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Showing all 27 reviews by GeneV

Review of: SMC Pentax-A 400mm F5.6 by GeneV on Sun February 21, 2016 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 89987
Reviews: 19
The lens is a long, skinny, sturdy metal package with a handy tripod mount and built-in lens cap. The focus feel is excellent, but the throw is long, making a fast focus on moving objects more of a challenge, but allowing very precise focus on stationary subjects. I have used this on Pentax film and APS-C bodies, and now the Sony A7R. I can't say I really saw what this lens could do until I mounted it on the full frame 36mp A7R body. It is sharp all the way across, but a little PP is needed to punch up the contrast. The Photos below are full frame, and show best when viewed on Flickr, rather than the small version which displays here with the link. The last photo of the small bird below was taken with the A400 plus the 1.4x-L converter of similar vintage for an effective 560mm. These two were made for each other, and they work very well either on cropped or full frame sensors. The detail on the small bird is amazing given the converter.

Review of: SMC Pentax 500mm F4.5 by GeneV on Mon April 20, 2015 | Rating: 7 View more reviews 

Views: 84529
Reviews: 12
I have gotten into birding and with a blind and a tripod, and I thought this a very nice companion to my FA*300. I have now used this combo for a few months, and am somewhat less enthused. First impression is that this is a honking big lens. It is all metal and glass (even the lens cap), and weighs in at 7.5 lbs. It is a 500mm lens that is 440mm long--more of a long lens than a telephoto. Images are reasonably sharp and with nice contrast. The F/4.5 is great for a snappy focus, and the lens stops all the way down to f/45 for some depth of field. So far, I have not used it smaller than F/16, but F11 seems to be a sweet spot for getting enough of the subject in focus to do well. Everything is manual from the focus to the aperture. Meter and focus is stop down. The K-mount seems to be an afterthought, with a funky mount required to attach the bayonet to the lens. The screw on connection to the mount can get a little loose sometimes and has to be re-tightened, but it is not a big deal. No hand holding possible. The front of this baby is bigger than your average saucer. This is not a lens for close work, and it barely works for shots in the back yard. Nearest focus is 10 meters. The shots below are at about as close as this lens gets. The more I use this lens, the more the lack of close focus gets in the way. I'm tempted to find an extension tube, because it is very hard to get small birds to fill the frame without a rear converter. This lens needs to be on a sturdy tripod with a gimbal head. Figure the gimbal into the cost of the lens. The best use of this lens is to focus on a nest, feeder, bath or other spot where birds or wildlife frequent, and turn on the Flu card control. Use another body on a monopod to move around. Even better, put the lightest body possible on this lens, More and more, I'm using a mirrorless Sony E mount, because a heavy body will cause the focusing to bind, and with a manual lens, you lose nothing with an adapter. Also, to keep the tripod stable, it is better to keep the lens lower, and a body with an articulated screen is very helpful. Below are some images from my early outings. These are all crops, because they are small birds, but the crop of the finch on the bird bath is 100%, and the sharpness is only limited by his movement and the shutter speed of 1/125. Not bad for a 1975 design, but my current thinking is that this 500mm alone, does not offer enough advantage over the DA*300 +1.4x HD converter to be worth the loss of AF, auto aperture and portability. After the initial testing and shots, my use of this lens is now limited to using it with the A 1.4x L converter (with the snout) from the '80s to get 700mm. Partly, this is because the more I have used the DA*300 + 1.4x, the more amazed I am at the performance of the DA* combo and the less use I see in a manual lens that offers only an additional 80mm of reach. The manual focus and aperture as well as the sheer size of this two foot lens make hitting the right focus difficult. The F/4.5 sounds great, but hitting the point of focus you want is tough on anything that moves. Keeping the lens pointed where you want on a tripod is very difficult without a gimbal head and an ARCA-type mount that allows the balance of the lens to be adjusted. A bright spot is that the performance of this lens on APS-C does not change that much with the 1.4x AL converter. If you have a distant subject, and you need 700mm, and the lighting will support it, this combo is useful enough to schlep this beast and its required Gimbal head tripod. It also works nicely on the tripod and 1.4x L with 36mp full frame.

