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Saturday, 27 January 2018


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I would probably replace the FA 43 (which I love) with the FA 77 (which I love more), but yeah, that looks good.

On a side note: the geometric mean (the square root of the product) of 30.5 and 61.5 is 43.3... Just sayin'.

Actually, having being very rude about the K-1, I had a serious think about buying one, and as far as I can see it is missing (as are all digital Pentaxes) one feature that's critical to me: it won't meaningfully work with pre-KA lenses (in particular has to be used with the lens stopped down all the time I think. And I have a copy of the 50/1.4 lens which I will not be without.

So, not quite everything, sadly, slthough I would be delighted to be wrong about this.

I need to give the 28-105 another try. I rented one for a week and didn’t like the results with my K1, but it might have been a bad copy or bad usage. Everyone appears to love it.

The 43 is one of my favorites, colorful and deadly sharp. It gives a George Castanza look on the camera (shrinkage!) but it does help make up for the weight of it all.

The camera itself is a pleasure and I will likely use it for years, unless they release a small version that has trimmed a pound or so.

Hey, Mike -

I'm not sure how its possible to evaluate the sharpness of a lens from the appearance of an online JPG that has been sharpened and had its contrast and structure adjusted with digital tools. On the other hand looking at these photos, it seems likely that many of them benefited from a real sharpness-producing piece of kit: a study tripod that allowed the photographer to shoot at optimum aperture and base ISO. Our three-legged friends do not get the credit they deserve.

One very nice thing about the 43mm/f1.9 Limited is that it has an aperture ring, which makes life much, much easier for those of us who choose to use it on cameras made by companies that are not Pentax. 8^)

Alas, it also projects a very small image circle, so provides for only a very small range of rise/fall/shift movements when it's used on a camera with this capability. 8^(

In my opinion, the K-1 has one fatal flaw: it’s too thick. I’m a Pentax fan, but I hated using the rental K-1 I tried. Good remedy for GAS though.

> "with pre-KA lenses (in particular has to be used with the lens stopped down all the time"

That's not true Time. It will be wide open when you look through the viewfinder. You can shoot in manual mode, or use the Green Button to put the camera in Program mode (actually Hyper-Program mode).


(Not sure it is appropriate to use this site for response to comments from another "patron"--if not please consider forwarding it.)

RE: "it is missing (as are all digital Pentaxes) one feature that's critical to me: it won't meaningfully work with pre-KA lenses (in particular has to be used with the lens stopped down all the time I think."

No, that is incorrect. All Pentax APSC (and now FF) work w/ all older K mount (post screw mount) lenses with aperture full open and then close on shutter release--if in M mode. And the green button sets aperture in M mode--effectively almost like auto exposure. Only adapted screw mount lenses don't stop down.

Tim - I'm happy to tell you that you are wrong about how Pentax bodies work with pre-A lenses.

With pre-A K-mount lenses (I have a couple, they're incredible bargains), the camera actually holds the lens wide open all the time, no matter what the aperture ring says, until you take the shot, at which point the body stops it down.

In manual mode, you press the green button on the rear of the camera to do a stop-down meter read with exposure compensation and automatically set your shutter speed. In practice, it's a nice way to work.

With even older adapted m42 glass (I have a lot of that, too), it's a little more complicated. No body control of the aperture at all, so you have to do the focus-then-stop-down dance. Some of the old glass is worth it, though. And you can use aperture priority metering.

From an interface perspective, Pentax DSLRs are probably the best-thought-out mirrorful cameras around for use with old-school manual lenses.

In reply to Tim Bradshaw's comment about pre-KA lenses "in particular has to be used with the lens stopped down all the time", this is not so.

You can use pre-KA lenses (basically the original K series lenses, the smaller M series lenses and a few odd-ball lenses (28mm shift, mirror lenses, soft lenses)) on Pentax digital SLRs.

Pre-KA lenses need to be used in Aperture priority mode or Manual mode.

In Aperture priority mode the lens is used wide open. In Manual mode you select the aperture you wish to use on the lens and then press the Green Button. This stops down the lens to take a meter reading for correct exposure. This meter reading is used when the shutter is fired.

The same Aperture priority and Manual mode behaviour detailed above also works with any KA or later lens when the lens aperture is moved off the "A" position.

