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01-19-2010, 11:48 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Indianadinos Quote
Hi,

Thanks for spending your time for such a long review and sharing your impressions (although my doctor said that such kind of readings really doesn't help my LBA) ...

Nevertheless, i would have liked a link to the full size images, to drool a bit more on such a lens (i use a K135/2.5 but, after reading your test, i'm considering start saving for an A* tele) ...
Oh dear, I don't want to get blamed for contributing to your LBA problem - did you not see the warning?

That said, I have complied with your request and have updated my original post with links to full-sized versions of 4 of the images (see also my reply to Voe). However, I will take no responsibility for the consequences of any resulting LBA.

All joking aside, if you really want to try the A*135, you should be patient and find
a "user" copy so that you're not overpaying to outbid the collectors.

QuoteQuote:
About the PF in the first crop, i've read somewhere (a thread on this forum, if i remember well) that it is caused by the high contrast of some lenses in high contrast scenes or when overexposing (this seems to be the case with the lights reflections in the orb over the lens of the pictured camera) ... And the lens is not the only cause of this, the micro-lenses of the camera sensor play their role, too (i have the same issue on my FA-31, too) ...
Yes, the causes of PF can be varied and high-contrast scenes definitely can make it worse. However, after doing some more testing last night I've learned that in the case of the A*135, it seems to be caused by longitudinal CA (LoCA) (see my latest response to wallyb). The interesting thing is that the PF goes away if you slightly FF - I had fun watching this on the live view as I slowly adjusted the focus.

QuoteQuote:
Thanks again for your review
No problem! Thanks for commenting, and good luck with your LBA.

01-20-2010, 08:33 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by photogerald Quote
Hi Jimfear, don't get me wrong, the K135/2.5 is an excellent lens. Actually, the only reason I don't have mine anymore is because it was lost in a theft (along with my Pentax 35mm bodies). This also means that I haven't directly compared the K135 with the A*135, nor did I get a chance to use the K135 on a DSLR. So I'm going by memory here, not to mention comparing the lenses on different medium so this is not a very controlled comparison. However, I don't remember the K135 being *this* good, and the few other reviews I have seen seem to agree that the A*135 is deserving of "legendary" status.

I'll do some more testing to evaluate the corner performance (on APS-C), but in the meantime you might be interested in the following comparison of the A*85/1.4 vs. Canon 85/1.2L MkII:

Zeiss ZF 85mm f1.4: First Impressions

Specifically, the comparison at f1.4 is telling:

Canon 85mm f1.2 L v Pentax SMC 85mm f1.4

We can see that the corner performance of the A*85, at least on APS-C, is not lacking at all. I would expect the full-frame performance to be "pretty good" too. I know that we're dealing with a different lens here, but this gives you an idea of the no holds barred approach taken by the designers of the A* series lenses.
I have the K135/3.5, M135/3.5, A*135/1.8 and some m42 Takumar 135's, and I've used both the Takumar bayonett 135, the A135/2.8 and the FA135/2.8 and have a quite good idea of their relative merits.

The takumar bayonets are dogs without SMC coating. With a deep lens shade and avoiding difficult light you can get them behave acceptable. Optically they are the same solution as the worst m42 takumar 135mm.
A135/2.8 is the same otical formula as these lenses, but with SMC and A contacts, which improves them, but it is still not a good lens.
K135/3.5 is a good lens, but nothing spectacular. Better than those above. There is an m42 Takumar version of this lens.
M135/3.5 is a very good lens, especially if you consider its small size. I don't think you can make a 135mm lens smaller. It still beat those above. This is a unique lens solution never used with m42 and never again (yes, please Pentax, base a DA ltd on this one).
FA135/2.8 (or the F version), is a very good lens. Pentax only autofocus 135mm. And a very fast AF lens also. I'm still looking for my own copy.
K135/2.5 is an excellent lens, fast and sharp. Good contrast. Only thing I don't like with it is the somewhat stiff focus ring. There is an m42 version of this lens.
A*135/1.8 is an exceptional outstanding lens. If you compare it to the A*85/1.4, this lens is soft wide open (which is probably why they limited the FA77ltd to f1.8, it's based on the same optical formulla), but the A*135/1.8 is still sharp at f1.8, though the contrast goes down somewhat. Only drawbacks are price and weight.