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM by GeneV on Tue January 6, 2015 | Rating: 10 View more reviews 

Views: 296572
Reviews: 74
Like another reviewer, I had been pretty happy with my 55-300. I purchased this lens with the 1.4 converter for birding. I don't know if I will look at my 55-300 photos the same. This lens puts my nature shots in another league. The lens is largish, compared to the zoom, but much better built. The lens hood is made of sturdy plastic with a rubberized rim--classy. Focus is quick in decent light, but slower than most in dark conditions. The quick shift manual focus comes in handy. The low light focus speed is more of an issue with the teleconverter. Still, it is pretty impressive. Handling is good, and the tripod mount is sturdy as well. This lens on the K3 has put birding on the front burner for me. The first photo of the cranes is with the K3, tripod, and lens, alone. The second is with the DA* 300mm plus the Pentax 1.4x rear converter. The reduction applied for the forum may not do them justice. On the originals, you can pretty much count the hair-like feathers on the head of the bird. DA*300 F/4.5 DA*300mm + Pentax 1.4x converter F/8

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 12-24mm F4 ED AL [IF] by GeneV on Tue August 10, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 300668
Reviews: 61
This may be destined to be my favorite zoom, possibly edging out the DA 17-70. With this zoom in the bag, plus the 40 and 70mm DA Ltd pancakes, I have a very high quality setup for 90%+ of my needs that keeps my shoulder happy. You really can't ask for much better image sharpness in a zoom, and the size is much larger than my WA pancake primes, but with much more range. 12mm is so addictive, that I sometimes think this lens is becoming a 12mm prime. My only nit to pick is that it is large compared to my primes, though most of the size is in the front element and the weight is not noticeable. I find the hood, like so many hoods on WA zoom, to be seldom used, and the lens can fade a bit in certain light angles without it. All in all, this is a super lens that belongs in every bag.

Review of: SMC Pentax-A 645 75mm F2.8 by GeneV on Wed July 14, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 59632
Reviews: 15
This lens takes up almost no room on the camera or in the bag. Its speed is right and the performance leaves little to complain about. The "normal" FOV is also just about right. This shot was cropped to about the size of 135, and it is as sharp as a good 135 lens would have rendered.

Review of: SMC Pentax-A 645 45mm F2.8 by GeneV on Wed July 14, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 53033
Reviews: 6
I lusted after the 35mm, but this is the widest I could afford. The IQ has been terrific for me so far, and the field of view, about like a 28mm on 135, is extremely useful. It is part of my "compact" kit for the 645.

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL II by GeneV on Wed July 14, 2010 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 181023
Reviews: 56
The DAL version of this lens cam essentially free with my K-x. (It is more expensive without it) I put it in the back of the shelf and never touched it until right before a recent vacation. First, I took it out in the neighborhood, and found it much snappier than I expected. Then, I discovered it was a gem of a travel lens. It is so small and light, that it, along with a K-x can be carried all day and it is hardly noticed. I'm usually a DALtd prime guy, but for street shooting, this inconspicuous little zoom beats changing lenses or scaring off subjects with a cannon-sized optic.

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL by GeneV on Wed July 14, 2010 | Rating: 7 View more reviews 

Views: 150888
Reviews: 92
The first Pentax DA I owned, as it came with the camera. I still keep it on my K100d that lives in the back of the car. Its quality is underrated, and it has always been there for a quick shot. I took quite a few excellent shots before going on my kit replacement quest, which may not have been entirely necessary.

