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04-01-2010, 10:38 AM   #1
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K vs. M lenses..... why do most if not all prefer K?

i currently own three lenses from the M "series," which are the M 200mm, M 85mm F/2, and M 50mm F/1.7. Im not huge fan of the M 200mm but I adore the M 85mm and M 50mm more than any of my other lenses. I constantly hear on the forum how people prefer K lenses instead of M lenses and I want to know why.

I've been spying the K club but to be honest I've yet to see half the quality of shots posted in the M club. In fact Im having trouble finding just one picture that really makes me want to buy a certain K lens or replace one of my M lenses.

Soooo.... why K? Size difference between comparable lenses from each camp (think M 28mm F/2 vs. K 28mm F/2 ) can be drastic meaning the M has the advantage (IMO at least). I can't see how build could be any better as My 85mm and 50mm are my little tanks Optics wise like I said, im just not seeing how they are better. Does anyone have examples? Should I ditch my M 85mm for the K 85mm F/1.X because of noticeable improvement in X factor? What about one of the most underrated lenses in pentax mount, the M 50mm F/1.7? Before some people here decided they were going to try to cheat people out of money and sell them for around $100 they went for $30 +/- consistently. Its my go to lens period. Is the equivalent K 55mm F/1.X better? In what regard? It seems K lenses go for consistently more than their M siblings... there has to be a reason.... right?

Finally for all you K owners, what lens more than any other should I be looking for to get into the K cult ? One that will show me the light so to speak and lead me on a long and expensive journey to "catch them all?"

Thanks,
Tanner

04-01-2010, 10:46 AM   #2
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I suspect rarity plays a part in the K phenomenon. By and large, the K's are SMC Takumars, AFAIK. When looking at vintage lens reviews (Pop and Modern Photo) I didn't see much of a difference, though probably some M's were less good than their predecessors, and maybe some were better. The first set of K mount Ricoh lenses are actually Pentax K's, as the magazines reported, except for the 200. This was after Pentax introduced the M series.
04-01-2010, 10:46 AM   #3
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I'll give a couple quick test examples from each of my M lenses:

M 85mm -

wideopen -

F/2.8 -

wideopen -

M 50mm -

F/2 -

M 200mm (only shot I have online) -

wideopen -


Note: These are all on the spot shots where I did not properly set up or anything. For example the M 50mm F/2 shot is inside a restaurant for my sisters birthday. The first M 85mm shot is a quick snapshot while on a walk.... etc. etc.

Last edited by yeatzee; 04-01-2010 at 01:04 PM.
04-01-2010, 10:54 AM   #4
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I think I can offer a few insights here.

FIrst of all, and this is my impression only, when I handle M series lenses they just don't seem to have the same "feel" as the K counterparts.

The K lenses are all a little bigger and more robust. IMO

Second, part of the M series selling point was that almost all the lenses had the same 49mm filter. The lenses were marketed at the same time as the M series cameras, which were competing with Olympus for the title of Smallest 35mm SLR in existance. One of the results is that the fastest varients of the lenses got slower, noticeably. For example, the 135 mm was only available in F3.5 as opposed to both F2.5 and 3.5 in K series, the 85mm only at F2 (not 1.8), the 50mm F1.2 was dropped, etc...

They did do some good new lenses however, such as the 400F5.6 which became auto aperture not preset, but they dropped the super zoom (120-600) and the 500 F4.5.

Overall, the line up became a consumer oriented not pro line up.

This does not mean they are bad lenses, but for me, I was always put off by the small size of the M series lenses and bodies, they were too small for my hands.

04-01-2010, 11:15 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I think I can offer a few insights here.

FIrst of all, and this is my impression only, when I handle M series lenses they just don't seem to have the same "feel" as the K counterparts.

The K lenses are all a little bigger and more robust. IMO

Second, part of the M series selling point was that almost all the lenses had the same 49mm filter. The lenses were marketed at the same time as the M series cameras, which were competing with Olympus for the title of Smallest 35mm SLR in existance. One of the results is that the fastest varients of the lenses got slower, noticeably. For example, the 135 mm was only available in F3.5 as opposed to both F2.5 and 3.5 in K series, the 85mm only at F2 (not 1.8), the 50mm F1.2 was dropped, etc...
They did do some good new lenses however, such as the 400F5.6 which became auto aperture not preset, but they dropped the super zoom (120-600) and the 500 F4.5.

Overall, the line up became a consumer oriented not pro line up.

This does not mean they are bad lenses, but for me, I was always put off by the small size of the M series lenses and bodies, they were too small for my hands.
Thanks for the insight, but the underlined isn't really a strong point IMO. the only faster lenses that K has compared to M are the 50mm F/1.2, 85mm F/1.8, 135mm F/2.5, and the 200mm F/2.5. The M series has a few faster lenses compared to K also slightly negating this point. For example the 35mm F/1.4, and the 150mm F/3.5.

