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02-02-2011, 08:08 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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Pentax Heavy Weights shootout - part III - FA43ltd vs K50/1.2 vs 50/1.4

Hi all,

so I'm again on my day off and found few minutes to test some of my stuff.
This time it was supposed to be 43ltd vs 50/1.2 but since I was able to obtain 50/1.4 too, I included t in the shoot out. Warning, a lot of shots coming.
Test was pretty much the same as in parts 1 & II. K10D on tripod with custom WB (set with 31ltd) little smurf and whatever else I could find on the table behind... The shooting distance was roughly 90cm...
This time I tested all f stops from 1.2-1.4-1.9 to 22 but will not bore you with all. On display are only up to f4. If anybody would like to see some from f5.6 and smaller, let me know....
One thing I'll say straight up, is that 43ltd seems to have better light transition than any of the 50s as I had to adjust shutter speed by 1/3 of a stop at every tested f stop to keep the highlights in. And it seems that for whatever reason 50/1.2 seems to have better light transition than 50/1.4 as shots at the same f stops and same exposure time came darker out of f1.4 lens...
Exposure times:
1.2 = 1/80
1.4 = 1/60
2.0 = 1/40 f1.9 = 1/50
2.8 = 1/20 (1/25 for 43)
4.0 = 1/10 (1/13)
Here are the contenders:

IMGP6098

and the results:

IMGP6109


IMGP6110


IMGP6111


IMGP6112


IMGP6113


IMGP6121


IMGP6122


IMGP6123


IMGP6124


IMGP6130


IMGP6132


IMGP6133

Here are the smurf crops:

crop 1-1


crop 1-2


crop 1-3


crop 1-4

and some of you may have wondered what's up with the thermometer. Well, thee has been a lot written, said and posted about corner softness, so let's have a closer look... diclaimier: the thermometer may NOT be exactly aligned with the camera...


crop 2-1


crop 2-2


crop 2-3


crop 2-4

02-02-2011, 08:39 AM - 2 Likes   #2
axl
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In my previous shootouts I refrained from commenting on results but this one just won't let me go away without expressing my opinion.
So,
50/1.2 - the biggest and heaviest of these three. I love it, I think it's usably sharp even wide open, and it's OOF rendering is unmatched by anything I've seen or tried from Pentax that would be under 100mm. The corners are soft wide open, but good enough by f2 IMO. At f1.4 it's better than f1.4 (mainly corners though, as I can't really see much of a difference in smurf crops at that f stop). Main uses? OOF effects and portraiture, this lens delivers enough details in focus areas but at the same time smooths the skin in such fashion that you don't need to do much of PPing. As a general use, the lens is perfectly fine though...

43/1.9 - I'd love to dedicate this paragraph to all of those who keep saying how unusably soft 43 is wide open and how it needs to be stopped down to get good results....it's easily sharpest out of these three when compared f1.9 vs f2. And yes, even in corners! It has the best contrast and the sharpness only improves when stopping down. And out of these three it's the only one that keeps constant exposure without getting darker/brighter with smaller f stops (although I'd assign this to the A contact advantage). Also, it's smallest and lightest so... where's the hook? The OOF. Even stopped to f2 both 50s render OOF better than 43. It's personal preference though but to my tastes, the 43 is just tad too busy, and tad too defined in it's OOF rendering. But as a general purpose lens, I don't think it can be beaten when all (size, speed, AF, build, resell value, IQ) is considered...

K50/1.4 - well, this one is new in my line up (thanks Dan again ). To tell the truth, I never regarded 50/1.4 a lot, based on it's reviews as soft wide open etc....
Well, I have to say that I'm very pleasantly surprised here. It's either exceptional copy or some people are being very unreasonable....IMO... or maybe there are differences between K, M, A, F & FA series... I'd say this K50/1.4 is perfectly usable wide open, tad softer then 1.2 shot 1.4 but tad sharper then 1.2 wide open, with corners wide open as soft as corners of wide open 1.2. By f2 the centers of the frame are practically indistinguishable between 1.4 and 1.2 versions, although the slower still looses in corners. By f2.8 they are neck and neck across the frame IMO. As I noted at the top of the thread, it seems though that the light transition of 1.4 version is slightly worse than that of 1.2 version as the pictures at same f stops and same shutter speeds are notably darker from 1.4. I'd say it's 1/3 to 1/2 of f stop difference...Big surprise is in OOF. The 1.4 is very good! Bit busy at 1.4 but buttery smooth from f2! All this in smaller/lighter package then 1.2 version and at nearly 1/3 of the cost! (UK prices for K1.4 are around 80-100 and K1.2 are 250 and up). Well worth compromise IMO...

alright, enough of my rant.... I'll let you make your own conclusions...

