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08-01-2019, 12:41 PM - 1 Like   #16
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I've yet to own a lens I couldn't learn to like and/or find useful I enjoy the different rendering characteristics, and I really enjoy the challenge of squeezing good images out of even the most compromised glass - though I'd draw the line at anything that's de-centered, has fungus, haze etc. That aside, most lenses perform adequately when stopped down somewhat and used sensibly. A few adjustments in raw development to boost overall / local / micro contrast and sharpness, and remove (or, at least, reduce) chromatic aberrations are usually all that's necessary to get acceptable results. As for out-of-focus rendering... well, it is what it is, but choosing subjects and backgrounds that work well with a particular lens is part of the fun.

In answer to the OP's question, the widely and cheaply available non-SMC Pentax-F 28-80 f/3.5-4.5 is hardly the darling of we K-mount users, but I like it - at least, on my APS-C cameras. Minimum focus distance (except in pseudo "Macro" mode) is a bit limiting, and it needs stopping down a bit, but I quite like the way it renders and I'm rather fond of it

QuoteOriginally posted by clickclick Quote
This past spring I picked up the 20-40 Limited knowing that people either loved it or not. Wide open sharpness at the 40 end is often criticized. Don't know if it's copy variations or what, but mine doesn't seem to suffer, and I am finding it is now on my K3 II more than most any other lens for general walk about shooting.
QuoteOriginally posted by Ronald Oakes Quote
I initialy loved my 20-40. However after using it for about a year , I also developed some frustration at times. Im one that has mixed feelings about it.
I'm learning to like my HD DA20-40 more, but doubt I'll ever love it. The focal length range, reasonably fast aperture, excellent DC AF and weather resistance should combine to make a really versatile lens, but after years of owning it I still find the strong "runway" field curvature at the longer end disappointing and limiting. That said, for close- or relatively-close-range work with the subject in the centre of the frame, it's outstanding. But, convenience aside, I far prefer the DA21, 35 and 40 Limited lenses to the 20-40...


Last edited by BigMackCam; 08-01-2019 at 04:41 PM.
08-01-2019, 12:51 PM - 1 Like   #17
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I hesitated buying the Pentax 40 pancake Limited and the 18-135. An individual in another forum didn't have good things to say about this lens and for a couple of years I avoided it. Finally I picked one up and I've been very pleased with it, both on my ASP-C bodies and yes, even on my K1. The 18-135 was another lens that before I bought one, a number of people gave it the thumbs down. I eventually got one and aside from the dreaded zoom slip (which is no big deal to me) this lens quickly became my general carry around on both my K5 and K10D.

I'm not saying ignore the poor ratings of lenses...but to perhaps as with everything get as much information as possible on an item...as Clint Eastwood would say...the good, the bad and the ugly... and make your decision.
08-01-2019, 02:17 PM - 3 Likes   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by ZombieArmy Quote
I think the legacy 50 1.4s encompass this philosophy more than anything else. My 8 element tak is decently sharp in the center and dreamy in the corners. Made in an era where corner sharpness was not necessarily desired at such an open aperture. Nowadays though if that blade of grass in the corner of your wide open shot isn't perfectly sharp then it's a terrible lens that no photographer could ever love!

Those lenses were designed with the wide apertures to aid focus. These were manual focus systems and the extra light was much appreciated. When these lenses first started coming out most photographers were used to f2.0 or even f2.8 or f3.5 being the norm for a 50mm lens. Having two to four times more light to work with while composing your shot was greatly appreciated in low light situations.


It was known that they were soft in the corners. But photography at that aperture was not the main reason for their existence. They still had to render a decent image wide open if necessary. For that reason they were usually excellent stopped down just a little a bit.
08-01-2019, 02:53 PM - 11 Likes   #19
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Last autumn I bought a cheap FA-J 75-300 to serve as a lightweight option for telephoto landscapes on the K-1. While I do own the very fine Tamron 70-200 f2.8, I don't need f2.8 for landscapes and I find the Tamron lens too heavy to carry around all the time, and I'm not comfortable leaving it in the car. Now the FA-J 75-300 is a cheap plastic consumer-grade lens made in the very last days of film cameras. It's given a 7.68 rating here at PF and in my review, I gave it a 5. In terms of sharpness, it's rather poor wide-open throughout its entire range and its just terrible at the long end. This has to be one of five or six worst SMC lenses Pentax has ever made. But if you put the camera on a tripod, stop the damn thing way down (like f11 to f16), be extra careful about focusing (because of its ultra-cheap build, it doesn't always focus accurately), avoid especially harsh light, and you confine your photography to the 85mm to 175mm range of the lens, then you can get images that are reasonably sharp edge to edge, with very nice color and contrast.

