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12-21-2011, 06:10 PM   #1
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Prices, ratings, and Ltd Lenses

Funny, I've been reading a lot about Limited lenses here. Responded to one post that said it was stupid not to save up and buy Limiteds instead of buying lots of other lenses.

I took a look at all the reviews of the Limited, and Star, lineup that are currently available. I also looked at current pricing for each of them.

All the Limited lenses are rated 9.23+ in the Lens Review section. The Range is from 9.23 to 9.76 with many reviewers for each lens. Interestingly, the cost for the Limiteds, using Amazon's standard price as that # for these purposes, was from $360 to $1060. The highest rated lens also happens to be the most expensive lens on the list as well. Cognitive dissonance theory would tell us that the cost is why the rating is the highest. People rate things higher that cost more and there are loads of ways this has been demonstrated over and over again (e.g., same radio, same description, two groups, only difference is the cost attributed to the radio, more expensive is rated as a great radio, less expensive as a piece of junk). However, there is a curveball in this analysis: the lowest cost lens ($360) is the #2 rated lens at 9.67 and in the tight ratings rankings of the Limited lenses it is the only 9.6x rated lens placing it a full .10 higher than the #3 lens.

So, on a pure cost to ratings ratio basis the DA40 Pancake seems to be the best bang for the buck among the Limited lenses. Now, the next question (which is also subjective) is: Is it worth 2.25 times the cost of the DA35/2.4?

12-21-2011, 06:29 PM   #2
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No, it isn't worth 2.x more. Nothing in the land of technology ever is. And typically, only highly skilled observers will be able to really appreciate the gains of the most expensive lenses (although the most expensive lenses for Pentax are cheap compared to Canon / Nikon).

I loved the DA 40, but could only afford either the 40 or the 50 1.4. I went with the 50 1.4. The best option would be the FA 43 1.9, but the minor gains for my purposes (compact size) are not worth the price increase (about 2.5 times). I'm very happy with my FA 50. I doubt I would be good enough to coax the true qualities out of the 43 anyhow.

Just buy what you can comfortably afford and get shooting ... practice will make more of a difference then gear ever can.
12-21-2011, 06:30 PM   #3
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Based on this model how can one explain the stellar reviews of the K 35mm f/3.5 and 28mm f/3.5? The sell in the 2 digit ($) range.
12-21-2011, 06:51 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
Based on this model how can one explain the stellar reviews of the K 35mm f/3.5 and 28mm f/3.5? The sell in the 2 digit ($) range.
Its only with expensive items that you should see that significant effect. When something is lower cost and yet rated subjectively higher that is a much stronger statement, under that class of theories. Basically it is astonishing that the 40 is rated as high as it is given its the lowest priced lens in the limited range.

12-21-2011, 07:05 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
Based on this model how can one explain the stellar reviews of the K 35mm f/3.5 and 28mm f/3.5? The sell in the 2 digit ($) range.
Make that "did sell". Let me know if you find either lens for that price now. Admittedly they don't seem that much more expensive (yet), but definitely into 3 figures USD.

Agree with OP that there is a definite element of justification for paying the high price and/or seeing what you want to see in reviews for any premium item, whether a lens or anything else. I don't have any limiteds so can't say WRT those. I do love my DA* 200, though. I don't yet "love" my M 50 1.7, even though I enjoy using it and recognize that it is an excellent performer, especially given the modest price. But that's mainly because I also have the M 50 1.4, a really special lens IMO.

Also agree with paperbag that cost/quality is not linear. The 40 ltd has attributes the DA 35 lacks, notably small size and high build quality. If those things aren't important, then the lens is unlikely to be a good value. From various reports it appears to be optically very good but not stellar. There are bound to be compromises involved in making a lens that small, after all. I think the point of the current Limiteds is that they mark Pentax out as unique -- makers of tiny little beautifully crafted optical gems. As they were with the M series.
12-21-2011, 07:12 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
Make that "did sell". Let me know if you find either lens for that price now. Admittedly they don't seem that much more expensive (yet), but definitely into 3 figures USD.

Agree with OP that there is a definite element of justification for paying the high price and/or seeing what you want to see in reviews for any premium item, whether a lens or anything else. I don't have any limiteds so can't say WRT those. I do love my DA* 200, though. I don't yet "love" my M 50 1.7, even though I enjoy using it and recognize that it is an excellent performer, especially given the modest price. But that's mainly because I also have the M 50 1.4, a really special lens IMO.

