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01-05-2011, 07:53 PM   #1
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Ned tests FA 31 vs. DA 35 Macro vs. DA 35 AL

Ned has posted on his blog comparison photos from these three lenses at f5.6.
I've been trying to decide between the FA 31 and DA 35 Macro.
I was close to buying the DA 35 Macro mostly due to smaller size, weight, filter size, etc. and of course, cost. If I could justify the IQ difference, I would go for the extra cost.
It seems to me that the FA 31 is noticeably better.
What do you think? Do other tests show this too? Why the FA 31 is bigger, it seems like my wallet will get smaller.
Thanks for your opinion.
David

01-05-2011, 08:14 PM   #2
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Here is Ned's new blog location for those interested in Ned's quick comparison of three 30-something lenses:

Ned's Photo Journal - Pentax Photography and Notes


@Daks: as far as which one to pick, you will have to wrestle those demons yourself.
01-05-2011, 08:18 PM   #3
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Wish I could offer some easy advice. I have both, but had always intended to get rid of the one I liked least. Still haven't figured it out 6 months later.
01-05-2011, 08:18 PM   #4
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for half its cost, i think the DA 35mm Marco is worth every penny.

and according to these guys:
An Optical Paragon - photo.net

i say the DA 35mm Macro holds its own.

FA 31 = A+
DA 35 = A

01-05-2011, 08:25 PM   #5
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one thing that jumps out at me when I look at the samples on a calibrated monitor is the FA31 renders the brown tones with a warmth the other lenses do not posses. It is also surprising to see the FOV difference between the three lenses.
01-05-2011, 08:35 PM   #6
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Linky: Comparison: Three 30-Something Lenses - Ned's Photo Journal

In my opinion: they're all great lenses, it just depends on your priority. If bokeh, get the FA31; if macro, get the DA35/2.8; if budget, get the DA35/2.4.

The DA35/2.8 is great if you shoot at smaller apertures. The only reason it isn't on my LBA list is because I tend to shoot in poor lighting, which means large apertures, and the 35/2.8 renders detailed out-of-focus areas with a lot of...busy-ness, I suppose. Simple OOF areas, such as trees and flowers, are okay; moderate to high aperture OOF areas are fine; but detailed OOF areas at large apertures, such as bushes at f/2.8, simply aren't blurred over like I want. That's my photography habit. For other habits, this lens is a marvel.

The DA35/2.4 is a fantastic budget prime. The difference between this lens and any of its betters won't make the difference between a successful image or an unsuccessful one. But you aren't asking about it, so I'll move along.

The FA31. This is the kind of lens I wouldn't mind keeping somewhere, and forty years from now (if I'm still blessed to be alive) I'd take it out and say, "ah, yes, the SLR days were good to us in their way, weren't they?" It is fast, smooth, and its colors seem truer. But I don't own one. Why? Almost nobody who looks at my photos would notice the difference between it and the DA35/2.4, which costs 1/4 to 1/5 as much. I can only notice the difference if I'm looking at the images side-by-side, which if I don't have the lens I won't be. Money for other things is more valuable to me than this lens.
01-05-2011, 08:44 PM   #7
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Guess I am just dumb because I can draw no conclusion based on the small jpegs. Also, WB can shift between shots even in MWB mode. FA31 is bigger because it is a FF lens design for film. Like the FA77, its charm fades somewhat on digital. The FA43 however, does better because the poor edge performance and barrel distortion are cropped.
01-05-2011, 08:53 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
Guess I am just dumb because I can draw no conclusion based on the small jpegs. Also, WB can shift between shots even in MWB mode. FA31 is bigger because it is a FF lens design for film. Like the FA77, its charm fades somewhat on digital. The FA43 however, does better because the poor edge performance and barrel distortion are cropped.
Did you not click on them for larger images?

01-05-2011, 08:59 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
Did you not click on them for larger images?
I did. 1000x662 to be exact.
01-05-2011, 10:11 PM   #10
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Not much in it between them at the given resolution.
These images aren't going to tell you which of the 3 lenses you'll want.
They all possess good IQ, but the 31 can go to f/1.8 with superb bokeh and 3D rendition, the 35 macro is good for macro, and the 35/2.4 is a good all-rounder that has a more modern colour rendition.
Decision is yours.
01-05-2011, 10:31 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
I did. 1000x662 to be exact.
Hover over each image and the click "download full size".
01-05-2011, 10:55 PM   #12
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Nobody downloaded the full sized images?

Interesting set of comparisons. I find the beach image shows the FA31 to be slightly softer/lower contrast in some areas than the DA Macro and the DA L (!). I looked at the overhead fence area...

In the second set, the FA31 seems to pull out more detail out of the shadows; that may be explained by an exposure difference, but it simply looks better than the DA Macro. The DA L again seems to acquit itself against these two more expensive lenses.
01-05-2011, 11:52 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by taurus9 Quote
Nobody downloaded the full sized images?

Interesting set of comparisons. I find the beach image shows the FA31 to be slightly softer/lower contrast in some areas than the DA Macro and the DA L (!). I looked at the overhead fence area...
If you ask me it's due to focus differences (FA31 spot on center, DA35 front focus, DA-L35 back focus).

The DA-L 35mm is blurrier in the foreground (say the lower left sand area), but the sharpest near that overhead fence.

The DA35 is sharpest in the foreground. Lower left sand area.

The FA31mm is sharpest in the center. Look at the area where there are brown painted bolts that hold the railing to the lifeguard station's deck.

At least to me they all look sharp resolution wise, close enough that if resolution is a person's only deciding factor they should buy one of the cheaper lenses. As for me I recently bought a 31mm limited (FA, solid construction, "special" rendering, aperture, a lifetime keeper lens).
01-06-2011, 06:53 AM   #14
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Two things surprised me.
1. The AL lens is surprisingly good, especially for a kit lens. It is a great deal.
and
2. The color difference with the FA. I hadn't thought that the WB would change, but that is an interesting thought. Maybe we can get Ned to post the raw files.
I'm still not sure what I'm going to get, but my heart just loves the feel of the FA.
David
01-06-2011, 11:07 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by sjwaldron Quote
If you ask me it's due to focus differences (FA31 spot on center, DA35 front focus, DA-L35 back focus).

The DA-L 35mm is blurrier in the foreground (say the lower left sand area), but the sharpest near that overhead fence.

The DA35 is sharpest in the foreground. Lower left sand area.

The FA31mm is sharpest in the center. Look at the area where there are brown painted bolts that hold the railing to the lifeguard station's deck.

At least to me they all look sharp resolution wise, close enough that if resolution is a person's only deciding factor they should buy one of the cheaper lenses. As for me I recently bought a 31mm limited (FA, solid construction, "special" rendering, aperture, a lifetime keeper lens).
I'm surprised Ned didn't throw in his iPhone there for comparison. He's favouring that one lately.

Good eye spotting the focus differences, sjwaldron. The fenced in overpass is definitely more in focus in the DA-L shot.

I've owned all three now--just sold the limiteds to help fund another system and then recently picked up the DA-L.

For every day stuff, I like the rendering of the DA-L better than the macro. It focuses fast and close enough for most subjects, and has very nice bokeh IMO. Sharpness is really impressive too. The only downside I've really seen (apart from build) is the CA and fringing wide open. All in all, this is a fantastic value.
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