New zoom or several elderly primes?


robertw

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 08:03
Hi all,

Over the couple of years of owning a camera I've been using the kit 18-55 plus a number of older primes such as Pentax 28 and 50mm or M42 lenses, namely, Helios 44-2, Mir1 and Industar 61 which I bought as they seemed interesting (which they are) and cheap.

However I do find that sometimes it throws me into indecision about which to use and having to frequently change lenses and, with the M42's, adaptors. All that can get in the way of taking a photo or is just a hassle.

So, the question is, would I actually be better off getting a decent zoom lens? The 16-50 DA* should be good apart from some seemingly bad reviews and a high price, the DA 17-70 with a bit more range, lower price and I don't really go out too much in bad weather. Or a standard zoom from another manufacturer?

What differences should I see between what I use and the modern lenses? Any advise would be very welcome.

Regards
Robert

Mike-P

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 08:26
I started out using all manual lenses but it became such a pain in the end that I gradually sold them all to go fully AF (the only one I kept is the Vivitar S1 105mm macro). At the moment I have the 16-50mm, 17-70mm and the 18-135mm and have to say (despite the poor reviews it got at the beginning) that the 18-135mm has recently become my favourite lens in that focal range (and to think at one time I nearly sold it)

robertw wrote:

What differences should I see between what I use and the modern lenses? Any advise would be very welcome.

Apart from autofocus, focal range and hassle free operation nothing much. IQ wise I doubt any of them would be better than a prime (even the older ones) and with the 17-70mm/18-135mm you would also be sacrificing some speed. If you want fast aperture maybe look at the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 as well.
No equipment list here but thanks for taking an interest. My Flickr
Last Edited by Mike-P on 30/10/2013 - 08:27

ilovesaabs

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 09:27
Over time, like Mike, I have been building up and rationalising lenses, although nowhere near as much as Mike

At one time I had a collecion of mid-range zooms. Sigma 28-105, F35-70, FA24-90 and DA*16-50. I've since sold the three older lenses and not regretted keeping the DA*, even when SDM failed. I toyed with the idea of getting the DA17-70 but the one in the shop had non-functioning AF so that idea was abandoned. Once the DA* was returned I was graced by a fabulous lens....it really is stunning...

In terms of older lenses the only really old one I had was the Takumar Bayonet 135 2.5 which is not regarded as very good but I liked mine, but when the opportunity of buying an FA135 came up that went.

I would say that, in spite of how much you like using older lenses, you will probably find that over time, after using the newer ('better') zooms or primes you will be using them less and less. But if the lenses suit your style of photography then that is great, but there are a number of lenses (DA16-45, 17-70, Tamron or Sigma) that are cheaper which might also suit you...I think it will be a case of trying different ones out.
AKA Welshwizard/PWynneJ
Assorted Pentax/Nikon/Mamiya stuff

Mike-P

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 09:31
ilovesaabs wrote:
Over time, like Mike, I have been building up and rationalising lenses, although nowhere near as much as Mike

I'll have you know I haven't bought or sold a lens for months
No equipment list here but thanks for taking an interest. My Flickr

johnriley

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 09:33
My problem is that, photographically, I'm very busy and shoot a large number of images that have an immediate purpose. So modern zooms deliver the results, quickly and efficiently. There's no time for messing about.

When out and about for myself I'm happy to use my favourite lens, the 18-135mm WR. It gives me the balance of qualities I like, even though, as we know, and as I said when I reviewed it for EPZ, it has technical limitations.

I have lots of older manual lenses available to me from time to time. At the moment I have quite a few of them. Time precludes playing with them I'm afraid.
Best regards, John

ilovesaabs

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 10:00
Mike-P wrote:
ilovesaabs wrote:
Over time, like Mike, I have been building up and rationalising lenses, although nowhere near as much as Mike

I'll have you know I haven't bought or sold a lens for months



Quote:
When out and about for myself I'm happy to use my favourite lens, the 18-135mm WR. It gives me the balance of qualities I like, even though, as we know, and as I said when I reviewed it for EPZ, it has technical limitations.