Also could you please clarify how they made the line up less of a pro one with the M series? A couple negligibly slower lenses with a few faster as well does not make it more consumer oriented.
04-01-2010, 11:41 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by yeatzee Quote
...I can't see how build could be any better as My 85mm and 50mm are my little tanks Optics wise like I said, im just not seeing how they are better. Does anyone have examples?
This came up a few weeks ago and I noticed this detail difference. The distance scale bulges out on the K55/1.8, but not on the M50/1.7. It's easier for dirt to get trapped between the aperture ring and lens body on the M50/1.7.



QuoteQuote:
What about one of the most underrated lenses in pentax mount, the M 50mm F/1.7? Before some people here decided they were going to try to cheat people out of money and sell them for around $100 they went for $30 +/- consistently. Its my go to lens period. Is the equivalent K 55mm F/1.X better? In what regard? It seems K lenses go for consistently more than their M siblings... there has to be a reason.... right?
The K55/1.8 focus ring turns ~270º, the M50/1.7 only ~180º. The K55/1.8s are really nice to focus. I think of them as different enough to own both.
04-01-2010, 12:34 PM   #7
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I prefer to have some of both.
My m28/3.5 is a very small but yet very good walk around lens.
My m85/2.0 is that good I do not long for a K85/1.8 at all.
My K55/2.0 is easier to focus than my m50/1.4.
My K135/2.5 is much sharper than My M135/3.5.
The K45-125 is just great and could not be replaced by any m or A.
Walking/biking around: m-set
By car or around the house: sometimes K-lenses.
04-01-2010, 12:47 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Aside from subtle differences in construction, the general perception has always been that Pentax compromised the optics to get the small size. That it, the M lenses just aren't as good as the corresponding K's specifically *because* they optimized for size rather than optical quality. Now, I'm not saying I think this is true, as I've never done any such tests, and the small amount of objective data on these lenses from others is actually not consistent at all. It's also quite possible that some of the things that might have gotten worse in the smaller M optical designs would have been the corners, but that's the part cropped out on a DSLR.

BTW, something I just noticed looking at Yoshihiko's site:

http://www.takinami.com/yoshihiko/photo/lens_test/pentax_tele.html

Check out the M85/2 results. I had always noticed that they look terrible compared to most others lenses in that range, and most at odds with what others report on DSLR's. But something I had never noticed before - his results (from film) show the lens being *better* in the corners than the center at larger apertures. That's unheard of. Makes me think something went drastically wrong with his test, or with his copy of the lens itself.

04-01-2010, 01:00 PM   #9
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That test looks off the mark. Regardless, tests should be taken with new lenses, not ones used for decades. And not just in lpmm, but on the whole. This is like testing cameras on megapixels only.
And even so - differences between the top lenses pale in comparison to a slight increase or decrease of film / sensor size.

My M 2.0/85mm has always been good and whatever subjective reviews may say, I will not part from it even though it gets, at this moment, no use at all. I can't say much about the M 4/200mm. This was not my favourite focal length in the past, I rarely used it. Oddly, I now would have a use for it, but I've moved on to 645... And finally, the M 2.8/35mm is not the best of the 35mm bunch, it seems. I've never had much reason to doubt its qualities, but I never could compare it directly to its sibling 35mm lenses.

I sold my 1.7/50mm and 3.5/135mm long ago to fund the 35/85 combo. Never regretted that - although the 1.7/50 would've been handy if I acquire a dslr. I'm not there yet. I'm hesitating between a 6x7 or K-x. But that's another thread.
04-01-2010, 01:13 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Smolk Quote
That test looks off the mark.
No kidding!

QuoteQuote:
Regardless, tests should be taken with new lenses, not ones used for decades.
These are very old tests; I suspect that *was* a new lens when he tested it.

QuoteQuote:
And not just in lpmm, but on the whole
Well, sure, he explicitly states these are resolution tests and resolution tests only. So you take them for what they are worth. Still, for the most part, his test results do agree with the conventional wisdom - and on film the M85/2 had a pretty bad reputation too (going by, for instance, discussion on stans-photography.info). So this particular case really seems to be a fluke, which was my point in posting it.
04-01-2010, 01:37 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
The K55/1.8 focus ring turns ~270º, the M50/1.7 only ~180º. The K55/1.8s are really nice to focus. I think of them as different enough to own both.
.

This is part of the reason right here - the K's focus action feels like a Takumar - longer throw, maybe just a tad more dampened and 'smooth'.

Optically, at the lineup level - the K line vs. the M line - no real advantage.

QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
...
BTW, something I just noticed looking at Yoshihiko's site:

http://www.takinami.com/yoshihiko/photo/lens_test/pentax_tele.html

Check out the M85/2 results. I had always noticed that they look terrible compared to most others lenses in that range, and most at odds with what others report on DSLR's. But something I had never noticed before - his results (from film) show the lens being *better* in the corners than the center at larger apertures. That's unheard of. Makes me think something went drastically wrong with his test, or with his copy of the lens itself.
.




I've been saying that for a couple years now about Yoshihiko's M 85 test. He either had a bad copy, or his test was basically hurried, or compromised in some other way.

My M 85 f/2 is better than my Nikon 85 1.8 and just about as good (if not as good) as my 77ltd.


