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09-04-2013, 12:47 PM   #1
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Choice of AF lenses - to complement MF collection

I have, what I feel, is a collection of glass carefully collected (and regularly used, by yours truly) over the years. They are, though, MF (Sigma Super Wide II 24mm/2.8, ZK 35/2 and 85/1.4, and VL Nokton 58/1.4). The AF lenses I have are the 18-55 II (can't remember when I last used it - certainly over 3 yr ago) and a sparingly used FA 35-70 (too dark for comfort with an S-type focus screen.

The reason for this post/thread is the following: my wife cannot seem to get comfortable with MF, and needs AF. In an ideal world, she would spend more time and practice, but small kids preclude that luxury. If I had to pick fast AF additions, what recommendations do you have? I used to have a Tammy 28-75/2.8 (don't ask me why I sold it - shouldn't have). I am not going to put any other restrictions except excellent low light performance, so exercise your judgments to the fullest, please.

Main subjects for her to image are the kids.... and then some. I feel its easier to get 1-2 additional lenses that will be enjoyed for many years to come than adding a new system (Micro 4/3, NEX, etc). However, I have been reading about the M4/3 Olympus series, and there are some interesting very fast AF lenses emerging (Panasonic-Leica). I am open to suggestions...

I have concerns about front element wobble of the 31/1.8 (why does this happen?), and that has kept me from pulling the trigger on it. The FA 77 is another I like, and between these 2, I could probably sell off all other lenses, I think, but it would not be the same. I am going to be trying someone else's FA 50/1.7 and Sigma 30/1.4 next week.

Thank you, many times over, in advance...

09-04-2013, 12:57 PM   #2
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I have the Sigma 30 f/1.4, and it's my favorite lens, ever (I just posted a thread with a bunch of pictures from it, here). As for zooms, I'm waiting on Sigma's 18-35 f/1.8, which should be here late this year, or early next year.
09-04-2013, 01:12 PM   #3
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I bought the DA18-135mm for my wife and she love it. The AF is very smooth and the lens covers a wide range of focal length. I would recommend it for your wife.

Myself I prefer my older DA18-250mm for the extra-ordinary focal length range, the sturdy construction and the decent IQ (all being equal). My wife does prefer her DA18-135mm over my DA18-250mm. She tried it but she fees more confortable with the DA18-135mm.

I hope that the comment may help.
09-04-2013, 01:16 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by subidoc Quote
I have MF (Sigma Super Wide II 24mm/2.8, ZK 35/2 and 85/1.4, and VL Nokton 58/1.4). The AF lenses I have are the 18-55 II (can't remember when I last used it - certainly over 3 yr ago) and a sparingly used FA 35-70 (too dark for comfort with an S-type focus screen.

The reason for this post/thread is the following: my wife cannot seem to get comfortable with MF, and needs AF. In an ideal world, she would spend more time and practice, but small kids preclude that luxury. If I had to pick fast AF additions, what recommendations do you have?
I have a similar MF collection (but Pentax K24/2.8 instead of the Sigma).

If by fast AF, you mean a lens that focuses quickly, I'd recommend the kit lens,
and then get a DA 70 to "replace" the Nokton and the Planar.

If you want a fast lens, the Tamron 17-50/2.8 makes a good cheap kit lens replacement.

09-04-2013, 02:56 PM   #5
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I'm in a very similar situation and pretty much decided that the lens I'm going to get is the SMC Pentax DA 35mm f2.4 "Plastic Fantastic". Until the end of October it's 181 dollars at B&H and Adorama. It should be fast enough for indoor shots. I use my A 28mm f2.8 inside sometimes and it does the job, so the 2.4 will only be better, and it's nice and sharp with great bokeh at 2.4. So for the current price, there's a lot to like! And since my wife probably will be the one using it most, I don't care that it doesn't have a focus ring or manual focus option.
09-04-2013, 03:02 PM   #6
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Lytrytyr:
I'm sorry, but I should have been clearer. My fault. By fast, I meant F2.8 or lower/wider. That does place your recommendation of Tamron 17-50/2.8 on the list.