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited by GeneV on Wed July 14, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 368696
Reviews: 104
This lens saves an event or a vacation. People who see my photos with this lens often ask why my shots look so much more interesting. It's the FOV and the snap. The very first shot with this lens jumped off the screen. I wouldn't be without it, now. It's amazing even indoors and wide in both senses of the word:

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 70mm F2.4 Limited by GeneV on Wed July 14, 2010 | Rating: 10 View more reviews 

Views: 374143
Reviews: 98
I bought this to round out my travel lens kit, as I thought it would take up less space and weight than my much-loved FA77. At first, I thought I had done something stupid buy spending all this money when I have another lens so close. After taking some shots, it became one of my best purchases, especially for travel. Take the metal hood off, and this thing is tiny--no bigger than the miniscule DA21. It fit into a compact travel bag with three other DALtd lenses and a K-x, with room for travel necessities. It fools people, because it does not look like a tele with its FOV. However, the results are the big bonus. I have about 20 lenses--most of them Pentax primes--but I'd be hard pressed to find a sharper lens in the bag. I can read signs I couldn't even see in my travel shots of buildings. Indoor shots can be taken wide open without reservation. This is one sweet lens.

Review of: SMC Pentax-FA 77mm F1.8 Limited by GeneV on Wed July 14, 2010 | Rating: 10 View more reviews 

Views: 373687
Reviews: 99
This is one of my favorite lenses on both a DSLR and film. The image quality is superb, and the aperture ring allows me to use it on every one of my film and digital bodies. As a portrait lens, it has the large aperture magic. However, I use it for action as well on digital. The 77mm focal length gets you closer than you would think on a cropped sensor. I'm sorry to see the price go up so high on this one, not that it isn't worth it, but I think everyone should have a shot at putting this jewel in the bag.

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED by GeneV on Wed July 14, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 478538
Reviews: 116
I got the DAL version in the K-x package, so the price was right. I have enjoyed the lens for its range and its image quality. It is a decent intro to a birding lens, as well as a nice "people at a distance" lens. However, there was an added bonus I hadn't expected. This lens is great on film!! At F8 or smaller this lens does a damn nice job of covering full frame. Even a bit wider, the relatively small vignetting can be corrected out with Photoshop. Here is a quick and dirty sample. Pentax SuperProgram on Ektar at about 180mm:

Review of: SMC Pentax-A 645 55mm F2.8 by GeneV on Wed May 5, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 51768
Reviews: 10
I purchased this lens dirt cheap because it did show signs of ong years of use, including a tiny mark on the far edge of one of the elements. However, it works beatifully. This lens is an unsung contributer to the 645 line. It is said to be the equivalent in FOV of a 35mm lens on film, and this is not a FOV I have used a lot over the years (other than in a pocket film camera) so it does not feel very wide. However, I have no complaints about the results. The shot of the tractor below was taken on Fuji Neopan Acros 100 developed in Rodinal--a combo that can resolve about as much as a lens can give. The crop below is a 100% crop from a 4,000 dpi scan (around 2" from a 29" wide print) and may not even be the precise point of focus. This lens holds its own very well.

Review of: SMC Pentax-A 645 150mm F3.5 by GeneV on Wed May 5, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 45006
Reviews: 9
I bought this as part of a package with a well used 645 last year. It has performed admirably. This is a great focal length for portraits, and its resolution is far beyond anything I expected from medium format. Because I don't have a longer lens for my 645, I have needed to crop down to 35mm-sized negatives, and the results are as good as I would get with a good 35mm tele lens. Color is also snappy. My only complaint would be that it could focus a few feet closer. The minimum focus is just a few feet too far to take a "product" shot. It is a shame to need to purchase the bulkier and far more expensive macro lens to get that focus, but perhaps an extension tube is the answer. I'm sure that closer focus would have affected one of this lenses other attributes--relatively small size. Overall, for the price, this is one of the best bargains out there.

