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09-25-2012, 06:45 PM   #1
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77 limited... Greatest prime ever made ?

I read an article online today that compared a bunch of prime lenses, and to make a long story short, the end conclusion was him saying the 77 limited was the greatest prime lens EVER. Not just Pentax, but all manufacturers. (forgive me for not having the link readily available to share. It's extremely deep in my web history.) I wish I was more of a prime shooter, and could actually justify the $800 for this lens, just to try it out. I guess I'm just lazy, but I love my zooms. I tried liking prime lenses, but it was an inconvenience to have to swap lenses so much. I had the FA 50 f/1.4 , mitakon 85 f/2.0 , and Tamron 90 f/2.8 di sp macro. I've since sold every one of them. I know some people who swear by primes and that's all they prefer to shoot. I wish I had the discipline for a prime lens. The 77 limited is really tempting me to give primes another chance. Any body been in this situation before ? How did you handle it ? Any 77 owners out there that care to help me in either direction ? To buy or not to buy ? I'd hate to spend $800 on a lens and it merely collect dust in my bag. Thanks in advance for all your input & advice.

09-25-2012, 06:52 PM   #2
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I doubt it's the best lens ever. Its good and worth the money but not if you dislike primes. Canon's 135mm f2 is in my opinion just as "special, just 4 times the size...and worth the money as well.
09-25-2012, 07:02 PM   #3
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It may have been the greatest 10 years ago and on film but I doubt it still holds. But it is still a very good lens.
09-25-2012, 07:08 PM   #4
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I won't say its the best prime since there are so many 'bests' out there, but considering size (esp.. size!), build, relatively 'ok' price for what it is, picture quality, rendering, the FA limiteds certainly stand out.
Personally, the 43 and 77 are more notable as they are more fairly priced considering that we are using them for APS-C.
The 31ltd to me is a tad bit expensive as a fast, sharp, well build, no distortion, FF WA lens which we don't get to enjoy using to its full potential.


Last edited by pinholecam; 09-25-2012 at 09:55 PM.
09-25-2012, 07:21 PM   #5
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I'm guessing you're talking about the Mike Johnston article?

Personally I don't like these lens rankings much. What really would the best ever mean? How could you compared a $800 FA77 to a $6000 Leica lens? What would being the best lens even mean?

The thing about the FA Limiteds that I appreciate is they all have personality, and they all can punch their weight with some of the best lenses ever. Does that make them the best ever? Maybe not, but the fact that they're among the best is something Pentax can, still, hang their hat on. I think part of being a prime shooter is appreciating the personality that every lens has, not necessarily its numerical test chart performance, but the actual images that it is able to create. Even if the FA Limiteds get overshadowed by modern lenses, they'll still have that character.

The DA15 and DA35 Macro are two of the modern Pentax lenses they've made that seem to live up to that level of quality and original personality, and I wish they'd start making lenses of that caliber again even more than I want them to make full frame.

Or they could just make a full frame camera so I could use the FA Limiteds on it. I'll take either

Note: Johnston also mentions the Contax G2 with its Zeiss lenses in that article. I have a friend who bought a G2 recently to test them out and I can confirm those lenses are awesome. Sadly, there's currently no autofocus digital system for them to find a home.

Last edited by Urkeldaedalus; 09-25-2012 at 07:28 PM.
09-25-2012, 07:24 PM   #6
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Greatest for what use? For landscape, I prefer the DA70. For close-up, I prefer the A50/2.8 or Kiron 105/2.8.
09-25-2012, 07:26 PM   #7
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I would take the FF anytime since I already have the FA limiteds...
09-25-2012, 08:10 PM   #8
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I would agree with Mike Johnston and say that the FA 77mm is the best AUTOFOCUS prime lens I ever tried. But the best prime lenses come from no other than Leica with it's
current range of M lenses.

But if you would to take into account a price / performance / size / weight ratio, Pentax with it's FA Limited lenses comes on top, thus my reason to switch back to Pentax from Leica M.

09-25-2012, 08:14 PM   #9
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The FA77 feels so special whenever I hold mine on my hand. If price was in consideration, it would easily rank in the top 10 greatest prime lenses. But overall quality, the Leica lenses are still a step above, and slightly below those are lenses like the Canon 85mm f1.2 or the Nikon 24mm f1.4.
09-25-2012, 08:18 PM   #10
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There have been an awful lot of lenses introduced to the market since Johnson wrote that article. It is hard to say ANY lens is the best, because If I am doing macro work I promise the 77mm is not my first choice. If I am shooting sports, then the 77mm is not my first choice. It does very well on a full-frame film and really well on APS-C. I'm not sure how well it does on a FF digital at wide apertures.

