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02-25-2013, 10:44 PM   #1
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planning on a limited this weekend

If all goes according to plan budget wise, I'll pickup one of the last two FA Limiteds this weekend. I've got the 77, and it' has been my most used lens since I got it just under a year ago. Now that I've acquired an LX, it's seeing even more use, and the wantingness to get the remaining two has skyrocketed. I originally was going to buy a Sekonic light meter, the Pentax ring flash this weekend, but LBA has gripped me hard again.

I got a few ways I can play this.

1) FA 43mm & Pentax ring flash from B&H shipped to Canada ($1125) - kills two birds with one stone, but tricky for warranty service

2) FA 43mm or 31mm locally ($919 or $1395 respectively) the 31 could tip the scales and just be out of reach. this is obscenely expensive compared to importing

3) 31mm imported through B&H ($1065)


Now, here is where the tricky starts. I gave my DA 40mm Limited to my niece because well... I rarely used it. Now that she has it... I wish I had it again as a nice lil lens to keep with me at all times. Even more so, I'd like to have it for the LX as my normal lens as my next best A-ring lens is the M 50 f1.7 (because my Tak is all yellow inside). which, while not a bad lens, is no where near as good as the 77 that accompanies it. Now I don't use this focal length on APC a lot, but the DA40 did get a lot of use on my MZ6 and I really enjoyed it there. Coupled with the Ring Flash would get me another missing piece of lighting I've been desiring for a little while. In fact after that my lighting goals for mid-term would be complete or near complete.

the 31mm though is...well its the bloody 31mm. I have no lens of the FL that can compare to the FA31. My best lens under 50mm is the 16-50 DA*, which obviously isn't great with film cameras, and is arguably not as good as the FA 31. Then there is the 3D effect, the sharpness, and the speed of this wide angle. I had the Sigma, but didn't like it, not because of the FOV (which I don't really enjoy a whole lot on APS-C to be honest) but because I didn't find it rendered colors very well. So I'm very torn on adding the 31 to the collection. Really I want it just to complete the 3, and to see what all the hype is about. I think I would get 10x more use out of it on film than I do digital. And looking back on this past year, I've ran on average 2-3 rolls of film through my MX. And most of it black and white...which I've decided i don't like using too much, but Kodak Portra... love it! P.S. love 28mm FOV on film, LOVE IT!

So the question is.... dual use lens, or a lens that I may only use on film first... and buy local and support my local shop and get the product support I'm used too... or buy online and hope I never need warranty... I've never had to make a claim on a lens anyways... but this could be the one. :P

02-26-2013, 12:21 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
I gave my DA 40mm Limited to my niece because well... I rarely used it. Now that she has it... I wish I had it again as a nice lil lens to keep with me at all times. Even more so, I'd like to have it for the LX as my normal lens
Not sure if I've understood you correctly here,
but remember the DA 40 doesn't have an aperture ring,
so it won't really work on the LX.
There is the M40,
who's major (only?) good point is its compactness.

If you do want a DA 40, but are stretching the finances,
you may be able to get the XS version used
a lot cheaper than the Ltd version.
02-26-2013, 09:33 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
Not sure if I've understood you correctly here,
but remember the DA 40 doesn't have an aperture ring,
so it won't really work on the LX.
There is the M40,
who's major (only?) good point is its compactness.

If you do want a DA 40, but are stretching the finances,
you may be able to get the XS version used
a lot cheaper than the Ltd version.
No, I don't want the DA again. Mostly because I can't use it on film and I would like something faster than 2.8.
02-26-2013, 11:05 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
If all goes according to plan budget wise, I'll pickup one of the last two FA Limiteds this weekend. I've got the 77, and it' has been my most used lens since I got it just under a year ago. Now that I've acquired an LX, it's seeing even more use, and the wantingness to get the remaining two has skyrocketed. I originally was going to buy a Sekonic light meter, the Pentax ring flash this weekend, but LBA has gripped me hard again.

I got a few ways I can play this.

