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01-24-2015, 07:13 AM   #1
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Deciding on 50 mm lens

Hello All

I am considering a low cost 50 mm prime. I noticed January deals on DA 50 as low as $130 USD which makes it tempting. I am also considering a used F 50 mm 1.7 in excellent condition from KEH for only slightly more. My questions are:
1. Would I be better with either one over the other? I presume the F 50 mm would have better build quality if it is same construction as my F 28 mm 2.8. On the other hand is the build quality offset by better optics in the newer lens.
2 Do I need either one at all? I have K-3 and DA 40 mm and DA 70 mm Limiteds. The reason for even considering the 50 is for the 1.7 or 1.8 aperture for low light photography. Optical quality of the DA 40 and 70 limiteds is everything I could ask for and they are both reasonably fast, maybe even fast enough that the difference between 1.8 and 2.8 is not a big deal on a K-3.

Feedback Appreciated

John

01-24-2015, 07:18 AM   #2
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1) do you need the aperture ring? If not go for the DA50. I'd take the F50 for the same price even if the lens coating would be older.
2) Yes you do. Sooner or later LBA will lurk around.

Seb
01-24-2015, 07:28 AM   #3
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You need both. And the K 50/1.4, M 50/1.4, A 50/1.4, well you get the picture...
01-24-2015, 07:35 AM   #4
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Honestly my 50s get very little use since I have a 43 (had the 40 but when I got the 43 it got sold) and the 70. If you are just going to get a 50 then having the aperture ring is a big plus IMHO but the 50/1.8 is a sweet little lens. Good luck with your decision.

01-24-2015, 08:02 AM   #5
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DA 50mm f1.8 is a great lens for the price. It is based on the same optical design as the M 50mm f1.7 (and other 50mm f1.7, like F and FA, I think). The DA has the most modern lens coatings and rounded aperture blades, so it might be optically more flare and ghosting resistant, but I doubt it would produce more sharpness than the FA or F series. In fact, I read some posts here that the F series is the "sharpest" of the 50mm f1.7 lenses (but it had loud AF and is heavier than the DA version).
The other difference is the build quality. The DA is very light, has fast AF, no aperture ring, no lens hood bayonet. It is plastic and light, I count those as good things. But if you want to use it on old film cameras, on bellows or extension tubes, you might need aperture ring. Also, a lot of people like to use the lens hood, so maybe you want to get a lens that comes with a dedicated hood. The F 50mm also has distance scales, if you like that.

So basically you can flip a coin, or decide what your priorities are. For wide open shooting you might prefer the F 50mm f1.7, as some users report the DA 50mm f1.8 is not quite as sharp wide open. But Ive seen some great photos with the DA 50mm f1.8, as well, and it has modern AF and coatings.

Now, to compare the DA 50mm with the limited lenses.. the design is different. The limiteds are based on Tessar, very sharp, good across the frame, very compact, but slow aperture. Also, the Pentax limiteds have very good colours and contrast! The 50mm is a different base design, designed for fast aperture. It probably won't be as contrasty and saturated as the limited lenses, and might be less sharp in the corners wide open. But it will be very sharp in the middle! I am one of those people who thinks every photographer needs at least one fast "normal" prime, and I mean f2.0 or faster. It is good for low light, subject isolation,..

Tl;dr: buy the F 50mm f1.7 if it is in great condition, get a lens hood for it, even if its a knockoff or third party hood. If you prefer a lighter lens with snappy AF and warranty, get DA 50mm f1.8 and don't look back.
01-24-2015, 08:43 AM   #6
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50mm is a bit long for "normal" and a bit short for "portrait" on APSC format. If you aren't using it on a film camera, do you actually need a 50mm?
01-24-2015, 09:12 AM   #7
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The difference between 40mm and 50mm is noticeable but you can get similar field of view by shooting from the same perspective and cropping. I think 50mm on APS is well suited for portraits. It's walk-around capability is limited unless you're in a wide open area. If you shoot film then 50mm is a great focal length. Completely different experience due to the extra field of view. I think the DA 50mm is FF capable and would work well with a film body that has Av mode.

