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4 Days Ago   #1
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35mm f2 SMC-M vs A?

Hello!

I currently have the 35mm f2 SMC-M and was curious if anyone has compared it's optics vs the 35 f2 SMC-A? Noticed it's REALLY glowy wide open, and curious if the A version would basically be the same? If so, wondering how the 2.8 SMC-M and A compare to it? I also have the SMC-M 85 f2 which is so so, but nowhere near as good as my olympus 85 f2 (though better than my nikon 85 f2 ais). The reviews on that lens are pretty stellar on here so wondering if i got a lemon?

I will say, the 50mm 1.7 SMC-M is just about the sharpest manual slr 50mm i've used! Anyways, in regards to the 35 f2 SMC-M, i may try either the SMC-A options, or if nothing else, some of the older K lenses.... 30 2.8 (though i'd prefer a 35 over 30), the 35 f2, or smaller 35 3.5. Let me know your thoughts, thanks!

4 Days Ago - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by analogpics Quote
I also have the SMC-M 85 f2 which is so so, but nowhere near as good as my olympus 85 f2 (though better than my nikon 85 f2 ais). The reviews on that lens are pretty stellar on here so wondering if i got a lemon?
Mine's great.

Did you do a decentreing test as soon as you received it? It's had decades to be dropped or abused. It also may have come out of the factory like that.

Your argument for a refund or exchange weakens the longer you go on without having done that.
4 Days Ago - 1 Like   #3
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Hey Clackers!

I haven't tried a decentering test as of yet...i've owned the lens for years now and it's been sitting collecting dust, but recently wanted to give it another go. I forgot i have the pk to rf adapter for my canon eos r so just snapped a couple pics and noticing that haziness goes away by stopping down just a stop so maybe i'll run a roll through it and make sure to not shoot it wide open heh. Curious how the 2.8 version stacks up at 2.8-4
4 Days Ago - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by analogpics Quote
I currently have the 35mm f2 SMC-M and was curious if anyone has compared it's optics vs the 35 f2 SMC-A? Noticed it's REALLY glowy wide open, and curious if the A version would basically be the same?
My understanding is they are identical optics. 7 elements in 7 groups. Same weight and size. I would expect the lenses to be identical in performance.

The M35mm 2.0 has always commanded a premium to the 2.8 version,

If you are really after the best in that FL range go for either the K series 28mm 3.5 or the FA/DFA 31mm 1.8 LTD


Last edited by pschlute; 4 Days Ago at 05:19 PM.
4 Days Ago - 5 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by analogpics Quote
I also have the SMC-M 85 f2 which is so so
You must have a very bad copy. My M 85mm f2.0 is a superb lens. I say that with the luxury of comparing it to all the other great Pentax 85mm lenses. I also own the FA* 85mm 1.4; the A* 85mm 1.4; the D-FA* 85mm 1.4; and the K 85mm 2.2 SOFT. The M lens has no problem holding its own..........

4 Days Ago   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by analogpics Quote
I will say, the 50mm 1.7 SMC-M is just about the sharpest manual slr 50mm i've used!
I 100% agree with you there sir. I bought my M 50mm 1.7 about 42 years ago. It served me well on my MX and Z1 film cameras and still gets an outing on the K-1 and K-1 II to this day.

It was a quality lens when produced and still is.
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Ditto on the SMC M 50/1.7. I sometimes wonder why I even bother with any other lens. Sucker for punishment I guess.

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QuoteOriginally posted by analogpics Quote
Hey Clackers!

I haven't tried a decentering test as of yet...i've owned the lens for years now and it's been sitting collecting dust, but recently wanted to give it another go. I forgot i have the pk to rf adapter for my canon eos r so just snapped a couple pics and noticing that haziness goes away by stopping down just a stop so maybe i'll run a roll through it and make sure to not shoot it wide open heh. Curious how the 2.8 version stacks up at 2.8-4
I'd do the decentreing test on a Pentax, not your Canon, because it introduces the factor of the adapter not being perfectly aligned. Actually, as Roger Cicala has pointed out, pretty much no adapter ever is, it's another source of manufacturing tolerances, it can never improve IQ, only reduce it.
4 Days Ago   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by pschlute Quote
You must have a very bad copy. My M 85mm f2.0 is a superb lens. I say that with the luxury of comparing it to all the other great Pentax 85mm lenses. I also own the FA* 85mm 1.4; the A* 85mm 1.4; the D-FA* 85mm 1.4; and the K 85mm 2.2 SOFT. The M lens has no problem holding its own..........

I'll have to run some tests with the 85 for sure, your photo turned out really nice. Do you remember what aperture you shot it at? I'm wondering if i was shooting it wide open a lot when i should have stopped down to 2.8-4.
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QuoteOriginally posted by analogpics Quote
I'll have to run some tests with the 85 for sure, your photo turned out really nice. Do you remember what aperture you shot it at? I'm wondering if i was shooting it wide open a lot when i should have stopped down to 2.8-4.
This photo of mine was wide open. That's why you can see the purple fringing in the highest contrast areas.

But it's sharp, and has great rendering.

Looks like years ago you should've tested your purchase!

