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A luxury problem with a luxury solution (43mm Pentax Special)
Old 09-03-2014   #1
sleepyhead
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A luxury problem with a luxury solution (43mm Pentax Special)

In the 1970s I was a "40mm lens guy" using the 40mm f/1.7 lens on my Minolta HiMatic-E (my first camera).

In the 1980s I was a "50mm lens guy" using the Minolta 50mm f/1.4 Rokkor-X on my XD-11.

In the 1990s I was a "35mm lens guy" using the 35mm f/2.8 lens on my Minox 35.

In the 2000s I was a "40mm lens guy" again using the 40mm f/2 M-Rokkor on my Minolta CLE.


Then I became a "Leica guy" and with that luxury I gained a luxury problem: if only taking one lens with me, should it be a 35mm or a 50mm? I have often had a hard time deciding and have wasted mental energy on this.

I thought about buying a 40mm M-Rokkor again (a great lens) or a 40mm Summicron-C, and have tried them, but they seemed too close to my 35mm Summicron pre-ASPH to feel worth it. I continued to use the 35mm Summicron.

Yesterday, I got my luxury solution: a Pentax 43mm L Special in LTM!

43mm seems to be perfectly placed between 35mm and 50mm and will be the lens I reach for when I can only carry one lens and can't decide!

I'm looking forwards to shooting with it!

PS If there are any of you who use this lens on a Leica M9 or M240, what coding (if any) do you use for the lens? and why?
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Old 09-03-2014   #2
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hi yaron,
sounds familiar to me. other than going through different lenses in the 35/40/50/55 range, i also had my times where i favoured one oor the otber of these fl.

however, these days i just keep one (or two or three) of them, fortunately small enough to bring them all if im undecided.

while i can't comment on the pentax, my "secret" good-for-everything is the rollei sonnar 40mm LTM.

:-)

cheers,
sebastian
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Old 09-03-2014   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepyhead View Post
... Yesterday, I got my luxury solution: a Pentax 43mm L Special in LTM!

43mm seems to be perfectly placed between 35mm and 50mm and will be the lens I reach for when I can only carry one lens and can't decide! ...
Good luck with it! I hope you enjoy using it a lot!

When I was shooting with Pentax DSLRs, the Pentax-FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited was, in the end, my absolute favorite lens. I almost kept a Pentax body just be able to use that lens. My understanding is that the Pentax-L 43mm f/1.9 Limited is exactly the same optics in a Leica M-bayonet mount.

I've seen a couple for sale over the years, but because I have the M-Rokkor 40/2 already I haven't pushed the buy button. So I'll be interested to see the results you get with it...

G
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Old 09-03-2014   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
Good luck with it! I hope you enjoy using it a lot!

When I was shooting with Pentax DSLRs, the Pentax-FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited was, in the end, my absolute favorite lens. I almost kept a Pentax body just be able to use that lens. My understanding is that the Pentax-L 43mm f/1.9 Limited is exactly the same optics in a Leica M-bayonet mount.

I've seen a couple for sale over the years, but because I have the M-Rokkor 40/2 already I haven't pushed the buy button. So I'll be interested to see the results you get with it...

G
THANKS GODFREY, nice to know it. The lens seems to be highly regarded.

It'll be a while until I can post results with the lens as I only paid for it yesterday. I won't actually have it in my hands until the end of October.
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Old 09-03-2014   #5
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I have such a lens, and I love it. Its performance (for me) is quite similar to what I get with the Summicron-C 40/2. The Pentax lens is beautifully made. I have only used it with film Leica cameras so far. Your post reminds me to also use it with the M9 or M8. I would start "coding" it as a 50mm Summicron and then 35mm Summicron.
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Old 09-03-2014   #6
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I have the SLR version. An beautifully made lens as Raid has said. Would love to see some photos from your new acquisition when you have time to post.
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Old 09-03-2014   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
My understanding is that the Pentax-L 43mm f/1.9 Limited is exactly the same optics in a Leica M-bayonet mount.
The Pentax-L Special is in Leica screw mount, actually.

It indeed has the same excellent glass as the FA Limited, stuffed into the end of a longer barrel to match the Leica mount register. It is beautifully made and handles well.

One minor nuisance: the rubber surround of the accessory 43/50 finder is prone to leave annoying, slightly greasy marks on eyeglasses. I've recently picked up a Sigma VF-21 to try as an alternative.

To the OP: enjoy!
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Old 09-03-2014   #8
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Ah, thanks! Dumb error on my part!

