Web Analytics RiceHigh's Pentax Blog: March 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Black Book Game (Online)

Have just played this Game, it's really creative and much enjoyable! Thanks, JAG! (Thumb Up~)


The following is my second trial, the first time I just didn't how to operate and afterwards discovered that I should use my mouse to compose and use the keyboard spacebar to shoot. I managed to shoot many shots but still have some of the quota left (maximum 70). Well, below is my published magazine! Have a look!


Enjoy and Have Fun! :-D

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

FA 31 Limited: Assembled in Vietnam Vs Made in Japan - Case Studies

In ascending chronological order, first we look at this user report:-

FA 31mm Limited assembled in Vietnam - bad QC or bad luck?

For the above case, it is so obvious that the Japanese made FA 31 is much better, on the same body of that Pentaxian, whom believed that the Vietnamese made FA 31 was defective and he felt particularly lucky to have a Japanese made one as the replacement, which worked.

Next, look at the shootout test below on the resolution test chart (same setup, same body (a K-7), same place and almost the same time but only different lenses):-


Or the full size images for the comparison below:-



(Above: Click to Download and View in a New Tab/Window)

So, what do you find out? Can you see any difference(s)? To me, the Japanese lens is actually slightly sharper and more importantly, there is less vague/mixed boundaries between the black and white, i.e., the contrasty edges (will explain and illustrate more on the problem below).

And then, Ned Bunnell tested his 3 copies of the FA 31:-


Side-by-side photos of his lenses are posted. And a pair of comparison shots are also posted. In fact, I do see minor differences for both, although they are not very obvious. In fact, if you inspect them more carefully, it would not be too difficult to see the colours of the coating of the front glass elements (look at the reflections) are somehow different. And, the image rendition could be different, too - although the differences may be subtle and are not as noticeable and obvious as the coating difference.

Btw, I have made a guess at the above post of Ned's blog lately for which image is from the Japanese lens, I shall wait Ned to reveal the answer but I have some confidence that I will be correct! :-)

Besides, do note also that the 3 lenses of Ned is of late version of the FA 31, which are all with green lining inside the lens cap, against the black lining used in early Japanese production of the "same" lens.

So, after all, my own experience with the FA 31? In fact, I have not been able to find a FA 31 that is consistent and not out-focusing in AF on a K-x body, i.e., on all the K-x bodies that I have used and owned! And, the image contrasty edge "leakage" problem seems to be a real and common issue (could be with different extents, though), see my following centre crop of an image produced by a brand new Vietnamese made FA 31 out of the box below (picture taken at f/2):-

(Click to View in Original Large Size, a New Tab/Window will be opened)

With a Japanese made 35/2 prime, there is not such an issue, see (the following was taken at f/2 wide opened):-

(Click to View in Original Large Size, a New Tab/Window will be opened)

It can be noted that the above two test shots were taken at almost the same time, for the same target, at the same environment, on the same K-x body! The 35/2 shot at f/2 is obviously sharper, too, just *also* because its AF is spot on, whilst the FA 31 is indeed out-focusing!

So, what would I say? Optically, the FA 31 lens could be nice, only when it is stopped down or when it is wide opened but focus properly. The most unfortunate thing is that for such a fast, luxury and expensive lens, its AF is particularly problematic and actually no K-x body I have ever used can cope with it and the "contrast leakage" problem is another annoying issue. As for the focusing errors, most of the resolution of this supposed to be high resolution lens is wasted when it arises, unless you use LiveView to do the AF and/or to do MF with some kinds of aids.

In fact, as one of the my Blog readers who just posted here yesterday have pointed out, it is quite obvious that Pentax/Hoya actually somehow feel ashamed of the lenses and camera bodies are being made outside Japan. If not, they should have printed "Made in Vietnam" and "Made in Philippines" instead of the wording of "Assembled in" against what they do with the "Made in Japan" labels over decades, which is undoubtedly they were being much proud of.

Blog Trailer:
To show how the workmanship and (quality of) the materials could be really different for the early Japanese production Limited lenses against the late Japanese/Vietnamese production of the "same" lens, I shall take some macro shots under a bright light source to show you the real and existent differences I discovered. (.. as some people just can't believe. So, I will just show them some evidence! :-))

[ Update 4-7: Done! Continued in the Next Part, Here.. ]

All Related Blog Posts on This Topic:-


Monday, March 29, 2010

DFA 100 Macro WR - Brief Hands-on Impressions

Have a chance to play with my friend's new DFA 100 Macro WR lens in the weekend, my brief first impressions about the lens are as follows (let's see how the new DFA version is compared against the old):-

1. Mechanically, I would say this is a refurbished old DFA 100 Macro with a FA 31 (Black) Limited design and look!

2. The lens barrel is all metal, it feels really cold but I don't like the fact that fingerprints and moisture will leave on the naked and bare barrel just so easily!

3. The MF damping now goes completely Limited, which means silky smooth manual focusing with more damping but yet even slower Auto Focusing! (Sightly, the old one is not that fast, already!)

4. The weather-sealing rubber ring at the lens mount is now in sharp Red colour, which I don't like subjectively! Why? Only Sony lenses look like that!

