Pentax digital SLRs are almost unique in that they allow a fantastic degree of backwards compatibilty to older manual focus lenses. This gives us the opportunity to evaluate and compare newer designs against the older ones.
We spent today doing a field test for such a comparison for an article which should be ready within the next few weeks. Several older (1980s) Pentax manual focus primes and zooms were compared in the field with modern prime and zoom lenses, also from Pentax.
The results are very clear. The older lenses are absolutely useable and great fun but in terms of actual image quality the new zoom designs knock spots off the older ones. There is no comparison at all. Admittedly there are some (very expensive) older lenses that may well be up to par, but the commonly found consumer products are not. It is even more obvious when the new prime lenses are brought into the equation, because the performance of these is nothing short of stunning.
So in terms of quality the new zooms well outclass the old ones. The new zooms are more on a par with the older primes. The new primes are another significant notch above.
Lens design has clearly moved on.
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