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12-18-2010, 10:31 AM   #1
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DA Limiteds vs. FA Limiteds

So, I've seen very nice photos taken with both in both the FA and DA Limited club threads. But what are the major differences between them and the DA Limiteds?
(I guess I'm mainly comparing FA 31, 43, 77 to DA 21, 35, 40, 70.)

What I know so far:
FA = more $$$
FA = larger maximum aperture
FA = can be used on full-frame/35mm cameras
DA35 = macro, so maybe not good in include in comparison?

I've read something about the FA not being "designed for" digital sensors, but I don't really understand what that means - technically or in real-world situations.

Anything else?

Greg

12-18-2010, 10:54 AM   #2
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I think the DA limiteds have different coatings that can reduce purple fringing and CA. I think usually the DA limiteds are more even resolution-wise across the frame, especially at larger apertures (smaller f numbers).
12-18-2010, 11:01 AM   #3
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Yes, those are the two major advantages I have noticed. They are also designed for autofocus first, and tend to focus faster than the FA limiteds. On the other hand, it's much easier to manually focus the FA limiteds. Th DA limiteds are slower, but are very usable wide open. The FA limiteds are faster, and very slightly sharper than the DA limiteds, when they are both stopped down to the same aperture. In some cases, the FA limiteds are a good bit sharper.

However, this is a funny thing because both lenses are so sharp, that one is *statistically* sharper, but whether it is *practically* sharper is something you would have to decide for yourself.

The DA 40 and DA 70 can actually be used on film without any real problems.
12-18-2010, 11:52 AM   #4
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DA limiteds have Quick Shift

12-18-2010, 01:00 PM   #5
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There may be little in the comparisons between FA 43 and DA 40, and the FA 77 and DA 70, but it mainly comes down to taste - FAs produce more warmer results, DAs lighter and smaller, as well as the already mentioned features.
12-18-2010, 01:07 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by sewebster Quote
I think the DA limiteds have different coatings that can reduce purple fringing and CA. I think usually the DA limiteds are more even resolution-wise across the frame, especially at larger apertures (smaller f numbers).
There is no evidence of them having different coatings. Except maybe SP on the front element there isn't much Pentax can do to "update" either series regarding coatings. Both series have the Ghostless Coatings and SMC. It is possible that 90s era FA ltd and FA ltd later in the 2000s have whatever improvements may have been made to the SMC coatings. Only the DA* 55/1.4 and DA* 60-250/4 get the Aero Bright Coatings which would likely change the characteristics of either ltd series dramatically.

Last edited by Blue; 12-18-2010 at 01:18 PM.
12-18-2010, 01:41 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
There is no evidence of them having different coatings. Except maybe SP on the front element there isn't much Pentax can do to "update" either series regarding coatings. Both series have the Ghostless Coatings and SMC. It is possible that 90s era FA ltd and FA ltd later in the 2000s have whatever improvements may have been made to the SMC coatings. Only the DA* 55/1.4 and DA* 60-250/4 get the Aero Bright Coatings which would likely change the characteristics of either ltd series dramatically.
You are correct, except experience does not really suggest that this lack of evidence means nothing has changed.

For whatever reason, the DA limited lenses render a cooler image, that is less prone to flares and CA. I would be surprised if this has nothing to do with coating differences.

It makes perfect sense to me, that lenses intended for film would be coated for one set of circumstances, and lenses intended for bayer sensors would be coated for a completely different set of circumstances.
12-18-2010, 03:39 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
You are correct, except experience does not really suggest that this lack of evidence means nothing has changed.

For whatever reason, the DA limited lenses render a cooler image, that is less prone to flares and CA. I would be surprised if this has nothing to do with coating differences.

It makes perfect sense to me, that lenses intended for film would be coated for one set of circumstances, and lenses intended for bayer sensors would be coated for a completely different set of circumstances.
Did it ever occur to you that the differences in the DA 70 and FA 77 or the DA 40 and FA 43 is the optical formula and arrangements? If there has been changes in the SMC since the late 90s when the FA 43 was released it has likely been incorporated into the newer batches and I stated that in the previous posts. Furthermore, the DA isn't immune to pf in extreme situations nor is the newest Zeiss 85mm f1.4. The thing is, the DA 70 doesn't open up as wide.

