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11-16-2010, 08:37 PM   #1
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DA 40mm limited or FA 50mm 1.7 ???

Got a line on a used SMC DA 40mm 2.8 Limited for $250 but also considering a used SMC FA 50mm 1.7 (haven't found that yet but around $225 at KEH)... just wondering about others impressions of these lenses, as this would be my first prime lens.

Ideally, I am looking for a lens for portrait work as well as just all around ability to produce professional looking results (obviously I have something to do with that as well, but you know what I mean). I shoot a K5.

Thanks for any advice!

11-16-2010, 08:42 PM   #2
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Portrait work? I would for sure take the extra 10mm the FA would give you. Also, the reduced depth of field at f/2 might come in handy - that I'm less certain about.
11-16-2010, 08:50 PM   #3
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When I still have my 40mm, it was on my camera 75% of the time.

hope that helps.
11-16-2010, 09:46 PM   #4
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DA 40 is the better lens. It's not as fast, or as long, but it just takes better pictures. Seriously.

The A 50 1.7 is optically identical to the FA 50 1.7. Buy the DA 40 for 250 (very good deal) and then also buy a manual focus 50 1.7 for 50 dollars (a good condition A 50 1.7 is a good lens). 300 dollars, and you have the best of both worlds.

11-16-2010, 10:10 PM   #5
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Why not get both?
11-16-2010, 10:23 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback all.

Paperbag, I like the way you think... indeed, best of both is the way to go.

But the idea brings up a question on the manual focus lenses, which is typically better, the M series or the A series? I see there are fast 50mm lenses in both categories...
11-16-2010, 10:29 PM   #7
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Well the A series has auto aperture control meaning that you can use your camera's scroll wheel to change the aperture, and supports full matrix metering as well as pttl flash.

The M series you have to change the aperture by using the aperture ring on the lens only and you also have to use stop down metering, and no pttl flash support.
11-16-2010, 10:38 PM   #8
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Thanks for that TOUGEFC... I was just starting to look up the differences.

And stop down metering I assume would mean setting the camera to spot or center weighted?

11-16-2010, 10:43 PM   #9
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I happen to have both, bought the DA40 from B&H and got a good local deal on the FA50/1.7. I've found that from 1.7-2.8, the FA50's center sharpness is great, but the borders are rather soft up until around 2.8. At 2.8, the DA40 is still sharper, but only barely - it takes quite a good deal of squinting to discern the differences in sharpness. The DA40 is more noticeably sharper in the borders at 2.8, but again, only just. After that, both are so sharp in center/border that it really isn't noticeable even at 100%

In terms of portrait work, I'm not sure which I would prefer - for a head and shoulders, probably the DA40, but for a fullbody, probably the FA50 - the 1.7 aperture would come in useful at further distances for shallower DoF.

Both of their bokeh wide open is quite nice, but do note that the FA50 will produce hexagonal, not circular bokeh, from around F2 onwards. Not as bad as the M50/1.7, but still noticeable, whereas the DA40 is almost always circular.

I don't know how the AF with the K-5 is first-hand, but in terms of focusing, I've always found my DA40 to be my trusty lens - it has next to never failed me in focusing quickly and accurately. The FA50 might take some tweaking to correct any back/front focusing (which is understandable given the very small DoF at 1.7), but it also is slightly slower/hesitant to lock focus. This is on the K-x though; from the way things sound, it seems like the K-5 will lock focus quickly on either of them regardless.

Either way, though, you can't really go wrong. I personally like to pack the DA40 on my camera instead though, because I sometimes find the FA50's length a bit restricting (though this is just because I've recently had to use my camera in rather tight quarters. In a controlled environment this would be a moot point.)

Most importantly though, the DA40 looks cooler.


EDIT: forgot to mention, the FA50 is much, much more flare-prone than the DA40. It's not horrible, but if you're ever doing anything outdoors, make sure to throw a hood on it, if you do go for that.

