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12-18-2008, 05:21 PM   #1
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Stick with Pentax-A lenses or changeup?

Hey folks,

I've begun to REALLY love prime lenses.

I'm really loving my Pentax A-50 F1.7 a lot, and currently the Pentax M 28 F2.8 that accompanies it. These coupled with the Pentax M 135 F3.5 make up my prime kit (although I'll sometimes bring out the DA* 50-135 to cover the upper range).

I'm planning to do more paid/professional shoots in the future and am looking to invest in some good prime lenses (probably only for the 10-60mm range. My 50-135 does the telephoto job fine). The thing is, I've fallen in love with manual focus primes (Auto-Aperture) right now but the only lenses that seem to fit my desires are the A lenses. They have great manual focus feel and work well with Av mode (which I use a lot).

My concern about using these older lenses is whether they'll last (A lenses are about 20 years old or so?), and whether they will be able to hold up to various events and weddings and portrait shots. I just had a Sigma Macro 50mm (manual focus) jam up on me. It's practically dead for all intents and purposes until I attempt surgery on it. I have another Sigma Super Wide II that's starting to make scratching sounds when I focus... Anyways, this got me thinking about the longevity of lenses.

Here's my question in a nutshell: Should I stay with really good condition Pentax-A prime lenses since I ilke them a lot or try to purchase an alternative for long term? Most newer lenses I've tried don't have that manual focus feel...


Any suggestions and feedback would be greatly appreciated!

12-18-2008, 05:32 PM   #2
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Short answer: yes. The M's are cool as well. Screw mounts work as well, though depending on workflow may not be as convenient for you - until I got the hang of the M flow, and even after, I find shooting Takumars is pretty easy and quick.

Most of the manual focus Pentax lenses are built to last.

You don't really need to look at the limiteds, unless you're hankering for a particular focal length. I have the 43 and it's not too bad in manual focus...
12-18-2008, 08:01 PM   #3
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Ive used A series lenses and M42 Mount lenses, and to address the issue of workflow, here's what i have to do with each.

A lenses: Set camera to Av mode; choose aperture as you normally would in-camera; focus; shoot.
M42/Non-A lenses: Set camera to M mode; focus; turn aperture ring to desired aperture; meter using green button/AE-L button; shoot.

As you can see it really is only one extra step, but in fast paced situations with varying light conditions, I wouldn't feel comfortable wasting any extra time. Once you get really proficient at it, perhaps it could be workable, but personally I would stick with A lenses if I were doing something like a wedding.

For personal use or shoots where you can take your time, M series lenses and older are fantastic, especially build quality
12-18-2008, 08:55 PM   #4
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You can use the M42 lenses in AV mode, you'll probably have to dial in a little EV compensation, but it works..

12-18-2008, 09:19 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by kthung Quote
Ive used A series lenses and M42 Mount lenses, and to address the issue of workflow, here's what i have to do with each.

A lenses: Set camera to Av mode; choose aperture as you normally would in-camera; focus; shoot.
M42/Non-A lenses: Set camera to M mode; focus; turn aperture ring to desired aperture; meter using green button/AE-L button; shoot.

As you can see it really is only one extra step, but in fast paced situations with varying light conditions, I wouldn't feel comfortable wasting any extra time. Once you get really proficient at it, perhaps it could be workable, but personally I would stick with A lenses if I were doing something like a wedding.

For personal use or shoots where you can take your time, M series lenses and older are fantastic, especially build quality
Not only does it add an extra step, which you have to remember, but the results are often inconsistent. Sadly, since I have M lenses, I'd stick to the A lenses.
12-18-2008, 09:22 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Stratman Quote
You can use the M42 lenses in AV mode, you'll probably have to dial in a little EV compensation, but it works..
I didnt know that! How??
12-18-2008, 09:40 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Not only does it add an extra step, which you have to remember, but the results are often inconsistent.
Note the inconsistency seems unique to the K10D and perhaps K20D - none of the other Pentax cameras seems to have any problems metering M lenses at any aperture. And also, supposedly, only an issue with the stock focus screen. Not sure which model the OP has.

As for the "extra step" and having to remember it, this ceases to be an issue if you start shooting in M mode all the time. I made that switch partially for this very reason a year or so ago, and I think it has improved my photography markedly. Not that it is impossible to get the same results in another mode, but I find it models very nicely the way one should be thinking anyhow in order to get get consistent exposure. I find that overall, there is *less* button pushing and *less* to remember shooting in "M" mode and leaving exposure fixed based on ambient light than shooting in Av mode and trying to figure out how much exposure compensation might be required on a shot-by-shot basis because of the local values contained in that scene. So I personally will be sticking to "M" mode even if I strike it rich and decide to replace all my "M" lenses someday with auto-exposure ones.