hcc:
The DA 18-135 is comparatively slower, and should be wonderful in bright light. In lower light, though, I guess we could use higher ISO on the K-5 to compensate. Its a thought... Thank you for that, hcc

scratchpaddy:
Thanks for the tip on Sigma 30... Is the Sigma 18-35 going to really be that good? I don't shoot wide angle in such low light, but I imagine it could be fun.... I guess it could be coupled with a Tamron 28-75/2.8 to negate the need for fast prime lenses, or am I wrong?
09-04-2013, 03:32 PM   #7
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I was personally disappointed with the corner performance of the Sigma 30 1.4 and sold it. It is fine if you want centre sharpness. I have the FA 31 (and four DA Limiteds) and there is no comparison to the Sigma for an overall normal lens. Don't sweat the wobble, I would sooner have a 31 with the wobble than any other lens period, end of story. My only regret with the 31 was that I waited as long to get one.

The DA 70 is another gem and is sharp from f 2.4. The 77 is another good lens but I like the smaller size and quick shift. Either will do.

The Sigma 18-35 1.8 is an interesting new lens. My major concern is that it's weight and bulk is too much for carrying around for general use. I may get it for event work. Personally with today's sensors, I don't need 1.8 that much. I have the 31 and a fast 50 for those occasions.
09-04-2013, 03:46 PM   #8
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That is a very nice collection you have there!
Yep, AF can be very useful sometimes. Do you want it to also be a zoom lens, for total flexibility? Because that limits your choice quite nicely. S type screen means you probably want an f2.8 zoom and there aren't very many available for Pentax at the moment.

09-04-2013, 04:55 PM   #9
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I was going to say the DA35/2.4 and FA77. The FA31 is great, but it's often tricky to get what I want out of it.

But I think the DA*50-135 would be the single best lens to get. It's not fast enough in AF when I shoot Cross Country runners coming at me full speed, but it's great for parades and just about anything else. IQ is very close to that of primes. As long as the size isn't a problem I'd find a nice used copy.


I've sold my FA35 (the DA35/2.4 is equivalent, of course, and is a much better value now) and FA77, so I can't give you exact AF speed comparisons. But they're both the right lenses in their respective focal lengths. Alternately, the FA*24/2 is a wonderful lens, and very nice focal length that's become a recent favorite of mine to take along with the FA*85 as a two lens set.

If you really need AF speed I'd recommend the FA*85/1.4 and/or FA (or F) 135/2.8. These are what I shoot runners with, and I'm sure you and your wife would like them, as they're fantastic all-around lenses. My daughter really likes the compact FA135, and I love how no one ever pays any attention to me when I'm shooting candids with it, since it has IF and doesn't look like it's zooming in on them. I got an amazing price on a New Old Stock one I found, but I'd willingly pay full price today, and even consider it a bargain compared to other fast AF lenses. Since it's f/2.8 the cost remains reasonable, but at 135mm it still gives very nice subject isolation.


Both the FA77 and FA*85 are in a different league than the DA70. The DA70 produces sharp images, while the other two produce beautiful images. The FA77 is nearly as good in IQ as the FA*85, while being amazingly small. If you ever shoot indoor or night stage performances you'll want one of these two.

The DA*16-50/2.8 is recommended as well.

Last edited by DSims; 09-04-2013 at 05:26 PM.
09-04-2013, 06:55 PM   #10
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Get another Tammy. It's still available new for $500, used for about $300.

Or, if the budget allows, the Sigma 24-70/2.8, if you need a bit wider.

Either of them can be paired with a 17-50/2.8, or, as mentioned above, then new Sigma 18-35/1.8.

A fast zoom is the right lens for taking pics of your kids. Especially for someone who isn't "into" photography.
09-04-2013, 07:30 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
I was going to say the DA35/2.4 and FA77. The FA31 is great, but it's often tricky to get what I want out of it.
What do you mean by "tricky"? As for the lenses you mentioned - all phenomenal BTW - here are my thoughts:
DA*50-135 - Questionable performance (focusing issues, etc), cost
FA35 or DA35/2.4 as equivalent - I like this option
FA77 - I have not seen a bad review, so yes, I think another option
FA*24/2 - rare, cost, and I have the Sigma (not as good, but will have to do)
FA*85/1.4 and/or FA (or F) 135/2.8. - rare, cost, cost, but yummy
"The DA70 produces sharp images, while the other two produce beautiful images." - very likely, a wonderful assessment.
DA*16-50/2.8 - again, questionable issues with focusing, SDM, etc; cost.
So to summarize: DA35/2.4 + FA77/1.8 is an option.

