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04-15-2013, 07:14 AM   #1
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Used Pentax DA* 50-135mm 2.8 vs 70mm Limited

Hey guys,

I am about to buy a used Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 in great condition for a, what I think is a reasonable price, of about 700$. Reading about the DA* 50-135mm made me a bit worried with all the stories about the SDM failing after only a few months, though.

At the moment I am mostly using prime lenses but especially when shooting portraits (candid or family) I feel somewhat limited with the primes I own (Pentax-M 135mm f/3.5, Pentax-K 55mm f/1.8) since changing is not always a possibility. I originally planed to buy a new 70mm limited which would cost me about 600$. I already own a 40mm Limited and I love it for it's built-quality, size and sharpness.

I just can not make up my mind and wanted to ask for some input from you guys about which lens to choose (DA* 50-135mm vs. 70mm Limited).

Thanks!

04-15-2013, 07:25 AM   #2
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I have not used the 70 Ltd, but I do own the DA*50-135. Great lens. For portraits, the "sweet spot" for me seems to be right around 70-80mm focal length though, so your 70 Ltd choice certainly seems valid. I also have the DA 15 Ltd, and the FA 43 Ltd, and I strongly favor the FA lens. So, if it were me, for about the same price as the DA*50-135, you could probably find a nice FA 77 Ltd. Now you're talking! Between the DA 70 Ltd and 50-135, I would take the zoom for its versatility, but if instead the choice was FA 77 Ltd vs the zoom, I'd opt for the 77. Not to complicate your choice, of course!
04-15-2013, 07:33 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by NeverSatisfied Quote
I have not used the 70 Ltd, but I do own the DA*50-135. Great lens. For portraits, the "sweet spot" for me seems to be right around 70-80mm focal length though, so your 70 Ltd choice certainly seems valid. I also have the DA 15 Ltd, and the FA 43 Ltd, and I strongly favor the FA lens. So, if it were me, for about the same price as the DA*50-135, you could probably find a nice FA 77 Ltd. Now you're talking! Between the DA 70 Ltd and 50-135, I would take the zoom for its versatility, but if instead the choice was FA 77 Ltd vs the zoom, I'd opt for the 77. Not to complicate your choice, of course!
Thanks for your opinion! Yeah I thought about the FA 77 Limited but it's just too expensive where I live. I never saw a used one pop up and a new one would cost me about 1.700 USD (1.500 ) on Amazon, which is more than double the price of the used DA*!

I just think I would appreciate the flexibility of the zoom even though I love primes a lot! But when shooting portraits I often feel like I have to move closer or a step back which is kinda slowing me down. Sure I can crop the image but I am not a huge fan of cropping and if I am too close cropping is not an option...
04-15-2013, 08:26 AM   #4
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I had a similar problem a while ago and I got the DaA70 for a portrait lens.

No SDM failures with this lens and at 70mm it will be sharper than the zoom.

That said it is hard to be the versatility of a zoom.

I considered tha DA 50/135 but I already had so many other lenses in the range.

Tom G.

04-15-2013, 08:26 AM   #5
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Ok I found another one where the seller lives in the same city as me. Price for this one is 599€ (around 80 Euro cheaper then the other one!) Now we're talking almost same prices (550€ vs 599€ - DA 70 Limited vs DA* 50-135). At this price point I am really leaning towards the DA*... What do you think about the prices?
04-15-2013, 08:26 AM   #6
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I have no experience with the 70mm, but the DA* 50-135 is a wonderful lens. I don't shoot portraits very often (hoping to change that) but I keep finding excuses to take it out.
But I do own a DA Limited (the 15mm) and it is one of my favorite lenses too.

