Archives for December 2008

Sony vs Canon Lenses

Sony has been pretty active and aggressive in recent years in digital SLR market. Sony DSLR department inherited technology from Konica Minolta that does not exist anymore. In camera section, Sony has any camera for any class. From entry level: Sony A200, enthusiast: Sony A300/A350, Semi-pro: A700 and Professional full frame Sony A900.

In lens department, we can see a huge gap between entry level lens and pro level lens. Let’s compare Sony lens collection with Canon lens collection.

Note: The price might change, and if the market price change, it tends to be lower.
BC is build quality, IQ is image quality

As we can see, Sony prime lens collection is not only less compared to Canon lens, but they are also quiet expensive. Most of the lens are for professionals. The most affordable of the crop is Sony 50mm f/1.4 a standard lens which is around $350.

In the wide general purpose lens section, Sony delivers many options for entry level to professionals. For professional, Sony offers 16-35mm f/2.8 and 24-70mm f/2.8. For enthusiasts, there are many to choose, 16-105mm is a affordable versatile lens, and 16-80mm produces great quality image but a bit expensive.

Sony also has superzoom telephoto that is ideal when you only want to travel with one camera and one lens but you still want to have a lens that have wide coverage of focal length. The lens is also great for social events outdoor such as a parade.

Read More…


In telephoto zoom lens section, Sony only have several lens in the market. Two of them are entry level lens (usually called kit lens), and the other two are for professionals. So we can see there is a huge gap between entry-level and professional grade lens.

It is also interesting that Sony just launch the 70-400mm lens. This lens focal length is very flexible, mechanically excellent and the image quality is great.

In macro lens category, Sony lenses are overpriced.

In Conclusion
I feel that Sony is focusing in only two kinds of photographer, one is entry level users that buy a cheap digital slr with kit lens and use it for years. The other one is professional photographers.

Looking from lens collection, there are very limited choice for entry level users to grow to enthusiasts level because there is a huge gap on the price between entry level and pro level lenses.

The price of the professional grade lenses are also relatively expensive. It is mostly because Sony have to share the profit with Carl Zeiss, the famous lens manufacturer. Also because of the size of the market share Sony posseses right now, It is quiet hard to find a used or bargain lenses.

The expensiveness of Sony lens is a bit disappointing because Sony cameras offer built-in body stabilization. So the lens should be less expensive than lens-based stabilization that Canon or Nikon offer.

Because Sony digital SLR is still in infant and will keep growing, we hope that in the future Sony makes more lenses to bridge entry level users and professionals, and set a more competitive price.

Related posts:

 

Panasonic Lumix LX3 Review

After using Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3S (for Silver) for a while, I am impressed of its capability and quality.

Build Quality and Control
LX3 has very good build quality. It feels tough, scratch and the size is smaller and lighter than its competitor Canon G series. It fit in my winter coat easily. The silver version I have looks very classy and shiny.Like other advanced compact cameras, LX3 allow users to set aperture, shutter speed and focus manually. Like digital SLR camera, we have aperture priority (A), Speed priority (S), iA (inteligent auto mode), SCN (Scene selections), Movie mode, Automatic without flash (P) mode, two custom settings and off course full manual mode.

The intelligent mode (iA) is great to recognize the scene and adjust the setting automatically for us. For example, when I am shooting at night, the mode dial automatically adjust to night scene. The image comes up great without blown highlight unlike other entry level compact camera.

The other great thing the camera has to offer is the ability to choose aspect ratio for image and also video. For me it is a great creative tools for any photographers. The aspects ratio we can choose for image is 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9. For movie: 4:3 and wide screen 16:9.

Image Quality and Video Quality
The main difference between this camera with Canon G series or other compact cameras is the famous leica lens is able to go down to f/2-2.8. This big aperture ensure the camera to take picture in dim light with lowest iso sensitivities as possible. The result is cleaner look.