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 20mm F4 by GeneV on Sun May 2, 2010 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 141685
Reviews: 29
I bought this lens primarily to get ultrawide coverage on film. It did not disappoint. It is terrific for film outdoors, where you can stop it past wide open, and where focus is easy. It is tiny--about like one of the smaller DA ltd lenses. The colors are Pentax perfect, especially on film, and the FOV on film is magnificent. On film corners melt away a bit wide open, but down a stop or two, there are no complaints. However, I am not one of those who would recommend this over the DA21 for digital. This lens now costs $300-400 for a copy showing some wear, and $500 for a "like new" example. If you are using this only for digital, there is no significant advantage I can see in buying this lens over the DA21, and there are many disadvantages. The lack of autofocus and autoexposure is a majory inconvenience. In addition, the F:4 maximum aperture is not all that easy to focus indoors. Even comparing manual focus to manual focus, the half stop of brightness on the DA21 is huge. With the low light capabilities of the newer DSLR bodies, the ability to focus a lens with this field of view indoors quickly is a major consideration. I already had the DA21, and many other ways to zoom to this focal length on APS-c even before this purchase, but this lens gives me what I needed. This lens on an MX body is about as compact as carrying a wide angle zoom that will reach its film FOV. Here are some fun examples from my first roll with this lens shot at a local farmers market. (The film is Fuji 160S) And on the K10d wide open:

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 75-150mm F4 by GeneV on Fri March 19, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 166758
Reviews: 56
I bought this as I have begun to use my film bodies more, and the range was useful and the price hard to resist. I have also tested it on my K10d, which I keep set up for manual lenses. You hold this in your hands and the metal construction and silky damping of focus and zoom scream quality. They really don't make them like this any more. I am actually stunned by the sharpness of the images. This can't be a zoom. The shot below is taken on a K10d at F:5.6 (1 stop from wide open) and is a 100% crop.

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 17-70mm F4 AL [IF] SDM by GeneV on Fri January 8, 2010 | Rating: 7 View more reviews 

Views: 275019
Reviews: 55
I've had this lens since shortly after it was released. This has become my primary walking around lens. It performs well all over its range and wide open. It does not have the magic or the speed of the primes, but the convenience puts it on one of my bodies all the time. It is also dead quiet, which actually makes it useful in some settings where the noisier primes might cause a problem. It is probably too much to ask, but it would be nice if it were just a bit smaller. It is no bigger than the faster Sigma 17-35, and much more useful. However, attached to the camera, it is a tight fit in my smallest Domke bag unless it is the only thing in the bag. It has no hope of fitting into a small waistpack. Follow on: This lens was always on one of my bodies until I shot a wedding in July of 2012, and the lens stopped focusing at 60-70mm. It is not a great lens to focus manually, with virtually no damping on the manual focus ring. This makes it effectively a 17-50 lens. Others report similar problems, and it is sad that this lens is prone to this issue.

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED by GeneV on Fri January 8, 2010 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 141527
Reviews: 57
It is hard to rate a lens like this. It was the second digital format lens I owned. Its sharpness is acceptable, and I have taken some nice shots with it. Its focus is quick, and it is feather light. It won't knock your socks off when you shoot a newspaper on the wall, but its sharpness is good enough at F/8 that if you are dissatisfied with a shot, it is probably not the fault of the lens. The max aperture at 200mm is slow, at 5.6, but you won't want to use it at that setting, either. All in all, for the ridiculously cheap price and at the compact size and weight, this lens is far better than it should be. It is an excellent choice to throw in the suitcase for traveling.

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 28mm F2.8 by GeneV on Fri January 8, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 405992
Reviews: 91
I'm rating this as a film lens, because I have never used it on a digital body. When I bought my LX in the 80s, I replaced this lens with a Kiron f/2 to get the auto aperture, and then it left with my former wife. I took more photos with this lens than any lens other than the 50mm/1.4. It is sharp, small, well buit and easy to use. I don't know what its quirks might be on a digital body, but it was a super performer in the days of manual film.

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 50mm F1.4 by GeneV on Fri January 8, 2010 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 534504
Reviews: 107
I have owned this lens for about 30 years. If I had rated it in 1980, I probably would have given it a 10. It is as sharp as you will ever need a lens (other than at 1.4) and as fast and easy to focus. It has also come through 30 years of use in perfect working order. It is only manual focus, but I can deal with that. In the digital age, this lens stacks up less perfectly. Its metering on a K10/20 is the most erratic of any older lens I've used. With most other K and M lenses, I meter one stop or so off wide open, and they are pretty close at the middle apertures I use most. Not so on this lens. You really have to keep the up and down meter quirks of this combo in mind all the time.

