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06-10-2013, 09:06 AM   #1
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Wondering what lens to buy on an $800 budget (US Dollars)

I recently (December?) acquired a Pentax DA* 50-135mm and it is amazing for portrait work. I also have a Tamron 28-75mm (never use it anymore, not even for landscapes...), and a Pentax M 50mm f/1.7. My 3 choices right now are the Sigma 35mm f/1.4, the Pentax 77mm (which I've rented and used), the Pentax 43mm f/1.9, or the DA* 55mm f/1.4. I just rented the 35mm and 43mm and they will arrive wednesday, but I did not and have not used the DA* 55mm. What are your thoughts on these 4 lenses?
If you'd like, I can link you to my work to get a general idea of what I do photographically.

06-10-2013, 09:43 AM   #2
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Hmm, your DA 50-135 offers excellent optical performance but obviously it's much bigger/heavier than either DA*55 or FA 77, and slower aperture too. So what are your priorities? Do you need faster lenses for portrait work, do you want a lighter and more compact camera with those prime lenses on?

Or do you want to expand your range and go wider than you currently can, with the 35 or 43 lenses? (Not that these are all that much wider than your 50mm lens). If you own a 28-75 but never use it, why is that the case? Unhappy with the optical quality, the build, etc? Or do you not shoot wider than 50mm all that often?

All 4 of the lenses you're considering get great reviews so I don't think you can go wrong with any of them....
06-10-2013, 02:05 PM   #3
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I like all of your choices, so you really can't go wrong. I would rule out the 55 because it is too close to the 50 that you already have. I would consider the 35 or the 43 because they are outside of the 50-135. Some find the 43 too close to the 50, but I actually use it much more than I use my 50 - the FL just suits me. I have the DA35 LTD and not the sigma and I really like it too - plus it gives you the added benefit of macro. The macro on it is real macro compared to the Tamron.

Just throw something extra in the mix, it might be worth it to you to consider the DFA100 Macro WR. It gives you macro, works beautifully with portraits, and has the weather sealing/digital features that the FA77 lack. It might just be that it is too long for you, but that lens could have easily been given an LTD label. It really has a superior build quality.
06-10-2013, 03:13 PM   #4
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I guess I would decide on a focal length and then choose your prime. There just isn't any way of comparing lenses of different focal length and only you can know what you want. I probably would go for the Sigma 35 or, FA 31 just because you have the 50-135 range decently covered, but if you don't use those focal lengths much, then something different would be better.

My most used primes are the 15 limited, DA *55, and D FA 100 macro. Each one serves a different purpose and I choose the one I am shooting with based on what I am planning to shoot.

06-10-2013, 03:25 PM   #5
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Regarding you choice for 35mm, I would choose the Pentax FA 35 over the Sigma. It's a truly wonderful lens:
SMC Pentax-FA 35mm F2 AL Reviews - FA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
06-11-2013, 05:16 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by yellowbrick Quote
Hmm, your DA 50-135 offers excellent optical performance but obviously it's much bigger/heavier than either DA*55 or FA 77, and slower aperture too. So what are your priorities? Do you need faster lenses for portrait work, do you want a lighter and more compact camera with those prime lenses on?

Or do you want to expand your range and go wider than you currently can, with the 35 or 43 lenses? (Not that these are all that much wider than your 50mm lens). If you own a 28-75 but never use it, why is that the case? Unhappy with the optical quality, the build, etc? Or do you not shoot wider than 50mm all that often?
I don't mind the size, my clients find it intimidating sometimes, but honestly its not that bad. I would prefer a good low light lens, but the max. aperture difference between the lenses is kind of negligible. The Sigma 35mm would be the best as far as low light goes. I'm sure the Sigma would help with landscapes (panoramics) while I save up for the DA 15 or 21. I'm definitely unhappy with the Tamron. The sharpness is fantastic, but it sporadically has the worst contrast possible and the bokeh is not pleasant, which is somewhat typical of a low-tele zoom. I rented the FA 31mm, and found that I really like shooting wider than 50mm, but the 31mm was slightly too wide. I have not received it, but the 35mm sounds like a great focal length for me, while 43mm does as well, so I hope to deduce which one would best fit my needs.
06-12-2013, 04:43 PM   #7
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From what I've seen, just from today, I can tell you that the Sigma 35mm is astronomically better than the 31mm I had. This lens is scary sharp, and the bokeh is quite nice.
06-15-2013, 04:43 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by nick52 Quote
From what I've seen, just from today, I can tell you that the Sigma 35mm is astronomically better than the 31mm I had. This lens is scary sharp, and the bokeh is quite nice.
Then I guess you have made up your mind! Always exciting to know what you want to get.

It is interesting about the sigma being sharper than the 31. I have never tried the sigma 35, so I have no way to compare. When I got my 31 I liked it a lot, but it was not my favorite of the fa limiteds. I do have to say that the k5IIs is changing that a bit. I am enjoying the lens immensely on the IIs and it is moving up in the ranks of spending time on my camera.

You should post some picks from the sigma.

06-15-2013, 08:10 AM   #9
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I think both 55mm and 77mm are excellent portraitlenses.

For shortrun I would choose the 55 and for mostly blach and white I would choose the 77,
06-19-2013, 09:03 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Allison Quote
Then I guess you have made up your mind! Always exciting to know what you want to get.

It is interesting about the sigma being sharper than the 31. I have never tried the sigma 35, so I have no way to compare. When I got my 31 I liked it a lot, but it was not my favorite of the fa limiteds. I do have to say that the k5IIs is changing that a bit. I am enjoying the lens immensely on the IIs and it is moving up in the ranks of spending time on my camera.

You should post some picks from the sigma.
The Sigma is FANTASTIC. I might even buy it before the 77mm (which is was my favorite lens)
here's a sample @ f/1.6





another @ f/1.6




Wide open, I love this lens....




Another shot wide open. I encourage you to look at the full sized versions on Flickr!


06-20-2013, 08:35 PM   #11
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Why not wait for the Sigma 18-35 1.8?
06-20-2013, 10:48 PM   #12
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I just might have enough money to buy the 18-35 by the time it's released!
06-21-2013, 07:14 AM   #13
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Why are you buying the lens? What do you hope to get from it?
06-21-2013, 07:53 AM   #14
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Sigma makes some beautiful lenses... I would rather get that Sigma35 first as well.
I have to admit I am more of a Sigma lens fan rather than Pentax...
06-21-2013, 12:39 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by mrNewt Quote
Sigma makes some beautiful lenses... I would rather get that Sigma35 first as well.
I have to admit I am more of a Sigma lens fan rather than Pentax...
I believe the pentax lenses have better bokeh, the 31mm has great bokeh, and I think the color is better than the sigma.
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