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04-02-2010, 09:44 AM   #1
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Is the A 50mm 1.4 worth keeping?

Greetings from scenic Virginia!
Hey everyone, I'm as new to the forum as one can get (just made the profile), so I apologize for being naive in any manner regarding forum lingo, but I'm a younger photo enthusiast who is facing the problem of buying lenses on a student budget.
I shoot a K200D with the kit lens and I recently acquired my first prime lens, a Pentax-A 50mm 1.4 that I got for under $70 at my local camera shop. I wish I could say that I love the 50mm, but on my DSLR, it has a focal length a little too long for general use. I took portraits with it for my actor roommate, and they look fantastic, but that's pretty much all the equivalent 75mm length is good for. I was also a little unimpressed with the build quality compared to my canon manual focus lenses, the barrel has a wobble and the aperture ring doesn't always click right on (because it's plastic ).
Anyway, I've heard good things about using the even older Takumar screwmounts on a DSLR with an adapter. I've been trawling through good ol eBay and found some good Takumars, as well as at KEH.
The problem? I'm in school and have a virtually non-existent income, and I can't buy another lens without getting a profit from selling something else. So, I was thinking about letting go of the 50mm 1.4 for the going price on eBay (up to $200!) and use that profit to get a Takumar and adapter with money to spare. I was looking at the S-M-C Takumar 35mm f3.5 since KEH has it for only $72 in "excellent" condition, and the resulting crop factor will make it a 52mm lens in a solid metal body. I also looked at the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5 since the crop factor will give a wide-normal perspective, also for about $70.
Anybody have any thoughts as to whether letting go of the 50mm 1.4 could be the biggest mistake I can make? Or are the Takumars up to what everyone says?

stay easy,
Mickey

04-02-2010, 09:50 AM   #2
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Well, if built quality is what you're after, you'd be better off getting a Pentax-M 50mm 1.4 instead. The build quality will be the same as the Tak (almost!), the lens coatings will be better and you won't need an adaptor!
04-02-2010, 10:08 AM   #3
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The A 50/1.4 is, in my generally humble opinion, the best of the Pentax bayonet mount 50/1.4s. I have stong doubts that the Takumars are better
The build quality is generally excellent, but you are dealing with a lens that may be over 25 years in age now, and you have no way of knowing how it has been used or abused.
Personally, I'd send it in to be serviced rather than selling it to an unsuspecting dupe who you are being less than honest with regarding condition, which is the only way you'll get a couple of hundred dollars for a damaged sample, and then sell it if you have no use for it.
As an aside, a 35mm lens is a 35mm lens no matter what format of camera it is mounted to.
Changing camera formats does not somehow magically transform a lenses focal length.
04-02-2010, 10:26 AM   #4
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True, the focal length remains, so it'll be more like a cropped photo taken from a film camera when mounted on the K200. Also, the lens isn't damaged, it just has a wobble and the general feel I get from handling it is a "meh" or "ok" compared to my canon 50mm of the same age along with a LOT more dust inside. Maybe I got a bad example, and for me at least, build quality adds to the experience as a whole.

04-02-2010, 11:11 AM   #5
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As for the aperture ring, leave it in "A" and you won't notice any issues. If you're going to keep a 50 around at all (and it *does* make a great short portrait lens), I'd definitely recommend holding on to the "A" if the barrel wobble doens't actually cause problems. The advantage in terms of metering and flash automation are too big to give up just on that basis, especially for a lens you don't actually use enough for the wobble to present a serious annoyance.
04-02-2010, 12:17 PM   #6
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It sounds like your particular copy is in bad shape. I have owned (and sold, sometimes to my regret) the same lens, and mine was perfectly assembled, no wobble, no moving parts, and fantastic optics, in particular regarding bokeh.

I kept the aperture ring in the A position at all times, I don'T see why you wouldn't want to, with a modern camera body.
04-02-2010, 12:40 PM   #7
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If you do decide to let it go and get another lens due to $$ constraints, consider working out a trade in the marketplace for what you want.
04-02-2010, 12:48 PM   #8
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I just might take a look at marketplace. I'll prob. have regrets letting it go, but my photography experience is still a young one and I'll certainly have more financial leverage down the road (I'm only 20). I just don't have much use for a portrait lens right now.
Can anybody recommend a good manual focus lens as a general purpose one (a walk-about lens), taking into consideration the crop factor on the APS-C sensor?

