Years ago, Pentax created a very unusual zoom lens prototype. Called the "Flexi" (said so right on the lens), it was an SMC Pentax-M lens of rather limited spec: 32–39mm.
Thirty-five millimeter lenses were at that time (1978) being increasingly used as normal lenses, but people had varying tastes—some wished it were just a tetch wider, some just a tetch narrower. So the idea was that you could get a Flexi (which, at 63x45mm and 230g, was barely bigger than a normal prime—the famous SMC Pentax-M 50mm ƒ/1.4 was 63x37mm and 235g) and tweak it yourself, to taste.
It was never put into production.
...Until now?!? Ricoh Imaging has just announced the first zoom lens in the "Limited" lens lineup for Pentax APS-C digital SLRs...and it's a mere 2X, a 20–40mm ƒ/2.8–4. The world hasn't seen much of 2X normal zooms since the old 35–70's were commonplace.
It's small—69mm long and light at 283g. And if you think of it, with a field-of-view equivalency of 30–60mm, it replaces a 35mm, a 50mm, all of the "middlin'" focal lengths in the 40–45mm range, the odd (to me) 60mm "long normal" focal length that's not as unusual these days as it used to be, and it gets pretty close to a 28mm (Pentax has history with 30mm and 31mm lenses, too). So although at first glance it seems limited (no pun intended) as a zoom, it covers all the most-used "normal" focal lengths.
As with the other Limiteds, it features metal contruction and comes in black or silver. And as a bonus, it's weatherproof—making it the perfect normal lens for your spiffy new K-3 or trusty K-5. A zoom that doesn't feel like a zoom around your neck.
I dub it the "Pentax Flexi"—here at last.
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Featured Comments from:
Barnard Scharp (partial comment): "Still jealous of Pentax shooters and their lens options.... ;-) "
Nigel Robinson: "That actually—almost—sounds like just the thing. I've been working in a winery in Austria for the last six weeks and needed something small and waterproof. Wineries are rather damp with all the cleaning that goes on all the time, not to mention all the fog that rolls in. The focal lengths sound about perfect. I do have a bias against variable-aperture zooms though. I wonder how many bottles of Riesling it will sell for."
icexe: "At first I scratched my head when I saw this lens, then I thought about how often I switch primes to get just those focal lengths. This is simply brilliant."