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View Poll Results: What would you buy?
Digital Only 2418.90%
FF 3527.56%
Either (Digital Only or FF isn't a concern) 6853.54%
Voters: 127. You may not vote on this poll

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09-16-2008, 11:57 AM   #1
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Digital Only or Full Frame lenses

I am new to photography- got my K10d a few months ago, and I'm itching to expand my lens options from my current kit lens. I don't plan on buying a new body anytime soon, but given the given the competitions new FF models and speculation that Pentax will head this way in the future, I'm not sure how to invest my lens money. Even if I a buy a new body in a few years as I become a better photographer, I'd like certainly like to be able to use any nice lenses I buy for much longer.

Essentially my questions is: If you were starting your lens collection from scratch and cost was not major concern, would you buy digital only or FF lenses?

Last edited by JamieP; 09-16-2008 at 12:11 PM.
09-16-2008, 12:38 PM   #2
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buy what you need now. even if you get lens that only works for APS-C, future FF cameras should be able to autocrop it out.
09-16-2008, 12:55 PM   #3
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I have no intention of ever buying a camera that will "shorten" the effective focal length of all my lenses!

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 09-16-2008 at 03:36 PM.
09-16-2008, 01:13 PM   #4
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I prefer wide to long, so i disagree with marc, but full frame isnt an issue.

apart from that ff nikon that crops to shoot images at 6mp or something?!? i couldnt handle that.

I am perfectly fine shooting APS. As long as i have the lenses i need, 14.6 megapixels is enough quality BY A LONG LONG WAY (i hardly ever shoot over 10.2 megapixels, even on professional stuff).

It would be good to use my old lenses to their full potential, but i think the move back to FF is a big mistake apart from the top-pro cameras where its actually needed.

09-16-2008, 02:07 PM   #5
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Buy what you need for what you are shooting.

This whole movement to "full frame" (35mm film size sensors) seems senseless to me. All I want is a decent pixel count and good noise free high ISO performance. Admittedly that is easier with larger sensors, but as manufacturing techniques get better over time you'll see that in small sensors too. I don't care how the engineers finally accomplish those goals. I just want to make pictures. I expect both "full frame", APS size and 4 thirds size cameras will be around a long time and all current lens will remain usable.

If Pentax brings out a Full frame dSLR and a lot of folks move to it - good. Then there will be a lot of cheap DA lenses on the used market for guys like me.
09-16-2008, 02:53 PM   #6
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I have gone the full frame route by default.

I had a considerable pentax lens collection before moving to digital. In fact, I waited a long time for th e*istD to come out. All my predigital lenses are obviously full frame.

Since it has come out, I have bought 4 new lenses. these are:

- an FA-J 18-35mm that came with t he *istD (it was also the kit lens for the *ist hence full frame)
- A sigma APO 70-200 EX F2.8 (i treated myself with an AF zoom to replace my Series 1 70-200 F3.5) Since this lens was out before digital arrived it is also full frame
- A sigma 10-20 (I wanted wider than I had with the 18-35 FA-J, and I shot using film with that lens until the 10-20 came along)
- A tamron 28-57 F2.8 to replace my old and slow 28-105 FA Power Zoom lens.

When I aquired these latest 4 lenses, 2 of them were newer, faster lenses than my old ones, one added AF, but except for the 10-20, they all were full frame, not by my intention, it just worked out that way. The advantage is that they all work on my PZ-1, which is a film back up to the *istD and K10D.
09-16-2008, 04:54 PM   #7
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I personally don't care. Most of my lenses are FF, but it wasn't intentional. I buy what I like...that is all.

09-20-2008, 07:25 PM   #8
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I have more FF lenses than APS lenses, but that's because I own only one "modern" lens, the Sigma 17-70, and the rest are legacy lenses that cost a lot less than their modern equivalents, and deliver the quality I'm looking for.

All things being equal, a APS lens will be smaller, lighter, and probably less expensive. If you ever really NEED a FF body, you will probably be able to afford the specific lenses that ought to be used with it. Otherwise, and for the time being, go with the lenses that get the job done, and remember that quite often, you will be better served by purchasing a more expensive lens than a more expensive body, and for the price of a FF body, you will be able to purchase many wonderful lenses.

09-20-2008, 07:31 PM   #9
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I have both the K10D and a 35mm K-mount film body. Since lenses are not cheap, I really like being able to use what I buy on both cameras.

So put me in the FF camp.

09-20-2008, 09:02 PM   #10
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I tend to use the biggest format I can cope with.

At home, I like to shoot in 5x7" (13x18cm) to be able to get nice contact prints from the huge negatives. A "normal" lens on a 5x7" camera is 210mm and a portrait lens is 300mm, that's why these cameras can deliver wonderful pictures with silky smooth out of focus backgrounds and gorgeous tones.

