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10-27-2016, 06:29 AM - 4 Likes   #1
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Public thanks... and first impressions with the K-1 and vintage optics

I'd like to thank the forum member freddyisaac for his kindness and support.
Long ago he offered to buy a Pentax K-1 for me in the USA, so when i moved for the USA for my second marriage (same woman, same woman :-) i was already married under italian law), I found him and his nice family patiently waiting in S. Francisco for my arrival, with an unopened box containing my full frame Pentax.
I've been waiting for a Pentax FF since AT LEAST 10 years, and i advocated for its introduction with a few posts on this forum, thinking that Pentax-Ricoh could rebuild its credibility as a major player only through a good, decently priced full frame, that looks both to the future (new FF lenses in line with current standards, and with a new AF motor), and the past (countless great optics, Pentax and 3rd party, available in T2/M42/PK/PKA/PKAF mounts).
Because of a credit card rip-off (that still bugs me) i came late, and i couldn't express in full my gratitude for a friendly pentaxian who took the time and the effort to help a foreigner. Somebody he never saw in all his life.
Thanks Isaac, 100 times thanks!
I hope you tried the Bonotar. It's one of those hidden jewels that you find by chance, and that surprise you every time. For a simple triplet, it is very sharp, and has an OOF rendition that i simply love... so much that i bought a second one! :-) I hope it met your taste.


Now, let's write something about one of the most common questions about the K-1: "which vintage lenses are suggested for the K-1?"
First, i'm still trying to understand if the Pixel Shift function is really an equalizer, as few people say. Before leaving, i shot with some VERY old lenses - more about that later - but the illumination level were very low, and the subjects were moving. Concerts, dj sets, etc are not the right shooting condition for Pixel Shift. I still have to properly test the Vivitar/Cosina 19mm with subjects that allow to take advantage of this new, amazing function.
All in all, I'm just starting to scratch the surface of my new Pentax K-1, so to say.
Simply i had no time to try as many lenses as i'd like to, and i will be limited to just a few in the coming months, as i've just moved back to Thailand.
With the tripod, lenses, two bodies, mixed paraphernalia, etc etc, i've already exceeded the allowed weight by 4Kg! I couldn't take more optics with me without leaving home other much needed stuff.
I gad time to try a few more lenses before leaving, though, like two 50mm triplets (Meyer Trioplan and Ludwig Meritar, personally adapted from Altix bayonet to M42), plus another "bokeh wonder" (the Fujinon 58mm f/2,2), and a couple other M42 primes. I've also tried a few more modern lenses, AF and MF.
I have to say that i have been surprised by how well the K-1 adapts to film-era lenses, or to optics that are not regarded as uber-sharp. One example is my old Sigma 28-70mm f/2,8 EX (the old, not so loved, DF version). I also own the 24-70mm (newer, and optically better), but it had to go to Sigma Italy repair center, together with the 120-400mm, because both lenses are not compatible with the K-1. They will be upgraded for free, though i have to go back home to get them back :-(
I thought that the limits of the 28-70mm would be mercilessly evidenced by the resolution, and the full frame area, of the sensor of the K-1. I can't say that it happened. It flares, ok. And it's not so sharp wide open, but it performs more or less like it does with the K-01 or the K-5 II.
For the future, i am very curious to test a few lenses that were very sharp on APS-C, but were afflicted by an impressive amount of fringing (like the Zeiss Jena 200mm f/2,8), and of course i'm looking forward to use some others, which had almost no use on APS-C, like the wides/super-wides.
I'm especially eager to try the Tokina ATX 20-35mm (AF), that i found so good on film, and of course the 15mm and 20mm Pentax-A.
Fortunately it seems that the A Star fast tele's work well with the K-1. I have a few since the time of the LX and Super-A :-) A pity i didn't buy a Pentax 50mm f/1,2. Now they are too expensive for my taste.
A pity, cause i really like super fast primes.
One advice for those affected by the same expensive fashination: don't wait for the impossible. The price of fast primes won't go down! Grab one before the prices get sky high. I'm using my Revuenon 55mm f/1,2 (same as Cosina, Tomioka, Yashinon, Vivitar, Rikenon, etc, Tomioka-Cosina made) with full satisfaction. The rendition appears to be more dreamy than it used to be with older APS-C sensors. From the first pictures, i like this lens even more on full frame, despite the focal length makes it less useful as a portrait lens.
I can't wait to try the Porst 55mm f/1,2 (same as Cosinon S; Cosina made), which could have an even more dreamy OOF rendition.
One caveat: the full frame viewfinder of the K-1 is MUCH better than the APS-C ones, size makes a difference, at least with my eyesight, though with f/1,4 and f/1,2 primes i'd go for LiveView, or shoot bursts slightly adjusting the focus. The ground glass of the K-1, as all the previous ones, is NOT made for fast primes. I have a cheap chinese split-image/microprism ground glass on my K10D, but i'm not willing to give up zone reading on my K-1: I'll try to adapt to LV, or start to shoot bursts of pictures with fast moving subjects.
My first impression confirms what has been reported by others. The K-1 seems to be made to make full use (on digital) of all the optical gems that Pentax produced in the past (which of course is also true for the many outstanding third party objectives in P-K mount).
Which lenses did i bring with me in Thailand? Based on what i already know, and considering that some of the stuff had to go inside the checked luggage (3 broken suitcases on 3, in the last 3 journeys!), this is what i have with me.

