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Pentax 05 Toy Lens Telephoto 18mm f/8 Lens Review

John Riley reviews the Pentax 05 Toy Lens Telephoto 18mm f/8 lens for Pentax Q cameras. A budget toy lens for a compact mirrorless camera system, is it worth a second look?

Posted: 04/06/2020 - 10:19

Pentax Q 05 Vertical ViewMany Pentax users had for a long time been asking for a digital equivalent to the miniature SLR film system camera, the Pentax Auto 110. Eventually it arrived, in the guise of the expensive but beautifully made Pentax Q, complete with a range of high-quality lenses. The sensor was small, but the quality of results belied its size and it became a highly desirable camera. The less costly Q7 and Q-S1 arrived, using slightly larger but still compact camera sized sensors and the lens range was expanded to eight in total.

Three of the lenses are from the Toy Lens range, these being the 03 Fisheye, the 04 Toy Lens Wide and the 05 Toy Lens Telephoto. Particularly popular in Japan, these toy lenses seek something other than sharpness. Both lenses and cameras are generally highly sought after and prices may be high, but every now and again offers emerge. We are now going to look at the 05 Toy Lens Telephoto, coupled with the Pentax Q-S1 12MP camera body.

Pentax 05 Toy Lens Telephoto 18mm f/8 Handling and Features

Pentax Q 05 On QS1 CroppedThe cameras are very small and the lens is positively tiny. It weighs in at a minuscule 18g and the only adornment is the manual focusing ring. Even this is simplistic, being merely marked “near” and “far”. Manual focus is our only option.

There is no diaphragm as the lens is f/8 only. The focal length is 18mm, which gives us a “35mm equivalent” field of view of 100mm on the original Pentax Q and 90mm on the Q7 or Q-S1, both of which have slightly larger sensors. Closest focus is 0.27m, 0.89 feet, for a maximum magnification of 0.08x.

Optical construction is 3 elements in 3 groups, in other words, a simple triplet. With so few elements, contrast should be high and flare resistance should be very good.

There is no provision for filters or a lens hood and none is needed. The tiny, tiny front element is recessed far into the lens barrel and flare through lack of a lens hood should not be a concern. Cleaning that front element might be a bit of a challenge actually getting in to reach the glass, so maybe a Q-Tip needs to be kept in mind.

Focusing is more critical than we might expect, after all this is a telephoto lens, and despite its raison d'etre being a softer focus, there is still a point of focus and it is obvious if we don't hit the spot. The MF Autozoom option is brilliant and is engaged by just hitting the enter button. It can be set in the menus at 2x, 4x and 6x and makes MF a breeze. Unfortunately, this makes accurate MF much easier with the camera firmly planted on a solid tripod. The alternative option is to rely upon depth of field and as the point of focus can be a bit fuzzy this can easily just look wrong.

One small operational note is that Bulb setting is not available with this lens. Shutter speeds up to 2 seconds can be used.

Pentax 05 Toy Lens Telephoto 18mm f/8 Performance

The usual resolution test reveals that central sharpness is good. The edges are just fair. This is not spectacular in terms of sharpness, so the aesthetic properties need to be something special.

CA (Chromatic aberration) is creditably low: 0.12 pixels at the centre and 0.76 pixels at the edge. Colour fringing should be hardly visible and in any event could be reduced further in software if required.

Distortion is also quite impressive, being just +0.62% pincushion. Vignetting is also low, measuring just -0.6 stops.

Flare resistance is good. Even with the sun right at the corner of the frame there are few artefacts created and no overall loss of contrast.

Bokeh, the quality of the out of focus areas, is perhaps not a strong point. Highlights show a typical doughnut effect and there is none of the smoothness of gradation that certainly this writer seeks.

It's expected that technical testing of this type of lens will not yield fantastic results, and that is definitely the case here.

Pentax Q 05 On Q S1 Vs Pentax K1 With 43mm

Pentax 05 Toy Lens Telephoto 18mm f/8 Value and Verdict

Value for money is a tough one, as it so often is. The lens is no longer made, so residual stocks could be anything from a few pounds upwards. This sample was found on offer at SRS Microsystems for a very modest £15, and at that price it is well worth having a play with. The buyer will determine at what price point they will actually give it a miss, but at £15 we're definitely in.

So now I've had a play it can be established that focus needs to be precise. The image is still fairly soft even though at the centre and with the right subject it can show good sharpness that is alongside quite low contrast. The image quality has doughnut shaped bokeh highlights, which is not the smooth effect I seek. However, more experimentation is in order and in the end results not dissimilar to a cheap 1950s or 1960s mass-market Kodak film camera could be emulated. This is, I think, where its use could be and add the possibilities of the Q bodies being set to Antique Colour and the other options then for the right photographer the lens could be very useful.

In summary, if retro looks are where you want to be, then at the right price this lens is worth looking at, but perhaps move quickly while they are still around because soon they may become cult items and then the price will only travel upwards.

Pentax 05 Toy Lens Telephoto 18mm f/8 Pros

  • Retro image effect
  • Excellent flare control
  • Low distortion
  • Low CA
  • Low price can be found

Pentax 05 Toy Lens Telephoto 18mm f/8 Cons

  • Manual focusing can be tricky
  • Lacks any biting sharpness
  • Low contrast
  • Limited general usefulness

Features: 2/5
Handling: 4/5
Performance: 2/5
Value: 4/5
Overall Verdict: 3/5

Pentax 05 Toy Lens Telephoto 18mm f/8 Specifications

Manufacturer Pentax
Lens Mounts Pentax Q
Focal Length 18mm
Angle of View 24.5 - 26
Max Aperture f/8
Min Aperture f/8
Filter Size No Data
Stabilised No
35mm equivalent 90mm - 100mm
Internal focusing No
Maximum magnification 0.08x
Min Focus 27cm
Blades No Data
Elements 3
Groups 3
Box Contents
Box Contents No Data
Weight 18g
Height 19.5mm

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