QuoteOriginally posted by thornburg Quote
Get another Tammy. It's still available new for $500, used for about $300. Or, if the budget allows, the Sigma 24-70/2.8, if you need a bit wider. Either of them can be paired with a 17-50/2.8, or, as mentioned above, then new Sigma 18-35/1.8. A fast zoom is the right lens for taking pics of your kids. Especially for someone who isn't "into" photography.
Probably the most economical of suggestions, if I just get the 28-75/2.8 (darn - should never have sold it) and call it a day. Too bad I am a sucker for primes, though.
09-05-2013, 03:14 AM   #12
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I sort of have the same dilemma. I do have the F35-70 and the F35-105 and also the Sigma EX 15-30.
The AF are on the K-x and the MF lenses are on my K-30. I might get a Tamron 17-50 or a Sigma 24-70 or a used Sigma 24-60. I feel the 28-75 is not wide enough for overall use FOR ME.

Seb
09-05-2013, 05:27 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by subidoc Quote
my wife cannot seem to get comfortable with MF, and needs AF. In an ideal world, she would spend more time and practice, but small kids preclude that luxury
I hear you, both about the wife and the kids.

QuoteOriginally posted by subidoc Quote
If I had to pick fast AF additions, what recommendations do you have?
Fast aperture or fast AF?

QuoteOriginally posted by subidoc Quote
I have concerns about front element wobble of the 31/1.8
I wouldn't worry about this.

Honestly, your requirements are a little vague. Zoom lenses or primes? What focal lengths? How many lenses? Budget?

The fastest aperture glass from Pentax is the Fa limited line. Amazing IQ by all accounts. The fastest focusing lenses are probably the DA limited, F and FA50 f1,7 and F35-70. My own fastest focusing lens is probably the DA21. The DA limited do not have such alrge apertures as the FA, but are also excellent, and better than most other lenses at their widest apertures, which makes up for some of the loss in speed. Stay away from the macro lenses if you want fast AF.

Sigma makes some large but good lenses with large apertures.
09-05-2013, 06:01 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by bassek Quote
I might get a Tamron 17-50 or a Sigma 24-70 or a used Sigma 24-60. I feel the 28-75 is not wide enough for overall use FOR ME.

Seb
I am unfamiliar with the reputation of the Sigma zooms you mention, but will read up. The 24-70 you mention may need to be weighed against the Tamron 28-75. Thank you!

QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
Fast aperture or fast AF?

Honestly, your requirements are a little vague. Zoom lenses or primes? What focal lengths? How many lenses? Budget?
Appreciate the suggestions of DAs and staying away from Macros (also what I have noted). As for a "fast lens", I was implying aperture, not AF speed. Sorry if I misled anyone. You are correct about vague-ness, but it is also the reason for my seeking advice. I am, personally, conflicted about primes v/s zooms. I just had an idea that I could give her the 35-70 on my *ist DS as the focus screen may not be as dark on that as it is on my K-5 with the S-type FS.

In all the recommendations that have been suggested above, and I thank all of you for those, there are 2 options that form in my mind:
1. Tamron 28-75/2.8 - probably the best blend of performance and economics
2. Get the FA77, and then maybe later, an AF prime in the range of 30-35 mm if the 35-70mm falls short (which I doubt - I have been somewhat pleased with it). This is a little more expensive an option, but affordable.

Intuitively, however, I am leaning towards #2, but don't ask me why (really, I swear)...
09-05-2013, 06:55 AM   #15
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Remember your objectives here
1. You're buying this mainly for your wife
2. So she can take pics of the kids. Which will happen a lot inside your house.

So your option #2 is probably not going to help with that, as the FA77 is too long for using inside the house. I even have problems with the 50s, though I can make them work because I have to - they're my fastest lenses.

I'd just go ahead and get her the DA 35/2.4 to see if she likes that range. Do a search on flickr on "Pentax DA 35 2.4 portrait" and see how it is a nice lens for that. The sharpness and color rendition, I think, are just right for taking pics of kids and family and all other things she might like.

Then later you can get something YOU like... like the FA77
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