The first generation Sigma 28-70mm f/2,8 EX AF and the Revue 55mm f/1,2 i already mentioned.

Sigma 50mm f/2,8 AF Macro

Tamron SP 90mm f/2,5 AF Macro (52E, the uncommon AF version of the old 90mm Macro)

Kenko 1,5x AF

Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2,8 Di LD

Vivitar 19mm f/3,8 (Cosina-made)

Tamron SP f/2,8 70-150mm Soft Focus (51A)

I also have a weather-resistant APS-C kit zoom, good for the Songkran water festival (unless you live secluded, it's one week fully soaked! ), a backup APS-C body with two M42 adapters, one flanged and one original Pentax, flash, remotes, etc

The Vivitar was the only super-wide for full frame that i had at hand. Not the best choice, but modern sensors allow to stop down a little even with very low illumination. From the first pics i'm not regretting the choice. My sample has no electric contacts, which IMHO is a huge drawback with tele's, but not as much with super wides. I press the green button once, then i play around with minor adjustments, unless the illumination changes dramatically. The same applies to focusing: unless i'm very close to the subject, i stop down and go hyperfocal.

The 1,5x is there for a single reason. I don't know how the 90mm Macro would perform with the K-1. On some sensors the flat rear element of the Tamron 90mm f/2,5 (in all its three incarnations) sometimes causes a center light spot. On some cameras it happens quite often, on other cameras almost never. I know nothing about the K-1, but i know that a simple extension tube eliminates the problem, as does any optical converter. The 1,5x Kenko works well in AF, "eats" only one stop, and provides a very useful 135mm f/3,5 macro. Most of the times the loss of sharpness is negligible. I'll check how it works with the K-1. The Tamron 70-150 is the only soft focus zoom ever made. I love SF lenses... so much that i own two Tamron's, plus all the Pentax's but two (the 85mm FA, which is optically identical to the Pentax-F, and the one made for 645). The Tamron is like a grand piano, with four SF positions (0 to 3) and with the chance to modulate the "glow" layer with your right thumb, dialing the opening of the iris. The rendition of the same scene can vary in an amazing way, like having many lenses in one! Not easy to master, though From my first tests, it works GREAT with the K-1. I still haven't used the modern 70-200 f/2,8, that has proven so good with my K-5 II, but i can't see why it should be a disappointment. It works great with other full frame cameras.

Before leaving, i've also tried an old single-coated Tessar 50mm f/2,8, an Enna 28mm f/3,5, and a Steinheil 135mm f/3,5 (great single-coated Sonnar-type). All but the Enna performed better than expected. No surprise that old single-coated wides leave much to be desired, especially wide open. I'd be curious to try the Novoflex 35mm f/3,5 macro. On APS-C, used at close range, it's still a great optic.

In my signature there is a link to a jpg, with the list of my lenses. Some are missing, but most are there. The choice gives an idea of how long i've been waiting for a Pentax full frame, and how i refrained from investing too much money on cropped sensor optics. It also gives an idea of how bad the LBA bug still bites me :-)
The K-1 is a dream that comes true. Now i can finally say to myself that i wasn't a fool keeping some lenses and not buying others.
As a result, now I have plenty of glasses to try on the K-1, more than enough i'd say... plus a good number that probably would not even deserve to be tested.
If i had all my lenses at hand, probably i would have made a different choice for travel photography, but i had to do with what i had...

If i see that there is some interest for that, i will post in the future about my experiences with vintage lenses that perform very well on the K-1

cheers

Paolo

01-02-2017, 09:56 PM   #2
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THanks

Excellente article. I hope you keep trying the lenses. I also have some that plan to use with the K1.
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