A*135/1.8 at f2.8


A*135/1.8 at f1.8...sure part of my daughter is outside the thin DOF, but wherever the hair is within the DOF it is still knife sharp and you can count every hair. And on her nose you can see every pore in the skin. You can click this picture to get higher resolution.


A*135/1.8 on the K-7. This is the perfect lens for stage shots. It have samed me on numerous rock concerts etc. Here "Alice in wonderland"...


...and when they close down the light on stage, you just open the lens to f1.8.


A*135/1.8 paired with the SMC Pentax-A 2x-s converter, a very good 270mm f3.6 lens. Never seen any lens+converter combo as good as this.


Another shot with a converter, here A*135/1.8 with a Tamron MC7 converter, best converter I had before I got the A 2x-s.


A*135/1.8 with a macro tube. It is quite usefull for macro since you can stack tubes or macro converters and still have enough speed left and a good bright viewfinder.
01-20-2010, 04:50 PM   #18
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Thanks for the review, your A* is pretty sharp from the 1st photo. Is that a mahjong table? Given a proper mirror on the Disney camera, i'd probably be able to see the "bamboo"!
01-20-2010, 06:26 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by noel Quote
Thanks for the review, your A* is pretty sharp from the 1st photo. Is that a mahjong table? Given a proper mirror on the Disney camera, i'd probably be able to see the "bamboo"!
You have a good eye (please don't tell the gambling police!)

01-20-2010, 10:49 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Douglas_of_Sweden Quote
I have the K135/3.5, M135/3.5, A*135/1.8 and some m42 Takumar 135's, and I've used both the Takumar bayonett 135, the A135/2.8 and the FA135/2.8 and have a quite good idea of their relative merits.

The takumar bayonets are dogs without SMC coating. With a deep lens shade and avoiding difficult light you can get them behave acceptable. Optically they are the same solution as the worst m42 takumar 135mm.
A135/2.8 is the same otical formula as these lenses, but with SMC and A contacts, which improves them, but it is still not a good lens.
K135/3.5 is a good lens, but nothing spectacular. Better than those above. There is an m42 Takumar version of this lens.
M135/3.5 is a very good lens, especially if you consider its small size. I don't think you can make a 135mm lens smaller. It still beat those above. This is a unique lens solution never used with m42 and never again (yes, please Pentax, base a DA ltd on this one).
FA135/2.8 (or the F version), is a very good lens. Pentax only autofocus 135mm. And a very fast AF lens also. I'm still looking for my own copy.
K135/2.5 is an excellent lens, fast and sharp. Good contrast. Only thing I don't like with it is the somewhat stiff focus ring. There is an m42 version of this lens.
Thanks Douglas, your insight is very much appreciated. It looks like you've covered every Pentax 135! You've also reminded me that I once had in my possession a M135/3.5, but I lent/gave it to a friend before I had a chance to get too familiar with it - I hadn't realized it was so good.

QuoteQuote:
A*135/1.8 is an exceptional outstanding lens. If you compare it to the A*85/1.4, this lens is soft wide open (which is probably why they limited the FA77ltd to f1.8, it's based on the same optical formulla), but the A*135/1.8 is still sharp at f1.8, though the contrast goes down somewhat. Only drawbacks are price and weight.
Yes, I have heard that the A*135 performs even better than the A*85 wide-open. Do you have both A* lenses? If so, I am very jealous!

That said, the A*85 still performs quite well wide open - it is said to be better than the FA*85 in this regard, and it even beats the Canon 85/1.2L MkII in the corners (see the 16-9.net comparison).

