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165 f/2.8 OR 200 f/4 for Pentax 6x7?

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#1 PaulEK

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 01:31 AM

I've pretty much decided that I'm going to buy a Pentax 6x7. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a nice royalty check from Cambridge University Press today, for sales of my book over the past year. It has sold steadily in small numbers since it came out in 2008, but this past year it did better than it has since its first year. I'm going to celebrate by getting the 6x7!

The one I'm looking at is being sold with a 105 f/2.4 lens, for $460, including shipping from Japan. It's from a professional camera seller who has replaced the light seals. I asked him a question about the lens condition, and if he answers the way I hope he does (and if someone else doesn't buy it first), I'll buy it.

I'm also planning to get either the 165mm f/2.8 or the latest 200mm f/4. Having both would be nice, but isn't possible. They seem to both be great lenses, from everything I read, but I'd be grateful for opinions. Is the 165 so close in focal length to the 105 that the 200 makes more sense? Is the 2.8 aperture on the 165 brighter than the 200's f/4, making focusing easier? Is one optically better than the other?

I'd like to get the latest version 55mm f/4, because I hope to use this for daytime photography, too, but that will have to wait a bit (the check wasn't that big).

#2 PaulEK

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 09:26 AM

The camera I was looking at sold to someone else, so now I'm also wondering about thoughts on whether I should get the 90mm or the 105.

#3 Nightfly

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 05:58 PM

Paul, There are a few Pentax 67 users here on the forums and I'm sure each will chime in to give you some advice.

I have used the system for over 6 years after deciding to go medium format over digital. A wise choice then and perhaps so even today.

As far as lenses go, the 165, 200, and even the newest 55 you mention are all excellent.

The 165 has the advantage of the f/2.8 stop and offers a flat field at f/4.8 (so does the 105 as well) Stars are sharp to the corners with a wide open aperture. The portrait perspective is an ideal one for intimate areas of the Milky Way. I would go for this lens vs the 105 or 200.

That being said, the latest 200 is very sharp (only the 400 ED-IF is sharper in the telephoto range) but the f/4 is somewhat slow and needs f/5.6 for a flat field. With patience, this lens shot at f/5.6 offers superior images. It will depend on how long you want to expose. Hence my recommendation for the 165.

With E200 I expose my 165 @ f/4.8 for 45-60 minutes, the 200 @ f/5.6 for 60 + minutes for deep exposures under dark skies. When using the 165 @ f/2.8 20-30 minutes will do the job, and light falloff (vignetting) is not too bad. If you're a software buff you can restore a flat field to the image or crop after exposure.

I paid less than $150 for each of the 165 and 200, so look for the deals. You might get lucky and afford both!

Good film work does require good skies, so I would also look at your conditions you will shoot under.

Good luck in your acquisition of the 67.

#4 PaulEK

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 11:38 PM

Thanks, Jim, this is just the kind of information I'm looking for.

The skies here are pretty dark away from my little town, though there are some light domes down near the horizon.

#5 Nebhunter

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 12:40 AM

I must echo what Jim said. Good deals are to be had now. The only thing I would add is that it becomes addictive these lenses. I started off picking off single lenses and still have the collection. Shoot a lot of landscape. My Lowe Pak was loaded - jammed full - as a Lee bellows and filtration system is also used. We're talking 5 lenses -leaving the 400 EDif behind, plus 67ii, tripod - you get the picture.

Pentax does make two excellent zoom lenses. One goes from 55 to 100 at f/4. #2 goes 90 to 180 @ f/5.6. You could probably get by with the 90 - 180 and cover a lot of landscape with just one lens. However, you would be in the slower ranges for astro. This lens is quite sharp wide open and is very versatile. But they are still on the expensive side used. Just a suggestion.

Personally, I would start with the SMC 165 and go from there. I love lenses.

igor

#6 vahe

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 10:44 AM

Between 165mm and the latest 5 element 200mm by all means get the latest 200mm, it is a sharper lens, the earlier 4 element 200 is ok but nowhere near the later model.
The 165 is ok but is not known as one of the sharper Pentax lenses, not in the same league as the 200.

Vahe

#7 PaulEK

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 11:17 AM

Vahe:

That's what I've read, too, and I may end up trying both. But what Jim and igor say makes sense. The extra stop is important for astro work. And I've seen some amazing shots taken with the 165; it's those images that have me hunting for a 6x7 right now.

