Priolite Ambassador | Sony Visible Light & IR Photographer
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● Supply and demand - the supply of Pentax 645 legacy glass is high in Japan and demand is relatively low; this may change if the 645Z becomes more popular worldwide.
● Quality control and consistency - according to reports and reviews around the Web (Ming Thein, Michael Reichmann, "D&A" (Dave) on GetDPI...), Pentax legacy lenses, and even some of the newer models, show more variability in sharpness, field curvature, and aberrations than their competitors' offerings. They're not comparable to Leica S lenses, with the possible exception of the 120mm macro.
● Reputation - Pentax, unlike Leica, isn't known as a world-class lens manufacturer and, like Sony, has catered to the masses; this too may change as the 645Z gains traction.
● Build quality and features - most of the legacy lenses lack weather sealing, vibration reduction and exotic glass or coatings; some of the optically better bargains lack AF; these are not for the Canon outdoor sports photographer.
Having said that, careful shopping can turn up some jewels at bargain prices. I just added an FA 45-85mm zoom for $575 that, upon initial testing, appears sharp (stopped down) at both focal length extremes. The eBay seller is located in Japan. I placed the order on April 11 and received the lens today, April 15. The B&H price for the same lens is $2,400.
Since I've owned and shot with Nikon, Hasselblad, Phase One (DF, Cambo and Alpa), Leica (M and S), Sony and now Pentax, I have enough first-hand data to make comparisons. Figuratively, pound for pound, the Pentax 645Z system and available lenses present an excellent opportunity to explore medium-format photography. And with careful and patient shopping, there are lens bargains to be had. That's my two cents.
Joe Colson Photography5 Member(s) liked this post
If I could add a comment or two to your well thought out posting. .Pentax through the years, especially in the 60's, 70's and 80's was a world class designer of optics. In actuality, this family run company was more of an innovator of optics than camera bodies. When they needed to push the limits of performance in certain lens catagories and cost restraints were removed from the designers ability to be innovate, they came up with many optical gems that till today stands with the best of them. Of course most were in the relm of the 35mm format but some extended into their 645 and 67 lens lines.
One early notable lens was the co designed 15mm f3.5 along with Contax and even executed a aspherical and non aspherical version. It was a big hit at an early Photokina.and Pentax at that time rarely mentioned the exotic glass utilized in many of their lenses, as advertising such facts were not their style. Many assumed they were slightly behind the times while other companies touted the exotic glass and construction techniques applied to their lenses in comsumer advertisements. Penatx appeared to be bigger than they were and truly was the little engine that could.
Unlike Leica and Zeiss and some other big name manufacturerrs, resources were limited for this relatively small company and as you explained Joe, cost considerations to reach popular price points took priority in designing lenses and products. From what I understand, their optical engineers had the repsect of many of their counterparts in the industry.
One of the last major harahs of the original company was to market the first mass produced full frame DSLR co developed by Pentax and Contax. This was their effort to enter the digital DSLR fray with a bang since others already had their APS DSLR's for a number of years. Pentax though pulled out of the project at the last minute feeling the camera wouldn't reach financial success and would place a big financial burden on the company while Contax went ahead and released an initial batch of production cameras. The rest is history as they say as to the losses Contax took by also not following Pentax's lead to pull out.
Joe's suggestions and observations about current state of affairs of the Pentax medium format system and lenses are excellent and spot on. Nice write up Joe and excellent advice.
Last edited by D&A; 16th April 2015 at 10:31.
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This is something I tried to get my head around. Michiel bought 8 lenses already, before buying the 645z. You say, "with careful shopping" and at the same time you explained rightly so the massive quality variations in the line up. So is that "careful shopping" not a contradiction per se?
There is no way to say what kind of sausage you might have bought before you can test the lens, by then it is too late. Or am I missing something here?
Only case I can see, is if I buy from a local dealer with a right to return a possible sausage after a few days.
Georg, I did (globally) test all my lenses on a friend's PentaxD body.
