11/15/2020: “Alternatives” and “Conclusion” and “Notes” sections has been updated in light of new releases, and a few more sample images have been added.
The Pentax 31mm f1.8 Limited is a fast moderate wide angle lens released in 2001. It’s designated as one of Pentax’s “Limited” series, denoting its high status within the Pentax catalogue. Since its release, the 31 Ltd has been beloved, especially within the Pentax community. I picked up my first copy in pursuit of a fast, decently priced alternative to the Sony RX1. Sony hasn’t provided shooters with a native fast 35mm f1.8 or f2 option. The 31 Ltd was a highly praised lens upon release, but optics have come along way recently, and it’s getting long in the tooth. Let’s see how it holds up 17 years after it’s release, and what type of images we can expect.
The 31mm focal length is an oddity, being near but noticeably different from the more conventional 28mm or 35mm focal lengths. The 31 ltd functions as versatile jack-of-trades lens with its 31 FL. The lens is still in production by Pentax/Ricoh, coming in either silver or black.
To view larger versions of the photos in this review, follow this link to my Pentax 31 ltd album on flickr:
This is a short comparative review that is technical in nature with no sample images. There is a tremendous amount of overlap between the 75 and 80 Lux. Read my 75 Lux review here. The major differentiators I examine in this post.
I have never seen any rigorous testing of the 75 versus 80 Lux. I have owned them both at separate times, always feeling the 80 Lux was a little softer, less corrected and with more character. I’ve spoken with several shooters who have experienced both lenses and voiced a similar opinion–descriptions like more “vintage,” “magical” and “gentler” come up. After writing the 75 Lux review and trying to save some money, my curiosity got the better of me and I picked up an 80 Lux to potentially sell my 75 Lux.
After shooting the 75 Lux for nearly 2 years solid, I was surprised when viewing my first batch of 80 Lux files. The signature is quite similar, but the distinctions are definitely there, and without pixel peeping. More than I recalled or anticipated. It was noticeable enough that I’ve decided to make this post for those curious. I figured there was a strong chance the renderings were so similar I wouldn’t bother.
The Leica 75 Summilux (75 Lux) is legendary. It’s a compact, fast, short telephoto rangefinder lens designed for portrait and shallow depth-of-field photography.Prices and praise for the 75 Lux haven’t lessened over the years, and it’s said to be one of Walter Mandler’s favorites works. You’ll be hard pressed to find a clean copy for under 3.5k. Let’s dig deeper.
Click here to see all 75 Lux review photos and others at larger resolution on my flickr album.
Note 1: Throughout the review, FE or Sony 85 means the 85 f1.8, GM 85 refers to the GM 85 f1.4, and the Samyang is the manual focus version unless specified.
Note 2: For a more extensive look at the finer distinctions between the 75 and 80 Summilux, read this.
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