.
04-01-2010, 01:42 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Well, sure, he explicitly states these are resolution tests and resolution tests only. So you take them for what they are worth. Still, for the most part, his test results do agree with the conventional wisdom - and on film the M85/2 had a pretty bad reputation too (going by, for instance, discussion on stans-photography.info). So this particular case really seems to be a fluke, which was my point in posting it.
Thanks for the reference - had not seen it. However, only the first opinion gives the M 85mm the thumbs down, the others know of its reputation but think differently. Perhaps there was more variance in the lot of the M version, as one reviewer suggests in the detailed comments, where he puts it above several other 85mm versions. Mine has given me no reason to complain.

OK, so he states it merely is a comparison of lpmm, but it still draws too much attention to but one aspect of IQ. And too much of a reputation still seems to be based on it. Anyway, this thread goes some way to counter that, rightly I think.
04-01-2010, 02:13 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by yeatzee Quote
Thanks for the insight, but the underlined isn't really a strong point IMO. the only faster lenses that K has compared to M are the 50mm F/1.2, 85mm F/1.8, 135mm F/2.5, and the 200mm F/2.5. The M series has a few faster lenses compared to K also slightly negating this point. For example the 35mm F/1.4, and the 150mm F/3.5.

Also could you please clarify how they made the line up less of a pro one with the M series? A couple negligibly slower lenses with a few faster as well does not make it more consumer oriented.
Just to note the M35/1.4 is a prototype lens and there is no proof that any were sold to the public. This lens is based on the K28/2 design and also has floating lens elements.

My suggestion is for you to get one of the cheaper K series lenses, like the K28/3.5, K35/3.5 or the K55/1.8 and try it out. You won’t find three better lenses for the money and you’ll soon be converted to the “K” club.

Phil.
04-01-2010, 02:17 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by yeatzee Quote
i currently own three lenses from the M "series," which are the M 200mm, M 85mm F/2, and M 50mm F/1.7. Im not huge fan of the M 200mm but I adore the M 85mm and M 50mm more than any of my other lenses. I constantly hear on the forum how people prefer K lenses instead of M lenses and I want to know why.

I've been spying the K club but to be honest I've yet to see half the quality of shots posted in the M club. In fact Im having trouble finding just one picture that really makes me want to buy a certain K lens or replace one of my M lenses.

Soooo.... why K? Size difference between comparable lenses from each camp (think M 28mm F/2 vs. K 28mm F/2 ) can be drastic meaning the M has the advantage (IMO at least). I can't see how build could be any better as My 85mm and 50mm are my little tanks Optics wise like I said, im just not seeing how they are better. Does anyone have examples? Should I ditch my M 85mm for the K 85mm F/1.X because of noticeable improvement in X factor? What about one of the most underrated lenses in pentax mount, the M 50mm F/1.7? Before some people here decided they were going to try to cheat people out of money and sell them for around $100 they went for $30 +/- consistently. Its my go to lens period. Is the equivalent K 55mm F/1.X better? In what regard? It seems K lenses go for consistently more than their M siblings... there has to be a reason.... right?

Finally for all you K owners, what lens more than any other should I be looking for to get into the K cult ? One that will show me the light so to speak and lead me on a long and expensive journey to "catch them all?"

Thanks,
Tanner


I think it's a bit weird to state that K lenses are always better than M lenses. I believe some M-lenses are better than K's and vica versa. I can only speak from my own experience:

*I have tested the M 28mm F3.5 and K 28mm F3.5. I liked the K 28mm F3.5 much better. It's sharper with better contrast and colors.
*I have owned the M 135mm F3.5 but sold it when I got the K 135mm F2.5. The K lens is better in all respects except PF/CA wide open.
*I have tested the K 85mm F1.8 and M 85mm F2. I preferred the M 85mm for its unique rendering so I bought it.
*Today I have been shooting with my new K 35mm F3.5. It is an amazing lens, sharper than my DA 40mm F2.8 Ltd and there's no equivalent in the M-series.
*I have tested the K 200mm F2.5 (but only for a short time) and compared it to my M 200mm F4 (which is now sold). Well, the K is a lot better, and then I mean A LOT better.
*I have tested the K 28mm F2 and M 28mm F2 (very briefly). I think the K is too big and that's a reason to choose the M. IQ-wise they're different but I think it's a matter of taste which one you prefer. When comparing the M 28mm F2 to the K 28mm F3.5 I preferred the K for outdoor shooting. The K has more contrast and more saturated colors. However, the M 28mm F2 really shines when used indoors or in low light.

Kind regards
.lars

Last edited by Recercare; 04-01-2010 at 02:25 PM.
04-01-2010, 02:47 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
I suspect rarity plays a part in the K phenomenon. By and large, the K's are SMC Takumars, AFAIK. When looking at vintage lens reviews (Pop and Modern Photo) I didn't see much of a difference, though probably some M's were less good than their predecessors, and maybe some were better. The first set of K mount Ricoh lenses are actually Pentax K's, as the magazines reported, except for the 200. This was after Pentax introduced the M series.
There are more of the k lenses different from the SMC/S-M-C Taks than people realize though.
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