04-02-2010, 12:54 PM   #9
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The A 28mm f2.8 (or second version of the M) and the A 35mm f2.8 are good candidates on the APS-C. There are also A 28mm and 35mm f2 lenses but are harder to come by and $$$$ when they do. The other option would be the S-M-C taks or even Super Taks in those Focal lengths.
04-02-2010, 01:48 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mickgriddle Quote
True, the focal length remains, so it'll be more like a cropped photo taken from a film camera when mounted on the K200. Also, the lens isn't damaged, it just has a wobble and the general feel I get from handling it is a "meh" or "ok" compared to my canon 50mm of the same age along with a LOT more dust inside. Maybe I got a bad example, and for me at least, build quality adds to the experience as a whole.
I have a 35/70 lens that is as you describe. I remember selling them new in the 80s and they were built quite well, but the one I have has a lot of play.
These are machines, and they can suffer from wear. The amount of dust inside is a good indicator that the lens has been much used.
Would you judge a 25 year old BMW as a piece of junk because it had been worn out with no replacement parts put into it and the steering had some wobble and the shocks were mushy?
Anyway, my A50/1.4 shows none of the wear indicators that yours does, and is a nice tight little lens.
I expect your Canon lens that is the same age just wasn't used as much and so isn't showing wear.
04-02-2010, 11:41 PM   #11
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I have to say I have only tried one A lens but in ideal world they should be great.
IMO A series represents the best combination of practicality, built quality and price aside from FA ltds.
I have three K series lenses which are difinitely better built than the As but two of these do have the same counterparts in A generation and if I could I'd be swapping straight away.
The combination of A setting and good MF makes this lenses very special IMO. None of the later (F - FA - DA) series has MF as good as A or older.
So I'd side with Wheatfield on this one. Keep it, get it serviced if it needs to be, but I wouldn't recommend swapping it for older lens...

my 2p
04-03-2010, 09:39 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mickgriddle Quote
True, the focal length remains, so it'll be more like a cropped photo taken from a film camera when mounted on the K200. Also, the lens isn't damaged, it just has a wobble and the general feel I get from handling it is a "meh" or "ok" compared to my canon 50mm of the same age along with a LOT more dust inside. Maybe I got a bad example, and for me at least, build quality adds to the experience as a whole.
What part wobbles? On the barrel that moves in and out when you focus, there's a small slotted grub screw. Loosen that with a screwdriver meant for eyeglass repair. The barrel is threaded inside and unscrews. That might be the loose part. Tighten it and tighten the screw and you're done. Or the screws holding the focus ring on may be loose. For these you'll need a Phillips #00 or maybe #000. It looks like a tight fit for a screwdriver but you can see the three screws after removing that barrel. You could clean the dust out too. The aperture ring feels fine on mine. Whenever an A lens aperture ring feels wrong to me, I find that someone has taken the ring off and lost the bearing that makes it click at each stop. There are usually marks on the mount screws if someone's been there before. The bearing is 1.5mm and available at Micro-Tools.
04-03-2010, 02:18 PM   #13
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Thanks for the technical info, I found the grub screw and tightened the barrel. This mitigated the wobble enough to make it only discernible by touch or sound when given a good shake, but then again, why should a lens be shaken vigorously? haha Unfortunately, I maned to strip the grub screw upon tightening it, so further adjustments will be nearly impossible.
I've started to like the lens more, especially after looking at the results of some shots that I took of my roommate for his acting portfolio and some experimental DoP shots It's definitely a keeper, and the bokeh and sharpness are incomparable to the kit lens. Now, I just have to find some money for that Pentax-M 135mm that I've been eyeing...
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04-08-2010, 04:42 AM   #14
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it is a really good lense at this focal length, or you can get the sigma 50, but it is little bit more expensive
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