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06-30-2013, 06:32 PM   #1
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Shootout! K50/1.4 vs K55/1.8

I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this, but I find myself owning nice copies of both the K55/1.8 and the K50/1.4. I've been trying to settle in on how I feel them, so I've been comparing results for myself and thought I might as well offer them up here in case someone else was interested. As of this typing, I haven't come to strong conclusions yet, so feel free to weigh in and if you have both lenses and want to contribute your posts, feel free.

I seem to have nice copies of both of these lenses. I've had (and loved) the 55/1.8 for a while now and the 50/1.4 recently came to me in a package trade. I had thought that it wasn't as sharp, but I got a few really nice pictures from it Friday night at a local music venue and so I thought I would set up some controlled tests and compare. Maybe it turns out that I don't need both of these lenses, but I'd have to figure out where my preference was if I was going to part with one. Maybe I keep them both, but if so, I should have a really good understanding of when to use which. No hurry to figure it out and I may update this thread for a while.

So, first test. morning shade, my Manfrotto tripod, green button metering through each aperture. Not totally controlled environment because the light may have changed slightly, though I went through this pretty quickly. Also there was a little breeze and these leaves were blowing slightly, maybe enough at the larger apertures. Two things I'll comment on, one is that the green button doesn't seem perfectly consistent. You can see exposures going up and down a bit, rather than staying consistent. I was walking around with the 50 today and was occasionally metering and then overriding pretty regularly with it and getting good results. That said, based on the metering and the 6 weeks or so that I've had the 50, I'm surprised at how little of impact that 1.4 has vs the 1.8 of the K55. Often it meters it to the same shutter speed or one partial stop away IN EITHER DIRECTION. Maybe not the most accurate indicator, but on light gathering alone, there's some difference, but not as much as I expected. Feel free to look at them on Flickr in whatever size you like and read the EXIF.

For now, I'm just trying to learn as much about each of these lenses as I can and for that matter about taking a decent picture. Maybe it will interest someone else as well.


Without further ado - The K50 photo will always be first and the K55 second. Same aperture and ISO, except at 1.4/1.8
If you'd like to view larger images, feel free to go to my Flickr set http://www.flickr.com/photos/15287103@N03/sets/72157634414087969/

f1.4 / f1.8


f2


f2.8


f4


f5.6


f8


F11


f16


f22



Last edited by troika; 06-30-2013 at 07:16 PM.
06-30-2013, 06:57 PM   #2
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Now a quick bokah test.

I've always really liked the K55 bokah wide open and I'm not sure that I see any real improvements in bokah wide open with the 50/1.4. I've never been a fan of the hexagons that show up in the mid apertures and thought that 50/1.4 would be better in that regard, but this test doesn't really show that. Maybe a small improvement, but not much.

Again, K50 is always first, K55 second.
If you'd like to view larger images, feel free to go to my Flickr set http://www.flickr.com/photos/1528710...7634414087969/

f1.4 / 1.8



f2


f2.8


F4


f5.6


f8

Last edited by troika; 06-30-2013 at 11:17 PM.
06-30-2013, 07:35 PM   #3
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50,@ f/5.6 has that 3D magic. Most Pentax lenses do at 5.6 IMHO.
06-30-2013, 07:56 PM   #4
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Hexagons on both sides? I thought the K 50/1.4 had an 8-bladed iris diaphragm.


Steve

06-30-2013, 08:08 PM   #5
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Interesting - i did a comparison between the K55mm f/1.8 and my Pentax K 50mm f/1.2 - the 50mm f/1.2 lens was slightly sharper,especially at wider apertures. But in the end the differences between them were so small at f/5.6 they would have been insignificant at print sizes less than A2.
06-30-2013, 09:33 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I thought the K 50/1.4 had an 8-bladed iris diaphragm.
It does.
In the bokeh set, it appears the OP has mistakenly displayed the same pic twice at f5.6 and twice at f8 - each being from the 55.

