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08-25-2014, 07:26 AM   #1
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Pentax-F 35-70mm worth the upgrade?

Hi everyone,

I'm just getting into photography (got a K-50 with the DA L 18-55 WR and DA L 50-200 WR lenses kit a couple months ago), and I was wondering, is the Pentax-F 35-70mm lens a significant upgrade from the 18-55 kit lens? I understand the difference in the focal ranges, I'm talking more about sharpness and overall image quality. Seems like an inexpensive way to try a nicer lens (if it is, in fact, a nicer lens).

Thanks!
Leo

08-25-2014, 07:40 AM   #3
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It is sharper and more compact than the 18-55. It has very fast focus, likely fastest of all the zoom lenses available to Pentax - but the 18-55 is no slouch in AF either. The main benefit of it over the 18-55 is that it is more compact and a little sharper (especially wide open), plus it reaches 70mm vs 55mm with a wider aperture (allowing for thinner DOF). Having used one in the past, I wouldn't say it's an "upgrade" in image quality, but it is an upgrade in handling and aesthetics.
08-25-2014, 07:55 AM   #4
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I regret selling my F 35-70. I found it sharper than the kit lens. I prefer its rendition. Its more susceptible to flare, so I'd recommend using a lens hood.


Last edited by luftfluss; 08-25-2014 at 08:44 AM.
08-25-2014, 08:14 AM   #5
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The F35-70 is a fun lens, but I think the main reason to get it is for the different zoom range. I like this for times like a barbecue when I'm doing a lot of people pictures in relatively good light. It's pretty sharp but has notably worse flare resistance compared to DA and FA lenses. You also have to remember you're losing a lot at the wide end and the gain at the long end if not so noticeable.

I actually have both variants of this lens. First I got the supposedly inferior Takumar-F version, which has the focal length written in white on the side. I enjoyed using it, but always wondered how much better the SMC Pentax-F version would be, which has the focal length written in red on the side. Finally, I found one for sale. I was expecting to see more difference in contrast and flare resistance, but I couldn't tell the difference, even when trying to provoke flare. Actually, my SMC one it a bit sharper so I'm glad I got it, but I think that's just the copy I got.

So, I think it will be better than your 18-55 for some situations and it doesn't cost much. With reasonable expectations, why not give it a try?
08-25-2014, 08:33 AM   #6
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I'm sure you'll enjoy it, and at the price, it's hard to beat. Go for it!
08-25-2014, 08:39 AM   #7
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Just remember to get a hood. The three stage rubber ones work well. I use a metal 'standard' hood though the 'tele' hood might be better (might vignette slightly at 35mm).
08-25-2014, 08:54 AM   #8
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Hello Leo and JPT,

JPT, you never quite know on some of the lenses that overlap between Pentax SMC-F and Tak F zooms. At least in some instances, it appears that the 35-70s were identical and most of the 70-210s were identical (ignore the urban Internet legends to the contrary). You never quite know about coatings, as there was some shifting around. Early 35-70s had primarily blue-cast coatings while the later serial numbers had the magenta layer that is likely preferable and carried into the FA offerings.

I think the 35-70 is an OK lens, as such a short-range zoom should yield high quality. Personally, if I can find an old zoom lens with a constant aperture - I gravitate toward those. For instance, I just picked up the FA 28-70 f/4 to fill an AF gap at portrait length. This is a nice small lens for street shooting (smaller than the 18-55, but heavier), optically better than the kit in all respects - but not prime sharp. Probably a bit more expensive than the 35-70 typically, but not over $100.

08-25-2014, 08:54 AM   #9
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In addition to the features that JinDesu mentions, I would add that the F 35-70 has a very nice macro feature (useful if you like extreme close-ups of flowers, for examples) and it tends to have a nicer bokeh than the kit lens. I have one of these lenses that I got cheaply as it is missing its focus ring (making it a bit more difficult to operate). I like this lens quite a bit. If you can get a good copy of this lens, it might make a nice addition.


