40mm Pancake

Started Jun 24, 2013 | Discussions
alpha bet
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to Gary Martin, Jun 24, 2013

Though I may have missed it, I don't think anybody actually answered the OP's original question.

Yes, it is sharper than the kit lens but not by much at all from about 35 to 42mm. My kit lens is VERY sharp at the 35mm point. Other qualities are also up to the same high standard of the limited in that approximate range on the 18-55 WR.

So, if you already own the latest version of the kit lens, the only potential advantages you're going to find with the 40mm limted over the kit are:

the ability to shoot at f/2.8

size

the coolness factor of shooting with a limited lens

The ability to shoot at f/2.8 instead of what you'd get on the kit is not the kind of major factor it would have been with film. For sure, the 40mm pancake looks GOOD on a D-SLR. It's very stealthy and looks like you merely own a high end compact rather than a full blown D-SLR. That can be useful if you want to be modest about your kit or you don't want to intimidate your subject.

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Steve Pruetz
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to alpha bet, Jun 24, 2013

Has anyone compared it to the Pentax M40mm 2.8?

Steve

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Rod McD
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to Steve Pruetz, Jun 25, 2013

HI,

I have a DA40 Ltd and agree with the comments of the many other posters.  It's small and light and delivers sharp even performance across the aperture range.  Quick Shift is nice too.

There have been a few posts over the years about its comparison to the M40/2.8. (Sorry, I haven't got the links).  I've never owned the M lens.   The posted view seems to be that the DA is considerably better and that's also reflected in the many owner reviews over in the Pentax forum.

If I have any reservation about the DA lens it's the FL.  I carry the 31mm and a 50mm amongst my primes and I find that I tend to skip the 40mm.  I'm wondering if the OP might consider buying a prime outside the range of his zoom - say the 15mm, the 70mm or the 100WR.  It might make a more versatile pair.

Cheers, Rod

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awaldram
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to alpha bet, Jun 25, 2013

alpha bet wrote:

Though I may have missed it, I don't think anybody actually answered the OP's original question.

Yes, it is sharper than the kit lens but not by much at all from about 35 to 42mm. My kit lens is VERY sharp at the 35mm point. Other qualities are also up to the same high standard of the limited in that approximate range on the 18-55 WR.

So, if you already own the latest version of the kit lens, the only potential advantages you're going to find with the 40mm limted over the kit are:

the ability to shoot at f/2.8

size

the coolness factor of shooting with a limited lens

The ability to shoot at f/2.8 instead of what you'd get on the kit is not the kind of major factor it would have been with film. For sure, the 40mm pancake looks GOOD on a D-SLR. It's very stealthy and looks like you merely own a high end compact rather than a full blown D-SLR. That can be useful if you want to be modest about your kit or you don't want to intimidate your subject.

We discussed the kit vs the 16-45 some years ago the was consensus on the general performance levels of the kit lens

1 the kit lens  does not sharpen up till f8

2 the kit lens shows very wide latitudes of variance model to model

As the best 40's limited is sharpest @ f2.8 this a 4stops faster than the kit lens and even the poorer copies are sharp by f4 still 3 stops advantage.

Though your personal kit lens may buck the trend I suspect not and think it more owner rose coloured spectacles than real performance, Maybe you'd like to post a wide open 40mm shot from it ?

I've owned over the years probably 10-12 kit lens from the 18-55 variants and 50-200 the best were pretty good the worst very ropey, But all peaked @f8

I've never hung onto any kit lens as their performance/flexibility is less than I desire or will accept, This is not some snooty Prime rant I have the 18-250 super zoom which is close enough in IQ to the kit lens to make no odds.

No the 18-55 cannot hold its own against a mediocre Zoom and the 40 limited is considerably better than a mid level Zoom

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lectrolink
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to CallMeAlan, Jun 25, 2013

This from my DA 40 Ltd. review over at the other Pentax Forum:

I've had this lens for about six months and I can easily say it has been a joy to own. When upgraded from a point & shoot, part of my decision on which camera to buy depended on the camera being small and light for travel, so I ended up choosing a K-x, with the objective to get a DA 40 as soon as I could. Substituting the DA40 for the kit lens meant that I could put the camera and lens easily in my "man bag" I carry when I travel and still have room for a bottle of water, accessories, etc.

