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SMC Pentax Reflex Zoom 1:8~12 400~600mm - good bad or indifferent?

Posted 21/02/2022 - 19:10 Link
We were treated to a few images from this very unusual and rare lens recently when Kris Lockyer (I think) made the valid point that when it first appeared, people were trying to use it handheld and were unable to get decent results. The lens therefore found itself consigned to the 'lemon' category and was forgotten to all intents and purposes. I wasn't too pleased with it myself when I acquired a copy but it was clearly so very well made and so well equipped with high quality accessories that its apparently poor performance simply didn't add up - so I persevered.

The answer was so simple - and in keeping with all mirror lenses - you really have to NAIL the focus. The tiniest bit out will cost way more than it would with a conventional lens. So stick it on a tripod, use magnified live view (and be thankful for the K1's flippy screen!).

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It's a fairly large beast that comes with a robust metal hood (don't buy a mirror lens without its hood. You will regret it). The zoom ring is towards the rear and is exactly the right tightness to resist sliding by itself but retaining a nice smooth action. The focusing ring is huge and has next to no play in it at all. You move it a micrometer and it has an effect - hence the need for accuracy. At the camera end there is a screw-in filter that is an integral part of the design. The resident filter is marked "normal" but you can replace it with a skylight, red or yellow, or with one of the ND filters - 2x, 2.8x or 4x, all of which live in a special compartment inside the lid of the case. These are 40.5mm diameter, built like tanks and they also fit my Meyer 50mm Primotar perfectly !

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This catkin image is quite nice but it isn't quite right. It isn't camera shake (1/1000sec ISO 1600) and if you enlarge it it will be seen to be a tiny focus problem.
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Mrs. pigeon, on the other hand, was right at the top of an alder tree but properly focused she has produced a lovely image at 600mm.
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One from last summer, the tripod legs were splayed wide and the camera was almost on the ground. Again at 600mm it's hard to complain about this one!
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And from last spring, a breaking sycamore bud.
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But 'where is that doughnut bokeh', you might be asking? Oh, it can do that in spades, especially with holly and laurel in the background.
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Several of the above are fairly close to the camera. This one is a tiny target way up on the TV ariel.
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And finally, an even tinier target hovering over an echinops bloom, this one at 500mm.
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I'm pleased that I did persevere with this as it has turned out to be quite versatile performer.
Both the *istDS and the K5 are incurably addicted to old glass

My page on Photocrowd
Posted 21/02/2022 - 21:05 Link
I love the buttercup and the last image. It clearly can give good results in the right hands.

Kris Lockyear
It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head. Henri Cartier-Bresson
Lots of film bodies, a couple of digital ones, too many lenses (mainly older glass) and a Horseman LE 5x4.

My website
Posted 22/02/2022 - 14:06 Link
As you say, David, a quite versatile performer. Loved the image of the pigeon, very well caught.
Be well, stay safe, but most of all, invest in memories
Posted 22/02/2022 - 14:12 Link
The last one is superb

" A Hangover is something that occupies the Head you neglected to use the night before".

K1 - Sigma 85mm F1.4, Pentax DFA 150 -450 F4.5 / 5.6, Pentax DFA* 24 - 70 F2.8

Samyang 14mm F2.8, Pentax DFA* 70-200 F2.8

K3iii + K3ii + K5iis converted to IR, Sigma 17 - 70 F2.8, Pentax 55 - 300 F4.5 / F5.6 PLM
Posted 22/02/2022 - 19:13 Link
Masterful demonstration of skill and photographic ability.

Best regards
Inspiration is rarer than a plate glass camera.....
Posted 25/02/2022 - 01:32 Link
I think the last one was more luck than judgement, to be honest. Thank you all for your kind comments and encouragement.
Both the *istDS and the K5 are incurably addicted to old glass

My page on Photocrowd
Posted 25/02/2022 - 09:07 Link
davidwozhere wrote:
I think the last one was more luck than judgement, to be honest.

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity" - attributed to Seneca, the Roman stoic philosopher.


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