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11-14-2012, 05:39 PM   #1
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DA*55 or DA 70

I am looking at getting my next lens and I would like a portrait lens. I have the DA 40 limited and I love the portability of that lens and the general purpose use of that lens (indoor/outdoor, full/half body portrait and etc). I originally was sold on the da 70, however, after seeing a few comments here and there about the performance of the da*55, I am beginning to waffle back and forth between the two. I have kids so that will be the primary purpose of my portraiture. So my question, how do these two lenses compare in rendering (3d effect?), autofocus speed and accuracy, and build quality. The WR is a nice feature but not a necessity (I have k-x) I would rather spend on good glass and upgrade my camera body later.

So your comments would be appreciated, especially from people that have both lenses. The Fa 77 is too expensive. So have at it! what is your preference and why.


Last edited by trevorgrout; 11-14-2012 at 05:59 PM. Reason: rephrase
11-14-2012, 05:43 PM   #2
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I'd say the 55 as it's got better bokeh for portraits

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11-14-2012, 06:29 PM   #3
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I've owned both, and my opinion is that the DA* 55 renders more pleasing to me than the DA 70. If you plan on using the lenses on the 2.8 or wider aperture end of the range, the DA* 55 is stunning. The circular blades do a pretty good job of preserving the circular highlight bokeh. If you want resolution stopped down, the DA 70 delivers just a bit more than the DA* 55. But out of the two, if I were stranded on a desert island with only one of those two lenses, the DA* 55 would be my choice.
11-14-2012, 06:30 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I'd say the 55 as it's got better bokeh for portraits
And to add to that, its a F1.4, it's very sharp, it's weather sealed.

Also from the shots I have seen I prefer the colours it produces. But that is very dependent on PP & PP (post processing and Personal preference)

11-14-2012, 06:42 PM   #5
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You'd only get my 55 away from me when I'm dead, AND I'm more of a FA Ltd. guy than DA Ltd., BUT I think the 70 may be a better fit for you. It's a natural companion to the 40 and gives you a better FL spread. The AF is definitely faster, and the 70 really is an excellent lens. Yes, it gives up a little to the 55 in bokeh, but not enough, IMO, to trump all the other things that point to the 70 being the right choice for you. Just can't imagine that you'd be unhappy with it.
11-14-2012, 10:18 PM   #6
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FWIW the 77 mm is only $62 more than the 55 mm at BH photo until the end of December. Then the 55 mm goes back up to actually be more expensive than the 77 mm. Perhaps you can find it cheaper.

I feel your pain though. It is a tough decision to make. One thing to consider is which FL you prefer. It may not seem like a big deal to some but I found the 77 mm (which is a wonderful lens) too long most of the time. Granted the 70 is going to be wider but not much. I have children and actually came to Pentax because I loved everything about the 77 mm. After owning it, I realized I was always backing up away from my family at events and on trips. Like many I have dabbled in the M,K, A and M42 lenses. It is hard not to come across a Pentax 55 mm variant. I loved the FOV but missed the AF.

I had similar internal debates including 70 v. 55 v. even buying back the 77 (I know it's crazy. Don't judge me.) What sold it for me was the FOV for portraits of my children. My kids are 10 and 7 years old so they are on the move and crafty when it comes to eluding dad. I bought the K5 which is very quiet and having a silent AF in the arsenal helps with the candids. I have the 18-135 mm which is quiet too. But, the slow aperture makes indoor / low light photography difficult. I can't comment on AF speed. This is a big knock on the 55 mm. I have rented the 55 in the past and must admit it was not an issue for me. Sadly, I can't hide behind AF speed. I am just not that good. I miss more shots due to my timing and ( lack of )composition or simply not being ready for the 'shot.' I have missed many shots due to having to pull the camera to my face or having to take steps back. I don't know if I truly ever missed a shot due only to a slow focusing lens. Just something to consider. I know it is a tough decision. Good Luck.

