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07-23-2013, 10:59 AM   #1
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Still learning..One question on lenses

its been a little over a year now that I've started out as an amateur. I have learned so much from this forum about photography, gear, techniques. In my quest of the ultimate photo, following are the gear that I picked up cheap, all used and below $100, in chronological order,

FA 28-200
Vivitar 50mm 1.7 MC
DA AL II 18-55
Super Takumar 50mm 1.4
SMC A 35-105mm
A 50mm 1.7

I stopped looking for lenses after the 50mm 1.7 came along. The optical quality is just too good. Color rendition is natural and bokeh dreamy. It is so fast and so capable in low light situations that there's almost nothing it cannot do. And this brings me to my question.

There are thousands of lenses manufactured and used out there. Is there really an improvement in the image quality that one gets over a 50mm A series lens? These lenses sell for below or around $100 today. I see the DA 50mm 1.4 with a price of $349. Other than the autofocus ability, is there really a justification to pay so much for this lens? Does it really have higher optical quality?

I find the 35-105mm and the 50mm A series to be awesome. Even on pixel peeping, they're good in low light. And I see the P FA 43mm 1.9 Limited lens selling for $750!! so what does this lens offer at nearly 9 times the price of a used 50mm 1.7?

I hope my question is understood. I'm just trying to find a justification for the huge price differences between similar lenses when some of the old ones still perform so good at a fraction of the rate.

Anyone please? I'm still learning.

07-23-2013, 11:25 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by aquashankar Quote
DA 50mm 1.4 with a price of $349. Other than the autofocus ability, is there really a justification to pay so much for this lens?

And I see the P FA 43mm 1.9 Limited lens selling for $750!! so what does this lens offer at nearly 9 times the price of a used 50mm 1.7?

In the case of the 50 f1.4, it's the f1.4 you pay for as well.

The Limiteds have nice build and super IQ.
07-23-2013, 11:33 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by aquashankar Quote

There are thousands of lenses manufactured and used out there. Is there really an improvement in the image quality that one gets over a 50mm A series lens? These lenses sell for below or around $100 today. I see the DA 50mm 1.4 with a price of $349. Other than the autofocus ability, is there really a justification to pay so much for this lens? Does it really have higher optical quality?
Autofocus, updated coatings, updated construction (which may be a positive or a negative, depends on each person), research costs built into the price, etc.

It won't have a higher image quality most of the time, when compared to a A50 F1.7, but the FA 50 F1.4 is worth $350 new IMO. I myself bought a Sigma 50 F1.4 for the silent autofocus, and that was $500.

QuoteQuote:
I find the 35-105mm and the 50mm A series to be awesome. Even on pixel peeping, they're good in low light. And I see the P FA 43mm 1.9 Limited lens selling for $750!! so what does this lens offer at nearly 9 times the price of a used 50mm 1.7?

I hope my question is understood. I'm just trying to find a justification for the huge price differences between similar lenses when some of the old ones still perform so good at a fraction of the rate.

Anyone please? I'm still learning.
The FA43 F1.9 lens is quite a different concept from the A50 F1.7. The FA*43 F1.9 is a pancake lens (so more comparable to the M40 F2.8), it is a fast lens, has excellent optics, excellent coatings, excellent construction, and most likely took a bit of research to construct. That is why it is so expensive. In addition, it most likely carries a premium for exclusivity - like all the Limiteds and Star lenses.

Is it worth $750? Well most of Pentax's lenses right now are overpriced a bit due to Pentax's Minimum Assured Pricing policy. I would have no problem dropping $500-600 for the FA 43. $750 might be a bit expensive (but it was the price it came out at, I think).
07-23-2013, 11:33 AM   #4
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Also the price to increase the quality goed up the closer you get to perfection.
So to make a good lens very good will take more money then to make a bad lens decent.

07-23-2013, 02:08 PM   #5
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Autofocus adds a lot of mechanical complexity. More importantly, it adds a lot of desireability with consumers, which drives the cost of old manual lenses down. I think that if you adjusted for inflation, you'd find that the prices of lenses haven't gone up all that much.

On a side note, in your particular situation, you could use something in a prime in the 28-35mm range. MF or auto, whatever floats your boat. I really like my Sigma 30/1.4. Not everyone does, though. It is the only lens I have which is sharper (in the center) than my old fast fifties. It's pretty much rubbish in the corners.
07-24-2013, 02:45 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
It won't have a higher image quality most of the time, when compared to a A50 F1.7, but the FA 50 F1.4 is worth $350 new IMO. I myself bought a Sigma 50 F1.4 for the silent autofocus, and that was $500.
That is good to hear that the image quality is at a level where it is close to being right up there with the best. Now I can put all my skill into learning to focus properly.

