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04-24-2011, 02:34 AM   #1
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M42/Takumar Zooms

I had read earlier that the ‘prime lenses are the best in terms of quality/sharpness of the image produced..’ and I have also read people telling that ‘the zooms have improved in recent day..’ and this is what makes me sceptical.
If the zooms have improved recently compared to the earlier days – does this mean the ‘Takumar/M42’ zooms (or any old pentax zooms for that matter) are not as good as the recent day zooms. Please advice as this will aid in me going towards bidding in the marketplace for zooms.

04-24-2011, 02:51 AM   #2
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Most newer zooms are optically better than most older zooms. There are exceptions. Your best bet is to look at the lens review database here (the top-of-the-page menu item that says LENSES) and see what users think of each individual lens.
04-24-2011, 02:07 PM   #3
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The older zooms did not try to do everything. The good ones are often 2X or 3X, something like a 35mm to 70mm zoom, or a 70mm to 210mm. They also might have been expensive when new. About 5 years ago I bought a 28-300mm zoom for $160. It did everything, just not very well.

Zooms also have a lot of individual elements compared to primes. A zoom might have 20 coated surfaces for the light to traverse. With mediocre lens coatings, that's 20 ways to degrade the image.
04-24-2011, 05:11 PM   #4
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Well, you'd think that simple advances in technology would make ANY newer items...cars, appliances, anything, etc etc better....and they probably are.
BUT, the GENUINE Pentax M42 Zooms are pretty damn good. I've got the 85/210 SMC Zoom, & it's very good....NO image/clarity problems for me.....BUT, it is fairly cumbersome....newer zooms are probably more compact.
Cheers, Pickles.

04-24-2011, 05:12 PM   #5
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The generally accepted wisdom is that prime lenses are better than zooms (of equivalent quality) and that modern zooms have improved over older ones.

I suppose this is one area where computer design and modern manufacturing have improved the results.

Prime lenses from the Takumar era IMO hold their own with anything made today, within the limits of the feature set, meaning no auto-focus, auto-exposure etc. However, I think modern zooms are better if you judge by optical quality alone. When you factor in price though some of those manual zooms become quite attractive. For example the Takumar-A 70-200mm f4 has given me decent results and can be had for next to nothing. It does show PF and the zoom creep is ridiculous but for the price it just cannot be beat.

Mostly I prefer manual primes, but even though I have a few manual zooms I find them too cumbersome for me to use. Zooming and focusing at the same time is a little like chewing gum and walking. Which I seem to have a problem with as well.

If you are looking for an inexpensive way to pick up a zoom in a particular range then by all means try one of the Takumars. If you are looking for the best optical quality and features then you will need to get a more modern lens IMO.
04-24-2011, 06:32 PM   #6
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These days the main tradeoff with zooms is their lack of speed. Stabilization helps, but you can't control the depth of field.

The old zooms had horrible flare control, loss of contrast and no real sharpness. The only thing that limits new photographers using zooms these days is a lack of understanding of how focal length affects perspective.
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