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Wednesday, 04 March 2009


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At this point, I think Pentax has the most extensive and diverse APS-C-specific lens lineup of any of the other camera makers. I don't often encounter people using Pentax dslrs, but whenever I do I have found that there's a much better chance they're not using the kit 18-55mm lens. (That kit lens isn't too crappy either, or wouldn't be if I hadn't gotten champagne in the AF gears...)

So, what up with the G1 review? This is the sort of lens I would like to put on mine.

"Live long and prosper, Pentax!" Now there is something I can toast to. ch

It seems like Pentax (and maybe Olympus?) are the only ones to make pancake lenses. Is there any reason why the other manufacturers don't as well? As small as my 35 f/2 is, I think it'd be great to have something like this on my EOS.

I don't get it, what's the zoom range?

(But seriously, this is a very cool lens indeed.)

It's gonna be my favorite lens.

I have K-m, this lens is gonna replace the bulky DA 14. Along with three FA limiteds, it sure rocks.

"what's the zoom range?"

It's a 15-15mm f/4, constant aperture.


Thanks Pentax. I've now the inclination to switch systems.

I can't help but to find it just a bit depressing when the lens you want comes out for a system other than your own.

This looks very similar in shape to the Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 in Leica screw mount. Even if it is slightly larger/heavier, Pentax should be applauded for making it anywhere near the same form factor given the half-stop speed advantage, the inclusion of AF, and relative difficulty of building wide lenses for SLRS over rangefinders.

With the recent Samsung NX announcement, I wonder if Pentax could yet be in contention to build the first system with the killer combo of compact body/big sensor/interchangable AF prime lenses? They have the prime designs that could be adapted, they have the partnership with Samsung...but Panasonic seem to have a healthy head start with their second Micro Four Thirds body already announced. I'm currently using the G1 with some tiny C-mount lenses. I think the GH1 will be on my shopping list.

Gotta give Pentax a lot of credit! Awesome!

This will be a nice lens for Pentax users. I do love wide angle primes, so much so that last year I bought a magnificent Sigma 16.6 prime. It came attached to a DP1.

"It seems like Pentax (and maybe Olympus?) are the only ones to make pancake lenses. Is there any reason why the other manufacturers don't as well?"

Aesthetics. I've often wondered how much the brand image relies on the look of what they produce. Some people go for pancakes and compact primes. Others want big and bulky (and white).

"It's a 15-15mm f/4, constant aperture."

Are you sure? As it is an IF (Internal Focus) lens, as you focus closer the focal length also decreases.

So, I'm guessing more like 12-15mm.

>I can't help but to find it just a bit depressing when the lens you want comes out for a system other than your own.

+1 - (mumbling under my breath) - I knew I should have switched to Pentax.

I can only hope sales will be brisk and Sigma will release a prime with similar FL.

Come on Pentax owners - buy lots!

So really, why doesn't Canon and Nikon make lenses like this? I just traveled for a week in Mexico with my Nikon 14-24/2.8, and that thing is so heavy and awkward. I would drop it in a second for a lighter fx alternative. With the high iso capabilities of DSLRs these days, I think that a lot of weight conscious photographers are going to be carrying f/4-5.6 glass.

I teach high school photography, and one of the reasons I purchased a whole classroom set of Pentax cameras was because of their fantastic lens selection - both new and old. There are many other reasons, of course, but the staggeringly high variety of stuff that's out there for Pentax is just way too cool!

"It seems like Pentax (and maybe Olympus?) are the only ones to make pancake lenses. Is there any reason why the other manufacturers don't as well?"

I just want to put in a good word for Cosina here.

The Cosina/Voigtlander 40/2 Ultron SL II certainly qualifies as a pancake lens and is available in both Nikon and Pentax mount chipped to meter and have aperture controlled from the camera. In my experience it performs better than my Pentax DA 40 and my Nikon 45 2.8P and is a stop faster than both lenses.

The newly announced to be delivered Cosina Voigtlander 20/3.5 Color Skopar is also a pancake and a lot of us are eagerly waiting to see how it will perform

Pentax rules.