Overall, I can see 3 different answers to your question:
If you are a recreational photographer out for fun, this is a fun lens. A similar lens that I like a bit more is my Sigma 28-80 f3.5-5.6 Macro II which is roughly in the same price range (but my Pentax 35-70 does suffer due to its broken focus ring). But you if you have the opportunity to get a good copy of this lens cheaply now, and if it won't affect your budget too much, then go for it. I'm not sure you would be any better off by trying to actively search for the Sigma.


On the other hand, if you want to spend time trying to learn to be a better photographer, there is much to be said about learning to use manual prime lenses. The manual primes (Pentax K-, M-, and A- series all fit this description) are inexpensive (the A- series is more expensive than the other two series but has the advantage of allowing you to set the aperture within the camera, which is a significant convenience) but tend to have even better image quality. Manual lenses also will help you develop better photographic skills overall. But the primes are not as versatile as the kit lenses, and manual lenses take some getting used to, even though I think they will help you improve your skills in the long run.


The 3rd take on this would be practical. You may be at a point where you would be better served by learning to get the best results you can with your 2 kit lenses and your K 50 before you start investing in more lenses. As you learn more about photography you will learn more about what lenses you really should have. Often we fall prey to thinking that we will be better photographers if we just had the one more lens when perhaps we would be better served by improving our skills rather than our kit. There will always be an excuse to get that one more lens and too often it perhaps results in a brief affair with the new lens before it gets put away to gather dust in whatever dark recesses you store your lenses in.


But many will point out that sometimes it is the spur of a new lens that inspires one to keep shooting and keep learning.


I happen to think that there is some truth to each of these viewpoints, but the choice is yours. Just be comfortable with whatever you choose and welcome to the forums.


Best wishes,


Bill
08-25-2014, 11:14 AM   #10
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Another viewpoint is to consider the 35-70mm lens as a shift in quality rather than an upgrade or downgrade. F/FA lenses perform and render very differently compared to their DA siblings. Color rendering, contrast, sharpness, etc is very different. Remember that these lenses were designed with film as the target. What we see as color casts in the digital realm would come across as rich and saturated hues. It's kind of like going from an electric guitar to an acoustic guitar.

Go for it! You may discover something new in your journey.
08-25-2014, 12:47 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the replies, I'll keep an eye out and try to snag one of these if I see one for a good price. I also agree that the equipment behind the viewfinder needs upgrades also, and I'm working on that as well . Does anyone know if the lens hood for the DA L 50-200 WR (PH-RBD) would work for this lens? The filter size is the same at 49mm.
08-25-2014, 01:05 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by nyonya Quote
Thanks for all the replies, I'll keep an eye out and try to snag one of these if I see one for a good price. I also agree that the equipment behind the viewfinder needs upgrades also, and I'm working on that as well . Does anyone know if the lens hood for the DA L 50-200 WR (PH-RBD) would work for this lens? The filter size is the same at 49mm.
The hoods for DA L lenses are a bayonet type. The F lenses don't have the mounting bayonet for the PH-Rxx hoods. F series lenses used screw-in or clip-on hoods.

The original hood for the F 35-70 was the RH-RA 49mm. Pentax will sell you one for about what you would pay for the lens. Much better to get a cheap one from eBay.
08-25-2014, 01:38 PM   #13
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The F 35-70mm "macro" is a handy, versatile, and inexpensive lens that takes up very little room in the camera bag. This is a lens that I think should be found in EVERY Pentaxian's lens collection. There is very little excuse not to have at least one.
09-03-2014, 11:27 AM   #14
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Can anybody paste a link to a lens hood they've found to work well with this lens? Having some trouble finding one that would definitely fit and work well.

Thanks!
09-03-2014, 12:01 PM   #15
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I just use a cheap rubber hood. It's fine. No vignetting. Just get one that's wide enough but not one that's super wide.
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