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02-15-2013, 04:17 PM   #1
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Pentax DA 55mm f1.4 - talk to me!

This is the one lens that has thrown a spanner in the works when it has come to lens choosing so hopefully I can find the answers I am looking for.

Why is it so expensive and does it justify this high price?
How much better is it than the DA 50mm f1.8?

Is it worth gambling on?

02-15-2013, 04:22 PM   #2
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Well it is a premium lens, hence the high price. It's pretty sharp, too

Compared to competitors it's a bit overpriced I'd say, but it still makes a fine portrait lens on crop-format cameras.

Adam
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02-15-2013, 04:41 PM   #3
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In theory the 55 is better than the DA 50mm f1.8 for the following reasons: Quieter focusing, better build, a little brighter at max aperture, a little shallower DoF, better rendering of skin tones, better bokeh, slightly different FoV, which means bigger bokeh balls and a space compression better for portraits.. Check out some sample photos of the two lenses
Oh, also, I'm not sure whether both lenses have quickshift and allow CiF.
02-15-2013, 05:13 PM   #4
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I hate mentioning sites that focus on statistics instead of making images, but if you check out the lens comparison tool over on the DXOMark website and compare the DA* 55mm 1.4 on a K-5 to the Canon 85mm 1.2 mkII lens on a Canon 15-18 megapixel APS-C camera you'll discover that the Pentax DA* 55mm 1.4 produces numbers that are very similar to the MUCH more expensive Canon lens.

As a Canon and Pentax user I can tell you that the 55mm 1.4 might not be cheap ... but it's not overpriced.

02-15-2013, 05:25 PM   #5
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I own both the DA 50 and DA*55 (and a Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4). The DA 50 is a nice cheap 50mm but the DA*55 is way better: image quality, star bursts, bokeh, quiet operation.
02-15-2013, 11:37 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone. Getting to understand why it's got such a premium now. Think its time to shift some more crap on eBay and get this lens!
02-16-2013, 12:25 AM   #7
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It is also weather sealed, and looks totally kick-arse.
02-16-2013, 01:04 AM   #8
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Also, seeing comments about slow focus? How much slower than the DA 50 is it?

02-16-2013, 01:19 AM   #9
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Buy it or you will never know.

"Insert picture here"
02-16-2013, 01:50 AM   #10
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If you like to shoot near wide-open (and why not with a fast lens?) then it has no peer on K-mount. At f/1.6 and f/1.8 IQ and sharpness is excellent, and sometimes even at f/1.4. The only other AF lens this fast (which actually performs this well in practice) is the FA*85/1.4.

Despite the wishful thinking of some of the owners (who I'm sure, like me, would rather not spend as much money) the F or FA50/1.4 have significantly compromised IQ faster than f/2 or f/2.2 (in fact, actually at anything faster than ~f/2.8). Even though I had the F50/1.4 and liked it in many ways, it wasn't even as good as the FA43 at the same apertures, let alone the DA*55.


Just as the prices would suggest, there are really only 3 truly outstanding "50's" - the FA43, A/K 50/1.2, and DA*55. I've tried all 3 and own 2 of them. I should probably sell one of my 2 and get the DA*55, but each is quite unique and is probably the best Pentax lens you can get in a particular image characteristic.

In summary:

DA*55 has amazing sharpness, but sometimes harsh backgrounds
K50/1.2 is almost impossible to get a harsh background with, but doesn't have the appearance of fantastic sharpness for the first stop.
FA43 has in-between backgrounds and sharpness for the 1st stop (and is a stop slower to start with as well), but has unmatched brilliant color (which to me doesn't look overdone or unnatural - it just picks up the saturated colors so well!)

Last edited by DSims; 02-16-2013 at 01:56 AM.
02-16-2013, 06:17 AM   #11
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^^ thanks for that info... interesting that you mention the 43mm Ltd, as just seen a new one on ebay for cheaper than the 55 so thats another option.

I think either way I will go for one of the higher quality lenses which is basically the 43mm ltd or 55mm.
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