Also agree with paperbag that cost/quality is not linear. The 40 ltd has attributes the DA 35 lacks, notably small size and high build quality. If those things aren't important, then the lens is unlikely to be a good value. From various reports it appears to be optically very good but not stellar. There are bound to be compromises involved in making a lens that small, after all. I think the point of the current Limiteds is that they mark Pentax out as unique -- makers of tiny little beautifully crafted optical gems. As they were with the M series.
In reference to the M series, there was only one * lens and no Limiteds in that series, were you referring to the generally higher build quality of the entire Asahi-Pentax lineup back then? If so I would agree with you that they are superbly made in general. However, I must hasten to add that I am very impressed with the 35/2.4. Its plastic through and through but its optically very nice (nearly identical to the 35/2 from the diagrams of the optics) and the manual focus is very smooth in its 90degree arc.
12-21-2011, 07:26 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
In reference to the M series, there was only one * lens and no Limiteds in that series, were you referring to the generally higher build quality of the entire Asahi-Pentax lineup back then? If so I would agree with you that they are superbly made in general.
Yes, the series as a whole. Of course the K series was great too, maybe even better in terms of build, but the small size and high quality of so many of the M lenses is a marvel. I haven't shot film in ages but am considering picking up an MX body just to try out the M and K lenses in their native context, and for the fun of a more or less pocketable SLR.

QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
However, I must hasten to add that I am very impressed with the 35/2.4. Its plastic through and through but its optically very nice (nearly identical to the 35/2 from the diagrams of the optics) and the manual focus is very smooth in its 90degree arc.
I'm not knocking the DA 35, with which I have no experience, and am glad to hear the focus ring is nice to use. Really sounds like a superb value. I'm still working out how I feel about 28mm vs. 35mm as a general-purpose FL, but I could easily see adding the DA 35/2.4 to the kit.
12-21-2011, 07:38 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Its only with expensive items that you should see that significant effect. When something is lower cost and yet rated subjectively higher that is a much stronger statement, under that class of theories. Basically it is astonishing that the 40 is rated as high as it is given its the lowest priced lens in the limited range.
I don't think so. The fact it is the cheapest of the Limiteds, and also one of the most useful lengths, means it is for many people their first and only prime. So many DA40 owners are comparing only to the kit lenses. On the other hand, also consider that the differences in average ratings for these lenses is probably not statistically significant.

12-21-2011, 08:00 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
I'm not knocking the DA 35, with which I have no experience, and am glad to hear the focus ring is nice to use. Really sounds like a superb value. I'm still working out how I feel about 28mm vs. 35mm as a general-purpose FL, but I could easily see adding the DA 35/2.4 to the kit.
Thanks for the clarification on the M series. I'm just using the DA35/2.4 as a reference as its Pentax's least expensive current prime. I'm playing with my M28 to see if I really like that perspective better than 35 myself. Not sure. I know I want something shorter and perhaps 24 is more what I'm looking for but the FA24 is very dear and scarce to boot.
12-21-2011, 08:02 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I don't think so. The fact it is the cheapest of the Limiteds, and also one of the most useful lengths, means it is for many people their first and only prime. So many DA40 owners are comparing only to the kit lenses. On the other hand, also consider that the differences in average ratings for these lenses is probably not statistically significant.
Haven't actually cruched the numbers in SPSS but with the n in each review of the Limiteds the differences in such a tightly clustered range probably ARE significant.
12-21-2011, 08:02 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I don't think so. The fact it is the cheapest of the Limiteds, and also one of the most useful lengths, means it is for many people their first and only prime. So many DA40 owners are comparing only to the kit lenses. On the other hand, also consider that the differences in average ratings for these lenses is probably not statistically significant.
Those are both excellent points.
12-21-2011, 08:06 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Haven't actually cruched the numbers in SPSS but with the n in each review of the Limiteds the differences in such a tightly clustered range probably ARE significant.
It's not just a matter of whether they are statistically significant. The same people are not rating each of these lenses, nor do individuals rate things on the same scale. As Marc pointed out, it's entirely conceivable that a large number of the people rating the DA40 might have a different perspective than those rating the FA31. Bottom line, I would take the numerical ratings with a huge grain of salt and use the reviews as a general guide for how people feel about a certain lens.
12-21-2011, 08:45 PM   #13
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I only went with the 31mm so I could use it with my film cameras... which to me was worth 4xish as much... PS I do enough the 31mm but if I was only a digital shooter I would have gone with a pancake because it fits nicely in a coat pocket with a KX.
12-21-2011, 10:21 PM   #14
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The limiteds are still superb at their SMALLEST apertures (f/22) as well as their widest apertures...
12-21-2011, 10:24 PM   #15
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Our ratings result from emotional and financial involvement, not just-the-facts-ma'am objective measurements. Ooh, it was expensive, it must be good! Ooh, it was really cheap, such a deal! But we can hopefully draw statistically significant conclusions with a large enough sample size. The fewer the reviews, the larger the grain of salt.
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