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05-23-2013, 05:01 AM   #1
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Build Quality: DA vs FA Limiteds?

Is there a difference in your experience in the build quality (not IQ, coatings, aperture performance, etc.) between the FA and DA limited lenses?

05-23-2013, 05:16 AM   #2
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I haven't handled them all, but I'd say no. The feeling is a bit different, but both lines feel like luxury items. I think maybe the FA "feel" more special because they are larger, with more engravings and that cute little alignment button

The only "modern" lens with the FA looks is the DFA macro WR.
05-23-2013, 05:20 AM   #3
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The build quality (ant the looks) are very very similar, almost the same, except that FA Ltd's sometimes have this wobble.

So, I'd say that DA Ltd have a hair better build quality.
05-23-2013, 05:29 AM   #4
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IMO they both have about the same high quality feel, except for the aperture ring on my FA43 that does not give the same high quality feel as the rest of the lens. Quick shift also improves feeling of quality IMO, which only DA ltd have.

So I would rate my DA35 ltd to have a bit higher quality feel than my FA43 ltd.

05-23-2013, 05:31 AM   #5
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Hmm, I would rate the FA Limited a notch above the DA Limited, but...that's just subjective based on the fact that the FA have a bit more "heft"....I mean, it's hard to not go "Wow!" when holding the 31mm.....

But, all the Pentax Ltd are really excellent, I think.
05-23-2013, 05:48 AM   #6
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I don't feel much build quality difference, from a "static" perspective. I am comparing the FA31 to the DA15, 21, and 40.

I'm constantly twiddling with the focus ring, and not having Quick-Shift on the FA is a bummer. So the DA's might feel a little better to me in practice, because I can just fiddle that ring without even thinking about it, subconsciously. The smooth focus rings are one of the main reasons to have any of the Ltds, right?

However, when I'm in a mood to just use MF during a shoot, and actually flip the AF switch to MF, then the focus action of the FA31 is smoother and lighter, and the throw is longer than the DA's. So in those situations, the FA has a higher quality feel, to me.
05-23-2013, 05:51 AM   #7
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Thanks. I own the 15, 40, and 70 limiteds and have read many of the threads about optical qualities of the FAs. The DAs are very well built but I have wondered if the FAs were even higher quality in construction.

05-23-2013, 05:56 AM   #8
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Comparing the FA 77 and DA 35, the two most physically similar of all the limiteds, it is possible to see that the FA 77's metal shell is very slightly thicker. The FA limiteds are also a fair bit denser, due to having more glass, giving a perception of higher build quality.

I wouldn't worry about the build quality of either, though. My DA 15, for example, has taken quite a few beatings over the years, and suffered no worse than a slightly stiff hood. In fact, I believe the generally lighter weight of the DA limiteds might actually work in their favor, as lighter lenses experience less impact force when dropped.
05-23-2013, 06:39 AM   #9
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Comparing the FA Limiteds (I have all three amigos) to my DA Limiteds (15, 35, 70), I would say that the DA's are are slight bit better in the visible and tactile "fit" of their parts, but this is a slight manufacturing trick. The FA's have thicker walled parts (to support bigger glass, and maybe due to engineering production limits at their time of design), but larger gaps (by micrometers). A good pair to compare is the FA43 vs. DA70, since they are almost the same size and shape. Also, I think lessons were learned on the FA's that have made the DA's easier to assemble to tighter tolerances with thinner materials (self supporting, no exterior screws, etc.).

In either case, Pentax "Limited" build quality is class-leading. Modern Zeiss (by Cosina, like Voigtlander) and Leica seem to be at the "FA level" as well, but the branded Zeiss-for-Sony is more at the "everyone else" level. Contrariwise, if you are looking for that "mid-80's zoom lens" feel, look at some of the Sigma lenses for M4/3ds, or the Canon EF-M lenses!

Last edited by panoguy; 05-23-2013 at 06:47 AM.
05-23-2013, 07:17 AM   #10
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I'd consider them about equal.
05-23-2013, 04:02 PM   #11
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Build quality is all very subjective. An FA Limited feels kinda cheap compared to a current Carl Zeiss optic... Just sayin
FA Limiteds do come with a nicer bag though compared to the DA Limiteds.
05-23-2013, 05:57 PM   #12
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I have a Zeiss lens from a few years back. I think it feels kinda crappy compared to the Pentax stuff.
05-23-2013, 07:50 PM   #13
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It's all a trick. The Cosina-built 100/3.5 macro sold under many names feels like it's slightly better than a toy. That's all due to the cheap focus helix, plastic on plastic. The optics are all in metal tubes and the aperture is within that, so that lens is actually much more durable than it feels initially. There are other lenses that are the opposite, where the parts you see and feel are all metal, but the optics are mounted in plastic and open to dust and dirt.

I've seen a couple of threads here about DA 40s and DA 70s falling apart, certainly rare but not impossible. The FA 50 does the same thing.
05-23-2013, 08:30 PM   #14
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I am comparing all three fa limiteds to the da35 limited and I have to say that it is pretty close. I think the build might be slightly better on the fa, but the coatings are better on the newer da. IMHO the image quality is slightly better on the fa, but the da is less prone to purple fringing and CA. Quick shift on the da is nice too.

I almost hate to bring it up, but there is the whole ff vs. crop issue too. So for those waiting for the ff, it makes the fa line more appealing.
05-24-2013, 03:14 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ElJamoquio Quote
I have a Zeiss lens from a few years back. I think it feels kinda crappy compared to the Pentax stuff.
You're off your game! Seriously!

Build quality of THIS stomps all over any current Pentax. I'll put it into perspective. An FA Limited is a Ferrari, light, beautifully crafted whereas the Zeiss linked is a Porsche, hewn from solid, Think solid clunk if you drop it on the floor verses a clang from the FA

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