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06-21-2013, 11:42 PM   #1
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Torn between Normals, 30mm vs 28mm

Hey Pentaxians,

I recently came up on an amazing deal on Craigslist and am not quite sure what I want to do with one of the lenses I scored.
I've been looking for a good "normal" APS-C lens and the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 was definitely at the top of my wishlist.
At the same time, I scored an immaculate Pentax-F 28mm f/2.8

Question is:
Keep the 28, or flip it and try to find a 30

I do plan on shooting the 28 a bit to see if I like it. I have no experience with the 30mm 1.4, but my fast 50 (A 1.4) is one of my favorite lenses.
Advice appreciated

06-22-2013, 12:06 AM   #2
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I have owned both.

The Sigma is notorious for needing focus adjustment. Mine did, and it was sharpest at what seemed to be a setting between one of the set adjustments. Since the DOF was razor thin, it bothered me knowing that I could never get it to 99% sharpness through my camera alone. Sigma Canada has a brutal repair service. I have read that Sigma USA has excellent customer service, but I still think it's ridiculous to have to send a lens in to get it perfect. The Sigma was also fat, like a fist. Again, I could never see its supposed "diamond-cutter sharpness" in the center, but I could see its brutal corners and wonky bokeh bubbles.

I sold it at a loss, and I'm happy that all of the minor things that bothered me about it were no longer my problem. The buyer seemed happy with it though, and there are plenty of Sigma fanboys here on the forums, so to each their own.

The F 28 was awesome. An immaculate copy - I'm jealous! Crisp, even, razor sharpness edge to edge to edge to edge. Wide-open performance was spectacular, and at f4 I wouldn't hesitate to enter it into any sharpness measurebating contest with any other lens out there. Of course, with a speed of f2.8, its low-light performance won't be that great compared to faster primes, but with newer cameras (K5, K01, K30 and up) the issue is mitigated quite nicely. And of course, you can't get those super creamy bokeh shots. Anyhoo, I am sorry I sold my F 28.

Keep the F 28. On APS-C, 28mm and 50mm make for a nice 1-2 lens punch. If you want extra seks points, you will trade that 50 1.4 for an F 50 1.7. Voltron Assemble! Also, provided you did not overpay, an immaculate copy should fetch you a nice return when the mythical Pentax full frame unicorn arrives.

Leave the Sigma for the fanboys.

Last edited by EarlVonTapia; 06-22-2013 at 12:17 AM. Reason: GrAMER!
06-22-2013, 12:06 AM   #3
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Save up and buy the 30. Use them both. Keep the one you like best, sell the other. It is the only way to satiate your curiosity.
06-22-2013, 12:13 AM   #4
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Question to the OP: why don't you consider the FA31mm f1.8?

But for the price, the FA31mm f1.8 is a lens with outstanding IQ, really fast (f1.8) and superb construction. A legend among all lenses across all brand and mounts IMHO....

06-22-2013, 01:54 AM   #5
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I've also owned both the Pentax F 28mm f/2.8 and the Sigma 30mm f/1.4

I had the exact opposite experience to EarlVonTapia. I was fortunate enough to get a copy of the F 28 in an old camera kit sold on craigslist for $100. I used it for about 3 months then traded it for a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8. The issue with my copy was that it front focused rather extremely. It took a maximum autofocus microadjustment to get it anywhere near sharp wide open. But, when I did adjust it, it was fairly sharp at f/2.8 across the frame.

The copy of my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 as way sharper at its max of f/1.4 (in the centre*) compared to the F 28 max at f/2.8. That was really a surprise to find!

I still shoot the Sigma, and it's been the only Sigma I've kept for more than six months.

