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12-31-2009, 12:00 PM   #1
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Why I don't buy Pentax lenses

I don't buy new Pentax lenses because... I own a Pentax film camera. Funny, but the backwards compatibility is what's stopping me from investing in any modern Pentax glass. (I don't have a dSLR).

My cameras are aperture priority, so the lack of an aperture ring kills it straight away. Couple that to the small image circle cast my *most* new Pentax lenses and you have a real problem. The other two big companies classified their small image circle lenses as being lesser in some way. Yes, the quality of image is there, but it was achieved at a cost and that should be acknowledged.

If pentax had continued to offer an aperture ring, they could have offered a simple dSLR that mirrors the simplicity of film. On the left shoulder of the camera you would set your ISO to a specific value, or auto. On your right shoulder you do the same with shutter speed. Finally you set your aperture on the lens.

If all three are set to auto, you get everything set for you, otherwise the camera works out the correct settings based on the values which have been set. It's this kind of simplicity of design that made Pentax top dog in the 60s-80s.

Of course, due to shortsightedness on the part of Pentax in its lens design, this product can't be made now!

12-31-2009, 12:02 PM   #2
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Won't help with the smaller image circle, but there are plenty of film bodies that don't require an aperture ring.
12-31-2009, 12:17 PM   #3
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Well, there is still a lot of pre-DA lenses to be found an bought 'out there'. Some even "new in box".

Plus, I must say I don't get why operating the aperture with a dial makes anything more complicated than using the aperture ring?
I believe my K10D does exactly what you would want from the hypothetical dSLR you describe.

Why I don't buy any new lenses anymore, has more to do with the slipping QC we see now days (in multiple reviews: ... we had to ask for x copies, there was a decentering defect... or: my SDM lens stopped working after only x months)
If I want to play the lottery, I'll buy a lottery ticket instead.
12-31-2009, 12:25 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bart Quote
Plus, I must say I don't get why operating the aperture with a dial makes anything more complicated than using the aperture ring?
The dial will also usually allow you to set aperture options that are not available via the ring.

Unfortunately, you can't operate the aperture on K and M lenses with a dial, due to the crippled mount.

12-31-2009, 01:07 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote
The dial will also usually allow you to set aperture options that are not available via the ring.

Unfortunately, you can't operate the aperture on K and M lenses with a dial, due to the crippled mount.
Yes but the command dial on my K200D changes the shutter speed when I'm shooting my K and M lenses and using Manual, and the result is the slickest exposure compensation setting I've ever seen on a camera. Pure genius and much quicker for bracketing than enabling the auto-bracketing feature on most cameras that have it and then remembering to switch back to normal.
12-31-2009, 01:19 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by keyser Quote
I don't buy new Pentax lenses because... I own a Pentax film camera. Funny, but the backwards compatibility is what's stopping me from investing in any modern Pentax glass. (I don't have a dSLR).

My cameras are aperture priority, so the lack of an aperture ring kills it straight away. Couple that to the small image circle cast my *most* new Pentax lenses and you have a real problem. The other two big companies classified their small image circle lenses as being lesser in some way. Yes, the quality of image is there, but it was achieved at a cost and that should be acknowledged.

If pentax had continued to offer an aperture ring, they could have offered a simple dSLR that mirrors the simplicity of film. On the left shoulder of the camera you would set your ISO to a specific value, or auto. On your right shoulder you do the same with shutter speed. Finally you set your aperture on the lens.

If all three are set to auto, you get everything set for you, otherwise the camera works out the correct settings based on the values which have been set. It's this kind of simplicity of design that made Pentax top dog in the 60s-80s.

Of course, due to shortsightedness on the part of Pentax in its lens design, this product can't be made now!
Ok, where to start...

"Backwards compatibility" refers to using old lenses on new cameras. You're considering "forwards compatibility" of lenses which would have required clairvoyance on the part of Pentax. Can't imagine they thought "hmmm...maybe would should add in aperture control for this new Spotmatic we're designing since one day aperture rings will be phased out...it's 1969 after all! America just landed on the moon for goodness' sake"

Believe me...I'd kill for an "old style" body that works like, say, the MX. There's also the group of DIYers would want an auto amplifier for the car that's bare-bones, and setup the way we want it (staggered power, no XOs, SSF for the sub channel, etc). Ain't...gonna...happen. The "fringe" is who companies don't cater to. At least not the bigger ones. There's probably a boutique maker somewhere who'd make that camera for you...for a few grand.

I buy old lenses because I like to use 1 set of lenses for multiple camera (sig). I consider myself to be in the "lunatic fringe" of old/new tech users. There. I said it
12-31-2009, 02:19 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote
The dial will also usually allow you to set aperture options that are not available via the ring.