Even when I took picture in very big aperture of f/2, the depth of field remain very large. This is because the relatively smaller sensor compared to digital slr camera. I feel this is one of great advantage over digital SLR camera where the depth of field was so shallow in lower aperture lens. The lens is also wider than other advanced compact out there (24mm). It is superb for low light indoor large group picture.

In addition, MEGA OIS (optical image stabilization) help to combat hand shake. I am able to take picture without blur up to 1/15 shutter speed easily.

About the noise, The result is relatively clean up to iso 400 which is about equal to iso 800 in dslr camera. In iso 800, the noise start to be a problem. It is about equal to iso 2400 in dslr camera.

Regarding to movie mode, I haven’t try it extensively but looking at samples that other took, It was very clean and smooth. The built in microphone did the job well too.

The Downside
The not so good about this camera is the lens cap. Not like other compact, that have built-in lens cap. The LX3 lens cap could be annoying. Also some of the buttons and joystick might be too small for people with a large finger (fortunately I have thin and small fingers).

Built-in flash is provided but the result of the image with flash is not good. Luckily it has hot shoe for external flash.

There is no viewfinder (external viewfinder is optional but very expensive aprox. $140) but the hi-res 460k LCD screen are sharper than any entry-level dslr camera out there.

The last one is the zoom, it is limited from wide to standard length). So users that interested on taking picture from a far (wild life, airplane, candids) will be disapointed.

The RAW picture is not supported by major software such as Adobe lightroom or Photoshop just yet. Except the newest CS4.

In conclusion
This camera certainly is a very unique camera because it is superior for low light (compared to other compact cameras) and have a very wide angle (24mm) which is the best for landscape, large group picture and indoor.

For new users: if you love to take wide angle pictures and don’t like to take telephoto pictures then take this cameras. You’ll love it. It has many useful application such as family events, travel landscape and even macro.

For Digital SLR users and hobbyists: Because its portability, there is no excuse on not to take this camera around with you in anytime. You will be surely do not miss the moment. While the image quality is not up to par to digital slr camera with “PRO” grade lens, but this camera do produce sharp pictures for regular print or web.

In addition, for all users, the movie mode it provide will be very handy to capture some high quality video clip.

Canon 50D vs Nikon D90

Canon 50D and Nikon D90, relatively new announced camera this Fall 2008 is actually fall in different class. Canon 50D is designed more for semi-professional and D90 is more for enthusiasts. But there are many people that ask which one is better for them? This article is trying to explain about their similarities and especially their differences.

Features

On Canon 50D advantages

  • Canon 50D has bigger image resolution 15 megapixel compare to 12 megapixel of Nikon D90.
  • Canon 50D has 14-bit conversion for smooth color tones and gradations.
  • Canon 50D has better continuous shooting speed (6.3 fps vs 4.5 fps).
  • Canon 50D features high end feature such as AF-adjustment and New Lens Peripheral Illumination Correction which help to optimize image quality for individual lenses.
  • New Creative auto is very handy for novice and enthusiasts.
  • Tough magnesium alloy body resistant to dust, moisture and bad weather.


On Nikon D90 advantages

  • Nikon D90 has ability to record video clip with sound to 720p HD (1280 x 720 pixels).
  • Nikon D90 features high iso up to 6400 with a very usable 3200, while 50D has iso up to 12800 but 50D’s iso 3200 is not as clean as D90.
  • Nikon kit lens 18-105mm that come with D90 is better than Canon kit lens (either 18-200 or 28-135mm).

Both cameras has auto sensor cleaning and 3 inch hi-res lcd monitor with live view.

Price
By the time I write the article, Canon 50D is about $250 more expensive than Nikon D90.

Built quality
Canon 50D body is built using magnesium alloy, weather resistant but not water splash. Nikon D90 body is significantly less durable which is rugged/reinforced plastic. Both cameras are very ergonomic and fits most hand well. Nikon d90 is lighter and smaller (Try it at store).