I'd fit an adapter for 35mm focal length to bring up those frame lines on the M9/M(240), I find them more accurate for the Nokton 40 and M-Rokkor 40 than the default 50mm frame lines.

G
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Old 09-23-2014   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
Ah, thanks! Dumb error on my part!

I'd fit an adapter for 35mm focal length to bring up those frame lines on the M9/M(240), I find them more accurate for the Nokton 40 and M-Rokkor 40 than the default 50mm frame lines.

G

Yes, I've decided to code the 43mm Pentax as a 35mm Summicron ASPH (because I already have a pre-ASPH 35mm Summicron and want the EXIF data to distinguish the two lenses).

I chose 35mm instead of 50mm because I've noticed that with both 50mm and 35mm lenses on my M9, at around 2 meters (which is a distance I often use), I get quite a bit more in the photo compared to what the framelines show. So I reckon the 43mm lens with 35mm framelines will be about right. At distances closer than 2 meters, I will need to remember to frame a little loosely with the 43mm lens so as to not inadvertently cut off important picture elements near the edges.
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Old 09-23-2014   #10
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i agree on focal length, but my solution was a little less luxury. I have an Olympus 35 RC: perfect.
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Old 11-01-2014   #11
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I finally got delivery of the Pentax 43mm Special in LTM. I'm really liking this focal length on the Leica M9. The 35mm framelines clearly fit better than the 50mm framelines, but I'm using a 50mm LTM to M adapter because that's all I have handy.

Here's a shot from yesterday evening:


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Old 11-14-2014   #12
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Sleepyhead,

If you don't mind, what did you pay for the Pentax 43mm lens? I've thought of getting one but the prices seemed high.
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Old 11-15-2014   #13
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Has anyone used a 40mm accessory finder (e.g. Voigtlander) in conjunction with the Pentax 43mm lens? Just curious. In my experience Pentax lenses are excellent and 40mm is my favorite 'normal' lens.
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Old 11-16-2014   #14
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Quote:
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Sleepyhead,

If you don't mind, what did you pay for the Pentax 43mm lens? I've thought of getting one but the prices seemed high.
Hello aoresteen, I paid about 950 USD for my lens. It was off of Ebay from a seller in Japan. I'm pretty sure I could have gotten one for around 700 USD if I had been patient and waited for a good deal. But I had the money and I wanted it for a recent trip.
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Old 11-16-2014   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renato Tonelli View Post
Has anyone used a 40mm accessory finder (e.g. Voigtlander) in conjunction with the Pentax 43mm lens? Just curious. In my experience Pentax lenses are excellent and 40mm is my favorite 'normal' lens.
Hello Renato, I would think that a 40mm accessory viewfinder would work fine. Framing with a rangefinder camera is always going to be somewhat of an estimation.

I have just obtained a LTM to M mount adapter for my Pentax 43mm which brings up the 35mm framelines on my M9, and the framing is pretty accurate at the 1-5 meter distances that I usually shoot at. Therefore, I won't be using the 43mm accessory viewfinder that came with the lens.
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Old 11-16-2014   #16
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A few more examples from the 43mm Pentax LTM on Leica M9.










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Old 11-17-2014   #17
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Thanks! Great pics! Gas is really getting to me....
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Old 11-17-2014   #18
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Thanks! Great pics! Gas is really getting to me....
I just bought a chrome version with 43/50 VF'er, caps, LTM adapter and box.

Looks like a great lens to use on my 0.85 MP that I had Sherry strip the 75mm frames out. The entire VF'er can be used for framing, and the external VF'er won't be needed.

The added magnification of the 0.85 VF'er helps with focus accuracy and makes for a faster focus.

Cal
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Old 11-17-2014   #19
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Silly dilemma: I can't decide between the Rollei 40mm and the Pentax 43mm (both in LTM). Silly because the focal lengths being so close, shouldn't be an issue.
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Old 11-18-2014   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renato Tonelli View Post
Silly dilemma: I can't decide between the Rollei 40mm and the Pentax 43mm (both in LTM). Silly because the focal lengths being so close, shouldn't be an issue.
Renato,

Both are good: that's the problem with making a decision.

In the end the Pentax offers speed though at F-1.9. That's what did it for me.

The Rollie is tiny though...


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Old 11-18-2014   #21
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Renato,

Both are good: that's the problem with making a decision.

In the end the Pentax offers speed though at F-1.9. That's what did it for me.

The Rollie is tiny though...