#8 Nightfly

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 11:57 AM

I've heard reports of the softness of the 165. It was designed as a portrait lens, so sharpness is less of a consideration given its primary use. That being said, it is sharper than the 105mm 2.4 at equal f-stops and not too far behind the SMC 67 200mm in astrophotography. Both the 165 and 200 are sharp wide open with chromatic aberration well controlled. The 105 wide open is soft. It needs f/4 - 4.8 to be sharp in the corners. This is judging from my copy of these lenses of course.

The 165 has been the lens of choice since the 1980's for portrait perspective wide-field astrophotography and coupled with proper film and dark skies can still floor digital SLR's today. True story.

The newest 200 is nothing short of spectacular when used properly. It is stunningly sharp. I have to double the normal guiding magnification to ensure pinprick stars. I know of one Canon user that adapted it for his 5D and mentioned it exceeded his expensive L glass in every respect. Except convenience I would imagine. :grin:

#9 vahe

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 12:24 PM

I have the older 150/2.8 which I prefer to 165, that one is my preferred portrait lens and I always stop it down one or two stops.
Another lens that I prefer to 165 is the macro 135, that one is also better than the 165.
But the newer 5 element 200 is the best of all if you expect above average sharpness.

Vahe

#10 PaulEK

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 12:46 PM

I can see both sides of this debate, so I let pricing do the deciding for me. KEH.com had both the latest 165 and 200, but they had one 200 for $30 less than the 165, so that's what I went with. It may not be the best way to make a decision, but I can always change my mind later. I also got a body and TTL prism. All for $410, including shipping and insurance. I feel good about that.

Here's where I'm getting the funds for any other near-term 6x7 stuff. I do want to get the latest 55mm, if only for landscape work. The cheapest I've seen it is $300.

Any suggestions for my next astro lens? Should I get a 165 to compare, or go for an earlier 300 (I cannot afford the latest)? Or something else, since I have the 200. The 150 is fast, and inexpensive. I'm hearing the 105 is not the best for astro, but it is very fast. (It's also not cheap, when bought on its own).

#11 PaulEK

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 12:49 PM

I forgot the link above. Here it is.

#12 vahe

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 03:41 PM

On 55mm wides Pentax offered 3 versions, the first one and a big one is F/3.5 it is the least desirable optically, the last 55mm is one of the best Pentax lenses ever produced, $300 is a good average price.

As for 300mm the early garden variety version is a so-so performer, it goes for around $300 give and take, the ED version is night & day in difference, spectacular performance and about 3-4 times the price of standard version, the comparison between these two is like achromat vs apochromat, really no contest.

Vahe

#13 Nightfly

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 04:34 PM

The 300mm Takumar is perhaps the least desirable lens among the lot. I have gotten good results with it as a landscape lens at f/8 and above. With B&W film such as Acros 100, the use of a yellow filter allows the lens to perform well with very small star images. With E200 there is excessive bloating of brighter stars. I'd rate it a c+ / B- .

#14 PaulEK

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 06:39 PM

Thanks, guys. I'll pass on the 300 then.

I think I just found another Kodak Aero Ektar. I already have a 4x5 Speed Graphic sitting here waiting for refurbishing. I put them together and make a fairly good return. This will provide funds for the 55 and a lot more. Would a 400 or 300 ED be the next choice, if I had the funds?

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#15 Nightfly

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 07:47 PM

Nice looking LF! Contemplating the 300 and 400 ED glass is tempting. Prepare to spend $1,200 + for the 300 ED-IF or 3K + for the 400 ED-IF. Nebhunter has the 400 and it is a performer. I had the luxury of shooting it once. It's a big hunk of exotic glass. You'll also need a good heavy and steady platform for it as well, but you would have a true astrograph. The details captured would be incredible.

#16 PaulEK

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 10:38 PM

3K + is a bit beyond me, even after selling a Speed/Ektar combination, but $1200 + might be doable. Any suggestions for places to look for a 300 ED-IF?

I have a G-11, and hope to have it eventually mounted on a pier in an observatory.

Since we're talking astrographs, let me go a little further off-topic and ask for any recommendations for dedicated astro lenses that might be less expensive than the 400 ED-IF. There's one on eBay right now, but the asking price is $8000! I like the idea of a focal length around 400mm for a 6x7 frame.

#17 Nightfly

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 06:09 AM

Borg used to make astrographs capable of covering the 6x7 format, but with modern sensors being smaller, I believe they have reduced the light cone of most. They are still expensive, but nice to drool over.