In conclusion
Both camera are exceptional cameras in 2008. Canon 50D is a high end camera but it is very friendly to new users (new creative auto, 3 inch lcd screen with live view). Canon 50D also answers many complaints from professional about the lens AF focus system problems by giving the AF-adjustment feature which could be very helpful if you have a broad range of third party lenses. The body of 50D is also tough, able to withstand harsh weather outdoor and couple accidental knocks. It also has higher image resolution that might be helpful to print oversize poster or cropping later in post processing without losing a lot of details.

But Canon 50D is not perfect, Nikon D90 has some features that you might excited to use such as video recording capability that you can use with many Nikon lenses. The new kit lens is very versatile and sharp. If you shoot a lot in low light situation without flash, Nikon has a cleaner image in high iso (1600-3200). D90 is also cheaper.

In making decision, it comes back to what you really need, do you really need pro features and body that Canon 50D offers? or you are more excited to try out video feature D90 has to offer and save some money in the process.

I will say most of enthusiasts will be satisfied with Nikon D90 and kit lens performance but for professional photographer especially photo journalists, Canon 50D will be a better choice because its durability, higher speed in continuous shooting and some other features that I mentioned above. But to get full advantage of 50D, I recommend users to invest on a higher quality Canon lens instead of average kit lens that Canon offers.

Related post:

Canon lenses vs Olympus lenses

Like other big manufacturer of Digital SLR system, Olympus offers full range of lenses for their system. Compared to Canon lens collection, Olympus has a good collection of standard general purpose and telephoto zoom lenses but not so many in low light prime lenses.

Note: The price might change, and if the market price change, it tends to be lower.
BC is build quality, IQ is image quality

As a said before, Olympus does not have many collection of prime lenses. Prime lens is a fixed focal length lenses which are used greatly by photographers in many occasions such as for sports, portraits, social events, etc. For prime and zoom lens differences click here.

In general purpose lens category (wide to telephoto zoom), Olympus offers a good selection of lenses. Some of the lenses are exceptional in image and built quality. One of the star is 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD. This lens has a versatile focal length equivalent to 24-120mm or 15-75mm (Canon range). That because Olympus has crop factor multiplier of 2 and Canon has 1.6. This lens has very fast and quiet focusing due to SWD (Supersonic wave drive) technology.

Along with 12-60mm, Olympus also offers other high quality and worth to mention which is 14-35mm f/2 SWD. This lens is very advance because it has a very big aperture and great focusing speed.

Both of the lens come out with a premium price tag of $850 and $2200.

Read More…

In Telephoto zoom lens category, Olympus is also have some lenses that are good for wildlife photography such as high power zoom 70-300mm and 90-250mm. Both focal length are equivalent to 87.5 x 375mm and 112.5 x 312mm (Compared to Canon length) respectively.

This focal length of Olympus telephoto zoom lens is significant because Olympus lenses have longer coverage than Canon famous 70-200mm series and also the 90-250mm has big max aperture of f/2.8 while in the same length, Canon only offer 100-400mm lens which has significantly smaller aperture of f/4.5-5.6. Of course the Olympus 90-250mm comes with hefty price tag of $5400 compare to Canon’s $1400.

In macro lens category, Olympus only offer two macro lens while Canon offers many more. But do not underestimate Olympus macro lens just yet. The 50mm macro for example can go down to f/2 which is great for low light, and both of the lenses have a decent price tag. Unfortunately, Olympus macro lens built quality and focusing mechanism are not as good as the image quality provided.

In conclusion
Olympus offers many lenses which capable to produce high quality images. It seems to me that the Olympus philosophy are less is good. If you love to use general “all you can do” lens and high quality long telephoto zoom lens in the market, then Olympus collection might be appealing.

The other advantage of Olympus lenses is the fact that most of Olympus digital slr cameras have built-in stabilization (Except E4X0 and some older models). So all lenses that you connect to the camera will have the benefit of image stabilization whereas in Canon only certain lenses have image stabilization feature.

