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01-18-2015, 06:47 PM   #1
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* vs Limited: Subjective Thread

Hey all!
Next month will be exactly two years of photography for me and hopefully the start of my last lens and gear buying spree, "for a good while at least." So this should be my last purchase related question. I have a few Ltd lenses and plan to buy two or three * lenses, but never used a * lens. I know like everyone else that, both the Ltd and * series lenses are the top of the line but, I would like to ask:
Overall, which series do you prefer and do you think one series is better, or do you think they're equivalent?
My problem is waiting to find out for myself (doing LBA research), as I've yet to find anything stating one series is superior to the other overall.

For argument's sake, remember everyone is entitled to their own opinion. NO WRONG ANSWERS
Thanks once again!

01-18-2015, 07:09 PM   #2
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The Limited versus * question has different answers,
depending on whether you're talking DA or FA lenses,
so my comments here are for the DA lenses:

I've always gone for the LImiteds.

When I was building up my collection of lenses,
many users were reporting problems with the SDM motors,
particularly on the zooms, and if the lens hadn't been used for a while.

Except for the Limiteds, I prefer MF on primes anyway,
so haven't needed the DA* primes,
which seem to have had fewer SDM problems.
01-18-2015, 07:17 PM   #3
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I've used both * and Ltd lenses. Yes, my preference is for the Ltd lenses when it comes to build quality/longevity. But clearly, the * and Ltd variety have optically different properties and thus applications. I loved the range of the 16-50 but the AF was slow. I haven't tried the 20-40 but the compactness of the 21 is hard for me to overlook. FA Ltds are just gems. I use them preferentially for all reasons, except for when I need wide angle (21 or 12-24 are used), macro (100 macro is my go to lens) and long telephoto capability (55-300 or 70-200 are my current options). The 50-135 has been a time-honoured favourite of many, but I liked the longer 70-200 with the same f/2.8 ability.
01-18-2015, 07:17 PM   #4
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I'm more concerned with DA lenses. So SDM problems are more likely to happen with non-regular use?
Thanks for your input.

---------- Post added 01-18-15 at 06:28 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
I haven't tried the 20-40 but the compactness of the 21 is hard for me to overlook. FA Ltds are just gems.
This is a big factor in me raising the question. I assumed Ltds were better being the FA Ltds are still being produced and not the FA*s. But when it comes to DA* zoom lenses being constant aperture, the DA 20-40 Ltd is not. That in itself makes me wonder.

01-18-2015, 07:29 PM   #5
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I've got the DA* 16-50 and 50-135
And the DA 21, 40, and 70 (sold the 35)
And the FA 31 and 43

I use the zooms when I need fast flexibility in framing. Bought in 2009, never had SDM issue. 16-50 is the weakest of all listed but has likely gotten me the most published photos simply due to its useful focal range.


I use the primes when I need small, unobtrusive gear. Wish they weren't noisy screw drive.

At the end of the day there are quality difference but for me the other factors (size/flexibility) often drive the decision on what to take.
01-18-2015, 07:52 PM   #6
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They are all good but each has specific benefits and tradeoffs.

DA Limited is ultra compact and excellent image quality. FA Limited is top image quality IMO, small but not quite as compact, and can work on full frame.

"*" (I hate that name because it's difficult to web search) add zoom capability and weather resistance. You sacrifice a little image quality (still very good, thought) and size plus weight increase.

The DA* 16-50 is my must have walkabout lens. Versatile zoom range, weather resistant, and good image quality. It can do a bit of everything. The DA Limited and FA Limited are more special purpose tools: better at their specialties but less versatile.
01-19-2015, 01:13 AM   #7
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I exchanged my DA* 16-50 for the DA 15 & 35 macro (later added the FAs as well) and the DA 18-135, mostly because I really enjoy working with primes and use the zoom only for snapshots and when I travel with small luggage. The DA* stayed at home most of the time because it was to big for me and in the situations where I used the zoom I did not need it's excellent IQ. If I*d do professional photography in situations that call for a zoom I'd probably kept it.

On the longer end I don't think I'll ever let go of my DA* 300, this lens is just great, the limited just can't compete at that FL .
01-19-2015, 03:18 AM   #8
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Sorry for a little off-topic, but
QuoteOriginally posted by Trudger1272 Quote
So SDM problems are more likely to happen with non-regular use?

I thought that the SDM failures were related to kind of wear (as result of frequent usage). So you say that it's vice-versa?

01-19-2015, 03:48 AM   #9
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I use both. My prime line up includes the DA 15, FA 31, DA 40, DA *55, FA 77 and the DA *200. There really isn't enough overlap to compare those lenses. I purchased them because I wanted those specific focal lengths and am pleased with how they perform, both the * and limiteds.

For zooms, I own the DA * 16-50 and 50-135 and am pleased with those as well. They need to be stopped down a little to get the same sharpness as a prime, but if you need flexibility and don't really have time (or desire) to change lenses frequently when you are out, then they do really well. The only limited zoom is a little slower and has less focal range than the 16-50 and so it wouldn't really be an option for me.
01-19-2015, 03:48 AM   #10
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The only one I have no experience with is the 200. They are all excellent.