Some people say this is a strange focal length, but it has proven extremely versatile. It is perfect for taking head and shoulders shots of people, but can be equally useful for larger panoramic images. It is also useful for street shooting. What it is not very useful for is macro--the minimum focal distance is quite large.

As far as image quality, I was immediately impressed by the improvement over the kit lens. Not only does it provide a sharper image, but you get better contrast and colors that pop more. At f2.8, the lens is useful indoors but you have to have a steady hand or a high ISO or both in dim light.

In general, I like the screw-on lens cap. Made of precision machined metal, it has a quality feel to it. You can screw off the entire cap/hood or you can screw off only the tiny front part, leaving the remainder as a hood. However, you can sometimes miss a fleeting shot opportunity during the 5 seconds or so it takes to unscrew it.

I use this lens a lot and it is probably the one I use most. Your camera will look a bit odd with it on--like a snub-nose, and you may get some funny looks from other shooters, but the savings in weight and the gain in image quality should be enough to overcome any qualms.

And here is a recent DA 40mm Ltd image (this one shot with K-30):

Chinese Gardens at Huntington Gardens, San Marino, CA

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Britney Elvis
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In reply to CallMeAlan, Jun 25, 2013

CallMeAlan wrote:

Hi All,

I think I'm just about to order the little pancake Pentax smc DA 40mm 2.8 Limited, as a friend for my new K5ii. So far I only have the 18-55 kit lens.

I've searched around but haven't found very much here about it, so I'd be interested if any owners out there could offer any useful comments before I click the 'Order' button. Will I see much general improvement over the kit lens, particularly in sharpness? Sample pics would be most appreciated.

Alan

Wow, I may be one of the few detractors from this purchase.

I own the lens. It is sharp at 2.8 and an improvement over the kit lens.

But honestly I can probably count the times it has been on my camera with two hands. And it is always in the bag, cause it is so small why not have it.

It is sharp as can be, but to me... no character. No 'look' that makes it special. The FA 43, now that is another ballgame in the charactor/look department. Or even the F50 1.4 wide open has a 'look'

I just never got the DA 40ltd.

Do yourself a favor, pin the kit lens to 40mm shoot a bunch of stuff and see if that is a length you are going to have to have in your bag.

How much are they going for now?

gus

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etoastw
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In reply to CallMeAlan, Jun 25, 2013

I've travelled with it, a 20mm and a 75mm, and it was a good setup.  It is kind of a strange focal length, but you get used to it, and your framing adapts.  It's definitely sharp.  I've gone off it occasionally, and then come back later; it's a good lens.

As for comparison with the kit lens, the only kit lens I've used is a Sigma 18-125 (the original one), and it's sharper than that.  From what I remember, at least.

(incidentally, this is on a DS and a K10D, I haven't tried anything newer; perhaps the K5-IIs might show up its weaknesses.)

As for the lenscap: I use a Fuji film-canister lid, from a tip I learnt on these forums

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Ivan Gordeli
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to CallMeAlan, Jun 25, 2013

This is the lens I am using right now with my K-5 (borrowed it from a friend). I am not impressed tbh. It lacks "macro" and the focal length is a bit odd. Though as for the focal length it may be a compromise: still usable for portraits and not too tele- for general shooting, so I can see the point if you want only one lens for your kit.

I keep comparing it to my Tamron 17-50 f2.8 and the only advantages for the "Limited" is the distance scale and better AF performance with K-5 and of course smaller size, though the Tamron is already small enough imho. The Tamron is 1) better zoom range obviously 2) more "macro" 3) I also feel it is sharper (which is also confirmed by the technical reviews out there if I remember correctly) 4) and again very subjectively I feel that my Tamron renders the subject and the background better (I can not quantify it).

The reviews out there praise the 40 Limited  for control of aberrations and distortions. I've seen conflicting evaluations of sharpness. No "technical" reviews I have seen praise the sharpness, though I think the photozone review shows good sharpness across wide range of apertures, dxo review shows a totally different story (much worse sharpness depending on aperture). On the other hand almost all user reviews are highly positive, go figure. Personally I don't trust either the technical reviews or user reviews. Many say that the FA 43 is much better.
Also the 40 Limited seems very overpriced at the moment and my expectation is that at some point it has to drop in price. So right now, it would not be my choice for sure.

