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02-28-2012, 06:31 AM - 1 Like   #1
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FWIW - FA 35mm appear exactly 1/2 stop faster than DA 35mm F2.4

I was lucky enough to come across a very nice FA 35mm F2. I was really looking for a 50mm F1.4 or F1.7 so I would have a fast prime.

I already had a DA 35mm F2.4, so of course started debating with myself if the FA was worth keeping. Having read a number of the reviews, it appears genereally accepted that the optical qualities are very similar. However, I recall a number of people claiming the DA 35mm F2.4 was actually faster than F2.4, making the difference between the two lenses even less.


Here are my findings with a not terrible scientific approach:
  • At same f-stops, the optical difference between the two lenses are very small. Whatever difference I saw was more likely due to test setup than anything, and in some in some instances the DA appeared best. I thought the FA looked every so slightly sharper, but that may just be wishful thinking.
  • I then took pictures on manual (same shutter speed and ISO), with both lenses being wide open. Pulling the into light room I then adjusted LR exposure for respectively highlight, shadows, and "auto". In all instances, to get the same exposure, the DA picture ended up being adjusted EXACTLY 0.5 stop compared to the FA. One set was done with the FA exposed corrctly, one set with the DA set correct. In other words, my FA is exactly 0.5 stop faster than my DA
I have no idea if both the DA or the FA are faster than respectively 2.4, and 2.0, but you do get a half stop advantage with the FA, something that a number of people seemed to question.

I decided to keep the FA, since it gives me a full stop advantage compared to DA* 16-50, and also the FA lens construction is very nice. Not as nice looking, but seems very solid.

For those of you owning the DA rest assured you are giving up nothing in optical quality!

02-28-2012, 07:42 AM   #2
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Thanks for the comparison. On a practical level it seems that the DA35/2.4 is a solid performer even compared to the much vaunted FA. I rather like my plastic fantastic lens.
02-29-2012, 12:01 AM   #3
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Everybody likes the FA more, especially when can get one . Me too, and that's why I never had a wish to buy the DA because of all those compromises (plastic, 2.4..) Maybe one day I'll find homeless FA 35 2.0 sitting in front of my door
02-29-2012, 05:48 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by simbon4o Quote
Everybody likes the FA more, especially when can get one . Me too, and that's why I never had a wish to buy the DA because of all those compromises (plastic, 2.4..) Maybe one day I'll find homeless FA 35 2.0 sitting in front of my door

Compromises? Everyone? Wow. No, not everyone likes it more or wants one. Those compromises are in areas that are irrelevant to image quality, an area in which the 35/2.4 shines. Plastic? Lighter and in some ways more resilient than metal. The only "compromise" I miss on it is quick-shift.

The OPs last sentence says it all "For those of you owning the DA rest assured you are giving up nothing in optical quality!"

02-29-2012, 05:59 AM   #5
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I could have sworn that one of e forum members did an indepth review of all the 35mm and found that the daL 35 was slightly worse then the fa in terms of image quality. But only slightly. Either way for most hobbists the price difference between the da and the fa 35 are night and day. And for hobbists i think the option to get the da35 and possibly th da50 for the price of a fa35 may make it a better lens for the general public
02-29-2012, 06:42 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by epqwerty Quote
I could have sworn that one of e forum members did an indepth review of all the 35mm and found that the daL 35 was slightly worse then the fa in terms of image quality. But only slightly
If there is one thing I have learned, it is that even slight changes in your test setup will mess up your results. Also I found that sharpness, contrast, and color all influence my perception of what is "better". Of course "what is better" will also depend on whether you check corners, sides, or center. And even a comprehensive test often seems to end up focusing on a particular lens "weakness". This is of course before we even talk about variation on the lenses themselves.

So what I did can hardly be refererred to as a "test", but rather a quick "test-like" evalaution (tripod, locked-up mirror) etc. It is based on this quick evaluation I believe the two lenses are virtually the same in IQ. I also mentioned that I thought the FA might be slight better, but any difference was so small it might just be focus, shake, etc. Any difference in IQ IN MY OPINION would be so small I would not choose the FA over the DA. Hence my statement that DA owners are not giving up IQ.

To put it different: The difference in IQ betwen a Tamron 70-200/2.8 and a DA 55-300mm even at F/8 is VERY NOTICIABLE, despite the relative cost difference (2X) is about the same.

Having said all this the main point of my post, was really that there is a "full" half stop difference betweent the two.
02-29-2012, 09:50 AM   #7
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Henrik, thank you for making the comparison for us. I think there was a bit of an urban legend developing around how fast the DA 35/2.4 was, and it seems you've out that to rest.
02-29-2012, 12:03 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Henrik, thank you for making the comparison for us. I think there was a bit of an urban legend developing around how fast the DA 35/2.4 was, and it seems you've out that to rest.
Accuracy is great when it comes to tools and what they can do, that's for sure. Just in the interests of accuracy though - it's performing at the level that Pentax claims - about 1/2 stop slower than the FA35. Which for a lens that is 40% or so of the cost is perfectly acceptable IMHO.

02-29-2012, 12:47 PM   #9
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I too have questioned the claim that the DAL 35mm is faster than the specs suggest. Some testing in comparison to my DA 35mm ltd shows that the DAL is only one quarter of a stop faster, not the half stop it should be. That's assuming that the ltd is an accurate f/2.8 of course. So I would say it offers virtually nothing speed-wise over a good f/2.8 zoom or other prime. The ONLY real advantage of the DAL over the ltd therefore is price.

I remember before it was discontinued, the FA 35 was disparaged as having good sharpness but lacking in character, that special something. Now it's reputation has skyrocketed and with it that of it's successor. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Last edited by Jonathan Mac; 02-29-2012 at 03:21 PM.
02-29-2012, 01:29 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
I too have questioned the claim that the DAL 35mm is faster than the specs suggest. Some testing in comparison to my DA 35mm ltd shows that the DAL is only one quarter of a stop faster, not the half stop it should be. That's assuming that the ltd is an accurate f/2.8 of course. So I would say it offers virtually nothing speed-wise over a good f/2.8 zoom or other prime. The ONLY real advantage of the DAL over the ltd therefore is price.
So suddenly the DA 35mm F2.4 goes from being faster than specs, and now it is no faster than F2.8 lenses????? Even if the DA Ltd is faster than specs, surely you can not claim ALL fast zooms are then about the same speed as the DA 35mm F2.4??? And then concluding that the DA 35mm F2.4 offers no advantage in speed over all F2.8 lenses seems a little bit of stretch, don't you think?

I will see if I can test the against some of my many F2.8 lenses tonight.

QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
I remember before it was discontinued, the FA 35 was disparaged as having good sharpness but lacking in character, that special something. Now it's reputation has skyrocketed and with it that of it's successor. Absence hakes the heart grow fonder.
Hmmm - certainly did not see any claims of greatness in this thread? I have seen posts from way arguing the virtues of all the different Pentax lenses in this range. Seems the FA is a very good lens, and the DA 35mm F2.4 is a GREAT lens for the price - not sure how you can ever argue otherwise.

Last edited by HenrikDK; 02-29-2012 at 02:06 PM.
03-08-2012, 01:05 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Compromises? Everyone? Wow. No, not everyone likes it more or wants one. Those compromises are in areas that are irrelevant to image quality, an area in which the 35/2.4 shines. Plastic? Lighter and in some ways more resilient than metal. The only "compromise" I miss on it is quick-shift.
It's big brother FA35/2 never had quick-shift to begin with. I only wish the plastic version was 1.8/2.0 to make it on par with competitor offerings *cough*Nikon*cough*.
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