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06-23-2009, 05:35 AM   #1
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Pentax Lenses - Really the Best?

Howzit Guys

I have read in quite a few threads of members who swear that the Pentax lenses are in a league of there own and one of the main reason why they wouldn't switch to another brand of DSLR.

Having little experience with different manufacturers lenses I'm really intrigued why & what generally makes a Pentax lens better than Brand x&y and why the rest of the photography community (worldwide) hasn't cottoned on to this.

At the same time adding that just about every award winning photograph I have seen since say 2000 has generally been taken using a Canon or Nikon lens.

All the best

Dylan

06-23-2009, 05:44 AM   #2
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All makes and models have their goodies and their lemons, but Pentax does have quite a few respected lenses from present day to throughout their K-mount run and beyond. I'd say, they have a few more high end, high IQ reviewed lenses than either Canon or Nikon. I think where the falloff is is keeping the lens quality throughout the models. I think Canon and Nikon have more consistency right down to their cheapest lenses, where Pentax has less of a middle ground and sometimes a big falloff between their best, and their low end zooms.

At least in the film era, you knew what you were getting based on price. I'm a little concerned as this is not so anymore. Every DA Pentax lens is pretty high priced, and some of those haven't received favorable reviews (the Pentax 12-24mm) against the competition.

However, when taking pictures, it matters not the brand, lens price, or lens sharpness. It's the photographer creating the photo. Just because lots of awards were won on Nikon's and Canon's does not speak for the brand, it speaks for photographer preference. If you're a good photographer, you can be given any camera/lens combination and come up with a stunning photo.
06-23-2009, 05:48 AM   #3
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about the awards:
those pics have been taken with c&n gear, you can't really expect canikons to buy their fancy bodie and try to figure out how to attach K mount lens on it (though it's possible). Canikons have much bigger market share, therefore many more competition entries therefore much bigger chance to scoop the award...

as far as lenses go, I never shot Canon,Nikon, Sony/Minolta or Oly etc, only Pentax, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and Hoya.
from my personal experience it's about 2 things:
- colour tone. Many people like the warm-ish rendering that many Pentax lenses offer.
- SMC - compared to anything I've tried the flare resistance of SMC lenses is what really sets them apart.
I don't know more so I won't say more, I'll let some of the more knowledgable members to explain more...

PS: as all other brands Pentax lenses have strenghts and weknesses, it's just that people choose brands according to which weaknesses they are willing to overlook because if the strenghts...

BR
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06-23-2009, 05:56 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by axl Quote
colour tone. Many people like the warm-ish rendering that many Pentax lenses offer.
That color rendition is what has kept me in the Pentax stable. I don't see Pentax lenses as being all that much better than similar lenses from other manufacturers. I see them as being a better value.

06-23-2009, 06:12 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by dylansalt Quote
I have read in quite a few threads of members who swear that the Pentax lenses are in a league of there own and one of the main reason why they wouldn't switch to another brand of DSLR.
I think you may be combining two separate thoughts. IME Pentax users say two things:
1. The best Pentax lenses compete with the best lenses in the world.
2. The availability of high quality affordable Pentax mount lenses (especially primes) is the main reason they wouldn't change to another brand of DSLR.

That's the way I hear it anyway, and from my readings at Luminous Landscape, The Online Photographer, online forums and elsewhere, I believe that both statements are valid.

Last edited by audiobomber; 06-23-2009 at 06:21 AM.
06-23-2009, 06:23 AM   #6
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sm-02-05-02

the FA limiteds (nuff said)
SMC-FA 85mm f/1.4 (legendary!)
SMC-FA 50mm f/1.4 (among the best if not THE best... it's a matter of taste)
the new DA limiteds, may not be THE best, but they are pancakes, and thats what makes them special... sometimes, the best lens is the one that weighs less... what other brand offers lenses so small?
and so on .....

as far as zoom I don't know... the best pentax zooms (DA*) are weather sealed and that is what makes them stand out from offering from CaNikon
the DA*50-135 f/2.8 is excellent... but the best? dont know..
the new DA*60-250 f/4 could be a new star rising for Pentax...
06-23-2009, 06:25 AM   #7
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Pentax glass is of good quality, small size and classicly built.
06-23-2009, 06:26 AM   #8
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It's a David vs Goliath battle for recognition.
The proof is in the results, and as said a lot of these judgements or competitions on which is the best have funding from Canon or Nikon either directly or indirectly.
In Australia, there is the Canon Photographer of the Year - what chances would a Pentaxian have to win that? What chance does a Canonite have shooting Pentax?!?

Objective studies are the way to go in determining the virtues of lenses, but even these must be interpreted with caution and not be used to compare lenses of different leagues/classes, which is so easy to do...

06-23-2009, 06:31 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
Pentax glass is of good quality, small size and classicly built.
Only the Limiteds fit that description, James. I'm pretty sure my 18-55 is very "modern" with its squeaky plastic bits.
06-23-2009, 06:33 AM   #10
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Like TaoMaas said, the color rendition of the top Pentax lenses is tough to match.