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awaldram
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to Ivan Gordeli, Jun 25, 2013

Ivan Gordeli wrote:

The reviews out there praise the 40 Limited for control of aberrations and distortions. I've seen conflicting evaluations of sharpness. No "technical" reviews I have seen praise the sharpness,

Overall, the 40mm ƒ/2.8 is a very sharp lens, never exceeding three blur units and averaging around 1.5. Set to apertures less than ƒ/8, some corner softness is visible, surprisingly most at ƒ/5.6, where the right side of the frame approaches three blur units, but the center stays sharp as sharp as we can detect at one unit. The lens performs better at ƒ/2.8 and ƒ/4, where is corner softness is visible, but less significant.

http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/319/cat/45

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CallMeAlan
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In reply to CallMeAlan, Jun 25, 2013

Many thanks to all who have troubled to make their views known.

Overall, I'm getting: sharp - really sharp!  Lens cap: weird - really weird! Might not like it. Best aperture - seems to vary from user to user, but generally speaking, maybe wide open to 7.1-ish or so.  I use my kit lens sometimes with the MTF program line, which claims 7.1 for it.

A few have commented on the 'odd' focal length of 40mm (60 equivalent on my K5ii).  But that's fine with me, I've been using mostly longer than normal focal lengths for a while, and 60 suits me and my usual types of shot quite well.

Well, I clicked Buy on Am***n earlier today, and it should be here tomorrow.  I'm working at home tomorrow and, subject to the British weather (looking hopeful at present) I might be able to click off a few.  I'll post my early results and opinions.  I hope it doesn't look too strange on the K5ii plus battery grip.

Thanks again to all.

Alan.

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jimrpdx
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Re: Thanks to all
In reply to CallMeAlan, Jun 25, 2013

Love my 40 - this at f/3.2

K-5 + DA40Ltd at f/3.2

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alpha bet
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to awaldram, Jun 25, 2013

Perhaps my observation comes from having owned a very good kit lens sample and comparing that to a relatively mediocre 40mm limited one. I've owned two 40mm Limited lenses and the second copy was certainly inferior to the first.

To your point, however, the best "stellar" results from the kit lens tend to occur only when stopped down as you described whereas the 40 was sharp by f/4 (though not so much at 2.8, at least for me).

Personally, I found the 18-55 WR performance at 35mm to be mostly indistinguishable from the 40 Limited - aperture notwithstanding. I could post some good kit lens samples at 35mm to prove what I'm saying but I no longer own a 40 Limited with which to do a direct comparison.

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tdwesbo
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to CallMeAlan, Jun 26, 2013

Probably my most often used lens...  I love it.  Very sharp wide open and fast enough for low light.  I don't bother with the lens cap and just carry mine with the weird little hood on it.  I've taken off the hood before when I use a CP but not often.  It is really small without the hood.

I use mine all the time for portraits.  Seems like a great focal length for that.

I wish I'd bought mine sooner...

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Ivan Gordeli
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to awaldram, Jun 26, 2013

Thanks for your detailed answer and for the link. While we are on it maybe you can post a link to a good explanation how is sharpness being measured in blur units if it is not too much trouble for you.

I am wondering what do you think about these 2 technical reviews of the 40 Limited:

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Publications/DxOMark-Reviews/Pentax-Prime-Lens-Series/SMC-DA-40mm-F2.8-Limited

for their measurements see: http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Lenses/Camera-Lens-Database/Pentax/Pentax-smc-DA-40mm-F28-Limited/%28camera%29/676/%28cameraname%29/PENTAX-K5

Note, I think there is a typo in the first link, where DxOMark score is given as 11 for the lens, judging from the measurements page it should be 15 (still not very high though for a prime lens). The sharpness measurements seem to be very unimpressive though and they use different units to describe sharpness.

The other review: http://www.photozone.de/pentax/630-pentax40f28?start=1 is mostly favorable though the sharpness is not impressive either compared to many other lenses. On the other hand, the sharpness is almost uniform for all apertures and even across the frame which is great. These results seem to contradict the DxO measurements.

I am sure the differences are due to the fact they actually measure different things. Regarding this, has there been any consensus on what is the best way to describe/measure lens sharpness at all?