This is something to keep in mind about poorly rated lenses, particularly the telephoto zooms: those lenses will likely have a sweet spot where they are reasonably good. Unfortunately, often such optics are purchased for inexpensive reach, or by photographers too lazy to put their cameras on a tripod and stop down the lens, and so the resulting images are often disappointing.

Some samples from the FA-J 75-300, all with the K-1:







08-01-2019, 02:58 PM - 8 Likes   #20
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You certainly know how to get the best out of your kit, Greg. The worst part of my kit is the loose nut behind the viewfinder...
08-01-2019, 03:19 PM - 1 Like   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
Last autumn I bought a cheap FA-J 75-300 to serve as a lightweight option for telephoto landscapes on the K-1. While I do own the very fine Tamron 70-200 f2.8, I don't need f2.8 for landscapes and I find the Tamron lens too heavy to carry around all the time, and I'm not comfortable leaving it in the car. Now the FA-J 75-300 is a cheap plastic consumer-grade lens made in the very last days of film cameras. It's given a 7.68 rating here at PF and in my review, I gave it a 5. In terms of sharpness, it's rather poor wide-open throughout its entire range and its just terrible at the long end. This has to be one of five or six worst SMC lenses Pentax has ever made. But if you put the camera on a tripod, stop the damn thing way down (like f11 to f16), be extra careful about focusing (because of its ultra-cheap build, it doesn't always focus accurately), avoid especially harsh light, and you confine your photography to the 85mm to 175mm range of the lens, then you can get images that are reasonably sharp edge to edge, with very nice color and contrast.

This is something to keep in mind about poorly rated lenses, particularly the telephoto zooms: those lenses will likely have a sweet spot where they are reasonably good. Unfortunately, often such optics are purchased for inexpensive reach, or by photographers too lazy to put their cameras on a tripod and stop down the lens, and so the resulting images are often disappointing.

Some samples from the FA-J 75-300, all with the K-1:
Awesome photos, Greg, and a very honest description of the lens... both of which confirm my view that almost any lens can produce great photos if used skilfully. You just have to understand what you're working with, use it to its strengths, and (the most significant factor) have some talent.

On the subject of zoom lenses specifically, even very decent ones are typically better at either (but rarely both) the wide or long end... or, in some cases, a "sweet" area between the two. And this doesn't just relate to sharpness in the centre or across the frame, but also out-of-focus rendering. Almost all zoom lenses I've used (and currently use) are, at the very least, good at one end of the range, decent enough for much of the rest, and anything from good to increasingly awful towards, or at, the other extreme. Even my all-time favourite zoom - the Sony Zeiss 24-70 f/2.8 SSM (for Sony A-mount) - is best at the wide-to-normal range, getting worse as it heads towards 70mm. It's still good at 70mm, but not as good...
08-01-2019, 04:12 PM - 2 Likes   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
This is something to keep in mind about poorly rated lenses, particularly the telephoto zooms: those lenses will likely have a sweet spot where they are reasonably good.
QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
almost any lens can produce great photos if used skilfully. You just have to understand what you're working with, use it to its strengths, and (the most significant factor) have some talent.
Hmmm... you guys make me think that I should dust off my DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 WR. This was the first Pentax lens I bought when I got my K-7. I haven't used it in the three years I've owned my K-3 II, and in fact, didn't even bother to calibrate its AF on the camera.


- Craig
08-01-2019, 05:10 PM - 1 Like   #23
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The F/FA models of the 30-80mm and 28-105mm. Not ideal in all situations, especially on APS-C, but when you get them dialed in just right for the shooting conditions they just seem to come to life.

08-02-2019, 09:32 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by TwoUptons Quote
Tamron 70-300

Purple fringes like it was designed by Prince.
Gets soft at the long end

But does pretty well otherwise as one of the few full frame consumer telephoto zooms available for Pentax.

And has a very useful close-focusing trick

Also is currently absurdly cheap new.

