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08-19-2021, 05:07 PM - 1 Like   #1
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lenses to stay clear of

There are many great posts here that talk about the best lenses and the good lenses but for me maybe just as important is knowing which ones to stay away from. I am a recent canon convert and am getting back into photography after close to 20 years and am rebuilding my gear. I am interested in knowing which lenses that I should really stay away from.

08-19-2021, 05:45 PM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Grossy Quote
There are many great posts here that talk about the best lenses and the good lenses but for me maybe just as important is knowing which ones to stay away from. I am a recent canon convert and am getting back into photography after close to 20 years and am rebuilding my gear. I am interested in knowing which lenses that I should really stay away from.
Welcome to the Forums Grossy. The trouble with your question is should I suggest any lens is crappola there will be a hundred replies defending it! Such is opinion. Probably the only suggestion I could offer is about lenses subject to mechanical/ electronic failure. I think sdm failure is about the only issue and I don't know enough about it to elaborate.
08-19-2021, 05:57 PM - 3 Likes   #3
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Welcome to the Forums. The lens reviews are as good a guide as any. But you need to take care how you interpret them, particularly if there are only a few reviews of a lens. Don't look at the average. Look at the individual reviews. I have seen a lens given a very low rating, not because the reviewer ever used it but just because they didn't like the manufacturer. I like reviews that have images with them. That tells you a lot more. Just remember, there are more bad photographers out there than there are bad lenses.
08-19-2021, 06:23 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Welcome to the forums from soggy Syracuse. There are some lenses from the late 35mm era to stay away from, the review database makes it pretty clear which those are. But bad manual focus lenses just have "character" IMO, even 50mm triplets like the Domiplan 50/2.8 and the Ricoh Riconar 55/2.2.

Someone will comment that you should avoid the first generation SDM lenses.

08-19-2021, 06:31 PM - 3 Likes   #5
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Welcome. Unless a lens is just optically bad a good lens or bad lens more often comes down to preference for how it renders, or for a lot of my shooting how it does measurably for astrophotography. For example lots of people like the DA 35nn f/2.4 (the plastic fantastic) but for me I never like it. There was just how it would render a scene that I just didn't like. It wasn't a bad lens I just didn't like it. So by happen stance today I got an older SMC K 35mm f/2 and SMC K 30mm f/2.8 lens at a stole it prices and even taking some test shots at the store found I liked the rendering for both of them a lot more.

Now that isn't to say that there aren't some generally disliked lenses or lenses that are liked more but in general a lot of it has to do with personal preference for how they render and also what one shoots. The lens I like the least is my SMC FA 28-80mm F3.5-5.6. I use to use it as my cub scout lens as it is a cheap beater lens and if it kid whacks it with a stick and wrecks it, well it isn't a great loss. Now I use it as one of the lenses I stick on a body when handing out cameras to boy scouts when doing photography merit badge, again because if it gets wrecked it is no great loss. For what the lens is it isn't bad, it could be sharper, it could be faster it could have a more useable range on APS-C but for what I use it for it is good enough. None of the scouts can outshoot it when doing the merit badge and it makes for a great example when one complains that the only reason I take better pictures because the camera I'm using is better with a better lens so I trade with that scout and I show them that it is more the operator than the gear that makes for a better picture.

Others have mentioned reading the reviews and to look at pictures taken with a lens. This gives you a much better idea of how a lens performs and if it will fit your style and the look you are after. A lot of the reviews I do are for lenses when doing astrophotography so I focus on those aspects and will state that my review is for that lens when doing that specific task. There for example I hated the Pentax 135mm f/2.5 Bayonet Takumar even though it is a rather well liked lens for more normal shooting. However for astrophotography that lens is a dog so I got a different one for astrophotography (135mm f/2).
08-19-2021, 06:52 PM - 1 Like   #6
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To me , the answer is none.

Getting a new / old lens is (research + expectation) Vs (money you pay), and in general , you got what you pay.

I just got a Olympus body cap lens for my M43 camera with $30, it was said its the worst lens on some of the review. and yes, the corner are burr like hell but I still feel good for its so portable and usable image in the center.
08-19-2021, 07:38 PM - 1 Like   #7
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I generally think any lens is an educational opportunity. A bad lens can teach you what to look for in a good lens. But that takes lots of time and some money, so here's my opinion:

Takumar-A 70-200mm f4 zoom. Crappy performance and it feels broken. I would stay clear of all Takumars with bayonet mounts because they were meant specifically to be cost-cutting lenses and not awesome. A few have decent reputations but more like "a good performer for the price" instead of "the best lens in its class". Today the price difference is pretty small between a Takumar-A 70-200mm f4 and an SMC Pentax-A 70-210mm f4, which is a good lens.

