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Pentax / Ricoh HD Limited Lenses

Added to DAP is initial overview coverage of the PentaxK3 and Pentax HD Limited lenses. This coverage will be expanded after field shooting.

Get the Pentax K3 and HD Limited lenses at B&H.

Impressions

A shock comes in actually seeing the Pentax HD Limited lenses: when they arrived (all five primes, the 20-40mm zoom coming in December), the shipping box seemed too small to hold five lenses.

Pentax HD Limited prime lenses for Pentax K

I extracted each lens from its small box. Each lens fits snugly inside its leather-like pouch, and even the drawstring cord was wrapped snugly around the pouch and secured, as if care had been taken to package it just-so (it must be the case, since all five arrived this way). Nor are these sloppy one-size-fits-all pouches; they are just right for each lens.

Picking up three of the largest, I found I could easily 'palm' three of them in their pouches. All five lenses easily fit into my two cupped hands. I could put all five into my jeans pockets! (and yes, I actually tried that, it is not hyperbole!). These lenses are compact. The pictures do not do them justice in this sense. Compared to the Fuji X system or even Olympus Micro Four Thirds, these Pentax HD Limited lenses are a revelation in design philosophy. And the build quality of the Fujifilm and Olympus lenses is second-rate by comparison.

Build quality of the Pentax* HD Limited lenses is impressive—high-grade aluminum. You cannot buy anything close in compactness and build quality from Nikon or Canon or even Fujifilm or Sony (perhaps the Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM qualifies on size, but the Nikon 50/1.8G certainly feels like cheap junk by comparison). Of course these lenses are small for two reasons: they “cover” the APS-C sensor size (not full frame), and they have modest aperture speeds. The build quality makes the Fuji X or Sony NEX lenses look like consumer-grade schlock by comparison. And yet the prices are little different.

None of this happens by accident: it’s clear that the engineering staff over at Pentax, having delivered the synergistic camera-of-the-year Ricoh GR has also been consistent in its vision for the design of the HD Limited lens line. The closest thing I can think of here is the Leica M design approach. And I sure would like to see Zeiss adopt this type of design concept for Nikon/Canon DSLRs with a series of ~f/2.8 near-perfect-wide-open lenses. I deem that unlikely, as the video market demands faster glass.

The fly in the ointment? The Pentax HD Limited lenses go onto a DSLR (e.g., the Pentax K3) and surely they deserve a mirrorless camera body since they offer a compactness that is perfect for mirrorless. Pentax (now Ricoh Imaging) ought to consider a mirrorless camera body with EVF that takes the HD Limited lenses. Because the K3 is a very sturdy camera but relatively heavy and bulky, almost odd in the context of the diminutive HD Limited lenses.

Optical quality? That remains to be evaluated on the K3.

* Pentax is now Ricoh Imaging as of August 2013.

These lenses are not the molded plastic yuck foisted on us today ty almost all vendors. Rather, they are high-grade machined aluminum. First class.


Pentax HD lenses in black or silver

And the 20-40mm zoom, due out in December 2013:


Pentax HD Limited 20-40mm f/2.8-4 ED

 

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