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09-01-2010, 07:00 PM   #1
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Sigma 50 mm F1.4 EX DG HSM vs SMC Pentax FA 50 mm F1.4

Hi All,

Which portrait prime should I buy with my K-x?
- Oh, to some I maybe should also consider the SMC Pentax DA*55mm F1.4 DSM, but that is for me too expensive, I don't see need for WR and I don't include my fathers SMC Pentax 50 mm F1.4 (probably a "M" and not an "A") either...

So I want to list up all the pros/cons and value those aspects to make a decision. Of course in the end this is a personal choice, but I envite you to provide feedback!!!

My intended application:
- (Candid) Portraits of my two young daughters, both "glamour" and during "low light" parties.
- Most pictures will be shared on internet based on out-of-camera JPG, but the even more important few of course deserve some RAW based post processing.

Pro Sigma
  • Faster and more robust AF
  • Better IQ / brokeh, especially fully open
  • Build quality
Pro Pentax
  • Cheaper
  • Smaller
  • In-camera corrections for JPG
Value per aspect
  1. Price (10 points)
  2. IQ / Brokeh fully open (9 points)
  3. AF speed and robustness (8 points)
  4. Size (7 points)
  5. Build quality (6 points)
  6. In-camera corrections for JPG (5 points)
Conclussion
  • Sigma: 23 Points - Winner
  • Pentax: 22 Points
Should I just pay extra, carry more and go for the Sigma 50 mm F1.4 EX DG HSM?

09-01-2010, 09:07 PM   #2
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That's a pretty close race. If you were to throw in something like, "Which will be worth more next year?", it might see-saw over to the Pentax side. Beyond that, I know the FA50 but not the Sigma, so I can't render an opinion. Good luck.
09-01-2010, 09:19 PM   #3
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for one thing, the Sigma is huge - for me that was a problem and I have sold it.

If you want to look "pro" then Sigma is the one
09-01-2010, 10:32 PM   #4
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Good replies so far!!!

QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
That's a pretty close race. If you were to throw in something like, "Which will be worth more next year?", it might see-saw over to the Pentax side. Beyond that, I know the FA50 but not the Sigma, so I can't render an opinion. Good luck.
Is that true for the "plastic" looking FA50? But indeed, who wants a Sigma with Pentax mount? Guess it all depends on which is altogether the best most famous lens...

QuoteOriginally posted by kytra Quote
for one thing, the Sigma is huge - for me that was a problem and I have sold it.

If you want to look "pro" then Sigma is the one
Yeah, maybe I should give size a higher value and it that case the Pentax would win...
- You know have the FA50? How do they compare? You are missing out on the Sigma (besides size&weight of course)?

09-01-2010, 10:37 PM   #5
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I've briefly used the FA50, and I can't recommend it for the K-x. The build quality just can't hold up to modern AF motors. There have been numerous reports of this lens simply falling apart, so I'd be weary. While it lasts, it's optically quite good, but I imagine that the Sigma is even better.
09-01-2010, 11:01 PM   #6
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I find 50mm too long for candids and too short for real portraits. So I wouldn't spend a lot of money on this focal length, which is kind of a "no man's land" for me. So the winner for me would be the 50 you already have, then spend the money you had budgeted on either a candid or portrait lens in a focal length I found more appropriate. If you don't already have enough experience with zooms to know for sure that you'd really find 50mm useful for both purposes, I'd suggest holding off on the purchase until you do have more experience.
09-01-2010, 11:13 PM   #7
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I agree with Marc; for portraits of my kids I like my DA70 or my DA* 50-135, for candids I like my DA40 and my DA21.

I also tend to use my Metz flash bounced indoors a lot, it makes a huge difference in being able getting good picture with reasonable DOF. f1.4 is razor thin, especially for kids who move around a lot.
09-01-2010, 11:54 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I find 50mm too long for candids and too short for real portraits. So I wouldn't spend a lot of money on this focal length, which is kind of a "no man's land" for me. So the winner for me would be the 50 you already have, then spend the money you had budgeted on either a candid or portrait lens in a focal length I found more appropriate. If you don't already have enough experience with zooms to know for sure that you'd really find 50mm useful for both purposes, I'd suggest holding off on the purchase until you do have more experience.
Smart, smart, smart!!!
QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
I agree with Marc; for portraits of my kids I like my DA70 or my DA* 50-135, for candids I like my DA40 and my DA21.

