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03-15-2013, 07:09 AM   #1
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DA*55 vs K/Tak 55mm

Any idea, how does DA*55mm compares with the rest of the Pentax 55mm lenses (K, SMC, Tak etc) starting f1.8.

Thanks

03-15-2013, 08:23 AM   #2
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The answer to just about every DA vs M/K question is "it has less fringing", I would say

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03-15-2013, 09:00 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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I've been meaning to compare my fifties, which include the DA 55/1.4 and Tak 55/1.8. The bottom line, though, is that the differences between the lenses aren't very meaningful in photographic terms. I'd recommend an A50/1.7, or DA50/1.8 for autofocus, to anyone who's just looking to make pictures with this length of lens. For absolute value, SMC Takumar 55/2. Personally, I'm overly distracted by minor aberrations that very few other people care about, even if they notice them, and I also am fascinated by the optics and mechanics of camera lenses... but those aren't the same as photography.

Here are my lenses and what I would expect to find in a comparison:
Takumar 55/1.8. Low contrast but sufficient resolution. Good for atmospheric portraiture. Renders veiling glare much like my own eyes, which makes its images more natural and comfortable.
Super Takumar 50/1.4. Similar to the 55/1.8, but with a particular glow or radiance when used wide open.
SMC-M 50/1.7. Solid but not outstanding rendering, in every aspect; which is to say, desirable as a standard lens. Higher contrast than non-SMC lenses, creating an appearance of sharper images. In a word, balanced.
SMC-A 50/1.4. Has the glow of its Super Takumar predecessor, but with much higher overall contrast. Wide open, this lens is all about that glow. Oddly, though technically superior to the Takumar, to me this lens becomes more specialized due to the dominance of that often-desirable aberration.
DA* 55/1.4. Gives what I think of as a modern rendering: where older lenses are desirable for their warm, tender rendering, this lens is desirable for its stark, unfiltered honesty. Basically, this lens' characteristic is that it gets out of the way and lets the subject speak for itself. Plus, remarkably smooth distant background bokeh.
Leica 50/2 (contemporary of the SMC-M line). Avoids the Pentax-characteristic green bokeh fringing. More natural rendering of nearly-in-focus bokeh, at the possible cost of harsher far-from-focused bokeh. Lower contrast than SMC, but likely more center resolution.

But then, I haven't actually done a systematic comparison yet, so that's just my impression. Now I want to see how well my impression matches up with reality. More to come.
03-15-2013, 01:55 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by JonPB Quote
I've been meaning to compare my fifties, which include the DA 55/1.4 and Tak 55/1.8. The bottom line, though, is that the differences between the lenses aren't very meaningful in photographic terms. I'd recommend an A50/1.7, or DA50/1.8 for autofocus, to anyone who's just looking to make pictures with this length of lens. For absolute value, SMC Takumar 55/2. Personally, I'm overly distracted by minor aberrations that very few other people care about, even if they notice them, and I also am fascinated by the optics and mechanics of camera lenses... but those aren't the same as photography.

Here are my lenses and what I would expect to find in a comparison:
Takumar 55/1.8. Low contrast but sufficient resolution. Good for atmospheric portraiture. Renders veiling glare much like my own eyes, which makes its images more natural and comfortable.
Super Takumar 50/1.4. Similar to the 55/1.8, but with a particular glow or radiance when used wide open.
SMC-M 50/1.7. Solid but not outstanding rendering, in every aspect; which is to say, desirable as a standard lens. Higher contrast than non-SMC lenses, creating an appearance of sharper images. In a word, balanced.
SMC-A 50/1.4. Has the glow of its Super Takumar predecessor, but with much higher overall contrast. Wide open, this lens is all about that glow. Oddly, though technically superior to the Takumar, to me this lens becomes more specialized due to the dominance of that often-desirable aberration.
DA* 55/1.4. Gives what I think of as a modern rendering: where older lenses are desirable for their warm, tender rendering, this lens is desirable for its stark, unfiltered honesty. Basically, this lens' characteristic is that it gets out of the way and lets the subject speak for itself. Plus, remarkably smooth distant background bokeh.
Leica 50/2 (contemporary of the SMC-M line). Avoids the Pentax-characteristic green bokeh fringing. More natural rendering of nearly-in-focus bokeh, at the possible cost of harsher far-from-focused bokeh. Lower contrast than SMC, but likely more center resolution.

But then, I haven't actually done a systematic comparison yet, so that's just my impression. Now I want to see how well my impression matches up with reality. More to come.
That's one heck of a nice analysis that I find really helpful too.

03-15-2013, 02:56 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by JonPB Quote
DA* 55/1.4. Gives what I think of as a modern rendering: where older lenses are desirable for their warm, tender rendering, this lens is desirable for its stark, unfiltered honesty. Basically, this lens' characteristic is that it gets out of the way and lets the subject speak for itself. Plus, remarkably smooth distant background bokeh.
I'd pretty much agree with this.
I used to own both DA*55 and K55/1.8 at the same time as FA43ltd and K50/1.2.

