Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies

Started Dec 9, 2012 | Discussions
australopithecus
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Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
Dec 9, 2012

Ask 10 people a question and it is possible to get 10 different answers.

So here goes.

Just how effective are Pentax legacy lenses on their modern DSLR's ?  By effective, I refer to optical performance.  I am aware that the manual-focus oldies will always be "manual" and that the auto (expose) function will not work with the older "M" series lenses.

I do however, believe that the A-series lenses retain their "auto" expose functionality on DSLR's.

What interests me most is the actual lens performance in terms of CA and sharpness.

Your comments would be appreciated.

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Dave

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leopold
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to australopithecus, Dec 9, 2012

Well, like modern lenses, some are better than others.

The "*" lenses are very good choices.

You can look at the "Pentax forums" in the Database, a lot of review there.

Here are the ones i've tried and like:

M42 Mount (Screwmount):

- SMC Takumar 35mm/3.5

- SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm/4

- Super-Takumar 55mm/2

- Super Takumar 105mm/2.8

K Mount:

- K 200mm/2.5 (some CA at wider apertures but sharp)

- FA20

- FA28

- FA135 (Close focusing)

- FA*300mm/4.5

Most Macro lenses.

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DrewE
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It depends...
In reply to australopithecus, Dec 9, 2012

It very much depends on the particular lens.

Some legacy lenses are excellent (and have always been excellent), and putting them on a DSLR doesn't change that in the least—they continue to perform very well.

Some lenses are mediocre, and exhibit mediocre performance.

Broadly speaking, legacy lenses have a little lower contrast and perhaps a little more tendency towards flare due to lacking some advances in lens coating technology.

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DrewE

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miles green
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to australopithecus, Dec 9, 2012

Check this link out, replacing the dots.

http://www DOT pentaxforums DOT com/lensreviews/

All lens have compromises, new as well as old. The old good ones are still very good!

As already stated, lesser coatings and uncoated rear elements make a big difference with contrast as well as controlling flare and reflections. On a digital camera, the former is a minor nuisance at worst. All lens not coated for digital will create reflections of severely blown highlights, reflected off the sensor. Not that new lens are immune to this.



Pentax A* 200mm f/4 macro





Another 200 macro



Pentacon 135mm f/2.8 "bokeh-monster"



Pentax A 50mm f/1.2



Pentax A 50mm f/1.2 wide open



My latest: Sigma 400mm f/5.6 APO (manual focus)

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Miles Green
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Corfu, Greece

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hanhait
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to australopithecus, Dec 9, 2012

Just experience:

100 mm macro f/4: beautiful, especially the bokeh

50 mm f/1.7: gives pictures a beautiful 'look'

135 mm 2.5 (Takumar): quite some CA, not so sharp

80-200 mm : quite some CA, difficult to get decent pictures

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Pacerr
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to miles green, Dec 9, 2012

Consider that the "average" photographer has exceptionally effective control for correcting the rendering of digital images that wasn't possible in the film era, My feeling is that my legacy lenses are better than ever.

It's the esthetic, rather than the technical, qualities of my older glass that keeps 'em in the bag. How well I like the resulting images rarely has to do with the "birth date" of the lens.

H2

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stern
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to australopithecus, Dec 9, 2012

australopithecus wrote:

Ask 10 people a question and it is possible to get 10 different answers.

So here goes.

Just how effective are Pentax legacy lenses on their modern DSLR's ? By effective, I refer to optical performance. I am aware that the manual-focus oldies will always be "manual" and that the auto (expose) function will not work with the older "M" series lenses.

I do however, believe that the A-series lenses retain their "auto" expose functionality on DSLR's.

What interests me most is the actual lens performance in terms of CA and sharpness.

Your comments would be appreciated.

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Dave

Here is an old post with samples taken with a manual lens (135/2.8) I bought off the Bay for EUR 12,50:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/18135881

Performance of that lens isn't bad at all...

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guzzibreva1
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to stern, Dec 9, 2012

I think the new lenses are a bit sloppy when it comes to CA and purple fringing in backlit details. Most of the older lenses seem sharper to me but as mentioned the contrast is not as good due to the coatings. For backlit images this can be a problem but simple loss of contrast in most images can be fixed with post processing.

My sharpest lens is an old Fujinon F1.8 55mm

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Jim Beverlin
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to australopithecus, Dec 10, 2012

I primarily use primes and freqently use a SMC-A 50mm f/1.4. About the only zoom lens I use is a SMC-A 35-105 f/3.5.  This is a vintage 80's lens that still provides very good sharpness and color.  I number of forum members on DPR and on Pentax Forums still use this lens.  On two occassions over the last 2+ years I also have used my SMC-A 70-210 f/4.0 and as recent as last Friday night.  It is still a decent lens.

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JRB

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George Plummer
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to australopithecus, Dec 10, 2012

I use older lenses because they allow me to expand my kit at a realistic price.  My “vintage” lenses include the KA 50/1.7, KM 135/3.5, KM 200/4.0 and KM 300/4.0.  When using these lenses I usually take a little bit more time to consider the settings that I use.  There might be some more CA with the longer telephoto lenses but honestly, I don’t have any really modern lenses to compare with.

My favorite lens on the K5 is the FA31 LTD and if I am trying to take unobtrusive shots I like the FA 77 LTD.  Both of these classic lenses are almost vintage designs but I would not part with either for a modern zoom.  (I like the compact fixed focal length.).  One of the great benefits of owning a Pentax is the availability of millions of older lenses that can be successfully used with the most modern digital camera – and with little inconvenience.

