A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Community > Forums > Pentax > Pro Lenses

Featured Equipment Deals

Conservation Photography: The Power of Pictures Read More

Conservation Photography: The Power of Pictures

On Earth Day, wildlife photographer Chris Weston explains how photographs have the power to bring people together and create change.

Latest Equipment Articles

4 Outdoor & Adventure Photo Packs Read More

4 Outdoor & Adventure Photo Packs

Photo packs have come a long way in the past decade, especially those that are targeted toward outdoor and adventure photographers. Alaska-based adventure photographer Dan Bailey takes a closer look...

Latest Learning Articles

Getting Started in Video Read More

Getting Started in Video

Photographer Ted Kawalerski made the transition from still to motion and has never looked back. Ted takes you through the steps to get started in a medium that will open your photography business to...


Pro Lenses

Don Myers , May 22, 2010; 11:26 a.m.

Hi All!
I have often seen or heard of advertisements for "Pro" lenses, but I am unclear as to what that means; just what constitutes a Pro lens vs a normal lens, and are any made for Pentax? Thank you all for your responses, and I hope to spend a little more time in this forum, as I have been absent for a long time...
Don M.

Responses

Bob Keefer , May 22, 2010; 12:36 p.m.

There is no clear definition.
Generally, though, camera manufacturers produce a line of zooms aimed at newspaper, sports and wedding photographers; the lenses are fast -- f/2.8 -- and well built. The Pentax DA* 16-50/2.8 and its DA* cousins fall in this category.
Companies also often produce premium primes, with solid construction and better optics than the usual run.
Canon marks its top lenses as "L" and gives them a red ring.
I'm not familiar enough with Nikon to attempt to describe their system.
Pentax has long used a star, or "*," for its premium lenses. Pentax also has a separate line of "Limited" lenses that is unlike anything from Canon or Nikon. The Limiteds are small, good quality primes that are not always very fast (that's the tradeoff for small) but make a good companion to Pentax's small bodies.
Hope this helps.

JDM von Weinberg , May 22, 2010; 12:38 p.m.

Well, first of all, and maybe most importantly, any lens whose brand name is "Pro-" something is not a professional lens, but most likely an inexpensive 'generic' lens.

A real professional lens is one that is made to higher than normal standards to take the abuse of things like crawling around over the rocks in Afghanistan or some such place (like a studio ;). Sometimes the term professional may be applied to optical quality, but there are some lenses that are optically very good, but would simply not stand up to the intensive and heavy usage of someone who is actually making a living, day in and day out, by taking pictures.

Unless you are a full-time professional, you don't actually need a pro lens, although people with large discretionary incomes often buy them as status emblems. It's like driving the HumVee to the Neiman-Marcus.

If you needed a "pro" lens you would know which ones are. ;)

Justin Serpico , May 22, 2010; 01:10 p.m.

It all depends on what you need a lens for.

If you need a "pro" lens you know what lens you need.

As far as what makes a pro lens. Build, optics, perhaps speed. Although there are plenty of f/4 pro lenses sold by Canon and even Nikon.

The Limiteds can definitely be "pro" lenses, although they are more aimed at serious enthusiast. It depends on what you need them for. If I'm shooting portraits, products, or landscapes I have no issues with a Limited prime and actually prefer them. If I'm shooting events or sports I usually use fast zooms or longer primes.

Pentax "pro" line of non compact AF lenses is usually denoted with a "*" currently there is the DA* series. The 16-50 and 50-135mm should suit most peoples needs as this was the standard 35mm kit (24-200mm) for PJs. If you need longer the 200mm f/2.8 DA* is absolutely one of the best optics I have used and while I haven't personally used the 60-250mm F/4 it appears to be a wonderful lens covering a little more range then a 100-300mm f/4 on a 35mm SLR. Although as I noted when it came out, it's a little short or a little slow for most sports.

So yes, Pentax does have a line of "pro" grade glass from 16-300mm. As well as a fast 14mm f/2.8 that isn't a "*" lens but is excellent nonetheless.

Michael Kuhne , May 22, 2010; 02:18 p.m.

Professionals often need the speed afforded by the extra aperture along with more ability to reduce depth of field. They also often need the more rugged build quality, and very high quality imaging. All of this ususally entails more weight and size, not to mention expense.

But there certainly are a number of exceptionally fine lenses not of pro ranking that even pro photographers do make use of. The weight of a fast lens need not be hefted around if such a lens is not a requirement for the intended use, while another, lighter, lens of good optical quality will serve. If your shooting needs do not require fast, heavy-duty glass, why pay the big bucks for such lenses and haul around the weight just to say you have pro lenses?

Mel Unruh , May 23, 2010; 11:12 p.m.

Although I agree with what the others have said, I feel the need to fill in some blanks that may have been missed. There is another reason why a "Pro" will use an F2.8 or faster "Pro" lens and this is especially true with portrait photographers who shoot in a studio, with flash, and NEVER (ok, rarely) at F2.8. Drumroll................. Can you guess why? .....More suspense....
The reason?: How about a nice bright viewfinder!
Often, in a studio you will dim the overhead lights so you are only seeing the modeling lights (when shooting a low key portrait). With a slower lens, its more difficult to see the minor details like catchlights, stray hairs, or even just touching up the focus.
So, why would a "Pro" spend hundreds more for an F2.8 lens that will spend 90% of its life between F4 and F8 instead of buying a "Prosumer" grade F4 lens that has essentially the same image IQ at the same F-stop range (F4-F8)? It has to do with the quality of the image craftsmanship (no stray hairs, catch lights in the right position, crisp focus) which can only happen with a nice bright viewfinder that allows you to see every detail.
Hope this helps,
Mel

Back to top

Notify me of Responses