It depends on what you want. Versatility? The DA*. Absolute image and build quality? The Limited. (Not that the DA* is bad, but the Limiteds feel amazing.)
04-15-2013, 08:28 AM   #7
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I own the 70Ltd and its a terrific Portrait Lens. The real plus is that its small, unobtrusive, and does not have SDM and its inherient faults. It makes for a nice candid portrait lens because of those factors too. Look at the survey here on the number of failures of SDM lenses, the zooms are the worst, and you'll think twice about them.
04-15-2013, 08:52 AM   #8
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A tough call - the 50-135 has great image quality and the versatility of the zoom. It's not really very far behind the DA70. But the DA70 is a great lens as well, and is much smaller and more portable. I have both, and there is not a great difference between them in terms of image quality - the prime lens does just edge it, but not by a lot.
When I was looking at reviews comparing the DA70 to the FA77, there didn't seem to be enough of a quality jump for the greater cost of the 77 - but it is FF . . . .
I am equally happy with both lenses, and have had no SDM issues. $700 does seem a good price for the 50-135, especially if you have the chance to thoroughly check it out beforehand.

04-15-2013, 09:11 AM   #9
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You need to determine if the versatility of the zoom is a bigger factor. The DA70 is an excellent lens, very light and tends not to attract as much attention as a big lens does. They both have their purpose.
04-15-2013, 09:58 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Croneberg Quote
Yeah I thought about the FA 77 Limited but it's just too expensive where I live. I never saw a used one pop up and a new one would cost me about 1.700 USD (1.500 €) on Amazon, which is more than double the price of the used DA*!
Ouch! Sorry, I did not take into account price differences in other countries. But I have seen used FA 77 Ltd's on the forum here for about $700 - $800, so I thought the two were pretty close in that regard.

As far as portraits, if you're going to be doing a lot of them, it is nice to have a prime that you can "dedicate" to that endeavor. I've been using the FA 43 Ltd for that lately, and have been really happy with the results. And its size is definitely less intimidating to your subject(s), as has been mentioned. However my FA 43 is also more general-purpose for me, and I use it a lot just for walking around; I probably wouldn't use a 70 or 77 as much, and so I personally would feel like I wasn't quite getting my "money's worth" out of it. But again, if you were going to do a lot of portraits, it wouldn't take long for it to realize its value.

Personally, if I had the money I'd own both the 77 and the 50-135, but if I had to choose only one or the other, I'd certainly pick the zoom. Tough decision, good luck with your choice!
04-15-2013, 10:05 AM   #11
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I find IQ of the 50-135 often equal or better than the 100mm wr and 43mm limited. Of course it is much larger than the 70 but small enough that I feel like I could carry it around all all day without issue.

The only thing that annoys me sometimes is the long min focusing distance.
04-15-2013, 10:12 AM   #12
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I find IQ of the 50-135 often equal or better than the 100mm wr and 43mm limited. Of course it is much larger than the 70 but small enough that I feel like I could carry it around all all day without issue.

The only thing that annoys me sometimes is the long min focusing distance.
04-15-2013, 10:41 AM   #13
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Either here or on the UK forum is a Sigma 50-150 for sale for around the same price as the DA*. It's my understanding that it's a very viable alternative to the 50-135; might be worth a search

Did the search for you : https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographic-equipment-sale/221837-sale-s...apo-ex-dc.html

And oops: does not ship to Europe.
04-15-2013, 10:52 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
Either here or on the UK forum is a Sigma 50-150 for sale for around the same price as the DA*. It's my understanding that it's a very viable alternative to the 50-135; might be worth a search

Did the search for you : https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographic-equipment-sale/221837-sale-s...apo-ex-dc.html

And oops: does not ship to Europe.
Sigma has offered Factory Serviced 50-150's for about 40% of the new cost through their online site.
04-15-2013, 11:43 AM   #15
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I'm mostly using either my F50 or my Sigma 17-70 for portraits, but when I'm in a studio location with enough space I use exclusively the 50. I have a 100 macro and find it too tight in all situations.

If I had a 40 and a 70, I might switch between those two and be a happy camper. Otherwise, I think the 50-135 covers a nice range for studio (I also own a 21 but would never use it for portraits, it's more of a landscape lens).

If you are doing studio portrait, then considering that you own a 40 I'd go for a 70. If you shoot candids or on-location portraits, I would certainly select the 50-135.
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