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited by GeneV on Fri January 8, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 340953
Reviews: 92
Part of my compact complement. Paired with the DA40ltd, you have a very small but capable array. Autofocus is quick. Nice sharpness at all apertures, and a very catchy rendition in digital. I have no real complaints about this lens, other than that I wish it could have been a full f/2.8.

Review of: SMC Pentax-D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro by GeneV on Fri January 8, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 199045
Reviews: 36
This lens is just the ticket for macro, indoor shots or any application where high resolution is a must. Shoots nicely wide open, and is impressive at smaller stops. It is also a joy to use as a manual focus lens. Because of the macro focus, it may take a moment longer and cause a bit more noise to focus. It's great on older film bodies because, in addition to being razor sharp, it is full frame and has an aperture ring. [IMGWIDE][/IMGWIDE]

Review of: SMC Pentax-FA 35mm F2 AL by GeneV on Fri January 8, 2010 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 279339
Reviews: 77
This is my low-light walking around lens. I find its sharpness nice down to 2.8, stellar at 4 and acceptable wide open. Paired with high ISO and good noise reduction software, this is a super low light lens. It does seem to hunt indoors with the K10/20d, and I often use it in manual focus when the light is really low, but the rubberized focus ring while narrow, is easy to find, and, unlike some recent DA lenses, the focus has a nice long throw that makes it easy to use. You will either like the color rendition or not. It does not render colors with the same snap of its 40mm digital sibling (another favorite lens). However, I often feel that the less punchy rendition is more the way I actually saw the scene. And sometimes you do need that extra stop. I recently shot a company picnic at night where f2.4 or better was the only ticket to getting interesting newsletter photos. Someday, if I justify springing for the FA31, I may retire this lens, but right now, at 1/3 of the price it is hard to beat.

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 200mm F4 by GeneV on Fri January 8, 2010 | Rating: 8 View more reviews 

Views: 253581
Reviews: 65
I've been impressed with this compact (for 200mm) tele for years. Its performance is better than most of the ubiquitous zooms that cover this range, and it is much, much lighter than the 80-200s. The only drawback is the "green button" metering on digital bodies. Manual focus could be a drawback for some, but it works smoothly on this lens.

Review of: SMC Pentax 135mm F2.5 by GeneV on Mon June 29, 2009 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 301281
Reviews: 67
Lens is sharp enough at f/2.5 and excellent down a stop or two. Nice rendering of color and contrast. The f/2.5 makes this focal length easy to focus, and the K20d ISO capabilities make it an excellent lens for interior shots. At this focal length, the very shallow depth of field at f/2.5 is more useful to me to aid in focus than for actual shooting. On my K20d, this lens meters properly at two F stops-- f/4 and f/16. At f2.5, "green button" metering will yield about a 2/3 stop underexposure. At all apertures from 5.6 to 11, the metered exposure will be overexposed by one stop. All in all, this is not too hard to deal with.

Review of: SMC Pentax-M 100mm F4 Macro by GeneV on Tue May 12, 2009 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 196925
Reviews: 33
I bought this lens in the early 80s so my price would not be relevant, and it was one of my favorites for years. It is super sharp, and works great in macro as well. Here is one from Tours, France 1988, MX, TMax 400:

Review of: SMC Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited by GeneV on Sun May 10, 2009 | Rating: 9 View more reviews 

Views: 519198
Reviews: 148
This has become my favorite lens. It turns an SLR into something almost pocketable. Light, sharp, reasonably fast (though another stop would be greatly appreciated), if I could keep only one prime lens, this would be it. It is also a great conversation piece, creating a "snub-nosed" camera. The quality is quite nice, even cropped and wide open.

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