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09-22-2008, 05:03 PM   #1
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Years later and I still regret selling my "A" series kit

Very first post for me today.

I found this fun looking board and thought I would add my lament: back in the mid 90's I sold most of my Pentax gear. To this day I still wish I had some of the lenses I foolishly let go.

I had moved to Seattle from Connecticut. I was one of two newspaper shooters in Greenwich that was seriously into Pentax equipment. It was sort of an arms race between us. I loved my gear but sold it all to buy autofocus Canon stuff.

The list of great Pentax gear I let go:

2 Pentax LX bodies with motor drives
20mm/2.8 "A" Series lens
28mm/2.8 "A" Series lens
50mm/1.7 "M" Series lens
85mm/1.4 "A" Series lens
200mm/2.8 ED "A" Series lens
300mm/4.0 Green Star "A" Series lens
400mm/2.8 ED "A" Series lens

I still have one remaining LX body, LX winder and the great 40mm "pancake" lens. (see photo) To me the LX is one of the most refined, elegant cameras I have ever used.

Looking through some of the posts here I now realize how sought after great lenses like the 85mm/1.4 "A" Series etc are. My favorite lenses were the 20, 85, and 200. I shot a lot of professional tennis with the 400/2.8. Ivan Lendl and Mats Vilander were Greenwhich, CT residents back then. They were the top two players in the world so we covered them a ton. I also took the 400 to Africa. Back in the day it was all Kodachrome. Great combo really.

I used to have contact with a professional racing photographer, Bill Stahl, who was also into the big fast Pentax glass and LX bodies.

Someday I would like find another 85mm/1.4 "A" Series lens though. But it looks like the competition will be tough...

Cheers,

Max

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09-22-2008, 05:23 PM   #2
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Hi Max

What is that old saying Hindsight is 20/20.

Those great lenses are still out there it just depends on how much you are willing to spend to get them back.

One online retailer and photo store giant B&H Photo and Video has had the A*85 f1.4 for sale in their used section for months now. Unfortunately they want $1,500 for it.

Welcome aboard or back on board.
09-22-2008, 05:40 PM   #3
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Thanks...

$1500! Yikes!! I cant even remember what I paid for it new, but it was a fraction of that asking price.

All the photos of this section of my site were taken with LX bodies and the "A" Series lenses I mention...
Balmain PHOTOGRAPHY - Seattle based Photographer specializing in quality Commercial, Editorial and Wedding Photography

Max
09-22-2008, 07:15 PM   #4
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That is some powerful work Max.

Excellent website.

If you are coming back to Pentax you will be pleased to find that they are holding true to their tradition of manufacturing outstanding lenses. The range of compact prime lenses they are offering with the new DA LTD and the film FA LTD lenses are second to none. The FA LTD's will fit like a glove on your LX. The DA LTD's are coated for Digital and lack aperture rings but this makes than even more compact.

I couldn't resist to post my MX with the 40 pancake. It is such a great combination.


Last edited by Rico; 05-21-2014 at 09:39 AM.
09-22-2008, 07:24 PM   #5
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welcome to the forum!

QuoteOriginally posted by Photomaximum Quote
The list of great Pentax gear I let go:

2 Pentax LX bodies with motor drives
20mm/2.8 "A" Series lens
28mm/2.8 "A" Series lens
50mm/1.7 "M" Series lens
85mm/1.4 "A" Series lens
200mm/2.8 ED "A" Series lens
300mm/4.0 Green Star "A" Series lens
400mm/2.8 ED "A" Series lens

oh wow, imagine what all that good stuff would be worth today
was it worth it to switch to canon
09-22-2008, 07:36 PM   #6
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Thanks Rico,

Actually a friend sent me this link about adapting older MF lens to digital bodies: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/11/technology/personaltech/11basics.html?em

It got me thinking about the glass I used to own and wished I still owned. The 85/1.4 is one of those lenses. My buddy used to own the Pentax 15mm "A" Series. I wondered how many of those are floating around and looked into it today: nadda. I use my Canon 16-35/2.8 II lens a lot for interiors. I am not that happy with it, hence the search for the Pentax 15.

I am pretty committed to my Canon gear and have a lot of it. I just started buying Nikon strobes for off camera use. I think they are better than the Canons when it comes to manual settings.

Back in the day when I was using the LX I used to pester my newspaper photog brothers how they were missing the boat by ignoring Pentax. Funny that a good LX is now worth more than a Nikon F3 or Canon F1.

I have all kinds of cameras, old Leicas, medium format and 4x5 as well. Its fun to use them now and then.

I totally understand the MX and 40 pancake thing though. That Pentax 40mm is fun to play with the focus ring. I think I will head out this weekend and shoot some TriX for old times sake.

Max
09-22-2008, 09:43 PM   #7
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Max

Pentax is releasing a new DA15 f4 LTD lens hopefully early spring. It looks very promising. It may not be a full frame lens though. On digital APS-c it will be the equivalent of around 22mm. You can find the A15 out there. It also goes for a pretty penny. One shop located in LA called Kevins Cameras usually has quit a few rare lenses. He charges a premium but the lenses usually are in excellent condition. Last time I checked he had an A15 in mint condition for $1,250.

Nice thing with Pentax is the lens compatibility. The DSLR's have full compatibility going back 50 years worth of lenses with shake reduction built into the camera bodies. No adapting sans the screw mount lenses which just need the standard screw to kmount adapter.

Some one recently on the site found an ebay buy me now new in box LX for $175. He was able to sell if for around $1,600.