The A LS 75 is supurb. Tested it on my face as well with extra lighting with the leaf shutter and I never saw so many wrinkles before in my face
Three lenses I bought personally from a Belgium wedding photographer.
A 35/3.5, Fa 45-85, Fa 85-160 (for € 1100,- )
Only the 35 sells for around 650, if not more because I have seen prices rise a lot lately, excluding mailing/import/tax costs already.
They are all good.
I bought the FA 55 from Australia for € 620,-- everything included. It works but I did not test it severly, although this is a relativly new lens designed for the PentaxD, so I don't expect problems.
The other three were really cheap, so if there is a problem I just buy another one.
Also one of them is the A version of the 60-180, so I am going to sell it anyway.
So I have been rather careful, I think.
I can buy the Pentax Z from a HongKong based seller onestop-digital.com for €6,867.99 of which I can deduct 2% when I pay by banktransfer and for a few Euros more of that amount I will take the tree year warranty option . The only drawback is that I have to send the camera all the way to HongKong for repair. BTW mailing costs are for free and all import taxes will be refunded immediatly.
So I could be all set for now for € 8.800,-- including the lenses I bought which is less then the body + 55 kitlens in our shops here.
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Thanks for the explanations Michiel. OK, if you can check lenses on a friends Pentax, that sounds careful enough.
I must be living behind the moon or something. I just saw in the Sony section that Guy also ordered a Loxia from Hong Kong.
Looks like you Folks get a very special deal there. For people living in Germany, well, it ain't so sweet a deal.
I would be worried to purchase from Hong Kong to be honest. I was burned before, not from Hong Kong though, with purchasing goods outside Europe. Ordered stuff from OWC for my Mac and kabooom, the UPS man collected a hefty import duty or would not release the goods to me. It would also bother me that I could not get a world wide warranty, instead of shipping to Hong Kong in case something is faulty. I saw the three years option, and I might be too suspicious, but to be safe I would suggest to investigate all this with Pentax directly. Do they recognise this three years warranty upgrade? Is the dealer known to them, stuff like that. This deal with refunding of import taxes is kinda strange to me and raises some red flags. I hope you don't get burned there!!At the moment, this VAT Free guarantee only applies to orders shipped to Australia, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and United Kingdom.
Well, good luck with all that Michiel! Looking forward to your experiences, which will be very very pleasant with such a fine camera, no doubts!
Thanks Dave, your history of Pentax is very interesting.
I now have six lenses for the Z - selling the Phase helped a lot
The 45-85 FA, 55 2.8, 75 FA, 120 FA macro, 150 FA 2.8, and the 300 FA 5.6
The 55 came free with the camera, the 75 and 150 were bought new, the rest in 'near mint' condition used.
Total cost for five lenses $3700
Very happy with the overall performance. The 300 5.6 is ridiculously light, weighs only 775 gm and is about the same dimensions and weight as my Canon 70-200 f4.
Stopped down one from wide open they are all sharp enough for me. What is amazing is the price/performance ratio. When you combine this with the fact that most of them are really light and small (the 75 and 300 are incredibly so), you wonder why everything else in the MF world is so heavy and pricey.
Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........
Also want to add that my experience with the ebay Japan sellers has been very positive. The guy I bought the 150 2.8 from not only packed it very well but sent me a small hand-written thank you note in an envelope and a small packet of green tea as a gesture of goodwill! How often do you get that from an American vendor? The stuff arrived in less than 4 days too, with free shipping, at a price lower than anything locally.
Cannot beat that.
Too much to list, let's just say I have a bad case of GAS.........
I once purchased a lens from someone here in the states and included in the parcel were two of those red and white tiny mints wrapped in celephane that one gets free when walking out of a inexpensive dinner type restaurant (as a gesture to say thank yoi for thr purchase). So see, U.S. sellers are generous too...LOL. On second thought I'd rather have the tea .
Last edited by D&A; 19th April 2015 at 06:12.
Got a handwritten note with green tea as well with a purchase from Japan. I must say I did like the gesture.