Anyhow, if I had a collection of "A" lenses, I'd keep using them (but in "M" mode) as long as I could, whether that was months, years, or decades (my money's on the latter...), then replace them as necessary with whatever seems to make the most sense at the time. No reason to replace a lens that is working fine!
12-18-2008, 09:56 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by kthung Quote
I didnt know that! How??
The lens should have an auto/manual switch. Set it to Auto and the lens will always be wide open regardless of aperture ring setting. Set the camera on Av. You can then focus wide open with the lens if you want. Then switch the lens to Manual. The aperture will now change by moving the aperture ring, and the light meter will see the changes as you make them. So it acts kind of like it should. Exposure compensation works too. Metering switches to center-weighted automatically if it was on multi-segment.

Focus can get tricky at this point because the viewfinder will get darker at small apertures, and depth of field will increase. Different lens brands have different switches placed for film cameras, maybe not conveniently located.

As for the OP's original question, I would make sure the A50/1.7 stays on the A setting, because it has a weak spot when switched off of A. There's no reason to ever take it off A on a DSLR anyway, and it will work fine for a long time. The only A lens that I ever saw with a focus problem was dropped; even still, I fixed it and it was fine. I have a 45 year-old Takumar that focuses perfectly and smoothly, and I expect it could outlast me.

12-19-2008, 05:21 AM   #9
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Another point worth mentioning - if shooting with your own lighting / flash set up, you probably won't be metering anyhow, just setting the aperture and shutter speed, no? In which case the A lens advantage is reduced.
12-19-2008, 01:09 PM   #10
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I'm still using A series lenses everyday and they still deliver the goods for me, change only when you need to, not because you think you need to.
12-19-2008, 01:18 PM   #11
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For the price they are and how small they are carry spares!
eg... a backup 50mm 1:2 would cost very little and as you already know these things are tiny.

mike
12-19-2008, 01:58 PM   #12
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I will be happy to relieve you of any A lenses you might want to dispose of.

I will even pay postage!

Dave
12-19-2008, 02:42 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by dugrant153 Quote
Hey folks,




Here's my question in a nutshell: Should I stay with really good condition Pentax-A prime lenses since I ilke them a lot or try to purchase an alternative for long term? Most newer lenses I've tried don't have that manual focus feel...


Any suggestions and feedback would be greatly appreciated!
I've bought a raft of AF lenses over the past couple of years, 10-17, 14, 12-24, 21, 31, 35, 40, 50, 70, 77 mm focal lengths.
At the moment, they are all sitting in a corner of my dingy storage locker beside my shop where I store my construction equipment.

I've gone back to a mostly A series kit, with a couple of Ms and K series lenses for my photography.
If you look in my bag, you will see lenses from 15mm up to 200mm, but you won't see a single AF lens.
The only one I am keeping ready for use is the FA200/Macro, but it isn't in my regular kit bag, it travels with my 400 and 600mm lenses.

I'm finding that I really just prefer manual focus, especially since I installed a Katz-Eye into my K20.
Those A series lenses should last several lifetimes, I wouldn't hesitate to buy one if it suited my needs.
12-20-2008, 02:26 AM   #14
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After starting off with AF gear ... and then getting into Taks ... and seeing the quality of these lenses ... I'd say stick with your your old gear ... there's no way I'd replace mine.

On the odd occasion i use my AF stuff ... but it's on the very odd occasion.
12-20-2008, 04:11 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
The lens should have an auto/manual switch. Set it to Auto and the lens will always be wide open regardless of aperture ring setting. Set the camera on Av. You can then focus wide open with the lens if you want. Then switch the lens to Manual. The aperture will now change by moving the aperture ring, and the light meter will see the changes as you make them. So it acts kind of like it should. Exposure compensation works too. Metering switches to center-weighted automatically if it was on multi-segment.
As the Kingfish was fond of saying....'Scuse me for protrudin'....but why bother with the auto/manual switch at all? Just leave it set on manual, open up to focus, close down to shoot. All you have to do is count aperture ring clicks. Easy as pie.

Regarding worries about 20 year old lenses.....I generally carry nothing but lenses twice that old and use them daily. One nice benefit in addition to their great image quality and ruggedness is that I am able to share lenses between my 5 month old K20D and my 46 year old SV.
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