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What are Pentax best lenses?

Discussion in 'Pentax Chat' started by Atavar, Mar 15, 2014.

  1. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    On my recent holiday I went on a wildlife photo session and was given the chance to play with the Canon 5d mkIII and a 500mm f4L.

    Having now used such a huge lens (£6k - I was hugging that thing to make sure I did not drop it) its given me a real appreciation of high quality primes and I was wondering what pentax had to offer for me?

    Of course money is an object, but I am as likely to get a £6k lens from Pentax as I am from Canon, so let's not let the price tag get in the way. What are the ​primes I should (in a perfect world) have?
  2. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    What an odd question. The lenses you should have are the ones you know you need; in an ideal world, perhaps you buy the best such lens there is, but in a less ideal one, you have to make do with the best you can afford. The key, though, is to identify what you need, not what somebody else thinks is the best. ;)
  3. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Righto, some history behind my question so you can better gauge a response :)

    I have not used Pentax for one and a half decades. I have returned. I would like to know what I am missing in just having the 18-55 wr kit lens, the 55-200 wr lens (which image wise I am not impressed with) a Tamron f2.8 17-50mm which I am impressed with, and an m42 50mm Zeiss Jena from the 50's which has some very good results especially with a stack of extension tubes I got for a quid.

    I take pictures of whatever takes my fancy.

    However in the time it has taken to write this another forum has bought my attention to the Pentax Lens Roadmap, which has answered my questions.

    Many thanks, no further comment required unless there are any comments of second hand goodies or impressive options from third parties :)
  4. Ffolrord

    Ffolrord Well-Known Member

    There is a world of lenses to explore. Pentax does not of course have the range of Canon or Nikon and some of the specialist pro lenses that they offer. However, there are some very capable lenses to consider. I certainly can't advise on a £6k lens. However I do think the following are stellar performers, once you get to know their strengths and weaknesses and how best to use them. For me Pentax is a great balance of quality and compactness.

    The FA Ltds, 31m, 43 and 77mm. I think these are something special. They have their weaknesses but they have magic too. The focal lengths make more sense on full frame, which many of us are hoping for.

    Cheap K series lenses. The K55mm f1.8, very cheap but wonderful. Everyone should try that lens. The K28mm f3.5, K35mm f3.5. These lenses are unbeatable value for money. The secret is out but you can find them for very little money if you look hard enough.

    I am particularly fond of the DA*300mm. I also like the diminuitive DA15, used to its strengths it is wonderful.

    There are more expensive lenses I would like but will probably never own, the A*200 macro for instance.

    The question is broad, difficult to answer.

    Pentax is quirky, but rewarding. I am still learning the lenses and always will be learning. There are many other great lenses out there, but many of them are just so big and heavy. I like being able to pop 5 or 6 primes in a small bag. I hink the biggest rival to this kind of approach will be/is Fuji. I am not so interested in Canon/Nikon but I think Fuji are going places.
  5. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Indeed, apologies for that, however i appreciate your wonderful answer :) lots of wonderful alternatives to look into.

    Thinking about it I think what I should have asked is: "Which Pentax fit lenses have most impressed you?" Apologies for the long winded nature of the thread :eek:
  6. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    A macro lens :)

    Pentax do a peach of a 100mm macro BTW. ;)
  7. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    I'm very impressed by the DA 40/2.8 Ltd pancake - a tiny cute little thing, but nice and sharp. I wasn't quite so impressed by the DA 21/3.2 Ltd, though I've seen that some people are very happy with it. I've also heard good things about the DA 70/2.4 Ltd, but it's not a focal length I use much myself, so I I haven't tried it personally.

    The DA* 16*50/2.8 is fairly good, now that the issues with the AF motor appear to have been sorted. It is something of a big heavy lump, though.
  8. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Many thanks, the limiteds are very attractive. Regards the 16-50mm f2.8, I'd checked out reviews of it verses its competitors and went for the Tamron based on image quality... one always wonders though ;)

    I have definitely had my eye on this one, and the 35mm Limited Macro :)
  9. JerryNash

    JerryNash Well-Known Member

    If you're looking for Pentax made lenses, then as others have said the limited primes are truly exceptional. Pentax have finally started producing cheap primes as well, with the DA 35 2.4 and 50 1.8 being optically very good - but the build quality is the trade off. Arguably they should be a little cheaper. I too would love to get the Pentax 100mm macro, but the Tamron 90mm is a very good alternative.

    3rd party lens support is there for people wanting a bit more freedom. There are many cheap and cheerful 70-300 lenses (although Pentax's 55-300mm is better but pricer). I myself have the Tamron 18-250mm, which is an ideal Travel lens if you accept that it won't produce anything exceptional.

    Obviously if you had an unlimited pot of money, the DA* range of lenses would be your target, but as Benchista said you really need to think about what you need and what you can afford.
  10. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    I second the recommendation of the Tamron 90/2.8 macro - comparable to the DA40 Ltd in sharpness. Of course, only the Pentax 100 macro gives you weatherproofing (when used on an appropriate body).
  11. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    I would ask, Avatar, what you shoot mostly which, IMO, should indicate the "needs" aspect :) and, secondly, what you would like to shoot which, again IMO, should indicate the "wants" aspect ;)

    In my years of, both shooting and retailing, "needs" are generally easier on the pocketbook while "wants" generally cause the tightening of ones cheeks ;)


  12. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Re: What Pentax lenses most impress you?

    The DA* 300mm f4 looks exceptional, and the 35mm Limited Macro really has my attention but I'm not sure how I'd get on with the distance to subject at 1:1...