You've summed this up quite well. We have our favourite lenses and cope with their limitations in different ways, hence why we favour different lenses. A zoom lens is not necessarily jack of all trades and master of none, many zoom lenses can actually perform as well as primes of a particular focal length..
AKA Welshwizard/PWynneJ
Assorted Pentax/Nikon/Mamiya stuff
Last Edited by ilovesaabs on 30/10/2013 - 10:07

DrOrloff

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 10:32
Back in the day, photographers owned a small handful of primes. Some of them only ever used one focal length. But of course they were hopeless. Imagine how good Henri Cartier-Bresson would have been if he'd have swapped his 50mm for a proper zoom lens.

You are clearly going to be more confortable with zooms. Generally I prefer primes for various reasons. I like the fact they are compact, they just feel better on the camera to me. I can use them with a small tripod when I wish to have that convenience, with a gorillapod (great around town). A large zoom requires a large tripod, especially in portrait format. I find them easier to get to know to utilise their strengths and understand their weaknesses. I often like to use shallow depth of field, shallower than is often available with a zoom. There are of course plenty of situations where a zoom might be preferable. I currently prefer a wide zoom for landscape.

However, your primes are cheap so you may as well hang on to them. I agree you don't want to be swapping lenses when M42 adaptors are involved. It would be better to go out with either Kmount primes or M42primes. And just for fun, once in a while just go out with one of them attached to the camera. Then that restricts your decision making to simply thinking about what to photograph it, not how to photograph it. And you might find that you become attuned to that focal length and that way of seeing. Or maybe not. Just go with your instinct.
You can see some of my photos here if you are so inclined

Pentaxophile

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 16:33
There's something lovely about using primes.

But there's also something damned convenient about a fast AF zoom like the Tamron 17-50/2.8. And you don't lose much (if any) image quality with it compared to most primes.
[link=https://500px.com/will_brealey/[/link]

McGregNi

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 20:39
We benefit from amazingly lengthy backwards compatability, thats true, but maybe the stage has been reached where it may not be worth the effort bothering with the very old (adaptor required) lenses, at least not at the cheap end.

I still think the quality 'A' style lenses are incredibly valuable, very robust and a pleasure to use. And for those focal lengths that we don't use so much, quality older items (such as the 'M' series type that need stop-down metering) can be very much worth the extra effort, if they provide better quality but great value access to those focal lenghts, or wider apertures than you'd get on your zooms.

I feel my own examples fall into this category for me - 'A' 28mm, 'M' 75-150, Tamron Adaptall 135mm (works like an 'M'). I wouldn't want to give any of these up for a modern zoom.
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver
Last Edited by McGregNi on 30/10/2013 - 20:40

davidstorm

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 20:57
I love using older lenses, a particular favourite is the Pentax-M 28mm F3.5 that accompanies me on all my landscape trips and gets used on most of them. It seems to particularly like the K-5iis, not sure why.

I also use the modern zooms too and these are more convenient and usually a bit more contrasty, but not necessarily sharper or better.

Regarding M42 lenses, I can't understand why more of us don't use an adaptor permanently attached, with the 'spring clip' removed. Using them this way makes them as convenient and quick to change as a true bayonet lens, with no downsides as far as I've experienced. Contrary to some advice I've seen, you absolutely do not need to buy a 'genuine' Pentax M42 adaptor. I have six or seven cheap copy ones (all from the same supplier) that cost around 7 each and they fit perfectly, no wobble, no play, no looseness and they do not 'stick' in the camera bayonet mount.

I would not sell any of my old manual lenses at present, M42 or bayonet mount.

Regards
David
My Website http://imagesbydavidstorm.foliopic.com

Flickr

Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs
Last Edited by davidstorm on 30/10/2013 - 20:58

DanielH

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 21:10
davidstorm wrote:
I love using older lenses, a particular favourite is the Pentax-M 28mm F3.5 that accompanies me on all my landscape trips and gets used on most of them. It seems to particularly like the K-5iis, not sure why.

