28 October 2016

fall classic comebacks

Yes it's game three of the World Series tonight - and yet I do not refer to fall-classic comebacks like the Cubs. I am referring to a pair of lenses that are heading this way.

When I first considered a move from Sony's α A200 to Pentax I recall seeing the DA 16-45mm f/4 and thinking it the ideal lens for my use. A wider 24mme zoom, f/4 throughout the range, and close focusing abilities are definitely superior to the typical kit lens.

I've bought and sold a few copies, each less expensive than before. Its main drawback is the lack of weather seals, though flash users will also be annoyed by its shadow intruding at short focal lengths. The DA* 16-50 f/2.8 was built to higher specs, but in reality its performance is not highly acclaimed - and in fact many reviews give the 16-45 a higher overall rating. Now the HD 16-85 has taken over the 16-45 domain, and while it's proving its excellence I don't have $500 to spend on it. I won a copy of the 16-45 with a bid below $150 - and this time I will be keeping my bargain 18-55WR, so when it's wet I am still able to play outside with no regrets. This suggests the 15mm fisheye is expendable; while undoubtedly wider than the 16mm I just don't venture that wide often enough to justify keeping both of them.

My favorite zoom of the many manual classics that I've tried was a Rikenon XR 70-150. Every now and then I look for a copy, and this week I found one for a nice price. Despite the manual entry for focal length I'm looking forward to having this again.

I've also been trying an smc-A 70-210 f/4 zoom and it works really well with nice sharpness and very smooth bokeh. It's pretty convenient with its auto-aperture setting.. yet the focal length still needs to be correctly entered for Pentax' internal IS to work properly. This lens is a beast though, so it wouldn't get as much use as the lighweight DAL 50-200WR. I'm not yet sure if I will keep the WR telephoto for backup, perhaps it will be sent off to get more use elsewhere.

 It will be interesting to compare these telephoto zooms as both are f/4 throughout the range for nice subject isolation and have a closeup setting (at 70mm!) and have built-in hoods to minimize stray light and flare.  Will the extra range on the Pentax justify that additional bulk?  We'll see soon..

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I am working on a deal to pick another 50-300mm HD/WR zoom. Doing this would really clean up my telephoto stockpile

This updated kit sounds familiar, and it should: that trio was my original K-mount kit!  I returned to Pentax SLRs after my film|digital makeover partly because of the 16-45 which was pretty unique at the time. I began with a K100d and a Sigma 50-200 but ultimately this 3-pack came about, and its simplicity was hugely convenient. My only change could be a macro 50 instead of a fast one.

One problem of course: once I picked up a weather-resistant K-7 body these unealed lenses were less ideal. Now six years (and a half-dozen WR bodies) later I have the K-5 and the newer HD/WR telephoto, plus an 18-55WR backing up the 16-45. Most likely the A50/1.7 is much better than my Rikenon 50/2 but between 50s the line is pretty thin.

I'd really like to have a prime group, but sadly Pentax doesn't play much with WR primes so: drat. They did seal up the 55-300 so hopes remain high for future products.

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A shopgoodwill bid came through and for $25* I have

  • another copy of the Quantaray 100-300mm f/!
  • another Q-ray 28-80mm, this one not 1:2 macro - but swap mounts with my broken 28-90 1:2 and score!!
  • a Pentax ZX-30 camera from the Late 35mm Film Epoch, meaning it makes use of AF/AE lenses!
  • and another bag.

Here's an earlier review of the 100-300. Generally speaking it's a near match to the 55-300 except for a few items:
tighter range (the 55-100mm zone is quite handy!)
slightly slower (4.5-6.7 not 4.0-5.8)
no quick-shift manual focus
Faster to focus - or faster hunting in poor light. Quite a bit faster!
Full-frame friendly and aperture rings, so more versatile in the Early Digital Epoch
no weather seals compared to the HD 55-300
- but I believe that I mentioned the price difference right?

I have never owned a Late Epoch SLR, having stopped with the Program Plus in the late '80s. The ZX-30 sure does look like a digital, with AF/MF switch right where I'd expect it and a control dial just like the K-r or other sorts. It will be curious to try this out with AF, power winding, a Date Back(!) and digital controls.

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So much for the 50 macro: the DA50/1.8 went on sale for about $70...