Tom Bronaugh | My Pentaxian Kit

My Pentaxian Kit

June 07, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Here's a current run down of the equipment I use, and my opinions so far on my kit. I've near given up on significant flash usage. Occasionally I'll just use the built in flash on the camera at -2 output compensation. I would rather just expose for available light if at all possible. I don't really do any studio work anyway, nor any desire to fiddle with those big flashes and umbrellas. . I'm a Pentaxian... I love having all those old lenses to chose from, and all their individual characteristics.

I did have a Sigma-A Macro 24mm f/2.8. I never should have sold it. It was a sweet lens. Here is a nice rose I shot with it. And here is my cat, up close. Both on the K200D. I might need to get this lens back. Not expensive, not AF, but who needs AF with macro?

Pentax K5- My new workhorse. Weather sealed, easy to use, and does everything I want it to. Some may say the K5 is not really pro level, perhaps not, I don't know or care really. Good quality at ISO 1600 or less. Over 1600 noise is a problem, but tolerable.  It does a fine job for me.

Pentax K200D- My first "pro-sumer" lens. I learned a lot on this. Weather sealed. High ISO performance not great. At ISO 800 or less its fine.

Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 (SDM).  A real beauty and very sharp. Super quiet SDM AF mechanism, good for cermonies, etc. My primary all around portrait/ mid telephoto. Highly recommended.

Pentax FA 100mm Macro f/2.8. Classic Pentax glass. Fast, great bokeh and wondeful 1:1 macro at a better working distance than a 50mm Macro. It is also an outstanding tele-portrait lens at about f/4 or so. I have used it a few times for still life and landscapes, but it the lens tends to compress and flatten the image, making it look a little odd unless you use f/8 or greater. It almost has a tilt-shift effect at large apertures. Every time I use this lens I'm more impressed by the results. I'll never sell it.

Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4  I just love this little lens. Very fast, great for low light stuff. Close focusing at about 12 inches or so. Outstanding bokeh when open. Very useful for portraits and all around application. It was the only lens I used when I took a trip to las vegas. Images available on my home page, really nice and usefull focal length. A great lens to have along if you only have room for one. Do I need this lens? No.... but what does that have to do with anything?

Pentax DA 10-17mm f/2.8 Fish eye. Sharp and useful for indoors and landscapes. At 10mm edge lines are very curved as would be expected. Not rectilinear, but edge distortion correctable in LR.

Pentax DA 70mm f/2.4 Limited. This lens is a beautiful oddball. Extremely sharp and fast to focus. Excellent portrait lens, especially for head and shoulders or waist up.  Also gives effective focal length of 105mm on APS sensor. Photos are absolutely beautiful with this gem. The big draw back is that it is minimum focus distance is about 1 meter or so. It makes it's usefulness in tight quarters a bit lacking. If minumum distance was more like the FA 50mm, it would be unbeatable.

Zenitar Russian 16mm f/2.8. Only cost $160 off ebay. Good bang for the buck I'd say. A weird little lens that has great  difficulty with CA at edges of high contrast. But I have  taken some very nice photos ( see "Ed's bike" gallery  photos) with it. Edge distortion is  worse than my 10-17mm at 16mm. Edge distortion and curves are correctable in Lightroom I think but I haven't tried it with this lens.

Tamron 24-70mm Di F/2.8. I really nice, fast (constant f/2.8) mid range zoom that won't break your bank . Very sharp and contrasty. Good compliment to the 50-135mm. Used a lot for gatherings, weddings, general portraits, especially if I'm doing families / groups. Also good walk around lens, decent for landscapes. It is not made for  APS sensors, so effective focal length is more like 40-100mm.  Not really wide enough for effective interior / architectural usage.

Pentax-A 28mm f/2.8. Just OK in my opinion. Not that useful in most cases. Kind of cool for indoors at parties and such. I don't use it for much else. Color and contrast are not on par with others in my kit.

Sigma-A f/2.8 50mm Macro  I stuck this in my bag with the K200D. I used it quite a bit before I got the 100mm Macro, which is superior and ahas auto focus. Still, it's a fine lens for macro work, and gives close focusing 1:1 ratio macro which is nice. I don't use it much now that I have the 100mm Pentax. I wish I had instead the wide angle 24mm version.

Pentax DA 50-300 Kit Zoom  I also have this tucked away in my K200D bag. I'm not really a big fan of huge super zooms that cover such a giant range of  focal lengths. But I bought it before I knew this. I have taken some decent shots with it, but in general I don't use it much except in bad weather, as it is weather sealed.

Pinhole Lens I bough this on a whim and rarely use it. Doesn't really give the "pinhole" effect I was hoping for. You need patience to deal with this, but it can be fun to play with. Common exposures are 30s or more.  See here an example. For the shot I opened the shutter, walked around and stood in front of the camera for 15 seconds or so, then walked back and closed the shutter. It was in winter with snow around. A ghostly shape of me is seen, headless... Since there is no viewfinder available, you just have to guess at the framing of the shot. Kind of  freaky. I'd like to do some more with it, never seem to find the time. I could probably get a better "pinhole " look with post processing in LR.  

WISH LIST: Pentax FA* 300mm f/4.5 ($800-1200). The reviews are stellar and I just have to get one some day. They are no longer in production, so you have to wait on a used one to come up for sale, and people to to hold on to them.  I also like the New SDM 300mm ($1500). The upside of the FA model is you can get it for under $1000 if you are patient, and it works out to more of a 400mm lens on and APS sensor, where as the newer Pentax 300mm is a true 300mm. Also it is not weather sealed.  . Going to save up for one of these.


I have also tried the Pentax -M 100mm. A nice lens but I like the "A" settting. Easier to get proper exposure. Not a bad protrait lens, but not on par with or as useful as the FA 100mm I have now. Also Minimum focusing distance was 1 meter or so.

Additionally I had the Sears-M for Pentax 135mm f/2.8. Pretty cool little lens, but again the full manual setting was hard to deal with. I thought that for the cost, and age,  the contrast and color rendition was pretty nice.








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