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09-29-2009, 04:07 AM   #1
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Best IQ under $200 for 28mm, 35mm, 50mm?

My friend is getting married soon, and she is dead set on not hiring a professional photographer.

I used to shoot video weddings once upon a time, so she's asked me to shoot it for her. (No pressure, right? )

Anyway, I've been shooting with a slow Pentax zoom lens with my Canon that doesn't have the best IQ, and so I thought I'd get myself some primes, say f2.8 or better.

I don't care about auto-focus, auto-aperture, or even brand. (Adapters work great!) What I'd really like to know is what lenses have the best IQ in the $200 or less price range for 28mm, 35mm, and 50mm.

I have a Pentax-k 50mm f1.4, but seems a little fuzzy. It may just be a bad copy, or I may have just abused it too much as a kid. I was considering buying a Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4.

Any thoughts?

Thanks!

09-29-2009, 04:38 AM   #2
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if you want to get some lenses that are sharp, and quick, you are on the right track

Any of the pentax K 50mm are good, I am surprised you think your 50mm F1.4 is fuzzy, mine is excellent and I think they all are unless your's has had repairs

for a 35mm, look for an SMC takumar (M42 mount) F2 great lens

for 28 mm I have 2 <15$ finds a vivitar 28mm F2.5 (M42) and a tamron adaptall 28mm F2.5 with a K mount.

look around mediem wide are relitively inexpensive. and there are a ton of 50mm lenses around

edit note

as for fuzzyness, have you looked at the eyepiece adjustment in your camera, or a split image finder?

If you are going to do a lot of MF then the split image is a necessity
09-29-2009, 04:43 AM   #3
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The M lenses are great 'value' lenses. I recommend the 50 f1.7 and 28 f3.5. Both can be had for under $100 - I paid $40 and $80 respectively. The 50 is great stopped down slightly, but is usable wide open. The 28 is great wide open. I'm currently prime-less between those two. By all reviews the M 35 f2.0 is excellent, I just haven't been able to drop $150-200 on one yet.

Another suggestion, though not the fastest, is the Pentax 16-45. Covers your wide angle, as well as the normal range. Excellent wide open, so depending on the venues, you may be able to get by with it.

Another idea is the Tamron 28-75 F2.8. Never used one, but by all accounts it is excellent. Under $400 new and around $300 used. You'd be set with that and say a M 135 f3.5.
09-29-2009, 04:44 AM   #4
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The Pentax f/1.7 50mm lenses are held pretty highly, sharper than the f/1.4 version up until f/2.8. They're an absolute steal too.

09-29-2009, 05:40 AM   #5
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From what I've read (hearsay is only so useful, I realize) and found while using the lenses in my signature, I'd recommend these three:

-Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 or 55mm f/1.8. These are both fantastic in IQ and build quality. The 55mm is dirt cheap, and sharper at f/1.8 than my copy of 50mm is at f/2.0, but they are both great and just "draw" scenes a bit differently.

-Super Takumar 35mm f/3.5 (or 2.0 if you can find it/need the speed). My S-M-C Takumar 35mm f/3.5 is one of the sharpest/highest acutance lenses I have seen.

-Vivitar 28mm f/2.0 or 2.8 Close Focus. Definitely find one with "Close Focus" on the filter ring, seems to be worth the extra outlay. I'll be picking one of these up eventually, but I'm on the lookout for something wider for the time being.
09-29-2009, 07:47 AM   #6
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I realize you said primes, and the ideas above are all excellent, but you might also want to consider the Sigma 24-60mm f2.8. I think it can be had for just over $200 and covers your range well. Most who have had it speak highly of it (I have not owned one).
09-29-2009, 11:44 AM   #7
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Thanks for the great suggestions!

Next, I'm going to snag a 50mm f/1.7.

I've purchased a Vivitar 28/f2 (M11... really ridiculously cheaply!), and I'm going to keep a look out for a close focus version of it.

On the 35mm, do any of you own both the Takumar and the Pentax-K? Can you recommend one over the other or are they the same? As for -k or the -m, I thought the -m versions were specifically made to sacrifice IQ for compact size... are the -k versions sharper version?

gnaztee: I already have a zoom in that range that's f3.5 on the wide end, so I just can't see spending $200 on such a similar lens that's not much faster. My experience so far has been that cheap primes far surpass cheap zooms in IQ, too. But thanks for the suggestion, anyway! =)



-cwm9

Last edited by cwm9; 09-29-2009 at 12:42 PM.
09-29-2009, 12:07 PM   #8
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I am not sure there is much differene between K and M in terms of image quality, I know that they did change, but ot me, the difference is more in the feel.