Cal
Agreed - the f/1.9 max. aperture on the Pentax is what attracts me to that lens as well - I want to use at max. aperture for a particular project. I have read that it is not "as sharp" wide open and I guess I will have to decide for myself if that is acceptable or not.
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Old 11-18-2014   #22
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The type of M body you have also makes a difference because the size of the framelines has changed over time/model. E.g., Leica made the framelines on the M 240 bigger than those on the M9, M7, M6 TTL, etc. to accommodate the old-school shooters who preferred the more landscape-sized framelines on the M2, M3, M4, etc. In my experience, the 35mm framelines for 40mm lenses work well on the M6TTL, M7, & M9 at the distances I shoot at the most, less than 3m. However, I've discovered that the 35mm framelines on the 240 are often overly generous for 40mm & I'll end up accidentally cutting things off; I may switch to 50mm.

One caveat about the Pentax 43/50 VF: I think it's meant to be used on a "Barnack" LTM body & will be off center sideways & too high up on an M body. Again, not much of a problem when shooting at infinity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepyhead View Post
Hello Renato, I would think that a 40mm accessory viewfinder would work fine. Framing with a rangefinder camera is always going to be somewhat of an estimation.

I have just obtained a LTM to M mount adapter for my Pentax 43mm which brings up the 35mm framelines on my M9, and the framing is pretty accurate at the 1-5 meter distances that I usually shoot at. Therefore, I won't be using the 43mm accessory viewfinder that came with the lens.
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Old 11-18-2014   #23
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The type of M body you have also makes a difference because the size of the framelines has changed over time/model. E.g., Leica made the framelines on the M 240 bigger than those on the M9, M7, M6 TTL, etc. to accommodate the old-school shooters who preferred the more landscape-sized framelines on the M2, M3, M4, etc. In my experience, the 35mm framelines for 40mm lenses work well on the M6TTL, M7, & M9 at the distances I shoot at the most, less than 3m. However, I've discovered that the 35mm framelines on the 240 are often overly generous for 40mm & I'll end up accidentally cutting things off; I may switch to 50mm.

One caveat about the Pentax 43/50 VF: I think it's meant to be used on a "Barnack" LTM body & will be off center sideways & too high up on an M body. Again, not much of a problem when shooting at infinity.
Furcafe,

Thanks for the info. This helps me a lot because I will be using the Pentax-L on my Monochrom and MP, but I also own a 45/2.8 Super Rokkor that would be awesome on a Barnack.

Cal
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Old 11-18-2014   #24
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One caveat about the Pentax 43/50 VF: I think it's meant to be used on a "Barnack" LTM body & will be off center sideways & too high up on an M body. Again, not much of a problem when shooting at infinity.
That is something I was not aware of and of some importance to me. I was planning on using the lens/viewfinder on an M2 for interior (close range) subjects.

If anyone has experienced this first-hand, I would appreciate your input.
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Old 11-19-2014   #25
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That is something I was not aware of and of some importance to me. I was planning on using the lens/viewfinder on an M2 for interior (close range) subjects.

If anyone has experienced this first-hand, I would appreciate your input.
M2 and M4 frames for 50mm are larger than on my M6 and MP. To me I always liked the bigger frames and the uncluttered look of the 50 frames only without the 75mm frames on the older cameras. On my M6 and MP I had Sherry remove the 75mm frames. If the M2 RF'er is the same as a M4 then the RF patch is also bigger than my M6 or MP, another bonus.

I don't intend on using my Pentax 43/50 VF'er on a M-body, but I will use the external VF'er when and if I get a Barnack. I figure its not too hard to develope accurate framing from a referenced standard. For instance I don't need the 75mm frames to shoot one as long as I have 50mm frames. I know all I have to do is subtract the lengnth of my RF patch from the sides and the width of my RF patch from the top and bottom of my 50mm frames.

In my case I have two nice framing possibilities with the 43/1.9 Pentax-L: one is use the 135mm frame as a reference and use it for the middle rectangle when composing using the Rule Of Thirds. I shoot vertically a lot and I find that if I use the Rule Of Thirds and frame someone's face in the middle rectangle I consistently get nice/great compositions that are tight shots. I do this all the time with a 28 Cron using the 90mm frame as the center rectangle. 45mm into 135mm is exactly a third, so 43mm is close enough.

My second possibility is using the 50 as a reference, and like shooting a 75mm with only 50mm frames I can add the length to the sides and add the width to the top and bottom instead of subtracting like I do when shooting a 75. I like the bigger frame of the 50 for squaring up the longer framelines with verticles and horizontals.