But if you fond of prime lenses and macro, Olympus does not have many to offer. There is also a gap from Olympus lenses for example, to upgrade to a better lenses, the price different between the standard and the professional grade lens is very significant. For example, standard lenses costs around $200-500 but professional grade lenses starts from $850 and many costs thousands. This might be big a turn off for enthusiasts that desire more affordable pro grade lenses.

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Pentax lenses vs Canon lenses

Pentax offers a full range of lenses from wide, telephoto, zoom and specialty lenses up to date. Compared to Canon lenses, Pentax has some advantages. In this entry I will evaluate only modern up-to date lenses (not discontinued or legacy lenses).

First, Pentax lenses’ price tag is significantly cheaper than the Canon counterpart. For example, Pentax 14mm f/2.8 is $1400 cheaper than Canon 14mm f/2.8. General purpose low light lens Pentax DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 SDM is also significantly cheaper than Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM or 24-70mm f/2.8. ($600 compare to $1000 / 1200)

When you have to pay quite a lot of money for lens-based Image stabilization in advance Canon lenses, in Pentax, you have built-in stabilization in camera body that work with every Pentax lenses up to date. That is one reason why Pentax lenses are cheaper.

Second, Pentax has exotic pancake lenses collection called DA Limited. These lenses are optimized for its small built yet very durable and produce great image quality. These lenses are affordable (starting at $250) and ideal for photographers who value ultimate portability.

Third, Pentax new DA* (DA Star) is a new breed of Pentax lenses. They are weather sealed and equipped by lens-based motor drive called SDM (Supersonic Motor). In the past, Pentax is quite behind Canon and Nikon in term of speed of Auto Focus, with the introducing of SDM and DA*, then the gap is narrower.

Read More…
On the other hand, Canon lenses has advantage of being complete. Practically, it has almost everything that beginner, enthusiasts to professional needs at any of price that they can afford.

Even though Canon IS lenses are expensive, but they are more advance from Pentax built-in stabilization in camera body. It has advantage of 1-3 more stops. Canon Lens-based stabilization also allowerd photographer to see the effect of stabilization from viewfinder immediately after it is activated.

Before you decide on what digital slr camera to buy, it is wise to check out their cameras and lenses at the same time. Because by making decision on camera, means that you decide on their lens collection as well.

Off course, they are also third party lenses that are available for both brands: Sigma, Tokina, Tamron.

Here are table of direct lenses comparison:
BC is Lens build, IQ is Image quality

Comments: Pentax offers a solid line-up comparable to Canon’s from super wide angle lens to standard general purpose lenses. Lenses like DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 SDM and DA 17-70mm f4 SDM is very versatile and almost a must have for most Pentax photographers.

Canon outshines Pentax in telephoto ranges. Canon 70-200mm series are awesome along with high range 70-300mm and affordable entry level 55-250mm IS. Canon also have stellar collection for professional sport photographers in low light – super telephoto prime, while Pentax only provide medium telephoto DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 and 60-250mm f4 lens.

In conclusion
In general photography, especially wide to medium telephoto (14-135mm) Pentax has many quality lenses for you, but in telephoto range of 70-400mm, Canon provides many more options especially pro-quality lenses. If you care about portability, Pentax pancake lenses could catch your attention. Overall, Pentax system could save you significant amount of money, but Canon has significantly better collection to deal with low light, sports or fast action photography.

Related post: Pentax System, Canon EOS System, Pentax vs Sony vs Olympus lenses

Music Concert Photography

Taking pictures of concert photography is tricky, but in the nutshell, you will need a correct equipments for the job, and has the access to the pit (a gap between audience and the band). To get access to the pit, you will need to have a pass. You could ask permission directly, or you can ask a local publication to help you to get a press pass, and usually you need to give them the pictures

Camera and lenses
Equipments that you need are a digital slr camera and low light lens. Low light lens means that the lens should have a maximum aperture greater or same as f/2.8, for example: f/1.8 or f/1.4.

