It has been many years since I owned a telephoto zoom lens of any kind. Burned by poor quality third party zooms of the 1980’s, I have consistently ducked getting another and always opted for primes when requiring telephoto focal lengths. This changed when researching a recent trip to the eastern region of Halkidiki in Greece. Part of the itinerary was to visit the town of Ouranoupoli which is close to the border of the Monks Republic of Athos.
This is the lens that captured my interest in the T system around a year ago. Tantalisingly exhibited at the 2016 Photography show but unavailable to the public at the time, it would be several months before I finally owned one. This was not as much to do with supply and demand but more my own prevarication when deciding on what new camera system to purchase. Once I had decided to buy into the T system, my commitment was bolstered by 35mm f1.4 ownership.
September 2016 saw the announcement and release of the sixth lens for Leica’s TL system. Forming the third in a trio of high quality primes, the 60mm lens finally gave the TL system a dedicated macro optic that also doubles as a reasonably fast short telephoto solution. I was keen to ‘round out’ my shooting options with something from the telephoto realm and this makes an interesting alternative to the 55-135 zoom. Of course, given the APSC size sensor, the focal length of the 60mm equates to 90mm which, for me, falls into my ideal focal length of between 85 and 135mm, albeit at the lower end of my requirements.
This is the first lens I purchased for my T camera and just the second zoom I have owned in 28 years. Before this, my experience of zooms was limited to budget third party models that often disappointed in both optical and build quality. These memories are probably the reason I rarely strayed into zoom territory, preferring instead high quality primes. A lot has changed over the decades and the performance gap between zooms and primes is now minimal.
Just over three years ago when I first brought my Pentax K-5 I wanted a lens that would cover me for most situations while I squirrelled money away to expand my system. Naturally I chose one of Pentax’s zoom lenses, the 16-50mm f2.8 which over the years I shared a love/hate relationship with. Optically it was great but it was big and suffered from some strange auto-focus issues. With an upcoming trip to Sicily I could not bear the thought of miss-focused, soft images. You can imagine my delight when the wonderful Pentax announced a Limited 20-40mm zoom lens, I could already see myself stood in front of Mount Etna with this gorgeous piece of kit mounted upon my K-5! I soon returned to reality and realised I needed to devise a way to finance this venture. Goodbye 16-50mm.
Just before I went abroad this year I decided to purchase one of Pentax's super-wide primes to see how it performs compared to my 16-50mm zoom lens. I have been interested in this lens for quite a while prior to purchasing, mainly because it is so small and it is also the widest fixed focal length lens Pentax offer, except for a fish-eye. Given I am a wide-angle man rather than a telephoto the purchase of this lens was imminent, I just needed an excuse, so three weeks before going abroad I made the leap.