I would say this: not having the frames and learning to compose off of references changes the way you compose in a great way that is out of the box. I find it refreshing and would even say that it has its advantages. I say just learn to compensate and turn a handicap into a refreshing advantage.

BTW the M2-M4 frames are really nice, and I whish my M6 and MP had the bigger frames.

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Old 11-19-2014   #26
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I do have 1st-hand experience, which is why I posted the caveat. Rather than use the Pentax VF on the M2 for close-range shooting, I would use it as a reference (since it shows both 43mm & 50mm frames) & mentally transpose/imagine the 43mm frames.

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If anyone has experienced this first-hand, I would appreciate your input.
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Old 11-19-2014   #27
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I do have 1st-hand experience, which is why I posted the caveat. Rather than use the Pentax VF on the M2 for close-range shooting, I would use it as a reference (since it shows both 43mm & 50mm frames) & mentally transpose/imagine the 43mm frames.

Makes perfect sense; even I can deal with that.
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Old 11-19-2014   #28
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I just got delivery at work.

First off the VF'er is so nice and the built in diopter is really great. The lens kinda gives me a phantom experiance of being light weight because it has less mass than my chromed brass 50 Lux ASPH. I basically bought a lens that is in LN condition with all the original packaging. The bonus is a Leica LTM adpter and Leica M-cap. in addition to the Pentax LTM cap.

The 50mm frames on my 0.85 are very big, and it works out that the entire VF'er is perfect in every way to be used for the 43mm FOV. The difference from my MP's 50mm frames is less than I expected.

It seems that the 43/1.9 is going to be my main lens on my black paint MP. Having the added magnification, and the supersized VF'er that surprisingly ideal for the 43mm FOV (I wear glasses). I can see this MP and 43/1.9 being a very fast rig for street.

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Old 11-19-2014   #29
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Cal, that is going to be one awesome combo. I'll have to check it out one day.
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Old 11-19-2014   #30
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Cal, that is going to be one awesome combo. I'll have to check it out one day.
John,

I think you would like it. Somehow there is some due influence on your part. Although the chrome lens looks heavy it is made of aluminum, but it has a very good build quality. It definately will be a mucho fast shooter with a quick focus made even more rapid via magnification and VF-er size.

In a word: "Brutal." LOL. Imaging using the entire 0.85 VF'er to frame the 43mm FOV.

BTW I relinquish my Wetzlar M6 to be my small camera to be used with that black Canon 28/3.5, 35/1.8 Nikkor in LTM and a 45/2.8 Super Rokkor. It is my three lens micro-kit. If you like focus tabs I think you will love the mamouth scalloped focus ring on the Super Rokkor. Also its size is mucho small. It is somewhat a Tessar/Heliar der-rivit-tive that vignettes like a MoFo wide open, but is sharp in the center with punchy contrast due to few elements.

Cal
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Old 11-19-2014   #31
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John,

In a word: "Brutal." LOL. Imaging using the entire 0.85 VF'er to frame the 43mm FOV.
Even with glasses it's ok?

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BTW I relinquish my Wetzlar M6 to be my small camera to be used with that black Canon 28/3.5, 35/1.8 Nikkor in LTM and a 45/2.8 Super Rokkor. It is my three lens micro-kit.
That's quite a cool set-up. You know how I feel about the Canon and Nikkor.

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If you like focus tabs I think you will love the mamouth scalloped focus ring on the Super Rokkor. Also its size is mucho small. It is somewhat a Tessar/Heliar der-rivit-tive that vignettes like a MoFo wide open, but is sharp in the center with punchy contrast due to few elements.

Cal
Sounds very cool. I'll have to research it since I don't think I'm familiar with it.
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Old 11-19-2014   #32
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John,

With my glasses the 0.85 VF'er is perfect.

The 45/2.8 Super Rokkor (Minolta before they became Minolta) is smaller than the 35/1.8 Nikkor in LTM. The Canon 28/3.5 is still the smallest.

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Old 11-20-2014   #33
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BTW I relinquish my Wetzlar M6 to be my small camera to be used with that black Canon 28/3.5, 35/1.8 Nikkor in LTM and a 45/2.8 Super Rokkor. It is my three lens micro-kit.
Cal
On this recent family vacation, I had the 43mm Pentax along with a 28mm Summicron and a 90mm Macro-Elmar-M. I think that this a 3-lens kit that I'll be using a lot.