Thanks

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13thBagel
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In reply to CallMeAlan, Jun 26, 2013

CallMeAlan wrote:

Hi All,

I think I'm just about to order the little pancake Pentax smc DA 40mm 2.8 Limited...

You are about to enter the world of LBA... The only cure is to acquire ALL of the Limited Series lenses, plus a few FA's, too. I thought I was strong, but the DA 40 was (is) my slippery slope... You are doomed... Good luck...

Cheers... M

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awaldram
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to Ivan Gordeli, Jun 26, 2013

Ivan Gordeli wrote:

Thanks for your detailed answer and for the link. While we are on it maybe you can post a link to a good explanation how is sharpness being measured in blur units if it is not too much trouble for you.

I am wondering what do you think about these 2 technical reviews of the 40 Limited:

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Publications/DxOMark-Reviews/Pentax-Prime-Lens-Series/SMC-DA-40mm-F2.8-Limited

I see nothing contradictory in this review (besides their own summaries) from the SLR gear review , In fact not surprising as both use DXO DxO Analyzer

http://www.slrgear.com/articles/interpret/interpret.html

The only difference is SLRgear scale their results to allow comparison across manufacturers to a limited degree and DXO don't, plus DxO make careless mistakes in their review and compound that by expressing an opinion based on that mistake (shoddy journalism in the extreme)

Maybe your misinterpreting the DxO results and taking the 40+ score from other makes as a goal the 40 +k5 should be hitting or placing to much emphasis on their shoddy conclusions.?

interestingly it seem the DxO testers don't understand their own figures !!

of the 5 tested Pentax primes 3 score 14 or less and 2 score 15 o so by any measure the 40mm is top of the pack for Pentax systems results, So where do they get not very good from ???

So we get to their summaries

"After the 15mm, 21mm and 70mm pancakes by Pentax, here are the measurements for the SMC DA 40mm F2.8 Limited. Pretty nice for such a compact lens."

or

"A DxOMark score of 11 is not very good. (The score was derived at f/4 because the resolution over the field drops significantly at f/2.8.) Its best compromise between light and resolution is f/4."

This is just complete lies nothing else to call it the 40mm never scored 11 so how can the sentence be anything but foolish (the explanation why it scored 11 if particularly amusing)

Given the 2nd summary is based off a mistake in the review the 40 actually scores 15 just how much credibility should we give DxO and how much effort are they taking in their testing ??

If you want my opnion on the DxO review I woudl say

1 they did not test correctly and likley had focus errors @f2.8 which were hidden in the DoF for higher apertures.

2 the review was rushed to get it out their and is full of editorial mistakes.

So in summary

The DxO review is based on faulty testing with results based on figure their faulty testing never recorded !!!

As the figures are plain to see my conclusion is irrefutable.

It can't be both !!

Thanks

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sfa1966
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to CallMeAlan, Jun 26, 2013

Love this lens, and I use it a lot. Much more so than my FA43 which I find (relatively) is only really good in the centre wide-open, lacks contrast and has washed-out/funky colors (much of which is correctable in post, but I find the DA40 gets it right first time).

Here's a random (near wide-open) portrait (click through to get to 100% size) :-

DA40

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Ivan Gordeli
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to awaldram, Jun 26, 2013

You are talking about the DxOMark score and I completely agree on this. My question though was on actual measurements of sharpness which you can find here http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Lenses/Camera-Lens-Database/Pentax/Pentax-smc-DA-40mm-F28-Limited

if you go to "Measurements", then "Sharpness", there you will find sharpness measured in "Perceptual Mpix" and the result doesn't look good. Their sharpness is quite low both compared to many Pentax lenses and other lenses too and the sharpness falls off noticeably away from the sweet-spot aperture. Even the 35mm f2.4 looks better. The worst though is if you compare it with some non-Pentax lenses even the zooms, like my Tamron 17-50 f2.8, according to them it has better peak resolution at all focal lengths! (I had to look at the Tamron coupled with the D7000, as they have not tested it with Pentax). In fact all (DA) Pentax lenses rank "poorly" in this "Perceptual Mpix" according to DxO compared to other lenses. I had an impression that this "Perceptual Mpix" may be used to compare lenses across the brands at least when coupled to similar sensors (like K-5 and D7000), maybe this is a wrong assumption I make. Or maybe this much worse is actually negligible? I don't know the answer. If I have time I will try to find more info on "Perceptual Mpix" and "blur units", of course one needs some reference frame to give meaning to these parameters and their relative magnitude, which I don't have.

