Three new lenses - Pentax 15mm, 70mm and Panasonic 45mm

Pentax K-5 15mm f4 & 70mm F2.4 lens - Panasonic GH2 Leica 45mm f2.8 macro


Pentax 15mm F/4
Reading reviews of lenses is often the only way that I'm able to assess if its right for me. There are few situations these days where you can go and try one for a while. In trying to decide which lenses to get for my newly acquired Pentax K-5, I was interested in the 15mm f/4. Its very small and light, and with a 35mm equivalent of 22.5mm and the depth of field of a 15mm it was ideal for me. However there were some not very enthusiastic reviews. 

Dpeview said "Unfortunately though it's rather soft wide open, and even when stopped down is never breathtakingly sharp in the fashion we'd hope for from a premium prime" There were also similar reviews saying much the same thing. 

However from a Pentax forum I saw the following
"For all the talk of soft images in some of the formal reviews, this lens is very sharp all the way around. I've only used it stopped down, but I have never felt the image quality has been anything other than superb. I should also mention the colour is fantastic on this lens....right up there with the DA* line of lenses, and the contrast is also top notch." It was a Pentax forum so it could have been less than objective, but there were many more posts saying much the same thing. I tried to find a raw file shot with the lens but was unsuccessful. There were some jpgs in the Dpreview review (link- http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/pentax_15_4_p15/) but I don't find Dpreview jpgs to be very helpful usually.

This was the lens I wanted however, and I've always had good experiences with Pentax primes so decided to get it.

Pentax K-5 15mm F4 lens

A few test shots gave me my answer. This lens is SHARP! I have no idea where the Dpreview judgement came from. Their copy was substandard? Mine is a really good one? They did review it on a Pentax K20, so that could have made a difference. However I'm very pleased with it. At f/4 its a bit softer at the edges but the centre is very sharp throughout the apertures. Its a really small lens and reminds me of the Voigtlander M-Mount 15mm. I'll have no problems using this lens and I'm really glad I believed the people who bought it and use it rather than those who reviewed it.

Pentax K-5 15mm F4 lens

Pentax K-5 15mm F4 lens



Pentax 70mm F/2.4
This lens was no mystery to me. I had one briefly with my short-lived Pentax K-7 last year. I had bought one S/H and managed to sell it for a profit on ebay. It was the only lens that made the K-7 images look reasonably sharp, so I know its a good lens. Its only real disadvantage is that it only focuses to .7 Metre, which makes it less useful than it should be. Point of focus is very sharp however and its a terrific lens wide open.

Pentax K-5 70mm F2.4 lens

Pentax K-5 70mm F2.4 lens

Pentax K-5 70mm F2.4 lens

With the 15mm this gives a rather nice two lens outfit for the K-5. With the size of the lenses, a very small light outfit too. I've used heavier m4/3 combinations. This is now a DSLR that I'll use, rather than leave sitting on a shelf, waiting for a "pro" job to come along.

Pentax K-5 15mm f4 & 70mm F2.4 lens

Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f2.8 Macro lens
This snappily titled lens was no mystery to me as I've had one before. As reported earlier I sold it to help pay for my Leica M9. I put it on ebay and was thinking of changing my mind when somebody bought it less than an hour after I put it up for sale. I've always regretted this, and a few minutes spent with it yesterday made me regret it even more. 

Panasonic GH2 Leica 45mm f2.8 macro

This is a lens that also gets somewhat "mixed" reviews. I really have never understood this. Its a superb lens, one of the best m4/3 lenses. Its beautifully sharp, with virtually no distortion and a pleasure to use. Its been criticised for slow AF but on my GH2 its incredibly quick. Even going from infinity focus to a few inches its still pretty speedy. There's a bit of hunting at macro levels, but thats pretty normal for this type of lens. Using it as a medium-telephoto it takes real advantage of the improved AF response of the GH2 and I was surprised at just how quick and accurate it was. These shots below are macro shots on a tripod, but I did use AF to see how it performed.

Panasonic GH2 Leica 45mm f2.8 macro

Panasonic GH2 Leica 45mm f2.8 macro

Panasonic GH2 Leica 45mm f2.8 macro

This lens is often compared with the Olympus 50mm f/2 Macro 4/3 lens. While the Olympus is a great lens optically, its very difficult to use. Its really slow to AF, even on my 4/3 Panasonic L10. However Ric Seet, in a comment he posted has indicated that its very fast on the E-5.* I'll see if I can persuade him to give some more feedback on that. 

* Even having bought the K-5 I can't seem to get the idea of buying the Olympus out of my head. Quite a few photographers I'm aware of and whose work I like have bought one to use their 4/3 lenses on, and are producing some lovely work with it. Though I have some reservations about the 12MP sensor, it does seem to produce wonderful colours at low ISO's. The thought of being able to use my 4/3 lenses on it is very appealing. 

However, back to the new lenses. I'm very pleased with all of them. Its nice to have the Pentax 70mm back, and its nice to use it on a sensor that does it justice. Its also good to have the 45mm Panasonic Leica again. I should never have sold the first one. However I never lost a great deal of money on the first one, so its not been a financial disaster. The Pentax 15mm is new to me and initial impressions lead me to believe that I'm going to like that too.

David