If you are using a crop sensor camera (which is common digital slr camera like Canon EOS Rebel series, Nikon D80, D90, D300, Pentax, Olympus and Sony (except A900), then 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 prime will be ideal, more than 85mm will be too long.

If you like wide angle shot, than you will need either 20mm prime or big aperture zoom such as 17-55mm f/2.8.

If you shoot using full frame camera, 70-200mm f/2.8 will be ideal.

Camera setting and the changing light
There are debates whether to use Aperture priority (av) or Speed priority (tv). Before, I like to use shutter priority so I can get consistently non-blurry pictures, but because the concert light is always changing, I will say the ideal might be manual mode and change the setting manually depending on light condition and effects you like to achieve.

For example, when you want to freeze the shot, you will need to set a higher shutter speed up to 1/125 or greater, but if you want to show some motion, than 1/60-1/80 will be good. If you plan to show a lot of motion, then try 1/15. Generally, 1/125 is my favorite.

Most of the prime lenses are sharp in f/2.8 so I would love to keep it on that, but on zoom lens, f/2.8 is usually not that sharp, they are usually significantly sharper if you stop down to f/4 and critically sharp at f/5.6. But to achieve f/5.6 is very challenging because the light is usually dim. So you will need to compensate it with raising ISO. In modern camera and full frame, high iso up to 3200 is very usable.

If you use manual setting, knowing where the buttons and how to change setting quickly is crucial, because the light is very dim, so most of the time, you could press wrong buttons.

We also want to avoid blown highlight, by checking lcd often but briefly. When you notice there are blown highlight, you need to set iso / aperture down or shutter speed up to compensate it.

Also remember to shoot in RAW if possible, because by shooting in RAW, you can adjust white balance, bring up some loss detail and adjust exposure.

Ok that is my tips and experience on shooting music concert and I hope that you can benefited from it.

Suggestion on what to shoot:
1. Band include lead singer.
2. Audience
3. Wide angle shot of the scene
4. detail shot / face expression of the individual band.

Best dslr camera for semi pro 2008

Camera in semi-pro class has similar characteristics, they are design for their toughness, reliability and top of the line of crop sensor camera. Even they have bigger price tag, but it is still within reach for many consumers.

The competition in this semi-pro class is quite tight and the pricing is about right (market is working pretty well) and because of that, it is hard to determine the best value camera for 2008 in this class.

But after careful consideration, I pick Canon 50D as the best value.

Canon EOS 50D is an upgrade of the favorite camera Canon 40D. It is a respond for Nikon D300 which has more feature set for pro, more customizable auto focus system and noise handling. So, 50D come with higher resolution (15 megapixel), better buffer for continuous shooting, improved noise handling and some useful feature such as AF adjustment to combat lens front/back focus . 50D also has an attractive price. Looking back one year ago, the price is almost the same as Canon 40D which is a great! Canon 50D has 12 points.

Unfortunately Canon 50D comes with no so good kit lens (18-200mm), while the lens are very flexible due to its massive zoom, but the image quality is not so good. At least not for the price point. I will recommend you to look for other general purpose lens such as 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, 17-85mm or 28-135mm. Related post: 18-200mm vs 17-85mm

There are several cameras that earns 11 points or runner up. But I decided to pick Nikon D300 as a runner-up. This camera is tough, reliable have many features that usable for pro, and also the famous 51 point Nikon Auto focusing system. It also has above average noise handling. As a result, this camera is ideal for sports. The only problem with this camera is the price, currently it is $300 more expensive than equivalent Canon 50D.

The big underdog camera of 2008 is Pentax k20d. Although this camera is an underdog, but it is definitely a camera capable to deliver high image quality. It has 14 megapixel resolution, water splash proof body, good noise handling and super duper attractive price. Priced around $1400 when it first launched, now k20D price has been discounted half ($750). K20d users are also benefited from built-in image stabilization. This feature will definitely save users a lot of money since lenses with Image stabilization are still relatively high.

