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11-03-2011, 04:31 AM   #16
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I have an honest question for all of those who chose the the Sigma 30 over the Pentax FA31. If the Sigma lens, which is available in all major lens systems, is as good as/better than the FA31 why do you choose Pentax over the other systems? I always thought one of the biggest draw cards to Pentax were their unique compact and high quality primes.

11-03-2011, 04:54 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by heasley Quote
I have an honest question for all of those who chose the the Sigma 30 over the Pentax FA31. If the Sigma lens, which is available in all major lens systems, is as good as/better than the FA31 why do you choose Pentax over the other systems? I always thought one of the biggest draw cards to Pentax were their unique compact and high quality primes.
If you check my lens list, all of my lenses but one are Pentax lenses. The FA 31 just is so expensive for what it is. I have no problem paying a thousand dollars for a good telephoto. I didn't even have a problem paying 650 for the DA *55, but the 31 seems to be priced in a manner that is quite a bit inflated and I just couldn't conscience it when there is a lens that is 85 percent as good (low balling it) for 50 percent the price.
11-03-2011, 05:30 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by TOUGEFC Quote
The 30mm is much sharper in the center (where it counts the most)and its very sharp right from the get go at f/1.4 and it renders with a very distinct "3D" look, more than what the 31 can. Plus its faster
taking those points in reverse order: The difference between f/1.8 and f/1.4 is trivial - although there is an observable difference between f/1.2 and f/1.4. The 30mm f/1.4 may be impressively sharp in the centre of the imaging area but the corners leave a lot to be desired, The FA31 delivers escellent performance in this regard, and is capable of truly exquisite performance across the frame at f/2.8~f/11* and the coma performance of the sigma is considerably worse than the Pentax FA31mm f/1.8 - and the principal reason why I bought the FA31 was the FA limited construction quality, again in comparison the sigma lens is found wanting.

* At f/1.8 the FA31 is eminently usable but I wouldn't use it all the time because nailing critical focus can be rather difficult.
11-03-2011, 05:40 AM - 1 Like   #19
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Shooting this lens at wide apertures (what they were designed for) the corners are more than likely going to be out of focus anyway, its a subject isolation lens. If people want corner sharpness for landscapes they would be better off buying a landscape lens to begin with.

Coma performance is worse on the sigma, but flare is worse on the 31.

I bought the Sigma because I liked the look of images it produces better than the 31.

11-03-2011, 05:55 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by heasley Quote
If the Sigma lens, which is available in all major lens systems, is as good as/better than the FA31 why do you choose Pentax over the other systems?
I think it makes sense to get a Pentax body even if one then only gets Sigma / Tamron lenses for it. Pentax bodies have great ergonomics, in-body image stabilisation, offer weather-sealing for less than other brands, etc., etc.

I never understood the "You should switch to another brand, if you prefer Sigma/Tamron over Pentax lenses" argument. AFAIC, this argument
  • underestimates the value of Pentax bodies, and
  • often (not always) overestimates the value of Pentax lenses w.r.t. third party lenses.
I've bought three new Sigma lenses myself and think that the Sigma 30/1.4 is a great lens, but in this case, I believe the competition is just a bit too strong. If money does not play a role, I think the FA 31/1.8 is a pretty easy choice. Its bokeh is superb and it has the sharpness to let subjects "pop" against the background.

If I were to choose between the FA 31/1.8 and the Sigma 30/1.4 and still had my doubts as to which lens' rendering I prefer, I'd try to find a high number of nice images made with both lenses (e.g., by using Flickr). Provided you look at a high enough number, you'll get a feel for how the lenses render (in various circumstances) and then can make a decision which characteristic you like best.

P.S.: Regarding build quality: The Sigma 30/1.4 is well constructed and has no problem with build quality. However, it is not in the same league as the Pentax FA 31/1.8. The latter's all metal construction and excellent finish puts it into "collector's item" category. Sadly, though, the high price doesn't imply quality beyond reproach. There have been repeated reports about screws coming lose because the thread-lock hasn't been applied correctly. There also seem to be some unexpected internal barrel tolerances. But I'd be confident that you'll be able to get a great copy with high probability.

Last edited by Class A; 11-03-2011 at 06:05 AM.
11-03-2011, 06:49 AM   #21
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There is an interesting comparaison of these two lens on the following site:

Test_31ltd

It's in French, but the pictures speak for themselves.
11-03-2011, 11:03 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by heasley Quote
I have an honest question for all of those who chose the the Sigma 30 over the Pentax FA31. If the Sigma lens, which is available in all major lens systems, is as good as/better than the FA31 why do you choose Pentax over the other systems? I always thought one of the biggest draw cards to Pentax were their unique compact and high quality primes.
You may have a point here, but I would differ for FA31. IMO, it's certainly over-priced and not worth the hype. As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently took comparison shots between FA35 & FA31, and FA35 is as good as FA31 at one third of the cost. I certainly would not like to throw away my money just because it's Pentax.
11-03-2011, 11:23 AM   #23
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These are both superb lenses but it really comes down to two points :
a) is the money an issue at all (as in what could you get with the difference if you bought the Sigma - maybe a 40 to complement it)
b) what will be it's primary use ? I've shot landscapes with the 30/1.4 and it blows the K28/2.8 away - even in the corners. However I use a Contax Zeiss 28/2.8 for my landscapes and that holds a similar advantage over the Sigma (in fact you could buy both of those lenses - and build quality on the CZ is at least equal to that of the 31 - for the price of the 31 Ltd. So then you get the best of both worlds, a superb landscape lens and a fantastically creative low light demon) !

