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04-06-2011, 11:56 AM   #1
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DA* 50-135 vs (DFA 100 WR + FA 50 f1.4)

I originally wanted to get the DA* 50-135 for portrait and short birding needs.

And of course, as a PITA, my research makes me undecided again..

The thought process:
  • I'm going to get the 100mm WR macro anyway, regardless of which portrait lens I am going to buy.
  • I already have the Tamron 70-300 which will be used for birding. f5.6 is no way as fast as the 135 but it's more than double the range. The K-5 good high ISO performance is a great equaliser, especially in good light (don't intend to do night owls)
  • As a result of the point above, the 50-135 is likely to be mostly used in the 50-100mm range anyway. 50mm f1.4 + 100mm f2.8 will cover that same range, at faster aperture on the 50mm range.
  • I'm doing outdoor portraits, so I'm going to shoot wide open and extreme corner sharpness is not necessary. From my review reading, FA 50mm center at f2.8 is about as sharp as the DA* center at f2.8. So ability to do it at f1.4 is a plus (and it seems from Flickr photos that wide-open f1.4 is sharp /enough/)
  • 100mm WR macro + 50 f1.4 together is lighter than the DA*! I held the DA* and it's heavy - not a deal breaker (that's why I'm still considering it) but heavy nevertheless.

What should I get? and why?

Thanks in advance.

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04-06-2011, 12:17 PM   #2
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If you are going to get the 100mm WR anyway, I would get the DA 70 f2.4 or the FA 77 as a portrait lens. I just don't see the DA * 50-135. It is a great lens, but its sweet spot is exactly the same as the 10mm WR that you already getting. You don't really get much extra length using it over the 100 WR either -- a little cropping will make that difference easily.

The FA 50, while it is faster, is not a focal length that I use a whole lot, for portraits or otherwise. Particularly if you are shooting outdoors, I think the DA 70/FA 77 would fit the bill better.

If you wanted to get longer, the lens to consider over the DA 50-135 would be the DA* 60-250, which loses a stop in aperture, but has significantly more range.
04-06-2011, 12:17 PM   #3
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Those are two very different style of shooting. I used to owned a DFA 100mm Macro WR, and while it was an incredible lens all in all, I never took the most advantage of it and decided to sell it. I recently purchased a 50-135mm and if you ask me to choose which lens I rather keep again, I would go for the 50-135mm in a heart beat. It sounds like you're set to get the Macro WR, which is an amazing lens, but the 50-135mm just suit me better right now. Macro photography takes a lot of time, and I don't have the luxury of it currently. If you think the DA* is heavy, try using a Tamron or Sigma 70-200mm all day, haha.
04-06-2011, 12:24 PM   #4
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I sold my DA* 50-135 f/2.8 after buying the DA* 200 f2/.8. Love the DA* 200 f/2.8 and only used the 50-135 about four (4) times over a year. I also have the DA 55-300 f/4-5.8, which is really a no-brainer today for a non-fast telezoom without shallow DoF.

I bought the D-FA 100 f/2.8 Macro WR and I can say it is very sweet as a general tele. It's neither SDM nor fast at AF, but as a true 1:1 Macro, MF is definitely standard operating procedure, especially in the bright pentaprism and full mag as in the K-7 or K-5. I also have the FA 50 f/1.4, largely because I bought it while it was still only US$199, but I rarely use it. I don't shoot much portrait.

I used to use my DA 16-50 f/2.8 as my general walkabout, but it was dropped (with the K20D attached, the K20D survived, the lens didn't) and is no longer used. I've switched to the DA 18-135 f/3.5-5.6 WR as my general walkabout, and I'm surprised how sharp it is, as long as you don't need speed and shallow DoF.

Another option might be to look at an used FA 28-105 f/3.2-4.5. Haven't tried it on the newer K-7 or K-5 bodies though, so I don't know what kind of IQ you'll get.

04-06-2011, 12:48 PM   #5
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If you're getting the 100 WR anyway, you might as well try that out first, and see if you're comfortable with the focal length. I find it to be a great lens for portraits, and a very fun lens to use.

I used to own the 50-135, but didn't use it that much, mostly because of the size, but also because of the great primes available in that range.

I find that the 100 WR is a suitable replacement, because that's the range where I'd want to be using the zoom anyway. It's very sharp, great bokeh, and I find that it focuses faster than my 50-135 did. And it's a great macro, but for me it's a macro second.

The smaller and lighter lens makes it easier to maneuver around too. Plus, the 50-135 has a long minimum focus distance, so when it's at 50mm, you have a 50/2.8 that can't go closer than 1m, so it's not much of a 50/1.4 replacement.

But, I'm saying a lot of that because I'm trying to save you money . The 50-135 is tremendous IQ, and really nice bokeh too, especially for a zoom. Shooting at 135mm makes a difference to the subject isolation you can get too, so that's a consideration.
04-07-2011, 05:14 AM   #6
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If you get the 30-135, get an extended warranty and a box of extra focus motors. Mine has quit for the second time. I'm getting about 18 months out of them.
04-07-2011, 06:44 AM   #7
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Get the 100 first, and see how that fits. Then, you will know which way to go. I find the 100 to be a great portrait lens, and a great macro lens second. I had the 50-135, and while the zoom range was fine for me, the IQ is not the same as a prime.
04-07-2011, 11:56 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alan Granger Quote
If you get the 30-135, get an extended warranty and a box of extra focus motors. Mine has quit for the second time. I'm getting about 18 months out of them.
Is the SDM motor that bad?

04-07-2011, 12:37 PM   #9
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I have the 35 mm macro and it is sharp, small and has that special something that makes the picture pop. The problem I had with the 100 mm macro was the shallow dof. Great for portraits if that is all you use it for but not a good walk about lens. I have the 50-135 ordered and hope it works (focus motor). I considered the 60-250 but don't want a big lens at double the price. Hopefully I can crop pictures taken at 135 or switch to my old Takumar 200 if needed.
04-10-2011, 05:06 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by clem Quote
. I considered the 60-250 but don't want a big lens at double the price. Hopefully I can crop pictures taken at 135
I am curious about this. With the reported phenomenal IQ of the 50-135, is there a fair amount of leeway in cropping to essentially "extend" its FL? In other words, would someone switching from the 60-250 to the 50-135 REALLY miss the 250 end or could it be largely made up for with cropping of the tack sharp 50-135, say with shooting close distance wildlife...?
04-10-2011, 05:09 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Loren E Quote
I am curious about this. With the reported phenomenal IQ of the 50-135, is there a fair amount of leeway in cropping to essentially "extend" its FL? In other words, would someone switching from the 60-250 to the 50-135 REALLY miss the 250 end or could it be largely made up for with cropping of the tack sharp 50-135, say with shooting close distance wildlife...?
The IQ at 135mm of the 50-135 is certainly good, but I'm pretty sure cropped it @ 135mm to a FOV equal to 250mm isn't going to be quite as good as just using the 60-250 at 250. I never specifically tried that when I owned both, but the DA*60-250 is really impressive at 250mm IMO.
04-10-2011, 05:19 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by testdasi Quote
Is the SDM motor that bad?
Unfortunately yes. I've had mine for 9 trouble free months though, many others have not been so lucky.
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