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01-07-2013, 06:38 PM   #1
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Fast lens for low-light photography

Hi everyone,

I have a K-30 and in desperate need for a fast lens. I mainly take pictures in low light conditions (in lit and not so lit rooms, in a club, in the evening etc.).
I am on a tight budget, so i checked DA35/2.4 and DA50/1.8.

50mm FL is less useful for me, but i could "swallow" it if the lens was sharp at 1.8. I understand it is not, and i would have to step it down to 2.8 to get a sharp picture.
If this is the case, this lens has no advantage over the 35/2.4, which i understand is sharp wide open.

1. Is the DA35/2.4, when wide open, really as sharp (edge-to-edge) as the DA50/1.8 stepped down to 2.8 ?
2. Is my best option really the DA35/2.4 over the DA50/1.8 ?
2. Is there an option for a faster (than f/2.4), not expensive (same price range), and preferably "normal" FL lens?

BTW, I decided not to go for lenses that would not allow me to AF (such as Manual lenses or old models).

Any answer will be much appriciated. Thanks.

01-07-2013, 07:11 PM   #2
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I found my F 1.7 is pretty sharp even wide open. It's autofocus.
01-07-2013, 07:14 PM   #3
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Every lens is going to be sharper when stopped down compared to when it is wide-open. I would expect the 50mm to actually be better because it's a true normal lens (even though it doesn't seem that way on APS-C).

if you're willing to step it up to $399 you could get the FA 35mm F2, which is similar to the 35mm F2.4 but supports FF and will give you an extra half stop:
Pentax Wide Angle 35mm f/2.0 SMCP-FA AL Autofocus Lens 22190 B&H

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01-07-2013, 07:43 PM   #4
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I love my 35 f2.4, but have you considered the Sigma 30 f1.4?
For clubs the wider focal length and bigger aperture may suit you better, although it is more than twice as much as the Pentax....

01-07-2013, 07:47 PM   #5
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Get a flash? You don't say what your subject is, if its as dark as clubs I work in you can't beat a flash.
01-07-2013, 07:57 PM   #6
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I absolutely love the 35 2.4. It is plenty sharp for me from 2.4 and only gets better stopping down.
01-07-2013, 08:07 PM   #7
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I really like the 35/2.4 and in low light is really shines IMHO. If you NEED lower light performance then the FA50/1.4 is still around and is the widest still in production Pentax lens. I own one but find 50mm a bit too long for indoor shooting under normal circumstances. I got mine lightly used for $250 about 18-24 months ago. I find the 35/2.4 more versatile, particularly with the great ISO performance of the K-5. There are those that prefer the 50/1.7 and those can be found for a wee bit less, when they surface.
01-07-2013, 08:12 PM   #8
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Thank you all for your replies. The FA35/2 and the Sigma 30/1.4 (which looks great) are out of my current budget.

The F50/1.7 or FA50/1.7 are a nice option for a used lens. I understand they are both long discontinued and sell as used quite cheap (about $50 for the F).
It i buy one of those in good condition - what will be the disadvantages as opposed to a new DA50/1.8 ? Is there anything i will lack?

About the focal length - I thought about it, and 50 is probably going to be a big compromise, but i can't find cheap 30-35 with wide aperture.
Maybe i will buy a new DA35/2.4 (it's about 175$) and a used F50/1.7 (for 50$) and try to get the best of noth worlds...

Any other ideas ?

01-07-2013, 08:56 PM   #9
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Try This?

Hello Chaim,
"BTW, I decided not to go for lenses that would not allow me to AF (such as Manual lenses or old models)."
That's what is limiting you to (either) too expensive or not wide enough.
If you would broaden your search to include manual focus, your choices would be;
Kiron 28mm or 24mm f/2.0 $100-$200 USD
Pentax A or M 35mm f/2.0 $150-$200
Miranda 28mm f/2.8 $$70-$100
Pentax M or A 28mm f/2.8 $50-$100
Pentax M or A 50mm f/1.4, f/1.7 or f/2.0 $50-$200
Pentax M 85mm f/2.0 $250
Pentax M or A 100mm or 135mm f/2.8 $150-$250
And probably 20 more Tokinas, Vivitars, Sigmas and Pentax manual-focus legacy lenses, all under $200, many under $100.
But, you would have to focus manually, not the worst thing in the world.
It's your choice, between 2 auto focus lenses or 30 manual focus lenses.
01-07-2013, 09:01 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chaim Quote
BTW, I decided not to go for lenses that would not allow me to AF (such as Manual lenses or old models).
Low light is where autofocus is least likely to work very well, and the lens will hunt. Manual focus may actually be the way to go. I have no manual lenses :-)
01-07-2013, 09:06 PM   #11
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The F50 f/1.7 is quite a bit more than 50 dollars. I've heard that it is actually one of the sharpest Pentax lenses out there though. My copy is nice even in low light.
01-07-2013, 09:36 PM   #12
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I am sorry for the mixup - A50/1.7 (which is indeed manual focus, and not too sharp wide open) sells for about 50-60$.
F50/1.7 (which i understand is great) sells for about 250$. That is not cheap considering the fact that it's a used lens. Also - it is less than optimal FL for me. But - i will consider buying one instead of a new DA50/1.8 at the same price.

As for "going manual focus" - i will consider it. Thanks rbefly for all the effort in listing all those lenses. It seems that i do have a few options for cheap, fast (less than f/2.0) and "wide to normal" (on APS-C) lenses.
I just have to make sure they are sharp wide open (so they will not need to be stopped down, losing their advantage).
01-07-2013, 10:06 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chaim Quote
The F50/1.7 or FA50/1.7 are a nice option for a used lens. I understand they are both long discontinued and sell as used quite cheap (about $50 for the F).
Not sure where you are located at but $50 for an F 50 is not going to happen, or if it does you got a incredible deal. And the 'A' models usually go for over $100, maybe $125. So if you can get one for $50 buy a bunch and resell.

Also, keep in mind that "not incredibly sharp wide open" is not the same as unusable or even unacceptable. It just means the reviewer can see a difference. Only you know how sharp is has to be to make you happy, but 'sharp' is not a yes/no characteristic. It is gradual change from something perceived as 'sharp' to something perceived as 'less sharp'.

If you have the opportunity, try a few different lenses in a shop, or borrow or rent one to try and see for yourself.
01-08-2013, 12:57 AM   #14
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manual focus with todays dslrs VF, aperture under 2 and in dark is a nightmare, however it might be worth trying as prices for M lenses are low
01-08-2013, 04:30 AM   #15
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Across the frame my DA35 2.4 was sharper than my Sigma 30mm - which is more suited to subject isolation and portraits.

I would also question if a prime will work for you in a fast moving club situ - I thought they would with my two Sigma's, and instead I spent most of my time with my Tamron 17-50mm on my most recent photo shoot.

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