Pentax K1 Lens advice

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by brian_alworth|1, Feb 23, 2017.

  1. I am a landscape/fine-art photographer that is about to purchase my first digital camera. I've been shooting with a Pentax 67 (and Wista 4x5) for years and plan to continue to use them. I am probably going to buy the new Pentax K1 but am unsure about which lens or lenses to buy with it. I do mainly landscapes and always use a substantial tripod. Sharpness more important than speed. Was going to buy the new Pentax 24-70 zoom but have seen very mixed reviews on this. Maybe I should just buy a 24, a 50 and maybe a moderate telephoto? Looking for advice.
  2. I have heard mostly good things about the 24-70 but I don't own it myself.

    I have the Tamron 28-75 for that range and it's been very nice. Its biggest flaw is it flares easily if you shoot into the sun.

    The FA Limited primes are very highly regarded and I can verify the 77 is a wonderful lens. The other FA Limiteds like the 31 and 43 might suit you well for landscape work. They are not recent designs so some correction of CA may be needed and AF isn't great.

    If you like the shoot wide the 15-30/2.8 is a great lens. Resistant to flare, sharp, and quick to focus. Its only flaw is its bulk.
    The Rokinon 14/2.8 is also very nice, especially for the money. No AF but the DOF is typically deep enough to be pretty forgiving. Their other lenses have been well received too.

    For longer shots I use a ff mod DA* 60-250 which has been great but my AF just quit on mine for the second time and I just sent it off today. So that lens is great once modified if the AF holds up. That may be too many caveats for some. I wish I could just convert it to screw drive.

    I also have a A* 300/4 which is good for it's age and size but again it's manual focus and not as sharp as more modern lenses. It's small for what it is and IQ is often good enough so it gets a bit of use on my K-1, especially when the 60-250 is in the shop.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
  3. The Pentax-FA 50mm f/1.7 is crazy sharp, with nice bokeh to boot. Much better than the f/1.4 lens, but much harder to find used. With the high ISO capability of the K-1, you won't miss the half stop of speed.

    The Pentax-FA 100mm f/2.8 macro also has an incredible reputation for sharpness. Rather heavy, but macro lenses need a long focusing helical.
  4. I have an FA100mm f2.8 it seems my sharpest and best lens. - Although it hadn't seen much use it needed repair; the AF shaft felt jammed (i.e. I had to switch the lens to manual focus to be able to move it) and the bill mentioned an electronics issue. The FA 50mm f2.8 isn't much worse and way sharper than the 50mm f1.4. I wish mine had a focusing range limiter though. 135mm f2.8 is light and not bad. Sigma 24mm f1.8 doesn't knock my socks off but takes pictures. (Everything used on K20D). I recommend taping the focusing brake / clamp on the macros open, to avoid activating it by accident. I'm not overly confident about an awesome wide prime's existance outside the limited product line, which I haven't tested.
  5. Thanks for all the great and detailed advice. Was going to ask about using older "A" series Pentax lenses, though. Since I'm probably going to switch immediately to manual focus anyway, not really concerned about autofocus issues. In fact I'd really rather have an old-fashion lens with an aperture ring. My perception is that older lenses may actually be more robust anyway....altho some obviously sharper than others. But if I can find some used prime "A" lenses for sale that might be preferable? Any thoughts?
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  6. If you really want manual focusing why not get the pre-A lenses? - I assume the K1 can be forced to use them with stop down metering like other crippled k-mount bodies before it? - Pentax' old f3.5 wides have a good reputation. Focusing them manually on the screen is a major pain in the behind already with a manual camera's screen and Pentax AF SLRs' screens have always been worse for manual focusing. So practically you will be down to zone focusing and AF assist with an 28mm f3.5. The A 28mm f2.8 isn't stellar. Beware of 3rd party lenses with a combined A-mount including (back then independent) RIcoh's own A contact. - That one can get entangled with your AF screwdriver. I have one of these lenses and could get it off so far but it takes more force than changing the rest of the k-mount zoo. Tamron 90mm macro might project an aperture shaped reflection of the sensor if you stop it down more than slightly.
    With a lot of respect towards your tripod approach: The K1 seems capable to be shot quick cheap dirty handheld with it's usable ISO range and Shake Reduction. If you can afford it, get it with a kit zoom. I skipped getting one for my 1st crop body too but later understood that there are moments when I really like to have one. - I doubt there is a market for used FF kit zooms so better buy the new one with discount as part of a kit.
    Don't expect too much from the heritage lens market. Nowadays Zeiss are building retrofocus 50mms to produce maximum sharpness on digital and you are getting a high resolution body. On my similar pixel pitched crop bodies none of my old wides did shine like the 100mm macro. I was impressed by the 12-24mm zoom though. I handled the 100mm f2.8 macro A lens and didn't like the focus throw at all! My ideal for such a lens mainly used from portrait to infinity is the Macro Elmarit R a company named Leitax used to hack R glass into k-mount, I guess without automatic stopping down. There used to be manual Zeiss lenses in k-mount too but I expect their prices must have sky rocketed by now, with a cheap awesome FF body at hand.
  7. I can highly recommend the FA 35mm f/2 prime lens. I still use mine on my APS-C DSLR bodies, but have long used it on my film bodies, but don't shoot film much any more. Since I like it better in its original FOV, I'll use it more again if I get a K-1! Great even wide open, fine edge-to-edge quality for landscape work. Top of the line for yet wider angle would be the very highly-ranked FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited. I don't have that one, but it is ranked great in every way. The new DA 15-30mm f/2.8 has been getting very good reports, and offers weather sealing and a quiet AF motor.

