PPing just cropping. Second row are 100% crops from real life shots (up to down ISO800, ISO400, ISO200 - sorry but don't remember f stops, but all would be around f8). And at the end one resized shot. Again all straight out of camera, no PPing, just cropping resp. resizing.

Attached Images
   
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PENTAX K100D  Photo 

Last edited by axl; 08-04-2008 at 01:06 AM. Reason: ooops, I forgot the pictures
08-04-2008, 03:26 AM   #2
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K 400

Congrats on the new lens AXL and welcome to the K Club. I love the old K series glass and I'm sure you will enjoy it. Looking forward to more images from you.

Tom G
08-06-2008, 11:54 AM   #3
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dunno how i missed this post earlier, thanks for the review
it'd be nice if pentax came out with a new 400 5.6
10-29-2008, 05:04 PM   #4
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I have missed this post too.. Thanks Peter!

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