PENTAX, THE LOST GRANDFATHER.
Welcome to a guide on the Pentax Lens Abbreviations and Acronyms. Pentax is probably a grandfather in the world of photography, and it has a history even longer than Canon. They have pretty much made almost everything related to optics – From spectacle lenses to optical instruments for the military, scopes, binoculars, cameras, and even medical equipment.
Strangely though, despite Pentax being specialized in the optical field, they are never wildly popular in the photography world… Even sadder is that Pentax has been like a lost grandfather over the years, being transferred from company to company. So thank you for adopting this old grandfather Pentax, and giving him some love. Let us walk through how to read their lens terms and abbreviations in this guide – Read on!
Pentax has a long and confusing lens mount history, but they only have 3 prominent mount systems now.
- K-Mount: Used on all their SLR and DSLR K-series camera bodies.
- Q-Mount: Used on their mirrorless cameras.
- 645-Mount: Used on medium format cameras.
We shall not go too deep into the rest of the historic mounts, but here are a few of the Pentax systems that have been phased out:
- M37, M42, ES M42 – The ancestors of the K-Mount system used on 35mm film cameras.
- 6×7 Mount, 110 Mount – For medium format cameras.
HISTORY OF THE K-MOUNT
The original K-mount was created in 1975, and it has since been revised multiple times. Not to be confused, here is the list of versions:
- K-Mount: The original K-mount system.
- KF-Mount: The first K-mount with an autofocus system.
- KA-Mount: The first K-mount that adapts data from the lens and allows the camera body to automatically set the aperture. I.E. Auto and aperture priority mode.
- KAF-Mount: A marriage and second generation of the KA and KF mount.
- KAF2-Mount: The third generation.
- KAF3-Mount: Forth generation.
- KAF4-Mount: You catch the drift… This is the latest version of the K-Mount as at the time of writing.
- RK-Mount: This is Ricoh’s version of the K-Mount after they have taken over Pentax.
- PENTAX-K: The first generation of K-mount lenses, this is totally manual and does not have a hint of electronics.
- PENTAX-M: The second generation, which is still manual. But with a little improvement in terms of size and quality.
- PENTAX-A: The dawn of the electronic era, where the first version of the “automatic aperture” is built-in.
- PENTAX-F: The dawn of lenses with autofocus.
- PENTAX-FA: Lenses for SLR cameras, with automatic aperture and auto-focus.
- PENTAX-FA★: That is FA with a star. The top of the cream lenses for the FA lenses.
- PENTAX-FA J: The more advanced FA lenses, which do not have a manual aperture ring.
- PENTAX-FA645: FA lenses for 645 medium format.
- PENTAX-FA★645: The premium range of FA645 lenses.
- PENTAX-DA: Designed for the Pentax APS-C crop sensor digital cameras. Yep, I am guessing the “D” to mean digital. Not compatible with the older film cameras.
- PENTAX-DA★: DA lenses with a star. The top-grade DA lenses.
- PENTAX-D FA: Lenses that are designed for use on digital cameras, but will also work on the older film cameras.
- PENTAX-DA Limited: The cheaper and limited version of DA lenses.
Internal focus (IF): Focusing is done by moving the inner lens group. No parts on the outside will move.
Autofocus (AF): Self-explanatory.
Super Direct-drive Motor (SDM): Pentax’s autofocus motor.
DC Motor (DC): Another version of Pentax’s autofocus motor.
Extra-low Dispersion (ED): Glass that is supposedly superior, reduces chromatic aberration and flaring.
Aspherical lens (AL): The shape of the lens looks like a human eye. Read more on Wikipedia if you want.
Super Multi Coating (SMC): A layer of lens coating to reduce chromatic aberration and flaring.
Ghostless Coating (GC): There will not be paranormal activity in your photos. As the name implies, this coating eliminates lens ghosting.
Super Protect Coating (SP): Supposedly makes your lens scratch and water-resistant.
Aero Bright Coating (ABC): Seemingly the Pentax’s best coating in terms of optics. Not as durable as Super Protect though.
HD: High definition. Well, the latest lens coating that is “better than all before”.
Weather Resistant (WR): A weather-resistant lens. Take note, it will probably survive a few drops of light rain only.
All Weather (AW): A weather-sealed lens. Supposedly better and also dust-proof.
Pentax’s version of the built-in optical stabilization is called the Shake Reduction (SR).
MACRO: Able to focus and shoot up close.
Fisheye: Named after how fishes see – An ultra-wide lens that has a very distinct distortion.
TAKUMAR, SUPER TAKUMAR!?
This is a short section for you guys who are curious enough about the older “Takumar” branding. Yet another history lesson in point form –
- Pentax is originally founded by Asahi Optical.
- The founder of Asahi Optical, Kumao Kajiwara wanted to give some tribute to his brother Takuma Kajiwara.
- This is where the original “Takumar” Pentax lens branding came about.
- “Super Takumar” is the improved line of Takumar lenses.
- It later became “Super-Multi-Coated Takumar”, or simply just “SMC”.
LINKS & REFERENCES
Thank you for reading, and we have come to the end of this short guide. Here are a couple more extra links and references that may be useful to you.