1) FA 43mm & Pentax ring flash from B&H shipped to Canada ($1125) - kills two birds with one stone, but tricky for warranty service

2) FA 43mm or 31mm locally ($919 or $1395 respectively) the 31 could tip the scales and just be out of reach. this is obscenely expensive compared to importing

3) 31mm imported through B&H ($1065)


Now, here is where the tricky starts. I gave my DA 40mm Limited to my niece because well... I rarely used it. Now that she has it... I wish I had it again as a nice lil lens to keep with me at all times. Even more so, I'd like to have it for the LX as my normal lens as my next best A-ring lens is the M 50 f1.7 (because my Tak is all yellow inside). which, while not a bad lens, is no where near as good as the 77 that accompanies it. Now I don't use this focal length on APC a lot, but the DA40 did get a lot of use on my MZ6 and I really enjoyed it there. Coupled with the Ring Flash would get me another missing piece of lighting I've been desiring for a little while. In fact after that my lighting goals for mid-term would be complete or near complete.

the 31mm though is...well its the bloody 31mm. I have no lens of the FL that can compare to the FA31. My best lens under 50mm is the 16-50 DA*, which obviously isn't great with film cameras, and is arguably not as good as the FA 31. Then there is the 3D effect, the sharpness, and the speed of this wide angle. I had the Sigma, but didn't like it, not because of the FOV (which I don't really enjoy a whole lot on APS-C to be honest) but because I didn't find it rendered colors very well. So I'm very torn on adding the 31 to the collection. Really I want it just to complete the 3, and to see what all the hype is about. I think I would get 10x more use out of it on film than I do digital. And looking back on this past year, I've ran on average 2-3 rolls of film through my MX. And most of it black and white...which I've decided i don't like using too much, but Kodak Portra... love it! P.S. love 28mm FOV on film, LOVE IT!

So the question is.... dual use lens, or a lens that I may only use on film first... and buy local and support my local shop and get the product support I'm used too... or buy online and hope I never need warranty... I've never had to make a claim on a lens anyways... but this could be the one. :P
One word of advice, if you are buying FA 31, make sure you buy it locally. I had to go through several copies with BH to get a great copy (i.e., sharp wide open with minimal hood wobble). I had to go through even more copies (8-10 copies) to find a perfect MIJ copy (i.e. razor sharp wide open with no hood wobble). All I am trying to say is you need to test out the lens at the store and don't be shy about asking to test every one of their FA 31 in stock, until you find a great/perfect copy. I feel my MIJ copy performs even better than the one tested by Photozone -- at times I can't tell if f2.8 is really sharper than wide open as both are razor sharp (corner sharpness does improve greatly from 1.8 to 2.8, again, we are talking about sharp vs razor sharp, vignetting is more of a concern with wide open shots).

Good luck, the added expense to buy local is totally worth it with this lens, IMHO


Last edited by chesebert; 02-26-2013 at 11:11 AM.
02-26-2013, 11:58 AM   #5
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Try prodigital2000.com. It is based in Stratford, Ontario and part of the Carman's Fotosource chain. The have a reasonable amount of Pentax stuff for sale and the prices are usually quite competitive with the U.S. retailers. They have the FA 31 Limited you're looking at for a bit less than BH. I've bought from them before without issue:

New Pentax Wide Angle SMC FA 31mm F 1 8 Lens Black 0027075051157 | eBay
02-26-2013, 09:05 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by NotSteve Quote
Try prodigital2000.com. It is based in Stratford, Ontario and part of the Carman's Fotosource chain. The have a reasonable amount of Pentax stuff for sale and the prices are usually quite competitive with the U.S. retailers. They have the FA 31 Limited you're looking at for a bit less than BH. I've bought from them before without issue:

