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03-04-2013, 09:44 PM   #16
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I like the 43 over the 35, but for your close up application of model trains, I am not so sure if the 43 will get you close enough. I also have a very small extension tube that I can pop on any lens to get it to focus close for macros. Works great.

03-04-2013, 10:04 PM   #17
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similar position

I was in a similar position to yourself but I can certainly assure you that you would be much better off with the 43mm ltd.

I recently sold off a Sigma zoom to get the quality of that WP 18-135mm you have now and was surprised to find it had a very decent macro function. So I sold my old second hand Sigma macro as well.

The trouble with that 35mm is that apparently you have to be quite close to your subject to apply the macro function so it sort of defeats the purpose, 'almost'. Its a nice lens but my interest is FAlimited (pardon the pun). 43mm is like putting a 50mm on a full frame. You get a beautiful range of view, image quality of the FA ltd line (although its not as 'pop' as the 77) and a highly versatile lens.

If you really want a lens you can just leave on your camera for great pictures, you should go the 43mm FA ltd.
03-05-2013, 01:26 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
The FA43 suffers a noticeable loss of IQ if not stopped down to at least f/2.2, and is better off stopped down to at least f/2.5 or f/2.8. Still, it beats any of the Pentax AF 50's at equivalent apertures, and it yields a desirable image character that's difficult to find anywhere else. But don't mistake it for one of the fastest lenses, like the FA77 or FA31 (which are great wide open) or the FA*85 or DA*55 (which perform nicely at f/1.6 or 1.8).

Lenses are kind of like people - none of them are ideal, but once you stop expecting them to be you start to notice the unique, beautiful character many of them have, and you appreciate each one for what it is. When I choose a lens I want to use for a particular situation, its character can be just as important as the actual focal length (which I can often work around).
DSims, I am interested in your thoughts about the 43mm vs. 55/1.4. I have the 55 and really love it, but I am also interested in the 43. How would you compare especially the color rendering and bokeh of the two lenses? I am asking because from some 43 pictures I've seen I've got the feeling that the two lenses render very similar, and both seem to have very nice & smooth but somehow still "spicy" (I am struggling for words here...) bokeh. Or am I mistaken?
03-05-2013, 02:28 AM   #19
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I have the DA 35mm and it's nothing short of superb, I would never be without it. I'm sure the 43mm is great too, but a little long for a general purpose prime.

03-05-2013, 04:18 AM - 1 Like   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by sTi Quote
DSims, I am interested in your thoughts about the 43mm vs. 55/1.4. I have the 55 and really love it, but I am also interested in the 43. How would you compare especially the color rendering and bokeh of the two lenses? I am asking because from some 43 pictures I've seen I've got the feeling that the two lenses render very similar, and both seem to have very nice & smooth but somehow still "spicy" (I am struggling for words here...) bokeh. Or am I mistaken?
There's a simple breakdown I've given before. I think there are 3 outstanding ~50mm Pentax lenses, and here they are. The DA*55 is the only one I don't own (simply because I have trouble justifying owning all 3), but I've used it:


DA*55 - sharpest, especially near wide-open at f/1.6 or f/1.8. The FA*85 (and probably A*85) is its only peer in this regard, that can actually be this sharp and clear this fast. However, it can have terribly harsh backgrounds at times (such as with some bushes), while being beautifully smooth at other times. Color rendering is more or less like an average Tokina (which is good), but not the step-above that the FA43 is.

FA43 - Backgrounds are never that bad but never especially smooth either. In other words the background's not distracting, but may not be noticeably beautiful either. However, foreground colors are striking, beating the other two, as well as any other lens I've used. NOT optimally sharp unless stopped down a bit - preferably a whole stop or more. It is effectively 2 full stops slower than the DA*55, but still can't be beat in its overall rendering and colors, especially if you're stopping down a bit. This little silver finished metal lens and hood looks the coolest, correctly giving people the impression that - despite its small size - it could be something special.

A or K50/1.2 (I have the K version) - Almost impossible to get a harsh background - always smooth. Only the FA31 is similar in this regard. Doesn't appear that sharp throughout the first stop or more, but not bad either. I believe the K version has slightly nicer backgrounds and I prefer it, although some of this is caused by what are technically called flaws today. i still like it better. Color rendering is the beautiful warm rendering of an ~35 year old Pentax lens.


In summary, all 3 are distinctly different. I think you could easily own any 2 of them. If I were starting over and I could only own 1 I'd probably pick the DA*55, but as it is I can't bring myself to part with the unique qualities of either of the other two, especially since each qualifies as the "best Pentax lens made" in its particular area of strength.

Last edited by DSims; 03-05-2013 at 04:48 AM.
03-05-2013, 05:45 AM   #21
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Thanks, DSims,for your valuable information on the three lenses. One thing, however, puzzles me: you write of the DA*55 that it's "Color rendering is more or less like an average Tokina (which is good)". I'm not sure what you mean by that as I never owned a Tokina lens and don't know about their special rendering characteristics. Was the DA 55 also co-developed with Tokina like some other DA lenses?
03-05-2013, 05:58 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by infinity Quote
I was in a similar position to yourself but I can certainly assure you that you would be much better off with the 43mm ltd.

