Legacy film Pentax 80-320mm: Silver, a solid value, and silver…

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Ok, I will admit it. I am a sucker for silver lenses, even plastic ones. Especially plastic ones that cost $150 and perform solidly like the Pentax 80-320mm. This lens has been on my radar for awhile and a video from Lee Haze prompted me to hunt one down on ebay:

Received it today and I can already say that this is a keeper. The K-1 has been great on it’s own merits performance wise, but a secret weapon for it that somewhat offsets a common ding (lack of new glass) has been the many legacy glass options. Here are some quick first impression thoughts about this lens and sample photos below.

  • Some have noted slow focusing on older digital bodies, but (like the 50mm AF f/1.7) I have to say that I have been pleased. I have briefly tested the focusing at every focal length, various lighting conditions inside, and out and even tracking a Fire Truck passing by and I have no complaints.
  • It is silver.
  • Very compact and lightweight given it’s focal length. At it’s most closed down it is only about an inch longer than the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 which is already a very compact lens. Granted at 320mm it’s length increases by almost half, but it is no longer than my Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8, smaller in diameter and much lighter.
  • Very nice colors. Outside and in it seems to render colors accurately with the K-1. From a passing fire truck in daylight to skin tones inside it performs very well.
  • Very reasonable price wise. Prices seem to range between $100-150.
  • Produces very nice bokeh to my eyes and at 320mm backgrounds are very well blown out.
  • It is silver.

I have heard some say that it is no professional lens, but I think that misses the point considering the price point. For starters while I would admit that it would not be a professionals first choice, an enthusiast with a mortal budget could produce some stunning work with this lens.  It also has it’s advantages. I can already see that in ample light I would prefer this lens over the larger aperture of the 70-200mm if extra reach was desired. And in a pinch this lens holds it’s own surprisingly well in interior conditions even though the f/2.8 would be the lens of choice. Another solid vintage entry. More to come when the manual focus vintage film Vivitar 17-28mm arrives.

-ELW