'Digital only' lenses - are they a good investment


stevejcoe

Link Posted 24/08/2007 - 15:21
I am not for one minute advocating a range of mediocre primes. I just have trouble understanding why it is not possible to produce a range of quality prime lenses at a similar price to the FA50 1:1.4. Yes I know 50mm lenses are one of the more simple designs, but whichever way you look at it, single focal length lenses should be cheaper to design and produce than zooms. DA primes can be smaller and do not have the aperture ring of a FA lens, so again there should be cost savings.

Both the FA 50mm and 35mm are I believe still in production albeit in limited quantities, why not a DA based upon a FA version with the latest coatings?

Modern zooms are very good and fine for some people, I personally prefer a fast prime, not primarily for its speed, but for the bright viewfinder and handling

johnriley

Link Posted 24/08/2007 - 15:40
I think the reason will be low demand. Pentax have totally revamped their line-up of lenses and they have simply decided upon their priorities.

I can see a pattern to their DSLR and lens releases, and it's all been steadily building every since the release of the second wave of DSLRs.

It's my guess that they are generating business as fast as they can, and as that gathers pace they are expanding the range as fast as they can.

Esoteric fast primes at low prices don't really fit into the pattern at this stage. I think there is a viable range as it is. Yes, there could be more, and there may be yet, but are they a priority?
Best regards, John

niblue

Link Posted 24/08/2007 - 15:48
Daniel Bridge wrote:
I've seen the 50mm f/1.8 and it's horrible - plastic mount and (I was told by the shop assistant but can't imagine it to be true) all plastic elements. The Canon 50mm 1.4 is 50% more than the Pentax.

Yes the build quality of the 50mm F1.8 isn't great, but that's why it's only 69! I've had a play with it on a friends camera and I've seen some reviews and those all confirm that optically it's a very decent performer.

Quote:
I can't help but think that many Canon users would start off getting these cheaper primes, then regret it after a year or so, then nearly choke when they see the prices of the good stuff.

But that's just my opinion...

That's not my experience with friends who own Canon systems. Several of them asked me about buying a portrait lens to supplement zooms and all of them bought the 50mm F1.8 as I'd recommended - and all are very happy with it. Of course they've seen the results I can get with my FA* 85mm F1.4 and accept that it's considerably better than their lenses can produce, but then it was also 10x the price... If they'd have gone for Pentax systems (none of them did unfortunately because at the time they were few and far between in the shops) then I'm certain they'd have been happy with the FA 50mm F1.4 as well, however they'd also have been far less likely to purchase one given the difference in cost.

I'm not particularily promoting Canon, however the Pentax lens range isn't ideal (for me at least) in that while there are several primes available they're mostly either too expensive (the limiteds), too slow given the cost (most of the DA lenses) or at focal lengths I'm not that interested in (43mm, 49mm). There are exceptions in the FA 50mm F1.4 which is a great lens for the price (although there is no longer a slightly slower but cheaper option) and the macro lenses - but not many. Yes if you're looking for the ultimate in lens quality then the Pentax limiteds are probably the best available (now that the best lens ever produced, the FA* 85mm F1.4 is no longer in production) but if you're just looking for some decent quality, reasonable priced primes then other manufacturers do have more available.

Like Canon, the Nikon range also has a number of reasonably priced primes available (although still nothing wide because of the issues with APS-C) e.g.:

28mm F2.8 158
35mm F2 199
50mm F1.8 79
85mm F1.8 249

niblue

Link Posted 24/08/2007 - 15:51
johnriley wrote:
Esoteric fast primes at low prices don't really fit into the pattern at this stage.

From a Pentax perspective it would appear that while esoteric does (e.g. 43mm F1.9, 77mm F1.8, 21mm F3.2, 40mm F2.8, 77mm F1.8, 70mm F2.4 but ) neither fast or low prices do!

johnriley

Link Posted 24/08/2007 - 16:10
Fair comment.


Best regards, John

stevejcoe

Link Posted 24/08/2007 - 16:21
Primes as a priority, probably not, given that all manufacturers have been trying to wean customers off primes for years with bundled kit zooms.

If Pentax are going for the non photographer segment, as I advocated in another thread then their roadmap at this time given limited resources makes sense, but it is still none the less frustrating.

The FA35mm AL F2 is available in the US from B&H Photo for $299, the FA 50 F1.4 for $199, that proves to me that Pentax can make limited quantities of FA lens at a reasonable prices.

If nothing else I believe they should relaunch some of the FA lens and make them more available. From a marketing point of view there needs to be a stepped progression from supplied kit zoom to FA limited. The 'aspiration' element of being able to progress to 'pro' level equipment is in my mind an important part of buillding the brand.

Maybe this should be a new thread, but I would be interested in how others would define the Pentax brand. Is it the Camera, the Glass, a Combination?
If in the future Pentax cameras were made by Samsung and badged Samsung/Pentax, how would people feel?
If Pentax were to make 3rd party lens for all the other manufacturers, as Sigma do today, would that devalue the brand?

viewfinder

Link Posted 24/08/2007 - 16:48
The lack of moderate wide primes with good max apertures is a GLARING omission in the pentax range which is frankly inexcusable for any decent system.