I also tend to use my Metz flash bounced indoors a lot, it makes a huge difference in being able getting good picture with reasonable DOF. f1.4 is razor thin, especially for kids who move around a lot.
It looks like my ears aren't working well lately...
- Earlier I was leaning towards the DA*50-135 (or Sigma 50-150), but that Pentax lens is just TOO expensive, especially here in Japan
- Grrr, I want to kick off with at least one "cool" lens next to the kit lens(es)

09-02-2010, 12:01 AM   #9
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Well, I don't think you can go wrong with the 28 & 135 you asked about elsewhere. But if those are not sufficiently cool, I'd go out on a limb and suggest the DA40 as a lens "likely" to be useful to you.
09-02-2010, 12:11 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by wshi Quote
I've briefly used the FA50, and I can't recommend it for the K-x. The build quality just can't hold up to modern AF motors. There have been numerous reports of this lens simply falling apart, so I'd be weary. While it lasts, it's optically quite good, but I imagine that the Sigma is even better.
Hmm, can you recommend it on other camera's?
09-02-2010, 12:41 AM   #11
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I find my 21mm & 40mm not fast enough for indoor/low-light portraits. -a high iso with K-x would make up for it-

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is there for the job. shallow DOF is also good for busy indoor backgrounds.





09-02-2010, 02:26 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by JoepLX3 Quote
Good replies so far!!!


Is that true for the "plastic" looking FA50? But indeed, who wants a Sigma with Pentax mount? Guess it all depends on which is altogether the best most famous lens...


Yeah, maybe I should give size a higher value and it that case the Pentax would win...
- You know have the FA50? How do they compare? You are missing out on the Sigma (besides size&weight of course)?
I had M 50mm f1.7, A 50mm f1.4 and f1.7 and the F 50mm f1.7, now I have the FA Limiteds, no more nifty fifties for me. TBH, the Sigma proves the digitally optimised tag and there are less CAs and flare. What I found odd, though, is that the metering seemed sometimes off topic when shooting the Sigma. The center sharpness is a little better wide open compared with my other 50's. Bokeh should be better because of the number of blades but I could not say I have noticed big differences.

Anyway, I believe both the FA and the Sigma are fairly there in terms of IQ, but if you do often streetshooting forget the Sigma, that lens is as sexy as a Playboy centerfold, but equally attention grabbing (both law and outlaws)
09-02-2010, 02:52 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by apemen Quote
I find my 21mm & 40mm not fast enough for indoor/low-light portraits. -a high iso with K-x would make up for it-

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is there for the job. shallow DOF is also good for busy indoor backgrounds.
In my neck of the woods the FA 50mm is at least $100 more that the Sigma 50mm and the Sigma 30mm is around the same price as the 50mm with some shops being $30-50 cheaper. I'll second the Sigma 30mm though. Purists and brick-wall-test types will complain about corner sharpness, but i've not really noticed it as of yet. Corner sharpness is not usually high on the need-list for portrait work anyway. The 30mm is lighter and also smaller than the Sigma 50mm.

30mm can do portraits just fine..


Last edited by fractal; 09-02-2010 at 05:08 AM.
09-02-2010, 03:44 AM   #14
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For a portrait lens, I would definitely go with the DA 70 (or FA 77 if you have the cash). I like that focal length a lot for portraits and 50mm feels a little short.
09-02-2010, 05:29 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by fractal Quote
...
The 30mm is lighter and also smaller than the Sigma 50mm.

30mm can do portraits just fine..
QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
For a portrait lens, I would definitely go with the DA 70 (or FA 77 if you have the cash). I like that focal length a lot for portraits and 50mm feels a little short.
Can you imagine it is difficult for me to decide?!?!?!

I think going for a used manual 28 F2.8 & 135 F3.5 icw with a new 50 mm F1.4 is good add-on to my K-x with 2 kit lenses.
- Going to a shop and compare handling myself will most likely determine my direction.

Later on I might add a ~70-100 mm Prime or the 50-135/150 mm F2.8 "super" zoom, depending on my experiences. Or if I found out I actually don't need anything long then I will simply go for an ultra wide zoom or a fast(er) ~30 mm auto focus prime.

Either way thanks for advice so far and discussion can of course continue!!!
- A colleague of mine had the Sigma 50 mm F1.4 on a Nikon camera, both looked really big...
- On the other hand the FA50 F1.4 looks a little plastic and tiny...
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