    Since you are new to digital, I'd suggest you start by shooting just jpegs at first to get orientation. The K-1 is reported to be a bit under sharpened in jpeg mode, but you can increase a notch or so in the custom images menu. And while there, I have always gotten better results by adding "fine" sharpening with all my Pentax DSLR models.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  8. I've actually got a couple of M series lenses from the old days when I started with 35mm. From what I can tell, shooting with these lenses would be possible but somewhat difficult as you have to change settings and do stop-down metering, etc. I would spring for the 24-70 mm Pentax zoom, but I've read that it's not a very sharp lens...and also I am afraid I will miss the aperature ring. Just seems like a lot to spend if the first thing I'm going to do is dis-able the autofocus anyway.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  9. Once you get your hands on the very efficient, fast electronic thumb and finger dials, and other controls of theK-1, you will not miss having an aperture ring! Trust me, when I first started there was no auto anything. You had the aperture ring and a shutter speed dial, to work with a meter indicator in the VF- period. The control features of a modern DSLR are a wonder of efficiency, especially with the Pentax Hyper Program and Hyper Manual Modes. That system goes into effect automatically when shooting in Program and Manual modes. Years ago, when I first started using this system with my new Pentax PZ-1p 35mm body, I did not know what "Av" and "Tv" meant!! Of course, the "Av" being for "Aperture value" for the thumb dial and "Tv" (?) is for shutter speed controlled by the finger dial.

    These days the Pentax exclusive Hyper system is rarely mentioned. Poor marketing. It is not the same as program shift in all other brands. If shooting in Program mode with a Pentax DSLR, and you want to change either the aperture or shutter speed, you just use the thumb or finger dial and do it! The camera then shifts right into aperture or shutter preferred operation- immediately! And you can switch back and forth- immediately! It will remain so until you turn off the camera, turn the mode selector to a different mode, or simply hit the green button to return to full Program mode.

    In Manual mode, you can achieve your settings according to the meter reading the usual way by using the thumb and finger dials to set your aperture and shutter speeds, OR with Pentax, simply hit the green button and the camera will instantly set both according to the meter reading for you! If that is not the aperture or shutter speed you wish, just use the thumb or finger dial to change- but at least you have an exposure-read setting right away. Also, after hitting the green button to get that, and say you want to make an aperture change, hit the AE-L button first and the shutter speed will change and follow along as you change the aperture to preserve the exposure setting! Visa-versa if you are changing shutter speed! This is the quickest, most efficient way of taking spot-meter readings around a scene you will ever experience!!

    I think you will be amazed once you have this advanced technological instrument in your hands and are using it!
  10. The Pentax-A lenses are well designed, although not plastic-free. I love having the lens designation on the front of the focusing ring, where you can read it even with the lens cap on. Having metering without the "green button" is a pleasure. But note that you will need the O-ME53 magnifier to focus any lens faster than f/2.8 accurately on the K-1, due to the "optimized for brightness" focusing screen.

    The Pentax-A 28/2.0 is a very nice lens. The 50/2.8 and 100/2.8 macro lenses are excellent, like their -FA peers. The Pentax-A 100/2.8 (non-macro) is not replicated in the Pentax-F or Pentax-FA lineups, and it's a fine lens. (Opinions are mixed on the Pentax-A 135/2.8.) You could also get a Pentax-A 50/1.7 for a pittance, and it's not hard to find like the Pentax-FA 50/1.7. The Pentax-FA 35/2.0 is probably sharper than the Pentax-A 35/2.0 since, since the -FA is aspherical.
  11. Using the aperture ring of an (F)A lens will make it the same as an M or K lens for the camera and require change in custom settings and stop down metering. Have you ever tried focusing with a Pentax AF body? I feel I need at least t f-stops of DOF to hopefully manage that without AF assist.
  12. Hi Brian,
    Hope I'm not too late with comments. I'm assuming that your preferred 35mm shooting falls within the 24-70
    focal range. I've owned the K-1 since November. I use it strictly for landscape and closeups. My other shooting of birds and sports I use my Canon 5D Mark III as the tracking AF and longer lens selection (actually lens selection across the board) is far better. The redeeming feature of the K-1 for landscape is pixel shift. I treat the K-1 as a medium format camera as the depth of detail and large print capability rocks.