Every time I tried an M lens, I got the iompression by feel that they were cheap. nothing to really quantify but i guess the most tellingwas the feedback from the focusing ring, the drag did not seem as smooth or consistent as the K lenses.

The basic selling point of the M series lenses was to standardize as much as possible on 49mm filters, and this drove some decisions about maximum apertures.

09-29-2009, 12:57 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by cwm9 Quote
T

On the 35mm, do any of you own both the Takumar and the Pentax-K? Can you recommend one over the other or are they the same? As for -k or the -m, I thought the -m versions were specifically made to sacrifice IQ for compact size... are the -k versions sharper version?
I own both (assuming you're referring to the 3.5 versions)..... both are equally stupendous in every respect, except for the fact that the M42 Takumar is cheap & plentiful, while the K version is rarer & consequently more expensive. There was never a 3.5 M equivalent offered, & the M 2.8 is decidedly inferior.
09-30-2009, 10:00 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Every time I tried an M lens, I got the iompression by feel that they were cheap. nothing to really quantify but i guess the most tellingwas the feedback from the focusing ring, the drag did not seem as smooth or consistent as the K lenses.
Having only limited experience with K lenses, I cannot dispute this, but I would like to put this in a bit of perspective: even if the M series isn't *quite* as nice at the K with respect to build, it's still better overall than the A, the F, the FA, or most of the DA's, or indeed, most of what anyone else makes.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 09-30-2009 at 06:53 PM.
09-30-2009, 12:23 PM   #11
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Second vote for Vivitar 28 f2.8/2.0 close focus.

Edit:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/34654-vivitar-...placement.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/74000-my-new-l...-viv-itar.html
09-30-2009, 12:30 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Having only limited experience with K lenses, I cannot dispute this, but I would like to put this in a bit of perspective: even if the M series isn't *quite* as nice at the K with respect to build, it's still better overall than the A, the F, the FA, or most of the A's, or indeed, most of what anyone else makes.
True enough. I have M42 Takumars, SMC K, M, A, & F lenses. As time goes on, build quality recedes & prices increase noticeably with each new generation of lenses, the only saving grace being the fact that all other manufacturer's corresponding offerings are usually worse. If unmatched build quality & feel are important to you, stick with the M42 Takumars & deal with the functional drawbacks..... I do, as much as possible.

Last edited by raymeedc; 09-30-2009 at 12:36 PM.
09-30-2009, 05:48 PM   #13
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Ok, I've purchased an M 50/1.7 and a mystery lens.

I paid a bit more for it than I probably should have (60$ after shipping), but the lister said it came with two lenses and described one of them as a "Sears 49mm PL". In the photo you see two lenses, about the same size, one is obviously the 50/1.7, and the other one is a little larger, but the lens area is completely dark and you can't see anything.

I racked my brains trying to figure out what kind of lens a Sears 49mm PL would be, and it finally dawned on me: he was reading what was written on the 49mm polarizing filter on the front of the lens, not the actual lens itself.

So, I figure, for an extra $20, why not take a shot and see what the other lens is? Maybe it's some junk lens, or maybe it's a nice 28mm. Who knows. It looks wide-angle-ish behind that dark mask. It looks like a piece of the lens is missing from the front, too. I thought maybe it was a teleconverter, but what kind of teleconverter takes 49mm polarizers and has what looks like f-stop writing on the side?

Anyway, next lens up is to find a good 35mm. I'd love to snag a 2.0, but they look really expensive.

I am also on the hunt for a decent ~50mm medium format lens to turn into a cheap DIY tilt, or perhaps I'll shell out for a nice eBay tilt adapter.

Total spent so far: $75 on lenses, $1950 on a new camera body. (Yikes!)



Right: 50mm/1.7, Left: A Sears 49mm PL?

Last edited by cwm9; 09-30-2009 at 06:46 PM.
09-30-2009, 06:14 PM   #14
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Maybe you scored an 85mm F1.9 - good luck on the lucky dip - I love the element of surprise you get when you buy job lots...
09-30-2009, 06:41 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Having only limited experience with K lenses, ...even if the M series isn't *quite* as nice at the K with respect to build, it's still better overall than the A, the F, the FA, or most of the A's, .....
Hmmm...is this a widely held opinion that I'm not aware of? I would say the A series lenses are better then the F's & FA's I've had or tried (except for the Ltds) and easily on a par with the K's and Tak's. There are known duds in all the lens lines, but all the A lenses in my sig have great build quality and perform very well on digital, IMO.
I love the the classic feel of the Tak's and K lenses, but quickly decided to skip the loss of auto aperture and that I prefer the more modern, compact design and rubber grip of the A's.

cheers
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