For short journeys, I take a Fuji 6x9 rangefinder with 2 or 3 lenses. The normal lens is 100mm, which is still a nice focal length from a bokeh point of view. The widest lens is a 50mm, which delivers the same field of view as a 21mm lens on a 35mm camera. That means that one has the same angle of coverage as a 21mm but with the nicer bokeh of a 50mm. When traveling on longer trips, I take along either my Voigländer Bessa RF or Agfa Record III 6x9 folding camera. The highly detailed 6x9 negatives provide smooth tonality and great dynamic range.

Unfortunately, medium and large format digital backs are completely unaffordable. That's why I use a DSLR for daily shooting and family snapshots. Some time ago, I tried to buy a Canon 1DS full frame camera but the quality was quite disappointing for the price, so I sold it back. Right now, the Pentax APS cameras represent the best value in my opinion, but the small size of the sensor is a big disadvantage.

On a crop format camera, one has to use ridiculously short focal length to get a wide field of view. The rear element of a superwide lens designed to be used on a rangefinder camera is only a few millimeters from the image plane. With a 14mm lens (equivalent to a 21mm on full frame) on a crop format DSLR, the lensmakers have to use special optical formulas (retrofocus) in order to be able to clear the shutter and mirror behind the lens (on a Pentax DSLR, the distance between the back flange of the lens and the image plane is 45.46mm). Of course the bigger the retrofocus factor, the more difficult it becomes to control the aberrations, even with special glasses and complex optical formulas. It's the same problems with the shortening of the length for supertele lenses with a negative optical unit at the back of the lens: the more powerful the negative unit, the more compact the lens, but then it becomes increasingly difficult to control the aberrations (hence the need for special glasses which increase greatly the price of these lenses).

I use a lot of classic lenses because I love their rendering. Many of these lenses become much less useful on a crop camera. The Flektogon 20/4, which is so efficient as a superwide for architecture (no distortion, no purple fringing) on a 35mm DSLR becomes a so-so 30mm lens. My Arax 35/2.8 Tilt & Shift lens, which I like so much on full frame for interior shots and cityscapes, becomes a much limited 53mm lens. Even the lovely preset Takumar 105/2.8 becomes rather unusable indoors due to the necessity to stand at least 3 meters from the subject, while this is a great portrait lens on a full frame camera.

So, yes, it's full frame for me. I only buy lenses designed for full frame (OK, I have 3 crop format lenses but I was forced to buy them due to the lack of full frame equivalents) because I will certainly get the Pentax full frame DSLR as soon as it's released. And I'm even more impatient to hold the Pentax 645D...


09-21-2008, 12:10 AM   #11
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If you can't afford a digital back to Hasselblad or Mamiya, you will not afford a digital 645. We discussed this in a swedish forum yesterday. Someone there said that there are about 10.000 sold digital medium format in the world per year. Imagine what prices you need to have a on a Pentax house. Obviously Pentax/Hoya knows this, they are not stupid. And if they could see a market for digital mediumformat, they would not have put the project on ice.

Unfortunally I see the same problem with fullformat. And I think Hoya/Pentax see this aswell and therefor I don't think there will be a fullformat Pentax anytime soon either. The costs of building up a second lenspark (to go along with the DA series) and the cost of taking a new format into production will be too high at the moment. The money has to come from somewhere.

- Pentax just declared that they are closing a lens factory.
- Pentax just introduced another DA camera.
- Pentax introduced so many new lenses lately that they have trouble keeping up production. And they have more to come.

For these reasons, I don't think you have to worry too much about fullformat lenses now. I think Pentax will come out with another camera next year a K1D or something. But I do not think that it will be a fullformat. But rather a spiced up APS. And I do believe that Pentax will continue for quite a while to build on the APS, because thats where the customers are.

EDIT: Another aspect is the aperture ring though. Pisses me off that there is no Aperture ring on the DA series.

Last edited by Zewrak; 09-21-2008 at 12:48 AM.
09-21-2008, 01:34 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zewrak Quote
If you can't afford a digital back to Hasselblad or Mamiya, you will not afford a digital 645.
I didn't say I was going to buy it

QuoteOriginally posted by Zewrak Quote
I think Pentax will come out with another camera next year a K1D or something. But I do not think that it will be a fullformat.
Wanna bet?

QuoteOriginally posted by Zewrak Quote
Another aspect is the aperture ring though. Pisses me off that there is no Aperture ring on the DA series.
Yeah, that's plain stupid.