    So that is my context. I own the 24-70mm; it's good but not great. To me it's really a required event & wedding lens that launched the camera with a bit more credibility towards working shooters. It's mostly a rebadged Tamron that sells for $800 in the EOS world and is not quite up to the Canon standard lens. I've shot some nice landscapes with it, it is convenient--but the reality is that there are few choices out there for better glass that can stand up to both 160Mb pixel shift images and 36Mp regular ones.
    A lot of that older A glass does not, but some does.

    I'd say that the FA Ltd 31mm and the Ltd 77mm do very well. But their sense of "sharpness" which I see is important to you is different from modern lenses such as the Pentax/Tamron 15-30mm and the Sigma Art line. The latter are clinical, digital, flat out revealing. The former are closer to Zeiss and Voigtlander glass--phenomenally sharp wide open but along with that comes artful vignetting and a characteristically unique rendering not intended to game MTF charts.

    For me, I've enjoyed the look of the newer digital lenses on my Canon, whereas the older style really blossoms on the K-1. When switched it just ain't the same. So I've been transitioning my K-mount glass to Zeiss and the Ltd models. I manually focus anyway because pixel shift is unrelenting when it comes to slight error.

    Zeiss stopped making K-mount glass 8-10 years ago, so the pickings are slim and pricey. An excellent alternative is doing the Leitax conversion to a basic M style lens. I just converted a 18mm Zeiss Distagon Nikon F mount and I'm very happy.

    Hope this helps

  13. I'm sure Michael meant Leitax conversion to a basic Leica R style lens. (No way to use Leica M lenses on K-1.)

    You can also do Leitax conversions on Nikon F lenses, Zeiss ZF lenses, Olympus OM lenses, and Contax/Yashica lenses. The ZF option is nice if you don't want to pay the premium for ZK lenses, but you don't get auto-aperture. It also gives you access to the newer ZF lenses.
  14. I was referring to Leitaxed lenses acting like manual lenses, but your interpretation is close enough. Actually, I'm able to use my Leitaxed Zeiss 18mm in AV mode in that the shutter speed appropriately responds to my changing the lens' aperture ring. No green button is needed. And with 18mm it's easy to set it at f8 and near infinity. My 35mm f2 ZK works like any "A" lens on the camera. You can still find the 28mm and 35mm models in K-mount (ZK) for a semi-reasonable cost.

  15. While I'd expect most 50mm primes would probably better most zooms at that length, I would be a little wary about going for just any old manual-focus lenses with the expectation that they'll be significantly better performers than modern zooms at wide angle, especially when these lenses are stopped down. There may be some, but in addition to reduced convenience (not just the obvious AF and in-body aperture control, but also other features like C/A, distortion, and vignetting correction, both in-body or during post-processing where the EXIF will properly report the modern lens) and many may not actually be better in all respects. I'm not completely up to date on the current D-FA 15-30 vs. D-FA 24-70. I would expect the 15-30 to at least be better in some respects like distortion in the 24-30 range. No idea regarding flare handling or aberrations.

    Especially If you're shooting from a tripod using live-view manual-focusing, I would also give a good look at the relatively modern manual-focus Rokinon/Samyang primes, they have several available in Pentax K-mount (14/2.8, 20/1.8, 24/1.4, 24/3.5 tilt/shift, 35/1.4, 50/1.4, 85/1.4, 135/2) and reviews have generally been pretty positive. I'm probably missing a few in my list, I think they may have a macro lens and there are some fisheyes though not sure which are FF-compatible.

    My inclination would be to start with Pentax's current 28-105 (or even 24-70, though I wonder if it's much better than the 28-105 when both are stopped down) and wait to see whether Sigma's 24/1.4 Art becomes available for K-mount, or also to see how Pentax's lens roadmap progresses in the next 12-18 months -- there is a 'large aperture wide angle single focus lens', followed by a 'ultra-wide-angle single focus lens'. They're not being specific yet but my current interpretation would be something fast in the 28-35 range and something not as fast in the 15-24 range. As new designs I would kind of expect both to be good performers, though neither will probably be especially inexpensive.

    As for the 50, most are very good when stopped down. If not stopped down as much, the newer (and generally larger) releases are usually better. Even though Pentax doesn't explicitly list them as FF-compatible, it's my understanding that the DA*55/1.4 works well (I would confirm this elsewhere before buying) as does (probably) the inexpensive DA50/1.8. There is also an all-new Pentax D-FA*50/1.4 which should be available shortly--I'd expect this to be better and more expensive than the others I've already mentioned. Again, Sigma has a good 50/1.4 Art that may or may not become available for K-mount. I'd also consider a 50 macro as these can be quite good but I'd be careful as to whether the particular lens is better at your typical subject distances.
  16. (Not liking's new design. Ate line breaks between paragraphs.)

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