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11-25-2010, 10:30 AM   #1
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Why is this lens so inexpensive?

This seems too good to be true so I'm asking for input from the forum.

Bower 85mm f/1.4 Manual Focus Telephoto Lens for Pentax for $349.99 at

A similar lens from Pentax/Sigma would not be $ 349.99, would it?
What's the catch?
Thanks, Ken Reed

11-25-2010, 10:32 AM   #2
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You get what you pay for.
11-25-2010, 10:36 AM   #3
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there is some info on the lens in the lens review section. It's certainly not an FA 85 f1.4 but it is substantially less expensive and not AF. I've considered one. Shop around on the variants they are all over the place on price and some members have got pretty good deals
11-25-2010, 10:45 AM   #4
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this would be the competing model from Pentax if you can find one. they are better built and highly desirable (an A* would be the old equivalent of saying a limited)

The AF version is this one also very hard to come by

all the models of both on Ebay right now are running $1200-1600 so the bower (and variants) are very attractive though not as exceptional as Pentax's version (if you are a limited lens person there is also the option of a limited FA77 at a little less than the 85's but a little slower as well (f1.8) but in all accounts an absolutely stunning lens

11-25-2010, 12:56 PM   #5
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the rokinon version on ebay is only 250... something worth looking into .
11-25-2010, 12:59 PM   #6
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while it is true this is no SMC A 85F1.4 optically the lens is pretty good, very little in the way of CA and reasonably sharp. I have the vivitar version which is cosmetically different and might (unconfirmed) have different coatings.

I am very pleased with it, I bought it after giving up trying to find a SMC-K 85F1.8 or even a takumar 85 at a good price.

2 months after I bought it, I found a super tak 85F1.9 for $200

I really need to do a side by side of the two.

The bigest optical difference between the two, is the supertak is a classical focusing lens where the entire group is moved in / out. the vivitar is an internal focusing lens.

Mechanically, the vivitar is a plastic (poly carbonate probably) lens barrel, not metal. even the front filter threads are plastic. I suspect, excpet fpr the lens mount shich is metal, the entire body is composites, but I don't know.

As to whether it will last as well as an A 85, I don't know, but it suites my needs perfectly.

The pentax version is in KA mount, so matrix metering, all auto exposure modes and P-TTL flash all work as they should.
11-25-2010, 01:25 PM   #7
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There's no catch really..this are lenses made in Korea by Samyang, they use different brand names in different places because of marketing reasons..Samyang makes some prety decent lenses like it's 8mm fisheye and the price differences are related to labour wages, build quality, etc..
QuoteOriginally posted by noahpurdy Quote
You get what you pay for.
this may be true but it doesn't mean you'll get bad IQ or a crappy'll get a manual lens, sometimes optically very good (i know the case of the 8mm not this one in particular but i think it may be a similar case..) you should read the reviews about this 85mm lens, and check all its variants you may get it for much less than 350 $.
11-25-2010, 01:40 PM   #8
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I have posted these before, there are a ton of threads on this lens, buit I can't find the link to these photos at present so I will repost

now for a 100% crop of the same shot

and for F1.4

11-26-2010, 04:46 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenhreed Quote

A similar lens from Pentax/Sigma would not be $ 349.99, would it?
What's the catch?
Yep there's always a catch isn't there, and it's wise to be wary. Infinitely wiser to be open minded though.

In this case you lose Auto Focus capability, and lack of inbuilt image stabilisation. (the latter not a huge deal breaker for P.K users)

Otoh, like the smart ones here attest re: its merits and great value, c/w their samples of proof to back up claims (+ you'll find thousands more on Flickr etc), it's one of the rare bargains in its range and IQ abilities, provided you can wear the inconveniences.

Bower is just one rebadger of Samyang of Sth Korea lenses, another goodie I have my beady eyes on for future acquire is their 8mm Fisheye.
Also have a juicy priced 14mm wide angle prime.

Fwiw: Be aware that some of the Samyang/whoever types that are commisioned~relabeled for different badge-OEMs can have different or lesser function; take the two 85/1.4s below at B&H for example - Vivitar in this case:

Note that only the Pentax mount one there has a "A" setting on its manual aperture barrel, other re-brand equivalents I've seen available on the 'net lack this often desirable for Pentax, while some appear to lack an aperture ring all altogether.
(sorry I can't locate an example at present, eBay have shitloads of these no-names too)
Other brands can be: Bower, Samyang, Vivitar, Rokinon, Falcon, Polar, Walimex, Opteka, ???

Anyway, to get to the point; if and when buying a "bargain" lens in this field make sure you pay attention to the small details like that, function that you might need (or possibly regret later if you don't have). Might pay to confirm with any vendor before throwing money at them.

Also, if you're into Bokey [sic], then this page & utility might interest.

Fwiw v2: Samyang have a fast 35/1.4 in their brewing pot too which could cause big waves:,156,category,5,samyang_35_mm_f14_as_umc_availa..._february_2011



Last edited by Hypocorism; 11-26-2010 at 05:54 AM.
11-26-2010, 05:28 AM   #10
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Samyang, Bower, Rokinon, Vivitar and Sakar are all names that Samyang sells under. As others have mentioned, this lens is a manual focus lens (with auto metering and aperture). It is probably pretty cheaply made, but still is quite capable of good shots. Manual focus with an 85mm lens at f1.4 is really tough without a split screen, but is achievable.

If you want to know more, look at this thread:
11-26-2010, 06:02 AM   #11
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With all lenses, there's a brand premium. It works for both buying and selling, so give it some thought if you're one who likes to trade.

Most of the big names (with notable exceptions like Zeiss) only offer Auto-Focus. Along with mounts, AF has become of the great product differentiators. It's also a significant proportion of the manufacturing cost. If you can live without AF, simpler MF lenses from third parties are a great option.

Like so many manufactured items, modern optics design and manufacture is vastly improved from decades past. Improvements are most evident in zooms and ultra-wide angles, but also to a lesser extent in fast lenses like this. Many newly designed lenses from third parties would give old legends from the majors a thrashing in head-to-head IQ tests. Not all new lenses incorporate new designs and state-of-the-art manufacture, though.
11-27-2010, 08:16 AM   #12
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Thanks for all of the input and the links. This may be the right fit for me as I don't have $$$ and I'm willing to work within the limitations of the lens.

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