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06-04-2011, 05:24 PM   #1
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31mm Limited Dilemma

I got my 31mm Limited a couple of days ago, and I'm thinking maybe I bought the wrong lens. I was dazzled by all the glowing reviews, and decided I had to have it. So when I saw one available, I jumped on it, knowing I could return it if I needed to.

I took tons of photos with it, and while the quality is great, and the low light capability is fantastic, I find myself not all the excited about the focal length. I'm always wishing it was either shorter or longer.

I'm more interested in birds, plants, nature, and landscapes than anything else. My other lens is the 18-55mm kit lens. As long as I don't have it wide open, it's quite sharp.

My dilemma is whether I should return it, sell it in the Marketplace, trade it for a long prime or zoom, something in the same price range.

A good, fast prime would be nice, but when walking about, looking for shots, it does limit how close I can be to the subject.

A zoom would be nice, to go with my 18-55mm kit lens, which by the way, takes pretty good photos, in my opinion, especially considering the price. Something out to 200-250mm that has decent speed would be nice. What would you guys recommend? I DON'T want to start a feud about the DA* motors, but the glass sounds excellent on them.

I could just keep it, as I know it is a very high quality lens, but it won't end up getting a lot of use, and I'd rather put the grand I paid for it into something I WILL use. But it will probably hold its value, and won't kill me if I keep it. But it seems a bit of a waste.

Thanks for any opinions. If I wasn't so new to all of this, I would probably know what to do.

06-04-2011, 05:36 PM   #2
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Interesting. Thinking about getting a 31mm myself; I would be replacing my 35mm F2 and 50mm F1.4 with it.
06-04-2011, 05:39 PM   #3
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Don't get me wrong. It's a wonderful lens. I'm just thinking I jumped the gun, so to speak, by not doing my homework. With the 18-55mm, I take most of my shots at either 18mm or 55mm. I'm rarely in the middle.
06-04-2011, 05:39 PM   #4
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Well there is very little information for us to work on here, do you need very long reach like a 300mm? do you like macro? Do you do hand held in low light? We all got our needs and yours are completely different than ours so it's hard to recommend lens when we don't know specifically what you do...

And as for the FA 31, return it if you find the focal length not working for you, let someone else put it in good use. I deliberately omitted the FA 31 in my collection precisely because of that, I have a DA 35 Macro in it's stead, I know it' s not the same thing but for my needs the Macro just works better.

06-04-2011, 05:41 PM   #5
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If the focal length is not for you, the 31 won't fit the bill for your needs. Hope you didn't expect to be the only lens you'd ever need for nature, landscapes and birding.

Sounds like you'd be looking for a few different lenses: a wide-normal (already OK with the kit lens), a macro (your choice of the variety of manual focus lenses available, or choose a DFA 100 WR or Sigma 70 or Tamron 90) and a telephoto prime or zoom (like a DA* 200 or 60-250, or DA 55-300 if you want something cheaper).
06-04-2011, 05:51 PM   #6
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I was looking for a 21 Ltd and wound up with the 31 Ltd. I like the wider angle lenses, but this acquisition (almost 2 years ago) has changed a number of things for me. I still use my 12-24 for landscapes, but I also use the 31 to stitch smaller panoramas that are much sharper.

That said, if the focal length does not fit your shooting style, then it just may not be for you...

06-04-2011, 05:51 PM   #7
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Well for longer then just take the DA*60-250mm, since it is in the same pricerange as your 31mm. I did a little test with the 60-250, you can find it some pages down the road here, and that is a fantastic lens.
06-04-2011, 06:04 PM   #8
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If as you say, you'd rather put the grand from the 31 to something you will use, then i would agree pretty much entirely with what Ash says above: sell the lens and get something such as the DA*60-250 to go along with your kit zoom.

However, I think you may wish to give the 31 a bit more time to appreciate its value and quality. They seem to be becoming more and more difficult to find, and you wouldn't want to be in a situation where you didn't completely "test out" the lens over time. Unless something drastic happens, demand for these is high, and you can sell it later if you truly feel that keeping it in your collection simply is not worth it to you. I'm in a similar situation with my only limited, the 77. I don't use it much, but I think I've committed to keep it as I know it's ability to produce and its overall quality. I would think a "normal" lens, especially one of such quality as the 31, would always have a use for you, although that certainly may not be the case. If you can afford to keep it and buy a quality zoom to cover the range between 50 - 300 or so, I think you'd be in a good position...just my opinion.

06-04-2011, 06:08 PM   #9
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I'm finding the DA* 60-250mm for $1499, which is $500 more than I paid for the 31mm Ltd.

I suppose a smart guy who could afford it, would keep the 31mm and get the 60-250mm, but I'm not sure I want to put out that much additional money.

How well does the Pentax 100mm WR Macro perform as a telephoto?

I guess the real answer lies in how serious I am about my new hobby, and whether or not I want to get a large bag for a bunch of lenses, or just stick with a couple.
06-04-2011, 06:12 PM   #10
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I like my 31mm, but it's an ackward FL for me at times. I've found that I usually use my F 50mm 1.7 and my 77mm Ltd for studio and portrait work. I use my Sigma 18-50 f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8 on separate bodies for events. I use a Sigma 10-20 and the Pentax 21mm Ltd for landscapes. The 31, just doesn't quite work for any of these, at least for me.

However, I've found that the 31 is great for small groups, and (oddly enough) I use it almost exclusively for stitched panos like these:

Haleakala Winter Sunset


Grand Canyon - Yaki Point Sunrise


EDIT: In my opinion, it's an outstanding lens for stitched panos. I also use the 21mm Ltd and the F 50mm, but nowhere near as much as the 31.

Last edited by HawaiianOnline; 06-04-2011 at 06:13 PM. Reason: Did not want to double post
06-04-2011, 06:16 PM   #11
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Those panos are great. Another option for me that I hadn't thought about. How hard are they to do?
06-04-2011, 06:30 PM   #12
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I blame Jsherman999 for this...

Last edited by Digitalis; 01-28-2015 at 12:36 AM.
06-04-2011, 06:34 PM   #13
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Send it back and get the DA 70 and DA 15. If you want longer, experiment with a DA 55-300 and see what focal lengths work for you there.
06-04-2011, 06:54 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
DA 55-300
What sort of quality could I expect from this lens. It's definitely not "upper tier".
06-04-2011, 07:14 PM   #15
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those stiched pano's look great, but what I find is that the stitched pano's (as amazing as they are) are only good when your printing them, even on a decent 19-24" monitor, you barely notice any improvement between a cropped shot from say a DA15 or a multi stitched pano from the 31mm unless your pixel peeping. I would love to print pano's at 3' x 6-10' but its hard to find places to get prints made that big. Then I would be doing more pano work for sure.

As for keeping the 31mm... If you think you would rather shoot birds etc.. there are MANY better lenses you could/should be looking at, such as the DA*60-250 or any 70-200 f2.8 even. Throw in a teleconverter and your well on your way. My cousin who is more of a birder, picked up a Bigma (Sigma 50-500mm) and absolutely loves it. Depending on your budget you could get rid of the 31mm, pickup a 70-200 and then between it and your kit lens look at what focal lengths you seem to use most or need (wider than 18/longer than 200/a zoom to cover between 55-70).
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