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01-18-2011, 11:20 PM   #1
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FA77mm F1.9 Limited or Takumar 85mm F1.9?

As I stated in another thread I am tossing up getting an FA77 Limited. I like the focal lenghth, the fast speed and the 'retro' look. I do wonder though if it would be worth considering a Takumar screw mount 85mm F1.8 or F1.9 instead.

There are quite a few near mint examples of the Takumar 85mm cropping up on eBay and I could possibly save a bit of money buying one over the FA. I do notice however that the Takumar prices are getting higher and higher recently - so it may be hard to get one for a bargain price.

Any opinions or advice?

01-19-2011, 12:03 AM   #2
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FWIW, the Takumar f/1.8 is the one I've heard stories about from back when it was a current model. One photographer recalled how a ~16x20 print from this lens was so impressively sharp it was hard for people to believe it was only 35mm film (rather than medium format or larger). It seems that, among those who have been around a while, everyone has a fond Pentax story to tell as soon as they notice the brand of my DSLR. I believe the f/1.9 has its own strengths as well.

I will say that, unlike most lenses, the FA77 (like the FA31) is quite nice wide open at f/1.8, with relatively minimal difference in IQ between that and f/2.0 or f/2.2. Of course it also has AF, and I've used it at times to get nighttime shots of outdoor performers that are simply impossible to get with my DA*50-135/2.8 or other lenses.

Last edited by DSims; 01-19-2011 at 12:09 AM.
01-19-2011, 01:38 AM   #3
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In my experience, the 85mm F1.9 Takumars are only slightly less sharp than the F1.8 versions, while maintaining a slightly better bokeh. Of course the FA77 crushes them all in many aspects, but the differences are not that big... If you don't mind manual focusing then I'd indeed start with the Tak and get a feeling for it...
01-19-2011, 04:03 AM   #4
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I recently had my Super Takumar 85mm 1.9 repaired and cleaned after it lay unused for many years. When I tried it on my k100d super I was astonished by the image quality. The sharpness,colour and bokeh produced by this lens is simply amazing. The sharpness easily outresolves the camera sensor, and the lens is an absolute joy to use. I have also noticed prices rising on ebay, I guess this reflects an awareness of how good this lens is. Even at today's prices it still represents good value compared with new lenses, if you don't mind manual focus.

01-19-2011, 04:53 AM   #5
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In a year, the 1.9 will be selling for $750US, and the 1.8 for more than that.

So from an investment standpoint, you will never lose money on this lens if you can find a semi-decent deal.

KEH here in the states has only ONE 1.9 in stock today for $429 in excellent condition, and that's a pretty dramatic price jump from last month. I got mine in excellent condition (truly excellent) about 9 months ago (I think) for $229 on eBay, and that price really hurt and I thought perhaps I was nuts.

Now, I'm smiling. And oh:

I happen to love the freaking lens too. Not to mention that on an APS-C, it also is a fantastic FL, equal to the popularity and usefulness of 135mm for film.
01-19-2011, 06:06 AM   #6
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For portrait use the Super Takumars are excellent value at €200 to €300, the caveat here is that they are best used with a focusing screen from someone like Katzeye and one of the bigger bodies, i.e. K10D, K20D and K-7 because of the larger viewfinder. Optically they can deliver marvellous images with lovely bokeh and great contrast and colours. Stopped down and they sharpen up nicely.
The FA77 LTD @ €800 or so new is a different class of lens altogether. Half the size of a comparable 85mm Super Takumar, it is small, light, has auto focus and can deliver exceptional images. The 77 does have a higher peak ability if you're a pixel peeper but its main advantage is the punchier nature of the images it returns.
So to the OP, if you have the money go straight to the 77 if not find a nice Super Takumar and join the Takumar cult You will not be disappointed either way.
01-19-2011, 06:14 AM   #7
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I had an Super Tak 85mm 1.9 and I currently own a FA77 Ltd.

In terms of absolute image quality, both are excellent. Razor sharp nearly wide open and thin DOF with lovely bokeh. Both are great for this. I found I like the color rendition on the FA 77 more than the Super Tak 85, the 85 being a little warmer than I like. But that is purely a personal thing, both lenses have some of the best color I've seen from Pentax lenses.

