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05-28-2013, 06:49 PM   #1
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DA70/2.4 compared to M85/2

I’ve been looking intently at something in the 70-90mm range and these two lenses keep coming up. A little longer reach for candid people shots and maybe music venue photography. I realize that there are some glaring differences between the two, some of which I’m going to have to decide on myself, but I wonder if anyone else has a strong general preference for one of these lenses over the other. Or if anyone feels they are suited for totally different things.

I have to say that looking at the photos here, I really like the M85. It seems sharper and more vibrant to me. There are some really nice DA70 photos as well, but in general they don’t seem quite as sharp to me. This, of course, is the factor that does matter the most, but I wonder if anyone else has come to the same or different conclusions. Does anyone have experience with both? I know they are both fine lenses and I know that they both have their loyal proponents. I also know that each lens’s capabilities are limited by my own.

Noted Differences and Where I Come Down on Them:

Focal Length – I think 70mm is probably a better focal length for what I need. It’s a factor that I’ll keep in mind, but probably not the deciding one, unless coupled with a few others.

Autofocus vs Manual – I’m really enjoying my manual primes and I’m pretty comfortable in general using them. I started out thinking that I should make this lens an AF lens, since I seem to be accumulating MF lenses at an alarming rate, but I don’t know that this is THE deciding factor either. Part of the equation, maybe.

Speed – I think this is a non-factor. F2 and f2.4 are close, plus I can hand hold the 70 at a slower shutter speed, so I’m calling it a wash unless someone can convince me otherwise.

Cost – I’m looking secondary market for either lens. I wouldn’t buy the DA70 new, unless there was an unforeseen deal to be had. The M85/2 seems to generally be $200-300 in the condition I would want, maybe a bit less. It seems the DA70 could be had between $350-400 in the condition I would want. It’s one of those factors that coupled with a few others would make a difference, but on it’s own, I wouldn’t let it decide. It’s not like trying to decide between a FA 50/1.4 and a DA* 55/1.4 on price.

Build Quality - I don’t have a DA limited and have never actually held one, but by reputation they are really well made. I love the rangefinder size and vibe of the DA70 and it looks really sexy. As AF lenses go, it has a reputation for being very fast focusing. I do have experience with K and M lenses and like them quite a bit. Anything I missing there?

Full Frame/Crop Sensor – This isn’t a factor for me. I’m loving my K5ii and not anxiously awaiting a full frame offering. I have DA and K and M lenses and…well it just isn’t a factor for me.


I generally don’t like "this vs that" and "which should I buy?" threads, so I’m sorry to contribute to that canon, but I do find myself scratching my head a little bit on this one. Would appreciate the input and experience. Thanks in advance.


Last edited by troika; 05-28-2013 at 07:27 PM.
05-28-2013, 08:06 PM   #2
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M85/2 has terrible CA - The hood is flimsy and hard to come by and too short for crop sensored cameras. The market for the 85/2 seems to have slipped a bit, but when the FF rumors ramp up price will probably go up again but then maybe it's due to the Rokinon 85/1.4 being so reasonably priced and sporting the "A" pin for metering - something you ought to consider....
05-28-2013, 08:19 PM   #3
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Okay, thanks. I considered the Rokinon, Bower, Samyang et al's. The A setting and 1.4 aperture is certainly nice. I didn't like how people described the feel of the focus ring and I haven't seen all that many photos here from them. Though no one sells Pentax in my town, I'll bet someone has those lenses in another mount that I could check out. Thanks for the idea and the feedback.

Keep it coming, please.


QuoteOriginally posted by mattt Quote
M85/2 has terrible CA - The hood is flimsy and hard to come by and too short for crop sensored cameras. The market for the 85/2 seems to have slipped a bit, but when the FF rumors ramp up price will probably go up again but then maybe it's due to the Rokinon 85/1.4 being so reasonably priced and sporting the "A" pin for metering - something you ought to consider....
05-28-2013, 08:45 PM   #4
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Although I do generally prefer manual focus,
I've found the small size and fast AF on the DA 70
to be very useful for the kind of candid people shots you mention.

I don't know the M85/2, but I do have the M100/2.8,
and the sharpness of the DA 70 comes very close to that
(just below vs just above 40 lp/mm on the edge at f/5.6).

05-28-2013, 08:48 PM   #5
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I know I'm a big DA70 fan, for its minuscule size that can come along any time plus its rendering talent. None of the 85mm lenses strike me as being easy on the pocket when my second lens must be a pocket lens or nothing.
05-28-2013, 08:51 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
Although I do generally prefer manual focus,
I've found the small size and fast AF on the DA 70
to be very useful for the kind of candid people shots you mention.
...
Thanks, I don't "need" the autofocus, but I think I might really be glad I had it some times. What I read of the build and quickshift on that lens, I think it probably behaves beautifully as a manual focus lens when you want it to. I'm sure I would use the AF if it was there and I hear this lens has an especially good one.