Mirror lenses, mostly 500mm f8. Some of these are not even cheap, though they are cheap for a 500mm lens. Even the "good" ones are difficult to use. I like my Tamron but it's mostly on the shelf.

SMC Pentax-M 50mm f2. This lens is not bad but again, it was made to be a cost-cutting lens and the price difference is not worth it. The coatings don't really look like SMC either. If you buy a lot of used stuff you might end up with one for free. There are lots of better or more interesting lenses at 50mm; you don't want to settle for this one.

Cheap third-party manual focus lenses at 28mm (f2.8), 135mm (f2.8) and 70-200mm (f4-5.6), especially with department store brands like JC Penney, Sears or Focal. Same reasons as above, meant to be cheap. A handful are good but it is more fun to get a really good lens at those focal lengths.

Thinking about my lenses more, maybe the Pentax-DA 16-45mm f4. This lens was one of the first lenses available for APS-C digital. With no competition, it looked pretty good. Now there are lots of alternatives, so it's discontinued. Mechanically it's not robust, so I'm not sure I'd trust a well-used one. Lots of people object to its weird reverse zoom construction, physically short at 45mm and long at 16mm. I suppose I'd get one for a very low price if my needs weren't challenging for this range, but it's such a common range so that's unlikely.


Last edited by Just1MoreDave; 08-19-2021 at 08:40 PM.
08-19-2021, 07:45 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Grossy Quote
I am interested in knowing which lenses that I should really stay away from.
All 'FA J' lenses...
08-19-2021, 08:21 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I would include Albinar lenses on that list. Inexpensive and cheaply made in Korea. Lenses with the 'Ricoh pin' can also be bad news because the pin lines up with the focusing shaft on autofocus K-mount bodies and they can get stuck. I'd also be leery of anything with a plastic mount just because they can break easily. I have a couple and they function fine but they just feel so flimsy I'm always afraid I'm going to snap one off, which actually happened to me not too long ago. The camera's strap caught on something and pulled the camera out of my hand. It fell on the floor and broke the lens mount. Fortunately, the camera was otherwise undamaged.
08-19-2021, 08:33 PM - 2 Likes   #10
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Check under Lenses on the menu and go to Pentax Lenses Reviews and Third Party Lenses Reviews.

The ratings over the years will help you identify somewhat of a group consensus on better and worse lenses

For whatever lens I might not prefer, there's undoubtedly a forum thread on that lens and numerous great photos taken with it, so I'd advise searching the Forums too. There are a number of stellar lenses. If worried that a given lens is "bad", search for posts to see what others have said. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a Pentax lens to avoid. I'm surely wrong, but can't think of one.
08-19-2021, 08:35 PM - 3 Likes   #11
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Avoid used lenses in fair or poor condition.
Unless it is a bargain that may as well be free, and you can find pleasure in how usable of an image you can get from just a few bucks outlay. That has proven not to cut it for me.

In my experience, you don't want to wind up with a bad copy of a good lens. It will just be frustrating and disappointing.
08-19-2021, 08:52 PM - 8 Likes   #12
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My 2 cents, Stay away from anything with the word "Limited" printed on it because if you get one, you will want more and end up want all of them. It's very bad for your wallet.

Other than that, I think it has to do with your shooting requirements. Look at the user review page can give an idea of what to expect, what to avoid.
08-19-2021, 09:11 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Stay away from the 17-70 unless you enjoy replacing the sdm-Pentax has never corrected the problem
08-19-2021, 09:31 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
All 'FA J' lenses...
Apart from the 18-35 which is a very handy full frame wide angle on the K-1.
08-20-2021, 12:46 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Grossy Quote
There are many great posts here that talk about the best lenses and the good lenses but for me maybe just as important is knowing which ones to stay away from. I am a recent canon convert and am getting back into photography after close to 20 years and am rebuilding my gear. I am interested in knowing which lenses that I should really stay away from.
Stay away from manual lenses if you have a digital camera, they are not bad but they are so hard to focus on the modern camera's lacking a split screen. And as FozzFoster mentioned the FA J lenses from Pentax. Any other? Well, stay away from the Pentax 80-320, because it will have its issues with the diaphragm ring.
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