The downside of this camera is the continuous burst speed is only 3fps, slightly slower auto focus comparing to competitors and not so intuitive menu control and handling. But overall this camera is worth to look for especially you have limited budget but want superior image and built quality.

Olympus E-3 is the next camera, It is the flagship and the best camera that use smaller crop sensor called micro four thirds. This camera is solid, tough, like k20d it features water splash body, very fast auto focus with it “semi-pro grade” kit lens 12-60mm. It has innovative swivel lcd screen, built in stabilization in body. The downside of this camera probably is the fact of using the small sensor, this camera has a slight problem in handling the noise compare to competitors in the same class, applying noise reduction in camera will wash some detail in high iso. The other disadvantage is the high price. It is priced around $1300 which is still a little bit high in my opinion for its features.

Camera to avoid to buy is Sony A700. Although a little bit unfair to compare because the A700 is not 2008 camera, but it is definitely the only Sony camera in this class. This camera has built in stabilization, good dynamic range, shoots 5fps and high resolution lcd screen. The downside are no live view which is already a norm for camera in this class. The body is not weather shield and the price is relatively high ($1000).

In conclusion, Canon 50D, Nikon D300, Pentax k20d and Olympus E-3 are great cameras in this class and you will get a lot of value from that. The only thing that you will need to consider is your budget, and kind of photography that you will do. For example, if you don’t do sport, Pentax k20d will be a very good deal since it is only $750 compared to D300’s $1500. We are also waiting for new upgrade from Sony.

Best dslr camera for enthusiasts end of the year 2008

Enthusiasts class is a step up from entry level, providing better features and control for hobbyist and enthusiasts. Although it is labeled for enthusiasts, some professional use this camera for some of their job.

The winner of this class is Nikon D90 – 12 points
Nikon D90 is an exciting camera that replacing the famous Nikon D80. After three years of waiting, D80 users at last got a very good upgrade. Nikon D90 is the first dslr announced that has capability of video recording. Not only that, Nikon D90 has been improved on many areas including the better noise handling. Now users can enjoy usable iso up to 3200. The continuous burst rate has been better from 3fps to 4.5 fps. Unlike Nikon D60, D90 is compatible with all the Nikon lenses. D90 also shines because of the ergonomic, built quality with top lcd which is usually lacking from cameras in this class.

Pentax k200d surprisingly get the runner-up position earning 11 points. This camera has weather shield body, top lcd screen. It has 11 auto focus system, deals with noise pretty good and built-in stabilizer that helps combat hand shake. The downside of this camera might be AF is not as fast as competitor and slightly slower continuous burst (only 2.8 fps), and also no live view. It is definitely not for sport or fast action photography but it will certainly suitable for many other occasions.

Sony A350 is the next with 9 points, the strong point of A350 is it offers 14 megapixel resolution, and tiltable lcd screen, but it suffers from poor noise handling and lens collection.

Canon XSi also earns 9 points, it is slightly better than Canon XS with bigger screen (2.5 vs 3 inch), dedicated iso button, 12 megapixel and compatible with all Canon EOS lens.

Recently announced Olympus E-30 gets 9 points. It inherit most of the good thing from his big brother E-3 without the weather seal body. The strong point is the swivel lcd screen with live view, fairly fast continuous burst 4fps but it is a little bit pricy relatively to the competitor in the same class.

Olympus E-520
also gets 9 points. Even though it has body image stabilization that work with most lenses, it suffers from noise handling problem and 3 points auto focus system.

So there are no exactly least recommended cameras because Canon XSi, Olympus E-30 and E-520 all share the same points. But subjectively I will recommend to stay away from E-30 due to the price. With the same amount of cash, you can get the Nikon D90 instead.

Best entry level dslr camera end of the year 2008

Almost the end of the year now, and it is time to judge what camera has the best value for your bucks this holiday season, of course, straight to the point Radiant Lite style. I evaluate these cameras based on features, image quality, camera body, auto focus, continuous burst, IS availability and off course, price.