Borg Products:

http://www.sciencece...125sd/index.htm


With a G-11 you are all set for heavy mounting. I use a fork mounted SCT and this works best for me as there is no meridian flip. Most of my work involves working at the meridian.

The 300 ED IF is a stellar performer and with adapters can work with digital SLR's or CCD just fine. It's that good.

I use old Pentax glass from the early 70's on my digital and am always amazed on how well Pentax (Asahi Optical / Takumar) made their lenses. It was the era of competing with Leica and Zeiss. Yes, they were that good.

#18 vahe

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 09:14 AM

There are currently several Pentax 300ED lenses on eBay for around $1K, once you go above that it makes more sense to look into 4” F/4 apo refractors instead of expensive 400ED telephoto lenses, in fact Pentax makes such apos and one was advertised in Amart just recently.

Vahe

#19 PaulEK

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 09:37 AM

Thanks, guys! It'll be a while, but I think a 55 and 300ED are in my future.

#20 Nightfly

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 09:41 AM

The 4" APO refractors made by pentax are a good choice. Most 4" APO's however do not have the image circle to cover the 67 format which is 89mm in diameter. Astro-Physics made refractors around the 67 format. I believe TEC makes a few as well. $$$

I would try to buy a Pentax astrograph. Most likely less money on the used market than the 400 ED. The 4" APO would be less useful if you wanted to use outside of astrophotography due to no iris among other features.

It's a shame to waste those nice medium format astrographs on small digital sensors. The field of view is incredible.

#21 PaulEK

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 01:39 PM

That's why I want to get back into film. I think the DSLRs are the best choice for close views of smaller DSOs, for several reasons. And really high resolution on bright Solar System objects is now best done with the even smaller sensors of dedicated astronomy video cameras. But for wide, deep views, digital cameras still don't come close to film (unless you have the tens of thousands of dollars a medium format digital back costs, and they are not really friendly for astro, as far as I can tell). I have a modded Canon T1i and an Imaging Source webcam, and I'm building a 14-inch reflector, partially to use them to their fullest. But I want to print poster sized swaths of space, and large pieces of film are the best way, and the cheapest way, to do it. I suppose I could create mosaics with the DSLR, but they just don't look the same. And I can create mosaics with film, too!

#22 Nightfly

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 02:26 PM

Sounds good Paul. Yes, mosaics with film. Now you're talking! The resolution with film is very high in wide-angle work. I believe this is in part to the optics. A normal lens in medium format is 90-105 mm. In the case of the 105, its focal length and aperture is much greater than the typical APS-C chipped cam. At f/4 is has an aperture greater than 25mm, where a 35mm lens at f/4 would only be less than 9mm. The efficiency of the sensor makes up for this in part, but not fully. Aperture is a limiting factor.

You can do the math for the 165 and 200 and beyond. Aperture and focal length provide greater resolution for a given field of view.

If one could manufacture a large format camera with long fast lenses, keeping the film flat and eliminating flexure, this would be a killer ap.

For medium to small object through telescopes, digital wins.

#23 PaulEK

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 02:47 PM

'If one could manufacture a large format camera with long fast lenses, keeping the film flat and eliminating flexure, this would be a killer ap.'

They tried that on Mount Polomar: to keep the film flat, they used huge glass plates, and they had a pretty long, fast lens, too!

I did just buy another Aero Ektar lens, so knowing I'll have more funds coming, I spent some of what I already had on a late 55mm f/4 lens. We get so few great nights for imaging here that I want something nice to use for daytime landscape shots, so I can use up a roll of film quicker.

i'd better not get too free with the cash, though: I have a 14-inch mirror on the way, and I need to build a scope around it.

#24 Nightfly

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 03:55 PM

You'll love the 55. Again, redesigned from the ground up by Pentax. It seems to be a variant of the Zeiss distagon. Critically sharp, wide open or not. A great landscape lens. I have used it for astrophotography, but due to its narrow aperture, < 10mm @ f/5.6 it takes rather long exposures to get enough light on the film. Ninety minutes does the job with E200 when shooting the Milky Way.

The 45/4 is almost as sharp and offers the widest rectilinear image in the 67 system. I find I use this one the most nowadays. Depth of field is wonderful when doing moonlit landscapes.

#25 Doppler

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 07:11 PM

There's a 77mm Borg on the classifieds, with a 2.5-inch focuser, perhaps it covers 6x7(?).






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