QuoteOriginally posted by jimr-pdx Quote
I know I'm a big DA70 fan, for its minuscule size that can come along any time plus its rendering talent. None of the 85mm lenses strike me as being easy on the pocket when my second lens must be a pocket lens or nothing.
It is a really elegant design. The best lens is the one you have with you, after all!
05-28-2013, 09:14 PM   #7
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M85 Fan

Hello Troika,
Apparently I'm in the opposite camp from Matt on this issue; I see the advantages of the M85 as far outweighing the disadvantages.
Yes, it can exhibit CA, many 30-40 year-old lenses do, especially telephotos. Most decent PP apps can fix that pretty quick. It's not every shot anyway, only certain ranges and lighting situations.
The original hood is tinny and dents easily. But 49mm tele hoods are easy to get, I use a generic hood that's slightly longer than the OE hood and it works fine. Also, unbelievably, the old Takumar 1:3.5 135mm/1:4 150mm/1:5.6 200mm hood, nearly as long as the lens itself, works without vignetting! On APS-C, at least. It does make you appear to be sporting a 200mm tele, but hey, nothing's perfect.
No, it's not an "A" lens. But you don't buy an f/2.0 so you can shoot at f/11.0, right? The green button is there if you need it.
Those are the cons.
The pros...ahhh. Razor sharp when you nail the focus (can you say 'split-prism' screen?), soft,glowing bokeh highlights, great separation of subject from background, solid metal/glass construction and the classic "M" focus feel, that slightly heavy rotation that glides so smoothly but has enough drag to STOP! when you want it to, not a hair later.
Did I mention that it's an f/2.0 and costs substantially less than any other short tele in the 'faster-than-f/2.8' range?
I'm sure you'll get lots of 70mm fans, 77mm fans and maybe the 90mm and 100mm'ers will chime in, too. But the M85 is one of my absolute favorite lenses, from any era or maker. Could you tell?
LOL!
Ron
05-28-2013, 09:30 PM   #8
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Thanks, Ron. I love the pics I've seen too. The really grab me.

The green button doesn't bother me.

05-28-2013, 10:11 PM   #9
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As much as I like my M85, I'd say go for the DA70.
Af, a-modes, small, reliable under challenging conditions (wrt contrasty situations, backlit situations common in some concerts)

The M85 is a lens junkie / MF enthusiast love item.
Lovely build, size, MF handling.
Contrasty and bold drawing style like the K135, FA135, FA77lld.
But its never going to be as 'practical' as a modern lens.

The Samyang 85/1.4 mixes things up a bit wrt legacy 85mm lenses.
Often being cheaper than other legacy 85mm of any brand.
But so far, I've bought with my heart and not by the head, and have opted for the legacy ones.
05-28-2013, 10:47 PM   #10
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As an ex-owner of the M85 - go for the DA70.

The M85 has many qualities, but needs f/2.8 to get sharp (imho) - dreamy wide open with blue fringing. F/4 onwards is fantastic, and it's great on film... but all of this is bettered by the DA70, which now the M85 has come up in price, is the better option (size, AF, sharpness).
05-29-2013, 01:06 AM   #11
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I have the M85 and would highly recommend it. Wide open it has blue fringing and isn't very sharp, but stopped down to f/2.8 it's very good and by f/4 it's superb. You're right about the images being very vibrant, that's the lens's best feature. I find it produces superb images that have something about them that makes them stand out.

I did briefly own the DA 70mm as my first limited but I returned it after 2 days as it was faulty and the place I got it had no others, I bought a Tamron 17-50 instead. During that two days I did use it a bit and it's sharp wide open, but I don't remember it having the magic of the M 85mm. Perhaps I didn't have enough time to try it though.

Don't believe anything that says that the limited lenses are equal to the Ms in build quality. They're better than most modern plastic lenses as they're all metal, but they don't come close the old M, K and Takumar lenses.

85mm on an APS-C camera is quite long. I find it good for street portraits and for parties, taking shots from across the room. 70mm would be a better general focal length.

Having said all that, the DA 70mm is next on my buying list, as I want a fast, AF prime that's longer than 50mm. I have no intention of selling the M when I get it though.
05-30-2013, 07:59 PM   #12
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Hey, I got to handle a DA 70 today. A local shop has a used one. I walked in 5 min. before closing and mounted it and took a few quick photos around their shop, under their horrible floresent lighting. I may go back and check it out in better detail this weekend. They also have an FA 77/1.8, but I don't think I'm going there on price. Their DA70 is about $100 overpriced, but it's nice to see it and maybe if I wanted it, they'd negotiate.

Without looking at the pictures, it is a very nice lens. Feels great, love the size, love the built in hood, crazy fast focusing and seemed quiet.

EDIT: The horrible snapshots I took with it actually aren't that bad. A couple of them show some pretty good depth, actually. Will go back and spend a little more time with it. It's a good focal length.

Last edited by troika; 05-30-2013 at 08:07 PM.
05-30-2013, 08:15 PM   #13
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Hard to go wrong with the DA 70 (or FA 77), but the M 85 f2 remains one of my favorite primes.

Sharpness wide-open (when focus nailed) :





Crop:



Bokeh, 3D-ish rendering:





Just a nice portrait lens that rivals the 77ltd:

05-30-2013, 08:37 PM   #14
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Thanks! I've seen some of these photos before or at least others you've taken. You were partially who I was talking about when I said that I was really digging the M85 based on what I had seen.

I think I had seen the pumpkins photo before. That one's very nice.
05-31-2013, 07:10 AM   #15
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Here's some more examples (all click for full size):

Great at f/2.8 and slower:
















Not so great wide-open (although these have no PP):







Much better on film, but for the price they are nowadays - and for digital only use - my recommendation of the DA70 stands imo.
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