It's in the Bag - Vintage Pentax Glass on Modern Panasonic Electronics.

It's in the Bag - 2012/05/30
So I'm heading out to shoot an interview today. Just me and the subject, a Platinum Minds scholar and high-school senior. I wanted to travel light because I wasn't sure of the setting. Initially, I mounted the Pentax DA*16-50mm F2.8 to the Panasonic GH2, thinking that I'd need the versatility of the zoom. I was also thinking about a monopod. But then I thought, "Keep it simple. Put the camera on a tripod, hit record, and talk. Having a good interaction with the subject will be more important than anything else."

That led me to a prime lens, but which one. The DA21mm F3.2 would be a bit wide. The M50mm F1.7 would be a bit long and possibly move the camera-mounted mic farther than I wanted it. I ended up choosing an old Pentax M28mm F3.5 instead of the DA35mm F2.8 Macro Limited as I thought that the 28mm would give me the focal length I desired - a mix of subject and background.

One problem - the 28 had languished in a drawer for probably 15 years. Even when I jumped to Pentax dSLRs in 2009 with the K20d, it sat untouched as I was foolishly drawn to faster glass. But since I was shooting video solo and really couldn't spend time keeping focus locked, I decided to shoot at around F4 and hope the DOF would keep me sharp.

To make sure the lens still worked, I went into the backyard and took some test shots. I was pleasantly surprised with the result.


The lens draws nicely, with good contrast and colors and more than enough sharpness for 1080p video. For those scoring at home, 1080p is around 2 megapickles.

Things worked out great with the shoot. We found a picnic table in the shade. I cut down the light with a couple of Cokin filters (an ND and ND grad) and had a good conversation. The footage looks really nice.

Screenshot - Panasonic GH2 with Pentax M28mm F3.5

Kudos Pentax for making such nice lenses 30+ years ago. And kudos Panasonic for making such a nice camera!


  1. Anonymous2:32 PM


    I like your notes on photography and video very much. May I ask the question: why did you choose the old Pentax 28mm? If you are shooting f4, do you think there is a big difference to the kit lense?

    Best regards,

  2. Thanks for the compliment, Sascha. The kit lens may have similar image quality to the old Pentax 28mm, but there are a couple of reasons I chose the 28mm:

    1 - new AF lenses have very short focus throws (the amount of rotation required to go from infinity to the lens' near focus distance). The Pentax M28mm F3.5 in contrast has a nice long focus throw that is buttery smooth. This makes it easier to fine tune focus.

    2 - I don't have a kit lens ;-) I actually had the Pentax DA* 16-50 F2.8 mounted before I left the house, but as I said, I wanted to try to go light and simple this time. Worked out great.