These three lenses are similar in size and good for me ergonomically, and when looking at the results from my vacation they had very similar looks in terms of contrast. The 28mm Summicron did however make the 43mm Pentax seem not so sharp in comparison, but the truth is that the Pentax is sharp enough for me, even wide open. I shot the Pentax at f/2.8 mainly because there the results were magical: very sharp but with plenty of lovely bokeh.
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Old 11-20-2014   #34
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On this recent family vacation, I had the 43mm Pentax along with a 28mm Summicron and a 90mm Macro-Elmar-M. I think that this a 3-lens kit that I'll be using a lot.

These three lenses are similar in size and good for me ergonomically, and when looking at the results from my vacation they had very similar looks in terms of contrast. The 28mm Summicron did however make the 43mm Pentax seem not so sharp in comparison, but the truth is that the Pentax is sharp enough for me, even wide open. I shot the Pentax at f/2.8 mainly because there the results were magical: very sharp but with plenty of lovely bokeh.
Sleepyhead,

You have good taste: I own a black 28 Cron, now the 43/1.9 Pentax-L, and an extra heavy chrome 90/4.0 Macro Elmar.

The 28 Cron is an exceptional lens and surely is the high bar as far as IQ, and there is something very punchy yet elegant about the sharp rendering of the Macro Elmar that I also love.

In exploring the Pentax-L last night I saw that because it was designed for LTM the minimum close focus is only three feet, but I think the most advanced feature on the Pentax-L is the very fast focus that is a lot faster than my chrome 50 Lux ASPH. Stop-to-stop the focus rotation is only 90 degrees, making the Pentax-L with its focus tab ergonomically my fastest lens for shooting, unless I'm zone focusing.

Here in NYC the little extra wide FOV with the OOF and bokeh of a normal lens is welcomed for urban street shooting. Already I can see that this lens is going to get a lot of use for street shooting in NYC. The M-body is a black paint 0.85 MP rigged with a TA Rapidgrip and TA Rapidwinder. I was also thinking the same thing: the 90 Macro Elmar and Pentax-L are about the same size. Also I use the cylindrical hood from a version three 50 Elmar on my Macro Elmar to minimize the size. Using filters with this hood causes no vignetting.

Even the 50 Lux ASPH, a perfect lens, seems to have a sweet spot two stops down from wide open at F2.8. This is where I like to shoot, unless I need the speed or shallow DOF with a normal lens.

Cal
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Old 11-20-2014   #35
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Sleepyhead,

In exploring the Pentax-L last night I saw that because it was designed for LTM the minimum close focus is only three feet, but I think the most advanced feature on the Pentax-L is the very fast focus that is a lot faster than my chrome 50 Lux ASPH. Stop-to-stop the focus rotation is only 90 degrees, making the Pentax-L with its focus tab ergonomically my fastest lens for shooting, unless I'm zone focusing.

Cal
Cal, yes, the short focus throw of the Pentax lens struck me within seconds of picking up the lens. I find the focus tab a little "pointy" compared to Leica lenses, but rapidly got used to it.
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Old 12-22-2016   #36
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I got both, the Rollei 40/2.8 and the Pentax-L 43/1.9. Both are lenses that I enjoy using.
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Old 12-22-2016   #37
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Wow, old thread. Never the less when I read the OP the thought that came to mind was my little (and cheap) Olympus 35RC. A 42mm f2.8 in a compact camera with full manual control. Doggone close to 43mm, not as fast, but good lens at 1/10 or less of the price and available (and frees up your Leica for a different angle of view).
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Old 12-22-2016   #38
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UPDATE: I no longer own my 50 Lux ASPH. I traded it for a 35 Lux 3-cam to use on my SL, but I still have my silver Pentax-L Special to use as my normal lens.

Anyways I'll be checking it for sharpness on my SL. I'll report back.

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Old 12-23-2016   #39
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I am still looking for an affordable Pentax-L 43mm; they don't seem to come up for sale very often.
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Old 12-23-2016   #40
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Not so common in the US, I understand they were marketed mostly in Japan. Only 2000 were made. I got mine in 2003 from an RFF member in Canada who had gotten it from Japan.

I use a LTM-M bayonet adapter setting 50mm framelines, then compose "loose" in the viewfinder.

Given that it's marked an odd 43mm focal length, it may be fair to assume that designation is accurate. I also have the 1.4/40 Nokton and find that it's a bit long for a nominal 40mm lens... about the same as the Pentax-L. My 2.0/40 Rokkor is clearly wider than either, probably right on 40mm I'd guess.
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