In my case I love the 30/1.4 and it goes everywhere with me. It is superb on the street, amazing at low DoF and brilliant for portraiture, parties and evening/night.

11-03-2011, 11:27 AM - 1 Like   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by heasley Quote
I have an honest question for all of those who chose the the Sigma 30 over the Pentax FA31. If the Sigma lens, which is available in all major lens systems, is as good as/better than the FA31 why do you choose Pentax over the other systems? I always thought one of the biggest draw cards to Pentax were their unique compact and high quality primes.
Why restrict yourself to one brand when there are options all around you ? The wonderful Pentax primes are only one reason to buy a Pentax camera. No-one should so limit themselves by buying only Pentax lenses, Sigma & Tamron offer some lenses that are better/more useful/considerably cheaper but achieve the same, in all camera mounts. Canon and Nikon don't always have a lens to compete and Sigma / Tamron carefully choose their lenses to fill the niches.
11-03-2011, 05:29 PM   #25
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Well... thanks for all the thoughts. I appreciate the perspective of people that have a strong preference. Also... thanks for the french link. good comparisons, and some pretty funny lines from google translate.

Still torn... especially after the link. The chromatic abberation in the 31 was scary, and made the crops look better on the sigma, but somehow I thought the pentax looked better uncropped. Color samples with the pentax all looked way better in my opinion, not just corners. Probably as has been pointed out the 31 would be a better plan if I was gonna use it with film.

I'm still leaning toward the pentax because I like the 30mmish length for lots of things and feel like the pentax might be better all around if I'm throwing a lens on for the day for anything that comes up. Also having a hard time getting over the rough feel of the focus on the 30mm i tried. Regardless of the optics, I dont really want to spend 2/3 the price of the 31 and get a lens that Im not sure I like the feel of. I dunno, I think I'm just trying to justify the choice between two pretty good lenses. Probably not gonna get a second lens with the price difference, so its time to order something.
11-03-2011, 06:25 PM   #26
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Have you seen the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 thoughts/examples thread? It contains many great examples for the magic the Sigma 30/1.4 can produce (with a "little" help from the photographer, of course ). You may want to raise your "rough focus feel issue" in that thread and see how owners respond.

Having browsed through that thread again, I'm not so sure anymore which lens I'd choose. I think if money played no role, I'd still go with the Pentax 31/1.8 because of the quality of the bokeh. With near subjects the Sigma is superb but with subjects a bit further away there sometimes is a hint of nervousness in the bokeh that I've never noticed with the Pentax 31/1.8. I could be wrong, though.

The FA Limited Club features great examples for the FA 31/1.8. I also found one about indicating QC issues with a copy.

I haven't used either of the lenses. From what I've seen the Sigma 30/1.4 may have more character and may perform better in portrait situations while the Pentax 31/1.8 would be more suitable as a generalist lens, a "fast fifty" replacement, i.e., a lens that you can rely on for many situations. Note that it has a lower minimal focus distance than the Sigma 30/1.4.

Good luck with your choice. You cannot really go wrong either way.

Last edited by Class A; 11-03-2011 at 06:46 PM.
11-03-2011, 06:55 PM   #27
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Yeah, I've spent way too long looking at pictures and comments on here. I think I was told by some 30mm owners that they thought Id tried a bad copy, but it did put me off a bit regardless.

I did go with the 31mm (like 5 min ago) for the "fast 50" replacement thing. I think it'll be a bit better all around, and if not I'll probly convince myself of that anyway! At least if it feels like the DA LTDs itll be fun to shoot with.
11-03-2011, 07:11 PM   #28
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I still think the price is the biggest driving point.
Two lenses are great lenses, that is no doubt.
It is a similar focal length, but the two does different things better.
One should decide what you're going to be using it for the most, and go from there.
If you want corner to corner sharpness, 31ltd, if you want more portrait, sig30.

Last edited by RickyFromVegas; 11-03-2011 at 07:27 PM.
11-03-2011, 08:04 PM   #29
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I had a hard time loving the 31, I think it was just too much money swinging around on the front of my camera. After I sold it I found a Sigma 28/1.8 at a decent price, and have been enjoying that. The minimum focus distance is quite close, and sharpness is very good at close range. I haven't tried it much for landscapes yet, but my sense is that it wouldn't do quite as well in that role, and the bokeh is definitely less nice. We'll see, maybe I will make my way back to the 31.
11-04-2011, 12:33 PM   #30
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Hi,
Thanks everybody for opinions and samples.
This thread prompted me to do what I've been itching to do for a long time: I just pulled the trigger on FA 31 Ltd.
Had to sacrifice FA 50 and got myself on the boss' black list... but what the heck - let's see what people are raving about.
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