This lens is going to kick ass. Anyone who needs something small for a hike up a mountain or simply traveling in general is going to need this lens. The focal length occupies something of a sweet spot, midway in the Sigma 10-20mm range and wider than the FA*16-50 zoom.

Not to mention that the build quality of the Limiteds is untouchable by Canikon. It's even got a depth of field scale. Yay!

One of the reasons I bought into the Pentax system was what looked like at the time (a year ago almost exactly) their selection of APS-C primes, and what I judged from their roadmaps to be a commitment to APS-C.

But even though I have a Pentax body, and I knew this lens was on its way, I still went ahead and pulled the trigger on that Sigma 16.6. Having that body to go with it isn't the worst thing in the world.

I really don't think it'd be all that unreasonable for someone who shot a different system to pick up one of these lenses and, say, an old K100D (or even older, since wide angles are pretty hand-holdable even without in-body-stabilization). The Pentax bodies have a pretty simple interface, the system learning curve isn't going to set you back a year like it might switching from one pro camera to another.

"I can't help but to find it just a bit depressing when the lens you want comes out for a system other than your own."

I had a Canon 350D - very good camera, and I liked it a lot. But I kept wanting other lenses than those Canon was making, and when Pentax announced the 10-17 fisheye zoom I bit the bullet and switched.

Manufacturers do seem to try to focus on some segments over others. Canon, for instance, is great if you spend your time shooting wildlife or sports, and if weight and bulk (and cost) is of little concern. Great - but just not for me.

With Pentax I bring a body and a whole set of wide to normal primes in a small bag. The 21/3.2, 35/2.8 and a manual 50/1.7 cover 95% of what I normally use and they all fit together in one coat pocket. With a slightly smaller body than the K10D I could put the camera in the other pocket and skip the bag altogether (so yes, I have been making eyes at the K-m lately).

"...why don't Canon and Nikon make lenses like this?"

My guess is low demand. The comments you see on blogs like this are deceptive. Very few people buy fixed focal length lenses these days, and even those that do are damned picky. As soon as a new fixed focal length lens of this type is introduced you hear moans and wails about it being too big, too small, too heavy, not fast enough, not wide enough, too expensive, and on and on.

A case in point is the recently introduced 35mm f/1.8 AF-S G Nikkor. Instead of being happy that Nikon introduced a fast normal for its AF-S format DSLRs some people complained that it wouldn't work with full-frame cameras.

There's no utopia anywhere on this planet, folks. You pick your poison and try not to overdose on it.


Apart from the fact that the Pentax Limiteds control focus breathing (the phenomenon you describe) rather well, the amount you predict is way out of line for any lens or manufacturer. Sure, breathing could account for a change in focal length of 3mm if we're talking about a telephoto lens like a 200mm, but around 15mm, that kind of swing would account for a change in horizontal angle of view of 13 degrees when going from infinity to close focus (77 degrees to about 90). No way it would be that much.

Back when I was rocking my k20D with 21, 40, and 70 DA limiteds, I was dying for this lens to come out. Now that it is here, I kinda regret switching systems. They do make a pretty set.

f4? That seems a little high when many other very small primes have a 1.4 or less, if you're that into really lightweight wouldn't you want to be carrying as few lenses as possible, and thus a lens with a better aperture would let you do more with depth of field and low-light? I dunno, I guess that's just my take on it.

Do I have to buy a Pentax to use this jobby?

Seriously though, Oly and Pentax have a real advantage when it comes to cheap, high quality optics. I've bought several manual focus lenses on Ebay for Oly for what seems like pennies. Wish I could use them autofocus on my 5d, but oh well!

Nice one. However, I think the best compact, made-for-digital wide angle lens is the Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm 1:4-5.6. Also quite small and light - 73mm long, weighs 280g. Angle of view: 100-62 degrees. Yes, a bit larger, but what flexibility!

that's my set up Will, carried the whole kit in the smallest, most discrete bag Domke makes and had no problems whipping out the K20D in and out in shady parts of Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval.

with the Limiteds, the whole thing takes up little more visual space than a G10. you're not THAT guy, showing off his gear, putting the locals on the spot, or making yourself a robbery target. living in New York City, same rules apply. Pentax was really the only system i had to consider, mirror-box or not.

may i ask what system you changed to and why?