09-29-2008, 12:27 AM   #13
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The future value of lenses strikes me as a very important consideration. For instance, buying a DA 18-55 will rarely make sense: since they're included with most every Pentax body, they have saturated the market and can be had inexpensively--dirt cheap now, but just cheaply for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, I just spent ~$100 on a prime lens that was discontinued 20 years ago (A28/2.8). While my DA18-55 will have a resale value of ~$30 in 10 years, my A28/2.8 (assuming Pentax is able to remain in the market) will probably increase in nominal, if not actual, value. That said, any Pentax body will probably be worthless at that time.

The question is whether FF lenses will retain their value better than APS-C lenses. If the APS-C sized sensor is still in the majority 10 years from now, and if the k-mount is still used then, long-term value isn't really a consideration and I should be indifferent economically. When Pentax releases a 135 body, though, old FF lenses will temporarily jump in value. (This will probably be when I dump my A-series lenses and buy AF DA lenses.) My guess, though, is that FF sensors will become the norm in 10 years. Not just that Pentax will have FF body, but that FF sensors will be anything but entry-level. Engineering can make FF sensors cheaper; engineering cannot make light behave differently. My guess is that ISO 1600 will be slow in 10 years, and available, if at all, only to negate the need for a ND filter--and only on non-FF sensors. The reason for slow sensors is technological, whereas the reason for large/small apertures and focal lengths is photographic. Technology changes, photography doesn't. As such, sensors will become faster without gaining noise, necessitating larger photosites. And if that's not good enough of a reason, when the manufacturers have weaned the market to using APS-C lenses, making midrange and better bodies in FF only will dramatically increase demand for FF lenses...newly minted by the manufacturer, but only updated to allow modern AF motors. In the long run, either (a) companies abandon the mounts 135 film demanded or (b) FF sensors will become the norm. I'm betting that FF sensors will become the norm. Ergo, FF lenses will be more valuable than APS-C sensors.

Honestly, I think that Micro FourThirds is genius. (Whereas FourThirds was a mistaken bet that FF-mounts were obsolete.) Micro 4/3s will essentially be the next-generation rangefinder. Current technology is enough for most photographers; so miniaturizing it makes sense. If Pentax/Hoya adopted a similar approach, however, the difference between DA/APS-C and 135 is unimportant; either would require the same adapter to use on such small cameras. There is a small chance that Pentax, with its reputation for using old mounts, will use the 110 mount for this. (The k10D is 23x15mm, whereas 110 is 17x13.) (If Micro 4/3s takes off, I might invest in a number of 110 lenses because of this.) So, basically, DA lenses will be valuable, with an adapter, only to the "rangefinder" set for pro- or semi-pro users 10 years from now. That still leaves the professional set with their full-framed sensors...and lenses.

I strongly believe that "FF" sensors are the future. Not because the sensors are anything special, but because we've retained mounting systems (for Pentax, as well as the little players, Canon and Nikon) which were designed for 35mm film. Because of this, I believe that lenses designed for FF film are more valuable than those designed for APS-C sensors. Therefore any FA lens purchase should be considered as more valuable in the future than any DA lens purchase, ceteris paribus.

Still, though, the future-value discount may be not enough to make up for the price difference between a DA and FA lens. That's your choice. But for me, full frame lenses reign supreme.
09-29-2008, 01:03 AM   #14
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I hear that Pentax will aim for a new medium format. Probably not a new 645. But a completly new system. And that Pentax have no plans to create a FF camera. However, Samsung has shown interest in building a fullformat. That might be why Pentax won't. According to Pentax, there is no point in developing a fullformat camera. For one they would have to let go of inhouse stabilization and secondly they think there is way too much competition. Which is true. With Sonys A900 hitting the market for 3k or what it was, stabilized and all. There really is nothing left for another brand. And if Samsung modify the PK mount to be able to stabilize their sensor. The competition is just too high.

Interesting is the new medium format though. I am very interested to see what mount the lenses will have and if it is compatible with the 645 lenses. Not that I will ever afford it. But still . What I don't get is that Pentax a few months ago stated that there is no market for medium format. There was something like 10.000 sold DIGITAL medium format cameras sold world wide per year. Now Leica introduces a camera too. And suddenly there is a market for digital medium format. Sounds fishy to me.

This leads us to the conclusion that Samsung and Hoya have decided to split the market.

Micro APS goes to Samsung
APS-C goes to Pentax
Fullformat goes to Samsung
Medium format to Pentax
09-29-2008, 05:28 AM   #15
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Using FF lens with a DSLR avoids aberrations that exist on the edges of the field of a 35 mm body and aberrations on the edges of the field of a DSLR are as low as in the center part of the field of a 35 mm body.
So, it is why Pentax M and A prime lenses give so good results with a DSLR.

I am in the FF camp (also because I own Pentax Me and P30T bodies)

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