If you get one of the very first runs of the FA 43mm and compare it to the very last MIJ, and first AIV samples, you may be able to see some subtle differences in the coating color.

The point I am making here is the differences in the DA and FA series LTD lens is NOT the coatings. So lets not stay off on other tangents. The main differences is in the actually formulae of the elements and groups.

12-18-2010, 03:51 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
Did it ever occur to you that the differences in the DA 70 and FA 77 or the DA 40 and FA 43 is the optical formula and arrangements?
Could optical arrangement account for colour?
12-18-2010, 07:14 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
Did it ever occur to you that the differences in the DA 70 and FA 77 or the DA 40 and FA 43 is the optical formula and arrangements? If there has been changes in the SMC since the late 90s when the FA 43 was released it has likely been incorporated into the newer batches and I stated that in the previous posts. Furthermore, the DA isn't immune to pf in extreme situations nor is the newest Zeiss 85mm f1.4. The thing is, the DA 70 doesn't open up as wide.

If you get one of the very first runs of the FA 43mm and compare it to the very last MIJ, and first AIV samples, you may be able to see some subtle differences in the coating color.

The point I am making here is the differences in the DA and FA series LTD lens is NOT the coatings. So lets not stay off on other tangents. The main differences is in the actually formulae of the elements and groups.
+1. The 40 and 43 are different lenses (as are the 70 and 77)...so it's no surprise that they differ in their output. Moreover, Blue makes a good point as I don't understand why some people insist on comparing the performance of each lenses wide open to each other. Last time I checked, the DA40 doesn't go down to f/1.9, nor does the DA70 go down to f/1.8. A much more equitable comparison (both in terms of comparing sharpness and CA/PF) would have both the DA 40 and FA43 at f/2.8 and the DA70 and FA77 at f/2.4 (or f/2.8 if you subscribe to the belief that the DA70 doesn't really go down to f/2.4).
12-18-2010, 07:29 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Could optical arrangement account for colour?
No, but it could account somewhat for color. These FA ltd lens designs aren't that much older than some of the earlier DA ltd lenses, ~ 4 years difference. Production of FA and DA ltd have occurred in parallel and doubt that they would be using radically different SMC coating for batches of lenses produced in the same month and year. The FA 43 ltd was the first Pentax lens to receive the Ghostless Coating in 1997.
12-18-2010, 07:36 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GregX999 Quote
So, I've seen very nice photos taken with both in both the FA and DA Limited club threads. But what are the major differences between them and the DA Limiteds?
(I guess I'm mainly comparing FA 31, 43, 77 to DA 21, 35, 40, 70.)

What I know so far:
FA = more $$$
FA = larger maximum aperture
FA = can be used on full-frame/35mm cameras
DA35 = macro, so maybe not good in include in comparison?

I've read something about the FA not being "designed for" digital sensors, but I don't really understand what that means - technically or in real-world situations.

Anything else?

Greg
All that really means is that the FA lenses were designed for film before the digital era. Most were designed in the 90s and many actually went into production in the late 90s. Pentax currently makes no film bodies so all lenses are designed for digital.

Here is what Pentax says about the FA 77mm ltd. Pay close attention to the bolded text.

QuoteQuote:
The medium-telephoto perspective makes this lens ideal for many applications including portrait, landscape and still life photography.

High-performance optics ensure outstanding image quality, edge-to-edge sharpness, and depth of field control.

The high-grade aluminum construction of the lens barrel, hood and cap provides this lens with the utmost durability and elegant design.

Developed for PENTAX film SLR cameras, however full-frame optics are also compatible with PENTAX digital SLR cameras.

A fast F1.8 aperture offers outstanding depth of field control in any lighting condition.