I feel like saying fast or small or high quality (or all of the above) primes are a niche market is a bit of a cop-out, and not really representative of how either Canon or Nikon do business. They just seem to neglect the non-statement, non-showcase lenses. Last I checked a 800 f/5.6 was a niche product if ever there was one. Can't say there'd even be many sports photographers on the sidelines toting one of those around, not with the small aperture. Also, how many TS-E lenses can Canon possibly sell?

I know I'm definitely in the minority by having an adapted Asahi 50 f/1.4 to go on my 30D, but there's got to be at least 10x as many me's as there are people that could/would pick up a 200 f/2 or the aforementioned 800 f/5.6... no?

I find it fascinating that few people have mentioned that its widest aperture is f4. When the Sigma DP1 announced its prime would be a wide angle f4, there was a tidal wave of resistance; vast teeming oceans of people who saw such a thing as an abject failure.

So why aren't people complaining about this Pentax?

(Sort of a rhetorical question, actually...) ;-)

"So really, why doesn't Canon and Nikon make lenses like this?"

Probably because the lenses aren't as flashy looking or they can't justify charging that much for a simple prime... not to mention how would they fit an IS system onto a small prime like the 15mm? :-) #Pentax

"I find it fascinating that few people have mentioned that its widest aperture is f4. When the Sigma DP1 announced its prime would be a wide angle f4, there was a tidal wave of resistance; vast teeming oceans of people who saw such a thing as an abject failure.

"So why aren't people complaining about this Pentax?"

Because you can change the lens on the Pentax! Need more speed, just switch to a faster lens. You're stuck with the one on the DP1, no matter the situation.


"Live long and prosper, Pentax!" - Mike

I am generally with Mike. I just like the camera (and lens) of the right size, the right weight, reasonably fast, easy to understand and easy to operate...... Particularly, I like small camera with small fast primes. ^_^

Pentax is a good example in this regard.

I'll have to keep this in mind, next time I upgrade my system. I've been needing a lens on that end of the spectrum.

You're not necessarily stuck with a Pentax body. Maybe this will be released as a Tokina just like the 35mm f2.8 Macro was, (minus Pentax proprietary coatings) although honestly, I doubt it.

And if you shoot Canon, you could theoretically MOUNT the thing with an adapter. Heck, maybe someone comes up with an adapter that lets you control apertures like for the Nikkor 14-24. Though, again, I doubt it.

This lens makes me smile. Even if I can't afford it for quite some time.

And if I could afford this lens, I'd get it in an instant, even if it meant also shelling out the, oh, tens of dollars for a used ist*D body.


You wrote: "f4? That seems a little high when many other very small primes have a 1.4 or less"

Those lenses aren't 15mm lenses, however. Other than rangefinder lenses, I think you will be hard put to find a 15mm lens this small, and even among rangefinder lenses I doubt you will find any that are smaller AND faster. Even if you consider the 35mm equivalent of the Pentax 15mm (i.e., something around 24mm), the f/1.4 lenses are huge. Take a look at Canon's 24mm f/1.4 or Nikon's 28mm f/1.4 (now discontinued). The Canon lens weighs more than three times as much (650g), is more than twice as long (87mm), uses 77mm filters (as compared to 49mm filters on the Pentax) and costs $1,700!!! As for lenses that are "less" than f/1.4, they simply don't exists at these focal lengths, regardless of whether we are talking about 15mm or 24mm. There are some 50mm rangefinder lenses that are f/1.0 (I believe), Canon has a 50mm f/1.2 and an 85mm f/1.2, but that is about it. And for the record, all of those lenses are huge, heavy and expensive. The Pentax is a marvel and needs to be appreciated.

"...if you're that into really lightweight wouldn't you want to be carrying as few lenses as possible, and thus a lens with a better aperture would let you do more with depth of field and low-light?"

