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05-12-2011, 06:32 PM   #1
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Maybe I Changed My Mind? The most wishy-washy LBA ever...

I didn't return the DA*55 f/1.4... yet. Kinda glad I didn't.
I went out with the 18-135 today and can't say I'm all that impressed. It's likely because most of my experience with Pentax lenses has been with limited primes, and pretty much most things pale in comparison.

The 18-135 is okay. I'm going to give it another go tomorrow or Saturday because I'll admit the light was just ugly tonight and I'm sure that didn't help. Sometimes my results were acceptably sharp, other times, not so much. I tried some fine adjustments and the problem is, I couldn't seem to get it adjusted where it was good at both extremes ends of the lens. At wide it seems to need no adjustment, but zoomed all the way in, it seems to need a +3 to +5 or so.

Let's review...

I have the FA43 and dig it.
I'll have a DA70 soon enough, and know from past experience I'll like it.

I want an FA 31 (though having a hard time finding a silver one)...
However, I was also considering the DA 35 macro since it seems like such a good lens... and I like the idea of being able to do the occasional macro. Is it too close the 43 though? Is 15mm really enough of a difference (effective FOV)?

I might keep the DA*55 as my weather-sealed lens if the 18-135 doesn't decide to cooperate with me in the next day or so. Oh why, why why can't Pentax make more wider weather-sealed primes (*screams at the lens gods*)

Is you head spinning yet? Mine is.
I've reached maximum frustration - LOL - and am considering just canning them all and keeping only the 43 and 70 for a while (and my old SMC-A 28).

Let me apologize for my blabbering. You're the only guys who understand... lucky for you

05-12-2011, 07:15 PM   #2
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HAR!!!

I don't worry much about weather sealing, but mostly I live in a dry area.
I admit it's nice to have, but really, how often does a lack of it really affect things?

I have both the 31 and the 35 macro.
I would really like to love the 35 macro, and it is certainly a nice lens that I can't say anything bad about, but I always seem to migrate back to the 31.
I just got the 43, and to a great extent, and I'm finding it to be the perfect compliment to the 31. I can see my 35 hitting the shelf for a while, anyway.
The 35 is definitely the nicer carry lens though.
05-12-2011, 07:37 PM   #3
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Hi Amy -

I picked up an 18-55 WR for snap-shooting in weather, and it works just fine for a lens I will only use in bad weather conditions. I am not crazy about it, but for $120 I can live with it. For a small, light-weight wide lens with great IQ I use an FA 20-35 - it might not have the magic of the limiteds, but is pretty darn sweet. I had a 31, but it was a little big for me, and I didn't love it enough to justify its expense (heresy, I know). The DA35 macro is quite different from the 43, and I like it less... but if you don't have a macro lens, it is nice to go as close as you'd like. (I prefer the FA 50 macro for that).

If I were to pare down to "bare essentials" (and there's no risk of that) I'd probably go 20-35, 43, 50 macro.
05-12-2011, 09:04 PM   #4
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Hi Amy,

I have the 35 ltd and the 43mm, and they are extremely different lenses. The 35 definitely works as a normal, and the 43 is much more of a short-tele/wide portrait type lens. The 35 is an interesting lens, its rendering is so accurate that I find it almost boring at times, but I think that's much more to do with my lack of imagination/composition skill than anything else Another way to look at it is that the photos it takes start out very neutral, and will take on any character you give them with with composition, post processing, etc.

hope this helps.

05-12-2011, 09:31 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
HAR!!!

I don't worry much about weather sealing, but mostly I live in a dry area.
I admit it's nice to have, but really, how often does a lack of it really affect things?

I have both the 31 and the 35 macro.
I would really like to love the 35 macro, and it is certainly a nice lens that I can't say anything bad about, but I always seem to migrate back to the 31.
I just got the 43, and to a great extent, and I'm finding it to be the perfect compliment to the 31. I can see my 35 hitting the shelf for a while, anyway.
The 35 is definitely the nicer carry lens though.
I'm actually someone who likes to shoot in adverse weather a lot, believe it or not. I love to go out in the rain and snow for pictures. Of course, I've been doing it for years without any weather-sealing, so I guess a kit that's 1/2 weather-sealed is a step in the right direction... LOL

I could probably make arguments for both the DA 35 and the FA 31. It's a tough decision, but if I look at price and the possibility of keeping the DA*55, the 35 might have to be the winner. However, I'm just not sure if having a 35, 43, 55 and 70 is all that smart... (continued below...)


QuoteOriginally posted by Nick Siebers Quote
Hi Amy -

I picked up an 18-55 WR for snap-shooting in weather, and it works just fine for a lens I will only use in bad weather conditions. I am not crazy about it, but for $120 I can live with it. For a small, light-weight wide lens with great IQ I use an FA 20-35 - it might not have the magic of the limiteds, but is pretty darn sweet. I had a 31, but it was a little big for me, and I didn't love it enough to justify its expense (heresy, I know). The DA35 macro is quite different from the 43, and I like it less... but if you don't have a macro lens, it is nice to go as close as you'd like. (I prefer the FA 50 macro for that).

