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09-06-2013, 07:16 AM   #1
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DA 35mm f2.8 Ltd - sharpness vs DA*55 and 77 Ltd

I'm mainly a concert shooter. Small - Medium venues, often difficult lighting. Generally I'll pack the Sigma 24-70, DA 35 f2.4, DA*55 and the FA77. More and more I find myself discarding the Sigma zoom because although the focal range is handy, once you factor in noise from higher ISO and that it's already a bit soft at wider apertures, I lose too much detail for my liking. The DA*55 is superb. So is the FA77. They retain so much detail, even after noise robs some. I love using those two lenses.

But I want a wider lens with the same sharpness. The "plastic fantastic" 35 is a nice lens. Great for the price but it can't do what the 55 & 77 do when wider open. I'm shooting at f4 max, mostly closer to f2.8 to keep shutter speed up under the low lights. The 35 f2.4 is still a bit soft. I find that I love the photos from the 55 and 77 a lot more.

How does the 35mm f2.8 Ltd Macro compare to the 55 and 77 for sharpness at f2.8 - f4? How does it compare to the "plastic fantastic" 35 at the same apertures?

If the Ltd Macro is up there with the 55 and 77 then maybe I'll leave the zoom at home and just go with 35 Ltd, DA55, 77 Ltd. Maybe try the DA21 Ltd also for when I need to go even wider. I can probably get away with the f3.2 widest aperture.

I'm keeping an eye on the reviews of the Sigma 18-35 f1.8 also. If the actual performance is on par with the expectation then it will be worth the consideration for taking care of the wide to standard length range. I'm a bit concerned about the flare resistance and focusing consistency. You don't tend to get two chances to get a shot with concert photography.

I'm interested in hearing people's real world experience with the 33mm f2.8, particularly if you've also got the DA55.

09-06-2013, 07:27 AM - 1 Like   #2
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FA31.
Just sayin'


Ready for action


Delta Spirit - Big Day Out 2013
09-06-2013, 07:56 AM   #3
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Hey Sandy. How're things? Always good to see your photos posted. I was hoping not to have to pay the price for the 31 Ltd. I've been fighting that GAS for a while.
09-06-2013, 08:48 AM   #4
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Owning the 35ltd I can say it's plenty sharp (it is a macro after all) but I have not used it for concertphotography nor do I use it wide open that much. I can take some wide open lowlight samples if you like (I'm curious as well)

Allthough I don't use the 35ltd that often, it still amazes me every time.


Last edited by TenZ.NL; 09-06-2013 at 08:57 AM.
09-06-2013, 08:51 AM   #5
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Any "sharpness" difference between these lenses is likely beyond measure. They all have MTF's in the same ballpark:

FA 31


DA 35/2.8 Macro


FA 77


DA 35/2.4


It looks like the DA 35/2.4 will give you as sharp as is optically possible on a Pentax K-mount.

One of the problems you are encountering is the general issue when join wider...you lose MTF resolution.

A lens that at f/2.8 is pretty consistent MTF across the frame at f/2.8 is the DA 40/2.8.

I sort of question the goal, however. If you want sharp with any of these, you need to work on the technique. The kind of shooting you're doing the speed of the lens and its relative sharpness is likely not observable given the minor difference seen in the MTF's and fact that most of these measurements are actually not visible to the human eye without huge pixel peeping...if that. It may not be a lens issue.
09-06-2013, 09:39 AM   #6
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The 35mm limited is very sharp indeed wide open, much better than the 35/2.4, and also has a little magic about it's images that the 35/2.4 completely lacks.

However, in difficult lighting it can rack to and fro trying to focus. I'm using it on a K200D, hardly a shining example of good AF, I imagine for low light you're using something more modern, and that might mean you don't have that problem.

I've never owned one, I almost got one instead of the 35 limited, but the now-discontinued Sigma 30/1.4 might be another option for you, though it would have to be second-hand now I think. I remember reviews that loved it for low light, and that was on older, less capable AF systems than the newer DSLRs have.
09-06-2013, 09:49 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
The 35mm limited is very sharp indeed wide open, and also has a little magic about its images.
+1

QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
However, in difficult lighting it can rack to and fro trying to focus. I'm using it on a K200D, hardly a shining example of good AF, I imagine for low light you're using something more modern, and that might mean you don't have that problem.
I use mine on a K-x, with center AF point selected.
Help it along with some manual Quick-Shift,
get some contrast in the center for it to work with,
and it does fine, even in low light.
09-06-2013, 11:22 AM   #8
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Maybe a little too wide for you, but how about the FA* 24mm F2. It's a little soft in the edges but super sharp in the centre from F2. It's great in low light and the perfect companion for the DA* 55mm.

09-06-2013, 02:16 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
The 35mm limited is very sharp indeed wide open, much better than the 35/2.4, and also has a little magic about it's images that the 35/2.4 completely lacks.
I disagree with this statement. I have owned both and the non-limited more than hold its own (sharpness) against the limited and the numbers that Aristophanes posted back that up.
Handling, build quality and close focusing are reasons to buy the limited instead of the non-limited, but definitely not sharpness.
09-06-2013, 02:32 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by cali92rs Quote
I disagree with this statement. I have owned both and the non-limited more than hold its own (sharpness) against the limited and the numbers that Aristophanes posted back that up.
Handling, build quality and close focusing are reasons to buy the limited instead of the non-limited, but definitely not sharpness.
Like Aristophanes said: all these lenses are in the same ballpark. While it looks here that the non-macro has higher MTFnumbers, the DA35ltd (and the FA77) were tested on a K10d. I also checked the DA*55 (and the numbers of the FA31 on 10mp) and it`s practicly equal from F2.8.

If all these lenses are allmost equally sharp, you are just missing some pixidust Or does Aristophanes have a point here?
09-06-2013, 02:35 PM   #11
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Aristophanes - I agree, poor technique certainly can't be ruled out. Thanks to you all for the info and opinions. It's all great food for thought
09-06-2013, 02:36 PM   #12
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My copy of the 35 Limited needed to be stopped down for ultimate sharpness.

I sold it because it wasn't practical for me.
09-06-2013, 03:15 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by cali92rs Quote
I disagree with this statement. I have owned both and the non-limited more than hold its own (sharpness) against the limited and the numbers that Aristophanes posted back that up.
Handling, build quality and close focusing are reasons to buy the limited instead of the non-limited, but definitely not sharpness.
I have both an there is no perceived sharpness difference. The Macro has a flatter field and appears more even and can take time to focus. From what I see it may have a superior t-stop, so more even transmission across the spectrum. It's advantage to me is it holds well at the f/16 range for macros.
09-06-2013, 03:17 PM   #14
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One other thing. I actually think the guy at Lenstips is the best tester out there, not photozone. He has not tested the DA macro. I find DxO inscrutable and DPR too rare.
09-06-2013, 05:40 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
I actually think the guy at Lenstip
Robert Olech

QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
is the best tester out there.
+1

QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
He has not tested the DA macro.
He's done the Tokina clone:

Tokina AT-X M35 PRO DX 35 mm f/2.8 review - Introduction - Lenstip.com
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