But dankoBanana, I have to disagree that the DA Limiteds "may not be the best." I love my FA 50, but in terms of sharpness, color, and almost every factor, the DA 70 Limited is clearly superior. You're right though that the pancake build sets them apart.
06-23-2009, 06:35 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by MidwestMax Quote
But dankoBanana, I have to disagree that the DA Limiteds "may not be the best." I love my FA 50, but in terms of sharpness, color, and almost every factor, the DA 70 Limited is clearly superior. You're right though that the pancake build sets them apart.
yes, but one can argue they are slow for modern primes and possibly be right
06-23-2009, 06:36 AM   #12
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Lens design is a wealth of compromises. People will talk about "IQ", which seems to be a dysfunctional term for resolution, like as if it is all that matters.
There are many, many subtleties in lenses that are not easily defined, and not at all defined by resolution numbers. Some image qualities are a trade off with resolving power.
I am primarily a landscape and portrait photographer who sidelines into product and macro photography. All of these interests are pretty demanding of lenses, and all require lenses with a well rounded approach to imaging qualities.
The highest resolution lens is useless for landscape if it's bokeh is harsh or ugly. The highest contrast lens is useless for portraiture if it ruins the complexion of the subject.
When I started out with Olympus, I found their lenses to be very good indeed for just about everything I did, but I found the camera bodies themselves to be clumsy to use, and I didn't enjoy using them. I moved to Nikon because it was the "pro" brand, and while I love their camera bodies, there are things about the images from their lenses that I just don't like. I found their bokeh to be ugly (though at the time, I don't think the term had been coined yet), and there was an edgyness to them that I didn't like for portraiture.
A friend was using Pentax at that time and he let me use some of his equipment for a while to see what I thought.
The camera he was using was, IIRC, an SF1, which I found to be a brutally awful body to use (though it was fairly competent), but the lenses were stellar to my eye for what I was doing.
Brian suggested that perhaps the camera body for me would be the LX, and I found that it was the camera I wanted, so I sold off my Nikon kit and bought Pentax.
While it's true that a good photographer can make a good picture with any camera or lens, a discerning photographer will tend to appreciate lenses with qualities that complement his or her photography. After looking at what was, at the time, the big 4 of Japanese cameras, I settled on Pentax because of the lenses.
For me, the "award winning" pictures taken with other brands are of no concern. They are fine pictures, I am sure, but it isn't my photography, and at the end of the day, the pictures I take have to please my aesthetic to be a success.
06-23-2009, 07:01 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by dankoBanana Quote
sm-02-05-02

the FA limiteds (nuff said)
SMC-FA 85mm f/1.4 (legendary!)
SMC-FA 50mm f/1.4 (among the best if not THE best... it's a matter of taste)
the new DA limiteds, may not be THE best, but they are pancakes, and thats what makes them special... sometimes, the best lens is the one that weighs less... what other brand offers lenses so small?
and so on .....

as far as zoom I don't know... the best pentax zooms (DA*) are weather sealed and that is what makes them stand out from offering from CaNikon
the DA*50-135 f/2.8 is excellent... but the best? dont know..
the new DA*60-250 f/4 could be a new star rising for Pentax...
It was the FA 85mm that got me to switch from Canon to Pentax back in the 90's. I was leaning toward either Pentax or Contax, but didn't want either a MF or AF rangefinder system (the G was out at the time) so I went with a PZ-1P and the 85mm. I now also have the F 50mm f1.4 and consider these to be two of the best primes in all of 35mm land. On a DSLR, the F 50mm is like I am using my old 85 again, just on a digital body. It is just about as sharp, and you can actually get in much closer for a tighter head shot. Light as a feather is a huge plus too, although I don't mind the weight of my 85 one bit.

The limiteds carry on the excellent reps that the FA and F lenses got, but I have mixed feelings about the DA lenses, their price to quality ratio, and their possibly limited use in the future (and already limited use in backwards compatibility).
06-23-2009, 07:55 AM   #14
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Pentax is about small sharp primes... no other brands have the unique primes that Pentax have .. and I am not sure if I would love photography as much as I am if not for these lenses.

yes it is a bout the LTDs the same as Canon is about the L and so on

bottom line the easiest way to get this answer for your self is to try it out... if you like it ..you like it
I know people that LOVE the huge Nikon and canon cameras and zooms it makes them feel "professional" and confident , this kind of photographers will not do well in the Pentax world

as for my self I am constantly looking for ways of making my kit smaller with out compromise on IQ .
Pentax is the best solution I found on the market other then Leica which is 10 times more expensive . and the pentax LTDs in my onion is on the same line as the lieca
06-23-2009, 10:04 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by dylansalt Quote
Howzit Guys

I have read in quite a few threads of members who swear that the Pentax lenses are in a league of there own and one of the main reason why they wouldn't switch to another brand of DSLR.

Having little experience with different manufacturers lenses I'm really intrigued why & what generally makes a Pentax lens better than Brand x&y and why the rest of the photography community (worldwide) hasn't cottoned on to this.

At the same time adding that just about every award winning photograph I have seen since say 2000 has generally been taken using a Canon or Nikon lens.

All the best

Dylan
I can't commend much on Pentex's LTD range of lenses but I will be owning a few of them very soon. All you need to do is compare a conikon kit 18-55 to a new Pentax 18-55 lens.

Pentax lenses are normal cheaper for the same IQ as conikon. Saying the same this in a different way, Canon and Nikon glass isn't worse there just more costly.
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