Hi Tim Bradshaw - Happy to say that Super Takumars, M-Series Pentax Lenses and all old legacy Pentax/Spotmatic lenses meter just fine on a Pentax DSLR body and do not shoot wide open all the time. Some of this glass is of great quality and they offer some rendering that is really unique and compelling. Plus it's a lot of fun and often relatively inexpensive.
Oh, and try and find some info on a feature of Pentax DSLRs called "Catch In Focus" or what is otherwise known as "Focus Trap" - works great with MF lenses and gives a pseudo AF type experience.

I prefer the 24-70 F2.8, despite of being heavier. The 31 limited, a very nice lens, is a great companion

On the K-3 I usually just put on the 16-50 and call it a day. However having used the 43 lmt on crop it works really quite well here too. So if I were starting from scratch I might swap for the da 16-85 which seems to be very highly regarded and the FA 43 1.9 which is very nice and fits in your pocket no problem. But if I ever get the K-1 then I like your suggestion.

I will not consider Pentax, until a K1 is left in a snowbank until spring and it still works.

My 43 doesn't get the use it deserves, but the 31 takes some beating. I've been considering the 28-105 for some time, probably more lately, as my FA*28-70 finds itself on the K-1 quite a lot of the time, and it's no lightweight.

In response to Tim's comment, above, all Pentax DSLRs since (I think) the K20D (maybe earlier, and certainly the K-1) momentarily stop down a pre-A lens when using the Green Button to take an exposure reading, so you don't have to suffer peering into a dark viewfinder to compose your shot.

The Green Button has more uses than this, though. You might care to read this article https://www.pentaxforums.com/articles/photo-articles/pentax-green-button-guide.html

I've been reading this series of articles and I do like the thought of this nested kit but I have a slightly different version.

Mine is a 24-120mm (equiv) zoom and a three lens prime a 24mm, 34mm and a 120mm (equiv). I find the prime lens kit (m4/3rds) is so small that there is no weight penalty for three lenses.

I use the zoom for professional use and the three primes for personal use. I agree with the premise that you are often at the ends of the zoom.

Here's a thought, perhaps people should buy a zoom based on their most commonly used wide and tele focal lengths.


For Tim, the K-1 will meter with anything you put on it. But you only get full aperture readings with “A” or later lenses. With older K-mount lenses, you set it in M, and use the green button to do stop-down metering, and it will pick a shutter speed.

The more important challenge with old lenses is focusing them. Eyepiece magnifier helps, but best is getting a Canon S type screen from focusingsvreen.com. This is nothing unique to Pentax, all the autofocus cameras default to screens that are too bright to focus accurately with fast lenses.

As for the zoom, some of the film ones are decent and very light. I’ve used the FA 28-70/4 zoom on my K-1 and been happy with it.

The K-1 is a great camera as are the lenses you mentioned. It's surprising how seldom I see folks using Pentax gear.

Tim, I feel for ya! I think reading Tim's comment compassionately, he did focus on "meaningful" use. I take this to mean that he doesn't like manually stopping down thread-mounted lenses to meter. That's fine, it doesn't work well for everyone.

I will say that the thread-mount lenses are an incredible bargain, given their build quality. I have a screw-mount 50/1.4 on my K1 right now that is just solid, solid, solid in construction. Reminds me of a Leica brass 50 from the 50's, if you know what I mean. Those lenses feel to me like the results of a "no compromise" design process. Image quality is great...

I really, really like Pentax's commitment to the investments their user-base has made in lenses.

To bring the post back to Mike's topic, I chose a Pentax D FA 24-70mm F2.8ED SDM WR and a 35/2 as a K1 carry kit. I have been on a bit of a used-lens run for Pentax pre-A lenses. They are available for cheap at KEH with a warranty, or ebay without. Primes include 28/2.8,35/2,50's (1.4, 1.7, 2.0), 100/2.8, 120/2.8, 135/2.5, 200/4.

There are also oddball Sears brand (Chinon?) lenses that can be great, and which are even less expensive that the Pentax versions. I bought an insanely good 80-200 f:4 Sears zoom for $12.00. Not everyone's cup of tea, of couse. But boy am I having fun.

Hi Tim, Joh, Rob, et all.
All the K mount [no matter the iteration] work on their full capacity on ANY K mount electronic camera, be that film, be that digital.

The lenses will work to their full posibilities. What that means is that if the lens allows the body to have aperture control, it will control it.

On my body, you can use Av, Tv, whatever you want IF the lens allows the body to control the aperture, and they work just fine, and again, to the lenses capabilities. If the lens can not autofocus, the body will not allow it to autofocus [duh!].