The situation could be helped considerably if Pentax would just put back into production a few of the primes which it made until just a couple of years ago.

I don't believe that the lack of wide primes has anything to do with the APS-C sensor,...other than it's quite possible that Pentax has known all along that sensor sizes would eventually return to 'full frame' so expensive development of APS wides would be wasted.

Nikon and Pentax amongst others used to make 25mm/24mm f2 lenses which in 35mm equates to moderate wide 35mm. This was long considered a key focal length,...at one time Leica had a least 4 35mm lenses in it's catalogue and it's viewfinders featured the 35mm frame on most models other than the M3. This important visual tool is missing from most DSLR systems but Pentax is particularly lacking.

Also the idea of making very expensive 'limited' lenses, however good their optical quality is strange for a maker who offers such cost effective and practical bodies. Unless of course the bodies are just 'loss leaders' to give lens sales of over priced lenses.

Also,.....Three zooms covering roughly the same range; 18-55, 16-45 and 16-50 while glaring gaps in the rest of the range..??...seems a strange marketing technique...

niblue

Link Posted 24/08/2007 - 17:13
stevejcoe wrote:
From a marketing point of view there needs to be a stepped progression from supplied kit zoom to FA limited. The 'aspiration' element of being able to progress to 'pro' level equipment is in my mind an important part of buillding the brand.

With zooms Pentax have started to put in place a good foundation for that e.g. for standard zooms we have the 18-55 as a starting point, the 16-45 F4which is about twice the price but significantly better then the 16-50 F2.8 which is a full stop faster and, hopefully, also better optically. The pricing isn't bad either with the 16-50mm F2.8 looking pretty good value in comparison to other manufacturers offerings.

For longer zooms we've got the 50-200 as the entry point then the 50-135 f2.8 at the top end, although we're missing the constant F4 lens.

At the wide end we've got the middle lens (12-24mm F4) but not the top end F2.8 or an entry level version.

Quote:

Maybe this should be a new thread, but I would be interested in how others would define the Pentax brand. Is it the Camera, the Glass, a Combination?
If in the future Pentax cameras were made by Samsung and badged Samsung/Pentax, how would people feel?
If Pentax were to make 3rd party lens for all the other manufacturers, as Sigma do today, would that devalue the brand?

I bought into Pentax because I prefered the handling to the Nikon and Canon options at the time as it outweighed the lens availability issues (as did the option for using high-quality manual focus lenses cheap). That's still mostly the case today, although over the years I've found getting lenses (and even bodies given the search I had getting a DS) quite frustrating at times, although Tokina's support for Pentax with their F2.8 zooms helped.

Mannesty

Link Posted 24/08/2007 - 21:08
The current Pentax Lens Roadmap shows a DA 35mm SDM and a DA* 55mm 1:1.4 slated for manufacture sometime, they don't say when yet.

Personally, I'm still waiting for the DA* 50-135mm to land on the doorstep of a certain store in or near Watford High Street .
Peter E Smith

My flickr Photostream

niblue

Link Posted 24/08/2007 - 21:53
I see there is a 60-250 F4 on there as well - that could be useful. Nothing at the wide end though.

Daniel Bridge

Link Posted 25/08/2007 - 18:09
Mannesty wrote:
Personally, I'm still waiting for the DA* 50-135mm to land on the doorstep of a certain store in or near Watford High Street .

According to the website they're there already...

Dan
K-3, a macro lens and a DA*300mm...

Tyr

Link Posted 25/08/2007 - 18:15
I want a the DA* 200mm f2.8, would also like a 135mm, 80mm, 50mm and 20mm. You have the DA21, the FA50, the FA77 nothing at 135 (100 Macro, but not quite) and soon the DA*200.

The FA77 and DA21 are so expensive though
Regards,
Dan

https://www.flickr.com/photos/honourabletyr/

bretbysteve

Link Posted 25/08/2007 - 18:23
Hi,

"Obviously I must be missing something here....

If the pentax 'K' mount was large enough for the full 35mm frame, and it was, then why would it be too small for a digital sensor the same size....??"

The digital sensors give problems that film does not. Sensors have depth; the individual sensors are in little pits, whereas film effectively has no depth, so when light rays exiting the rear of the lens strike the edges of digital sensors at an oblique angle you get light fall-off (vignetting) or edge darkening. It does exist with film, but is far worse with digital sensors and most pronounced with wide angle lenses.

The smaller the lens mount of a camera system you have gives the camera maker more problems in getting around this problem. I think you will find, this is why it has taken Nikon so long to release their full frame camera.

cheers Steve.

Don

Link Posted 25/08/2007 - 18:29
to my knowledge canon was the only manufacturer of full frame sensors.
perhaps other camera makers did not want "Canon Inside" logos on thier SLR's.....

It may be that some sensors originally designed for medium format digitals are being repurposed and have price points suitable for dslrs.....
Fired many shots. Didn't kill anything.

Tyr

Link Posted 25/08/2007 - 18:36
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