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02-21-2008, 06:55 AM   #1
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n00b time - Limited vs star

What's puzzled me for a while now was the difference between the Limited series of lenses and the *s. I can't really understand where the big differences come from. So far, what I've worked out was:

a) FA*/DA* - cream of the crop zooms.
b) Limiteds - cream of the crop primes; metal bodies. (optionally unusual designs)

Did I understand correctly, or am I missing something here?

02-21-2008, 08:03 AM   #2
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In fact I think Limiteds and DA * share very high quality optical and mechanical construction but:

-The stars doesn't have to be zooms (see DA* 200 and 300);
-The DA limiteds are often build with plastic and metal (although higher quality and tolerances).
-The stars though have in plus weather sealing and SDM autofocus. And of course a gold ring for bragging rights.

Take care!
R.
02-21-2008, 08:23 AM   #3
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One nitpick

QuoteOriginally posted by RaduA Quote
In fact I think Limiteds and DA * share very high quality optical and mechanical construction but:

-The stars doesn't have to be zooms (see DA* 200 and 300);
-The DA limiteds are often build with plastic and metal (although higher quality and tolerances).
-The stars though have in plus weather sealing and SDM autofocus. And of course a gold ring for bragging rights.

Take care!
R.
"The stars though have in plus weather sealing and SDM autofocus. And of course a gold ring for bragging rights."
This only applies to the newer DA* lenses, the older FA* lenses are NOT weather sealed nor do they have SDM focus.

The story about the original FA ltd's is that they were designed by Pentax's senior engineer for his own personal use. They weren't supposed to be production lenses, but they performed so well that Pentax decided to produce them for market.
But as to the difference between the "*" and the "ltd's" I have no real idea, methinks it is merely some sort of marketing ploy.

NaCl(what's the difference between a collosal olive and a super jumbo one?)H2O
02-21-2008, 08:29 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
The story about the original FA ltd's is that they were designed by Pentax's senior engineer for his own personal use. They weren't supposed to be production lenses, but they performed so well that Pentax decided to produce them for market.
Do you have a source for this story? I know quite a bit about Pentax lenses but I have never heard about this before.

02-21-2008, 08:34 AM   #5
RaduA
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QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
"The stars though have in plus weather sealing and SDM autofocus. And of course a gold ring for bragging rights."
This only applies to the newer DA* lenses, the older FA* lenses are NOT weather sealed nor do they have SDM focus.

The story about the original FA ltd's is that they were designed by Pentax's senior engineer for his own personal use. They weren't supposed to be production lenses, but they performed so well that Pentax decided to produce them for market.
But as to the difference between the "*" and the "ltd's" I have no real idea, methinks it is merely some sort of marketing ploy.

NaCl(what's the difference between a collosal olive and a super jumbo one?)H2O
I was talking about the lenses currently produced. You can buy either DA or FA Limited but IMO FA* are not in production for years.
02-21-2008, 08:40 AM   #6
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FA* Very Different Than DA*

The general concensus is that the * and Limited lenses are "pro quality" glass, meaning sharper and contrastier (is that a word?) than "consumer quality" lenses. Color rendition is stunning on both * and Limiteds. The out of focus zones are also smoother than ordinary glass. And you are correct that the Limiteds are also fairly unique optical formulas. They started out as very unique perspectives with the first three Limiteds being the 43, 77 and 31--not sizes offered by other companies. Some subsequent Limiteds are even numbered--perhaps a conscious attempt to be less odd? It isn't that *'s or Limiteds are supposed to be better than the other--both are considered pro quality. Both are the flagships of Pentax lens design.

Big difference between the FA* and DA* lenses--DA*'s are weather sealed, FA*'s are not. DA*'s have SDM autofocus capability. SDM didn't exist during the time the FA* lenses were being built. FA* lenses work on all Pentax SLR's...full-frame film or possibly future digi full frame bodies as well as all the Pentax digital SLR's--with the 1.5 digital crop factor. DA* lenses only work with digital cropped SLR's--no film SLR capabilities with DA*. I haven't yet snapped for the DA* lenses, but a close associate has and without looking up exact weights, the DA*'s feel much lighter than the bulky FA*'s in my kit.

