Well, when you opt for a certain camera system you also choose the entire range of lenses that go with it. And as for me, Pentax 67 165mm F2.8 is one of the lenses which may determine the choice of a medium format camera system. Also, do not confuse it with a similar lens — 165mm F4 LS. This lens has a leaf shutter and different optical formula.
I’ve tried many medium format cameras until I finally decided to settle on Pentax 67. Even before coming to this decision and buying this camera with the 90mm F2.8 standard lens, I was certain that I’d have this lens in my system and that it was just a matter of time.
This lens is a great addition to the standard 90mm F2.8 or 105mm F2.4 lenses, because it complements them really well. It is a fast aperture lens which is very uncommon for such a lens type in the entire medium format.
Size and weight
Although the size of this lens resembles that of 135mm F4 Macro, being just 4mm longer, it is also 200g heavier, with a total weight of 840g, which is not surprising, taking into account its focal length and lens speed. In practice, it is quite a lot, making this lens not the best option for handheld shots, especially when it comes to vertical framing. Therefore, you are unlikely to carry it in a backpack as an additional interchangeable lens “just in case”.
It is also important to remember that a more long-focus and heavy lens requires faster shutter speeds. The minimum shutter speed at which you can do handheld shots is 1/250, ideally combining it with mirror lockup. Or try to shoot at 1/500, which is often quite possible at the F2.8.
It was created primarily as a portrait lens, so one should not place any special demands on it in terms of sharpness. But it is, above all, a modern lens, that is its sharpness is similar to that you’d expect from any modern lens and is comparable to the 90mm F2.8.
At a minimum focusing distance of 1.6m, it ensures the same magnification ratio as the 105mm F2.4 at 1.0m distance. They are somewhat similar in this regard. In such a case, the lens speed fall-off is about 0.36EV. For a close-up portrait the extension tube #1 is required, which together with the focusing at a minimum distance results in exposure factor ×1.5. So it is desirable to adjust the exposure by +0.5EV. I always do this while shooting at a minimum distance, even when I do not use any extension tubes.
Field of view
The 165mm focal length of the lens matches that of the classic portrait 85mm lens for 35mm cameras with the field of view 30°. For my photography style, this lens happened to be overly long focus, as I prefer to keep a closer distance to the model. So, it requires the use of more short-focus lenses.
I find 120-140mm more convenient in such cases. In practice, I’d rather use 135mm F4 Macro. For soft portraits, I prefer antique brass Petzval 120mm F2.9, which I myself adapted for Pentax 67 body.
The aperture is one of the distinguishing features of this lens, as nothing similar to this can be found in any other medium format lenses. In fact, lenses with automatic aperture rarely have more than 8 blades due to the mechanical complexity of its design.
But the primary purpose of this lens is to shoot portraits, which often requires a softer blurring of the background. So, Asahi equipped the lens with 10 blade aperture! It gives a well-curved aperture opening and a beautiful blurring of “dot lights” in the background when the aperture is stopped down.
It has a 67mm filter thread which works fine with both screw-in and special bayonet mount filters.
This lens has been specially designed to create a beautiful bokeh effect with the help of its fast F2.8 and a 10-blade aperture.
Unfortunately, this lens with all its unique properties has not become my main tool or primary choice for shooting portraits. Perhaps, one of the main reasons for that was its size and weight, which discouraged me from changing lenses for no serious reason. For a close-up it requires the extension tube #1, so I preferred to use the 135mm F4 Macro instead.
My portrait shooting is usually carried out at short distances, as I am keen to be in direct contact with the person I’m shooting. So, in practice, I often used my favorite 90mm F2.8 lens, and later when I suddenly got hold of the 105mm F2.4 lens, I almost completely switched to it. I came to realize that I favor its bokeh effect more.
The Pentax 67 165mm F2.8 lens happened to be too heavy for trips, as it weighs about 1kg. I always brought it with me in the hope of using it, but, in practice, I tended to shoot with another lens, just occasionally installing the Pentax 67 165mm F2.8, simply out of the desire to justify its presence in the backpack.
Just recently, 10 years after its purchase, I sold it, though not without regret. Maybe, I’ll buy myself old Takumar 6X7 150mm F2.8 as a replacement, but I am not sure if I need it at all, because now I have an old brass Petzval 120mm F2.9 from the unbranded antique magic lantern projector, with which I experiment a lot.
In fact, this lens has been and still remains a touchstone for me, as I’ve said in the beginning of this post. It is an excellent (and maybe unique) fast-speed lens that does not have and will probably never have equivalents in other medium format systems. Perhaps I still get back to it one day. And this very opportunity is very important for me.
Pentax 67 165mm F2.8 Lens data
- Focal length: 165mm
- 35mm equivalent: 85mm
- Optical formula: 6 elements, 5 groups
- Field of view: 30°/24° (Diagonal/Horizontal)
- Aperture: 2.8 ~ 22 (10 blades)
- Close distance: 1.6m
- Magnification: 0.13×
- Picture area: 53×41cm
- Exposure factor: ×1.28 (+0.36EV)
- Effective lens speed: 3.2 ~ 24.9
- Filter: 67mm, screw-in and bayonet
- Hood: Built-in
- Case: S120-150
- Dimensions: 92×99mm
- Weight: 0.84kg
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