I recently sold off a Sigma zoom to get the quality of that WP 18-135mm you have now and was surprised to find it had a very decent macro function. So I sold my old second hand Sigma macro as well.

The trouble with that 35mm is that apparently you have to be quite close to your subject to apply the macro function so it sort of defeats the purpose, 'almost'. Its a nice lens but my interest is FAlimited (pardon the pun). 43mm is like putting a 50mm on a full frame. You get a beautiful range of view, image quality of the FA ltd line (although its not as 'pop' as the 77) and a highly versatile lens.

If you really want a lens you can just leave on your camera for great pictures, you should go the 43mm FA ltd.
That's the crux of the whole situation. I'm getting the close up shots I need of the train layout with the 18-135mm lens. I certainly don't need a 2" close up of my train layout if that's what the macro function of the 35 will do.Typically I need about a 12" wide view or more of my subject. I'm tilting back towards the FA 43..........
03-05-2013, 06:57 AM   #23
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Hi, I don't own the DA35 Limited and don't do macro shooting, but if you are searching for the "wow factor" I think the FA 43 is the one to get.

As it's a fast lens you get this shallow DOF which is great for portraits, and also for handheld shoots in low-light conditions.

The color rendition is great and I find its sharpness reasonably good wide open :








About landscapes, I find some of my DA lenses a tad sharper but it's a close call.

03-05-2013, 07:17 AM   #24
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The 18-135 already goes very close at 135mm (about 40mm IIRC).
It renders nicely too.
DOF (less) is not too big a deal at such a long FL and short focusing distance.

For the model trains, I'd suggest the DA35ltd macro.
For other stuff, I would prefer the FA43ltd.
03-05-2013, 07:58 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by pinholecam Quote
The 18-135 already goes very close at 135mm (about 40mm IIRC).
It renders nicely too.
DOF (less) is not too big a deal at such a long FL and short focusing distance.

For the model trains, I'd suggest the DA35ltd macro.
For other stuff, I would prefer the FA43ltd.
So you're saying I really should just get both Finances say only one though.........for now.
03-05-2013, 08:29 AM   #26
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I love my DA35ltd, super-sharp and a great performer. It is a real "normal" lens on APS-C, whilst the 43 is a bit to long for that. I'd quickly feel cornered. But the DA35ltd is not without "flaws" though. It could really do with a focus limiter. It's a macro lens with an extreme short focussing distance. It sometimes goes through it's entire focal range whilst focussing at objects that aren't even all that close by. A simple little button to switch between normal and macro would have done wonders.
03-05-2013, 10:53 AM   #27
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I have both lenses. The DA 35mm Macro Ltd is the more versatile of the two lenses.
03-05-2013, 10:59 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
I have both lenses. The DA 35mm Macro Ltd is the more versatile of the two lenses.
Then can you tell me if the 35 is as sharp outdoors as the 43? Would you have any qualms at all using the 35 as an all around landscape lens too?
03-05-2013, 01:15 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
You can't go wrong with either lens, but you will develop a lust for "just one more" Limited lens...

As far as experiences, I have both, and have used them extensively for a few years now. The 43mm is a "pixie dust lens" (and IMHO it's the best of the FA Limiteds, or at least mine is better than it's siblings) with very unique rendering and bokeh, and is nicely sharp from f/2, which is barely stopped down. There's a reason the FA Limiteds are coveted by everyone, even non-Pentax users!

However, the DA 35mm Macro may not have that "pixie dust" rendering, but I think it's a better all-around lens. It simply never falls down when you ask it to capture something challenging, as some very astute lens nuts have noted. Being a macro, the 35mm has excellent distortion control and great bokeh, and is sharper and more micro-contrasty than the FA lenses (which might be due to the smaller aperture, newer coatings and digital-optimized design). But it doesn't open up to f/2, and it won't impart a "personality" to your shots.

To me, the 43 is just slightly "long" for a normal field of view on APS-C sensors (it was designed as a normal lens for full-frame film), while the 35mm FOV fits APS-C like a glove. Images from the FA 43mm definitely have a much more unique "feel" than the DA 35mm, but the 35mm Macro just gets out of your way and does a great job, time after time! The 43mm comes out for special occasions, while the 35mm macro is a "daily driver" lens. Again, all of this is just my opinion...
So do you think the 35mm is a sharper lens than the 43? I'm not talking about macro, just normal FOV.

I guess I want to be able to take this lens outside and shoot landscapes without wishing I had the 43 instead. I would forgo the Macro capabilities just to acquire a "pixie" lens.
03-05-2013, 02:02 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
Then can you tell me if the 35 is as sharp outdoors as the 43? Would you have any qualms at all using the 35 as an all around landscape lens too?
The DA 35 ltd is a great landscape lens. I had to micro-adjust the focusing a tiny bit to get accurate focusing at infinity, but once done is incredibly sharp with great colour and contrast.
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