QuoteQuote:
A*135/1.8 at f1.8...sure part of my daughter is outside the thin DOF, but wherever the hair is within the DOF it is still knife sharp and you can count every hair. And on her nose you can see every pore in the skin. You can click this picture to get higher resolution.
Can you check that link? It takes me to a login page for Flickr/Yahoo.

QuoteQuote:
...and when they close down the light on stage, you just open the lens to f1.8.
I would say that the A*135 did impressively well under the harsh stage lighting.

I've shot the K135/2.5 in similar situations, and it did not fare as well there - my shots came back with a lot of CA.

QuoteQuote:
A*135/1.8 paired with the SMC Pentax-A 2x-s converter, a very good 270mm f3.6 lens. Never seen any lens+converter combo as good as this.
Like I mentioned earlier, I have a feeling that the A*135 with a 1.4x TC might send my FA*200 home crying, but I do not yet have a compatible TC to try this with.

QuoteQuote:
A*135/1.8 with a macro tube. It is quite usefull for macro since you can stack tubes or macro converters and still have enough speed left and a good bright viewfinder.
Great idea - I had not thought of this!
01-21-2010, 01:58 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by photogerald Quote
Thanks Douglas, your insight is very much appreciated. It looks like you've covered every Pentax 135! You've also reminded me that I once had in my possession a M135/3.5, but I lent/gave it to a friend before I had a chance to get too familiar with it - I hadn't realized it was so good.



Yes, I have heard that the A*135 performs even better than the A*85 wide-open. Do you have both A* lenses? If so, I am very jealous!

That said, the A*85 still performs quite well wide open - it is said to be better than the FA*85 in this regard, and it even beats the Canon 85/1.2L MkII in the corners (see the 16-9.net comparison).



Can you check that link? It takes me to a login page for Flickr/Yahoo.



I would say that the A*135 did impressively well under the harsh stage lighting.

I've shot the K135/2.5 in similar situations, and it did not fare as well there - my shots came back with a lot of CA.



Like I mentioned earlier, I have a feeling that the A*135 with a 1.4x TC might send my FA*200 home crying, but I do not yet have a compatible TC to try this with.



Great idea - I had not thought of this!
Don't understand why the link doesn't work, it does for me.

If you go to my flickr pages you'll find crops of the same shot and more shots of the same girl at different appertures in a shoot out between the A50/1.7+A*85/1.4+A100/2.8+A*135/1.8 vs the DA*50-135. I had a thread on this sometime in late 2008 on the forum. There are sets for each lens so it is fairly easy to look around.

At least my A*85 sharpens up quite well already when closed one click, it is really only at f1.4 that it goes soft, and how much you notice it depends on contrast, light etc, what is in the OOF etc. But it is reason enough to rank the A*135 as slightly better lens, outstanding rather than "just" excellent.

You should get the SMC Pentax-A 1.4x-s if you want a 1.4x converter for these A*lenses. I have the 2x-s and it is outstanding, best converter I've ever seen. Funny thing is that I was able to order it new just a year ago, and my Swedish dealer took it home from Japan, so obviously these original converters are still in stock.

The A*135 is also a potent performer on a Vivitar or Kenko 2x macroconverter. Gives a 270mm f3.6 macro 1:2.7. Works fine with the 85mm also.

Nice to discuss the A*135 with another owner. So rare as they are I've only seen one more copy in real life. Perhaps even as rare as the A*200 macro (that's a lens I would consider give up an index finger for). So mostly I've just heared people having oppinions about the lens without having used it.
01-21-2010, 07:52 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Douglas_of_Sweden Quote
Don't understand why the link doesn't work, it does for me.

If you go to my flickr pages you'll find crops of the same shot and more shots of the same girl at different appertures in a shoot out between the A50/1.7+A*85/1.4+A100/2.8+A*135/1.8 vs the DA*50-135. I had a thread on this sometime in late 2008 on the forum. There are sets for each lens so it is fairly easy to look around.
Did you copy that link while you were logged into your Flickr account?