    I had this lens with my former setup and agree the 90 is an excellent bit of kit. It can only have improved in its new version too :)

    Mmmm, I must eat humble pie here and agree, Benchista (whom I owe and direct apologies to for my initial response) covered my question in the first reply - I didn't think it through very well did I? :)

    Requirements wise all I really want from lenses is exceptional image quality and a nice wide aperture. Otherwise I shoot everything from macro to portrait to sports to nature to landscapes to night to reportage to abstracts to experimental. Pretty much everything, even did a little street once or twice. Just whatever takes my fancy.

    Really my question would have been far better put as "What Pentax mount lenses have most impressed you?" :)
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014
  13. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Re: What Pentax lenses most impress you?

    I would have to go back to first trio of lenses, back in Winnipeg and manual focus/film days, my SMC-M 24/2.8, SMC-M 85/1.8 and SMC-M 200/2.5 which
    were a trio of consistent revenue from News, Entertainment and, on the rare occasion, Sports. They moved with me to Vancouver and endowed me with some decent revenue covering, almost, entirely "spot news". When I ventured into Digital, initially it was a Canon G2 (sorry for the sideline :eek:) and, eventually, into DSLR shooting the market was really shrinking but my DA 50-135 was great for me, albeit for doing some documentary stills. Since then, it's always be great for me and never let me down -- even when the SDM motor conked and had to sent for repair :) -- and for the few years with my Q and, now Q7, the 06 Telephoto Zoom lens has been nothing short of amazing :)


  14. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Re: What Pentax lenses most impress you?

    No worries. Thing is that Pentax have always made some glorious lenses, but there are a few dogs in there (as with any range); it's almost better to ask which lenses to avoid, in general terms. If you've a specific requirement, though, the fine people here will steer you in the right direction.

    I might not be a Pentax DSLR user, and I've been highly critical of the company at times, but it's because I'm very fond of the company and they've made some very poor decisions - and cameras - at times. The lenses have always been overwhelmingly good - except, as with some of the Q toy lenses, when they're not supposed to be!
  15. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    I'm not really au fait with current Pentax offerings, but some years ago I owned a 300f4 A*, that was tremendous, the best lens of that focal length area I have used. Another I rated was one of their semi-oddities the 120mm f2.8M, a cracker of a lens. One surprise was the low price 28-40 f4 AL, rather good, and cheap with a constant aperture.
  16. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you have some wonderfully dependable choices there :) Stupidly for a while I wondered why Pentax had no 70-200mm, but I was not taking into account the DA* 50-135mm is that lens for aps-c. :eek:

    I may just have to do that :D

    I love Pentax for not compromising on their design intentions. 'If it won't work, we won't offer you it until it does' is a wonderfully refreshing attitude - not that other manufacturers do not do this too but it has always seemed Pentax took particular care with what they put together for us... :)

    Thanks for these mentions, had a wonderful few hours this morning looking into them. The 300 F4 A* looks like an almost ideal stop-gap for me, many thanks for the pointer :)
  17. Ffolrord

    Ffolrord Well-Known Member

    There is a 70-200 recently added to the lens roadmap. That of course lends a nod to a full frame model.

    This is a useful resource:


    I would go for the DA*300 over the A version. The DA*300 is full frame compatible too.
  18. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Bear in mind, that, whilst I love my DA50-135/2.8, as a sports lens, I think, personally, it is limited to usage and a longer lens -- DA 60-250/4 or, as Ffolrod mention, the DA 300/4 -- would be more useful. Also, the addition of the new 1.4X converter definitely can't hurt :) ………… pocketbook pain notwithstanding ;)


    Last edited: Mar 22, 2014
  19. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Many thanks for the advice, both of you :)

    It definitely feels like I am edging towards the DA*300mm long prime, and the 100mm macro is definitely on the list... Oh, and those limiteds... Must start saving! :eek:
  20. Monobod

    Monobod Phantom of the forum


    I seldom venture into stating what kit I own, but this time I will say something about it. I have not purchased a new lens for quite some time, almost five years in fact. Most of my lenses are full frame from the film era. I have tried to find some of these on the second hand market, but it looks like no one is parting with them. I will not be either.

    My last film camera was (is) the Z1-p, which came with the 28-105 f/4-5.6 power zoom. This lens was my everyday lens as the focal length was perfect for a host of different images. I love it to bits, but on the K-5 it is just a bit (1.5x) too long. :)

    Another favourite, which is as sharp as a pin is the 70-210 f/4 one touch zoom. Slide to zoom and twist to focus (manual of course). Again a very capable sharp lens with excellent bouquet.

    I am lucky enough to have bought the 100mm f/2.8 macro (non water resistant version). Again a superb lens.

    The autofocus SMC FA 50mm f/1.7 prime, which was bought s/h from Ffordes for a song has proved to be a real winner. at 75mm equivalent on the K-5 it is an excellent portrait lens.

    The longest lens I have is the Sigma EX 100-300 f/4. No longer made, but very good. Used with the 1.4tc it is just a wee bit soft, but NIK deals with that OK. A great way to get a 630mm equivalent lens of course, but you need a good tripod.

    My everyday lens is now the Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-5.6, but it is not a Pentax. I had considered the Pentax 17-70 f/4, optically better, but the focus motor has reliability issues. Has that been corrected in later versions do you know?

    Sadly, I sold a Pentax SMC 28mm f/2.8 autofocus many years ago as a trade for the Z1-p. Bad move as I cannot find another anywhere. Used with my triple semi auto extension tubes it was a great macro lens and on the K-5 it would be as near as dammit to a 50mm prime on a film body. :(
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2014

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