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04-24-2014, 11:31 AM   #1
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FA Primes

I recently picked up a FA 35/2 and it's quality, output and utility far exceed my expectations based on reviews and having handled a few of the corresponding DA primes.

As much as I love it, I'm wondering now if I would love the FA 50/1.4 as much. I have a few manual focus fast 50's that work pretty well for me, but not an old SMC 35 to compare the FA to.

For those of you who have had both, are they (FA35 and FA50) similar in terms of build and output quality?

04-24-2014, 11:51 AM   #2
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Similar build and output quality. These were my first two primes and despite accumulating lots of DA primes since then, I still use these two workhorses.
04-24-2014, 12:01 PM   #3
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Agree with seventysixersfan. I've owned both and they are indeed similar in build and IQ. I have sold them a while back, not because I didn't like them, but because of redundancy with other lenses. When I recently acquired the DA 35 Limited macro, I felt that the FA 35 f2 was redundant in my kit. Also, I found that 35mm's was a difficult focal length to like. The 35 limited though with it's macro feature offered me more flexibility than the FA 35. Honestly, I'm not sure if that was the right call but...it's sold and gone. With the FA 50 f1.4, it was not that it didn't perform but I just never fell in love with it and frankly 50mm's on a cropped sensor. Works great on a film body though. So I sold it a while back for a nice profit. However, a bit later I picked up the DA 50 f1.8 and somehow, I really can't explain why, it grabbed my attention. It also works on my better film bodies too. I'm not saying that it's better than the FA 50 but I just liked it better.

YMMV
04-24-2014, 12:03 PM   #4
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The FA35/2 IMHO is top of the heap for an FA in terms of output, construction feel, appearance and usability. Even the MF focus ring is actually wide enough to use.

The FA50/1.4 is right up there - outstanding IQ as all Pentax 50's - essentially an A50/1.4 - but the other attributes are, IMHO, a tad beneath the FA35. The focusing ring, for instance, is narrow enough to be nearly useless. Then again, at current prices, I own an A50/1.4 and an FA50/1.4 - essentially identical lenses for different cameras.

04-24-2014, 12:26 PM   #5
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For better quality, the FA50/1.4 needs to be stopped down more than the FA35/2. At least 1 1/3 stops most of the time, compared to 2/3 stop for the FA35.

It's not premium priced, but neither is it dirt-cheap. You'll get noticeably better results from a used FA43 or DA*55 if it fits your budget. I sold all 3 of my AF 50s (F50/1.4, FA50/1.7, F50/1.7) after I bought the FA43.
04-24-2014, 12:32 PM   #6
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Yup FA50 tends to be slightly softer at F1.4 than the the FA35 at F2. If you stop it down to F1.8 or F2 helps tremendously!
04-24-2014, 04:54 PM   #7
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Have you considered the FA50mm f1.7?
SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.7 Reviews - FA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Many regard the FA50mm f1.7 as sharper than the FA50mm f1.4. Unless you need the largest aperture (f1.4), the FA50mm f1.7 may fulfill your needs.

My 5 cents... hoping that it may help.
04-24-2014, 06:14 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
Have you considered the FA50mm f1.7?
SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.7 Reviews - FA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Many regard the FA50mm f1.7 as sharper than the FA50mm f1.4. Unless you need the largest aperture (f1.4), the FA50mm f1.7 may fulfill your needs.

My 5 cents... hoping that it may help.
The F/FA50/2.8 Macro is still thought to be the sharpest Pentax lens ever, I believe.

Pentax designed lenses for the image output - for a certain Pentax 'look'.

The 50/1.7's and (55)/1.8's were all designed to be sharp corner to corner. They were for flat work on a Copipod. The 1.4's were designed more for a style of portrait shooting common in the 60's and 70's and dreamy on film, with a sharp center and a softer edge, and for smoother OOF backgrounds. That style seems out of favor in today's pixel-peeping digital world.

By f/2.8 the 1.4's and 1.7's were both sharp and f/4 and above they were nearly indistinguishable.

04-24-2014, 07:52 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the input, guys. I appreciate it.
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