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02-13-2022, 07:30 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Why are old Pentax lenses so cheap?

Last week I received my Pentax K-x and I was able to shoot every old K and M mount lens I owned. I had to either use stepped down green button metering, or shot Av wide open, but a happy man was me!

Then a $25 Tamron 28-210 Auto KP/AR lens arrived, I removed the Ricoh pin, and now my K-x shoots that lens set on Auto with full connection for Program, Tv, Av, even the Scene modes. What a wonderful lens! All I do is focus and shoot!

Now Iíve won an FA 100-300 lens for $ 24.40 in an auction with four other bidders.

As I understand old Pentax lenses, a few FA lenses are still being made and they are full frame autofocus lenses that are current for the K-1 and work on all other modern Pentax APC DSLRs, including my K-x.

An FA isnít optimized for digital, but why are they and other old Pentax lenses so cheap?

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Last edited by MESuperian; 02-13-2022 at 07:32 PM. Reason: Add $
02-13-2022, 07:43 PM - 4 Likes   #2
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Some are cheap, some are expensive, depending on to what extent people want them.

Pentax has released a lot of lenses over the years, some terrific, some just okay. And a few that weren't that good at all (but lets not worry about those). Generally speaking, the terrific ones still go for a fair bit of money, and some really sought after ones can be very expensive indeed. The lens reviews section on this website is a good help in knowing which is which.

If you are happy with the 'just okay' to merely 'pretty darn good' ones, there are definitely some great deals to be found, as you've found out. I hope for your wallet's sake you don't find yourself lusting after the 'very terrific' ones, or you won't find them to be so cheap any more!

Side note, if you want very terrific and a very good deal, you will probably find a good place to start is the 50mm prime range.
02-13-2022, 07:57 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Some are not well thought of and many are plentiful. That combo makes them cheap. Hereís the user ratings section:

Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

In addition to ratings you can see reported prices paid.
02-13-2022, 08:04 PM - 4 Likes   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by MESuperian Quote
Last week I received my Pentax K-x and I was able to shoot every old K and M mount lens I owned. I had to either use stepped down green button metering, or shot Av wide open, but a happy man was me!

Then a $25 Tamron 28-210 Auto KP/AR lens arrived, I removed the Ricoh pin, and now my K-x shoots that lens set on Auto with full connection for Program, Tv, Av, even the Scene modes. What a wonderful lens! All I do is focus and shoot!

Now Iíve won an FA 100-300 lens for $ 24.40 in an auction with four other bidders.

As I understand old Pentax lenses, a few FA lenses are still being made and they are full frame autofocus lenses that are current for the K-1 and work on all other modern Pentax APC DSLRs, including my K-x.

An FA isnít optimized for digital, but why are they and other old Pentax lenses so cheap?
Some are fantastic, even though they're cheap. Some are average at best and some are poor. For the most part, however, older Pentax glass often provides excellent value.
My SMC-F 35-70mm AF macro lens practically lives on my K-1ii. It's a bit like a slightly deep and practical body cap. I only take it off when I feel the need to fit another lens!

02-13-2022, 08:30 PM - 3 Likes   #5
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Here is the lens review of my $24.40 100-300 FA. The average price is $98 so it was a great bargain, but not a steal, if it works.

SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8 Reviews - FA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

I think my next upgrade will be straight to a thousand dollar used K-1 upgraded to K1.2

If this 2009 Pentax K-x is so wonderful, a K-1 ought to be fantastic!

Here’s a few from my $25 Tamron that needs internal cleaning.
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02-13-2022, 09:29 PM   #6
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I have the same FA 100-300 in black. I got it for about $35 several years back. I've had very good results with it and I think it's a real bargain.

I think the reason that particular lens is cheap is that there are a number of newer lenses in that focal range. Pentax has made several generations of APS-C 55-300mm lenses, the earliest of which are very cheap. I stopped using my 100-300 when I got a plastic mount DAL 55-300 for about $90, which is more convenient at the wide end and focuses better. There is also a metal mount DA 50--300 with a green ring and a weather sealed version with a red ring. Most recently they have the PLM version, which focuses very well. The same factors come into play for many other lenses, keeping them cheap - people can't charge more with newer alternatives already cheap enough.