I also use the modern zooms too and these are more convenient and usually a bit more contrasty, but not necessarily sharper or better.

Regarding M42 lenses, I can't understand why more of us don't use an adaptor permanently attached, with the 'spring clip' removed. Using them this way makes them as convenient and quick to change as a true bayonet lens, with no downsides as far as I've experienced. Contrary to some advice I've seen, you absolutely do not need to buy a 'genuine' Pentax M42 adaptor. I have six or seven cheap copy ones (all from the same supplier) that cost around 7 each and they fit perfectly, no wobble, no play, no looseness and they do not 'stick' in the camera bayonet mount.

I would not sell any of my old manual lenses at present, M42 or bayonet mount.

Regards
David

Ok David but unfortunately my cheap m42 adapter has ruined the mount on my Tak 55mm 1.8 and nearly knackered the K mount on my K30!
Last Edited by DanielH on 30/10/2013 - 21:11

G1DRP

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 21:12
I prefer primes. The only zooms I have are the cheap ones kitted with the K-x and I seldom use them. I have a growing collection of SMC-M and Super / SMC Takumar lenses and I enjoy swapping and changing them when I'm using my cameras.
I shoot in manual mode and meter with the green button, it's not a hassle for me to do this because I grew up using a Zenit EM.

Decent zoom lenses are expensive. I remember, during a lens training course at Nikon, putting a 24-70mm f2.8 on a back projector and viewing a resolution chart on a huge ground glass screen. It was a pro lens and the corners were sharp even at f2.8, so you certainly do get what you pay for.
Cheers,

Ian

davidstorm

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 21:24
[quote:3496ace15f="DanielH"]Ok David but unfortunately my cheap m42 adapter has ruined the mount on my Tak 55mm 1.8 and nearly knackered the K mount on my K30![/quote

I haven't experienced any problems at all, I can only speak from own experience. I suspect that a lot of adaptors get stuck because of the spring clip that 'locks' them into the bayonet; this is why I have removed these from mine and after doing this I've permanently attached them to my M42 lenses and they fit perfectly with no issues taking them on or off. How were you using this adaptor?

Also, I would guess that some adaptors are better made than others. For me, it would be a complete waste of money buying the genuine ones because they would give me nil benefit over the ones I already have.

Regards
David
My Website http://imagesbydavidstorm.foliopic.com

Flickr

Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs

johnha

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 21:33
I have a mix of older primes (M42, M & A) and a smattering of F/FA/DA autofocus lenses. I have also started to swap out some of the M lenses with AF equivalents (not easy to do on a budget).

Whilst I'm happy to use M42 mount lenses, changing lenses is unnecessarily fiddly and best reserved for screw mount film bodies which I still enjoy using (I have the same focal lengths in K mount). I'm happy to carry a few primes when I'm out on my own or with other enthusiasts, but with family/friends prefer to take my DA17-70 which is tolerated more easily.

The problem with old primes though is that very few are wide enough on APS-C (and those that are very rare/expensive). 28mm is my 'walkround' prime, I bought my DA17-70 to give me access to a proper wide angle (the other options DA15/4 & DA12-24/4 were out on cost grounds). The DA17-70 is a great 'all-in-one' lens (not cheap though). Primes though make me think about things more and I think I usually get better photos when using them.

The main difference for me isn't IQ, but the size and speed of the lenses. For a significant difference in IQ you'd need to be pushing your technique to the limit. Aberrations are more obvious, but can probably be corrected for fairly easily in software (corrections are available for modern lenses but not older ones).

John.
PPG Flickr

McGregNi

Link Posted 30/10/2013 - 21:33
Regarding the very old lenses, is there not an increasing concern and risk about various IQ issues such as chromatic abberations and bokeh quality, especially on our newer and incresingly high resolution sensors?
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver
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