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10-03-2013, 06:28 AM   #1
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K5 and Pentax M lenses vs newer lenses

Having had a few M lenses with my film kit, I decided to keep them when I bought a K5. I now have 28 f3.5, 50 f1.7, 85 f2, 135 f3.5, 200 f4 and a K series 300 f4. I know that manual focus and exposure bother many snappers, but fitting a Katzeye split image screen has transformed the ease of focusing and for much of my photography I much prefer the precision of manual focus. I have been manually focusing lenses for so many years that it really does not bother me.

For the most part, the old M lenses are pretty good - the K 300 f4 less so. Certainly, there is a noticeable difference in the way they present colour, when compared to more modern lenses - perhaps described as being a little less harsh, but this is difficult to define and rather subjective. What I am now wondering is how much better are the newer Pentax Limited lenses, compared with the M's? The Pentax lenses tested by DxO Labs seem to be underwhelming when compared with some other makes - not all, of course, but enough for me to ask whether the high price really does deliver than much more 'bang for the buck'. 500-1000 seems to be about par for the course now for any good lenses above the kit lens offerings and just seems like quite a lot.

So, can any forum members describe their own comparison tests and general impressions of whether the move up to the Limited lenses really is a no-brainer when compared with the older M glass?



10-03-2013, 06:31 AM   #2
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From what I've heard the M is for Meh, no autofocus, and LTD is Look, There's pixie Dust!

Actually, I think modern coatings are a big reason to do it. Well, that and autofocus is nice.
10-03-2013, 06:44 AM   #3
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The M's you have are great. Now, whether the ltd.'s deliver that much more 'bang for the buck' is subjective; i.e., it largely depends on the depth of your pockets. I'd say, if you are going to take a great photo, it won't matter much if you have a good M or a ltd. in front of your camera.
10-03-2013, 06:55 AM   #4
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I'm a big fan of M series glass. For many years my kit was a K100D or K20D with the DA 18-55, 50-200, 10-17 with M 50 1.7 & 2.0, M 28 2.8, M 135 3.5, M 200 f4, and a vivitar 28 2.8. I always liked using my M series glass more than the DA's.

now I don't use them as much because my eye sight is in need of an upgrade.

10-03-2013, 07:17 AM   #5
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M's and A's, For Digital?

Hello Ray, Welcome to the Forum!
Like you, I had a fair collection of M's and a couple A's when I started digital. While I've since acquired some DA's and F/FA's, I've also picked up a few more M's and A's for much less $$ (per lens) and am very happy using them.
But coming from a film background gives me greater patience/tolerance for manual focus and aperture, newer buyers used to AF and AE seem to want (if not need) more, faster features. Since Pentax is one of the few makers who offer these choices, a huge range of legacy and modern gear, it makes sense to use this for our advantage. Knowing when and why a certain lens is 'better' for the occasion is the key.
I also have a Katzeye screen in my trusty K10D and mainly use that body with manual lenses because of the focusing accuracy. Since the MF and green-button metering take a bit longer, these tend to be scenic, time exposures, night photography and available light photography, performing arts (mostly music concerts).
For street ,candids and faster-moving subjects, the FA's and DA's allow faster response, just as the DA zooms allow quicker focal-length changes. These are used on a K-7 and K-5 with the standard screen.
You're right about the color rendition, the older lenses have a somewhat softer color palette without sacrificing good contrast. This can be used for a more 'timeless' look, especially when combined with B + W post processing.
The DA's (especially) have a more 'pop', vivid, sometimes enhanced look, although Pentax overall isn't as garish or oversaturated-looking as some other brands.
Since my M's and A's are generally faster in aperture than the DA's (with the exception of the DA 35mm f/2.4) I always have the A 28mm f/2.8, M50mm f/1.7 and M85mm f/2.0 along when expecting low-light shooting. A manual-focus prime of f/2.0 or faster can often be the difference between getting the shot or not! I wouldn't be able to afford this lens speed in modern glass, although a couple of DA Ltd's would be nice!
So, I'd suggest hanging on to your MF lenses and use your equipment to the best advantage. Buy what your budget allows, don't let the 'buy everything new!' thinking dictate your taste or preferences.
The only real criteria is the final product, the photo. The gear is just a means to that end.
10-03-2013, 08:18 AM   #6
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That's a nice array of manual glass. Get hoods and use them. In situations where you can quickly focus and use the camera in manual mode, they're great. That's one reason we chose Pentax - the cameras are still designed for easy manual use.

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