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12-19-2018, 05:53 PM   #1
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Build quality between A and M prime lenses

Hi All,

I wonder is there any build quality differences between old A and M type lenses?

For example between two similar specs lenses


SMC Pentax-M 28mm F2
SMC Pentax-A 28mm F2

12-19-2018, 05:55 PM - 1 Like   #2
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the only build-quality issue I've ever experienced or read about is the poor quality of the aperture ring on the A50/1.7
12-19-2018, 06:01 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Mostly metal on the M series, more plastic on the A series. Some serious variation on the M50/2 across countries of manufacture with some being more plastic outside Japan.
12-19-2018, 06:07 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Seen reports of problems with aperture ring on A series (particularly 50mm series) but I think you are unlikely to see these problems if you are leaving it on "A" all the time.

12-20-2018, 12:15 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
the only build-quality issue I've ever experienced or read about is the poor quality of the aperture ring on the A50/1.7
What they said ^ ^ ^

While the M-series share uniformly excellent build*, it is untrue that the A-series as a group represents an overall downward step in quality. Those A-series lenses with overall plastic construction have build representative of their original price point and are at least as well made as the better third-party lenses that were their competition.

As for the M 28/2.8 vs. the A 28/2.8, both are optically equivalent and neither is a standout for optical excellence. My preference would be for the Vivitar 28/2.8 Close Focus (Komine-made, Ser#28xxxxxxx)** over either of the Pentax 28s. Reviews at the link below:

Vivitar (Komine 28xxxxx) 28mm f/2.8 Close Focus Lens Reviews - Vivitar Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

The Vivitar is well-built and is optically better.


Steve

(...owns the Vivitar (K02) and consider it better than average as 28s go...)

* The late run Pentax-M 50/2.0 have plastic build and optics essentially similar to the Pentax-A 50/2.0

** The desired versions are the so-called K02 and A03 variants from the Great Vivitar 28mm Bestiary compiled by Robin Palmar (LINK)

Last edited by stevebrot; 12-20-2018 at 12:36 AM.
12-20-2018, 01:05 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Generally the built Level of the A series is still very good. According to Arnold Stark the following lenses got plastic focus rings: A35/2.8, A50/1.7, A50/2, A135/2.8. And the following plastic f-stop-rings*: A50/1.4, A50/1.7, A50/2. All others are still full metal.



I own one of these 'critical' lenses, the A50/1.7 and until I read about it's plastic parts I did not notice these. Feels like a typical well built lens of the 80th.











* sorry - I do not know the correct english term
12-20-2018, 07:04 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
* The late run Pentax-M 50/2.0 have plastic build and optics essentially similar to the Pentax-A 50/2.0
I am thinking that the 50/2.0 was manufactured primarily as the kit lens for the K1000, which was Pentax's budget SLR through that period. In the UK at least the 50/1.7 was regarded as the kit lens for the ME Super, A3, LX etc. As the quality of the K1000 went downwards towards the end of its production (when transferred to China), with some plastic parts replacing metal, it would have been logical to cut costs on its kit lens too.
12-20-2018, 08:02 AM   #8
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if I am not mistaken, Vivitar was a name and their lenses were built by others

I have a Kino Precision Japan Kiron 28mm f/2 P/KA

Kiron 28mm F2 MC Lens Reviews - Miscellaneous Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

which was also sold under the " Vivitar " name

I like it alot

12-20-2018, 09:22 AM   #9
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I've got an A50/f2.0. It's the best $10 lens I've got. No complaints about build quality. Since all of my Pentax bodies are digital, I keep the aperture ring locked in the 'A' position so the camera can control it. Maybe I just lucked out and got a really good copy but as far as I'm concerned, it's a very underrated lens.

I've also got two Vivitar prime manual lenses, a 28mm/f2.8 and a 50mm/f2.0, both made by Cosina, that have totally crap-tastic build quality compared with Pentax A50/f.20 above. The 28mm has the dreaded Ricoh pin, but it's the smaller, rounded version that's safer for mounting on my autofocus Pentax bodies. I still play it safe by always putting the camera in MF mode before mounting the lens to prevent the autofocus pawl from extending.
12-20-2018, 09:38 AM   #10
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I like my Kiron 28 f2 but wide open it has done some odd things with highlights. I should take some test shots and share here.

I have a "mk2" version of the M 28 f2.8 which is also very good. It's smaller than the Kiron and performs well from wide open. This is the version that doesn't have the chrome ring on the nose end of the barrel. It was an accidental purchase via ebay that turned out to be a good deal.

I'm almost assuredly in the minority in that I don't really care about auto-aperture that much on my digital camera (my film k-mount camera cannot utilize this function so it's even more of a waste). Either run wide open in AV mode or pick an aperture in M mode and use stop-down metering to check exposure and go from there. Unless I'm dealing with rapidly changing lighting in the scene it doesn't seem like a big deal. Usually the M flavor of a lens is cheaper than its equivalent A version which is an added bonus.
12-20-2018, 10:00 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by aslyfox Quote
if I am not mistaken, Vivitar was a name and their lenses were built by others
That is basically correct. The original Vivitar was a brand name for a line of photography products produced for and sold by Ponder and Best, a U.S. company. The lenses were made to specification by various manufacturers (Japanese and otherwise) based on designs commissioned by Ponder and Best with intent of matching the performance and build of camera manufacturer's product. For a significant number of years, lens serial numbers encoded both maker and year/week of manufacture with the result that some maker's lenses have developed a better reputation within the brand. Lists matching serial numbers with makers exist at several locations on the Web. I like the article on the Camera Wiki site best:
Vivitar serial numbers - Camera-wiki.org - The free camera encyclopedia
Those made by Schneider, Komine, Kino/Kiron, Tokina, and Perkin Elmer are held in higher esteem. I own a handful* of Vivitar lenses, all of which have excellent build with performance equivalent to the norm at the time for 1st-party offerings from the major manufacturers.

Addendum: It should be noted that some Vivitar models correspond to lenses marketed under the maker's brand as well as the Vivitar name. Conventional wisdom is that the situation was similar to that of the current Pentax D FA 50/1.4 and Tokina Opera 50/1.4 where design and development was done in collaboration with both entities permitted to sell under their own brand.


Steve

* 28/2.5 M42 (Kiron), 28/2.5 Pentax-K (Komine), 135/2.8 M42 (Komine), and 28/2.8 Exakta (unknown)

Last edited by stevebrot; 12-20-2018 at 10:16 AM.
12-20-2018, 10:53 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by E-man Quote
. . . . The 28mm has the dreaded Ricoh pin,. . . .
for any one not aware of the potential danger of the Ricoh piin:

I suggest going to this article


The Evolution of the Pentax K-mount - Articles and Tips | PentaxForums.com

and scroll down to this section:

" Third Party Variants of the K-mount "
12-20-2018, 11:18 AM   #13
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My Albinar 28mm f2.8 "Macro" lens had a Ricoh P-pin as well and I did get it stuck on my K-5 II when I first got it. Got it off using a feeler gauge and a bunch of fiddling. I took the mount off the back of the lens and took the pin out and threw it away. Five minute job with a screw driver. Unless you've got a camera that actually uses that pin, I don't know why folks would leave it on the lens at all. The Albinar is my least favorite 28mm lens that I own, by a mile. All the others I like quite a bit.
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