PENTAX's exclusive FREE (Fixed Rear Element Extension) focusing system ensures sharp, crisp image reproduction over the entire focusing range
People still buy the FA 50/1.4 new to use on digital bodies.
12-18-2010, 07:45 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
don't understand why some people insist on comparing the performance of each lenses wide open to each other.
QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
People still buy the FA 50/1.4 new to use on digital bodies.
Oh boy, here we go again.

QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
The FA limiteds are faster, and very slightly sharper than the DA limiteds, when they are both stopped down to the same aperture.
A) I said to compare them at equivilent apertures. If you don't own both, simply go to photozone.de to see the differences. Since they both score in the very good to excellent category, the statistical difference in sharpness will only matter to some.

B) CA and PF are more prevalent on FA primes used on digital, no matter the aperture. Whether this is a coating issue, or otherwise, is uncertain to me. My hunch is that it is the coatings, at least somewhat. Especially since the lenses render colour so differently, suggesting that the coatings are, in fact, different to a degree.

C) None of this suggests that the FA lenses are bad on digital, period. Many, many, people here use lenses designed before computers were even available to NASA.

I'm not sure what your points here are, but I think I have illuminated the basic differences between the DA and FA lines without stepping on any toes. Lets put it this way:

The DA lenses are fantastic on digital, but are pretty slow for film.

The FA lenses are fantastic on digital, but were designed to be best on film.

Last edited by paperbag846; 12-18-2010 at 07:53 PM.
12-18-2010, 07:57 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
+1. The 40 and 43 are different lenses (as are the 70 and 77)...so it's no surprise that they differ in their output. Moreover, Blue makes a good point as I don't understand why some people insist on comparing the performance of each lenses wide open to each other. Last time I checked, the DA40 doesn't go down to f/1.9, nor does the DA70 go down to f/1.8. A much more equitable comparison (both in terms of comparing sharpness and CA/PF) would have both the DA 40 and FA43 at f/2.8 and the DA70 and FA77 at f/2.4 (or f/2.8 if you subscribe to the belief that the DA70 doesn't really go down to f/2.4).
What amazes me is that people come along and ask why Pentax doesn't update the FA ltd series. I fail to understand why they think the coatings on those lenses aren't up to date given they were the first lenses to get the Ghostless Coatings. I guess they want the aperture ring removed.
12-18-2010, 07:59 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Oh boy, here we go again.

A) I said to compare them at equivilent apertures. If you don't own both, simply go to photozone.de to see the differences. Since they both score in the very good to excellent category, the statistical difference in sharpness will only matter to some.

B) CA and PF are more prevalent on FA primes used on digital, no matter the aperture. Whether this is a coating issue, or otherwise, is uncertain to me. My hunch is that it is the coatings, at least somewhat. Especially since the lenses render colour so differently, suggesting that the coatings are, in fact, different to a degree.

I'm not sure what your points here are, but I think I have illuminated the basic differences between the DA and FA lines without stepping on any toes. Lets put it this way:
My comment wasn't aimed at you. As I recall, most of your posts comparing the DA and FA limiteds have been (more or less) on the spot. I was making a more general comment that people like to compare lenses "wide open" and often that's not a fair way to compare lenses with different max apertures.

I've owned all the DA and FA limiteds, and currently own them all with the exception of the 21 and 70. I agree even at the same aperture, the DA limited have less CA/PF. The battle between the DA and FA lenses always comes down to slight advantages for one vs the other, but in the end they're all pretty great lenses.

QuoteQuote:
The DA lenses are fantastic on digital, but are pretty slow for film.

The FA lenses are fantastic on digital, but were designed to be best on film.
Well, NASCAR cars are designed to race on oval tracks and my Volvo station wagon was designed to drive on highways, but I have no doubt that if I were to race a NASCAR car up I-95 this weekend, I would lose. My point is that just because the FA was designed for film and the DA designed for digital doesn't (by itself) imply that the DA is superior to the FA on digital.

Last edited by dgaies; 12-18-2010 at 08:19 PM.
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