In fact, even in programme mode, the body will constantly meter regarding the aperture that is set [you have to allow that on the menu of the camera].

There is a specific menu item that allows you to "open the tap" for the non A K mount lenses.

I only had an issue with a screwmount m42 very weird lens [an auto takumar, if I´m not wrong].

"This is the compatibility of the Pentax bodies with m42 mount:
All DSLRs allow aperture-priority with focus confirmation and infinity focus. Image stabilisation works. With grounding one contact on the camera with foil, focus-trap is also available (on Models which have it)."

As you can see, the Pentax family seem to be designed by photographers that admire their back legacy [perhaps a very Asahi way to go around].

If I were you, contrary to my experience with other brands, the easiest thing to do with a Pentax body is assuming it will do everything the lens is capable of doing and the body usually does.

The rest are oddities, so to speak.

Sorry, MIke, I'm not with you on having a prime at the middle focal length of a "standard zoom" as part of a two-lens kit. In my view, it's completely redundant and a waste of weight and a space in a camera bag. While most zooms may be most often used at the ends of their focal length range (and I'm not sure I subscribe to that hypothesis, anyway), they generally perform the best optically in the midde of their zoom range. In my view, it's better to have a prime for a focal length outside of the focal length range of a zoom and is thus optimized optically for it's specific focal length; thereby giving better performance than a zoom would at either end. The Fujifilm XF14mm f/2.8 is an excellent example; this lens has essentially no distortion, is sharp corner-to-corner and plenty fast for this old-school photographer. There's no way a zoom could match it's performance at it's wide end, so why would I use a zoom in this use-scenario?

I've been avoiding the K-1. I love the K-5 and K-3 that I have and I'm afraid taking the K-1 for a "test drive" would mean owning one, like I did with my latest Miata..

Generally, I use 3 primes. The 35mm limited macro (crazy sharp), the 50mm f1.4 and the 70mm limited. Once in awhile, for action shots I'll use the DA* 50-135.

Well, I have the K1 as a sidekick to my 645Z---and an excellent sidekick it is! But it does have flaws in the 2018 context, and that is video. Output is ok, usage is clunky. For purists who object (or cavil...), let me say that for pros increasingly having the video option alongside the stills is meaningful. Soon it will be imperative.

But here is a great set of lenses: Irix 15, the 28-105, the 50 macro, and the 100 macro. And 3 are weathersealed. Using them all now.

Does anyone use that clever moving rear screen on the K-1? It looks complicated and failure-prone to me, and I would prefer something simpler with a price cut.

As an Pentax camera owner (*ist Ds, K10D, K20D and K-3II) I can attest to the use of the green button to meter fully manual lenses. In my case the one full manual lens is a Vivitar 300mm f5.6 in a T-X mount originally bought to work on my Fujica 35mm thread mount lenses. I bought a K mount adapter and have been a happy user of the lens on all of my Pentax digital bodies.

This past year I spent my vacation with my K-3II in Europe with a Bower 8mm and my standard lens pair of the DA* 18-50mm f2.8 and DA* 50-135mm. Now if Pentax made a DA* lens around 18-85mm then I could keep the 8mm on the shelf and only carry two lenses around and have the millimeter range that I desire.

By the way DA* lens designation means that the lens is designed for digital (in this case APS-C) and they are Weather Resistant. I can attest to the rain beating qualities of these lenses as I soaked the 18-50mm in Prague and the 50-135mm in Scotland.

On the K-1, Pentax's inexpensive 50/2.8 macro lens is optically superb although the build quality is on the light side.

The 28-105 zoom is very sharp, seemingly as sharp or sharper than the Pentax 24-70/2.8, but much lighter and less expensive. It's weather-resistant as well. I found that I really needed to fine-adjust the K-1's autofocus with this lens, though, as there was a strong front-focus tendency. That may be the cause of other commenters's difficulties. I used a Lens-Align II and found that -8 focus adjustment worked well as a starting point.

I decided to go with two prime lenses within the zoom range as the Pentax primes are small and light, the 50/2.8 macro and something wide-angle.

When trying to decide between the 31mm/1.8 Limited and the Sigma 35mm/1.4 Art on a K-1, I asked several people to compare side by side images shot with both lenses. Although close, the general preference, and mine as well, was for the 31mm Limited. Never believed in pixies or "pixie dust", but there was a difficult to define extra quality that caused the images taken with the 31 Limited to glow.

