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02-13-2008, 07:36 AM   #1
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Opinions on FA* primes

How much of a difference in perspective is 21mm vs. 24mm? I'm going to buy the DA 21/3.2 Limited next, but I'm also looking at the FA* 24/2. The lens is really expensive though, and I don't know if I could justify that purchase for a lens that would be so close to a lens that I'd already have. It's also very hard to find.

How does the FA 77/1.8 Limited compare to the FA* 85/1.4? I wanted to try out both, but the FA* is once again $1400-1800, and that's just absurd. Any opinions on both of these?

02-13-2008, 08:06 AM   #2
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With regard to the 77 vs the 85, I would absolutely go for the 77. You lose half a stop, but the perspective isn't wildly different and besides, it's a limited.

Down with plastic lenses!

And a rule of thumb for focal length is to space them in 1 or 2 "stop" increments, i.e. 14, 20, 28, 40, 56, 80 (or thereabouts). I find I can generally get along with half as many lenses, with "double spacing" in between. For me that means 14mm, 31mm, 50mm. That said, 21 is somewhat different from 24m but not hugely. On the other hand, you gain almost 2 stops with the 24, which is the difference between shooting at ISO 1600 and 400. That's a big difference right there.
02-13-2008, 08:37 AM   #3
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I've never used the 21mm ltd, but I did own the FA*24mm and there's a couple of things that I liked about it:

1) the build was amazing. It was pure metal & glass.
2) It was an absolute joy to use on any camera. It was about perfect for wrapping your hand around it comfortably.
3) In spite of the lack of sealing, it could take some elemental abuse.

With that said, my 16-50mm @ 24mm out-performs it (no scientific tests done....just an observation from using the 16-50 as I sold the 24mm to fund the 16-50).

If you want the 24mm and you want a lens with good heft, the FA* will deliver. But if I was in your shoes, I'd stick with the 21mm unless you could get the 24mm at a really good price.
02-13-2008, 10:55 AM   #4
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using the DA21 is like trying to use a bottle cap as a hammer

but once you get used to it, and come to terms with it being f3.2, you'll grow to love it.

the IQ is all the way up there with the best of them.

02-13-2008, 11:36 AM   #5
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I think it's overkill to buy both 21 and 24, as well as buy both DA and FA limited. If you think you will shoot in low light too often, then FA (limited) is the way to go. Optically, the DA is not that far from the FA. Weight is really not my issue so I just get the FA limited for the extra speed. However, at 21, I satisfy with my Zuiko (similar to the DA), so I drop my intention to obtain the FA* 24.

Generally, if you want to get rare, old glasses, you should ask yourself whether or not you would use it that often. These always come with extra tag. Besides, optical wise, I would get the Distagon ZK 25 instead if I have the extra money to spare.

Anyway, I got both the FA 77 and the FA* 85 since they're different in characteristic. The optical design of the FA 77 is similar to the A* 85. For general use, the FA 77 is a better choice. However, if you do use the FA* 85 for portraiture, you'll see the magic of this lens. The subject, from f1.4-f2, will be a tad soft compared to the FA 77 (at least in my case), but it's because the FA* places the subject near the end of the focus disc. This would make the background bokeh as smooth as possible, while render the subject with enough softness to flatter the look. You can take a look at the last picture in the Nokton 58mm thread to see similar effect. Overall, the FA* 85 is a very specific lens. For distance work, you do have to stop down significantly to get satisfactory result (mine is around f4).
02-13-2008, 12:38 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Finn Quote
With regard to the 77 vs the 85, I would absolutely go for the 77. You lose half a stop, but the perspective isn't wildly different and besides, it's a limited.

Down with plastic lenses!
Finn,
The FA* 85 is all metal. It has a metal hood that makes the 77 look like a little girlie lens.


To the OP - the FA*24 and FA*85 are my two favorite auto-focus lenses, and they are both better than the 31 Limited and 77 Limited that I also own. The FA* lenses are delicious. The FA*24 is sharp as a tack even at f/2, and makes vibrant, contrast-y images. It can be prone to purple fringing (I blame the enhanced contrast) and shows some CA, but I find both of those statements to be true of the 21 Limited.

The FA*85 is, at f/2.8, probably the best all-around lens I've ever used. Even at f/2 it is spectacular, although at the two widest stops you may see some of the axial CA that all large-aperture lenses have. Even at f/1.4 the plane of focus (albeit shallow!) is plenty sharp, and f/2 can be a great aperture for shooting portraits. The 77 Limited has worse axial CA and is more prone to purple fringing, and the bokeh isn't as smooth as the FA*85.

Are the FA* lenses worth the current asking prices? Probably not, but that is more a testament to the price than to the lenses.
02-13-2008, 02:36 PM   #7
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Ok, so hwere can I find these lenses for a reasonable price? A couple of days ago, the one on eBay ended for $600 for the 24mm. And the 85/1.4 is listed on the Matsuiyastore for $1700, I belive.
02-13-2008, 02:38 PM   #8
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a DA21 is ~400 with rebates i think, or even less.

02-13-2008, 02:44 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gooshin Quote
a DA21 is ~400 with rebates i think, or even less.
I know. I'm talking only about the FA* 24/2 and 85/1.4. I'm going to buy the DA 21/3.2 Limited soon.
02-13-2008, 03:14 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gooshin Quote
a DA21 is ~400 with rebates i think, or even less.
No rebates right now. Cheapest, I think, is $425 on beach camera.
02-13-2008, 03:25 PM   #11
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I think I would for the 24mm for the extra stops.
02-13-2008, 03:27 PM   #12
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I need to find one that's cheap enought hough. I love that lens, but it's too expensive at the moment.
02-13-2008, 03:40 PM   #13
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I know what you mean, I am searching for a FA* 85mm F1.4, but no luck yet. The second hand dealers in Manchester did see the 85mm, but the owner would'nt sell.....:-(
02-13-2008, 03:56 PM   #14
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See, I want that lens too. I was looking at some pictures on pbase, and it's certainly a beast in its own right. It renders photos specifically for portraiture judging by the controlled, elegant softness of the photos. So, I think it wouldn't be overkill to have the FA 77/1.8 Limited and the FA* 85/1.4 because they are completely different lenses, even though they are close in focal length.
02-13-2008, 04:04 PM   #15
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The FA* won't come down in price. The FA* 24 one from a couple days ago ended at ~$540. If anything, especially if the K20D is as good as it is on the paper, then you might see more spike in the price of these lenses.

By the way, the FA* 85 at Matsuyastore is "only" $1400. I have a friend in Tokyo and he told me that's pretty much the local price at the moment (some might hover around 1100 but the condition is pretty much equivalent KEH's ugl rating) . The FA* 24 is quite rare over there, and $600 is pretty much the minimum. Many film Pentax users are catching up with the price craze, so good deal on these lenses might come few times a year.

So if you buy the DA 21 right now, it would be kinda a waste to get the FA* 24. And if it's optical quality that you're after, you might also want to consider other brands (like the Voigtlander), that's if you want to do manual focusing.
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