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08-12-2012, 04:35 PM   #1
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Advice on prime replacements for 50-135

Hello, I got my 1st DSLR , a K5, earlier this year , and a couple of months ago the 50 -135. I've decided though that its size and weight is not for me , I'd rather have 2 or 3 physically smaller prime lenses . Any advice on which ones to consider would be appreciated . Image quality is my top priorities , I've been taking mostly landscape shots but I really enjoyed the couple of sporting events -a football match and showjumping -I've taken the camera to and am keen to do more .I would also like to experiment with portraiture. The only other lenses I have are the 18-55 kit lens and a Tamron 70-300. The kit lens can actually produce some really nice shots but as I've said I'm really looking for a step up in image quality

08-12-2012, 04:57 PM   #2
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Well, the classic answer would be DA 21mm, DA 40mm, DA 70mm. But that is not going to cover your full range. You could add the DA 15mm on the wide end and the D FA 100mm on the long end but that's all Pentax has except the DA*200mm and DA*300mm. And that comes in at 5 lenses not 2 or 3.

So are you trying to replace just the 50-135 or all of you lenses? And is speed important or are slower lenses OK? And do you need AF or is manual focus OK? Lots of choices with manual focus.
08-12-2012, 05:17 PM   #3
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There's no replacement for the DA*50-135, because it's a zoom, and quite a good one. I need both the zoom and my primes. However, since you don't need zoom, to get equal or better image quality (along with more speed) you'll want an FA43 or DA*55, FA77, plus a 100 and/or 135mm lens. Choices for 100 and 135 would be from among the A (or M) 100/2.8 (non-macro), DFA 100 WR, Cosina 100/3.5 macro, and FA (or F) 135/2.8.

It's also worth considering a 200mm lens - either the K200/2.5 or any of the * 200mm lenses.


Overall, the FA77 is the one single lens that comes closest to replacing the DA*50-135 by itself. It's compact, fast, sharp wide open, and gives nice colors and nice backgrounds. You might even consider just the 43 or 55, the FA77, and a 200mm lens (but then it will be big - similar to the DA*50-135). All of the 100 and 135mm lenses I mentioned remain relatively small, which is nice.


If size and price were the main criteria you could get the DA70, but if you want all that a prime can offer, get the FA77. The slightly longer focal length should be an asset as well, and it's still compact enough to fit neatly in a front pocket.

Last edited by DSims; 08-12-2012 at 05:25 PM.
08-12-2012, 05:40 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by TylerD Quote
I got . . . the 50 -135. I've decided though that its size and weight is not for me , I'd rather have 2 or 3 physically smaller prime lenses . Any advice on which ones to consider would be appreciated . Image quality is my top priorities.
I contemplated buying the 50-135 at one point,
but concerns about its size and long-term SDM reliability
led me to get Voigtlaender MF primes instead,
a 58/1.4 Nokton and 90/3.5 Apo-Lanthar.
Both have been useful for landscapes and sports,
as well as other purposes.
They're still available from HKBNS:
Hong Kong Buy and Sell Limited

08-12-2012, 06:00 PM   #5
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Actually one main advantage of 50-135 over other f2.8 zoom at this focal range is the size and weight....
It is quite compact and lightweight for a f2.8 zoom.
For sports, zoom is still a better option than prime.
50-135 is not a good sport lens. but I think most sports lens are heavy and big.
08-12-2012, 06:17 PM   #6
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Agree with comments above that FA 77 is a must. Compact with incredible IQ, if not cheap. I also have F135/2.8 which is phenomenal (similar IQ to 77, very fast and accurate AF). It's hard to find but if you can, you can probably pick one up for <$500. On the longer end, I'd go for the FA or F50/1.7 instead of FA 43 (which I've had in addition to both the 50's) or the DA 55 (haven't had, but used a friend's). I think the 43 is the best of all of those, and the most useful FL on APS-C, but I think the 50's give you 95+% of the IQ, definitely have faster and more accurate AF, and are $300 cheaper. 43 isn't worth the extra cost IMHO. Have fun deciding!

-Brandon
08-12-2012, 06:53 PM   #7
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You can look at the EXIF data for all the images taken with the DA*50-135, and that would show the focal lengths you use a lot, plus the apertures you need to duplicate. Some software makes this easy.