There is also a kind of trend/fashion angle as well. People just don't like the FA lenses because they come from an era when light and plastic was in. Nowadays people prefer more substantial metal lenses and so the FA lenses are really cheap. It makes some of the FA lenses very good value for the performance. Another one I had was the FA 24-90, which was actually a very nice lens optically and would be ideal on a K-1. It was just a little bit more solid feeling that the 100-300.
02-13-2022, 11:18 PM   #7
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If you look at the lens reviews here noting the ratings and average price there is no real surprise. You get what you pay for. There are exceptions - for example Marks 35 -70 getting a quite (for a zoom) respectable 8.74 yet only an average price of $42. That is because there is so many of them out there. And another - the M 50 1.7 scoring 9.34 and averaging only $41 - another very common very good very cheap lens.

02-13-2022, 11:31 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by MESuperian Quote
Here’s a few from my $25 Tamron that needs internal cleaning.
I don't want to disillusion you, but I think that one is decentered. The left side looks a bit soft. Here's how to check: How to Check Your Lens for Decentering - Articles and Tips | PentaxForums.com

Expect a few hits and a few misses with old lenses. When you are paying so little you have little to lose.
02-14-2022, 01:02 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by MESuperian Quote
Why are old Pentax lenses so cheap?
- Because supply / demand is such that price is low
- Because beside the zoom range (e.g 100-300), you get better pictures from the smartphone in a back pocket for "free"
- Because if a photographer has to carry a camera bag, better get the best possible pictures
- Because if a photographer drives 300 miles to a national park or ocean coast, using a car that cost $50 000 and a few gallons of fuel for that trip, it makes no economical sense to save $1000 on a lens which over 10 years use represent $100 per year.
- Because owning 40 lenses at $25 (total cost = $1000), doesn't take pictures as good as owning 1 lens at $1000.
So the demand for such lenses exist only if such lenses are very cheap.
02-14-2022, 01:44 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by MarkJerling Quote
Some are fantastic, even though they're cheap. Some are average at best and some are poor. For the most part, however, older Pentax glass often provides excellent value.
My SMC-F 35-70mm AF macro lens practically lives on my K-1ii. It's a bit like a slightly deep and practical body cap. I only take it off when I feel the need to fit another lens!
It's one of the best bargains around, IMHO. Even on APS-C where the field of view and versatility are more restricted, it's a great lens. I don't know why it doesn't sell for more... Perhaps it's just that so many were manufactured?
02-14-2022, 01:59 AM   #11
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My (black) FA 100-300mm cost me £2 in a local car boot sale (flea market). The front element needed cleaning and it benefits greatly from having a lens hood fitted. It sits in my big bag (that gets left in the car) for those occasions where I'd rather not risk my more expensive gear … it hasn't failed me yet
Prices for s/h Pentax gear locally seem to be very low. I'm the only photographer locally I know of who uses Pentax on a regular basis these days, so I've managed to pick up a few bargains over the years. We still do have a "bricks-and-mortar" shop in town that carries a few Canon, Fuji and the like, but the last Pentax retailer disappeared just after the *istDS was launched … I never did get my "special cashback offer"!
Before the local auction house went "on-line", only a year or two ago, some significant bargains were available … cased Spotmatic with 8-element 50mm f/1.4 + two other cased Takumars all for under £50
Going on-line has allowed world-wide availability to push the prices up!
02-14-2022, 02:00 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
It's one of the best bargains around, IMHO. Even on APS-C where the field of view and versatility are more restricted, it's a great lens. I don't know why it doesn't sell for more... Perhaps it's just that so many were manufactured?
Yep, the 35-70 is great. I love mine. Ugly though! Maybe that helps keep the price down too.
02-14-2022, 02:04 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
I don't want to disillusion you, but I think that one is decentered. The left side looks a bit soft. Here's how to check: How to Check Your Lens for Decentering - Articles and Tips | PentaxForums.com

Expect a few hits and a few misses with old lenses. When you are paying so little you have little to lose.
Which image here do you feel is showing definitive evidence of decentering?
02-14-2022, 02:09 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Because owning 40 lenses at $25 (total cost = $1000), doesn't take pictures as good as owning 1 lens at $1000.
Perhaps this could be edited to : Because owning 40 lenses at $25 (total cost = $1000), doesn't mean your pictures will be as good as from 1 lens at $1000 or for that matter vise versa
02-14-2022, 02:31 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
- Because owning 40 lenses at $25 (total cost = $1000), doesn't take pictures as good as owning 1 lens at $1000.
I get your point, but this example is disputable.
The 40 lenses are certainly more versatile, except when the 1 lens is a zoom lens, in which case a good but cheap prime lens can get similar good results in many situations
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