As you already have the 21, 31, 43 and 77, I would consider the 16-50 and 60-250 (although I opted for the 50-135 and 300) to complete a very potent kit.
01-19-2015, 04:07 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by zzeitg Quote
I thought that the SDM failures were related to kind of wear (as result of frequent usage). So you say that it's vice-versa?
I'm not saying that. It was a question to a statement that I should have quoted, though I've read a post before where someone claimed he had no problems with his 50-135 probably because he uses it a lot each week.
QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
many users were reporting problems with the SDM motors, particularly on the zooms, and if the lens hadn't been used for a while.


---------- Post added 01-19-15 at 03:16 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
As you already have the 21, 31, 43 and 77, I would consider the 16-50 and 60-250 (although I opted for the 50-135 and 300) to complete a very potent kit.
The 16-50 and 50-135 sounds cool. I really want to try the DA*55 though, as I prefer primes. Maybe I'll be fortunate enough to get all three.
01-19-2015, 08:37 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by zzeitg Quote
Sorry for a little off-topic, but

I thought that the SDM failures were related to kind of wear (as result of frequent usage). So you say that it's vice-versa?
You'll find quite a number of the 'my SDM lens has failed' posts include the fact that the lens seems not to have been used for a while.

I have the 17-70, 50-135, and the 300, all SDM. I run them every two weeks, whether or not they've been used in the intervening period. So far, so good. My theory is that the lubricant on the gear chain thickens up over time with lack of use, and that the SDM motor then has to overcome the resulting 'stiction' which stresses it more than usual.

Also, it seems that the 16-50 and 50-135 have similar internal focussing mechanisms and it might be that for some reason they are inherently harder to operate. No knowledge or science in this, just based on the fact that most reported SDM failures involve one or the other.

As to '*' vs. Ltds, both are great lens series. The majority of the '*' lenses are zooms, but in my view are equal in IQ to the Ltds despite the additional glass elements. You'll find quite a number of comments suggesting that the '*' lenses are like having a collection of Ltds in one unit.

Last edited by JohnX; 01-19-2015 at 08:44 AM.
01-19-2015, 09:03 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Trudger1272 Quote
But when it comes to DA* zoom lenses being constant aperture, the DA 20-40 Ltd is not. That in itself makes me wonder.
The DA 20-40 Ltd is an update of the FA 20-35,
which was a constant f/4 aperture zoom.

When upgrading the design to make the Limited,
they were able to keep the compact size
(a key feature of the Limiteds),
but still offer a very useful f/2.8 at the wide end.

I'm getting better IQ from my DA 20-40 at 20mm
than my A 20/2.8 has given me on APS-C.
01-19-2015, 09:21 AM   #14
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I use both.

The DA* lenses (I have the 16-50 and 50-135) are mainly travel lenses for me. At least once a year I travel for a longer period to a dusty and/or humid region of our planet where I indulge in landscape and wildlife photography. Needless to say that the build quality of the DA* lenses is essential to keep on photographing despite dust or humidity. The fact that both are zooms is important too to avoid much lens swapping. Note that the real wildlife lenses are a Sigma EX180/3.5 macro and a FA*300/4.5, neither are WR nor zoom, though for macro or distant wildlife zoom is less essential to me.

For *all* other photography my limiteds are preferred. I do have a collection that covers a lot of FOVs (15, 21, 31, 43 and 77 primes, as well as the 20-40 zoom). The primes used to do it all, but since I purchased the 20-40, I must admit that the central three are seeing less use.

The big difference to me is the DA* zooms offer more immediate flexibility and longer intervals between lens changes, which is what I need outdoors and on a tight travel schedule (where I don't necessarily decide the travel pace myself). The K-3 being a smallish camera, I do prefer to use these lenses with the battery grip installed on the camera, so this adds to the size and weight of my gear (and the size of the bag required to store the stuff). Until now I manage to carry this around without it becoming a problem. On these trips I stand out as a tourist anyway, so a big camera/bag doesn't change the perception of the subject toward myself as a photographer (unfortunately ;-) ).

The limiteds OTOH allow for a perfect balance on the gripless K-3, and as such a much smaller package, which is more comfortable anyway (I love the way these lenses handle on the K-3). And what's more important, it's also much more discreet. Since I use this combo mostly in Belgium and Europe, where I don't have "tourist" written all over me, having a small and discreet camera allows more photo opportunities. Also, the bags this gear can be carried around in, merge better with a more urban dress style.

Wim
01-19-2015, 09:27 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
The DA 20-40 Ltd is an update of the FA 20-35,
which was a constant f/4 aperture zoom.

When upgrading the design to make the Limited,
they were able to keep the compact size
(a key feature of the Limiteds),
but still offer a very useful f/2.8 at the wide end.

I'm getting better IQ from my DA 20-40 at 20mm
than my A 20/2.8 has given me on APS-C.
At the risk of side-tracking the thread a little bit, what is the importance of constant aperture zooms that is mentioned all of the time? I get the advantage when using fully manual exposure or fully manual flash, but that's a very small percentage of all shots taken these days. What am I missing here?
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