Photography News | Issue 34 | absolutephoto.com
Pentax With almost a century of rich and successful heritage in optical design, Pentax lenses offer some exciting features that you won’t find anywhere else… Lens special
This is the kind of location where Pentax gear really comes into its own…
Words by Kingsley Singleton
As one of photography’s most historic names, you’d expect Pentax to offer a huge range of lenses, catering to photographers of all levels and interests. And you’d be right. The line is broadly split into K-mount, Q-mount and 645-mount lenses, but as with any line-up there’s lots to differentiate, too. Pentax (which since 2011 has been a brand within the Ricoh Imaging Co.) was originally founded almost 100 years ago as the Asahi Optical Joint Stock Co. The company made lenses for spectacles, which it still does, but over the years, it diversified into camera lenses, binoculars and telescopes, then cameras themselves. Back to the lenses. There are eight models in the Q-mount range to complement the mirrorless Q-S1; these comprise standard primes, zooms, wide-angle options and also creative lenses like the 03 Fish-Eye 3.2mm f/5.6 with its huge 160º angle of view and 05 Toy Lens Telephoto 18mmwith its fixed f/8 aperture. At the other end of the spectrum is Pentax’s fleet of 19 lenses for its 645D and 645Z medium-format cameras. These, many of which offer weather- resistance (WR) to complement that of the cameras, include everything you’d expect from a pro range; a full suite of focal lengths from wide- angles such as the HD Pentax-DA 645 28-45mmf/4.5 EDAWSR, to fast standard lenses like the HD D-FA 645 90mm f/2.8 ED AW SR that
make the most of the wonderfully shallowdepth-of-field that the 645Z’s medium-format sensor produces. There are also telephoto options, such as the smc FA 645 300mm f/4 ED IF for those shooting sports and action. The range also includes teleconverters, the Rear Converter A645 1.4x and 2x. Finally, the K-mount is where the largest number of Pentax lenses are to be found; 44 in the current line-up, though some are very similar options on the same design, varying mainly in coatings. Of these, the latest is Pentax’s HD (High Definition) coating, which improves light transmittance and produces sharper images free from flare and ghosting. K-mount lenses canbe fitted to any current Pentax DSLR, but with the advent of the K-1 full-frame body, the split between those designed for full- frame use and those engineered for APS-C sensored bodies like the K-3 II is important. ‘ D-FA is the designation for full- frame glass, like the new HD D FA 15-30mm f/2.8 ED SDM WR. D’ is for smaller sensors, like the smc DA 12-24mm f/4. If the lenses have an ‘*’ it generally means they’re top of the line with fast maximum apertures (such as the DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 ED IF SDM), while the Limited line are compact primes with metal housings (like the 20-40mm, right).
HDDA20-40mmf2.8-4 ED LimitedDCWR £660 This wide-angle zoom for Pentax DSLRs with APS-C sized sensors is a versatile lens that’s equally as at home shooting landscapes as it is group shots, architecture and low-light subjects. Made of high- grade, hand-machined aluminium, the lens is weather-sealed to prevent intrusion of water and dust, and Pentax’s Super Protect (SP) coating repels moisture and grease from the front element. Optically, the lens uses Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass and a super- low dispersion glass element alongside HD coatings to deliver clear, high resolution images.
Above Whether you’re shooting on Pentax mirrorless, DSLRs or medium- format cameras, there are wide-angle options in abundance, such as the smc DA 12-24mm f/4 ED AL IF. Below Many of Pentax’s K-mount and 645-mount lenses offer protection fromwater and dust (look out for AW or WR in the name), so if you’re adventurous like Matt Emmett, you can shoot in places like this cave.
Pentax user: Matt Emmett
rocky passages, and setting up a shot and seeing the dripping of water from the cave formations above onto the camera just isn’t an issue.” Matt travelled light for this trip, taking his K-3 II and two lenses, the Pentax 20-40mm f/2.8-4 DA EDWR Limited and the SMC DA 12-24mm f/4 ED AL IF. “The money shots for this cave are mostly within a small, fantastically decorated chamber and so it’s mostly wide-angle glass that you need. I used my two 1500 lumen Scurion lamps to illuminate the chamber using their wide beam settings and let the awesome image quality of the K-3 II do its work.” Matt certainly counts the 20-40mm f/2.8-4 DA EDWR Limited among his favourites. “It’s my most used lens for sure,” he glows, “the resolving power is stunning and it’s almost totally free from fringeing even under harsh lighting conditions. The build quality is excellent, it’s weather-sealed… basically it does the job for me again and again.”
grubby at best. The lenses I use are not particularly fast but I normally shoot long exposures on a tripod in manual or bulb mode anyway so it’s not an issue, However what my lenses lack in speed they make up for in IQ; the image quality is always excellent.” Matt’s last shoot wasn’t his typical fare, but it’s a great example of how Pentax’s tough lenses can let you shoot in inhospitable places. “Before I got into architecture I was obsessed with caving,” he explains, “exploring some of the bigger systems in the hills above Crickhowell in South Wales. I broke two DSLRs in quick succession doing it, so decided I needed a new subject that wouldn’t so readily kill my kit. But recently I had a chance to shoot a cave I’d never seen.” Access to the location was the trick he goes on to say, and involved abseiling halfway down vertical sea cliffs on a remote section of coastline. “This is the kind of location where Pentax gear really comes into its own,” he says, “the rugged build and weather sealing of body and lenses gives you real peace of mind when dragging your kitbag though some of the tighter
Matt Emmett specialises in documenting modern ruins and heritage locations around the UK and Europe; a photographic theme widely known as dereliction these days. His association with Pentax cameras and lenses goes way back to travelling Asia with a Pentax ME Super SLR, and now he shoots for them professionally with both the K-3 II and the medium-format 645Z. So what does he shoot and what is it that makes Pentax lenses appealing for those subjects? “I have an ongoing obsession with abandoned industrial remnants; steel plants, power stations and factories mostly but I’ll shoot just about any kind of crumbling architecture or building with an interesting story to it,” says Matt. Crumbling is the operative word there, because where there’s crumbling there’s dust. Pentax’s fleet of weather-sealed lenses – those which carry the WR and AW designations – and camera bodies must be a huge benefit then? “Yeah,” Matt agrees, “they have to have the ability to withstand dust, dirt and moisture with ease, because these abandoned locations are wet and
HD-DFA* 70-200mmF2.8 EDDC AW £1850 As a D FA lens, this model is equally at home on the full-frame Pentax K-1 body or DSLRs with cropped sensors like the K-3 II, where it gives an equivalent focal length of 107-307mm. On either, it’s an ideal lens for a range of subjects, from sports and action to portraiture, thanks to the wide maximum aperture of f/2.8. As an HD lens it also benefits from Pentax’s High Definition coating for crisp clear images. It’s also weather-resistant (WR) with 13 separate seals, and autofocus is brisk and accurate thanks to the built-in DC motor.
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