Anyways, I had a look at your Flickr account and I couldn't find links to full-sized versions of the A*135 images. However, you've got a great collection of photos here - it will take me a while to go through them all.

QuoteQuote:
At least my A*85 sharpens up quite well already when closed one click, it is really only at f1.4 that it goes soft, and how much you notice it depends on contrast, light etc, what is in the OOF etc. But it is reason enough to rank the A*135 as slightly better lens, outstanding rather than "just" excellent.
Or in otherwords, the ranking could be Outstanding vs. Outstanding (just).

QuoteQuote:
You should get the SMC Pentax-A 1.4x-s if you want a 1.4x converter for these A*lenses. I have the 2x-s and it is outstanding, best converter I've ever seen. Funny thing is that I was able to order it new just a year ago, and my Swedish dealer took it home from Japan, so obviously these original converters are still in stock.

The A*135 is also a potent performer on a Vivitar or Kenko 2x macroconverter. Gives a 270mm f3.6 macro 1:2.7. Works fine with the 85mm also.
Thanks for the suggestion - I'll keep my eyes open for the x-S converters. I actually came across the x-L converters not too long ago, but decided to pass. Actually I would love to get my hands on another AFA 1.7x.

I may have one of these Vivitar macroconverters in storage, I'll have to check.

QuoteQuote:
Nice to discuss the A*135 with another owner. So rare as they are I've only seen one more copy in real life. Perhaps even as rare as the A*200 macro (that's a lens I would consider give up an index finger for). So mostly I've just heared people having oppinions about the lens without having used it.
Yes it is nice to find fellow owners of this lens, perhaps we should start our own "club". And by the way, Douglas, it was your review of the A*135 in the lens review section that finally convinced me to get this lens. I am waiting to become more familiar with this lens before I write my own review.

In the meantime, I'll be sure to update this thread with more shots taken with my A*135.
05-13-2010, 01:04 AM   #23
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Here are some recent photos of the pear blossoms taken with my K20D and A*135 @ f2.8:







A 100% crop of the last image:


As before, these were converted from PEF using the Pentax software with no additional PP.

I actually posted these to Douglas' 135mm lens club thread, but I thought they should also go here. I hope no one minds the cross-posting.

05-13-2010, 05:33 PM   #24
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Alas, if I could just afford one. Is the $2700 (unsold) price on ebay indicative of the cost of this lens these days?
05-15-2010, 10:00 PM   #25
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I ask about price and absolutely kill the thread. :P
05-15-2010, 10:06 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by cgoudie Quote
Alas, if I could just afford one. Is the $2700 (unsold) price on ebay indicative of the cost of this lens these days?
That's pretty high, I believe, but don't expect anything <$2000.

I forget what Ole got his for, but he got it on eBay. Shoot him a PM if you'd like further details

Also, in response to the original post- I'm quite confident that the A* 135 is better than the FA* 200 at range; but what about the A* 200? I've always felt that the 200 A* outperforms the FA*.

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05-15-2010, 10:57 PM   #27
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Ugh, the fact that our star 135 is so much more expensive and rare than the Sony ZA 135/1.8 and the Canon 135L kills me.

I actually bought a Vivitar s1 135/2.3 in nikon mount (and sanded off the AI lips on the aperture ring) just to stave off this region of LBA.
05-16-2010, 08:46 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I forget what Ole got his for, but he got it on eBay.

And it's not in your possession yet?
05-16-2010, 08:53 PM   #29
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As long as combined, we own every worthwhile Pentax lens, I'll be happy And that's almost the case :tongue:

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05-17-2010, 12:36 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Also, in response to the original post- I'm quite confident that the A* 135 is better than the FA* 200 at range; but what about the A* 200? I've always felt that the 200 A* outperforms the FA*.
This wouldn't surprise me at all, given the no-holds-barred engineering approach taken with the A* lenses.
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