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07-30-2012, 05:45 PM   #1
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prime kit

I've been shooting primes 80% of the time I've been shooting over the past few years. I just love them. The problem I have is that most of my primes are manual focus. My eyes are starting to deteriorate faster than I can get new glasses through my benefits program, so I'm requiring to trust auto focus more and more. I have also been shooting live bands a lot recently and I could use some faster autofocus glass. With most of my "studio" setup already completed, and the decision to hold out to Photokina to buy another body (was going to buy a second K5), my lens road map is getting more confused.

I want to replace the following primes with new auto focus ones that are either comparable or better. I would prefer to replace with FF coverage lenses so I could use them when the unicorn FF camera comes out (if it ever does.) my priorities in order from most important to least are: max aperture (2.8 or better, preferable better than 2.0), center sharpness, contrast, autofocus speed, bokeh quality, weight/size, ability to purchase new (been burned too often used), price, full frame coverage.

M 28 2.8
DA 40 (?)
M 50 1.7
Takamur 135 2.8

+ something wider

I could see my selective options (available new) as:

DA 14mm 2.8
DA 35mm limited 2.8
DA 50mm 1.8
DA* 55mm 1.4
FA 31mm limited 1.8
FA 35mm f2.0
FA 43mm limited 1.9
FA 50mm 1.4
Sigma 20mm 1.8
Sigma 28mm 1.8
Sigma 30mm 1.4
Sigma 50mm 1.4
Sigma 150mm 2.8

Now we got to keep this within reason people... We all know the best way to go will be grab the 2 remaining FA limiteds, the DA*55, and then scour the net for a used FA 135mm 2.8. In fact thats what I would prefer to do. But in all honesty, that's a crap load of money that I don't have right now, and I would like to fill these holes by end of January, including a new DA*60-250 or 50-135.

So... I think the most cost effective and value for money route would be....
Bower 24mm 1.4, Sigma 30mm 1.4, FA 43mm 1.9, DA*55mm 1.4, and if theres money left over, Sigma 150mm 2.8. This would maximize image quality and keep things speedy.

The other route it is more balanced.
DA 14 2.8, FA 31 1.8, FA 50mm 1.4, Sigma 150mm 2.8. I still keep up the speed in the 31-50 region. but sacrifice the image quality at my most used FL of 50mm for better on the wide end. I do gain faster AF from the FA 50mm though, which would be awesome for my live music venue shoots.

We could also go...

DA 14 2.8, DA 35mm 2.8 macro, Sigma 30mm 1.4, Sigma 50mm 1.4, Sigma 150mm 2.8

This is a lot more weight than the previous options. It is balanced for money and speed. On the flip side, I have yet to own a Sigma lens I have gotten along with. maybe its a mental thing about keeping it first party. However, I have not tired any of the Sigma primes.


I would like to be below $3500 including my DA* zoom. The size of the Sigma 150 2.8 also makes me wonder if its rhetoric having the Sigma prime when I'm purchasing a DA* zoom that covers that FL and is just as fast, and probably better optically. The money there would be better suited to picking up a second AF540 flash gun, or a battery grip....


Last edited by Wired; 07-30-2012 at 06:52 PM.
07-30-2012, 05:57 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
Bower 14mm 2.8
Bower 24mm 1.4
Bower 35mm 1.4
These three are all manual focus (made by Samyang, and branded under other names as well including Vivitar, Rokinon, Pro-Optic, etc.) so you probably want to rule them out. Good lenses, but not AF, if that's what you're looking for.
07-30-2012, 06:22 PM   #3
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Pentax F 28mm f/2.8
Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8
Pentax F 50mm f/1.7
Pentax D FA 100mm f/2.8

Wider, I'm not so sure which lenses are FF compatible. I would think you would want 20mm at least which means FA 20mm f/2.8
07-30-2012, 06:27 PM   #4
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Unless you need macro I'd go with the FA35f2 over the DA LTD version due to shorter focus throw.

07-30-2012, 06:48 PM   #5
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I'm very happy with my two FF-friendly Sigmas, the 15/2.8 fisheye and the 50/2.8 macro. If you think a macro is worth having.. but perhaps that's already covered by your other primes. The 50 works for me because I had tried several manual 50s and the M-40 first, and none satisfied until the 50 macro came along. Also I'm quite happy with f/2.8 max aperture, which saves grams and cash. The 14mm seems to interest you, and the Sigma is a good choice with rather limited fishiness & can be found for a better price than the DA 14/15mm primes.

I too have an amazing 28mm manual lens and no reasonable alternative.. but for now I'm OK with that.
07-30-2012, 06:49 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by nater Quote
These three are all manual focus (made by Samyang, and branded under other names as well including Vivitar, Rokinon, Pro-Optic, etc.) so you probably want to rule them out. Good lenses, but not AF, if that's what you're looking for.
Good call. Thanks. I did not notice they were not AF

QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Pentax F 28mm f/2.8
Pentax DA 40mm f/2.8
Pentax F 50mm f/1.7
Pentax D FA 100mm f/2.8

Wider, I'm not so sure which lenses are FF compatible. I would think you would want 20mm at least which means FA 20mm f/2.8
Doesn't really get me better low light performance that what I already got in my kit unfortunately. The 14mm 2.8 would be what I would go on the wide I think. i've opted out of the D FA 100mm f2.8 due to having the Tamron 90mm Macro 2.8. There would be too much overlap here unless I sold the Tam for the Pentax. Which is a something to consider with the WR and the 10mm....

QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
Unless you need macro I'd go with the FA35f2 over the DA LTD version due to shorter focus throw.
Don't need macro. So the FA 35mm f2 is something to seriously consider. I did not know its listed as currently in production. Thank you. It's also faster than 2.8 which gives it another + in my books. I know the DA 35mm Limited is a stellar lens in IQ, color, and contrast... I will have to research how the FA 35 f2 compares.



I guess I should mention that I want as fast as possible between 30-100mm. Beating 2.0 would be ideal. The closer 1.4ish the better. I know on the widest ends 2.8 will be as fast as I can get. The reason for this is mostly live music venues. anything wider than 40 is really about as wide as I would go most of time. If I'm shooting wider it will be probably in areas that are better lit, so 2.8 isn't that big of a deal. And 2.8 is shallow enough on the wide end for depth of field for my uses. especially on APS-C.

Full frame is preferred, but I won't sacrifice IQ or speed just because a lens is FF. I am content shooting APS-C, but would prefer not to rebuy some lenses when/if a FF Pentax ever comes out.


Thanks for the ideas everyone. keep them coming.
07-30-2012, 06:53 PM   #7
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Oh sorry didn't catch that you needed new, I saw others suggesting f series.
FA 35 is out of production.
07-30-2012, 07:08 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
Oh sorry didn't catch that you needed new, I saw others suggesting f series.
FA 35 is out of production.
might be out of production, but there still seems to be retailers stating they have it in stock...

07-30-2012, 08:02 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
might be out of production, but there still seems to be retailers stating they have it in stock...
It's still listed as current in Japan:

Interchangeable Lenses : Digital Cameras : Products | PENTAX RICOH IMAGING
07-31-2012, 12:22 PM   #10
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There was just a review on the DA14. It's the lowest rated pentax prime in the database now I believe. Would highly recommend the DA15 instead. It's a stop slower, but you can bump the iso a stop on new bodies. DOF doesn't matter too much at that FL unless you are really close!
07-31-2012, 01:14 PM   #11
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I'll propose an alternate route to the one you are contemplating. To replace the three lenses you mention, you could consider the DA21, F or FA 50, and DFA 100 macro. That would make a nice and well balanced kit. You could replace the 21 by something wider or longer, like a 15, or a 3 or 35 (less expensive). The 50 could be replaced by a 40 or 43. As for the tele, there is no other real sensible option apart from the Tamron 90 macro.
07-31-2012, 01:58 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
Don't need macro. So the FA 35mm f2 is something to seriously consider. I did not know its listed as currently in production. Thank you. It's also faster than 2.8 which gives it another + in my books. I know the DA 35mm Limited is a stellar lens in IQ, color, and contrast... I will have to research how the FA 35 f2 compares.
The DA 35 has better build quality, macro focus and more contrast. The FA 35 has greater resolution, smoother bokeh and a stop faster.
07-31-2012, 02:04 PM   #13
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Here is another alternative... Sell/keep the K5 but consider the K30 to take advantage of focus peaking. Keep your current lenses. When the time is right, consider selling your K5 if you need to. You could then still use wider Samyang (or its subsidiary) lenses. You could continue to build your lens collection as you deem fit, but MF should not be such a difficult task if focus peaking is available, I think.

I get the sense that your lens choices are not as deliberate at this time, and probably could do with some more focused thought in terms of the direction you wish to take.
07-31-2012, 07:30 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by subidoc Quote
Here is another alternative... Sell/keep the K5 but consider the K30 to take advantage of focus peaking. Keep your current lenses. When the time is right, consider selling your K5 if you need to. You could then still use wider Samyang (or its subsidiary) lenses. You could continue to build your lens collection as you deem fit, but MF should not be such a difficult task if focus peaking is available, I think.

I get the sense that your lens choices are not as deliberate at this time, and probably could do with some more focused thought in terms of the direction you wish to take.
The lens choice is more just making a prime kit that is versatile enough depending on the venue. The problem with me is that I shoot three primary settings right now: out door portraits, live music venues, and street. I am also working on getting a studio setup going for still life and hi-key style photos. So having a versatile kit for primes is necessarily. I will rarely have more than 2-3 lenses with me at a time.

For live shooting: a fast 40-50mm lens and my 77mm
For out door portraits: 20-30, a 40-50, and my 77 or 90
For the street shooting 30, 40-50
For "studio" space limits me to 50mm max.

Since I thought of those situations night and day today, I went with the most sensible option... the DA*55mm as it fits into all three zones equally well and will get the most use.


I have also started to price out a katz eye and contacts to aid with manual focus. Because so far after reviewing the internet photo evidence, I don't see why I should replace my M 28 f2.8 with anything else in that range as I don't see a better performer for contrast and color.
08-01-2012, 03:43 AM   #15
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I would get DA 14, FA 31, Sigma 50 (or DA *55), FA 77, and D FA 100 WR macro. I think you would be covered without too many holes. Unfortunately, it would be a pricey lineup...
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