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I did a comparison between the K and M version of the 35/2. Also my M version was extremely glowing wide open and at 2.8. Look for details at the user reviews of the K 35/2. The K-lens has very different coatings and is superior over the M version.
The A-version is optical identic as the M-version, so do have no expectations it will be much better. These lenses btw are newer, but also more plastically I suppose.
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QuoteOriginally posted by Henrico Quote
The A-version is optical identic as the M-version, so do have no expectations it will be much better. These lenses btw are newer, but also more plastically I suppose.
Unfortunately what your suppose is wrong. The original A serie lenses are "heavy metal", the finish may give them that plasticky shine but they are not. However, the A serie lenses made during the period that the later FA lenses were made like the 4.7/5.6 80-200 are indeed light weighted with lots of plastic (which fortunately does not apply to the lensparts...).
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My experience with both M35 2.0 and M85 2.0 with Pentax ME/MX is, that contrast is rather low wide open. After comparing with K35 3.5 and K105 2.8 I sold both.
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QuoteOriginally posted by analogpics Quote
I'll have to run some tests with the 85 for sure, your photo turned out really nice. Do you remember what aperture you shot it at? I'm wondering if i was shooting it wide open a lot when i should have stopped down to 2.8-4.
This was shot at f4. Lighting was a single on-camera diffused flash.
4 Days Ago - 2 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by analogpics Quote
Hello!

I currently have the 35mm f2 SMC-M and was curious if anyone has compared it's optics vs the 35 f2 SMC-A? Noticed it's REALLY glowy wide open, and curious if the A version would basically be the same? If so, wondering how the 2.8 SMC-M and A compare to it? I also have the SMC-M 85 f2 which is so so, but nowhere near as good as my olympus 85 f2 (though better than my nikon 85 f2 ais). The reviews on that lens are pretty stellar on here so wondering if i got a lemon?

I will say, the 50mm 1.7 SMC-M is just about the sharpest manual slr 50mm i've used! Anyways, in regards to the 35 f2 SMC-M, i may try either the SMC-A options, or if nothing else, some of the older K lenses.... 30 2.8 (though i'd prefer a 35 over 30), the 35 f2, or smaller 35 3.5. Let me know your thoughts, thanks!
I have had the M 35/2 for a number of years and on APS-C it is my favourite "normal" manual prime and has served me well for many years. I have often taken it on trips here in Spain and used it as my main lens. It's not sharp wide open but by f/2.8 it's good and that's where I most often used it if I wanted subject isolation.

Last year I bought the A version as a mint copy came up locally for what I considered a reasonable price but earlier this year I changed to a different main camera system and the A went in order to raise funds, so I didn't own it for long. It's possible that it was a better lens than the M but my history and attachment to the M (and it's poorer cosmetic condition and market value) meant that I kept the M. The A was certainly sharper wide open but I didn't have the opportunity to test if the rendering and other qualities were fully up to the standard of the M, so I played it safe and sold the A. Ideally I'd have really liked to do some side-by-side tests but in my few months with the A I concluded:

(1) It's sharper than the M wide open
(2) Bokeh wasn't fantastic (not a surprise for a wide angle) but I can't say if it was any better or worse than the M as I wasn't able to test it in similar conditions
(3) It's a beautiful lens and lovely to use - well built, very smooth focus, nice clicks to the aperture ring
(4) Image quality overall was good, certainly nothing to complain about

The M 35mm f/2.8 is also a good lens and wide open probably on a par with the f/2 at f/2.8 in terms of sharpness. Beware, many report problems of sticky aperture on this model, though my copy doesn't suffer from it.

But if I were to recommend a manual 35mm lens other than the M or A 35/2 it would without doubt be the Ricoh Rikenon XR 35mm f/2.8. There are two versions of this lens - the second is a re-branded Pentax M and the first (which I have) is an original Ricoh design that can be identified by: an aperture that goes to f/16, 6 blades and minimum focus distance of 35cm. This lens is absolutely superb and I suspect if I test it against the M 35/2 it will trounce it in many respects. It's sharper, has more contrast and is at least as well built. My copy is also in mint condition and a real beauty. Focus is super-smooth.

Here are the links to my Flickr albums for each though the A and Rikenon albums don't have many photos since I've owned them for much less time.

M 35/2: Pentax M 35mm f/2 | Flickr

A 35/2: Pentax A 35mm f/2 | Flickr

Rikenon 35/2.8: Ricoh XR Rikenon 35mm f/2.8 | Flickr

* * * * * *

The K 30mm f/2.8 I bought this year and haven't used much. I can tell you that the bokeh is worse than any of the aforementioned 35mm lenses and that I suspect it's less sharp at f/2.8, at least outside of the centre. For what it costs you could get an M 35/2 or maybe an A 35/2 and I'd say they're both better lenses.

* * * * * *

The M 85/2 is a great lens but not super-sharp wide open where it suffers a loss of contrast and rather extreme blue fringing in high-contrast elements of a scene. Stop it down a little and it has superb rendering, nice bokeh and probably the most "3D feel" of any lens I've used. I'd never sell mine.

Last edited by Jonathan Mac; 4 Days Ago at 07:29 AM.
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