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Choosing old primes vs using kit lens


Hello to all,
while researching SD-cameras i came across this forum and found many helpful posts, thanks!
I'm planning on buying a SD14 but I'm not clear on lens choice. I plan to do land/cityscape almost exclusively and I'm willing to put work into my shots. That's why I was thinking about buying just a body and trying to get an old prime wideangle.
I have read about Pentax lenses fitting with some slight modification and I know about the m24 adapter.
What still plagues me are two questions:
1. Are old primes like for example a 28mm 1:2,8 Pentax SMC really sharper than the kit 18-200mm lens?
2. Can I use a 24mm or 28mm on the SD14 or do I get in conflict with that dust protection thing

Any other significant problems with using old cheap primes vs digital zoom lenses? I know I won't have AF, but I have shot MF cameras before.

Thanks for your help!


Well-Known Member
Hi newsig,
I'm by no means an expert and I'm sure you will get better answers that will help you out immensely from other members of this forum, but I'm new to the Sigma system too.
You might consider that lenses meant for 35mm film cameras will give you a 1.7x magnification on the SD 14. So the wide angle prime on a 35mm camera will be more like a normal lens on the Foveon sensor.

There are threads on the M42 adapters on here too that helped me out a lot. Make sure you get the right Sigma SA/SD M42 adapter and not a Pentax PK adapter.

What I did for a starter was to get the kit lenses from an Sigma SA-7 camera and used those. They're pretty good for the price I paid, I got a 28-80 and a 70-300. If you are planning to go that route consider getting any lens that would fit a SA-7 or newer(SA7, SA7n, SA9). The older Sigma film cameras used the Pentax K mount.

For your two points:
1. I know that Sigma(according to their site) puts their digital lenses through special treatments that make them better for digital cameras. But I have seen some really sharp images come from the film camera lenses too.

2. JTAT sells a gauge that you can use to see if the rear of the lens will hit the Dust/IR filter. Although I'm sure there's figures out there with the distance from the front of the mount to the IR filter which you could then use to see if it would be a problem.

Sorry for being longwinded but good luck!


Thanks akv!

I'm aware of the 1,7 factor. I'm thinking about getting a 24 or 28mm lens which would be roughly normal 50mm on the SD. I guess my main concern is the resulting image quality.

Most people seem to agree that prime lenses tend to deliver better iq than standard kit zooms. But is this also true when using old made for 35mm film primes vs modern digital zooms?


Well-Known Member
I've got the 28-80 Macro II that came as part of a kit, and I am consistently pleased with it's image quality. And close focus on the 80mm end is great. You can really get all up in it as they say. If you wanna give that a try on the cheap I recommend it. I've also got the older 18-125 DC lens but I don't use it all that much. I think the 28-80 has better iq.
But as far as the primes being better iq than the zooms I think that's a generalization that can hold true in most cases, though my experience is more from 35mm slrs and not digital.


Well-Known Member
Non Sigma lenses

Hi, and welcome

There are many examples showing that old primes will produce excellent results on the SD14. But it HAS to be a lens of good quality, not just any lens.

A few factors to consider:

1. Sensors are highly reflective and may reflect the light. Under certain conditions, elements of the lens may reflect this light back onto the sensor, creating flare/ghost images. Modern lenses accounts for this, older lenses does not. You will have to test the lens under different conditions, distances and apertures.

2. The focusing screen is not a good screen for MF. The crop factor makes it small, and contrast is low. The SD14 does not have a split-screen focusing screen. And no useable 3rd party alternatives exist. The screen is not a good screen for MF. An option is to use a finder magnifier.

3. AF confirm might help, if the AF system of the camera is correctly calibrated. AF confirm can be obtained even if you use MF. But this requires a SA lens mounted when inserting a battery in the camera.

4. Focus calibration might be difficult when using non-Sigma lenses.
Many have had to send their camera + lenses to Sigma for calibration. You can't do that with a non-Sigma lens.

I have compiled some information about using non-Sigma lenses:
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Also, if you need more info on the SD14, have a look at my compendium:
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Kind regards

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Hi Øyvind,
thanks for your thoughtful reply. I'm quite aware of our excellent infos on usiing the SD14 and on using non Sigma lenses. In fact it was your site that made me think that using a sd14 with some old prime would be great idea!

Now your point about the focusing screen being not good for manual focusing has scared me somewhat... So how do people focus their SDs in manual mode?

akv, thanks again, is that 28-80 Macro II an SA mount lens? When looking on ebay I don't seem to find very much SA mount lenses at all...


Well-Known Member
I wouldn't say it's not good for MF, but it's not great, nor ideal unfortunately. Most of my shots lately have been MF.

I have the 18-200 OS, it is a decent lens. Not great, but not terrible either. It works best if stopped down to f8-11, otherwise it's fairly soft. For me, the OS is pretty much worthless. A few others here (klaus) have had great success with the 18-200.

I don't have any experience with M42 lenses yet. I have a Vivitar Series 1 28/2.5, but I am waiting on the adapter to make its way to me.

It sounds like you're ok with primes...I would get the body and at least 1 new lens, maybe the 50mm EX Macro, and then go from there with the old lenses.


Thanks, JasonH
if I could afford something like the 50mm EX which sells for like 400 EURO I wuold probably not worry too much about using old primes :)
But your remarks about the 18-200mm made me think about getting a kit for a start, and then eventually see if I get a good old prime.