Last edited by jaieger; 11-16-2010 at 10:51 PM.
11-16-2010, 10:44 PM   #10
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I like both the DA40 and the FA50/1.7.

I like the DA40 for it's cute size, but personally when it comes to portraits, I prefer the rendering of the FA50/1.7. as someone already mentioned, the added focal length and much faster aperture gives you much better subject isolation compared to the DA40. I disagree with the notion that the DA40 takes better pictures. at the end of the day, it would be the one behind the camera that does that. do not misinterpret lens capability with shooting better pictures.
11-16-2010, 11:01 PM   #11
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I haven't used the FA50 much if at all since I got my DA40, mostly because it's not around when I need it. The DA40 is in my everyday kit.

For portrait, I use either the DA40, DA70, or Tamron 90.

Last edited by SOldBear; 11-17-2010 at 01:31 AM.
11-16-2010, 11:05 PM   #12
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I would go for the A series, it should not be much more than the M (I got mine for 50), and the convenience of TV, AV, etc. modes is great in unpredictable circumstances. Stop down metering is just a slower experience (for me).

And while I agree that the photographer is going to determine the quality of the photograph, I believe the lens will determine the quality of the image. Bokeh rendering, sharpness, colour, contrast, are largely dependent on the lens ... otherwise we would all shoot with super zooms and be done with it.Set the DA 40 and A 50 1.7 to f4 and shoot in a high contrast situation, and the DA 40 gives me MUCH more pleasing results. It won't make you good, though (certainly has not made me good!)
11-17-2010, 02:34 AM   #13
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I'm just wondering why would someone shoot at lower apertures (notably f4 and further down) when shooting portraits that require fast openings for subject isolation or shallower DOF. in most portraiture application, background would be highly preferred to have no or less definition. other parameters concerning the lens like sharpness, colour contrast, etc...

if such logic were considered, the OP is better with having a quality zoom with an aperture of f2.8. if not a zoom, a 50mm/2.8 macro (if you want the best IQ) then will be more than suffice. the only thing is, it's an f2.8. so does the zooms and DA40. these are primarily the reason why people that shoot a lot of portraits, look for something faster. hence, lenses with speed like 1.2, 1.4, 1.7, 1.8. there is just no way that an f2.8 lens would render an image that would look as shallow as that of any faster lens. it just can't go any faster, while a fast lens could always stop down.
again, same principle. if the f2.8 lenses were enough, the clamor or need for faster lenses would have never existed. we wouldn't had seen the FA LTDs nor the DA*55.

I won't worry much about IQ, if the Pentax lenses that were mentioned have a high reputation and cult following. besides, I would prefer the K55/1.8's images anytime of the day over the DA40 and 50/1.7. and the K55 is not the type of lens that you would call to possess an inferior IQ.in fact, it possesses all the parameters of a lens with great IQ.

Last edited by Pentaxor; 11-17-2010 at 03:18 AM.
11-17-2010, 09:28 AM   #14
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I like the K55 better than the A 50 1.7 for portraits too. I find the 50 1.7 not very pleasing at 1.7 - it's significantly better at f2. Meanwhile. the K55 is quite nice wide open. The extra 5mm of the K55 is better for portraits too (closer to the classic 85mm). Either can be had for 50 dollars, which is pretty much a steal.

I suppose I figured the DA 40 would do him well along side one of these 50's because he said he wants "portraits, and something that would give him all around professional results". The IQ of the DA 40 is really something, and the zippy AF is very helpful too. However, the extra stop of the 50 1.7 OR 55 1.8 is going to be useful for portraits. For looser / spontaneous shots, though, the DA 40 really stands out for me.

I had that experience recently, taking photos of a puppy. The manual focus K55 1.8 would have really fell flat compared to the DA 40, which allowed me to really fire off a series of high quality keepers.
11-18-2010, 04:14 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Anson Quote
Why not get both?
+1 to that, I used to have DA40 + F50/1.7 really nice combo...
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