QuoteOriginally posted by JinDesu Quote
The FA43 F1.9 lens is quite a different concept from the A50 F1.7. The FA*43 F1.9 is a pancake lens

Is it worth $750? Well most of Pentax's lenses right now are overpriced a bit due to Pentax's Minimum Assured Pricing policy. I would have no problem dropping $500-600 for the FA 43. $750 might be a bit expensive (but it was the price it came out at, I think).
I didn’t know there was so much involved in the FA 43’s manufacture. But at the end of the day, all that we want is a good glass that can focus on its own and take the right pic. Striking a balance here matters. But hey, I would love to have something exclusive too if it is the perfect one!
QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Also the price to increase the quality goed up the closer you get to perfection.
So to make a good lens very good will take more money then to make a bad lens decent.
Yes, the prices go up exponentially as the quality nears perfection. But for my needs, this sounds good.
QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
Autofocus adds a lot of mechanical complexity. More importantly, it adds a lot of desireability with consumers, which drives the cost of old manual lenses down. I think that if you adjusted for inflation, you'd find that the prices of lenses haven't gone up all that much.

I have agree on the autofocus part. I started with a full manual lens and had to adjust Aperture, then shutter and then focus and click. Most of the time, the subject ran away. Moving to an A lens was sooo good. All I had to do was set it in auto mode, focus manually and fire away. But the flip side is that nearly 20% of my shots are out of focus. I need to take extra shots to ensure I get atleast one right. This seemed to work quite well till I found my interest in bird photography. It is very very hard to capture birds with a manual focus lens. Still, I wasn’t aware that introducing AF in a lens drove up the prices so much.

QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
On a side note, in your particular situation, you could use something in a prime in the 28-35mm range. MF or auto, whatever floats your boat. I really like my Sigma 30/1.4. Not everyone does, though. It is the only lens I have which is sharper (in the center) than my old fast fifties. It's pretty much rubbish in the corners.
The only decent AF lens I have is the kit lens. Now you’re giving me LBA J
07-24-2013, 03:26 AM   #7
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I had the F50/1.7, which is the autofocus version of the A50/1.7 and plastic body instead of metal. It was one of my first purchases after the K-x in 2009 and I only recently sold it in 2013. It will be missed. Since the FA43 was mentioned and I compared them with each other, being a bit too similar in focal length, size, aperture etc. They are both very good lenses. The main features I noticed where (some might be pretty obvious):

FA43: metal build yet autofocus (pretty rare), smoother transition from in-focus to out-of-focus areas, softer corners at large apertures, bokeh highlighs have a certain inner glow (much like the DA40) - not really to my liking

F50/1.7: soft at F1.7, but much sharper by F2.0, the six aperture blades shows up in bokeh more or less on most apertures

I would say overall sharpness is about the same, their respective weakness being maximum aperture (50/1.7) and corners (FA43). What ultimately made me keep the FA43 was the smooth focus transition and general rendering, and small metal body in a relatively modern lens. Too keep in mind is that the FA43 is around 3-4 times more expensive, and even more so compared to an A50/1.7. It certainly is not more value for your money, and might not even be better in all aspects (corner sharpness, glow in bokeh highlights).
07-24-2013, 05:15 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by DonThomaso Quote
I had the F50/1.7, which is the autofocus version of the A50/1.7 and plastic body instead of metal. It was one of my first purchases after the K-x in 2009 and I only recently sold it in 2013. It will be missed. Since the FA43 was mentioned and I compared them with each other, being a bit too similar in focal length, size, aperture etc. They are both very good lenses. The main features I noticed where (some might be pretty obvious):

FA43: metal build yet autofocus (pretty rare), smoother transition from in-focus to out-of-focus areas, softer corners at large apertures, bokeh highlighs have a certain inner glow (much like the DA40) - not really to my liking

F50/1.7: soft at F1.7, but much sharper by F2.0, the six aperture blades shows up in bokeh more or less on most apertures

I would say overall sharpness is about the same, their respective weakness being maximum aperture (50/1.7) and corners (FA43). What ultimately made me keep the FA43 was the smooth focus transition and general rendering, and small metal body in a relatively modern lens. Too keep in mind is that the FA43 is around 3-4 times more expensive, and even more so compared to an A50/1.7. It certainly is not more value for your money, and might not even be better in all aspects (corner sharpness, glow in bokeh highlights).
Good to know that the old lenses are still up there with the best. I get how important it is when time is of essence to focus quickly and shoot. So I assume an F50/1.7 is sufficient for most photography needs. Great optical quality, good bokeh, good focus. I find the lens to be sharp enough at 1.7 too. Not tack sharp but still great for low light situations.

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