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03-10-2016, 04:00 PM   #1
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Pentax Lens Designations

Oftentimes I want to check a Pentax lens that I see on sale. I first go to the Forums to see how it is rated, but get a little confused on where to look. For example, the FA designation, according to the Forum, is a lens for a film-era camera that will auto-focus, and an FA-J designation is the same thing but a budget item. Many of these designations are not on the lens itself. Can anyone tell me if these designations are specified by Asahi, and maybe stamped on the box the lens comes in, or are they designations that somebody in the Forums invented as a helpful guide?

03-10-2016, 04:09 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by P. Soo Quote
Many of these designations are not on the lens itself.
For Pentax lenses after the M series all the way to FA, it says on the front plate or the side of the lens. It says Pentax-M (or whatever series it is, A, FA, FA J), focal length, aperture, and sometimes other things like WR or other designations.
Before the M series there was no label. It was just Pentax. Now the series before M is called Pentax K, because it was the first K-mount series. Earlier series were not K-mount.
FA are film era, but many FA lenses were made... I think after 2000, so they were already overlapping digital cameras. So I think these designations started with M series and all the ones after were also officially labelled by Pentax.
QuoteOriginally posted by P. Soo Quote
and an FA-J designation is the same thing but a budget item.
Yes, they are labelled as FA J on the front of the lens, and they are made with cheaper materials. They are also generally optically not as good.


Note that Asahi and Pentax are not one and the same these days
03-10-2016, 04:10 PM   #3
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Pentax K-Mount Lenses Explained: The differences between various Pentax lens series

All Pentax lenses should be labeled with their series. Pentax-A, Pentax-F etc. The exception will be the 'K' series, which was labeled SMC Pentax.
03-11-2016, 07:39 AM   #4
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Gentlemen, thanks for your responses. They were extremely helpful.

03-11-2016, 10:36 AM   #5
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Another good K-mount reference is Dimitrov's K-Mount Page. Here is a link to the lens section:

Pentax K-Mount Lenses and Lens Accessories


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03-11-2016, 01:47 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Another good K-mount reference is Dimitrov's K-Mount Page. Here is a link to the lens section:

Pentax K-Mount Lenses and Lens Accessories


Steve
Thanks Steve, the reference you cite was very informative. The resolution tests were really great and will be a good guide for a lens buyer.
03-11-2016, 02:58 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by P. Soo Quote
Oftentimes I want to check a Pentax lens that I see on sale. I first go to the Forums to see how it is rated, but get a little confused on where to look.
The real black art, it seems to me, is working out what a lens is from blurry low-res photos on ebay or classified sites. The seller's description is often inadequate ("Two Pentax lenses", "Pentax zoom lens") or inaccurate. Often it's impossible to read what is written on the lens (or the box, if shown). You don't necessarily want to ask the seller, in case it's a hidden gem. I find the photos in the lens database invaluable, because similar lenses often look quite different (e.g. DA, DA-L and HD DA WR versions of the 55-300).

There are members who are really good at this kind of detective work. Anyone want to share their tips?

Last edited by Des; 03-11-2016 at 03:30 PM.
03-11-2016, 03:09 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
T
The real black art, it seems to me, is working out what a lens is from blurry low-res photos on ebay or classified sites. The seller's description is often inadequate ("Two Pentax lenses", "Pentax zoom lens") or inaccurate. Often it's impossible to read what is written on the lens (or the box, if shown). You don't necessarily want to ask the seller, in case it's a hidden gem. I find the photos in the lens database invaluable, because similar lenses often look quite different (e.g. DA, DA-L and HD DA WR versions of the 55-300).

There are members who are really good at this kind of detective work. Anyone want to share their tips?
Listing on Craigslist says it's a 1.2

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03-11-2016, 03:13 PM   #9
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Ooohh! Ooohhh! Mr. Kotter! Mr. Kotter!

I always wanted a smc PENTAX-M 50mm 1.2 !!
03-11-2016, 04:34 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Listing on Craigslist says it's a 1.2
E-bay loves this trick too. Too-innocent person, when confronted, says "I didn't know and now E-bay won't let me change the listing..."
03-12-2016, 05:43 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Ooohh! Ooohhh! Mr. Kotter! Mr. Kotter!

I always wanted a smc PENTAX-M 50mm 1.2 !!
A couple of times I've seen ads that offer a Pentax f1.2 for a very low price. On checking the photo, and/or the shape of the lens from photos in the Forums, I find it's an f/2.0. Maybe it's a typo, and the person should have written f1:2 instead of f1.2. Was it deliberate? Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of man?
03-12-2016, 07:58 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by P. Soo Quote
Maybe it's a typo, and the person should have written f1:2 instead of f1.2. Was it deliberate? Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of man?
Oh yeah, happens all the time. People even buy it, thinking they got a great deal, but actually they overpaid for a fairly common lens.
Is it a mistake by the seller? Possibly. Is it a trick? Also possible. Anyway, if I bought an f2 lens, but the ad said f1.2, I would want a refund. But often the ad is actually correct, saying something like f 1:2 and people just dont pay attention.
03-12-2016, 10:23 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
...There are members who are really good at this kind of detective work. Anyone want to share their tips?
Large front elements always got me interested enough to look for more details. You can tell that a real 50/1.2 has a lot of glass up front, and an M50/2 doesn't. From the side, I would count the rows of rectangular blocks on the rubber focus grip. On a K or M lens, three rows is fairly ordinary but more is usually interesting. On the mount, look for pins and an AF drive screw. It's probably more important to avoid a non-K mount bayonet. Avoid a notch in a bayonet tab or a Nikon fork. Avoid third-party lenses with code letters for other mounts, often near the mount. Large rear elements are also interesting. Accessories can be a clue. I was pretty sure a macro lens was in the mix when there was a pile of macro accessories. A high-end camera often meant better lenses.
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