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06-23-2013, 02:51 PM   #1
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FA 1.4/50 vs DA* 1.4/55

Dear colleagues, what are your opinions about these two lenses?
Does DA 1.4/55 significantly better as FA 1.4/50 or no?

06-23-2013, 03:07 PM   #2
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DA* 55 advantages: it is WR, it has quickshift, it has silent AF motor (SDM), has AF/MF switch. It is more tele, 55mm on APS-C is great for portraits, and produces bigger apparent bokeh blur. The DA* 55mm is basically made for portraits.

The FA 50mm f1.4 is not bad, though. It costs much less but is still very sharp and is still f1.4. And it has an aperture ring, so you can use it on older cameras or on macro bellows. You will not be disappointed with it.
06-23-2013, 03:25 PM   #3
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I own both
DA*55 is slower to focus - does have nice bokeh and is very sharp even wide open. It is significantly heavier. It is definitely silent compared to the screw drive AF. The hood seems enormous.
FA 50 is screw drive and noisy but hits focus faster, but I find it is very soft wide open (maybe a result of actually missing focus). If you are buying for just the aperture ring for macro or other sorts of photography you might get something more reasonable in an M or A version.

Both suffer CA wide open, and wide open can also suffer from the Tungsten lighting focus shift related to older PDAF (I shoot a Kr, it is significantly affected)

Both are full frame compatible (as shown by Aurele using DA*55 with MZ-5n)
06-23-2013, 04:59 PM   #4
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Thank you. There are the reasonable advantages DA over FA in sharpness, contrast or flare control?

06-26-2013, 12:35 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Grokh Quote
Thank you. There are the reasonable advantages DA over FA in sharpness, contrast or flare control?
I owned both, but sold the FA 50/1.4 and now only have the DA*. I'd say the biggest difference is that contrast-wise the DA* is MUCH better from f1.4 to 2.8. After that, the differences are rather small. the DA* is really very useable wide open (where the FA suffers from low contrast) and already great from f1.8 on. I wouldn't want to go back to the FA, the DA* is such a joy to use and delivers stunning results. IMO ultrafast lenses are pretty pointless if you need to stop them down considerably to get good results.
06-26-2013, 02:36 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by sTi Quote
I'd say the biggest difference is that contrast-wise the DA* is MUCH better from f1.4 to 2.8. [...] IMO ultrafast lenses are pretty pointless if you need to stop them down considerably to get good results.
Agreed. Low contrast is one of the easier things to fix in post-processing, though. This is from the Super-Takumar 1.4/50 at f/1.4. I don't have the original handy right now, but the contrast was definitely not nearly as punchy as in this output.


06-26-2013, 03:42 PM   #7
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Would be great to see a direct comparison wide open. I've seen some fantastic results through the DA* but same goes for the FA50. I would expect the DA* to win but it would interesting to see by how much. I am still well happy with my FA50.
06-26-2013, 04:52 PM - 1 Like   #8
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The FA 50mm has not so bad resolution at f/1.4, it's just low contrast that kills apparent sharpness, but with some PP it's somewhat fixable. What is less fixable is the bad bokeh (IMO) at f/1.4, but around f/2 it's creamy enough.

I'd like the DA* but the high price, slow focusing and above all the big size make it low on my lens wish list. I love portraits done with the FA 50mm @ f/2.0 and it satisfies me enough that I don't see a big need for the DA*. Otherwise, objectively speaking the DA* has slightly superior IQ, particularly below f/2.

06-26-2013, 04:55 PM   #9
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My experience is basically that the DA * lens is sharper with better contrast between f1.4 and f2.8. Bokeh is more circular on the DA * lens, but tends towards busy-ness wide open (not sure what term is best), while the FA 50 gives a more dreamy feel (nicer in my opinion, but I never felt comfortable shooting that wide with the FA 50 due to softness issues). The FA 50 is quite a bit more prone to flare as well (some improvement with a lens hood, but still not as good as the DA *55).

I liked the FA 50, but really love the DA *55. It really is tied with the DA 15 limited for my favorite primes. I can go out shooting with the DA *55 on a K-01 and the DA 15 on my K5 and never wish for another lens all day.
06-26-2013, 08:10 PM   #10
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I haven't used the DA* 55 before, but I can for sure say that adding a hood to the FA 50 1.4 helps the contrast quite a bit.
06-27-2013, 02:39 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by cyclone3d Quote
I haven't used the DA* 55 before, but I can for sure say that adding a hood to the FA 50 1.4 helps the contrast quite a bit.
That's true for *any* lens, really. The hood is the cheapest, yet most overlooked, way to improve on ones photography
07-18-2013, 02:28 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
My experience is basically that the DA * lens is sharper with better contrast between f1.4 and f2.8. Bokeh is more circular on the DA * lens, but tends towards busy-ness wide open (not sure what term is best), while the FA 50 gives a more dreamy feel (nicer in my opinion, but I never felt comfortable shooting that wide with the FA 50 due to softness issues). The FA 50 is quite a bit more prone to flare as well (some improvement with a lens hood, but still not as good as the DA *55).

I liked the FA 50, but really love the DA *55. It really is tied with the DA 15 limited for my favorite primes. I can go out shooting with the DA *55 on a K-01 and the DA 15 on my K5 and never wish for another lens all day.
Thank you very much!
One more question: I have borrowed FA 1.4/50 for the test. I have been very disappointed with the following issue: I have calibrated AF of both my bodies for this lens. Wide open I got pictures with enough good sharpness exactly where I want.
But! When I tried to shoot with this lens stopped down, I have found that point of the sharpness is far away and I should to recalibrate the camera. I did some tests and got the following figures: when wide open, I should have AF settings to be -6. When 3.5, I should have them -1. When 8.0, I should have them on the zero point for the maximal sharpness.
This is the problem of this lens or of my example only? What about this problem by DA 1,4/55?
07-18-2013, 03:21 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Grokh Quote
I did some tests and got the following figures: when wide open, I should have AF settings to be -6. When 3.5, I should have them -1. When 8.0, I should have them on the zero point for the maximal sharpness.
This is the problem of this lens or of my example only?
The FA 50 1.4 has long been the standard lens Pentax use for AF testing and calibration, so I don't think the problem is with the FA 50 in general. The performance of mine remains stable and predictable at all apertures.

If the AF is good wide-open, then at other apertures it should remain good. Perhaps your sample may have taken a knock at some stage, so a lens element may be de-centred or something. Alternatively, perhaps you need to review and revise your testing method.
07-19-2013, 02:38 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
If the AF is good wide-open, then at other apertures it should remain good. Perhaps your sample may have taken a knock at some stage, so a lens element may be de-centred or something. Alternatively, perhaps you need to review and revise your testing method.
I have tested it again - the same result. May be the sample I have borrowed has a defect.
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