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11-01-2012, 07:19 AM   #1
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Pentax SMC vs. other brand coatings

Not sure if this has been asked before, but Super-Multi-Coating, one of Pentax's most famous assets, is really one great thing to have on lenses even compared to the coatings applied on Canon and Nikon ones (Nikon's N and more expensive ones not counted). Is this true? How superior is SMC, and what other advantages does it bring?

11-01-2012, 07:29 AM   #2
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It's really basically the same as that of other brands; it was news 40 years ago.

And now that Pentax has developed the HD coating in addition to their Aero Bright coating (the one used on 645 lenses), they basically admitted that the other two are far superior. HD coating basically compares to Nikon's nano coating. This shows the difference:



Notice how the multi coating has a slight yellow color cast to it.

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11-01-2012, 07:38 AM   #3
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SMC on pre-digital lenses was significantly better than, say, Nikkor coating. I have shot with some borrowed AF Nikon film lenses (primes) on digital and the coating was very weak.
11-01-2012, 08:25 AM   #4
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As of the Photokina interview made by Pentaxforums I remember it as HD in some regards are better than SMC like flatter colour curve and much more durable but worse in other ways as slightly lower performance if you add the totals. Aero Bright seems to be the optical monster but is very fragile instead. They were at least talking about using all coatings in production and use the one most suitable for the lens.

Correct me if I'm wrong:

Optical performance ----------------- Durability
Aero Bright -------- SMC ---------- HD

11-01-2012, 12:56 PM   #5
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sinde each lens maker has their own coatings, and they all are evolving, so the first SMC coatings on takumars are not the same as SMC coarings on an FA lens etc.

I am not sure what gaps there are technically, but I can tell that the performance of coatings from all makers has improved immensely since the 1960's, to the point where I can take my samyang 8mm fisheye and point it into the sun and not have a serious flare problem. Samyang is not necessairly the leading edge of technology but that ability on a fisheye is important. same goes with the coarings on my brand new (purchased this year) zenitar 16 mm FE. it is pretty good for a cheap lens and far superior to many lenses from the 1970's and 80's
11-01-2012, 01:28 PM   #6
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The SMC anti reflection coating is 7 layers but I have a feeling that some lens elements of low index were not given the full 7 layers due to the fact that low index glass will not reflect nearly as badly as high index glass. The Super-Takumar 150mm for the 6x7 had no SMC designation but one could see three different coating colors when looking into the lens. This lens still had nice contrast.
11-01-2012, 05:59 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by VisualDarkness Quote
As of the Photokina interview made by Pentaxforums I remember it as HD in some regards are better than SMC like flatter colour curve and much more durable but worse in other ways as slightly lower performance if you add the totals. Aero Bright seems to be the optical monster but is very fragile instead. They were at least talking about using all coatings in production and use the one most suitable for the lens.
Here's the table:

ReflectanceSensitivity to Different Wavelengths Cost Durability
Aero Bright ++ ++ - -
HD Coating + + + ++
SMC - - ++ +
HD is basically the best coating overall, I hope APS-C lenses start being made with it.

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11-01-2012, 06:40 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Here's the table:

ReflectanceSensitivity to Different Wavelengths Cost Durability
Aero Bright ++ ++ - -
HD Coating + + + ++
SMC - - ++ +
HD is basically the best coating overall, I hope APS-C lenses start being made with it.
Hey, the biggest surprise is that I wasn't entirely wrong! Still the guy you interviewed still said good things about SMC and from what I got from his talking I thought that it was much closer between HD and SMC optically.

11-04-2012, 12:45 AM   #9
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I guess that means SMC isn't such a great USP, after all =)) but it does seem tough... I have heavy hands and not have scratched the any Pentax lens yet while wiping with microfibre cloth.

It seems however that HD coating is reserved for higher-end lenses though, as its application on the DA 560 implies.. maybe the next step DA*s (if any) will have 'em too - to keep prices astronomical also (maybe that's how they interpreted the * lol)
11-04-2012, 07:49 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alizarine Quote
Not sure if this has been asked before, but Super-Multi-Coating, one of Pentax's most famous assets, is really one great thing to have on lenses even compared to the coatings applied on Canon and Nikon ones (Nikon's N and more expensive ones not counted). Is this true? How superior is SMC, and what other advantages does it bring?
I don't know about the science behind it, but the SMC coating in the '70s did seem superior to the coating on other lenses I'd used (with coatings designed in the '60s.) There wasn't any noticeable difference for me in moving from SMC to Canon lenses (SSC?) in the '80s, however.

Paul
11-04-2012, 08:12 AM   #11
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lens coatings in general seem to have made big strides in the past few years ... and it isn't restricted to photography. I have Crizal coatings on my eyeglasses and the improvement in not only glare reduction, but scratch resistance and cleanability is nothing short of amazing over my older lens - glass or plastic.

On older camera lenses, Pentax lead the pack with SMC, but with current lenses, Pentax is right inside the pack. Maybe not a clear leader, but certainly at the front line.
11-04-2012, 08:33 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by JimJohnson Quote
I have Crizal coatings on my eyeglasses and the improvement in not only glare reduction, but scratch resistance and cleanability is nothing short of amazing over my older lens - glass or plastic.
Good point there... my eyeglasses are actually Nikon-made (just saw the casing the other night) lol. I guess that's why my metering's off the mark at times (just kiddin'!)
11-10-2012, 10:39 PM   #13
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Lol. I have just received my second Nikon eyes branded progressive lenses. The AR coating is quite nice. I doubt nikon had anything to do with them. But they are still nice.

I wonder if HD is really the best given the marketing that HD is almost equal to Aerobright coatings.

Does anyone know if the limited and star lenses will be rereleased as HD lenses instead of SMC?
12-09-2012, 11:37 PM   #14
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Adding to the "Pentax lens coating mysteries": regarding the Takumars - is there a difference beween a "Super Takumar" and a "SMC Takumar" ?

Last edited by Paul Pheiffer; 12-09-2012 at 11:45 PM.
12-10-2012, 05:34 AM   #15
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There is. Super Takumars were the generation before the SMC multicoating. Therefor Super Takumar lenses are prone to more flare than SMC Takumars.
According to some they have more flair too...
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