Out of these 4 the DA* had the most neutral rendering. Honest and sometimes brutal. It was very sharp at any f stop and the best IQ was around f2. The out of focus rendering wide open was often too distractive for me but the lens did give me some very memorable shots.

FA43ltd, was the best do it all lens. Touch warmer than DA* and very specific rendering especially between f2.8 and f4. 1 out of 5 copies of that lens I owned was displaying ninja stars when stopped down to f2.8 and smaller. I preferred the subject isolation from DA*55 but I always preferred the rendering of FA43ltd.

K55/1.8, very warm colours. Really nice rendering wide open but stopped down the hexagons became annoying too quickly. Resolution legged behind DA* and FA ltd but wide open this lens was great for people shots

K50/1.2 was the best of the bunch. Probably the best Pentax lens I owned. On K10D it was magnificent but on K-7 I didn't like it too much. I believe on K-5IIs it would shine. It's sharp enough wide open and stopped down to to f1.8 and beyond it's magnificent without being too sharp. On APSC it's excellent people/portrait lens and wide open the rendering is unmatched by any of the above.

few samples:
DA*55
wide open



f2


FA43ltd
f2.8



wide open


K55/1.8
wide open






K50/1.2
wide open



03-15-2013, 03:33 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Today, I have begun to learn just how much of a pain lens testing is.

I found that my DA*55 has some decentering, or at least that the right fifth of the frame is considerably less detailed that the rest of the frame. (I'll note that this lens has scratches from a fall onto a hard surface, so it probably wasn't a manufacturing problem.)

I found that slight misfocus can cause major differences in comparing lenses. Not necessarily in the overall quality of the image, but in telling the difference between two sets of very good optics.

But, as far as this thread is concerned, I'll say that if you don't know whether you want a Takumar 55/1.8 or a DA*55, then you shouldn't waste your money on the modern lens. Even my Auto-Takumar era lens is superb by f/2.8, and throughout its range has less blue glow than any of the SMC lenses I've tried. My DA*55 isn't representative, but it is better in most ways, including contrast, resolution, and bokeh... but the Takumar isn't all that different.

If you don't like the Takumar rendering, you'll probably need to go to another brand of lenses. My Leitz 50mm/2.0 doesn't have the high center resolution of any of the Pentax lenses that I tested--and it pains me to say that a free lens outdoes my $500 lens in any measure, but that's what I've seen. The Leica does, however, render differently. Bokeh doesn't have the thick, green outline; instead, it has a brighter, but much thinner, yellow outline. Bokeh is also harsher with the Leica, although I think this allows the Leica to convey more information about subjects that aren't quite in focus than do the Pentax lenses. Contrast is up across the frame. Overall, when I look at an image from my Leica 50/2, my brain seems to get a better representation of the subject matter than the Pentax lenses conveyed. If I'm shooting an outdoors portrait with lots of distance between the subject and the background, I want a Pentax. If I'm shooting in a close, dark environment, less controlling things than capturing what's happening, I want the Leica. The point being, if your shooting style will accommodate it, you'll probably be better off buying ten $50 lenses in the 50mm range, all from different makes, and picking the right lens for the right shot, than if you buy one expensive lens to do it all.

Because even the cheap Takumars will do it all, and will do so quite respectably.

Anyhow: if I were to have only one Pentax lens for my camera in the 50mm range, it would be the A50/1.4. Full automatic features except autofocus, decent manual focus feel, great performance in middle aperture settings, and a pleasant though gauzy performance wide open.

If I were to also have an autofocus zoom in the 50mm range, I'd go for the Takumar 55/1.8. Better performance wide open without the added color of SMC.

I'll probably sell the rest of my Pentax fifties, including the DA* once it is fixed. It'd be a great lens for portraiture; that's what the lens was designed for. That's just not how I want to use that focal length.
03-15-2013, 03:59 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by VisualDarkness Quote
That's one heck of a nice analysis that I find really helpful too.
You'll note that I was wrong about some things here. Lenses have to deal with so many different conditions that keeping track of them is like herding cats. That said, we have so many great options to choose from that it is almost hard to go wrong.

QuoteOriginally posted by axl Quote
I used to own both DA*55 and K55/1.8 at the same time as FA43ltd and K50/1.2.

S-1D MkIII + EF 24-70/2.8 L USM + EF50/1.2 L USM + 430EXII + ST-E2
...and almost impossible to go wrong if you have an eye for contrast like Axl has.

{Insert jokingly derogatory comment about Canon because I don't want to know why he walked away from his Pentax kit.}
03-15-2013, 04:11 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by JonPB Quote
You'll note that I was wrong about some things here. Lenses have to deal with so many different conditions that keeping track of them is like herding cats. That said, we have so many great options to choose from that it is almost hard to go wrong.