It is safe to say as K100D pointed out your lens collection would be worth a small fortune today.

So what do you think of the new Leica S-series line. That is some serious kit. You might have to mortgage the house to buy in though.

I was shooting some Tri-X for a while but said to myself after spending time in the dark all the mixing and shaking the film strips what am I nuts. I decided to only use Kodachrome when I want to shoot film. Easier to handle and scan which can be converted to B&W if I want.
09-22-2008, 10:05 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rico Quote
What is that old saying Hindsight is 20/20.
Or in this case, 20/2.8. And 200/2.8. And 400/2.8. And 85/1.4. Ouch!

09-23-2008, 09:24 AM   #9
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A lot of my shooting with this gear was with TriX, all done by hand. We used to keep a tub of Ektamatic developer under a plastic cover. Throw in an exposed sheet of paper and one second later yank it out and toss it into a tray of fixer. Just to save two minutes over using Dektol...

Some years ago I remember being in the local library reading one of those high end industry lens magazines that always had Leicas on the cover. The article was about "The Ten Best Lenses Ever Made..." or something like that. They listed the Pentax 85/1.4 "A" Series.

Pentax never seemed to capture the pro market though. Even though cameras like the LX could more than hold their own. I remember going to the US Open and having other shooters look over at me and being really amazed that Pentax actually made lenses like the 400/2.8 ED.

But when the Canon EOS autofocus line became the big thing I switched. To me it made sense: the autofocus was the best at the time, the lens line was huge and I could rent fancy lenses at high end photo stores. Also the paper could get my gear repaired by Canon Professional Services. These were the days when some photogs used their own gear instead of company gear. I would get a monthly equipment reimbursement of $150 for using my own stuff. In the end it paid for big ticket items like the EF 400/2.8.

Getting back to my list of Pentax lenses. Once I switched over to Canon I never felt that the Pentax glass was inferior. I have always had a soft spot and appreciation for Pentax. My first real camera was a Nikon FE2 which was stolen. I then bought a Pentax ME Super. When I became more "serious" about shooting I saved up for the LX. I loved the LX, still my favorite manual focus film SLR. Something about holding that camera...

I would really like to try the Pentax 85/1.4 again. Just to see if it is as good as I remember it.

Here is a shot using the 85 of my old girlfriend. She had amazing eyes. This shot was taken on Kodachrome, but scanned on a cheapish flatbed scanner. The photo is not that great as a picture, but the clarity, color, and sharpness of the slide is superb...
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09-23-2008, 09:33 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Or in this case, 20/2.8. And 200/2.8. And 400/2.8. And 85/1.4. Ouch!

Yeah I know...

Why though? Why the high prices on this used stuff? Maybe the small production numbers or the cult status of Pentax fans, or both?

I have mentioned that 85 and 400 but the 20 and 200 are great as well. I first bought the 300/4 and then 200/2.8 ED. The IQ of the 300 was nice but the 200 was fantastic. Later on I got the 400/2.8 and very seldom used the 300/4 after that. The 300 was a nice small lens for its focal length though.
09-23-2008, 09:53 AM   #11
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There's no new equivalents for some of those lenses and the build quality of the old lenses is just awesome
09-23-2008, 10:02 AM   #12
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Well, interesting story. It agrees quite well with what I heard from others, how Pentax in the K/M/KA generation missed the main-stream pro line despite great gear (though they may have been there in the m42 ages).

In any case, on Saturday I have a date with the A*85/1.4!

My brother is visiting with his family, and if there is just time for it (considering all logistics involved with kids etc) my plan is to bring out the tripod and set my A50/1.7 and A100/2.8 and A*135/1.8 and my brothers A*85/1.4 up against the DA*50-135 testing and comparing them at 50, 85, 100 and 135 mm. The best of the A-lens-line v.s. DA*50-135! Just for fun!
09-23-2008, 10:30 AM   #13
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Max the high prices are due to the DSLR's having full compatibility. Especially the A series as they meter in all modes. Even the M series and earlier meter in M mode. The old lenses have just become in higher demand. It doesn't hurt that they are great lenses too.

If you want a taste for the A*85 you might want to look into the FA77 LTD. It is no slouch either. The FA 43 LTD is also a great lens and not that much bigger than the 40 Pancake but with much better IQ. It would be perfect for the LX. Then there is the FA 31 LTD which has become one of those legendary lenses.

Pentax for digital has created three pancake primes a 21, 40 and 70. I have the 40 which has great edge to edge sharpness with the contrast and color to match. The best thing with the new DA lenses beside the image and build quality is the quick shift focus mechanism that allows manual focus without having to switch out of autofocus.

Your old girlfriend had great eye brows too.

Douglas that looks like a great lens shoot out.
09-23-2008, 11:48 AM   #14
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400mm/2.8 ED "A" Series lens

--

whewww
09-23-2008, 11:51 AM   #15
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Hey Photomaximum, without trying to rub salt into the wound.............................................even today and most everyday I still use mainly four fast Pentax A series primes, 50mm f1:1.2, 85mm Green Star f1:1.4, 135mm Green Star f1:1.8 (which I note you did not list as one of yours) and my most recently acquired little gem, a 200mm Green Star f1:2.8. ED (there's also a 300mm Green Star f1:4 in the Crumpler, along with all the other stuff).

I consider these lenses to have superb optical quality, produce the results that I need and are just a joy to use. IMHO they are as good as you remember and they are still about to buy, but you do have to pay for them now.

Last edited by Kerrowdown; 09-23-2008 at 12:01 PM.
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