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11-29-2013, 04:41 PM   #1
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Sharpest Pentax mount lens for under $400?

Ok i realize "sharpness" is not always the most important feature in a lens and that the term is highly subjective. But in working in Corel and Adobe, most lens issues i can work around except for sharpness,, Yes i know about adaptive unsharp mask , etc etc even so, there is only so much post processing sharpening that can be done before there begins to be an actual loss of detail.
So which would you say is the "sharpest" pentax mount lens for under $400?


Last edited by OldNoob; 11-29-2013 at 04:47 PM.
11-29-2013, 04:47 PM - 1 Like   #2
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The M100mm f4 macro would be a contender for less than that, but it demands one not be terrified of manual lenses.
11-29-2013, 04:49 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by OldNoob Quote
Ok i realize "sharpness" is not always the most important feature in a lens and that the term is highly subjective. But in working in Corel and Adobe, most lens issues i can work around except for sharpness,, Yes i know about adaptive unsharp mask , etc etc even so, there is only so much post processing sharpening that can be done before there begins to be an actual loss of detail.
So which would you say is the "sharpest" K-mount lens for under $400?
The Sigma 30 f1.4 sharpness measures (for the center) are basically off the charts at photozone.

Sigma AF 30mm f/1.4 EX DC (Pentax K) Review / Test Report - Analysis

The edge sharpness is horrendous though. But if absolute max sharpness under $400 is what you're after, I think that is it.

I can't remember seeing any lens compare with that level of sharpness.

Sigma 30 1.4's should be well under $400 for a used copy.
11-29-2013, 05:00 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by OldNoob Quote
Ok i realize "sharpness" is not always the most important feature in a lens and that the term is highly subjective. But in working in Corel and Adobe, most lens issues i can work around except for sharpness,, Yes i know about adaptive unsharp mask , etc etc even so, there is only so much post processing sharpening that can be done before there begins to be an actual loss of detail.
So which would you say is the "sharpest" pentax mount lens for under $400?
You should be fine with anything that doesn't zoom. I.e. a DA 35mm, DA 40mm and DA 50mm would all be great.


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11-29-2013, 05:23 PM   #5
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I love the sharpness of the 50 f1.7 (I have the A and F versions)
11-29-2013, 05:53 PM   #6
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Tripod. Buy a heavy tripod and use f8 on what ever lens you have.
11-29-2013, 05:54 PM   #7
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F or FA 50 2.8 macro
11-29-2013, 06:13 PM   #8
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These guys nailed it. Adam is right.
And Macro lenses are usually the best when it comes to pure sharpness factor. Generally have slow AF, though. And almost unremarkable bokeh/rendering, aside from great corner to corner sharpness.
When it comes to pp, sharpness can be affected a lot. In lightroom the default sharpness is 25, but people often push it to 40, even 80. The main problem with this is that it sharpens even things other than the fine in-focus detail. Keep in mind that things like white balance, contrast, and colour saturation can also affect the amount of visible detail.

11-29-2013, 06:26 PM   #9
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The sharpest for under $400 (and you really have not specified normal, wide angle or telephoto) - you ask? It then needs to be a prime, old glass - i.e., a manual lens. My vote would go to the Contax Zeiss 28mm f2.8 Distagon T*. It comes in the native C/Y mount (needs to be the mm version - with the f22 aperture in the green color), so that you can use the Leitax.com mount conversion. With that you have the sharpness for the price. Its a full frame lens, and it sharp at full size - even on the edges and corners. On a cropped sensor it only gets better.For a mild telephoto you can also go with the Contax Zeiss 85mm f2.8 Sonnar T*. Same deal with the mount swap. It equals the Auto Tak 85mm f1.8 in sharpness - but then you need to find one.

You should be right at $400 with the mount swap.

11-29-2013, 06:35 PM   #10
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Just to answer the question as it is written:

The sharpest lens below $400 according to lenstip is: DA 50 F1.8 @F5.6
(Lenses available to compare were: DA 35 F2.4, DA 70 F2.4, FA 35 F2, FA 43 F1.8, FA 50 F1.4. There were a few more but those were definitely over $400.)

The sharpest lens below $400 according to photozone is (Earlvontapia said): Sigma 30 F1.4 @ F4
(Lenses available to compare were (sharpest to least): FA 35 F2, FA 50 F1.4, DFA 100 F2.8 Macro, DA 40 F2.8 Ltd, Sigma 24 F2.8, DA 70 F2.4 Ltd)

Now, extrapolating from the above data, the DA 50 F1.8 showed quite a bit more sharpness than the DA 35 F2.4. The DA 35 F2.4 is practically the same as the FA 35 F2. The Sigma 30 F1.4 is only a little sharper than the DA 35 F2.4. So I would conclude (however flawed this method is) that the DA 50 F1.8 is the sharpest lens you can get for Pentax below $400. Admittedly, a FA 50 F1.7 will be about the same as the DA 50 F1.8.

Now to throw another thing into the mix, the Sigma 50 F1.4 is sharper than the Sigma 30 F1.4 (also better across the frame, but most things are compared to the Sigma 30). Many users say that the Sigma 50 F1.4 is sharper than the FA 50 F1.7, which could put it above the DA 50 F1.8 - AND you can get it for $400 on black Friday!

Hope that helped! Or not really! But it was fun to write
11-29-2013, 06:54 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by arnold Quote
The M100mm f4 macro would be a contender for less than that, but it demands one not be terrified of manual lenses.
And I happen to have one for sale for A$100......
11-29-2013, 08:36 PM   #12
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Likely one of the 50mm. I have the 50mm f1.7--very sharp! Macro lenses are not always the sharpest at (longer) distance--but maybe the 50mm f2.8 macro is. (the 50mm f4 is not terribly sharp at distance.) Actually in all 3 system cameras I have owned (Alpa, Nikon, and Pentax) the moderate aperture 50-55mm were the sharpest. I don't happen to consider sharpness to be a major attribute--as long as it is reasonably sharp for me (lack of) comma, distortion and CF, are more important--and sharpness is dependent on the FL, but as I said the sharpest is likely around 50mm.
11-29-2013, 10:48 PM   #13
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DA35/2.4 AL is very sharp and cheap.
11-29-2013, 11:27 PM   #14
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FA 50/2.8 macro - certainly the sharpest lens I own and probably the sharpest K-mount lens Pentax has produced.
11-30-2013, 03:08 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ismaelg Quote
I love the sharpness of the 50 f1.7 (I have the A and F versions)
+1. Sometimes I wish I had the /1.7 instead of the /1.4.
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