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12-18-2013, 04:52 AM   #1
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DA* 55mm f1.4 with K5ii or K3 (AF speed)

Hey guys,

I currently don't have any Pentax gear but I'm really interested to buy the K5ii after reading the many reviews on it. I'm in China at the moment but not in any of the major cities hence I can't just walk into a camera shop to try it out. Most nearby shops carry limited Pentax gear so I'll just have to order online.

I really like the weather resistant properties of K5ii and K3 but I'm not keen on their kit lenses. Neither am I keen on the DA* 16-50 and 50-200 or any of the telelenses. I intend to purchase 2 prime lenses: one at around 50mm and another wide-angled maybe the 15mm, but at the same time I hope my walkaround lens is also water resistant.

So I'm down with 2 options, the DA* 55mm f1.4 and the DA 50mm f1.8. Most of the reviews I've seen of the 55mm says that it focuses really slow but none of the reviews were carried out with K5ii or the K3. I'm into taking low light sports photos hence I want a lens that can focus fast. I've also read that the K5ii and K3 have faster AF speeds than earlier Pentax models, so I'd really like to know how fast the DA* 55mm focuses with these 2 cameras.

Some reviews say that the DA 50mm focuses faster than the 55mm although the reviews on pentaxforums states otherwise.

Cliffnotes: Does the DA* 55mm f1.4 coupled with the K5ii or K3 have a fast autofocus for action sports?

12-18-2013, 06:57 AM   #2
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I sold my 55mm f1.4 and replaced it with the FA 50mm. Focus speed was just as slow on my K-5II as it was on the MKI. I have (or have had) all the DA* lenses and the 55mm was the slowest to focus. The lens was wasted on me really as I never used it.
12-18-2013, 07:36 AM   #3
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DA *55 is a slow focusing lens. SDM is slow on it, but it also has a long focus throw. I don't think it matters what camera you stick it on, it isn't going to be a lens capable of action photography.
12-18-2013, 07:44 AM   #4
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SDM = slow and not ideal for moving objects. That's all there really is to it, unfortunately.

12-18-2013, 08:00 AM   #5
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What about the DA 50mm f1.8?
12-18-2013, 08:16 AM   #6
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Depends on what your deal breaker is. If you need a WR 50 then you only have the DA*55. If fast focusing is more important the I'd look for a FA50 f1.7 it is pretty much as sharp as the DA.

I use my DA*55 at concerts regularly. Prefocus close first and then the AF won't be as slow. If you are following the game and planning your shots then the focus speed should not be too much of an issue. You should never be racking from minimum to maximum focus.
12-18-2013, 08:23 AM   #7
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I'm interested in photographing combat sports like boxing and jujitsu. Not on the professional level, so I expect lighting to be poor but I can get closer to the action. I expect a lot of quick short body movements but nothing big like running around the ring or the mat.
12-18-2013, 08:55 AM   #8
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The DA* 55mm is a top notch portrait lens - specifically made for portraits, the way it renders skin tones, it allows shallow DoF, has beautiful bokeh, even 55mm on APS-C is a classical portrait focal length.
The DA 50mm f1.8 is probably not on the same level in terms of IQ. the DA 50mm is more of an everything lens, a true nifty fifty. Cheap, decently fast aperture, fast AF (not SDM), compact..

But here is the thing. If you want to take photos of combat sports, you have to know a couple things. First one is, how close can you get. Maybe 50mm is too wide, maybe its not wide enough. The other thing is, you will probably want a flash. Diffused, bounced, maybe a couple flashes.. but that is the only way to get sufficient light to freeze motion in a dark place like a gym. You probably won't use much AF anyway, but you will lock the focus and leave it there, or use live view and MF/focus peaking. Constantly AF-ing subjects that stay at a similar distance will only lead to many lost shots due to the time AF needs. Generally in pro sports photography, photographers often pre-focus, use zone focusing, use CiF and triggers, burst mode, bracketing... anything and everything. its very hard to get good, well lit photos of quickly moving people.
But sure, the DA 50mm f1.8, at f1.8, high ISO and slow shutter, would also allow you quite a lot. Its a great prime to start with. Or even the FA 50mm f1.4 or one of the older FA, F series lenses.
I would say start with the DA 50mm f1.8 (even though its not WR) or FA 50mm f1.4.

12-18-2013, 09:06 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
The DA* 55mm is a top notch portrait lens - specifically made for portraits

DA55 is one of my favorite lens. I use FA77 much less after I have DA55. perfect for portraits.
But DA55 can do more than that. It is very sharp even wide open, razor sharp at F1.8-2 and up. This, and FA77 are the two lenses I never hesitate using wide-open. plus, the IQ at border and conners are way better than FA50/1.4, F50/1.7 or FA 50/1.7.
12-18-2013, 11:52 AM   #10
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The DA 55mm is an "interesting" lens from Pentax. It is WR, but it is a long focal length for an APS-C camera. It isn't a focal length that would lend itself to general photography. It's one where you would use it, take it off the camera, then put on your zoom or wider lens, which defeats the purpose of WR.
To me, a 30-35mm WR would be much more appealing.

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