Pentax vs. Olympus glass

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by BetterSense, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I'm somewhat torn between deciding which are better. Right now I have Pentax 50mm/1.7 A lens and a 28mm/2.8 A lens as well. In Olympus-land, I have the 50mm/1.4 G.Zuiko and a 28mm/2.8.

    I'm convinced that the Olympus wide-angle is better than the Pentax wide-angle which goes soft fast in the corners at large apertures. But I'm starting to think the 50mm Olympus lens is pretty soft wide-open and is very prone to flair.

    Which brand do you think has the best manual-focus lens, especially the best fast normal lenses? I like both my Pentax and Olympus bodies, but I like the olympus body a bit more.
     
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  2. Galah

    Galah Member

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    It may be the case that there is greater variation between types of lens within each make than the variation across the two makes as a whole: even between individual lenses of a given type.

    A single swallow does not a summer make!:smile:
     
  3. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    You have the lenses on hand.. use the ones you like better. We cant make that decision for you.
     
  4. Hamster

    Hamster Member

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    Us the one you pick up the most, i.e. the system with the best ergonomics. The more you use it the more likely you will have enjoyment and good result.

    Let's leave the canon vs nikon style discussions to the digicrowd.
     
  5. Simon E

    Simon E Member

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    He speaks the truth. Both marques produced excellent lenses. I would suggest your choice should be more down to which camera you prefer.

    The G.Zuiko 50/1.4 is known for relatively poor performance at wide apertures. If you decide on the Olympus then you should get hold of the multicoated 50/1.4, it is a considerably better performer. It should have the 'MC' designation on the front, but if you're not sure hold it to a light source and check for green reflections off the front element. Otherwise even the humble 'Made in Japan' 50/1.8 is extremely good value.
     
  6. Earl Dunbar

    Earl Dunbar Member

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    There were at least two iterations of the G.Zuiko 50/1.4, more likely 3 or 4. IIRC, serial numbers of 1,100,000 or higher were the last version and the best with respect to wide open and overall performance. I have one in the 300K range, and one in the 600K range. I have not made any direct comparisons, but I like the results from both. I will admit that they are not Sonnar-sharp wide open. My sample in the 600K range needs a cleaning, so I can't really judge.

    All that said, I would not refuse a 50/1.4 SMC Takumar. :smile:
     
  7. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Sure. That's exactly what I do right now, but which ones do YOU like better?

    I'll check my lens to see which I have. Last thing I shot with the G.Zuiko in low light was people and the effect actually turned out fairly flattering. I'm still convinced my Pentax-A f/1.7 is sharper wide open; I wonder how the Pentax f/1.4 is? It's just a smidgen faster than my f/1.7.

    What does Takumar mean? My Pentax lenses say "Pentax-A" and have an "auto" setting on the aperture ring. Are Takumar lenses the old screw-mount lenses? Are they really good or something?
     
  8. Simon E

    Simon E Member

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    I nearly mentioned that the older iteration of the Zuiko 50/1.4 can work in your favour with some subjects / treatments.... But I didn't because I thought that most people asking about lens performance are usually looking for sharper images with less degradation.

    Takumar refers to older Pentax lenses. See this article on the Pentax M42-fit lens.
     
  9. oscroft

    oscroft Member

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    Only the early multi-coated ones had "MC" on them - later ones didn't bother because all lenses were multi-coated by then.

    Generally, if it is labeled just "Zuiko" rather than "G-Zuiko", and has a high serial number (over 1 million are generally thought to be the best, I believe), then it'll be multi-coated.
     
  10. oscroft

    oscroft Member

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    Those are interesting lenses, and I've used all four. When I got back into 35mm photography a few years ago, my choice was between Olympus, Pentax, and Nikon. In the end, I went for Olympus, mainly because there seemed to be far more Zuiko lenses available than Pentax lenses - and both were considerably cheaper than Nikon lenses. But I did try some Pentax gear (which I've since re-sold).

    Anyway, I think the Pentax 50/1.7 is an exceptionally sharp lens - probably one of the sharpest 50s made. My Zuiko 50/1.4 is an early single-coated (silvernose) one, which isn't the sharpest lens I have, but it has a lovely character with B&W film (and I do keep thinking of getting a late multi-coated one too). I couldn't choose between the Pentax 50/1.7 and Zuiko 50/1.4, because their different characters would make me want one of each. In fact, I actually have a multicoated Zuiko 50/1.8 too (well, actually, several), which is closer to the Pentax 50 in character.

    Of the two 28s, I prefer the Zuiko too. The Pentax 28/2.8 I had was good, but not great - it wasn't as good as the old Takumar 28/3.5 that I used to have, which gave me fantastic images on Kodachrome.

