kh1234567890's reviews

  • Pentax 21mm f/3.2 Limited SMC P-DA

    10 out of 10 points and recommended
    Size, build, handling

    The DA21 is small and the clever lens hood hardly adds to its length. On a K-7 it looks positively diminutive. As with all the limiteds, the design and build exude that certain satisfying precision feel. The lens hood design is unconventional but effective. The lens cap is a solid piece of felt lined aluminium, in keeping with the look and feel of the lens, but a bit impracticable and probably expensive to replace. Fortunately a standard old Pentax slip-on 51mm plastic lens cap fits perfectly.

    The 21mm focal length is just right on an APS sensor camera, such as my K-7. It is just wide enough to make a difference but not too wide to give that somewhat boring stretched effect of ultra-wides. Autofocus is accurate, quiet and quick - there isn't a great deal of mass to spin around with this lens.

    Optically, this lens is sharp enough to allow some cropping without a great loss of quality. It is quite sharp even wide open and gets better stopped down. The sweet spot seems to be somewhere between f/4 and f/5.6. There is a fair amount of barrel distortion and some CA, both easily correctable in post-processing. Contrast and colour rendering are excellent. Flare resistance is good, although when shooting into the sun at a certain orientation it is possible to provoke a 'green blob' flare, probably a sensor reflection. Stopped down it gives nice highlight 'starbursts'.

    The DA21 is inconspicuous enough for street photography and sharp and wide enough for landscapes and architectural shots.

    Some of my shots taken with this lens :

    reviewed January 30th, 2014 (purchased for $600)
  • Pentax 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED SMC DA

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Good contrast and reach, price
    Size, weight, no WR

    The 55-300 feels bulky, heavy and since fully extended with the hood on it hits some 23cm in length it also feels long. Not being into birding, this matters to me - it is hard not to be conspicuous with this lens on your camera.

    AF can be noisy and slow but that is the price you pay for a long spin on the focus ring which actually makes it possible to accurately focus manually (no damping of course because of the AF). Performance-wise it is good but not significantly better than the 50-200mm. There is little CA or vignetting and very little purple fringing - what CA there is does vary with focal length, becoming quite noticeable at the long end. Bokeh is very pleasant and sharpness is good, as is contrast and colour.

    Manufacturing quality control is abysmal - my first sample was badly de-centered. So if you get one and aren't happy with it throw it back at whoever sold it to you, the replacement might be better.

    I like to travel light and hence I still prefer the DA50-200 to this one.

    Some of my shots with this lens :

    reviewed January 30th, 2014 (purchased for $350)
  • Pentax 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 ED IF SMC P-DA Fish-Eye

    7 out of 10 points and recommended
    Compact, good build, fun
    Fringing and CA

    Nicely made, not the lightest of lenses but well balanced and of solid, precision feel. Some fringing and CA effects are present. No internal reflections or flare, you can shoot straight into the sun without any problems.

    Fun to use but takes some practice since some shots work better than others. Great for shooting 360 degree panoramas, being arty or just messing about.

    I've had this lens for over a year now and the novelty has largely worn off. These days I tend to use it mainly for 360 degree panoramas since it lacks sharpness over all of its zoom range. At 10mm you can live with this as you'd be using it for the fish-eye effect, but at 17mm it is worse than the kit 18-55 at 18mm. Purple and blue fringing can also be bad in some situations.

    The Samyang 8mm fisheye is a better alternative if you can live without zoom and autofocus.

    Some of my shots taken with this lens are here :

    reviewed January 30th, 2014 (purchased for $500)
  • Pentax 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL SMC DA WR

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    WR, light, small, metal mount, cheap, excellent value
    could be faster, sharper ,,,

    Unbeatable price to performance ratio. An ideal consumer zoom. It could do with being faster, sharper, less CA, less distortion, better build, etc., but probably not at the price.

    Autofocus works perfectly, quick shift focus is handy, lens hardly extends in length over its zoom range and the front element does not rotate. Bokeh is great, WR resistance is useful, the lens is very light and sturdy. Any misbehaviour (CA, barrel distortion, vignetting etc.) is predictable and easily corrected either in-camera or in post-processing. But do not put a UV filter on this lens - even a good one degrades IQ noticeably, use the hood instead to protect the front element.

    My copy is acceptably sharp even wide open - if yours isn't then you either have a bad one or you are doing something wrong.

    A great lens to get you started with.

    Some of my shots taken with this lens are here :

    reviewed January 30th, 2014 (purchased for $100)
  • Pentax 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED SMC DA WR

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Size, weight, WR, colour, lack of CA, focus speed
    Can be soft at the long end

    I love this lens.

    Once you get used to its few shortcomings, mainly image corner softness at some apertures and focal lengths, it can produce some great images. Bokeh, colour rendering and contrast are brilliant. My copy has very little CA or distortion above some 60mm. WR seals are handy to have.

    It is a fair bit smaller and lighter than the DA 55-300mm and IQ-wise there is really very little difference - I have both and still prefer this one. Handling and bokeh are much better.

    Some of my shots taken with this lens are here :

    reviewed January 30th, 2014 (purchased for $180)
  • Pentax 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited SMC DA

    9 out of 10 points and recommended
    Sharp, nice build, compact, excellent optics
    AF prone to hunting

    Solid design, optically excellent - little distortion, no CA to speak of, very sharp even wide open, no flare. Colour rendering is excellent, as is contrast. Bokeh is OK, can end up a bit 'busy' with some shots when wide opened. Mechanically it is a good design with a built-in retractable sliding hood and a recessed front element.

    35mm is a nice focal length on APS-C and I've found that I tend to use this lens more and more, not just for macro shots. f2.8 is not all that fast though.

    The AF can hunt - it is a long way between the end stops and it takes time to spin if AF misses the first time. Assembly quality and QA could be better - on mine one of the iris blades sometimes slightly sticks.

    At 35mm you have to get in really close for macro shots - not much use for things that can crawl or fly away !

    If you are thinking of splashing out on a DA prime, get this one - it will grow on you. But do not lose that expensive metal lens cap !

    Some of my shots taken with this lens are here :

    reviewed January 30th, 2014 (purchased for $500)