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02-27-2011, 05:45 AM   #1
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manual zoom lenses

Hi all,

I recently bought my first dslr, a second hand K20D, together with the 18-55 mm kit lens (the non-WR version). At that time I didn't know, but now I realised it came with the Katzeye focusing screen (actually I don't know if it is katzeye, but if I look through the VF it looks like it).

So far I like landscapes and cityscapes, so the focal range of my lens suits me. Even so I'm thinking about getting a longer (possibly zoom) lens. I was looking at the other kit lens (the 50-200 mm), but since I am not sure if I in general like the longer lenses, I am thinking about getting an older - and cheaper - one.

I saw at the marketplace some older manual focus lenses. I see that the old prime lenses are highly valued. What about the old zooms? I don't mind MF, since I have this nice focusing screen and I also use my current lens sometimes in manual as well.

thanks,
Gergely

p.s. before I bought this I used to have a Fuji superzoom (s5500) with ~10x zoom. If I look back at those pictures, the ones I like are the wide angle ones. So I'm not sure if it was the IQ of the lens & small sensor, or that "in general" I don't like such pictures.

02-27-2011, 06:04 AM   #2
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Welcome!

Zoom lenses have actually gotten better over the years, so it seems so you'd do well to check reviews on a particular piece. Also the manual zooms would require keeping the body aware of the used focal length as in inputting that every time you change it for optimal SR operation. How much of a problem this would be or whether you would mind turning SR off or maybe using an intermediate setting with reduced efficiency is up to you . [edit: as for the modern zooms, be sure to check out the DA(L) 55-300 too ]

Last edited by jolepp; 02-28-2011 at 05:23 AM. Reason: typo fix
02-28-2011, 05:17 AM   #3
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As jolepp said, zoom technology has improved greatly. Most modern AF zooms are much better than most old manual zooms. There are exceptions: Vivitar Series 1, Tokina ATX, Soligor C/D, some Pentaxes, are very very good. Some other old manuals, such as those marketed as Sears or Promaster, may not have the same brilliance, but can give quite acceptable results, especially if they're priced around US$20.

Advantages of using old manual zooms:

* They're really really cheap. Thus you won't cry much if anything happens to them.
* They can have 'character', ie the results might look like a 1970's Kodacolor print.
* When you *do* get good results, you'll be gratified by the bang-per-buck factor.
* They're a good way to explore focal lengths, before buying something costlier.

Hey, they're not as bad as I make them sound. I own 18 zooms, 10 of which are manual. Some are superior: Vivitar Series 1 Version 1 70-210/3.5; Sears Auto (Tomioka) 55-135/3.5; Schneider Betavaron 50-125/4-5.6. Some are quite adequate: Tokina RMC 35-135/3.5-4.5; Promaster (Tamron) 60-300/4-5.6; Takumar-A 70-200/4; Sears (Samyang) 70-210 and 80-200 f/4. All but the Vivitar and the Schneider cost me less than ten bucks each.

And then there is the Pentax SMC-A35-80/4-5.6, which is a real dog, or the excrement thereof. It's a very good reason to read the user reviews here BEFORE buying a lens. Oh yeah, I'll eventually find some sucker, er I mean adventurous soul, to take it off my hands.

Last edited by RioRico; 02-28-2011 at 10:37 AM.
02-28-2011, 05:22 AM   #4
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The A 35-105mm f3.5 and A 70-200mm f4 are outstanding, IMHO.

02-28-2011, 06:42 AM   #5
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I might be the Will Rogers of photography - I never met a manual zoom lens I didn't like.
02-28-2011, 07:06 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by soti Quote
Hi all,

I recently bought my first dslr, a second hand K20D, together with the 18-55 mm kit lens (the non-WR version). At that time I didn't know, but now I realised it came with the Katzeye focusing screen (actually I don't know if it is katzeye, but if I look through the VF it looks like it).

So far I like landscapes and cityscapes, so the focal range of my lens suits me. Even so I'm thinking about getting a longer (possibly zoom) lens. I was looking at the other kit lens (the 50-200 mm), but since I am not sure if I in general like the longer lenses, I am thinking about getting an older - and cheaper - one.

I saw at the marketplace some older manual focus lenses. I see that the old prime lenses are highly valued. What about the old zooms? I don't mind MF, since I have this nice focusing screen and I also use my current lens sometimes in manual as well.

thanks,
Gergely

p.s. before I bought this I used to have a Fuji superzoom (s5500) with ~10x zoom. If I look back at those pictures, the ones I like are the wide angle ones. So I'm not sure if it was the IQ of the lens & small sensor, or that "in general" I don't like such pictures.
Like dadipentak said there are some manual zooms that are outstanding. Like RioRico said, some are poop. Look in the lens review section to see what others say. I own both the Pentax A 35-105 f/3.5 and the Pentax A 70-210 f/4.0. Both of these lenses are very very good.
As far as what to input for SR, I've experimented a lot and I've found that I get best results by dialing in the lower limit + about 1/2 to 2/3 the lower limit. The reason is that if you dial in the upper limit S/R overcompensates for the lower end and if you dial in the lower limit S/R undercompensates for the upper. Overcompensation is worse than undercompensation so I shade towards the lower number. That give me an S/R for the 35-105 of about 50 and S/R of about 100 for the 70-210.

NaCl(hope that helps)H2O
02-28-2011, 01:34 PM   #7
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Thank you all for your responses! Now I think I should definitely get one!
03-05-2011, 08:08 AM   #8
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A quick update: today I bought the Pentax F 70-200mm, the non-SMC version. I bought it at the local camera shop, for 50 EUR.

Pentax-F 70-200mm F4-5.6 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database

03-05-2011, 08:58 AM   #9
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Oh thanks....now i really cant wait for my focusing screen to get here....
03-05-2011, 06:33 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by soti Quote
A quick update: today I bought the Pentax F 70-200mm, the non-SMC version. I bought it at the local camera shop, for 50 EUR.

Pentax-F 70-200mm F4-5.6 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database
While lens reviews can be helpful, they really don't say anything about the particular lens you'll get, so it's important for you to test the lens out, so you can exchange it if it's not to your liking. For example, all the reviews say that the 55-300 should outperform either of my other Pentax zooms, but the copy I got significantly underperformed both of them, so I returned it.

When testing, I'm starting to think that the most important quality to look for is constancy across the frame. While the corners should generally be softer than the center, all the corners should be approximately equal. So that would be something to look for in testing.

Paul
03-05-2011, 06:46 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by soti Quote
A quick update: today I bought the Pentax F 70-200mm, the non-SMC version. I bought it at the local camera shop, for 50 EUR.

Pentax-F 70-200mm F4-5.6 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database
QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
While lens reviews can be helpful, they really don't say anything about the particular lens you'll get, so it's important for you to test the lens out, so you can exchange it if it's not to your liking. For example, all the reviews say that the 55-300 should outperform either of my other Pentax zooms, but the copy I got significantly underperformed both of them, so I returned it.

When testing, I'm starting to think that the most important quality to look for is constancy across the frame. While the corners should generally be softer than the center, all the corners should be approximately equal. So that would be something to look for in testing.

Paul
It's exactly the same lens as the Takumar-F 70-210 which for some reason gets much lower ratings.

Takumar-F 70-200mm F4-5.6 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database
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