The latest Pentax macro is 100mm, f2.8 and WR. That would add some close-focus ability too. With that as a starting point, maybe a DA70/2.4, DA 50/1.8 and DA 35/2.4? I can't think of a great solution above 100mm.
08-12-2012, 07:02 PM   #8
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Just sticking to the 50-135 replacement range I could see...
  • DA 40 or FA 43
  • DA 70 or FA 77
  • DFA 100 macro
  • A wide assortment of K, M, A, or FA 135 with apertures from 2.5 through 3.5
Each lens has its own character along with pro$ and con$.



08-12-2012, 07:48 PM   #9
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Perhaps the following will cover you pretty well :

DA15ltd
DA35/2.4
DA50/1.8
FA77ltd
DA100/2.8WR

These would cover most needs.
You don't need to buy all at one go either and the 50,77,100 can be a choice of either or, so mix and match depending on budget and needs.
08-12-2012, 08:56 PM   #10
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On the long end, look at the F or FA 135/2.8. They're optically identical, just different on the outside. I kinda prefer the styling of the F version (which is what I have). It can have some slightly nasty PF in overly bright scenes with the sky in them. Also if you're using this as your longest lens and focusing at infinity then you don't really get any bokeh.

I took mine to my company's summer picnic where we had some acrobats put on a show including some playing with fire. The lens is great at relatively long-distance portraits where you're not quite focusing at infinity. These were all at f/4. A little cleaning up white balance, mild sharpening and some cropping to different aspect ratios. At these distances it's way sharp, has great rendition and nice subject separation even stopped down a little bit.







08-12-2012, 09:29 PM   #11
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The F 135/2.8 appears to be producing nisen bokeh, look at the leaves on the tree, away from the heat haze.
08-12-2012, 09:48 PM   #12
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I see your point. The tree in the background of the 2nd picture is farther off in the distance than the one in the 3rd & 4th pictures. Also the part of the tree in the 3rd picture had more direct sunlight shining on it. But overall I don't think it makes for too distracting of a background. Bright highlights are kind of the Achilles heel of this lens in general.

Last edited by msatlas; 08-13-2012 at 02:00 AM.
08-12-2012, 10:46 PM   #13
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From following this thread, I can see why the 50-135 is often described as a bagful of primes! I think it takes too much effort to replace it with primes, only to end up with dubious replacements such as the F 135/2.8 above. Far better to keep the 50-135, I say.
08-12-2012, 10:54 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by msatlas Quote
On the long end, look at the F or FA 135/2.8. They're optically identical, just different on the outside. I kinda prefer the styling of the F version (which is what I have). It can have some slightly nasty PF in overly bright scenes with the sky in them. Also if you're using this as your longest lens and focusing at infinity then you don't really get any bokeh.

I took mine to my company's summer picnic where we had some acrobats put on a show including some playing with fire. The lens is great at relatively long-distance portraits where you're not quite focusing at infinity. These were all at f/4. A little cleaning up white balance, mild sharpening and some cropping to different aspect ratios. At these distances it's way sharp, has great rendition and nice subject separation even stopped down a little bit.






Those are nice lenses, but hard to find and very expensive. I had the pleasure of trying FA135/2.8 for a while and while it is nice, solid and compact...in comparison shots with DA50-135 I found that zoom has better IQ. Nicer bokeh, especially highlits bokeh as it has more aperture blades, sharper corners and is slightly more contrasty which may be due to more contemporary SMC coating. Anyway both are nice lenses and if FA/F 135 were a bit cheaper I would consider them as an alternative.
To the OP question.....DA50-135 is quite compact really...and I would reconsider getting rid of it. It feels kind of awkward on small k-5/k-7 bodies.....on k20d it was just fine fit. I sold mine but soon I regretted it. Now i cannot afford to buy one back since the prices went sky high even.
08-13-2012, 01:44 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by vrrattko Quote
I had the pleasure of trying FA135/2.8 for a while and while it is nice, solid and compact...in comparison shots with DA50-135 I found that zoom has better IQ.
I have both and consider the IQ roughly equal. Possibly the DA*50-135 is slightly better - because of it, it don't use my FA135 as much (although the DA*50-135 doesn't "replace" any of my other primes!). However, I used my FA135 instead this week at the county fair - I just didn't want to carry the much larger zoom around, and no one looks twice at a lens that small. I was happy with the results, and rarely wished it went wider like the zoom (I also carried the FA43 and FA28, and used them only a little).
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