5. I don't like the comparatively thin double lines of hard-carved MF ring against the thick and wide rubberised MF ring of the old version DFA, which practically is easier to hold and turn! (Applies also to the Quick-Shift Focusing..)

6. The Aperture Ring is now omitted and so does the "Focus Clamp" as well, which both you can find in the old version. So, this new DFA 100 has the least practical function against all its predecessors, except it is weather-sealed. However, I don't think it's logical enough to design a Limited-style focus scale window for a weather-sealed lens anyway, as water will be trapped inside eventually (although the water should not be able to go inside the lens). (Well, btw, I just wish to ask: WHO will do Macro works Under the Rain??)

7. Optically, I don't find any big difference for the old and new versions. The glass elements look the same, the coating and colour look the same and more importantly, the image rendition seems to be the same! (This is nothing scientific and systematic, though - just my brief impression.)

So, would I recommend the new 100 WR? Honestly speaking, I actually prefer the old version if I had the choice and if I had to choose, as I prefer the FA version over the original DFA, too! I like the optical performance and colour response of the old FA 100 Macro more and it does have a Focus (Range) Limiter, which is much useful, practically! In fact, the Focus Limiter is practically the real utility for one to use the AF function of Pentax AFSLRs for doing macro works!

Besides, the old DFA has aperture ring which is a practical and useful feature, especially you have a film camera that need it. In fact, even when I use my DFA 100 on my Canon 5D, the operation is really superb as I can control the aperture using my left hand whilst my right hand is holding the shutter release - similar to the design concept and operation of the MZ-S. The best thing when it is put on my 5D is that I can see the DoF and focus in real-time, thanks to the stopped down metering. I have to do MF, though (and of course).

Last but not least, the wide/thick rubberised MF ring of the old DFA is practically more useful than the thin but might be better looking one of the new DFA. For macro shootings, MF is very important IMHO especially for Pentax system which has slow AF which is particularly even more slow with Macro lenses. Frankly, I am quite disappointed for this new version of the Macro 100 doesn't have an Ultrasonic AF motor, nor the re-introduction of the Focus Limiter.

My final words? It seems that now Pentax/Hoya put more weight on aesthetics than on practical usability when they introduce new lenses. If you need a 100 macro right now, I highly recommend that you should get the last stock of the old version DFA 100, as it has been discontinued already. The old version is just (much) cheaper, practically more usable and optically the same! Well, if you need to shoot flowers or insects outdoor under the rain(!?), just do it and get the new DFA! :=o ;-D

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pancake "Standard" Prime Shootout: FA 43/1.9 Limited Vs A 50/2

These two lenses are similar in focal and speed, size and weight (both about 150g). The focals are "standard" on film SLRs but now on Pentax DSLRs, they have become short tele something. The A lens is actually much looking like the black Limiteds in appearance, which actually copy the look and aesthetic design from the A lenses. The Pentax A 50/2 was sold at HK$350 in 1995 when it was discontinued. Now, the FA 43/1.9 Limited is lately being sold at approximately HK$6,200 at the streets of Hong Kong, which is 17.7 times(!) for the cost difference without taking inflation into account. And, the current exchange rate of 1 US$ equals to 7.8 HK$, for reference.

My this shootout will show you how these lenses are different and mine are about ten-year and twenty-year old respectively.

Infinity Scene:-
FA 43/1.9 Limited
A 50/2

(Click to Download Large Images, a New Tab/Window will be opened)

Some observations of mine:-

1. The A lens produces warmer tone (which is more faithful to the real scene) whilst the Limited is yet a bit cooler;

2. The Limited lens is a bit more contrasty;

3. IQ wise, the Limited is acceptable at f/2.8 and good at f/4 (for both centre and corners). f/11 is still good but f/8 is just slightly better;

4. IQ wise, the A lens is marginally acceptable at f/2.8 (with more corner blur and the centre is not sharp enough) and good to very good at f/4 to f/5.6 (for both centre and corners). Both f/8 and f/11 are excellent and actually are even a bit sharper than the 43 Limited.

Long Distance (Not Infinity):-

FA 43/1.9 Limited
A 50/2

Some observations of mine:-

1. Contrasts are more or less the same this time for both lenses;

2. Flare control of the limited lens is better from f/2.8 and onwards and in contrast, that of the A lens is poor until f/4;

3. IQ wise, the Limited is acceptable at f/2.8 and good at f/4 (for both centre and corners). f/11 is nice but is not as good as f/8, possibly owing to diffraction limit reached;

4. IQ wise, the A lens is only somehow acceptable at f/4 (still with slight corner blur and ghost image starts to disappear, but not totally). IQ becomes good at f/5.6 (for both centre and corners). I regard f/2 and f/2.8 are practically not much usable under that situation as ghosting and soft image rendition are real and obvious problems. Both f/8 and f/11 are still excellent, though, fortunately.