Well-Known Member
Hello Newsig,

The discussion of manual focus caught my attention, as that is how I shoot my deep waders during birding. 150-500 with TC1.4x. Manual focus with dependence on the viewfinder focus confirmation light. I have eyed the split focusing screen on ebay for some time, trying to glean firsthand information. I have none.

You can check ebay's 3rd party vendor, located in ShangHai and ship through HongKong. search -- Split Image Focusing Screen for Sigma SD14

OvinydS you said,
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Do you feel it is unusable solely because of the 1.7x crop factor making the viewfinder too dim for visual acuity?

I look forward to hearing any information you or anyone may provide about this viewfinder,



Hi Robert,
have a look at
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The split screens I had so far turned out to be to dim.
So I went back to the normal one and use the Pentax Eyecup.
I also have an older Canon Magnifier,which I use occasionally.
It gives a magnification of about 3x and only the centre of the viewfinder
is visual.It is hinge-mounted and flapped down when needed.


Well-Known Member
Thank you Uwe,

I followed up with the magnification eye piece O-ME53

are you able to use your eyeglasses with this?

On the split screens, I have heard that an inherent problem with them is dimness. Have the ones you tried that were too dim, the same as this? ->
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(I am interested in this)

My experience with the sd14 on board dioptic maginifier is that it is not strong enough correction that I can depart from my eyeglasses. I have much difficulty focusing.

I have noticed that Jes, Klaus and Jim appear to own the eyepiece and also where eyeglasses. I am interested in knowing if you (or any with this experience) can focus the camera manually, without your glasses and the added eye magnifier? And if adding it, enabled you to focus manually with/without your glasses? My intention is to get information in regards to focusing the SD14 without glasses by adding the magnifier.

Thanks in advance,



Well-Known Member

Yes, I have the O-ME53 eye piece and I don't have any problem using it with glasses. I do have to look around a bit to see the data on the bottom of the screen, but it's not any problem. I find it does help with manual focus

Without my thick prescription glasses, there is little hope of me seeing anything through the viewfinder (with or without the O-ME53). I wish I could, but I don't think there is a practical solution for my eyes, however.



Hi Robert,
yes I can use my glasses when using the Pentax eyecup.
I must say I wear tri-focal glasses,designed to my needs.
There is one lower section for fine work and reading,
a small middle section to work on the computer screens,
and the upper section for driving ect.
The sections have a sharp transition.
I had glasses before with a fluent passage,but could not get used to it.
In the beginnig with the SD9 I used a PRAKTICA Eyecup,about 6cm diameter.
The good thing was that a lens cuold be inserted into this eyecup.
So I had my local optician to make / cut a lense of +3 dioptries for that.
This 6cm eyecup covers my eye completely,so no light from the side interferes.
And it is big enough to see the viewfinder in total.


Well-Known Member
Hi Jesse,

That is useful info, I am in the same boat, I can only see the edges one at a time. It is because of the glasses, but without them I can not compose a shot. I do want to find a way to manual focus, and this product does seem worth a try.

As of yesterday I was looking at a split focusing screen on ebay for the sd14. Today it is gone.

Its reassuring to hear that this product successfully aides in manual focusing. :)

Thank you;

Hi Uwe,

Thank you also! This is useful as I said to Jesse. My glasses are similar. Progressive bifocals with prisms. I have been relying on focus confirmation, but with some lens (70-200 and the 150-500 with 1.4x TC) it seems that I am maybe starting to see a pattern of the focus point being off. More of a pattern with the 70-200. The 150-500 may just be an the length with the TC. And use a mono pod for the shots. The pattern that I see looks like what I have heard of as a front focus issue. Will need much further evaluation.

So this aide we discuss will be a step in the right direction. First I will need more confidence in what I am seeing, as far as what I *think* I am focusing on. :)

And thank you for mentioning the side light issue that is resolved, as this is another hinderence for me to see the information in the viewfinder, as my glasses allow too much light to enter from the side.

Also, sorry for posting the link that the product is gone for. As of yesterday I was looking at it. I was hesitant to post it, but then did.

What I gather from you posts is that the split focusing screens are just too dim to be practical?? this is a disappoint, as I was really having my heart set on using them. As it was how I shot with my film 35mm for many years. (Old habits die hard) :)

thanks again,



Well-Known Member
Spilt screen

Hi Robert

Several users (on another forum) have bought the chinese split screen, only to find out it was a waste of money. I have not tested it myself. I cannot recall a single user claiming that it is good, or even usable.

I'm planning to get a magnifier. (Hmm, I think I have Nikon magnifier somewhere...)

We could of course all send a mail to Katz, to try to convince them to produce a spilt screen for the SD14 /15.

kind regards


Well-Known Member
Thank you Øyvind, that it was too dim was the impression I got by looking at the ebay thing. Mostly because I get this feeling, because I thought that if it were good, the users of this forum would already have been using it. I am glad I waited not to buy it, as of yesterday it is gone off of the ebay seller.

Likewise, due to the good advice I hear about the magnifier, it is probably the same route I am going to take.... just now sure when but I hope to make up my purchase before summer gets too far underway.

thanks again, and good luck with your purchase if you so decide,


ps. that is an interesting idea to proposition Katz :) I am sure we will like it too for our SD15's