The downsides of the 30mm relative to the F 28 are that: it's twice the size; has a much larger filter thread (and polarizers aren't cheap); it is significantly heavier; it suffers from a great deal of distortion (not always a bad thing, mind you); the autofocus is slower; it suffers from abberations at a higher level; and the corners of the images it produces at f/1.4 are quite blurry.
It's advantages in my experience with my copy, over the Pentax lens are: centre sharpness is better by a long shot; autofocus in low light was much more decisive and thus useable; and the quality of the bokeh at f1.4 was superb. If I stopped the 30mm down to f/2.8, the images it produces are all around excellent.

I prefer the Sigma over the Pentax in this case, but that's not to say that the Sigma is a gem. Not by a long shot. The qualities it possessed were simply more in-tune with my needs than the F 28. Either way you go, you'll have made a good choice. And if not the just remember to buy used, sell used, and lose nothing.
06-22-2013, 03:46 AM   #6
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If you are primarily using the lens as a normal, I would recommend the 28. First, you own it and it fills the role admirably for the price. I found the Sigma 30 too soft in the corners for my liking. I sold my 28 when I acquired the FA31 and would recommend the same to anyone looking for a normal focal length. The sized the 28 and 49mm filters are advantages for carrying as well.
06-22-2013, 03:59 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Primes4ever Quote
If you are primarily using the lens as a normal, I would recommend the 28. First, you own it and it fills the role admirably for the price. I found the Sigma 30 too soft in the corners for my liking. I sold my 28 when I acquired the FA31 and would recommend the same to anyone looking for a normal focal length. The sized the 28 and 49mm filters are advantages for carrying as well.
Keep the F28 and save up for the Sigma 18-35 F1.8 zoom (if early tests are confirmed by users' reviews, it is a stunning lens!)
I have the Siggy 30mm F1.4 and it is a rather curate's egg of a lens and certainly needs care setting up and using. The F28 and F/FA 50 combo would be great (I have a F50 1.7 and use with my Sigma 24mm f2.8 AF as my take on that pairing)
06-22-2013, 07:49 AM   #8
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My Sigma 30 has its quirks ( needed focus adjustment, soft-ish corners) but for what I mainly use it for ( portraits and low light events) it's fantastic. Soft corners at wide open apertures is NOT necessarily a flaw. When I want " sharp across the frame" and less weight, I just use my DA 35... which I haven't used since I got the Sigma

06-22-2013, 09:46 AM   #9
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That new siggy zoom is attractive and looks like it's going to be a big seller. (Imagine if it was a 15-30 instead! That would be the meow in my book...)

I don't have many lenses but decided that the 31 was close enough to exactly what I was looking for to satiate the fast normal desire. I thought the Sigma 30 was what I would end up doing but the more I studied the more I wanted the 31. I had to pay a price for it that could have landed me two or more other very nice lenses, but it was the right choice for me (thanks to a surprise bonus at work that came in)..
06-22-2013, 06:35 PM   #10
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I have the Sigma. I find in practice the soft corners are rarely a limiting factor. Most of the time when shooting real pictures, if I'm at 1.4, the corners are nowhere near in focus. Stopped down the corners get better, and if it's a critical shot, I step back and crop the shot. For low light, it really works well for me. A 50 is just always seems too long for me inside. An f2.8 is just too slow sometimes.

Just buy one, try it, sell it along if you don't like it. Keep the 28. My guess is if you want corner to corner sharpness, the 28 will be better, and for low light or bokeh shots, the 1.4 will be indispensable.
06-22-2013, 07:23 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
Save up and buy the 30. Use them both. Keep the one you like best, sell the other. It is the only way to satiate your curiosity.
Hits the nail on the head. I took the 28 for a spin and did some very low light photography
Last night was towards the extreme end of dark shooting (pretty much pegged at ISO 12800), and I definitely could've used the 2 extra stops of light.
That being said, I don't see myself shooting in that dark a setting very often and I did appreciate the uniform sharpness at f/2.8

I'll just end up flipping the F70-210, F35-70, and SF1 that came with the CL purchase and then save up for the 30 to see which I use more.

The FA31 looks perfect but it's a few bills out of my price range (starving college kid ftw)

Thanks for your input guys
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