Zoom lens for Pentax - suggestions?

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by Chris Barnard, Feb 2, 2004.

  1. Hi guys, just wondering if you have any thoughts on this:

    I've been starting to get a little disappointed with the quality of my
    Tamron 80-210mm f/3.8-4 zoom lens - I dunno, it always seems to look a
    little bit fuzzy around the edges and I never get a truly sharp picture when
    I start enlarging stuff. I think it's main trouble is when I get to the
    widest apertures - which I often use due to my lust for slow speed film ;)
    So, I'm thinking about trying to get hold of something a bit better to
    replace it - I need something reasonably cheap and am looking in the
    second-hand market. I want Pentax fitment and roughly the same range of
    zoom - not bothered about AF (don't have an AF camera!) or Program settings,
    just as sharp a lens as I can buy. I'm thinking my first choice should be
    the Pentax 70-210 f/4 A judging from the comments I've read about it. But
    what about offerings from Vivitar, Tokina, etc - any good lenses to be found
    there? Anyone have any other ideas?


    Chris Barnard, Feb 2, 2004
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  2. Chris Barnard

    Mark Roberts Guest

    The A70-210/4 would indeed be an excellent choice.
    Failing that, look for one of the old Vivitar Series 1 70-210 zooms.
    Very sharp and decent macro, too. I have some data on the various
    incarnations of the 70-210 Series 1:

    I have the third version. Email me if you have any questions.
    Mark Roberts, Feb 2, 2004
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  3. You'll probably get some feedback on specific lenses- i'm sure the lens you
    mention will be good, based on a) a fixed max aperture, and b) being Pentax,
    but allow me to suggest prime lenses.

    I had a Nikon 80-200/4 for a while, and though it was more convenient and
    closer focusing than the 200/4 Nikon lens I had before it was never as
    Martin Francis, Feb 2, 2004
  4. In message <bvm06c$j3h$>
    The A 70-210/4 is an excellent lens. I own two of them, mechanically superb
    and optically excellent. I've also heard good things about the M 80-200/4.5,
    usually cheaper (no 'A' setting) but harder to find. Amongst AF lenses, the
    F 70-210/4-5.6 ED seems to be the best although I don't think it's quite up
    to the standard of the A 70-210.

    If you decide to go for the A 70-210/4 you should be aware that there are two
    versions of this lens. One is clearly marked 'SMC' on the barrel, the other
    is not. You should avoid the non SMC version as it is a vastly inferior


    Donald A. Morrison, Feb 2, 2004
  5. Chris Barnard

    chmc Guest

    This may not be your situation at all, but I think a lot of people use
    70-210s hand held and end up thinking the lens isn't sharp. I wonder what
    shutter speed you need to use to see the top end of sharpness on a hand held
    200mm lens. Pretty high, I would guess.

    Anyway, I've had good luck with Tokinas myself.
    chmc, Feb 2, 2004
  6. Chris Barnard

    Elaine or Al Guest

    Chris, I use a Tokina 75-300 w/macro on all my Pentax cameras, I think it
    is the best. Also any Tokina lens to my thinking is superior. Elaine
    Elaine or Al, Feb 3, 2004
  7. Thanks for all the replies - I think I'm going to keep my eye on what's
    going second-hand around here & on eBay and see what turns up. My current
    list of definates is either the Pentax 70-210 SMC f4 or Vivitar Series 1
    70-210 (thanks for the link Mark, I almost considered buying a Vivitar
    70-210 until I realised it wasn't a series 1). I also like the look of
    Tokina lenses and heard some good things about them, but I don't have enough
    data about specific Tokina lenses to be able to buy one 2nd-hand
    confidently. Before I buy 2nd-hand, I like to be able to identify the exact
    model of a lens and have some sort of reference as to it's likely quality.

    On the issue of prime lenses, as raised by Martin - it's a good point and I
    have continually thought about adding a few longer focal-length primes to my
    collection. My main problem is that my photography (at least with a 35mm
    camera) generally tends to be limited to unplanned stuff that I see whilst
    on days out or travelling. So, my primes rarely see much work except for
    perhaps my 50mm f1.7 as I simply cannot carry all the gear around with me.
    That said, most of the time I use my 28-70mm lens and the 70-210 only comes
    out for the occasional long-distance shot or candid portrait - when I'm
    usually up around the 200mm mark anyway.
    Probably the answer would be to stock up on a zoom AND get a prime for when
    picture sharpness is paramount.

    Final issue about problems with hand-holding at 200mm. Yes, I do generally
    hand-hold. In fact, I should probably go and use a film up testing hand-hold
    vs. tripod with my Tamron lens, shooting at various apertures. However, I
    generally stick around the 1/500s mark at around 200mm - which I think is
    acceptable and I never see blurring which is obviously caused by camera
    shake. What I'm getting is a general fuzz and lack of detail. Contrast and
    OOF highlights are very good with that lens though. I think the main problem
    with the lens is simply that it loses detail with the aperture wide open.
    Anyway, if I got myself another, good quality lens, I'd have less excuses
    for my bad pictures ;)

    Chris Barnard, Feb 3, 2004
  8. Chris Barnard

    chmc Guest

    I do think that even at 1/500th of a second, you're going to have a
    difficult time maxing out the resolution of all but the doggiest lenses hand
    held at 200 mm. This is based more on gut instinct than actual knowledge,
    so I'd appreciate hearing anyone elses thoughts on this.

    It might be worth burning a roll of film on a tripod before you buy another
    lense and get disappointed.
    chmc, Feb 3, 2004
  9. Well, I don't expect to 'max out' the resolution, but the more I look at my
    images, and the more photos I shoot, the more I feel that they lack detail.
    Maybe I'm just getting over-critical.
    I think I'll give it a whirl at the weekend.

    Chris Barnard, Feb 3, 2004
  10. You are gonna hate yourself after you do it... But, to really rub salt in
    the wound, get out of the wind, hang a sand bag on the tripod to get it good
    and firmly planted to the ground, set the tele at f:11 or f:16, lock the
    mirror up, and use a cable release, ... If the light is dim enough, go for
    the bulb setting and make the exposure with a black card, by alternately
    uncovering the end of the lens and recovering it before closing the
    shutter... Use Velvia or similar... Unless your lens is defective, you are
    gonna get your socks knocked off when you bend over the light table with
    your magnifier...
    Dennis O'Connor, Feb 3, 2004
  11. Chris Barnard

    chmc Guest

    I'm just wondering if you're going to see much difference given that you're
    hand holding. I mean, if you go from one lens that does 60 lpm to one that
    does 80 lpm, but you're limiting yourself to 40 lpm because you're hand
    holding, well... there will be a tiny difference, but not much. I went
    through a period of trying to get sharper pictures by buying better
    equipment, and I really didn't see much difference until I went with a

    I know you don't feel that the pictures are blurred, just lacking detail,
    but a tiny amount of blur has that effect.

    I'd be interested to know how this turns out.
    chmc, Feb 3, 2004
  12. ok ok!... I know what you mean. I'll try testing the resolution on & off a
    tripod first. I'll post with my results. Might take a while before I get the
    film back though!
    Anyway, I just went crazy and suckered myself into buying a Pentax SF7
    because it had a 50mm f/1.4 FA lens shoved on the front of it... so suddenly
    I don't want to rush into buying a telephoto ;)
    Well, you know how it is... go looking for one thing, end up with something

    Chris Barnard, Feb 3, 2004
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