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03-22-2011, 10:22 AM   #1
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Sigma 85mm 1.4, A game changer???

I'm feeling more and more like many of the highly regarded lenses that sell for double/triple the original price, are becoming more like toys for "suckers". Sure the FA series is a tremendous feat of engineering, but with the release of several 3rd Party accessories, the game has changed. For some time, I had my heart set on the FA 85mm 1.4 IF lens, but with the release of Sigmas version of the 85mm 1.4, i'm not so certain. Much of this change of heart came from the purchase of the tamron 70-200 2.8 macro. For months, I lost sleep trying to decide between the older pentax FA 80-200 2.8 or the Tamron. I went with my gut feelings which were based mostly on the grade of lens (pro) and the fact that optical/mechanical engineering evolves significantly with each passing year. I went with the tamron and am literally blown away. Anyways, to my point, would I be crazy to pay almost twice as much for a used Pentax 85mm 1.4 over the new Sigma 85mm 1.4? I almost feel like some of the pentax lenses are insanely expensive because of a combination of unique focal length and max aperture. If there's only 1 hot woman in a bar full of hungry men, wouldn't it have the same effect? With the release of some of these outstanding 3rd party lenses (tokina 90mm macro, tamron 700-200, sigma 85mm 1.4), the game has CHANGED. One thing I should mention, is that nearly every time I compare 2 lenses of different ages (5 or so years or more) of similar specifications, the newer lens almost always outperforms the old (richer color, contrast, bokeh, focusing and I.Q.). This is even true when 1 of the lenses is much older and "highly regarded". I'm assuming that there is technology and advancements in newer lenses that goes unnoticed and unappreciated by even some experienced photographers. It's like modern cars. Most people cannot begin to appreciate the technology intergrated into the 2010 honda civic they drive to work each day. Sigma 85 1.4 or FA 85 1.4?

03-22-2011, 10:29 AM   #2
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It really comes down to how much pixel-peeping you do. The nature of an 85/1.4 lends itself toward that, as say, an 18-55 3.5-5.6 does not.
03-22-2011, 10:31 AM   #3
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I am sure it would be a great option, but I'm not sure there is really a game being played here...since Pentax no longer makes the lens. Like every other lens purchase, they can be an intensely personal choice though!

For every person that swears by motto of 1st party lenses only, there are probably 10 that will back a good lens from any brand. Both Tamron and Sigma show just like any other manufacturer that they are capable of producing great glass. Good luck with your lens buying decisions, regardless of choice!
03-22-2011, 10:39 AM   #4
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the big thing on newer versus olders is the coating on the rear element. Digital is subject to a little internal reflection unlike film so the newer lenses all other things being equal should outperform the older ones. The FA*85 is supposed to be one amazing lens though (i have used it on a film camera way back when it came out borrowing my reps copy for a day) wish I had bought it now but it wasn't in the budget (I'd rather have made the mortgage payment at the time)
The Sigma has gotten great reviews but I'm not sure the optics are really superior to the *85 which really was one of the best Pentax built. and though it's a little slower I'd really say the FA77 should be considered in this mix, smaller better built than either IMHO and fantastic IQ
now that i'm anti Sigma I'm not I own a couple and have been considering a couple of others (including this one versus the FA77 which is where i am stuck spend the little extra for the speed of the sigma and live with the weight or go with the 77 with all it's benefits)

edit: as an addendum it's really the A*85 that is the standout and it's better built. the FA changed the rear element design

03-22-2011, 10:47 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by outsider Quote
Sigma 85 1.4 or FA 85 1.4?
I've never used the Sigma 85, so I obviously can't make any kind of direct comparison between the two. I do own the FA*85/1.4 and feel it's probably one of the nicest lenses I own (and I have quite a few nice lenses at the moment). From everything I've read about the Sigma, it seems like it should perform extremely well too. However, I don't think the prices are going to be as different as you suggest. A used FA*85 goes for around $1000-1200 and I think the Sigma (new) sells for just under $1000 (at least in the US).