For folks considering shooting with a prime in the middle of the focal length range rather than, for example, at the wide-angle field of view, here is some data from Imaging Resource comparing the Fuji 18-55 zoom with the Fuji 14mm prime. As you can see, there is considerably more geometric distortion and CA with the zoom used at it's wide end than using a prime for a wise-angle field of view.

Chromatic Aberration:
Fuji 18-55 at 18mm

Fuji 14mm:

Geometric distortion
Fuji 18-55

Fuji 14mm:

The blur tests from Imaging Resource (not shown for the sake of brevity) at mid-apertures (e.g. f/4-f/5.6, where these lenses typically perform optimally) show similar performance. The 14mm considerably outpeforms the 18-55 at 18mm.

I've found it best to make decisions of this type based on data rather than commonly held assumptions, and I know which approach I'd rather shoot with...just sayin'! ;-)

I've not used a K1 but are you sure it cannot be used with pre KA lenses? I've a K5 and using pre KA lenses couldn't be simpler, press the green reset button and the camera automatically stops down and gives a meter reading. I cannot believe the K1 has lost this facility?

I stretched my memories back in time and yes, the first time I read the word "bokeh" was in a Mike's article. I don't recall well, was it in Camera & Darkroom magazine" or in "Darkroom Techniques" ?

Personally if I was a Pentax K1 user, I would have three lens and that would be it. All limited lens but such interesting focal lengths that makes the Pentax system unique. The three would be the 31mm, 43mm and the 77mm perfect for just about everything most photographers would ever need.
I so nearly did this recently but instead opted for a D850 a voigtlander 40mm, a 105mm f1.8 Ai-s and the 24-70 f2.8 AF zoo. still to use the zoom lens though, as the other two just do what I need.

I want to thank Zakk above for using the term "mirrorful". Love it, never seen it before.

Mike, to me a "nested" lense is any lense which holds another lens.
On my Horseman view camera (sadly long gone) used a Wollensak lens on a board.

The normal lens was large however it held a secret; unscrewing the front element, allowed the former normal length (for 4x5 with swings and tilts ) to use the entire length of the bellows; became a very wide angle lens. To return to normal, screw the removed glass back into the "nest. " So to speak

I agree with Stephen. For my K-1, I'd use a tele or an ultrawide or a macro or a fast lens alongside that wonderful 28-105. Something that brought some additional capability like that.

The 28-105 delivers all the sharpness of a prime, so that wouldn't be the incentive to carry another lens. Certainly I appreciate smaller and lighter lenses, though. So I could do just as well with one of my Pentax-f zooms. The 24-50/4 is my ideal one-lens solution, because I do tend to see things wide. And my 35-70/3.5-4.5 is as small as a common 50mm and sharp at every aperture, so I can use either when I don't want the bulk of the 28-105.

Coincidentally, a K-1 with the 24-50/4 is almost the same weight as a K-3 with a 16-50/2.8. And they do the same fine job.

I have a nested kit that I rather like. Nikon D7200 + Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4 & Voigtlander 58mm f/ 1.4 These lenses complement each other nicely. The 16-80 is in general quite good, the wide end being my favorite. It's weaker (but not by much) in the long end, so 58mm doesn't really duplicate so much as it specializes.

For a lighter combination the D5500 should work quite well.

Come to think of it, Most commonly the egg in my K-is nest on walkabout is another camera, the Ricoh GRII. It's perfectly capable of most midrange perspectives. The full APS-C 28mm images compare very favorably with the K1's FF captures. It takes one of my best FF lenses to improve on the little Ricoh's edge sharpness. There's a handy crop to 35 and 47mm, and best of all, a 21mm converter lens that gives impeccable results.

It's a system in your pocket really. Carry the K-1 with a telephoto zoom, and you're set.

Just one more thing. Pentax offers Catch In Focus, where the camera trips the shutter once the camera achieves focus on a specified point. It's great for close-ups: Place the focus point, press the shutter and move or focusing in or out slowly until the photo is made. Does any other maker offer this feature?

I haven't used it much, though I have two of the choice old Takumars. The modern Pentax lenses are more flare-resistant and easier to use, plus they're weather-sealed. And the lovely Limiteds match the build quality and handling of the older Pentax lenses, so potential Pentax users ought not get lost in the weeds of manual lens adaptations.

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