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12-23-2012, 07:13 PM - 1 Like   #1
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New lens: Pentax FA 31 Limitied or DA* 16-50

Hi!

I just converted from Canon Fullframe! over to the old enemy... Pentax...

I just bought a brand new K-5ii with the 18-55WR and Samyang 85 1.4.
The picture i can get from this setup amazes me... really love it.

However... i feel that 18-55 is not the best for street photo, and does not the deliver optimal IQ on the K-5ii sensor.
Therefore i now struggle... i have been dreaming about the FA31 for years... i love the rendering from that lens magic! also 31mm fits 90% of my range for now since i converted from 50mm on full-frame. but... What about the 16-50?... i can get booth of them used for the same price. I like to shoot in rain, and i use my camera down to -25c in winter but i think the 18-55 may cover that few days? im strugling on what lens to buy! what would you have done? get the FA31 and have the 18-55wr in pocket in case of rain and later buy 15mm? or just go with the 16-50 for always WR protection. and at last... how resistant is the FA31 to cold? and how about litle rain?

12-23-2012, 09:15 PM   #2
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If you are shooting street, the size of the lens might make a big difference and there is a huge difference in size between the two lenses you are talking about.
12-23-2012, 09:52 PM   #3
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Both good lenses, however the da*16-50 is big and heavy. Though coming from Canon you might be used to that. I use it a lot and get good images from it but I probably would not use it for street shooting, it is not inconspicuous. I might also be concerned about SDM failure which was an issue on older 16-50's.

The FA 31mm is something of a cult lens and is often pronounced as the best lens ever made by Pentax. I don't have one so I cannot help you directly with it. However the Limited series has no WR seals. Cold should not be an issue but rain would be.

QuoteOriginally posted by PentaxExpedition Quote
I just converted from Canon Fullframe! over to the old enemy... Pentax...
No enemies on this forum, most folks here are quite honest when it comes to gear. Canon has good equipment, so does Nikon. Many folks on this forum have dual systems as well. We like our Pentax but there are few fanboys here, we call it like we see it.
12-23-2012, 10:31 PM   #4
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There is to me no question here; I would get FA 31 over 16-50 any day. I might make some people around angry, but I think that 16-50 is not a very good lens. I have had 3 copies of this lens and each one of them was equally disappointing.

12-23-2012, 11:06 PM   #5
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I think that you've assessed the situation quite well. If you really want an ~50mm EQ for the street, then treat yourself to the FA31. It's wonderful, and your zoom/bad weather needs can be met by the kit zoom for now. Here are some street shots with the FA31 + K-01:

What Blog is This?: Takin' the Pentax K-01 to the Streets of NYC

But the 16-50 is no slouch; I've gotten some epic shots with it. Yes, it's bigger, but it's quieter (SDM vs screwdrive AF).

You can't go wrong in either case; just choose what kind of shooting is more important to you, buy the associated lens, and then start saving up for the other!
12-23-2012, 11:32 PM   #6
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If you can forfeit versatility, I would recommend FA31 - smaller, better optics, better build, faster and takes 58mm filter. Regarding shooting in adverse conditions....you can always put your camera and lens in rain sleeve to protect it from rain or snow.
12-24-2012, 08:12 AM   #7
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I have the 16-50 f2.8 and it's sharp, not as soft as most say it is wide-open. I am glad I recently bought the 16-50 f2.8 again after selling it a couple years ago due to quitting photography. However you must know that I absolutely hate primes and fixed focal length lenses (I know, quite odd as I am a Pentaxian). I currently only own zooms for my K-5 and that's both epic DA*'s, the 16-50 and 50-135. If I liked both, I might've picked up the FA 31 1.8 over the 16-50 just because the FA 31 probably has significantly better out-of-focus rendering and is also probably sharper wide-open.
12-25-2012, 05:23 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by PentaxExpedition Quote
Hi!

I just converted from Canon Fullframe! over to the old enemy... Pentax...

I just bought a brand new K-5ii with the 18-55WR and Samyang 85 1.4.
The picture i can get from this setup amazes me... really love it.

However... i feel that 18-55 is not the best for street photo, and does not the deliver optimal IQ on the K-5ii sensor.
Therefore i now struggle... i have been dreaming about the FA31 for years... i love the rendering from that lens magic! also 31mm fits 90% of my range for now since i converted from 50mm on full-frame. but... What about the 16-50?... i can get booth of them used for the same price. I like to shoot in rain, and i use my camera down to -25c in winter but i think the 18-55 may cover that few days? im strugling on what lens to buy! what would you have done? get the FA31 and have the 18-55wr in pocket in case of rain and later buy 15mm? or just go with the 16-50 for always WR protection. and at last... how resistant is the FA31 to cold? and how about litle rain?
I have the FA 31 and it is an excellent performer. That said I have been very intrigued by the new Sigma 35 F1.4, and if it comes to pentax mount and is priced well it might be another alternative just to confuse things

As for the 16-50 I don't own a copy; I do like the flexibility and the results it can produce. Between the 31/16-50 I would say FA 31 all the way.

12-25-2012, 07:46 AM   #9
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That's why I am quite annoyed by the lack of wr primes from pentax. WR is their strength and yet they are clueless.