-Eric
I'll second this although I like it better as a portrait lens closer to 70 than I like it for birds at 300.
08-02-2019, 10:15 AM - 4 Likes   #25
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I've had consistently decent results with the Sig/Quantaray pair of 28-80 1:2 macro (the Q-ray is 28-90) and 100-300 f/4.5-6.7 slowpoke (=not f/4). Images are as good as I allow them to be, since shooting 300/6.7 by hand is an easy way to out-shake the SR. Scores are definitely lower than I've found, and I have owned them each several times. The AF speed on both is really good too.

Q-ray 28-90 on K-01
08-03-2019, 05:12 AM - 1 Like   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by TwoUptons Quote
Tamron 70-300

Purple fringes like it was designed by Prince.
Gets soft at the long end

But does pretty well otherwise as one of the few full frame consumer telephoto zooms available for Pentax.

And has a very useful close-focusing trick

Also is currently absurdly cheap new.

-Eric

Ha ha ha, designed by Prince... I'm definitely stealing that one!
08-03-2019, 06:39 AM - 3 Likes   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by ZombieArmy Quote
tbf there really aren't many lenses that are super poorly rated in the database.

Even my Sears 80-200, which I consider a strictly "for fun" lens rates at an 8.09.

Sears 80-200mm F4 Macro Lens Reviews - Miscellaneous Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
You have to subtract 5 and then use rating out of 5, so 8.09 becomes 3.09 out of 5. That's how you make sense of forum ratings. As pointed out at teacher's college, if no lenses are rated from 0-5, those ratings are meaningless.

I don't have a lot of regard for FA J lenses.
Pentax FA J Zoom Lenses - Reviews and Specifications - SLR and Interchangeable Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

The FA J 28-80 is rated a 6....so maybe we should be subtracting 6 from the rating....(does anyone know of a lower rated lens?)
making the 80-200 a 2.09 out of 4.

My lens in this category would be the FA 35-80. I don't use it much, but it never disappoints when I do.
https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=Pentax%20FA%2035-80

The other would be the F 70-210.
SMC Pentax-F 70-210mm F4-5.6 Reviews - F Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=Pentax%20F%2070-210

I like my FA 28-200 for its range, but it's a pixel peeping disaster. Reduced in size it's awesome.


My opinion of these older lenses, would be , not as sharp but have distinctive rendering making them desirable for images you know will be reduced in size (oversampled.) Which since my display of choice is 4k TV these days, is almost every image.

For 4k TV, the issue is not how sharp it is, it's how it renders the scene.

Honestly, if you're not setting up a tripod, using the 2 second delay because the image is absolutely stunning and you might want to print it large, these older lenses are more than adequate.They ad a certain "je ne sais quoi" to collections of images. Something just a little bit different from the endless parade of razor sharp clinical looking images.

Last edited by normhead; 08-04-2019 at 06:41 AM.
08-05-2019, 06:57 PM   #28
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I haven't used it in a very long while - Takumar Bayonet 135/2.8... the portraits with this lens have a really nice softness to them...

I know someone mentioned the bayonet tak 135/2.5, -
QuoteOriginally posted by ZombieArmy Quote
Tak Bayonet 135 f2.5
and there is back and fowards as to which outperforms the other (2.5 vs 2.8); but I only have tried the 2.8, and it is a keeper.
08-05-2019, 07:13 PM - 1 Like   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by edom31 Quote
I haven't used it in a very long while - Takumar Bayonet 135/2.8... the portraits with this lens have a really nice softness to them...

I know someone mentioned the bayonet tak 135/2.5, - and there is back and fowards as to which outperforms the other (2.5 vs 2.8); but I only have tried the 2.8, and it is a keeper.
I'm pretty convinced they're the same exact lens, just maybe the 2.8 is more usable because you can shoot in AV mode wide open at the very useful f2.8 and not have to fiddle with the green button metering and the crippled mount.

Kind of wish Pentax would launch a modern DSLR without the crippled mount, maybe a special edition k-1 that costs 100 bucks more or something.
08-06-2019, 03:00 AM - 1 Like   #30
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I tend to go one step further, towards lenses that don't exist in our lens database/archive samples....

such as my Spiratone 28/2, Mamiya 35/2.8, or the Soligor C/D 35/2 P.....
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