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12-29-2013, 08:43 AM   #1
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Which lens? 35 vs. 50 vs. 50 vs. 50!

Santa left me some gift certificates to play with at Amazon and I was thinking of using them to buy a lens. Adding a bit of extra photo funds cash brings my budget to around $200. With Amazon's liberal return policy I was thinking of buying used to stay within my limits.

I think I'm stuck with paralysis by analysis and I was hoping to get some perspective here.

I have narrowed my choices down to:

Pentax DA 35mm f/2.4 AL Lens
Pentax DA 50mm f/1.8
Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4
Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens

I'm primarily a zoom lens shooter and I am a big fan of the FA series of lenses. I do have some primes already in those focal ranges but they are all manual: a Lentar 35mm f/2.8 and Pentax A 50mm f/1.4. The differences in field of view are understood.

They all sound great to me and I feel like I would thoroughly enjoy any one of those lenses. Should I just pick blindly and enjoy this embarrassment of riches?

12-29-2013, 08:47 AM   #2
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Boris: since u talk about the DA35/2.4 twice, you should get that one, cheers!
12-29-2013, 08:48 AM   #3
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I accidentally posted before I finished typing the message!

Blame the return key on that.
12-29-2013, 09:10 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
I'm stuck with paralysis by analysis...
I have no idea what lens you should get, but I'm stealing this phrase.

Since you say you're primarily a zoom shooter, I think I'd get the Sigma macro, if I were you. It would be a great thing to toss in your bag with your zooms to expand your capabilities. For me, when I'm shooting primes, I tend to slow down how I work, so focusing manually isn't that big of a deal. Because of that, I think getting the DA 50mm f1.8 or the FA 50mm f1.4 to replace an A 50mm f1.4 would be a bit unnecessary. The DA 35 would be an upgrade over your Lentar, but I still don't think it would gain you as much as having a macro lens (assuming you don't already have one).

12-29-2013, 10:27 AM   #5
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Ill throw a curve ball and say the DA 40mm. The XS can be found at a reasonable price, and it is very sharp, with very fast AF. Handy FoV, too. Of course, the 40mm limited has its advantages, like QS and a more convenient filter size plus lens hood. And the 40mm is so small, you can always take it with you! Of course, its only f2.8 and might have some PF wide open - most super sharp lenses do. But I still prefer it over my DA 35mm f2.4.
The main advantage of you updating the 35mm or 50mm is AF or lens coatings made for digital (might help fight fringing and flare).
Or if you dont mind manual focus and off-brand, you might want to look into Samyang (Rokinon, ProOptic, Bower, Vivitar,..) 14mm or 85mm. Both can be found super cheap and offer you a perspective your current lenses don't.
12-30-2013, 10:11 AM   #6
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Na Horuk,

Thanks for the "curve ball"! I never considered the 40mm until now. The idea is intriguing because the lens is so flat. It really is like having no lens on the front. Unfortunately, the reviews I read about it are less than complimentary. I'll have to look at sample shots later.

The off brand lenses sound fun too but they were out of my price range. My total budget will rise up to $280 next month which is still heavily subsidized by the Amazon gift cards.

Any more curve balls.
12-30-2013, 10:30 AM   #7
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Get the 35mm f2.4 from amazon, and then the F50 1.7 from eBay. I like the 1.7 much better than the 1.4, as it's sharper at 1.7 than the 1.4 is at the same aperture. (they don't equalize until about f/2.8).

I have no experience with the 1.8, but used 1.7s can be had for $200-$250.

Charles.
12-30-2013, 03:11 PM   #8
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The Samyang 85mm goes for around $290 btw.
Regarding the 40mm, the XS is great for the price. Has a metal mount, very fast AF. But the lens cap is something people like to lose, and the filter thread is pretty odd (27mm), so its hard to get a hood or filters. I find it to be great for many uses, because it has practically no distortion (unlike the 35mm), fast AF, and its very sharp (so sharp its unflattering for portraits). I have it wit me almost always, since it is so small it fits in any bag or pocket. It is also very unobtrusive when mounted. I can fit the K-r with the XS into a tiny P&S camera bag.


12-30-2013, 05:51 PM   #9
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In the in depth reviews on the Forum front page you can read the full 50mm shootout review. They're all pretty darn good. I like the DA 40 Limited myself. I find it much more usable on our digital cameras than 50mm.
12-30-2013, 06:13 PM   #10
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Well, AF isn't super useful for macro, so if you go Sigma, try to get the MF version. If you don't already have a macro lens, I think it would be a good starting option to explore macro, and less expensive than the AF version. That or one of the 1:1 55mm macros, but they are harder to locate and often more expensive. Your Flickr has many "close-up/observational" shots that lead me to believe you might enjoy shooting macro. Just a hunch though...

Otherwise, since you already have 35mm and 50mm manual lenses, I'd ask: at which length do you do most of your "candid"/"street" shooting? That is the length where you will benefit from fast AF most, no? Get the DA in that focal length. My $0.02 anyway...
12-30-2013, 10:53 PM   #11
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I do enjoy taking macro and macro-like photos but I do not have a true macro lens like the Sigma. For those kinds of shots I usually use a telephoto lens and just focus as close as possible. I end up about a foot or two away (~0.6m). Never have I been mere inches or centimeters away. The Sigma gives me pause for two reasons. First, at 50mm I think I would need awfully close to my subject - so close that I'm afraid I would block all light falling onto it. Something like 70mm or longer feels right vs. 50mm. Second, I can't seem to find any professional reviews for the Sigma f/2.8 lens. I'm not too hung up on numbers and all that but I would like to know that this lens was worthy of someone's attention to make an attempt at quantifying the performance. It would give me some sort of indication of what to expect. Then I can line that up with some sample images. That together would give me the start of an impression.

My top two lenses that I enjoy shooting with are my FA 28-105mm f/3.2 and my Lentar 35mm f/2.8. I also have a 135mm that I would like to experiment more with. With that said, I'm putting a DA 18-135mm WR lens that Santa gave me through a work out. I'm swinging that zoom ring like a windshield wiper!

I'm not a big fan of 50mm on my K-30 but maybe I haven't found the right application for that focal length. With the 35mm lens I feel like I can zoom with my feet - getting closer or further away. When I had the 50mm I just locked up. Maybe it's a mental block. I want to learn how to use it properly but I think it will almost be painful for me!
01-01-2014, 05:07 AM   #12
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If you can make the DA40 work pricewise then that is the choice imo. I would later look for MF 50 or 100mm Macro like the Pentax M50/4. It's so much nicer to use a MF lens when manually focusing (usually).

50mm forces you to compose differently but in some ways you see things differently than you did before. I have taken so many great photos with my A50f1.7 because of this.
01-01-2014, 07:11 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
I can't seem to find any professional reviews for the Sigma f/2.8 lens
My review is not professional enough?

Just kidding...Your fears regarding working distance are well-founded. Other than that, the Sigma is a fine lens and a great value.


Steve
01-04-2014, 02:02 PM   #14
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Sigma 50mm MF/AF, you are talking between maybe $100/$150 (used that is) , i have had the AF Sigma 50mm macro before, it was my work horse, from portrait shots, macro, to taking pics posting here in PF, a very sharp and versatile lens
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