New Pentax Wide Angle SMC FA 31mm F 1 8 Lens Black 0027075051157 | eBay
paypal only though... I don't do paypal (been burned)
02-26-2013, 09:06 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by chesebert Quote
One word of advice, if you are buying FA 31, make sure you buy it locally. I had to go through several copies with BH to get a great copy (i.e., sharp wide open with minimal hood wobble). I had to go through even more copies (8-10 copies) to find a perfect MIJ copy (i.e. razor sharp wide open with no hood wobble). All I am trying to say is you need to test out the lens at the store and don't be shy about asking to test every one of their FA 31 in stock, until you find a great/perfect copy. I feel my MIJ copy performs even better than the one tested by Photozone -- at times I can't tell if f2.8 is really sharper than wide open as both are razor sharp (corner sharpness does improve greatly from 1.8 to 2.8, again, we are talking about sharp vs razor sharp, vignetting is more of a concern with wide open shots).

Good luck, the added expense to buy local is totally worth it with this lens, IMHO
good call.

makes me wonder even more now if I should even do the 43/flash combo from B&H then. The question here is... how is the consistency with the 43...otherwise I think I'll just grab them one at a time locally.
02-27-2013, 12:56 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
good call.

makes me wonder even more now if I should even do the 43/flash combo from B&H then. The question here is... how is the consistency with the 43...otherwise I think I'll just grab them one at a time locally.
Based on my experience, 43 and 77 do not present nearly as much copy variance as 31. I had to only go through a couple copies of 43 with BH, which was not a big deal. I think in that respect it may make sense for you to get the 43/flash from BH. But if you have your heart set on FA 31, I would first go through your local stock and see if you can find a perfect copy.

Pefectly made FA31 has the following characteristics: (i) absoltuely no wobble in lens hood (ii) very minor movement of the inner tube when shaken at the base (that's just how these things are made) and (iii) well damped focus ring (feels like a good manual focus, and not the typical AF lens feel), with no high pitch/odd grinding sound.

Do not settle for a "dreamy at wide open but sharp at f2.8" copy, that's not how a perfectly/well made FA 31 should behave.

You can always get the 43 later, but it's not always easy to find a perfect FA 31 and you can do return/exchange only so many times with BH.

Good luck.

02-28-2013, 07:18 PM   #9
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Decided to go early and check out the lenses locally. The 43mm is out of stock, and now been dropped to "special order status" which means pay in full and no returns. Not cool. I'll order online now, or from another shop. So I looked at 31's

There is some serious binding of the focus ring on the first FA 31 I looked at today. They luckily had another one in the back. The focus ring is very smooth, does make a small whirring noise when turned manually or on the AF with the K5. The hood on this one does have a tiny bit of play, but no where near as bad as the first one.

The first one was even noticeably soft at 2.8 through the viewfinder of my LX.... so it was an easy choice. I still paid way more than I wanted too for this lens, but having all three issues show up on the first copy kind of compounded the theory to buy this lens locally.

It's smaller and lighter than I originally thought, which is a welcome surprise, and of course the build quality is phenomenal, just as I would expect being the owner of an FA 77.

I took a couple of shots with the LX on the way home, but with the night winding down and me being a bit lazy, I've decided to play around a bit at home instead.

So...what is the first camera I mount the FA 31 onto aside from the LX?

K5? no
Nikon D600? yup

This is surprising...

The 77 is a pain in the butt to focus on the D600 with the fotidiox adapter. With the FA 31, much easier... and dang is this thing pin sharp, even on the 600! Swapping it over to the K5 was just as impressive, especially with the focus lock.

I'll do some maintenance this weekend on my gear and setup the focus adjustment on all my lenses with the K5's and then go out and do some shooting. I'm pretty excited.


first thoughts?

film: not as happy with the FOV as I thought. I use my 28mm f2.8 quite a bit on film, so I thought with such a minimal change the 31 would be a welcome upgrade. For some strange reason it just does not feel right. Could be the limited subject matter... so I will have to continue and see what happens.

digital: surprised how much I like the FOV. I don't like my 28mm f2.8 on APS-C format, so I didn't think I'd like the 31. Granted I've only shot stuff sitting on the couch, but I 'm enjoying it. Very impressed with the sharpness, more impressive than the 77. I honestly expected the same results, just in a wider format... I seem to be mistaken...
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