Last edited by MSM; 11-14-2012 at 10:58 PM.
11-15-2012, 01:01 AM   #7
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I never had 70 (used to have 40 though) but used to own 55. From what I've seen/read I'd say this:
- Build quality is a toss. You get high quality WR plastic lens or metal. If anything the 55 will have bigger chance of surviving knocks and less chance of developing wobbles. Also don't underestimate the WR aspect.
- rendering? Well the DA* is quite similar to FA43 while I'd imagine 70 would be similar to 40. For me that meant I liked 55 colours and contrast more. DA ltds felt bit cold and surgical to me. Having said that shooting wide open you might want to be careful with backgrounds with DA*. Some say it's out of focus areas have charcter, I found them distracting at times.
-size matters! Where you can take 55 you would be easily be able to take 40+70+one more small lens. It's up to you whether you prefer the FOV from 55 over having one shortr one longer lens combination. Personally I had no problems using 55 as the only lens for some walks and if I wanted wider I'd taken FA*24 so I had the 35-85mm equivalents covered.
-AF, if 70 is anything like 40 it'll leave 55 in dust. For distances over 3 meters the 55 does OK (also depends on the body) but for closer distances you might struggle. I used the 55 on K-7 and taking pictures of people at close range I found the combo simply too slow, many nice moments got lost or got captured slightly OOF.
- me? If I ever will go back to Pentax my 1st 50ish choice would probably be 50/1.7 F or FA. Followed by FA43 and K50/1.2 (depends how bad would my eyesight get). Just then it's DA*55 and F/FA50/1.4. After having tried the dark side I can't imagine getting the keepers and keeper ratio I have now with Da*55...

Having said that, it still took some of my finest images, but truth to be said, my son was few months old and didn't move so much back then. The moment he started to do so the keeper ratio with DA*55 when used in the room at close range dropped off significantly...
Good luck choosing
11-15-2012, 05:14 AM   #8
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I think the 55 is better on crop sensor, just because of the focal length. For your purposes, the 70 will feel a little long, particularly indoors. I like the 55 better overall, having the extra stop and a half of speed is handy, as is having the weather sealing.

The harder question would be the FA 77 versus the DA 55, where of course, you would still have a longer focal length with the 77, but you would have a faster aperture. The 77 lacks quick shift, sealing and is prone to quite a lot of purple fringing in some situations, but it has the best out of focus rendering of any lens I have used. The 55 is good past f2, but it isn't that good.

Anyway, I would choose the 55 (I had the 70 and sold it, although I ended up getting the FA 77 as well) between those two.

11-15-2012, 05:29 AM   #9
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I own DA70 lens. Colors are on cooler side and focus accuracy is questionable (however, fast enough). Extremely sharp. Would go for 1,4 though,
11-15-2012, 09:08 AM   #10
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To my mind it depends on what you value most. FOV or perspective.

The 55 may provide a 85mm FF FOV, but it will still give a 55mm perspective. The 70mm perspective will be more flattering, but if it means backing into walls all the time....
11-15-2012, 09:14 AM   #11
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The 55 1.4 is arguably the best Pentax lens for portraits. Any other lens will be a compromise (focal length, effectiveness of hood, WR).
11-15-2012, 01:04 PM   #12
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If you're going to shoot a lot of indoor portraits, then the 70 is probably a bit too long. I love my FA 50/1.4 for indoor portraits so I'm sure the DA* 55 should do more of the same.
11-16-2012, 12:35 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Unsinkable II Quote
To my mind it depends on what you value most. FOV or perspective.

The 55 may provide a 85mm FF FOV, but it will still give a 55mm perspective. The 70mm perspective will be more flattering, but if it means backing into walls all the time....
I think you're a bit confused here. Perspective has nothing to do with focal length, only camera position (ignoring distortion from rectilinear/gnomonic projection).

If two lens/sensor combos have equivalent angle of view (e.g. 55mm/APS-C and 82.5mm/FF), to get the same composition they would be shot from the same position, and thus the perspective will be identical.
11-16-2012, 12:54 AM   #14
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I have the DA*55, DA70 and FA77. Although I appreciate the compactness of the DA70 I almost never use it - the other two are just much better lenses.
If I had to choose between the DA*55 and FA77 I would keep the latter. The colours, bokeh and sharpness wide open are un-matchable. It's also smaller and, quite simply, way sexier.

Bottom line: if you insist on writing off one of the best autofocus lenses ever made by anyone, get the DA*55.
11-16-2012, 02:15 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Cannikin Quote
I think you're a bit confused here. Perspective has nothing to do with focal length, only camera position (ignoring distortion from rectilinear/gnomonic projection).

If two lens/sensor combos have equivalent angle of view (e.g. 55mm/APS-C and 82.5mm/FF), to get the same composition they would be shot from the same position, and thus the perspective will be identical.
Hi, i've just spotted this and i am thinking whether this is true.
I thought that a longer FL would "stretch" the background further, therefore larger, as compared to one from a shorter FL?

What happens is that the background and the foreground subject size will differ between the 2 sensor sizes due to the similarity in composition but with a change in camera distance, right?
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