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03-04-2013, 06:16 PM   #1
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Pentax FA 43 or DA 35 Macro?

FA 43 limited or DA 35mm Macro with Price being equal....if you could only choose one lens which one would it be? I've got a K5 with an 18-135mm DA WR. I'm looking for a companion for this lens. I want a wow factor sharp lens I won't want to take off my camera. The only reason I opted for the DA 35 Macro is to shoot my HO train layout to get better close ups. However the 18-135mm does the job OK now but I'm willing to forgo the DA 35 macro lens if the FA 43 is "THE ONE".

Regarding the Pentax lens reviews for SHARPNESS they give the DA 35 a 9.6 while the FA 43 gets a 9.8. Are they really that close?

03-04-2013, 06:29 PM   #2
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The da limiteds are good or even very good, but the FA limiteds are great. FA43 vs DA35 is a no contest in my book.
03-04-2013, 06:33 PM   #3
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The FA may be a bit better but I would not expect it to be able to focus as close as the 35 Limited Macro. Perhaps I am wrong? I know I would take the 35 Limited Macro.
03-04-2013, 06:34 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
The da limiteds are good or even very good, but the FA limiteds are great. FA43 vs DA35 is a no contest in my book.
So +1 for the 43 and +1 for the 35


Last edited by Driline; 03-04-2013 at 06:43 PM.
03-04-2013, 06:47 PM   #5
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I also pondered the same decision and ended up with the DA 35 Macro, because of the macro capabilities. I also have the 18-135mm for it's WR use. Now I also have the FA 50mm F2.8 macro and a DA 70mm F2.4 Limited. I guess I really like the small physical size plus the quality of the end product it produces. Next on my list is the 15mm.
03-04-2013, 06:47 PM   #6
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I have both, and would say the Fa43 limited any day (In fact, I would take the Fa 43 over my fa 31 as well). The rendering of the Fa43 is more appealing to my eye, and the Da35 macro seems a bit clinical at times in comparison. This is especially true for portraits particularly i would say, and the the FA 43 is a much nicer lens for landscape as well (all my subjective opinion)
03-04-2013, 06:48 PM   #7
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I don't think anyone's answered the part of the question about the intended use of the lens. The 43mm will be pretty disappointing, you won't get close at all, and it will be too narrow a field of view. Everything will just look like a toy. Yes, get it for portraits or street photography, but forget about it for model train photography. My experience here is from shooting architectural models that I've made as part of my job.

For photos of models, the sigma 17-70 is a great performer. I'm pretty sure 35mm or especially 43mm won't be anywhere near wide enough if you want to get into the scene. Sigma 10-20 is also nice, and like the 17-70 can focus right down close.

However
Point and shoot cameras are much, much better than dslrs for models, due to the increased depth of field. DSLRs give photos with insufficient depth of field so the photo just looks like a photo of something small. You also get much better videos from a point and shoot and they can be positioned inside the models to take interesting photos, whereas dslrs just get in the way and are hard to position. I have a Pentax p70 and I'd use that any day of the week over a dslr if I was going to shoot model trains.

$0.02

Last edited by calsan; 03-04-2013 at 06:53 PM.
03-04-2013, 06:54 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by captainbert Quote
I have both, and would say the Fa43 limited any day (In fact, I would take the Fa 43 over my fa 31 as well).
Wow that speaks volumes about the FA 43. Again, I could forgo the DA 35 Macro and just continue to use the 18-135mm for the train layout if the 43 is that much better a lens. I would not use the 43 for the train layout but would use it exclusively for indoor portrait shots as well as landscape. The only reason I did not consider the FA 31 is the price. I can get the DA 35 Macro or FA 43 limiteds for nearly the same price.

The last Prime lens on my list will be the DA 15mm but that will come later.

03-04-2013, 06:59 PM   #9
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Am I going to get as good a landscape shot with the 35 as the 43? What about the starburst? Which lens has the better starburst effect? I've seen the DA 15 so I know what the best looks like.
03-04-2013, 08:10 PM   #10
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I owned the 35 ltd briefly (it was the first lens I had for my K5) and returned it because of unexpectedly high levels of PF, but I wasn't tempted to try another copy... the focal length (on APSC) was neither wide enough nor long enough for my (subjective) tastes. Last fall I finally broke down and purchased the 43, influenced by my love of the 77 and its rendering. Long story short, I have a very hard time taking it off my camera, even the 77 doesn't stay on for more than a day or two before the 43 is back in its rightful place. For me, the 43 has a character that was missing from the 35.