As I mentioned above, this IS a lightweight lens. And it isn't just a question of how many lenses you have with you, it is a question of having the right lens. For many photographers, this could be the right lens. Finally, I imagine this lens is targeted toward landscape photographers and possibly street photographers. Landscape photographers will probably want to maximize their depth of field, and will probably be using the lens on a tripod-mounted camera, so I don't see the f/4 maximum aperture being an issue. Besides, it will be difficult to get shallow depth of field with a 15mm lens anyway. Street photographers might appreciate a faster aperture, but I suspect that they will also appreciate the fact that this is a small, discrete lens. On balance, I would expect most of them to welcome the tradeoff.

Best regards,

Canon 5D, 35/1.4, 85/1.8, 135/2.0, - all fits into a Billingham L2 bag - pretty small.

Any gear I buy has to fit the bag.

I would be first in line if they updated the 35/2.0 with modern focussing.

Don't get me wrong because I have been looking forward to this lens since I first heard of it perhaps a year ago...but I don't think this lens has an IF (internal focus) design.

For those who question the f/4 max aperture, compare and contrast to the Pentax DA14/2.8, also designed-for-APS-C; takes 77mm filters, weighs twice as much, and especially after you mount the hood, is much larger in terms of aesthetic and storage footprint. And this DA14 isn't a particularly large example of the breed, as most primes at this length were designed for 24x36 coverage! Anyway, for those who want more speed or greater zoom range there are other choices.

If you shoot 24x36 on other systems there are reasonably-sized 24/2.8 available, though most autofocus releases don't offer the superb build of these Pentax Limited primes because they were spec'ed as the 'budget' wide angles in their respective product lineups.

For people who wish they could use Pentax primes on system X or Y: you can get a K-m / K2000 kit for about 400$ these days.

That's about 2/3 of the price of this lens alone, and makes a pretty compact package!

Excellent- except I'm still conflicted as to whether to buy this or the old 16-45 f/4 zoom. That's much less expensive, and more versatile. I have the DA 40mm f/2.8 pancake, so I was looking forward to adding this one, but it's at least twice the price of the 16-45, so I'm not so sure now...

I think what endears me most to this lens is that Pentax put a proper distance and DoF scale on it. The size is also a nice feature, of course, but today we see Nikon release a DX prime without even a distance scale. Admittedly this Pentax is a very different, and a lot more expensive, beast but I still appreciate what Pentax is doing.

Can one mount modern Pentax lenses on Canon APS-C with an adaptor? I'd love to be able to mount my Pentax 21mm pancake on the Canon body. Anyone know?

Ben Rosengart: Looking for "PK EOS adaptor" on ebay a minute ago returned 27 items from 10 to 70$. I'm sure you can also get one from the B&H / Adorama / Amazon links on this page...

I suspect you would lose AF though.


Cameraquest lists an adapter from Pentax K to EF-S, so yes. The catch is you need an aperture ring to be present on the lens, which means your sore-out-of-luck with the DA Limiteds.

Two comments, overall:

This is NOT a pancake lens. Pancake lenses are Tessar type lenses [unless I´m wrong], and have very few elements; and as for Olympus Pancake, it does have a meniscus type element on it [don´t remember if the Pentax one has it].

About the speed:
I do agree that f/2.8 will render a huge lens [as it happens with 14 DA, which works quite all right, actually, and it is a little lens]. But I´m wondering, when compared to what happened with the FA/DA limiteds, if there couldn't be a happier medium.

Let me elaborate:
If you compare the FA 77 and the DA 70, you will notice that the latter is only half a stop slower, and about half the size [and the front element is noticeably smaller]. I know one is a 35mm element and the other is SUPPOSED to be an APS-C lens [though it does cover surprisingly well the FF area, proven in a film body--my old Pentax Z1p]. And the price is quite right for the 70--though I don´t own it--.

I guess that this lens could have been a little faster without compromising too much its length or price --which is quite steep.

Nevertheless, what I´m starting to love is that, compared to a zoom [and answering to the poster asking if a 16-45 will be more convenient--though the 17-70 looks more compelling] the advantage of carrying 6 primes over a zoom is that each lens HAS ITS OWN CHARACTER, and I am starting to understand that each focal length NEEDS to have its character.

After all, you do not buy Pentax lenses for their technical abilities, but for the very individual character they give to each photo, when compared to the rest of bunch.

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