Last edited by Erdž; 06-30-2013 at 09:34 PM. Reason: typo
06-30-2013, 09:45 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Erdž Quote
It does.
In the bokeh set, it appears the OP has mistakenly displayed the same pic twice at f5.6 and twice at f8 - each being from the 55.
Arg, these tests are flawed!
I demand a refund
06-30-2013, 11:21 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Erdž Quote
It does.
In the bokeh set, it appears the OP has mistakenly displayed the same pic twice at f5.6 and twice at f8 - each being from the 55.
I reloaded and relinked those 4 photos. I'm pretty sure that they are as they should be now. It's tough to be 100% sure because the lens isn't identified in the EXIF, but I keyworded them. When i took these pictures this morning, I went through each exposure with one lens, switched lenses and went through them with the other lens, wrote the exposures in a notebook and then checked it with my files when I loaded them. You can see that the shutter speed on the 5.6 photos are slightly different and it's clear at this point at least, they they are different photos.

I'm still seeing hexagons. I can retest it some time this week to be certain...but I'm pretty sure.

06-30-2013, 11:39 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by troika Quote
I'm still seeing hexagons. I can retest it some time this week to be certain...but I'm pretty sure.
Nah...they look as expected now. I now see octagons in the first f5.6 and f8 pics.
07-01-2013, 01:01 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by troika Quote
I reloaded and relinked those 4 photos. I'm pretty sure that they are as they should be now. It's tough to be 100% sure because the lens isn't identified in the EXIF, but I keyworded them. When i took these pictures this morning, I went through each exposure with one lens, switched lenses and went through them with the other lens, wrote the exposures in a notebook and then checked it with my files when I loaded them. You can see that the shutter speed on the 5.6 photos are slightly different and it's clear at this point at least, they they are different photos.

I'm still seeing hexagons. I can retest it some time this week to be certain...but I'm pretty sure.
Thanks for all your hard work with this
BTW I've found that the 50/1.4 performs very well on a FF sensor with seemingly smoother OOF highlights than on crop:

07-01-2013, 01:45 AM   #11
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Thanks for the comparison. I also have both of these lenses but have never really put either of them through their paces, or even used them much (I have alot of 50s...).

Both seem nice and sharp with good colours and contrast, though the 55, surprisingly, seems to have smoother bokeh at smaller apertures.
07-01-2013, 01:54 AM   #12
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I like my K55/1.8 a lot.

I wouldn't buy the DA* 55/1.4, but if they did an AF version of the K55/1.8, I'd buy it immediately.

I also have the FA 50/1.4 but for a portrait where I'm after something special, I'd go for the K 55/1.8.
07-01-2013, 02:29 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by troika Quote
Two things I'll comment on, one is that the green button doesn't seem perfectly consistent. You can see exposures going up and down a bit, rather than staying consistent
If you have a split prism, then that is probably the cause of the inconsistent measurement. They fool the pentaprism. Use LV for consistent measurements.

The Super-Takumar 1.4/50 1. version from `64 has an extraordinary image quality, different from all later Pentax fifties, which I find yields very similar (and great) IQ 50s 55s alike.
Have a look here: Super-Takumar 1.4/50 - a set on Flickr
07-01-2013, 03:11 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
I like my K55/1.8 a lot.

I wouldn't buy the DA* 55/1.4, but if they did an AF version of the K55/1.8, I'd buy it immediately.

I also have the FA 50/1.4 but for a portrait where I'm after something special, I'd go for the K 55/1.8.
I have exactly the same glasses (K55 and FA50), and exactly the same thought (apathetic to DA*55/1.4)
07-01-2013, 08:46 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Erdž Quote
Nah...they look as expected now. I now see octagons in the first f5.6 and f8 pics.
You know, I didn't count the sides, you're right, hexagons vs octagons. Sorry for the false start on the post the first time, it's confusing all of these pictures. This is exactly one of the reasons I wanted to share this here, I learn a lot from hearing about what you guys see and know.

Thanks for the responses everyone.
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