As far as using the 43 for landscapes, (I use it more for portraiture and still life) have a look at the recent set of pictures of Paris posted by Nick Larson on the FA limited lens club.
03-04-2013, 08:19 PM   #11
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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...
03-04-2013, 08:44 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
You can't go wrong with either lens
I agree with everything panoguy said. I'd come down on the side of the 35 for its versatility and close-up capabilities. The 43 is very special, though.
03-04-2013, 08:55 PM - 2 Likes   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by captainbert Quote
I have both, and would say the Fa43 limited any day (In fact, I would take the Fa 43 over my fa 31 as well). The rendering of the Fa43 is more appealing to my eye
The WOW factor in the FA43 is that it captures colors more vividly than any other lens I've seen (the DA15 and the similar-in-rendering DA10-17 are roughly equal to it in color brilliance, although they have a rather different character).

The FA31 doesn't really have a wow factor, which is actually the whole point of its design.


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).

Last edited by DSims; 03-04-2013 at 09:09 PM.
03-04-2013, 09:07 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
The WOW factor in the FA43 is that it captures colors more vividly than any other lens I've seen (the DA15 and the similar-in-rendering DA10-17 are roughly equal to it in color brilliance, although they have a rather different character).

The FA31 doesn't really have a wow factor, which is actually the whole point of its design.


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).
If what you say is true given both lenses are equally sharp and the only advantage of the 43 is a bit more color capture then I am leaning more towards the 35 for close up macro images of my layout but yet still able to use it outdoors for nice landscape shots. I wish the 35 had the pixie dust effect though as that seems what it truly is missing compared to the 43. I just don't want to shell out for both lenses as they are similar in focal length. I will as I stated later pick up the DA 15 to fill out the missing landscape focal length in my DA 18-135mm zoom lens.

Taken side by side pictures of the 43 and the 35 are they really that noticeably different?
03-04-2013, 09:42 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
If what you say is true given both lenses are equally sharp and the only advantage of the 43 is a bit more color capture then I am leaning more towards the 35 for close up macro images of my layout but yet still able to use it outdoors for nice landscape shots. I wish the 35 had the pixie dust effect though as that seems what it truly is missing compared to the 43. I just don't want to shell out for both lenses as they are similar in focal length. I will as I stated later pick up the DA 15 to fill out the missing landscape focal length in my DA 18-135mm zoom lens.

Taken side by side pictures of the 43 and the 35 are they really that noticeably different?
I haven't owned the DA35 macro Ltd, but that was a deliberate decision, as the images I saw never quite "captured" me the way I thought they should. The FA43 is a different story, which is why I still own it. I've compared it a couple of times in a studio setting to Phase One and Hasselblad systems with their beautiful CCD sensors. The FA43 on the K-5 compares favorably with similarly beautiful, saturated colors, to the point where I can forget which one I'm looking at, and have trouble deciding which one I prefer at normal viewing sizes (less than 100%). I instinctively knew to pull out the FA43 over my more expensive lenses when I was doing these comparisons.

If you need macro than get the DA35 Ltd by all means (which makes it a pretty versatile lens), but the FA43 is more "special" and much more suited to portraiture (not only because of its focal length), as you can see here: http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/photos/gallery/query?camera=&lens=1120#/grid See how the colors are nicely saturated, yet still look natural (at least to me). it simply gathers more color than other lenses, with character you can't really add through PP, not matter how much you'd like to.

I may have confused the issue, since my comments are usually biased toward fast lenses that perform excellently near wide open (< f/4), where I often shoot. But I challenge you to find a better lens at "typical" studio apertures of ~f/4 to f/11. If you do it will probably have a name like "Leica" and cost a lot more. It's in this range that the FA43 really shines, which is why its "shortcomings" don't really matter that much.

Last edited by DSims; 03-04-2013 at 09:52 PM.
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