    As I say, I ended up going for Olympus, another part of my reason being being that I think they made a better range of bodies. I think the Pentax MX is great, but I couldn't get on with the ME Super because I really don't like pushing buttons to change shutter speed, and I don't really like any of the other M bodies (I know there are K bodies too, and the LX, but I don't like big bulky ones). Of the OM range, in contrast, I think the OM1, 2, 2SP and OM4 bodies are all great (I have an OM1n, three OM2ns, and an OM4T).

    But I'm rambling :smile:
     
  11. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I totally agree with you on the ME Super, which is my main pentax camera. The button system is nothing but a tack-on maybe good for shooting from a tripod (which I never do). To me it's an aperture-priority camera all the way, thankfully it has a quick exposure compensation and film speed adjustment.

    Maybe I'll look into getting a olympus 50/1.8, for when I want an normal lens but not that last stop of speed.

    Another annoying thing is that Olympus and Pentax lenses focus opposite. Before I got my Olympus camera i had assumed there was an industry agreement on which way you have to turn a photographic lens to focus. Apparently that would be too sensible. Pentax lenses turn anticlockwise to focus to infinity and Olympus lenses turn clockwise. Is Pentax the odd brand out, or Olympus, or is there no most-popular focus direction among manufacturers at all?
     
  12. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    I read somewhere that Takumar lenses were named for a famous Japanese photographer named Takumo. My latest 50/1.7 K mount lens is an SMC-F. I've only used it a few times and only with manual focus cameras. It's now attached to a Ricoh KR-5 Super. The color of the coating looks different from that of the 50/1.7 SMC Pentax-M. Both are good lenses. My favorite K mount standard lens is the 55/1.8 SMC. I also have the 55/2 SMC Pentax which seems to be the same lens but with a different speed marking. All three standard Zuikos I have are 50/1.8 models. You would have to make a pretty large print to see any difference between the Zuiko and the 50/1.7 SMC-F. The only 50/1.4 K mount lens I have is a Sears model made by Ricoh. I never tested it formally but it seems fine.

    I have a 28/2.8 SMC-M and a late model 28/3.5 Zuiko. Both of these also seem fine. The Asahi lens seems better built. I would like to have a 28/3.5 SMC lens but that has become a collector's item. If I need that look I'll use a 28/3.5 SMCT with an adapter. In the popular focal lengths and speeds I find the Zuiko and AOC lenses comparable. The condition of each lens and the care taken is using it are more important that the brand. They are both good.
     
  13. oscroft

    oscroft Member

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    Yes, used just in aperture-priority mode, The ME Super is a great camera - and like the MX, it feels great in my small hands. I'm just too old to change my "tricky lighting" approach, and I need manual metering (or spot metering - the OM4 does it great).

    Hehe, yes, and it's especially annoying if you're out shooting with one of each!

    I don't think either one is the odd one out, particularly. Olympus and Nikon do it one way, and I think all the K-mount and screw-mount cameras did it the other way - don't know about Canon, Minolta etc.

    But that's also another point in favour of Olympus for me. I can get used to either way (my very first SLR was a Pentax Spotmatic), but Olympus do it the same way as my rangefinder gear, so it's all the same - and having the aperture ring at the front is the same too, so that's a bonus.

    'Takumar is the name that Asahi Optical gave to its lenses, notably but not exclusively those for its own SLR cameras. Named after the Japanese craftsman Takuma Kajiwara (梶原啄磨 Kajiwara Takuma?),[1] the name adorned its lenses until 1975, when Asahi switched from the M42 screw mount to the bayonet K-mount.'

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takumar
     
  14. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    I like my Takumars on my Pentax's and my Zuiko's on my Olympus's, of course!
     
  15. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    I have 2 Takumars with 'K' Mount: 135mm f/2.5 and 200mm f/4. They are great. I also have a bunch of Super-Multi-Coated Takumars M42; I love them all; especially the 'bokeh'
     
  16. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Pentax and Nikon focus in the same direction, and their aperture rings move the same way, too. M42 lenses from some other camera manufacturers emulated the Pentaxes. Fuji's Fujinons did.
    IIRC, Ricoh's M42 Rikenons focused opposite, and they changed that when they went to K-mount.

    Both focus and aperture rings on Canon FD, Minolta Rokkor, Konica Hexanon and Topcon's Topcors moved opposite to Nikon's and Pentax's. The focusing ring on Olympus OM series lenses moved opposite, but not the aperture ring.


    If anyone can show me if I'm in error on any of this, I'd appreciate the correction.
     
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