Near Distance and Bokeh:-

FA 43/1.9 Limited
A 50/2


My observations for this? Well, I think it would be better for you to observe and judge this time, as a homework and exercise for learning how to be a qualified measurbator! ;-)

Test Notes:-

1. Single AF mode is used for FA 43, MF according to AF Indication for the A 50;

2. Av Mode, ISO 100, Matrix Metering, No Exposure Compensation, on Tripod, 2 sec Timer, SR Off;

3. Auto White Balance, Portrait Custom Image with Factory Default Parameters, EXIF data preserved;

4. All pictures are resized to 3,999 pixels in width. To download the original un-retouched full size images, you need to go to my following Photobucket album to select the option and download:-


Read Also:-

RiceHigh's Subjective Ratings on Pentax AF Lenses on Pentax DSLRs 2010

Standard Zoom Mega Shootout! (DA Vs FAJ Vs DAL Vs SA Vs FA!)

Friday, March 26, 2010

PentaxForums.com is Building a New "CanikonForums"!?

I have just received this email newsletter today, from the Admin of the PentaxForums.com:-

"Today we are happy to announce the launch of a new forum to complement PentaxForums: www.CanikonForums.com.

CanikonForums.com is a photography discussion forum dedicated to users of Canon and Nikon photographic systems. We welcome users of either system and of all skill levels, from beginner through professional. The new forum will be run by the founder of PentaxForums, and will feature the same great usability!

Just like PentaxForums, CanikonForums.com has two goals:

* To provide our users with the ultimate discussion website for Canon and Nikon camera systems
* To create and build a friendly, helpful, and content-rich community

CanikonForums also features a 'Canon vs. Nikon' debate board, albeit with special rules, for the more wild members out there!

We hope those of you with Canon or Nikon systems enjoy our new site, and we look forward to your joining the community! Note that you will continue to be able to discuss other camera brands on PentaxForums (under the Off-Brand category) if you do not wish to join a separate site.

To register, visit this page: http://www.canikonforums.com/forums/register.php
IMPORTANT: If you are a current site supporter, you are entitled to one year of Site Supporter status over at CanikonForums for free. Please enter your PentaxForums username at the bottom of the page, and then send a PM to Adam.

Best Regards,

The PentaxForums.com Staff"

Actually, this is most funny and somehow ridiculous thing I have seen at the Pentaxians' internet community these years! :-o I bet Adam (the site owner of the PentaxForums) must have been making really good money in running his current business! .. So that he could not resist to expand his "empire" to the Canon and Nikon lands!

And, Canikonians in a forum? I'm almost sure that he just wants more fights, so that these will generate more traffic to his new site which means that he can become an even richer man in the near future!

Well, I feel really disgusted, very honestly speaking! >:-( It is because Adam has been telling us that Pentax is the (only) brand he loves and he was so passionate in the brand such that he built a dedicated Pentax forum and website! (It might be, but it is just too questionable now, I have to say!) Nevertheless, in fact, there are always alternatives in this world! If for whatever reason you just don't like the PentaxForums (or any other(s)), there are always other choices, although these maybe minorities for the time being. The current two discussion groups that I will still participate in are:-

Pentax K-x Flickr Group (Just joined!)

RiceHigh's Pentax FREE Discussion Group (And of course! It was built by me!)

P.S. I think I must have been rather stupid and irrational to advertise for Adam and his profit-making websites here (with all the original links included, too)! But, I simply just can't help myself!! :-(((

Monday, March 22, 2010

645D Will be Shipped within Two Months

PhotoRumors discovered that the 645D probably will be shipped within two months on May 20 as per information disclosed at the Amazon Japan. The selling price is JPY848,000 (roughly equals to US$9240).

So, for those fevered amateurs and die-hard Pentax fans (but not working professionals) who really want to buy, there is only two months to go for you to save your hard-earned money and you might be able to order it overseas from Japan (a full Tutorial of mine here)! ;-D In the meantime, enjoy waiting! And, let's wait and see what the 645D will deliver when full-size unedited samples come! :-) (But When?)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Imaging Resource K-x Review Published

(Click to open in new Tab/Window)

Similar to my recent posts on new tests and reviews, I won't "spoil" their findings and conclusions, go read the review in full and figure out the things yourself!

Well, the review, as usual, is well compiled and tests are thoughtfully made and detailedly. Some comparisons against the K-7 are also made and the widely reported mirror slap issue is also checked.

After all, I highly recommend this review and test report. Enjoy!

As a last reminder, if you haven't read my own K-x full review, you may also wish to have a look at it, here is the link:-

My K-x Review is Here! (with Measurbations, Tips and Tricks)

Read Also:-

Pentax SR Performance Tested and Compared (K-x Against Canon IS)

Monday, March 15, 2010

645D Beta Preview (Very Detailed)


(in Japanese)

.. for an hands-on preview of a 645D beta unit for its appearance, size, weight and menus etc. Some size comparisons are also made against other Pentax bodies and lenses. Two mirror/shutter action video clips are also posted. There is no sample photo posted, though.

Friday, March 12, 2010

CP+ Live Show Reports - Pentax Booth

@ the Japanese Impress DC Watch:-

(in Japanese)

And the Hong Kong DC Fever:-

(in Traditional Chinese)

Plenty of the show photos over there, for all the latest and new Pentax products, and mostly for the 645D!