Overall I agree with the gist of what you said. I just recently picked up an FA*80-200 (even though I had the Tamron 70-200). The price difference between those two lenses is more than double (about 600 vs 1500 used). Is the FA*80-200 more than 2.5x as good? No, probably not. There is certainly a diminishing return on your money as you spend past the money it costs to buy a Tamron 70-200. This is also, in part, due to the fact that the Tamron 70-200 is one of the bext values for the money in terms of IQ (IMO). That said, I ended up keeping the FA*80-200 (for now) as I figured I could more easily pick up a Tamron 70-200 if I change my mind later.

edit: I forgot to mention I've gone the other way in the past as well. I bought the FA*28-70 and Tamron 28-75 and decided in the end to keep the Tamron. The FA*28-70 has certain advantages, but overall I thought the IQ and value of the Tamron was superior to the FA*28-70 (taking into account that this FA* also costs 2.5x the price of Tamron).
03-22-2011, 11:58 AM   #6
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Well, the Sigma 85 is definitely on my radar, but I haven't decided for sure that I will buy it. For me it's chief competition is the FA77, not the FA85, as I decided long ago not to pursue discontinued or used lenses. If I do buy it, it will not be as a replacement for the 77, but as a companion. I expect that it will probably technically out-perform the 77, but will have such a different rendering style that wanting to have both is not so crazy. I do a lot of portrait work, though, most people might think it is crazy.
03-22-2011, 12:05 PM   #7
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I have considered Sigma and Tamron a few times, I've always gone with Pentax. I don't know for sure, why, but there is always something about buying an aftermarket lens that makes me hesitate and invariably go for Pentax.

Wise or not ? I dunno .
03-22-2011, 12:12 PM   #8
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"nearly every time I compare 2 lenses of different ages (5 or so years or more) of similar specifications, the newer lens almost always outperforms the old (richer color, contrast, bokeh, focusing and I.Q.). This is even true when 1 of the lenses is much older and "highly regarded"

um, no. the nearly 20 year old Zuiko 90mm f2 macro and 100mm f2 would smash most things put out in the last five years for sharpness, contrast, colour rendition. that's WHY they fetch spazzy prices; what the market will bear. it's true, the internet hype machine have taken reputation-based inflation (largely fuelled by nostalgia) to new levels, but the proof is in the use. when i stuck these lenses on a 5DII it was with full real world knowledge of how they worked on film bodies. No disappointment at all.

what eventually turned me off the 5DII (and toward the K5) was the form factor and colour rendition of the latter. matter of time before I get a Leitax adapter to stick the 100mm f2 on the K5...

03-22-2011, 12:16 PM   #9
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The answer is Samyang.
03-22-2011, 12:38 PM   #10
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Looks like a great lens. I'd love to see a head to head with the FA 77.
03-22-2011, 12:47 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Looks like a great lens. I'd love to see a head to head with the FA 77.
so would I it would make a decision easier perhaps
(mind you the 77 is a fair bit less expensive)
03-22-2011, 01:09 PM   #12
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No worries for me, a fast 85 would be the lens I chose if I could only use one lens again forever. The more the merrier.

Fact is, for me, I'd rather have the 77 for my Pentaxes, being a little fast short portrait on my little film cameras and a short-tele head-shot portrait on my DSLR. Point there is that being small is very worth a half-stop. In fact, I expect to be looking for a more F2ish 85 in an M lens before I can swing a 77. just over size, but the AF would be handy.

Now, on my old Canons, I could probably carry an FD 85/1.2L and some other stuff.

It rearranges the qualities of glass, actual focal length does, crop or not, but framing and where I stand are still bigger factors for me, I find, so it has to do with what lens on what camera. (Part of why I'm happy with fast 50s on Pentax, when I'd have to shoot my fast-fifty on film, I'd almost always want to be ...cropping, anyway. Here, I'm happy.

But I still say the more 85s and similar out there, the merrier.
03-22-2011, 01:40 PM   #13
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consider this, generally speaking, new lenses are made as better upgrades, not the other way around. as far as owning an FA* 85, is more of a novelty nowadays, not because it would forever be better. same goes with Takumars.
03-22-2011, 01:44 PM   #14
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I'm extremely happy with the FA*85. Would I be as happy with the Sigma? Probably yes, but still I'd feel like I'm mising something. I just bought the lens I desired. It's SUPERB.
I do not know about the other FA*. But I also have FA*24 and I had opportunity to compare it with the Sigma conterpart. FA* is the real thing.
03-22-2011, 01:59 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by elho_cid Quote
I'm extremely happy with the FA*85. Would I be as happy with the Sigma? Probably yes, but still I'd feel like I'm mising something. I just bought the lens I desired. It's SUPERB.
I do not know about the other FA*. But I also have FA*24 and I had opportunity to compare it with the Sigma conterpart. FA* is the real thing.
Well, I don't think there's any question that the FA*24 is superior to the Sigma 24. It's not so cut and dry with the 85's.
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