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03-25-2013, 10:57 AM   #1
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FA31 purchasing questions

Well, I never thought this day would arrive, (and it actually hasn't yet), but I was told at work last week that I have a surprise bonus coming this Friday with my paycheck, and to the chagrin of my wife, I told her that a third of it is going to the purchase of an FA31.

[Background: I have been doing the FA31/FA77 internal debate and research ever since I found out about my bonus last week, as I want both lenses pretty much equally.. The funny thing is that while the hefty price tag of the FA31 is a deterrent to many, for me it actually tips the scale in favor of the FA31 because I can buy the FA31 and then worst case scenario if I feel like I should have got the FA77, I can sell the FA31 to buy it. I know that I would love the FA77 even more than the FA31 for everything - except for indoors stuff. FA50/1.4 was my first prime and I love it, but as long as I've had a cropped Pentax camera, I've felt that 50mm is too long for indoors, and even my DAL35 feels slightly too long and slow to me for indoors.. 28mm for me has always been a favorite for indoors and other stuff too, but my 28's are MF f2.8's and I feel that's often too slow...So I could buy the FA77 first, in hopes that I could eventually buy the FA31, but that would be harder and take longer than going for a FA77 later because of the steeper price tag.. Like many I am sure, I have considered waiting for the upcoming Sigma 35/1.4, but again, 35mm still feels a touch too long for me on k5..It is slightly faster which makes me waiver a bit, but the same situation applies here where I could sell the FA31 for the S35 if I really wanted to...]

So I am basically just looking for any advice you may have about purchasing the best FA31 I can for my circumstance. I've read a bit about the things to look out for once acquired, like the wobble and sharpness (although I don't actually know how to test lens sharpness yet)... My primary concern right now is where and what to buy. Should I make sure MIJ? I really want to buy for under $1000 (especially for the wife), but I want to make sure I have a good copy... The B&H copies are AIV, right? Is that ok? If any used copies come up on the forum before I pull the trigger, I might go for that but it seems unlikely...

Anyhow, I'll leave it at that for now. Thanks!


Last edited by todd; 03-25-2013 at 01:04 PM. Reason: grammar/typos
03-25-2013, 11:38 AM   #2
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I believe you can't go wrong with 31 Ltd. It is my favorite lens.
It is a fast lens with a unique focal length, fast AF, small size/weigth, great colour rendition and sharpness. The only downsides are chromatic aberrations and price
If you have any doubts, check these links Pentax SMC FA 31mm f/1.8 AL Limited - Lab Test / Review ; Pentax-FA 31mm F1.8 Limited Review - Introduction - PentaxForums.com ;

What concerns AIV and MIJ, there is really no difference, so you shouldn't worry about that. The only thing you should be concerned is the annoying wobble of the front element. I don't believe it has any influence to optical quality, but just as I said, it annoys. So if you get a copy with this slight wobble, return and get a new one.

Last edited by Apapukas; 05-01-2014 at 12:37 AM.
03-25-2013, 12:39 PM   #3
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there is no more new ones make in MIJ anymore, so the question is really worth paying more for a used MIJ? I think a brand new AIV is better than MIU, in the sense of something is wrong (or change of mind,) you be able to exchange/refund.
03-25-2013, 12:44 PM   #4
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Thanks guys! Good points. I suppose the only way I will be getting a used copy is in the unlikely event there is a good deal to be had...

I've read the reviews and flooded my brain with shots from the FA limited lens club and flickr. Excited to look through that assembly of glass myself!

Wonderful shots Apapukas!

03-25-2013, 01:13 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by todd Quote
worst case scenario
The worst case is that the bonus only comes in at $30.

As for the lens I'm sure you'll be fine no matter where it's made.
03-25-2013, 01:18 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by kerrowdown Quote
The worst case is that the bonus only comes in at $30.

As for the lens I'm sure you'll be fine no matter where it's made.
Haha after taxes it might be!
03-25-2013, 01:19 PM   #7
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MIJ or AIV won't really matter as far as optical alignment is concerned. There are good and bad copies for both (and maybe more bad ones from MIJ). If in doubt, get the FA77 which is far less likely to be suffered from misalignment.
03-25-2013, 01:25 PM   #8
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i usually buy used and the FA31 copy I got was superb! MIJ vs AIV is a myth to create mystique. If anything, i'd rather have the more recently manufactured AIV lenses.
Regarding price, just pick a reputable dealer(with good return conditions, just in case) at a fair price. This lens is so good, I wouldnt mind paying $50-$100 more if need be to land a healthy copy. Good luck.

03-25-2013, 01:32 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
MIJ or AIV won't really matter as far as optical alignment is concerned. There are good and bad copies for both (and maybe more bad ones from MIJ). If in doubt, get the FA77 which is far less likely to be suffered from misalignment.
Thanks! I read about somebody who had to send his copies back 2 or 3 times before it was settled (due to the wobble issue I think). That's really the only possibility I am concerned about.. That and testing the sharpness and focus.. I've never tested any of my lenses for focus accuracy, so I guess that's my next stop to go learn how to test and adjust it..
03-25-2013, 01:36 PM   #10
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You already received some helpful comments. Generally, used prices for the FA1mm are high. If you can wait, there are each year some discount periods when you can get get a new FA31mm for almost the same price as as used ones (eg from Adorama or B&H). Just wait and keep looking at the price watch. I got mine from Adorama, new during one such period. And I do not regret my purchase: a grest lens.

Hope that the comment may help.
03-25-2013, 01:41 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikeSF Quote
i usually buy used and the FA31 copy I got was superb! MIJ vs AIV is a myth to create mystique. If anything, i'd rather have the more recently manufactured AIV lenses.
Regarding price, just pick a reputable dealer(with good return conditions, just in case) at a fair price. This lens is so good, I wouldnt mind paying $50-$100 more if need be to land a healthy copy. Good luck.
Thanks Mike! Your work has been a big inspiration!
03-25-2013, 01:43 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
You already received some helpful comments. Generally, used prices for the FA1mm are high. If you can wait, there are each year some discount periods when you can get get a new FA31mm for almost the same price as as used ones (eg from Adorama or B&H). Just wait and keep looking at the price watch. I got mine from Adorama, new during one such period. And I do not regret my purchase: a grest lens.

Hope that the comment may help.
Thanks hcc... That does help but unfortunately I can't wait. If I don't buy the lens fast, the wife will pay bills with the money...

So, if I buy new, any preferences on Adorama or B&H? I've never purchased from either one and their prices are basically the same on the 31 right now.. (I was thinking B&H since it seems to have some benefit to the forum here)..
03-25-2013, 05:39 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by todd Quote
If I don't buy the lens fast, the wife will pay bills with the money...

.
Nooooo !! she must be stopped !!!
sorry, I feel powerless, i'm too far away

You'll have to have a serious talk with her about priorities
03-25-2013, 06:17 PM   #14
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Possibly lost in this equation is what are you buying your wife?
03-25-2013, 07:25 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
Possibly lost in this equation is what are you buying your wife?
..She gets to pay of some bills that she incurred in the past... :-)

She also will probably get something she wants, or at least a down payment on it, which is Disneyland passes for the fam... Of course I don't entirely mind since that would give me another place to take pictures...
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