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08-27-2012, 11:51 AM   #1
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Pentax DA 50mm F1.8 review & 50mm shootout

We've just posted a 3-way comparative review of the new DA 50mm F1.8, FA 50mm F1.4, and D FA 50mm F2.8 on our homepage:
Pentax 50mm Prime Lens Shootout - Introduction - PentaxForums.com

My reviewer will follow up with a DA* 55mm review in the coming weeks. Enjoy!


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08-27-2012, 12:02 PM   #2
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Can't wait for the DA*55. Compare it to the Sigma 50!

And the DA 50 1.8 looks really close to the FA 50 1.4
08-27-2012, 12:33 PM   #3
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I just got a DA 50 f1.8 and used own both the DFA 50 and FA 50. I found this new review quite helpful and while I've not gotten enough time on the DA 50 yet to really form an opinion, I think the reviews are very helpful. Well done PF!

Oh, unless I missed it, I think it might have been helpful to describe the noise the lenses make. I've found the DA50 to be a bit on the noise side when focusing and as I recall the DFA 50 was noisy when doing long focuses. Also, I've used the DA50 on my PZ-1p and it seems like (I haven't processed the film yet to be sure) that the image circle is full frame. The reviewer said is isn't but in the viewfinder of the PZ-1p I get no vignetting as I would from say the DA40 limited.
08-27-2012, 02:04 PM   #4
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Very nicely done. One question that I did not see in the review, might have missed it, was a hood used on the lenses at all? The design of the 3 is fairly different when it comes to the front element's placement and, as I have said a lot, the 50/1.4 has a VERY exposed front element that without a hood is much more prone to flare and such.

08-27-2012, 02:33 PM   #5
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I disagree that sharpness is a tie. The FA 50 murders the DA 50 at f2.8. I expect it would win handily at f1.8 and f2.0 as well. Good job that the DA matches the FA at f4 though. That's a sharp lens.

A hood should be used with the FA 50 at all times due to it's protruding front element.
08-27-2012, 05:00 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
....A hood should be used with the FA 50 at all times due to it's protruding front element.
Thank you sir!
08-27-2012, 05:43 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Has anyone else realized that these reviews are a bit biased with some reviews having the 'Features' category omitted but not on other reviews?
I assumed that zoom lens reviews had the 'Features' category and primes didn't because they offered more features, but it looks like it only differs from reviewer to reviewer.

I first noticed it during the DA35, DA40 XS, and DA 40 Ltd. The DA40 XS scored a 7.8 overall, with a score of 5 in 'Features'. If the 'Features' category was omitted like in this review, it would've averaged out to an overall score of 8.1.

I feel that if most people judge lens purchases off the PF review database, then we should hold the same standards through all reviews.
08-27-2012, 07:37 PM   #8
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Adam, I think you guys should do the FA 43 limited too.

07-11-2013, 03:09 PM   #9
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More love for DA50 f1.8 (vs A/M50 f1.7)

I didn't want to start a new thread, so this one looked to be the best to add my comments and tests.

I have the DA 50 f1.8. I don't have any other autofocus 50mm, but I do have an A50 f1.7 and M50 f1.7. I've done a bunch of testing. First, my methods:
  • I've tried a number of different settings: adequately lighted scene, low-light interior, full light exteriors.
  • I used tripod with timed release.
  • For comparisons, I set ISO and shutter speed. I let the DA and A figure out their own exposure and used green button for the M.
  • When trying to get the best shots w/ the A/M50s on my K-30, I used both the viewfinder indicator and the liveview with focus peaking and took the best result. The focus peaking consistently provided the better focused shots for me. In general, the A50 and M50 differences were more related to my accuracy of focus than anything. So, what goes for the A50 goes for the M50. (Very generally, the A tended to underexpose on its own and the M tended to overexpose using green button. I've made notes to myself to adjust when shooting.)
My conclusions:
  • Build: The M50 f1.7 is my favorite lens in terms of engineering aesthetics. It is just a solid, beautiful, smooth piece of equipment. The A50 f1.7 is not far behind, but mine is just a bit 'looser' compared to the M50. The DA is light but tight. Yes, it doesn't have the heft of the M/A 50s, but its lightweight can be a good thing. It is more plastic, but it definitely is quality. I don't worry about the plastic mount. (Quick shift on the DA would be nice though.)
  • The DA 50 f1.8 is really an excellent lens. At f1.8, I was getting sharper pics than the A/M at f1.7 and much less chromatic aberration.
  • Chromatic aberration: The DA had the least wide open and mostly gone by 2.8. The A/M decreased from 1.7 > 2.8 and mostly gone by f4.
  • Sharpness and f-stop: For all the lenses, there was a good jump in sharpness from open > 2.8 some improvement > 4 > slight improvement > 5.6 - 8 > slight decrease > f 11. Going to f16, the DA had a minor decrease but there was a noticeable decrease with the A/M.
  • That is: they were all best at f5.6-8. Depending on focus accuracy, I could get mixed results, but the DA was best in most circumstances and very close in all others. At wide open where it can be hard to focus due to DOF, the DA's autofocus did a better job than I could manually with A/M.
  • Sharpness across frame: In general, the DA consistently did better across the frame.
  • Color / Contrast: This is related to exposure, and there was more inconsistency w/ the A/M in terms of exposure getting set correctly. Even when A/M exposure was right, the DA consistently did as well as better. Very nice Pentax color and great contrast.
  • BUT: The one situation where the DA suffered a bit was in low light. I didn't notice that it was particularly slow, but it just had trouble getting the focus as well as I could do manually with the A/M. In low light settings, I'll try using manual focus with the DA.
OVERALL: I am really pleased with the excellence of the DA 50 f1.8. For getting photos at 50mm, there really is no reason to use anything other than the DA 50.
Ok, that last sentence makes me a little sad, since I so like the M50 f1.7. (So, no, for now I will not be selling the A/M 50 f1.7!)


Additionally, I compared the DA 50 with some zooms I have in the 50mm range, namely the F35-70, DA 18-135, and Tamron 24-135.
None of them were as good as the DA50, but the F35-70 came close. The Tamron 24-135 was also remarkably good. The 18-135 lagged behind a bit. If I'm not worried about top-rate sharpness, the 18-135 is still my primary lens due to its versatility and WR.
07-14-2013, 03:31 PM   #10
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Mgvh, do you think that the tamron 24-135mm has noticeably better IQ than the pentax 18-135mm. I have the tamron and like it a lot, but it is heavy and I have wondered if the pentax has the same IQ.
07-14-2013, 04:11 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by miltona580 Quote
Adam, I think you guys should do the FA 43 limited too.
I'll second that nomination.
07-14-2013, 06:28 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by rockmaster1964 Quote
Mgvh, do you think that the tamron 24-135mm has noticeably better IQ than the pentax 18-135mm. I have the tamron and like it a lot, but it is heavy and I have wondered if the pentax has the same IQ.
I haven't had time to check it out fully, and only did this comparison at 50mm where the Tamron came out ahead. It is indeed quite a bit heavier and is not WR. I do also miss the 18-23mm range on the Tamron. I'm holding on to the Tamron just in case Pentax ever comes out with a FF. It will be a wonderful lens on that!
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