Unfortunately, you can't operate the aperture on K and M lenses with a dial, due to the crippled mount.
the crippled mount has nothing to do with the camera body setting aperture.

the crippled mount only prohibits the use of Av mode through setting of th elens due to lack of the aperture setting on th ering which was removed when they crippled the mount.

as some have commented there are film bodies out there that can use both old and new lenses, the PZ-1 is probably the best of all film bodies IMO
12-31-2009, 02:33 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ryan s Quote
I buy old lenses because I like to use 1 set of lenses for multiple camera (sig). I consider myself to be in the "lunatic fringe" of old/new tech users. There. I said it
The lunatic fringe is getting a little crowded these days. With the exception of the DA 18-55 kit lens, every lens I own will mount on and function properly on any of my K-mount bodies. I get some sort of perverse pleasure (lunatic aspect of this thing) when I shoot the FA 77/1.8 Limited and FA 35/2 on my KX or the 40 year-old Auto Rikenon 50 on the K10D. It is also pretty cool to go from camera to darkroom to film scanner to printer or Web without having to mess with wet-chemistry printing.

What could possibly be next...carbon printing?...

Steve

12-31-2009, 02:43 PM   #9
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Original Poster
Backwards compatibility is a bit vague I guess; I'm talking here about the backwards compatibility of new lenses on old cameras, rather than the backwards compatibility of new cameras to old lenses.

It's been said many time that camera companies make their money selling lenses, not bodies. Why then, do they insist on producing a whole generation of lenses that for various reasons can't be used properly on any film camera?

I do also have a PZ-70 which has aperture control in camera, but why would I use that when I can simply use the aperture ring on the lens? It makes sense to have ISO and shutter speed on the body, but as each lens can have a different min/max aperture, the lens is the most logical place to put this control.

I figure that the enormous popularity of the FA-J line proved people didn't want the ring

I guess that maybe I belong in the 'fringe' with Ryan!

I'm not an old-school photographer (I just like old school gear), but manual control through a convoluted series of button presses does not seem like an intuitive interface to me.
12-31-2009, 03:02 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote
The dial will also usually allow you to set aperture options that are not available via the ring.
Yes. With a KA-mount lens, a compatible camera can choose any aperture between the lens's minimum and maximum. Many bodies allow the aperture to be set in thirds of a stop. The aperture control is also more precise and repeatable between lenses than with the aperture ring. Metering, flash automation and EXIF also work much better. With a compatible camera and KA lens, the aperture ring has no purpose, and adds mechanical complexity and cost.

QuoteQuote:
Unfortunately, you can't operate the aperture on K and M lenses with a dial, due to the crippled mount.
It would be nice if this were possible, but it would never work as well as using a KA or newer lens.

I agree that the image circle rules out almost all lenses in the current Pentax catalog. But the other issues are easily solved because the OP is using film. Film bodies are really cheap. Buy film bodies that work correctly with the lenses you have or want.
12-31-2009, 03:16 PM   #11
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The only time I miss an aperture ring is when the camera does not have separate front and back exposure controls. That is a big minus for cameras like the K-x.
12-31-2009, 04:05 PM - 1 Like   #12
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The time I miss an aperture ring is when I have to couple the DA lenses to a macro extension tube with no electrical contacts! Bummer!
Fortunately, you always have the older lenses.
12-31-2009, 04:38 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by GerryL Quote
The time I miss an aperture ring is when I have to couple the DA lenses to a macro extension tube with no electrical contacts! Bummer!
Fortunately, you always have the older lenses.
Yep! The crippled mount is a secret plot to force all of us to buy dedicated macro lenses!

Steve

(Really happy to own a good bellows and an inexpensive fast 50...)
12-31-2009, 04:51 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
...The aperture control is also more precise and repeatable between lenses than with the aperture ring...
I am curious about this statement. Not critical, just curious. I would expect the exact opposite, certainly as compared to the aperture ring and particularly between lenses. I always figured that the mechanical tolerances for aperture control through a few degrees of travel of a short arm translated through a 90 degree bend would have to be pretty high to give any real precision and/or accuracy. For that reason, I have always had pretty low expectations of the "A" series and higher lenses when it comes to aperture control.

On the other hand, I know that you have extensive experience both using and dissecting a broad range of lenses. Care to explain?

Steve

(Am not particularly impressed with the aperture cam mechanism of my PKA Adaptall-2 mount...)
12-31-2009, 04:54 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
The only time I miss an aperture ring is when the camera does not have separate front and back exposure controls. That is a big minus for cameras like the K-x.
I have large hands and even on the honking big K10D my thumb overshoots the rear wheel. The aperture ring on my tiny film cameras is much easier to use!

Steve
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