Having said that 16 50 is a solid performer. I think we missed 35 to 85 mm limited primes in wr and f1.4ish aperture. Even screw drive is fine.
12-25-2012, 08:43 AM   #10
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The 21 Ltd is a great walk around lens... , my DA 18-135 is a great walk around lens. My DA 35mm is a great walk around lens. I'm not sure why one would need walk around primes to be WR. To take advantage of what primes have to offer , you pretty much have to be shooting off a tripod. If you're shooting off a tripod you can set up an umbrella or use one of those plastic bags to put over your camera. Anyone who tells you they can tell the difference between a hand held prime shot and a hand held DA 18-135 or DA 16-50 shot is probably talking through their hat. You simply cannot approach bench mark type resolution hand held.

The advantage of having a WR zoom is, in a situation where you need WR, you can't change lenses. Taking a lens off the camera would break the water seal and leave both lens and camera open to moisture. So the inhibiting factor of one focal length becomes even worse, because you can't change, your chances of ending up in a situation with an inappropriate lens on the camera are increased 100 fold, using a WR prime. The 100 WR macro is water sealed, but I have never been tempted to trade in my Tamron 90 macro on one. I can't ever remember wanting to do macro in the rain.

I'm the opposite of the above. I don't understand why Pentax went the WR route with the 100mm macro lens. It added a couple of hundred to the price.

So, I have to ask. What prime lens do you think you need WR on, and where would you use it?
12-25-2012, 09:20 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by lightbulb Quote
That's why I am quite annoyed by the lack of wr primes from pentax. WR is their strength and yet they are clueless.

Having said that 16 50 is a solid performer. I think we missed 35 to 85 mm limited primes in wr and f1.4ish aperture. Even screw drive is fine.
DA*55, DA*200, DA*300 are all WR, add to that all the WR zooms and you get a pretty good coverage.

I see where you're coming from, but there will always be something to complain about.
12-25-2012, 09:51 AM   #12
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Samyang 35 1.4

I have read about the Samyang 35 1.4... and it seems extremely promising, its not WR... but seems like a stellar performer.
Manual focus is okay for me... i shoot mainly objects that does not move to much. SOOOO.............. i was thinking....
Samyang 15mm 2.8, 35mm 1,4 (85mm 1.4 i have from before) that cowers the range i need. perhaps also add FA41.
I have tested the 18-55WR in the mountains today in very harsh climate... the pictures looks great.

When summer comes i can buy the 50-135 2.8 and perhaps a tamron 70-700 2.8.
It just dont make any sense for me to pay that much for a 16-50 2.8 when itīs far behind Nikon 17-55 2.8, witch i had on my D300.

Funny thing that i moved to Pentax due to reputation about the lenses and the WR. ironically NONE of the best primes are WR... like the FA31... only usable lens would be the DA*55... but for that price? nooo way! IQ is good, but that lens is very expensive in Norway.

I understand that Pentax is a small company with limited "pro users" and limited R&D... however if they are going to survive they have to make better glass... Pancakes... EXCELENT!!! well done!! Normal Primes, to expensive for what you get compared to Canon. Zooms? i tested the 16-50 today... and to the price this is going for in Norway... 1400 USD?? thats just wrong... Tamron 16-50 to 1/3 of the price is much better... and i cannot pay that much extra just for WR. Pentax 16-50 should be 900USD not 1400.

Thats just my blow out as a pro going from Canon to Pentax... I have tested several lenses today, and i was disappointed... good optics, but to high priced. I guess thats the way it have to be for Pentax to earn cash...

Lower the prices... and i will love Pentax
12-26-2012, 07:49 AM   #13
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Hopefully price will not be too big a factor to the purchase of your tool.

I have FA31, DA 16-50 and Sigma 17-50.
I have used FA31 for 18 months (15K shots) and it is sharp 'almost' edge to edge. I do have doubts about its edge sharpness on FF.
Then i purchased DA16-50 from bhphoto during the Black Friday deal for US750. It is big but a brilliant lens, definitely better than the kit lens. It is soft at the edge wide open - much more obvious than FA31. I can't comment on Sigma as i am overseas with FA31 and DA 16-50.
If you have the choice of one lens only with WR, then get the DA 16-50. I agree 1500 is a bit much (c/w FF 24-70 from C or N). Perhaps grab it during the next Black Friday deal. Keep an eye on the forum as posters here will inform you of the discount.
Pentax lenses have their rendering, richness of colour etc which can't be replicated with Sigma and Samyang. All the best with your selection.
12-26-2012, 09:07 AM   #14
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Thanx for your input... yeah... what you paid for the 16-50 seems reasonable and on par with the IQ. No idea why it cost so much in Norway. I have seen them go for about 690USD used. However... heard that SDM have reputation to fail, so i want to have a warranty from store.
12-29-2012, 05:57 PM   #15
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I had both but gave up the 16-50 to keep with the 12-24 and the 31 (amongst other lenses). My 31 is definitely a never fail go-to lens for so many applications but the 16-50 was very versatile. I just find I need wider than 16mm for a lot of my landscape shots, and not so much the f/2.8 speed at these wide focal lengths. The IQ of the 16-50 is certainly impressive, though the barrel distortion at the wide end is noticeable. The 31 is hard to fault, but the 16-50 at around 31mm is just excellent also.

It comes down to whether you want to shoot landscapes with this lens or not. If yes, then the 31 is not wide enough on APS-C. Otherwise, if you can zoom with your feet, the 31 is an investment for a lifetime (and beyond).
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