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02-21-2012, 01:34 PM   #1
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Which 35mm lens to buy as a walkaround

I'm going to be purchasing a Pentax K-5 and want to start with a nice 35mm prime for capturing indoor, photojournalistic moments. I want to prioritize sharpness and bokeh at the best value. I'd also like to find the quickest lens possible, because I see myself shooting a lot in poorly lit rooms at friend's houses and when out at evening events.

The two lenses I'm strongly considering are the

Pentax SMC DA 35mm f/2.8 Limited macro
Pentax SMC DA 35mm f/2.8 Limited macro - Review / Test Report

Pentax SMC-FA 35mm f/2 AL
Pentax SMC-FA 35mm f/2 AL - Review / Test Report

I'm leaning toward the f/2.8, which is at the very edge of my price range, because of its better optics. But, the 2.0 seems to be evaluated as an outstanding value for the price. I've also strongly considered the Pentax 43mm f/1.9 ltd, which is around the same price as the 35mm f/2.8, but I believe will put me too close to my subjects as my primary lens. The one thing I will say I really like about the 2.0 is the 2.0. The extra openness could be of great use in the kinds of settings where I'll be shooting.

So, wondering your thoughts here and whether the extra price for the 2.8 is worth it.

02-21-2012, 02:20 PM   #2
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I should add that the price comp between the f2.8 and the f2.0 is no longer as large as it may have once been, creating for me more intrigue around the f2.8

At B&H
f2.8 = $539.95
f2.0 = $475.00
02-21-2012, 11:45 PM   #3
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Moved from "Ask B&H Photo" (as it would seem to be soliciting comments from forum members in general).
02-22-2012, 12:50 AM   #4
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Check this comparison (Part I and Part II). I chose DA 35mm Macro, but that is personal choice.


02-22-2012, 01:56 AM   #5
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I have the DA 35 macro ltd and I'm very happy with it. Razorsharp and fast enough. It's my favorite walkaround prime.

De only drawback that I can think of is the slow focussing due to it's extreme focal range. A focus limiter would have been really very handy in this one.
02-22-2012, 02:05 AM   #6
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Have you considered DA(-L)35/2.4; it's said to be based on the FA35/2.

No distance scale, plastic mount, no lens hood; but said to be very good. And saves you quite a bit of money that can be spend on other useful accessories or lenses.

// Edit
This might be of interest:
02-22-2012, 02:09 AM   #7
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It you need f2.0 and aperture ring, then you have FA35.
Otherwise, DA35Ltd.
02-22-2012, 07:07 AM   #8
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Maybe it's just me, but I don't find 35-37-40-43-45mm optimal for general walkaround -- 28mm works much better for me. I have some excellent lenses in the 35-45mm range but I just don't use them nearly as much as my 28s. And for "indoor photojournalistic moments" (like documenting the activities of squirmin' vermin aka grandkids) I prefer a 24mm. My favorites in these wider realms are both manual-focus Vivitars: the Komine 28/2 CFWA and the Kiron 24/2 in PK-M mount.

I have a Nikkor-O 35/2 modded for PK and yes, it's a PJ classic -- for FF cams. It's just a bit long for APS-C. Back in FF film days, PJs often needed to get closer to subjects than did amateur toggers with their 50mm kit lenses (the FOV equivalent of 35mm on APS-C). So 35mm and 28mm were common working focal lengths, and sometimes 24mm. The FOV equivalents of those on APS-C would be 24mm and 20mm and 16mm.

A single lens solution for the indoor work your mention would be a Tamron 17-50/2.8 on your K5 with ISO bumped-up by 1-2 EV. Extremely sharp, good bokeh, and the K5's high-ISO performance compensates for the slightly slower f/2.8 fixed maximum aperture. The main advantages of a faster f/2 prime would be 1) slightly brighter VF image and 2) slightly thinner DOF -- but f/2 DOF on a 35-28-24mm lens isn't *that* much thinner than at f/2.8. If DOF control is important to you, the Sigma 30/1.4 may best suit your needs. For slightly thicker DOF and wider focal lengths, consider the Sigma 24/1.8 and 28/1.8 macros.

02-22-2012, 07:13 AM   #9
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I think a 24mm is the most useful FL for an indoor prime, and use the Sigma 24 SWII for that purpose, but I also do like the 35/f2.4 and its classic 'normal' fov.
02-22-2012, 08:25 AM   #10
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When I had it, the A 28/2.8 never failed. IIRC, I just left the focus set just short of infinity, and anything past 10 feet was sharp.
02-22-2012, 10:21 AM   #11
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Thank you, everyone, so far for your comments. They've been extremely helpful. I wanted to attach, for the sake of someone coming to this with the same question I have, an email I got from a friend of mine who's a big Pentax enthusiast and has a fairly large array of lenses that he owns and has worked with. It's his answer to the same question I asked in this post...

More elements is more interference between sensor and image. The extra elements are there for focal range/macro ability.

I think this blurb says it all on the sigma:
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Reviewed: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review
(Vine Review: Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Review)

I think you’re getting too caught up in the details. Many of the reviews read like a car magazine without considering real world limitations: If the average speed limit is 45mph, do I really care that I can do 0-60 in 5.4 secs?(and brake in time for the next stop sign…) A lot of these reviews for the sigma are based on Nikon or Canon bodies which will produce different results anyway. None of the choices you’re presenting will work poorly, So at this point it’s really about cost. If it’s not about cost get the best aperture you can afford.

Here’s my take on these three:
If you’re going to be in low light 60% of the time get the sigma. ( I ‘need’ my 1.7 about twice a year. 2.8 is usually fine)
If you think you’ll be doing any serious macro work (less than 3ft) get the 2.8
Otherwise the 2.0 is a good general lens.

Look at the photos in the second link above. If those shots are problematic, then what’s the point... I give up.
02-22-2012, 11:27 PM   #12
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I own the FA 35/2 and it is one of my favorite lenses. Period. I use mine for both digital on the K10D and on my K-mount film cameras, but it my usual walk-around on the K10D. If you can find one at a decent price, buy it. You will not be disappointed.

Fotostevia on Flickr: Pentax-FA 35/2

02-23-2012, 11:16 AM   #13
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You can't go wrong. I would say it mainly depends on whether you want built in macro. I had a 35/f2 on Sony and I miss the wide open shots and depth of field, but having a small hand-holdable macro is great too.

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