If I were to pare down to "bare essentials" (and there's no risk of that) I'd probably go 20-35, 43, 50 macro.
I had the non-WR kit lens back with the K-x and hated it... just about never used it. Had I not switched over to the limiteds (40 and 70 at the time) I probably would have given up on Pentax completely. If I end up returning the 18-135, it'll be in favor of keeping the DA* 55 as my one weather-sealed lens.

Now, the FA 20-35 is an interesting suggestion! I didn't know about this lens at all, and though it isn't fast, it might be a decent solution for wider than 35. I'll have to read some of the reviews on that one. It might be interesting to have a kit made up of the 20-35, 43, 55 and 70. Of course, based on the prices I intially saw, I might be able to swing both the 20-35 and 35 Macro... though it would be redundant, it would give me macro when I want it and wider when I want it. Hmmmmm

QuoteOriginally posted by acrollet:
Hi Amy,

I have the 35 ltd and the 43mm, and they are extremely different lenses. The 35 definitely works as a normal, and the 43 is much more of a short-tele/wide portrait type lens. The 35 is an interesting lens, its rendering is so accurate that I find it almost boring at times, but I think that's much more to do with my lack of imagination/composition skill than anything else Another way to look at it is that the photos it takes start out very neutral, and will take on any character you give them with with composition, post processing, etc.

hope this helps.
I'd imagine, quality wise, the DA 35 might compare more to the DA 40 (which I liked very much when I had it). In all honestly, I could probably go with a kit of completely DA limiteds and be very happy... though as per Nick above, the FA 20-35 sounds interesting.


I used to do some macros years ago and enjoyed it. It's something I haven't really been into much in the last few years, but believe it or not, I was out with a Lensbaby today and that sparked the interest again. I had shot a dandelion and the shot itself was unremarkable, but at 100% in photoshop that's what I wanted the photo to be... hence, my sudden re-interest was born.

Oh man... decisions decisions... off to read more about the FA 20-35...
05-12-2011, 10:37 PM   #6
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I can definitely understand your dilemma. This past month I've been agonizing over which lenses to buy, as there's so many to choose from with lots of overlap. I went ahead and bought most of them. Now that that bit of LBA induced madness has worn off (somewhat), I'm busy sorting out the fallout and returning the ones I don't actually need/want.

As for the 18-135, as a fellow prime shooter who adores the limited lenses, I can understand that it can be a bit hard to love this lens. The optical quality just isn't on the same level obviously (particularly the corners at the extreme ends). I definitely wouldn't blame you if you decided it's not good enough and returned it, especially if you're debating between it and the 55. It's not even in my bag on fair weather days.

But for me this is not a fair weather lens, and it only takes a rainy day (and there's more than enough of those here in Seattle) to remind me why I bought it in the first place and why I still consider it a valuable member of my collection. Some of my favorite shots have been taken on days where a fair weather shooter would just go back to bed. In such cases I really am not concerned about any potential deficiencies with the IQ; it's either that or just not getting the shot at all. In most cases it's plenty good enough. And being a superzoom it has the great advantage of not having to change lenses in the rain, which is a big no-no, even if you were willing to risk unprotected lenses.

It's a bit hard to tell from this photo, but it is raining quite a bit, and the lens got seriously soaked. I definitely wouldn't have risked my limiteds in this situation, and my 18-135 did its job well (and the corners are quite good at this middle focal length).


Last edited by Cannikin; 05-13-2011 at 03:11 AM.
05-13-2011, 01:09 AM   #7
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Left field maybe,Zeiss 35mm F.2,cheaper than the Fa31/dearer than the macro.Beautifully made lens and a pleasure to use.Manual focus only but I find it concentrates the mind.Initially you'll probably roll your eyes(at my suggestion) but it is worth the effort .It's invigorated my enthusiasm for photography no end.Zeiss no longer make the Pentax mount but they are still available if you hunt around.Google for a comparison fa31 vs zk35,not just Pentax forums.(ace photo usd948.00 according to their web site now compared to 31 usd1299 now)

Last edited by peasant; 05-13-2011 at 02:01 AM.
05-13-2011, 04:20 AM   #8
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The DA 35 is a nice lens and you certainly would save compared to the FA 31. I do think the FA 31 is a step above it, but that said, the DA 35 is quite a bit smaller and does have the macro ability (which I personally really like).



05-13-2011, 05:00 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
I don't worry much about weather sealing, but mostly I live in a dry area.
I admit it's nice to have, but really, how often does a lack of it really affect things?
When snowshoeing, when hicking, at the beach, when it's raining, near a pool... you get my drift.

