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01-08-2008, 10:39 PM   #1
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31mm Limited vs. DA 16-45mm

This has been bugging me for a while. Is an "excellent" lens like the 31mm Limited really worth the extra money compared to a "very good" lens like the 16-45mm? I ran some quick and dirty test shots to see. These are not ideal conditions, just hand held taking on a K10D (full res, PEF). All pictures were taken with the same settings and processed with RAW Developer with no color adjustment, sharpening or noise reduction, right off the camera. Cropping and scaling was done in Graphic Converter.

I'm still forming a final opinion. For close shots I think the 31mm is certainly sharper than the zoom, not sure if it's worth the price tag though. At long distance I still favor the 31mm, but the difference is much less than close up. In the end you can't go wrong with either one. Original JPEGs are are here. Your thoughts?

Again this is just quick and dirty, average lighting and no tripod.

Top (or Left) - 31mm Limited, Bottom (or Right) - 16-45mm (set to 31mm)
Close up test
f/4.0 1/45 ISO 400

Crop (no scaling)


Top 31mm Limited, Bottom 16-45mm (set to 31mm)
f/4.0 1/125 ISO 200



Crop (Scaled 2X)




Last edited by tybeck; 01-08-2008 at 10:55 PM.
01-08-2008, 10:45 PM   #2
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Are you comparing sharpness between the two? If so, they are both sharp lenses.

The chromatic aberrations keep me away from the 16-45. Otherwise it is fine. It is also wide, which the 31 is not. And it is a zoom.
01-08-2008, 10:54 PM   #3
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I was looking at sharpness and color. Mainly I wanted to see if the 31mm was worth being twice the price of the zoom.
01-08-2008, 11:32 PM   #4
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- Can the 16-45 do f1.8?
- Vignetting in a daylight situation?
- Corner crops?
- CA?
- build quality?

They are both very good lenses imo, but the 31 certainly has advantages that go beyond sharpness..

That said, I bought the FA35 as I felt it had the right balance of features for me.. ;-)

01-09-2008, 12:40 AM   #5
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As people have stated, Da 18-55 will do a better job in the hands of great photographers. Lenses do not matter at all.
01-09-2008, 02:10 AM   #6
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You must be kidding. An Fa31mm Limited in the hands of a great photographer will do the job it's built for; produce superb results. The kit lens will produce kit lens results maximized by the photographer.

In any case why would anyone try to compare a fixed focal length limited lens to a kit zoom

David:ugh:
01-09-2008, 03:23 AM   #7
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In the above comparisons, the DA 16-45mm is used at it's maximum aperture while at f/4, the FA 31mm is already stopped down. We all know the maximum resolution of a lens isn't usually at it's widest aperture, so even if both lenses are shooting at the same focal length, at f/4 the FA 31mm already wins hands down. That said, the zoom has acquitted itself quite nicely in the above comparative shots.
01-09-2008, 03:52 AM   #8
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What's the purpose of driving to work: to get to work, right?
Some pay 25K for a Corolla while others pay 65K for a BMW. The BMW drivers don't arrive at work twice as happy, but they seldom regret buying


Last edited by Kguru; 01-09-2008 at 07:13 AM.
01-09-2008, 06:10 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kguru Quote
What's the purpose of driving to work: to get to work, right?
But some pay 25K for a Corolla while others pay 65K for a BMW. The BMW drivers get a little higher pleasure out of the driving but they don't arrive at work twice as happy
Well, yes and no. Are the photos you print REALLY the only reason you do photography? Is there nothing to be said for the process of photography? For being out there, just you and the camera, visualizing and capturing a scene?

I love using the FA 31, and yes, it does make me twice as happy as the 16-45 when I use it.
01-09-2008, 07:17 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Finn Quote
I love using the FA 31, and yes, it does make me twice as happy as the 16-45 when I use it.
Finn, I have edited my post, to reflect more what I meant.
And for you, if it does make you twice as happy ... all the better
01-09-2008, 07:26 AM   #11
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I see the close up / medium distance results you got are consistent with what I've found comparing the 16-45 to the 43. I'm intrigued with the mountain crop though - the zoom seems clearer to me than the 31.

Also, in exposure / tonal range comparison your results are consistent with what I've seen with the 43 - while the 16-45 gives the impression of greater range, in fact the prime has the greater range. The zoom exposure for whatever reason biases towards a darker image, at least on the digital cameras.

However, pixel peeping aside both lenses make sense out of the scenes for me, though they tell silghtly different stories. There's always the question of how much micro detail is needed for a good photo - but for me, while more detail = more depth to image, if it's at the expense of sense in the photograph, the less detailed lens is better. (I'm thinking of lenses that tend to produce chaotic seeming photos unless you really work at composition and exposure)
01-09-2008, 09:55 AM   #12
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Thanks for the quick comparo.

I too was curious about how well the DA 16-45mm acquitted itself. Of couse, as we all know, the FA 31 and the DA 16-45mm serve different purposes.

-Gavin
01-09-2008, 10:12 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by David Quote

In any case why would anyone try to compare a fixed focal length limited lens to a kit zoom

David:ugh:
To justify a purchase and/or help others (or himself) to choose which one to buy.

A good photographer with a kit lens can have superb results under the right conditions. IMO a good lens extends the range for optimal conditions. A good lens can also make a difference (in terms of boke, DOF, sharpness at larger apertures...), but a good lens in bad hands can do nothing superb.
01-09-2008, 10:49 AM   #14
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A pro can take a good pic with any lens. Even a pro can't make a shot with the 18-55 or the 16-45 look like a shot with the 31. They look different. Neither zoom has the bokeh or 3D look of the 31. I have all three. Darn LBA.
thanks
barondla
01-09-2008, 11:07 AM   #15
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OK - there is no comparison between the lenses.

Here's why the 16-45 is more versatile however.. As a walk-around lens it will allow far more shots than the fixed focal length 31mm.. Trust me, I've done it.

Sometimes you just can't fit the subject in the frame at 31mm - it's that simple. Other times, you can't get the subject large enough in the frame at 31mm. Again, the 16-45 allows for more shots..

Does that mean it's a better lens? No. Just more versatile. The 31mm will produce better images, though fewer images.

As an example, this past August I was in Granada. Walking along the tiny side streets with my 28mm was fun, though, I had to switch over to the 16-45 more than I cared so I retired the 28 for the remaining of the trip. I was able to frame my shots and actually get certain shots with the 16-45 that I could not get with a 31 or 28, etc.
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