When Johnson said that.... Film was still king, and for its day it was an amazing lens. Still is on APS-C.
09-25-2012, 11:09 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Voe Quote
I would agree with Mike Johnston and say that the FA 77mm is the best AUTOFOCUS prime lens I ever tried. But the best prime lenses come from no other than Leica with it's
current range of M lenses.

But if you would to take into account a price / performance / size / weight ratio, Pentax with it's FA Limited lenses comes on top, thus my reason to switch back to Pentax from Leica M.
Nice one. I really think the FA limiteds are the closest one can get to Leica without busting the bank. I can't justify spending the $$$ on Leica though I would love to have one.

Pentax just need a FF like the Leica. Come on already!
09-25-2012, 11:21 PM   #12
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It's my favorite lens in two mounts.



09-26-2012, 12:09 AM   #13
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It's definitely the best 77mm lens ever!

And perhaps it's the best lens for it's size to performance/FL too. But I also agree that, if nothing else, some Leicas outdo it.

QuoteOriginally posted by Urkeldaedalus Quote
I think part of being a prime shooter is appreciating the personality that every lens has, not necessarily its numerical test chart performance, but the actual images that it is able to create.
Yes - I don't choose a lens from my kit just for its FL, but also for the characteristics of the images it creates. If I have to adjust the FL I will. As a simple example, when snappy color is my top priority, I'll try to use the FA43 (or maybe DA15). OTOH, when shooting a Civil War cannon, I'd lean toward the K200/2.5 or K50/1.2.



But to the OP, to address your real question - yes, it might indeed collect dust in your bag, unless you're willing to change your approach to shooting a little. Two things it might have going for it, however:

1) It's smaller than any quality zoom you could have, so you can carry other primes along with it and swap them (e.g. DA15 and FA43 are small too).

2) It's faster than any zoom you have, and is one of the few Pentax lenses that performs so well wide open. It actually could be the best choice for some situations, even sometimes for sports (here's an example where almost all of my photos were from the FA135 or FA*85, showing that a 77 would work well too. A few of my top 85mm shots were when I opened it up to f/2.2, which you can't do with your zooms. See the 'Highlights' gallery and click on the information icon hovering over the upper right of the photo to see the FL used: http://www.racetimephotos.com/XC/DanaHillsInvite2012 ). Sometimes two cameras, each with a different prime, is your best bet. Even a used Pentax 2nd body for $200-300 can do the trick.


Here's my best guess at a short list of Pentax-branded lenses that might win you over. The ones you've tried aren't going to do it for you. While I've not tried the mitakon, the Tamron is too big (plus it's no faster than a * zoom) and the FA50/1.4 has the worst sharpness I've ever seen in a prime for its first ~1 1/3 stops. Just start with one of these:

Any *300
Any fast 200
F or FA135
(Maybe) DFA 100 WR
FA*85 or FA77
DA*55 (so much sharper than FA50/1.4 for the first two stops)
FA43
DA15


But after all this, I have an even better tip for you: Try an A100/2.8 (or M100/2.8) first - especially the A, since you appear to like some automation. The A100/2.8 is similar to the FA77 in many ways - a small, light, unobtrusive lens with a retractable hood yielding great IQ and backgrounds. If you don't fall for it, you won't appreciate the FA77 either.

Last edited by DSims; 09-26-2012 at 01:09 AM.
09-26-2012, 10:34 AM   #14
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Definitely the greatest lens ever!!! After all, I am lucky enough to own a copy and even better paid less that $500 new.


Steve

(...unfortunately does not shoot much with it...more fond of shorter focal lengths...)
09-26-2012, 10:58 AM   #15
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I just got the lens recently, so here's my thought:

Definitely greatest manual focus feel for an AF lens.
Greatest performance/size at similar focal length. Performance/price? not so much as it is rather expensive compared to other brand's offering
For indoor portrait at wide aperture, it is great
For outdoor at f2-f2.8? I prefer K85/1.8 due to the lack of purple fringing in contrasty conditions.
For landscape @infinity there are sharper lens out there.
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