QuoteOriginally posted by Nick Siebers Quote
I picked up an 18-55 WR for snap-shooting in weather, and it works just fine for a lens I will only use in bad weather conditions. I am not crazy about it, but for $120 I can live with it.
I also got the 18-55 for risky conditions. I for one love it, maybe I got a particularly sharp copy but I'm impressed with its performances. Contrasts are too harsh, and it's not THE sharpest, but it's plenty good.
05-13-2011, 05:53 AM   #10
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I normally shoot only primes myself, and caved in and got the 18-135 as well, for just a walk around lens. That is really what it is good for. If you compare it to primes, it will be back in the box fast, LOL. Besides, its WR, and most of the primes are not.
Joe
05-13-2011, 06:30 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by peasant Quote
Left field maybe,Zeiss 35mm F.2,cheaper than the Fa31/dearer than the macro.Beautifully made lens and a pleasure to use.Manual focus only but I find it concentrates the mind.Initially you'll probably roll your eyes(at my suggestion) but it is worth the effort .It's invigorated my enthusiasm for photography no end.Zeiss no longer make the Pentax mount but they are still available if you hunt around.Google for a comparison fa31 vs zk35,not just Pentax forums.(ace photo usd948.00 according to their web site now compared to 31 usd1299 now)
Nah, I wouldn't roll my eyes at your suggestions. One of my favorite favorite lenses is the 35/2 Zeiss Biogon (on my M8). I love Zeiss glass.

Zeiss and Voigtlander are both options... but I think I'm reserving those possibilities for wider. (in the 15-25 range). For my 35 on the K-5, I want something with autofocus.

Actually, I pulled the trigger on a DA35 macro this morning.
and I think I'm going to keep the DA*55 and return the 18-135 (though I'll likely wait until Monday to make the final decision).
I may still end up with an FA31 eventually... but for now I want to look at wider. Maybe the DA21 or the FA 20-35... or... Not sure yet. But I'm not in the rush on that front.

Last edited by DRabbit; 05-13-2011 at 11:32 AM.
05-13-2011, 10:48 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
When snowshoeing, when hicking, at the beach, when it's raining, near a pool... you get my drift.
I get your drift, I also get that you sidestepped the question.
05-13-2011, 11:08 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by peasant Quote
Left field maybe,Zeiss 35mm F.2,cheaper than the Fa31/dearer than the macro.Beautifully made lens and a pleasure to use.Manual focus only but I find it concentrates the mind.Initially you'll probably roll your eyes(at my suggestion) but it is worth the effort .It's invigorated my enthusiasm for photography no end.Zeiss no longer make the Pentax mount but they are still available if you hunt around.Google for a comparison fa31 vs zk35,not just Pentax forums.(ace photo usd948.00 according to their web site now compared to 31 usd1299 now)
You can also consider some older Zeiss glass in the Contax mount that goes for about 1/3 the price of the ZKs (in the 28 and 35mm focal lengths). You would need to change the mount, and they would be f2.8 rather than f2, and still manual. However, with these you get all the wonderful benefits of the Zeiss glass (they are Distagon and not Biogon lens designs). The Contax CZ lens have all the build and glass qualities.

05-13-2011, 11:17 AM   #14
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Amy,

DA*55 and FA31ltd form really great couple, you know?!?
Fast enough and flexible enough to cover a lot of shooting ground.

Personally though, I prefer FA*24 + DA*55. Not that the 24 would be better lens than 31, but the FOV suits me bit more. Size wise, those three are just about neck and neck. 31 is the smallest and lightest, 55 in the middle and 24 is the fattest and heaviest. Mind you, hoodless those tree are only few mm up or down from each other, the weight is only withing 60g tolerance. If you are after size/weight saving then yes, 43 + 70 is super combo, but I'd pick 31+55 over it any given time!

Weather sealing is nice to have, but if careful enough, even non WR lenses will do just fine. I shot with 43ltd in snow, 31Ltd in Egyptian desert, kit lens in the rain (attached to K100D back then), Sigma 10-20 in dense morning fog... I could go on an on... all the lenses survived just fine!
05-13-2011, 11:34 AM   #15
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I've pretty much made the decision now, so I'm covered from 35 and longer. It's just a matter of deciding on wider now. As of now, my kit consists of DA35 Macro (on its way), FA43, DA*55 for weather-sealing and DA70 (on its way). I also have an older SMC-A 28mm f/2.8 that I like.

As someone who doesn't shoot wide much (but likes to very occasionally)... which makes more sense do you think? The DA21, DA15 or something like the FA 20-35 (too much overlap?) or DA 12-24/third-party zoom (Sigma 10-20/Tamron 10-24)? I'm actually lean towards the DA15 I think... since I like primes. The 15 and 35 could be a nice travel pair.
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