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12-31-2008, 03:13 AM   #1
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What's the pedigree of the FA 35mm f/2?

I've been looking at a series of shots taken with this lens and I'm always surprised at it's high optical quality by any standard not just price.

Considering it's price to performance ratio I think we are benefiting from a older but highly refined design of an earlier Pentax lens'.

Anyone know what the earlier generations of this lens might be in the development of the current Pentax FA 35mm f/2?

Thanks
Wildman

12-31-2008, 03:23 AM   #2
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Aaah, the poor man's 31mm Limited.

Forefathers: K 35/2 (different optical design), M 35/2 and the A 35/2. an F version was never made.
12-31-2008, 05:36 AM   #3
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Optically the older 35/2's are unrelated to the FA35/2. The later is a 6-5 lens solution, the only Pentax 35 using that. The 35 mm lenses that compete with the FA35 on being the best ever Pentax 35 is probably the K35/2 and K35/3.5, which are 8-7 and 5-4 designs (the corresponding Takumars probably had the same optical design, Pentax just changed the mount...though you might have to take them appart to confirm it). The intermediate M or A 35/2 (7-7 lenses) and M or A 35/2.8 (6-6) does not have the same reputation (and I have tried all but the A35/2 without being impressed enough to buy them). The DA35/2.8 ltd macro is a totally different design, and though it will probably build a reputation comparable to the K35 and FA35 it should maybe more be compared to the A50/2.8 and FA50/2.8 macro's since it is the APS-C equivalent of a full frame normal macro lens, and not a speedy full frame 35mm.

So in conclusion, the FA35/2 was a totally new design. It's on my want-to-have-list for sure, despite that I usually ditch the FA's for their poor built quality. Together with some other FA's it proves that while Pentax at that era was building flopsy lenses, they still were capable of extremely good new optical designs.

You should take a look here: Stan's Pentax Photography Severall persons there rise the FA35/2 to the skies.

It would be awfully interesting to know a bit more about the designers behind the Pentax lenses, and how they have been able to maintain a good optical know how within their staff over so long time from world-leading takumar lenses over the many excellent and well built K lenses, compact designed M lenses, my own favorits the A and A* lenses, F and FA's which despite the lower built quality (in which Pentax was not alone, a sign of the time) has these optical gems, over to limited FA and DA and now DA* lenses. Anyone knows a source of such information?
12-31-2008, 11:51 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Douglas_of_Sweden Quote
Anyone knows a source of such information?
I could tell you all about it. But then I'd have to kill you.

12-31-2008, 05:06 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Douglas_of_Sweden Quote
So in conclusion, the FA35/2 was a totally new design.
it proves that while Pentax at that era was building flopsy lenses, they still were capable of extremely good new optical designs.

It would be awfully interesting to know a bit more about the designers behind the Pentax lenses,
I wonder how much is not only due to better designs but to much better glass in the last 50 years. I know in scopes better glass has driven the improvement in optical performance as much as just design alone.

Years and years ago I wrote a paper on the post war industrial recovery of Germany and Japan. It was a historical-economics paper and not technical. But if memory serves I do believe I remember that back in the 1950's Asahi Optical Co brought in a team from Zeiss in Germany to help them set up a modern lens coating facility in Japan. This sort of thing was common both being former allies during the war and both struggling to recover from that war. Beyond that who knows how much technical cross-fertilizing was going on between the two countries?
12-31-2008, 07:19 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
I wonder how much is not only due to better designs but to much better glass in the last 50 years. I know in scopes better glass has driven the improvement in optical performance as much as just design alone...
Better glass and computer-aided design/manufacturing. The FA 35/2 contains an aspheric element that would have been cost-prohibitive to manufacture 35 years ago, but is a fairly common feature in modern lenses. Then there is the matter of better plastic. Yes, better plastic. Not all of the elements in modern lenses are glass.

Steve
12-31-2008, 09:13 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ftpaddict Quote
Aaah, the poor man's 31mm Limited.

Forefathers: K 35/2 (different optical design), M 35/2 and the A 35/2. an F version was never made.
I was look at this very thing the other day. The thing I found interesting is how the number of groups and elements actually declined rather than increasing which is backwards from most lenses. In other words, I expected the FA 35 f2 to have more groups and elements than the K 35mm f2.
01-01-2009, 04:52 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
The thing I found interesting is how the number of groups and elements actually declined rather than increasing which is backwards from most lenses. In other words, I expected the FA 35 f2 to have more groups and elements than the K 35mm f2.
I don't find this surprising:

Better glass=less inherent optical aberrations in the optical system.
Less inherent optical aberrations=less need for additional elements to correct for various aberrations.

Thus as time goes by and optical materials get better ALL ELSE BEING EQUAL one would expect less complex designs and fewer elements than in earlier lens designs. Perhaps the FA 35 is a case in point compared to earlier Pentax 35s.

"In optics, often, less is more. "
Paul Rudolph 1902 - Designer of the Zeiss Tessar photographic lens.


Last edited by wildman; 01-01-2009 at 05:21 AM.
01-01-2009, 12:00 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
I don't find this surprising:

Better glass=less inherent optical aberrations in the optical system.
Less inherent optical aberrations=less need for additional elements to correct for various aberrations.

Thus as time goes by and optical materials get better ALL ELSE BEING EQUAL one would expect less complex designs and fewer elements than in earlier lens designs. Perhaps the FA 35 is a case in point compared to earlier Pentax 35s.

"In optics, often, less is more. "
Paul Rudolph 1902 - Designer of the Zeiss Tessar photographic lens.
I understand about the glass and coatings make a difference. However, the reduction in the number of elements and groups hasn't happened with Zeiss.

For example, the zeiss 35mm F2 Distagon T* ZK has 9 elements in 7 groups. The M42 Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm f/2.4 had 6 elements.
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