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if the lesser cost of the Super Tak is worth going fully manual. I found unfortunately that the S-Tak got used for only special "art" shoots or experiments because I mentally tripped over having to be manual in candid shoot situations. That is not the case with the 77, which I will grab often for parties and live events. I've shot way more photos with the 77 than I did with the 85, and therefore I feel good about the significant expense of getting the FA Limited.

Either lens is wonderful, have fun.
01-19-2011, 09:56 AM   #8
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The 85/1.8 is an amazing lens. Price-wise and to some extent, image-wise, I prefer it to the 77/1.8. BUT <-- (big but) I cannot reliably or quickly focus like the 77/1.8, so that made the choice for me. I never tried split screen, but did have the magnifyer on the eyepc.

If you are adept at MF then you might find the 85mm K or m42 perfect for you.

01-19-2011, 02:24 PM   #9
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The issues for fast shooting regarding manual versus autofocus are the same across all focal lengths, and if I had to do fast and on the fly shots at a party, it would have to be zoom anyway.

The 77 and 85 would be used for set-up work, where manual focus isn't an issue.

Plus, isn't 77 or 85 kind of long for most indoor quick- moving stuff anyway?

Last edited by Ira; 01-19-2011 at 02:32 PM.
01-19-2011, 02:56 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote

Plus, isn't 77 or 85 kind of long for most indoor quick- moving stuff anyway?
I agree with your observations, Ira. In my case, however ... I didn't say "indoor." Much of my shoots are in the stands at football games, where subjects are 15-20+ feet away ... it IS a party of sorts, but I see how my term was misleading. If you were shooting at a regular indoor party, I think anything longer than a 40 might be a challenge.
01-19-2011, 08:36 PM   #11
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Have you considered M85/2. Before owning FA77, I owned both M85/2 & 85/1.9 and decided to keep M85/2 (even after buying FA77) - somehow I liked M85/2 compared to 1.9 in terms of sharpness.
01-19-2011, 09:07 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by germar Quote
I agree with your observations, Ira. In my case, however ... I didn't say "indoor." Much of my shoots are in the stands at football games, where subjects are 15-20+ feet away ... it IS a party of sorts, but I see how my term was misleading. If you were shooting at a regular indoor party, I think anything longer than a 40 might be a challenge.
My bad then. Big difference.
01-19-2011, 09:17 PM   #13
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Well, Spock, I will solve your dilemma - you should get my A*85/1.4 which is better than both!

And besides it's only fair since I bought a lens from you (which has just arrived ***** for packing - bloody awesome, mate!)

Seriously though I tried the K85/1.8 for a little while and while I never did any comparisons, it was a very nice lens and I would recommend it for someone needing this focal length for sure.

As for A*84/1.4 - it's just a piece of art. But will it produce better pictures for you than the 85/1.8? I don't know. It will definitely cost you a lot more.
01-19-2011, 09:41 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by DanielT74 Quote
Well, Spock, I will solve your dilemma - you should get my A*85/1.4 which is better than both!

And besides it's only fair since I bought a lens from you (which has just arrived ***** for packing - bloody awesome, mate!)
Ha! I'd love an A*85/1.4 - but I don't think my budget stretches that far. PM me the price and I'll think about it!

Glad to hear the lens arrived - and as for the packing - glad you liked it. You know what they say, if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing properly.
Don't forget to leave me some marketplace feedback!
01-19-2011, 10:13 PM   #15
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I have too many lenses....including the FA77, DA*50-135, etc. The K85/1.8 is always on my camera (My SMC Tak 85/1.8 is equally as good but it has the same optical quality). It simply has a quality that I like, so it is (for me) my best lens. I love the 77 and wouldn't sell it, especially if I want to slap on a lens and just go "auto", but I also like having a lens on my camera that lets me think a little more about what it is that I am trying to do. Manual focus (and the M mode) isn't a big deal for me....but it isn't for everyone.
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