Don’t worry about not being at the cutting edge of technology.  I suspect the quality loss is small for most shots - and negligible for prints - except to the most critical pixel-peepers.  So, embrace the artistic opportunities these old(er) lenses permit – and all at a reasonable price.

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Best wishes, George P
www.plummerspixels.com
' . . . . not all who wander are lost.'

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bjake
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to George Plummer, Dec 10, 2012

I regular use the Pentax m50 1.7,135 3.5 and the m42 200 f4 and am pleased with all of them.The 200mm may be the sharpest lens that I own.Almost any brand of the old 50mm lens are good.Have a Sears 50mm 1.7 that stays in a case with an extension tube set and takes pretty good shots.

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dornochchap
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to bjake, Dec 10, 2012

I find them to be great optically when one understands their limitations and a lot of fun can be had in buying them cheaply and trying them out.

I presently use a 17mm Tokina, 24mm K Pentax, 28mm K Pentax, 50mm M Pentax, Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm and just recently bought a new Pentax DA 55-300mm.

Images using some of these lenses can be seen here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/48347061@N00/

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James O'Neill
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Exactly
In reply to DrewE, Dec 10, 2012

DrewE wrote:

It very much depends on the particular lens.

Some legacy lenses are excellent (and have always been excellent), and putting them on a DSLR doesn't change that in the least—they continue to perform very well.

Some lenses are mediocre, and exhibit mediocre performance.

Broadly speaking, legacy lenses have a little lower contrast and perhaps a little more tendency towards flare due to lacking some advances in lens coating technology.

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DrewE

Some prime lens designs have not been improved on much in 40 years. Some zooms have improved out of all recognition. Coatings have improved, the glass itself has too but by a tiny degree. Better computer controlled machiney means there is less variation between copies of the same lens.

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james laubscher
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to dornochchap, Dec 10, 2012

The old f1.7 50mm SMC lens I have is super sharp. Buit I find with manual focusing on it difficult sometimes to judge exact focus at a distance. No CA with it either.

Six or 7 element compound lenses from the old days are often very good, depending on the coatings and the brand. I have an old Ricoh f2 50mm lens, which, on the other hand is not too sharp and does generate CA. Stay with the good brands.

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jamesza

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paulkienitz
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to australopithecus, Dec 10, 2012

australopithecus wrote:

Just how effective are Pentax legacy lenses on their modern DSLR's ? By effective, I refer to optical performance. I am aware that the manual-focus oldies will always be "manual" and that the auto (expose) function will not work with the older "M" series lenses.What interests me most is the actual lens performance in terms of CA and sharpness.

Good expensive old lenses might work well, but older consumer-grade lenses have in my experience tended to work out quite poorly.

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australopithecus
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Thankyou to all of you.
In reply to paulkienitz, Dec 10, 2012

From your comments and replies, I gained the impression that all things considered, the Takumar and Pentax legacy lenses are able performers on Pentax DSLR bodies.  Having used Pentax SLRs for close on 40 years, I ended up with some excellent glass (135mm/f2.5 (M)  50mm/f1.7 (M),  24mm/f2.8 (A) and a 35~70 Zoom (A) and am keen to purchase a K30 when next in the UK (I live in South Africa).

At the moment I use a Panasonic Lumix G1 with the kit 14~45mm & a 20mm/f1.7 pancake. With the latter clipped onto the body, it's a very neat and capable, carry-about, camera.

However, with all that legacy glass sitting in my cupboard, the K30 will be difficult to resist !

In closing, I must acknowledge that I expected many opposing views (answers) i.r.o. the Pentax legacy lenses.  What I got was a firm confirmation that they are well worth using.

Thankyou.

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Dave

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alpha bet
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Re: Thankyou to all of you.
In reply to australopithecus, Dec 10, 2012

Speaking strictly as an amateur enthusiast, I've discovered in my limited experience that, aside from pure resolution characteristics, older lenses definitely require a higher degree of patience and skill than their contemporary counterparts. At least if you want good results. The comment earlier about lack of digital coating on the rear element resulting in blown highlights seems especially valid. I was surprised - my uninformed intuition was that rear coatings were mostly a gimmick. They're not - especially under certain circumstances.

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Petroglyph
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to australopithecus, Dec 11, 2012

I have an older PK/A 50mm f1,4 that is an excellent performer today on a K5 body just as it would have been in film days.  The coatings are optimized for film but this was always a top lens.

Regards.

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HASHI1127
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Re: Legacy lens performance on Pentax DSLR bodies
In reply to australopithecus, Dec 11, 2012

Good optics are good optics, no matter film or digital IMHO. Legacy lenses are not as sharp as the new ones, but you can correct it during PP work.

Most of my lenses are legacy, and the ones I most enjoy are:

K 50 f1,2

FA* 24 f2,0

FA* 28-70 f2,8

FA* 80-200 f2,8

FA* 85 f1,4

FA 645 120 F4,0 Makro

LEICA R 60mm Makro Elmarit - PENTAX bayonet

There's one lens that I specially enjoy, A Leica R 60mm makro Elmarit ( f2,8 ), that I adapted using a PENTAX baionet from Leitax, you take out the Leica mount and put the Pentax one. This is a 40+ years old lens.

Best regards,

GUS

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australopithecus
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Bokeh-Monster: version 2
In reply to miles green, Dec 11, 2012

Miles,

Some good pics that you posted.

I especially liked your "Bokeh-monster".  Here's mine taken a few minutes ago in the last light of day.  f2.5 at 1/80.

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Dave

Pelargonium .  SMC Pentax M  135mm/f2.5 - another "bokeh-monster" (on a Panasonic Lumix G1 body)

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