In this class, there are Nikon D60, Olympus E-420, Canon XS, Sony A200 and Pentax k-m/k2000.

Canon XS is the winner of this category with 9 points.
Canon XS is the best amongs the crops in noise handling, has Live View mode, compatible with all Canon EF or EF-S lenses, and priced around right at $550 with image stabilized18-55mm lens. This camera will serve entry level digital slr user well and also provide room to expansion and upgrade through Canon extensive accessories and lens collection.

The runner-up is the newly designed ultra-compact dslr, Pentax k-m. Although it has no Live mode, it is good designed, complement well with Pentax tiny pancake lenses. It performs very well and compatible with Pentax lenses and accessories. It has 3.5 fps burst which is a little bit faster than the average of the group (3fps), and has sensor shift stabilization. Pentax k-m receive 8 points.

Sony A200 has built in stabilization but doing poor in noise handling, the kit lens is not awesome, and upgrade for better lenses and accessories will be expensive.

Olympus E-420, the ultra compact dslr camera, suffers from no image stabilization option either in body or in lens. It handles noise relatively poor and like Nikon D60, it only has 3 point auto focus system. Both Sony A200 and Olympus E-420 get 7 points. The upside of this camera is the size and live view mode.

Nikon D60
wins the least recommended camera to buy in 2008. It suffers from compatibility. Nikon D60 auto focus won’t work unless you fit it with Nikon AF-S or Sigma HSM lens. Because many of Nikon prime (fixed focal lens) are not AF-S, so Nikon D60 it will be a problem. In the future, Nikon will release more AF-S lenses including prime, but it will be more expensive. D60 also lack of AF points (only 3), and there is no live view mode that could help on manual focusing for accurate focus in macro or still life shooting. D60 earns 6 points.

Pentax 40mm f/2.8 Limited Review

Pentax 40mm f/2.8 limited is an exotic lens which can produce a really nice image quality even wide open at f/2.8. Physically, it is very small and thin even with the lens hood attached. (When you buy this lens you will get the lens hood and also nice small leather pouch). It can focus pretty close 30cm to infinity. When you focus in, the lens will rotate and protrude around 1/2 inch. At around 165g, this lens is very light, basically you’ll feel like you are only carrying a camera without lens, which is good for portability.

This lens is capable to produce very good quality image with nice background blur at f/2.8. It is also very sharp that it can capture speckles of dust. The focal length is equivalent to 60mm which is considered a standard lens.

Being a standard lens, there are many things you can do with the lens, portrait, still life, general travel are some of the application. But for indoor, wide landscape or architecture shots, this lens is not wide enough.

Tried with Pentax k100D, the lens focuses accurately but not as quickly as lens with SDM (Supersonic Drive Motor) or other lens-based motor. It takes almost 1 second for the lens to focus. It also create a some noise in the process. So this lens with Pentax k100d is not ideal for action or candid shots. For general photography such as still life, travel, portrait, the lens will do very fine.

Build Quality
The built quality is also impressive, it is all metal construction, no plastic or rubber. Due to the size of the lens, the focusing barrel is quite small, but it is very smooth and easy to work with.

The other not so good about the lens is the lens cap. It is screw cap, means that you need to screw out the cap by hand. It takes me at least 5-10 seconds. the lens cap is very small and if you’re not careful, you could lose it.

Sample pic on the above right is taken by Pentax 40mm with Pentax k100d camera, no post-editing, straight out from the camera.

Overall this lens deliver a very impressive image quality, detail and sharpness with reasonable price. I will highly recommend this lens.

Other alternative will be Pentax 50mm f/1.4 which is slightly bigger, longer, sand cheaper but 2 stop faster. Also consider Pentax 70mm f/2.4 Limited pan cake lens which is ideal for portrait.

Image Quality : Excellent 5/5
Build Quality : Very Good 4/5
Price value: 5/5

Related article:
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX HSM