Regards
Peter
02-02-2011, 08:53 AM   #3
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Again, very nice comparison

Glad you like the K50/1.4 I sent, and I'm glad it got there so quickly. As far as I know, the optical formula of the K50/1.4 is slight different than the M50/1.4, which in turn is different from the A50/1.4. The A, F and FA50/1.4 are all suppose to have the same optical forumla. That said, I'm not sure what exactly the differences are or how they would affect things like wide-open sharpness and OOF. This is the only K50/1.4 I've owned, so I can't say if it's an "exceptional copy", but when I was testing it I always thought it performed pretty well - certainly on par with the other 50/1.4 lenses I've owned (M, A and FA).

I think you summed up the three lenses quite well in the above post. In truth, it's hard to go wrong with any of them. Also, FWIW, I did some additional shots with the A50/1.2 wide open and despite some of my earlier posted test shots, confirmed that so long as you can nail the focus, the sharpness is actually pretty decent wide open.
02-02-2011, 01:54 PM   #4
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Peter, you're obsessed! Spending your day off testing lenses!
Well, better get it all out of the way by the time the little one comes along.
But again, thank you very much for the work put in here.
The bokeh between the 50/1.4, 50/1.2 and 43 ltd is interesting - smoother on the fifties but as you say better evolved by the 43. Guess that's what makes the 43 so cultish.
Great assessment of these powerhouse lenses.

02-02-2011, 07:25 PM   #5
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Thanks Peter! It is very interesting to compare side by side, as you have done, and to read your and others' comments. Despite a goal of keeping my lens collection simple and focused on utility, I find myself with an A 50/1.2, an M 50/1.4, an F 50/1.4, and a 43 too. I somehow doubt I will get around to doing comprehensive testing, so when I do try to winnow down it is good to see that in all probability I won't go wrong with any one (or two!) of these fine lenses.
02-21-2011, 08:33 PM   #6
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Peter, what a great job you have done in your testing.
As a new owner of A 50/1.2 (lucky impulse buy..), I am naturally very curious to see how the f1.2 beast compares to other lenses especially the FA43 limited.
Out of FA43 and 50/1.2, which would you say is sharper at F/4 and smaller? From your results it looks to be very, very close. Maybe close enough that I should just forget about it
It would also seem that the FA43 is sharper in the corners than the 1.2, but definately nothing huge at f/4.

BTW, did you use a lens hood on the 50/1.2?

Thanks for your time and effort!
cheers,
Jason
02-22-2011, 03:44 AM   #7
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Awesome results. Thank you for sharing.
02-22-2011, 05:09 AM   #8
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Thanks Peter

Nice comparison Peter, and thank you, rep added. I own the 43 and the K 50mm f/1.2 and my in my shooting I'd agree with you pretty much. The only difference is that I happen to prefer the 43 bokeh, but as you said that's a personal thing. I also own the A 50mm f/1.7 and I find it sharper wide open than the f/1.2, pretty much as sharp as the 43, but with the same type of bokeh as the f1.4.

NaCl(bokeh is such a personal preference tho)H2O

02-22-2011, 05:11 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by goddo31 Quote
Out of FA43 and 50/1.2, which would you say is sharper at F/4 and smaller? From your results it looks to be very, very close. Maybe close enough that I should just forget about it
It would also seem that the FA43 is sharper in the corners than the 1.2, but definately nothing huge at f/4.

BTW, did you use a lens hood on the 50/1.2?

Thanks for your time and effort!
cheers,
Jason
you are welcome...
the part in bold is definitely true
If I would have to choose, I'd say FA43 is sharper, across the board, and across the aperture range. But these differences are mainly visible in tests etc. In real life shots these minimal differences don't really matter IMO.

If I remember correctly I didn't use hood for either lens...

Regards,
P
02-22-2011, 08:14 AM   #10
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Thanks for your reply. I will do my best to forget about it the 50 1.2 is such great lens so I should be able to quiet my 43 limited LBA for some time I hope!

I'm also thinking of doing some comparisons soon; I'm curious to see how the 50 1.2 stacks up to some of my other lenses.
Cheers,
Jason
02-22-2011, 11:30 PM   #11
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Axl, thanks for sharing the results. I have basically the same conclusion as you looking at the test shots.

The 43ltd does impress me enough with its combination of bokeh and sharpness in normal usage though. Of course there are times the bokeh does look a bit more busy.
Would moving the lens nearer to get the same FOV as the 50mm have made any difference?
02-23-2011, 05:39 AM   #12
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Moving closer to subject would change the perspective and increase the apparent distance between subject and background. Also it would reduce the DOF, therefore bluring the background bit more.
I would do it if there would be bigger difference in FOW (say 43 vs 55) I'd do both sets (same distance and same magification) as I did before (have a look at shootout part I - 31 vs 50/1.2), but with only this marginal difference and 3 lenses it really wasn't worth the time...
02-23-2011, 06:38 AM   #13
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lust for the f1.2 argggg!!
02-24-2011, 05:50 AM   #14
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Axl,

Thanks for taking the time to do this. Like yourself, I was impressed with the performance of the 50/1.4. No surprise really as all Pentax 50mm lenses are very good. Even though I have the M 50/1.4 I've always been impressed with this lens. I suspect it would deliver similar performance.

Tom G
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