Here I go again. That guy won't shut up.
The weirdest thing about criticism, reviewing, and product journalism is that you do this weird warp back and forth from the objective hat to the subjective hat. One day you write perfectly objectively about a new camera like the K-30, thinking only thoughts about how it might appeal to the market as a whole—that is to say, everybody; and the next day you're writing so subjectively it's almost personal, about how some other new product—an economical 50mm lens, say—affects only you.
Afraid I personally find this one...mystifying, to put it mildly. I wanted to say "offensive," except I'm sure Pentax aren't thinking of me and it isn't personal, and I'd be wrong to take affront.
But let me quote a TOP commenter named Bob, from yesterday:
....STILL no pentax f2 moderate wide after 11 YEARS of making DSLR's!!!!
So what do we have here, as of a few days ago? A newly announced 50mm (75mm-e) ƒ/1.8...that happens to be almost completely redundant with the 55mm ƒ/1.4 DA* SDM lens (82.5mm-e) already in the catalog. Except that the new lens is probably not quite as good in terms of optical quality. (I can say that without trying the new lens only because the "older" 55mm DA*—it's only a few years old—is about as good as short tele lenses get.) Not to mention the older SMCP-FA 50mm ƒ/1.4 whose heritage stretches back all the way to Pentax's screwmount years and is (collectively speaking, throughout its many iterations) one of my all-time favorite lenses. It has a unique look that never fails to charm, in film or digital.
When what's really needed is, yes, still, an ƒ/2 moderate wide angle, ~35mm-e.
All right, all right...the one way in which the new lens is not redundant is a very important one: price. The several-years-old 55mm lens is $800, the heritage film lens is $350, the new lens is $250. The number of people who will pay $800 for a Pentax-labeled moderate telephoto prime is probably not large.
And don't forget Pentax makes a more mouth-watering collection of primes than most other cameramakers, so they don't deserve the diss from a more objective standpoint.
And Pentax is, after all, a business. Okay.
If you shoot Pentax and want a prime 75mm-e lens, though, I'd say shoot with the older 50mm ƒ/1.4. Assuming the focal length is right for you, it's one of the very best reasons to shoot Pentax, period. In my humble opinion. And used ones are out there. Saving that $100 would be a false economy to my way of thinking.
Although, of course, it's not actually all about me, and I should shut up. A 35mm-e lens just isn't coming; they've chosen not to make one. No doubt.
Of course I've largely switched to Micro 4/3 now—mainly because the system provides lenses of exactly the spec I need. So this isn't as frustrating as it used to be. I miss Pentax lenses, though. Its good ones are (subjectively) as appealing to me as any of the Zeiss and Leica glass I've shot with through the years.
The phantom pain of that frustration is still there...maybe you know how that is. I'd still be shooting _________ if only they had made a _________.
/Rant. We now return to regular programming.
...Slowly removing subjective hat and putting it back up on the shelf,
N.B.: Several commenters have gotten this wrong already—we're talking about a 35mm equivalent, a moderate wide angle, not a 35mm lens, which is a long normal on APS-C.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Dan: "A few months ago I sold my K-5 and several lenses including the 21mm. My favorite focal length is in the range of 35mm-e to 38mm-e, although I can make do with a 40mm-e. Therefore, I found the Pentax 21mm a bit wide for my taste, but more importantly it provided image quality that was mediocre at best (in my opinion).
"In the past I've shot many different formats and I keep coming back to the 35mm-e focal length neighborhood (on 8x10" I liked the 240mm, 5x7" the 180mm, 6x9cm a 90mm, and in the 35mm film 'full frame' digital DSLR world, the 35mm focal length, even when using a zoom).
"If the Pentax 21mm was an optical gem I would have just gone with wider-than-desired view, but since it's nowhere near that level I decided to heck with it and the K-5 lot.
"Pentax should ditch the 21mm and replace it with a 24mm ƒ/2.8 (36mm-e). It might have less design challenges than the 21mm, could be made about the same size, and could and should be designed to provide a much better quality image than the 21mm. Cost should be a bit less than the 21mm.
"I think more people would prefer this focal length than than 21mm, and certainly would like the improved image quality. I doubt though that I should be so lucky that they'd do something as rational as that, which is why I got fed up and decided to go another route to attain my favorite focal length in a small package.
"Right now I have the 20mm ƒ/1.7 Panasonic on an Olympus E-PL1, and am waiting for the OM-D E-M5. The 40mm is a little long for my taste, and if the wait on the OM-D continues I might bite the bullet (or should I say, bite hard into my savings) and get the Sony Nex-7 and the 24mm Sony-Zeiss. Oh, wait, they too are still hard to get currently.
"Maybe I should forget going small and and shoot most of my savings to get a Nikon D800 and either the 35mm ƒ/2 mediocre-at-best old generation lens, or the new 35mm ƒ/1.4G (or Zeiss 35mm manual focus lens). Oh yeah, the D800 just a wee bit more than scarce. Oh, maybe just go back to 5x7" view camera with a 180mm. But I can't really take it anywhere very easily. Oh yes, I'm not very patient. But darn you Pentax, it's all your fault. :-)"