The photozone review uses more conventional MTF data, sharpness is expressed in LW/PH which is more familiar to me. And their values do not seem very high either (compared to ...), although much better than DxO's. Take a look at side by side MTF data from the 40 Limited and Tamron 17-50 (on Nikon D7000), the Tamron shows better MTF50 than the 40 Limited at all apertures (except maybe 2.8 at some focal distances). OK, the Tamron is rumored to be very sharp, but is it OK that it is shown to be sharper than a dedicated prime? It is true though that we should not compare the results from different bodies.

I find this thread relevant http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3353584 Maybe indeed the K-5 AA filter is very strong and thus you can not compare across the brands?

So the bottomline:

- problems with testing methology?

- careless testing by DxO?

- strong AA filter on the K-5?

- meaningless parameters they use to represent lens sharpness?

- the difference in measured sharpness is actually invisible to the eye under normal viewing/printing conditions?

Maybe a combination of those factors explains the discrepancy between reviews evaluated sharpness and user reviews.

To understand what is going on it may be useful to check the 43 Limited review on photozone, they rate it quite low on sharpness (except in the center) and discuss possible reasons for this unexpected result, compare it to K10D, mention the AA filter. Compare the 43 Limited MTF50 results side by side from K-5 and K10D. It doesn't make sense to me because this pattern is not observed with other lenses (40 Limited, 35 f2.4 seem at least to give consistent results).

Anyway I tend to assume that the technical reviews are mostly meaningless (unless proven otherwise). And in fact I do not care that much about sharpness, so for me there is purely theoretical interest in all this (has nothing to do with photography).

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awaldram
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to Ivan Gordeli, Jun 26, 2013

Well in general it all about perception.

If you search in the forums on photozone you will find a number of posts where I've contested Klaus's view both of the Nyquest limit in the K5 and his pre-sharpening prior to MTF assessment hence the resolution limit of the camera.

Besides who's right or wrong on this point it does show how the results basically one mans view of what detail and whats fault positives hence the results themselves are perceptual in nature.

This means for photozone no results can be cross compared across models never mind manufacturers, and indeed Klaus makes this point.

I would extend that due to Klaus's low sharpening algorithms  that K5ii cannot be compared to results from the k5.

As a general observation most 'scientific tests' performed on web sites are done by people distinctly unqualified to undertake the effort.

What weight you put on these 'Web experts' is really up-to yourself, Having repaired lens for many years I probably have used and tested many more variants of the same models of lens than any 'review site' and my view of lens and their IQ though generally in line with the average results across multiple sites varies quite a lot from some of the more off kilter reviews.

Particularly sharpness and resolution figure appear more about the reviewer preconceptions than any hard facts which given the perceptual nature of MTF is not that surprising.

Have a look on this site at the resolution vanishing point graphs (without reading the text) note your extinguish point then compare it with the reviewers you will again find differences with your view versus theirs.

So most/all reviews are nothing more than the reviewers opinion and like in the case of DxO the reviewer clearly paints there colors to the mast you as the consumer must rate the reviewer before accepting anything they say.

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mrdc76
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Re: 40mm Pancake
In reply to Ivan Gordeli, Jun 26, 2013

Ivan Gordeli wrote:

The photozone review uses more conventional MTF data, sharpness is expressed in LW/PH which is more familiar to me. And their values do not seem very high either (compared to ...), although much better than DxO's. Take a look at side by side MTF data from the 40 Limited and Tamron 17-50 (on Nikon D7000), the Tamron shows better MTF50 than the 40 Limited at all apertures (except maybe 2.8 at some focal distances). OK, the Tamron is rumored to be very sharp, but is it OK that it is shown to be sharper than a dedicated prime? It is true though that we should not compare the results from different bodies.

Eh, you have invalidated your own observation: the values cannot be compared across systems, period. However, DA40/2.8 almost reaches excellent at 2.8 and does so at 5.6. How that is not sharp? Arguably, it does better than FA31/1.8, as the results are more uniform across frame.

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