...and almost impossible to go wrong if you have an eye for contrast like Axl has.

{Insert jokingly derogatory comment about Canon because I don't want to know why he walked away from his Pentax kit.}
If I could hazard a guess it would be moving kids

03-15-2013, 05:18 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by JonPB Quote
T
Anyhow: if I were to have only one Pentax lens for my camera in the 50mm range, it would be the A50/1.4. Full automatic features except autofocus, decent manual focus feel, great performance in middle aperture settings, and a pleasant though gauzy performance wide open.
.
I never liked A50/1.4
Compared to K series and FA50/1.4 or DA*55 it somehow lacked contrast wide open and the colours appeared to me rather dull...
yes I did have most of Pentax 50s at some point or another, (The list of those I owned: K50/1.2, K50/1.4, K55/1.8, M50/1.4, A50/1.4, A50/1.7, F50/1.7, FA50/1.4, FA43/1.9ltd, DA*55/1.4) so ask for opinion if you want to...
03-15-2013, 05:21 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by JonPB Quote
You'll note that I was wrong about some things here. Lenses have to deal with so many different conditions that keeping track of them is like herding cats. That said, we have so many great options to choose from that it is almost hard to go wrong.



...and almost impossible to go wrong if you have an eye for contrast like Axl has.

{Insert jokingly derogatory comment about Canon because I don't want to know why he walked away from his Pentax kit.}
QuoteOriginally posted by elpolodiablo Quote
If I could hazard a guess it would be moving kids
pretty much.
The K-7 AF combined with SDM's sloppiness as exhibited in DA*55 was no match for my needs (sub 2m distances in poor light shooting wide or near wide open).
So Canon it was...and I have to say that 50L/1.2 is more than match for DA*55 in every aspect...
so lol all you want, I'm getting a lot more keepers than I ever was in my Pentax days, and they don't look worse either...
03-15-2013, 05:26 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by axl Quote
pretty much.
The K-7 AF combined with SDM's sloppiness as exhibited in DA*55 was no match for my needs (sub 2m distances in poor light shooting wide or near wide open).
So Canon it was...and I have to say that 50L/1.2 is more than match for DA*55 in every aspect...
so lol all you want, I'm getting a lot more keepers than I ever was in my Pentax days, and they don't look worse either...
No mocking intended at all, one uses whatever suits one's needs, and the Canon rig clearly works wonders for you, so all is good.
03-15-2013, 05:27 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by axl Quote
pretty much.
The K-7 AF combined with SDM's sloppiness as exhibited in DA*55 was no match for my needs (sub 2m distances in poor light shooting wide or near wide open).
So Canon it was...and I have to say that 50L/1.2 is more than match for DA*55 in every aspect...
so lol all you want, I'm getting a lot more keepers than I ever was in my Pentax days, and they don't look worse either...
That 50mm F1.2L looks like a real beauty (and cost like one), so I see why to go Canon for it. Compared to the optical construction of the 55/1.4 it's probably about 50 years newer of a design, but you have to pay for all that extra and advanced glass.
03-15-2013, 06:00 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by axl Quote
I'm getting a lot more keepers than I ever was in my Pentax days, and they don't look worse either...
I'm glad to hear it! Canon gear isn't for me--if not due to price, then to size and ergonomics--but it certainly works for other people, and I'm glad both that you're finding better ways to achieve what you want with your photography and that you're willing to contribute to this forum even if you're not shooting with a Pentax anymore. They're all tools and what's perfect for one person would be a horrible choice for someone else.
03-15-2013, 08:35 PM   #14
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Nice comparison. Any specific comparison with SMC 55s (like K55/1.8)?

QuoteOriginally posted by JonPB Quote
Takumar 55/1.8. Low contrast but sufficient resolution. Good for atmospheric portraiture. Renders veiling glare much like my own eyes, which makes its images more natural and comfortable.
Just wondering, is this for non SMC version? I have SMC K55/1.8 and I see it in par with my A50/1/4 and A50/1.7. In fact, I liked K55/1.8 so much that I just got another copy as backup and hence wondering how better is DA55 (off course f1.4 is an another reason).

QuoteOriginally posted by JonPB Quote
SMC-A 50/1.4. Has the glow of its Super Takumar predecessor, but with much higher overall contrast. Wide open, this lens is all about that glow. Oddly, though technically superior to the Takumar, to me this lens becomes more specialized due to the dominance of that often-desirable aberration.
I love this lens, and in fact I use it more than FA50 because of MF feel of it. A very recent pic with A50/1.4 wide open, as you can see from the eye in focus and screen texture below it that it acceptably sharp at f1.4 too

03-15-2013, 09:14 PM   #15
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With the DA*55 you get the weather sealing and newer coating (much better flare resistance).
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