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07-02-2010, 05:47 AM   #1
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AF lenses with nice focusing feel

I seem to have a somewhat unusual relationship with my camera. Like most people, I like lenses to be good optically, but unlike most people, that's not enough for me. I want them to feel good when I handle them.

Ok, so I expect everyone would prefer that, but most people don't give it much of a priority.

I like the convenience of AF, but I don't want it to stop me from focusing myself. I have turned off AF on half press, and as long as the lens has quick shift that aspect is perfect. But most AF lenses seem to have pretty bad focusing feel.

My DA 35/2.8 ltd macro is fine. Best feeling AF lens I have, but not as nice as most K/M and some A lenses. My DFA 100/2.8 macro (non-WR) is (barely) acceptable (and way to plasticy). My Sigma 10-20/3.5 is not good. My DA 16-45/4 is not good. My Tamron 28-75/2.8 is downright terrible (and lacks quick shift).

And I don't like zooms anyway.

So, with this information on how I want focusing to feel, and my wanting quick shift, on a prime, I suspect I have the DFA 100/2.8 macro WR as my only candidates for something I would like to buy. But hopefully I'm wrong.

Anyone have something to recommend? (Doesn't have to be in production, but I think nearly everything with quick shift is.)

07-02-2010, 05:50 AM   #2
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No quick shift unfortunately, but if you want a great MF feel in AF lenses, then the FA Limiteds are the way to go.
07-02-2010, 05:52 AM   #3
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DFA 100mm f/2.8 Macro WR has a really nice damped feel when focusing manually.
Having Quick Shift is really a boon, the integration of AF and manual override is quick and seamless.
Even better than the FA Limiteds imo.
07-02-2010, 07:44 AM   #4
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I suppose I should try to pretend my DA35 doesn't have quick shift and see how annoyed I get. I suspect I'll end up using only MF (and I don't need to buy more expensive AF glass in that case), but I've certainly been wrong before.

07-02-2010, 10:03 AM   #5
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My favorite AF lenses to focus manually are my Sigma 28mm f/1.8 EX DG Macro and my Pentax FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro.
07-02-2010, 12:54 PM   #6
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The DA Limiteds are not as good as the FA Limiteds by most accounts, but they're better than the DA zooms and probbably the FA non-Limiteds. Even the DA40, often maligned for its think focus ring and short throw, is one I find surprisingly to focus manually (I can use my *right* hand to do this, with one finger, while still having one finger on the shutter). but the DA70 and DA15 are nicer still. But nowhere near my M lenses, of course.
07-02-2010, 01:06 PM   #7
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DFA 100mm WR and DA* 200mm manuel focusing feels really nice.
I wish Sigma 30mm had much longer focus throw.
07-02-2010, 01:43 PM   #8
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The FA* lenses have a good manual focus operation. They don't have the modern day Quick Shift, instead you pull the focusing ring towards you to manually focus, and push it out again to autofocus.

07-02-2010, 02:31 PM   #9
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Ah, so the FA* lenses have almost quick shift (like my 645 FA 200/4), that should be convenient enough. I should probably try a little AF on the 645, see how it feels to switch like that. (Of course, it's much easier to just write stuff on the internet..)

Not that this opens a large new world of lenses, but still, thanks.

I was hoping that someone would say all the DA ltds are like the 35, but I already had the impression from somewhere that it wasn't so.
07-02-2010, 02:40 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
The DA Limiteds are not as good as the FA Limiteds by most accounts.
I hope you're referring to the focus-feel.
07-02-2010, 02:56 PM   #11
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The focus on my FA 35/2 is pretty good. Smooth, without lash, and with adequate throw to make manual focus a pleasure. My only complaint is that manual focus is a bit difficult with the hood attached due to poor clearance between the focus ring and the hood. I am not as fond of the focus on my FA 77/1.8 Limited. It works well enough, but you can feel the focus gears moving as you turn the ring.


Steve
07-02-2010, 03:28 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dragonfly Quote
I hope you're referring to the focus-feel.
I was.
07-02-2010, 04:19 PM   #13
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I'm going to go ahead and be the black sheep, here. I actually don't think the DFA100WR has good manual focus feel. I find it too hard to be precise as there's just not enough rotational throw. It feels hair-trigger to me. It's a phenomenal lens for the money and AF is so good with it on my K7 that I rarely actually need to manual focus. My Zeiss has pretty much spoiled me for manual focusing. I can't imagine any lens feeling better than that one. I realize that it's designed to be a MF lens and that there's a major price difference, but after you use the Zeiss you won't care about that. It also only does 1:2 instead of 1:1 like the DFA. But again, after you use it you won't care. Or at least I don't. I'm sorry to gush but hey, I'm in love!

Last edited by DogLover; 07-02-2010 at 05:34 PM.
07-02-2010, 05:50 PM   #14
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I think there is also a subtle difference to manual focus feel depending on whether one uses mostly autofocus or mostly manual focus. I'm in the latter class, with mostly manual lenses, and only two autofocus (the DA 16-45/f4, which has a nice feel for manual focus, and the DA 55-300, for which I'd only wish the autofocus were as well behaved as the manual focus; autofocus runs to macro for "sky" images).

From elsewhere (and years back) I heard good praise for the manual feel of the FA 24mm (or was it just F?), but it was one of those lenses that I bought from ebay and then couldn't resell it fast enough, since I didn't like the manual feel of it at all.
07-03-2010, 12:09 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by DogLover Quote
I'm going to go ahead and be the black sheep, here. I actually don't think the DFA100WR has good manual focus feel. I find it too hard to be precise as there's just not enough rotational throw. It feels hair-trigger to me.
This seems typical of macros at long distances, even MF ones. I remember my M 100/4 macro as hard to focus at longer distances. Actually now that I think about it I find most lenses hard to focus close to infinity, so maybe it's me. (At infinity is of course fine as long as the lens has a correct infinity stop.)
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