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10-04-2012, 07:07 AM   #1
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Pentax 55mm 1.4 Point to Point Focus Speed

Apologies because I know this gets covered a lot and "fast" and "slow" are relative terms but I'm trying to make a choice between the Pentax 55mm 1.4 and the Sigma 50mm 1.4 and I keep swinging back and forth in my choice.

Most of my photography is low light concerts (guitar bands, not orchestral) and I've moved from fast zooms to fast primes because I like being able to go below f2.8 to get more shutter speed and better isolate subjects against a sometimes busy and unflattering background. I'm using the 35mm f2.4 and the Sigma 85mm 1.4 (love this lens!) at the moment and want to add a 50ish fast prime in the middle. I'm not interested in MF because my eyesight and technique aren't good enough to have to rely solely on that when I've only got 3 songs to get my shots. I'd prefer quiet focus over screw drive so that I can use it in quiet settings occasionally. So I've narrowed it to the Sigma 50 1.4 and the Pentax 55 1.4.

I think I like the Pentax bokeh more than the Sigma and WR would be a nice bonus but not at the expense of missing shots due to slow focus. I figure the throw of the 55mm is pretty long and so slows the focus down but is it a real issue in real life shooting when subjects aren't moving great distances? Is the point to point focus fairly snappy if you're only shifting small distances? I'm also curious how well does the 55mm maintain focus in AF-C mode?

The SLRGear reviews of both lenses claim that a full rack focus and back takes about a second but the general consensus seems to be that the Sigma is faster than the Pentax.

Then there's the question whether the Pentax really worth the extra $300 over the price of the Sigma.

I'm using a K30 so any comments from people using this camera would be most welcome (and comments by non K30 users too of course )

Thanks folks. Been a long time lurker here. It's a great place to wander about.

10-04-2012, 10:06 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by MBT74 Quote
The SLRGear reviews of both lenses claim that a full rack focus and back takes about a second but the general consensus seems to be that the Sigma is faster than the Pentax.
true for both assomption. The DA*55 is slower than screwdrive. (yes, i did write that the DA*55 is slower).

QuoteOriginally posted by MBT74 Quote
Then there's the question whether the Pentax really worth the extra $300 over the price of the Sigma.
Only if you need the WR.

QuoteOriginally posted by MBT74 Quote
I think I like the Pentax bokeh more than the Sigma
In low light you don't notice much the difference between bokeh. It's more obvious in daylight only, most of the time.

Don't get me wrong, i love my DA*55, but the AF is not super precise, is a bit capricious, and not fast. But it's slightly lighter than the Sigma( 375 gr for the Pentax, 720 for the Sigma).

I did choose the 55 over the Sigma, because i need the WR (i shoot in forest almost everyweek, and my DSLR don't like it), and i needed to travel light. And i did get the DA*55 for half the price in second hand.
10-04-2012, 10:09 AM   #3
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>> is it a real issue in real life shooting when subjects aren't moving great distances?

I dont think it would be in your environment, but it probably depends on how close you are to the subjects.

You'll be interested in this thread: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/91916-pentax-d...0mm-1-4-a.html

I bought the DA* lens for reasons made apparent later in the thread here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/91916-pentax-d...tml#post945277

In short, WR and I much prefer the bokeh on the DA*'

Still though, I think you should take a look at a A 50/1.2 using live view for focusing.
10-04-2012, 10:40 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by aurele Quote
true for both assomption. The DA*55 is slower than screwdrive. (yes, i did write that the DA*55 is slower).
Wow that is really disappointing... I think I'll be wanting WR or complete sealings like the * lenses offer from many of my future lens purchases, but a lens at that price should be able to focus quite quickly, especially considering what I'd want to use it for. Although I can see some reasons as to why it would be so slow, so maybe I shouldn't be too surprised.

Too bad, either way.

10-04-2012, 02:40 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. I think I will go with the Sigma. WR is nice but not essential and if the IQ is just as good and it focuses faster, I may as well save the $300.
10-05-2012, 01:05 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clinton Quote
>> is it a real issue in real life shooting when subjects aren't moving great distances?
probably not. But i thought it had to be notice.

QuoteOriginally posted by Buschmaster Quote
Wow that is really disappointing...
on the other hand, the screwdrive seems to have been sligtly improve over the generation of body.

QuoteOriginally posted by Buschmaster Quote
but a lens at that price should be able to focus quite quickly,
the Pentax SDM is not super fast, and Pentax lens have a relatively longer throw than some Canikon counter-part. hence, the feeling of slow focusing.
It's not like it really takes ages to focus, but you have the time to think that the screwdrive is faster
10-05-2012, 06:40 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by aurele Quote
on the other hand, the screwdrive seems to have been sligtly improve over the generation of body.

the Pentax SDM is not super fast, and Pentax lens have a relatively longer throw than some Canikon counter-part. hence, the feeling of slow focusing.
It's not like it really takes ages to focus, but you have the time to think that the screwdrive is faster
True, but it still holds the advantage of sound, which could be crucial for a lot of people. But maybe not at 55mm...
10-05-2012, 07:53 AM   #8
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Honestly, the biggest issue with the DA *55 is the long focus throw. If you manually focus close and then let the camera fine-tune it from there, you can speed up the process considerably (I had the same issue with the DA 35 limited and same thing helped out). The 55 SDM may be a little slower than screw drive, but not a whole lot.

10-05-2012, 11:04 AM   #9
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I don't have either if those lenses, I shoot lots of shows and concerts. I do however have the 35mm 2.4 and the f50mm 1.4 I mainly use the da35mm as it is so fast to focus and is the perfect length for concert photography. Zoom wise I use the 50-135mm the most though.
10-05-2012, 10:34 PM   #10
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Agreed. The 35mm 2.4 works nicely for concerts. I use that one myself. I'm very happy with the Sigma 85mm 1.4 too. Beautiful lens on my K30.

Still can't decide on the 50ish prime. A smaller, WP prime would be nice for when I travel next.
10-06-2012, 06:26 AM   #11
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Why not look at the FA 50/1.4? It's smaller than the DA*.
10-06-2012, 06:46 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clinton Quote
Why not look at the FA 50/1.4? It's smaller than the DA*.
I have thought about that one (and the 50 f1.7 too) but I've been avoiding screw drive lenses because of the added noise. The K30 and Kx shutter noise is loud enough.

I know it's not much of an issue with louder concerts but when the artist is playing more intimate gigs I don't like to annoy the other people any more than I have to.
10-07-2012, 04:38 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by MBT74 Quote
I have thought about that one (and the 50 f1.7 too) but I've been avoiding screw drive lenses because of the added noise..
Oh. If you're leaning toward the Sigma, you should really make sure the Sigma is HSM. I know the 30/1.4 isn't on our body. (And get ready for nipple like bokeh)
10-07-2012, 04:52 PM   #14
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I have been looking at the DA55 to fit between my 40 and 70mm. Also for the low light advantage it would have over these 2 lenses... Plus adds another lens to my WR kit.
10-07-2012, 11:27 PM   #15
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Finally forced myself to make a choice and I've ordered the 55mm 1.4 so fingers crossed it's a good one. I'll definitely get an extended warranty with it.

Why this one and not the Sigma? I decided that I wanted to pair it with my 18-135 for a good WR travel set.
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