By the way, Limited lenses are not weather resistant like the DA*'s. And Limited's are available in both full-frame--FALimited--and cropped digital versions--DALimited. So if you plan to shoot any film, you'll want to look for FALimited lenses (some lenses labeled DA actually have a large enough projected image to work with full-frame. Check the specifics of individual lenses. Or ask for help on this forum.)
02-21-2008, 08:40 AM   #7
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Going by price I think the FA*/DA* are a class higher than the Limiteds.
02-21-2008, 08:55 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Asahiflex Quote
Do you have a source for this story? I know quite a bit about Pentax lenses but I have never heard about this before.
I'm curious too...

02-21-2008, 09:39 AM   #9
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Price Not a Determinant

Kguru,
Not to be a pisser, but the new price of an FA 31 ltd. is comparable to the new price of a DA*16-50. And it's lots more $ than the FA* 24mm (By the way, one of very few quality lenses I've rejected and sent away. Mine just wasn't sharp compared to FA20).

One could present the argument that Limiteds have better build quality because they avoid plastic in most parts. The FA* and DA* lenses use plastic lens hoods and plastic focus rings--on FA's anyway.

The Limited lenses appear to be designed for simplicity and ruggedness. Most of the external parts are machined or cast metal. The * lenses push more to the whistles and bells crowd with "busier" designs, painted logos, textured rubber, gold rings, FA's with power zoom etc.

To me, the differences in * lenses and Limiteds are less about optical quality and more about who they are marketed to and what the cosmetic appeal is. I personally love both because I'm a complete lens addict, way beyond most heroin pretenders.
02-21-2008, 10:06 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ron Boggs Quote
Kguru,
Not to be a pisser, but the new price of an FA 31 ltd. is comparable to the new price of a DA*16-50. And it's lots more $ than the FA* 24mm
True if you "hand pick" the most expensive Limited,
how about the least expensive Limited DA40?
02-21-2008, 01:59 PM   #11
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Thank you everybody for the answers!

Seems like people still don't have a 100% certain idea what the real difference is between them. But all us Pentaxians yearn to own as many as possible.
02-21-2008, 03:06 PM   #12
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ftpaddict, honestly does it make a difference? Just get the lens that fits your shooting style and quality expectations.
02-21-2008, 04:53 PM   #13
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How can you compare lenses from different era? All of the FA* primes/zooms already discontinued. Their design and purpose are just within their production time.

FA*, at least from my understanding, has a very nice focus clutch to switch between AF to manual. They were also advertised as the finest AF production from Pentax.

The FA limited is pretty much a rerun of the fine FA*, with minor tweak in AF mechanism, focal length, and major size and weight reduction. This is just like a modern update to compete with other brands. Pentax designed these three probably to show the uniqueness of the platform.

The DA limited is for weight conscious customer. I have to say, this pancake design is probably the best in the market. Other brands would hardly come close to this kind of optical quality at such small size (Olympus lenses might be).

The DA* is truly for field-work pro with weather seal. One tend to compare the new DA* 200 and 300 with the old FA*. I don't see the point, since they don't really co-exist.

As for the variation in constructed material, I don't pay much attention as long as they can give me the optical performance i'm looking for.
02-21-2008, 06:01 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
ftpaddict, honestly does it make a difference? Just get the lens that fits your shooting style and quality expectations.
How am I supposed to find out, if I don't ask around first?
02-21-2008, 06:19 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by aegisphan Quote
... I have to say, this pancake design is probably the best in the market. Other brands would hardly come close to this kind of optical quality at such small size (Olympus lenses might be).
While Pentax are probably the only major company with continued production of pancake lenses, I wouldn't discount the optical quality offered by other companies. To take the example of the DA 40mm, we have a few other pancake lenses in the same focal length:

Konica 40mm f/1.8 Hexanon
Contax Tessar T* 45mm f/2.8
Nikkor 45mm f/2.8P
Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2

I would think they easily match if not exceed the performance of the DA 40.
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