It wouldn't hurt to get the DA 50mm at the low price that it is at. The optics are good and the build is sturdy enough even for a plastic bodied lens. Just know that at f/1.8 your depth of field is going to be very thin. You'll be stopping down to f/4 and beyond for ultimate sharpness and increased depth of field.

Perhaps a better question is could you use the $130 for something else? Do you have a nice flash? How about a remote flash trigger? Or, a macro ring light? Sometimes accessories can change the way you shoot (and what you shoot) more than a new lens.
01-24-2015, 09:48 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
In fact, I read some posts here that the F series is the "sharpest" of the 50mm f1.7 lenses (but it had loud AF and is heavier than the DA version).
I owned the F50 f/1.7 before I acquired the FA50 f/1.7. I didn't take a ton of photos with the F, but as I do, I see they are not nearly as good as those taken with the FA50. The contrast is a bit weaker and the biggest issue is that the autofocus misses a lot more often on the F than the FA. Some of that may be my copy variation, but across 73 reviews in the database here, the F gets an 8.6 for autofocus and the FA gets a 9.5 across 25 reviews. Sharpness is about the same at 9.7 vs. 9.8.

Here's my small collection of FA photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/127442034@N03/sets/72157649133020379/
And here's some with the F: https://www.flickr.com/photos/127442034@N03/sets/72157649133473367/

I'm behind on photos, so there are more for the F to come soon.

No doubt that the F is a really good lens. The FA is probably just a bit better, but it is much harder to find. It carries a bit of a price premium of about $80-100. As for weight...if you're really worried about 60g, it's time to hit the weight room. That's about as much as a travel brochure...

01-24-2015, 10:11 AM   #9
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I think the 1.4's although a bit soft at 1.4 give a better result than the 1.7 Primes. The bokeh and rendering is just much better. I'd get a FA 50mm F1.4 (or the F) Don't need AF? Then You have the choice of 50mm 1.4 lenses all the way back to the Super Takumar 50mm 1.4.
01-24-2015, 12:46 PM   #10
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When one is thinking about the 50mm 1.7 (1.8) why is the FA and F compared or put in the same category as the DA. I mean in terms of focal length arent they different?

On a crop sensor wouldnt the apparent focal length of the FA and F series be more pleasing for portraits than the DA?

Am I wrong in my thinking?
01-24-2015, 12:50 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Culture Quote
When one is thinking about the 50mm 1.7 (1.8) why is the FA and F compared or put in the same category as the DA. I mean in terms of focal length arent they different?

On a crop sensor wouldnt the apparent focal length of the FA and F series be more pleasing for portraits than the DA?

Am I wrong in my thinking?
They're all the same focal length - 50mm. They are also all based on the same optical formula. The differences are in the lens coatings and the mechanicals, the F & FA have aperture controls on the lens and more metal than the DA version.
01-24-2015, 12:55 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Culture Quote
When one is thinking about the 50mm 1.7 (1.8) why is the FA and F compared or put in the same category as the DA. I mean in terms of focal length arent they different?

On a crop sensor wouldnt the apparent focal length of the FA and F series be more pleasing for portraits than the DA?

Am I wrong in my thinking?
Focal length is a physical property of the lens. It is the same no matter what camera you put it on or whether it was designed for film or digital cameras. When you mount the lens on a camera, what you will see will depend on the sensor size of that camera--this is field of view, which depends only on the camera for a given focal length. The lens's focal length will be whatever it says on there.

"Designed for digital" or "only for APS-C" camera markings don't involve the focal length of the lens. Rather, such designations means that either special attention has been paid to reducing chromatic aberrations ("purple fringing"), a phenonemom which is much more visible on digital cameras than film ones, and/or the image circle only covers an APS-C sized area. In the latter case, if you were to mount the lens on a full frame/film camera, it would produce an image that looks like it was taken through a porthole on a ship, like this:


01-24-2015, 01:00 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Culture Quote
When one is thinking about the 50mm 1.7 (1.8) why is the FA and F compared or put in the same category as the DA. I mean in terms of focal length arent they different?

On a crop sensor wouldnt the apparent focal length of the FA and F series be more pleasing for portraits than the DA?

Am I wrong in my thinking?
Forget you ever heard of 'crop factor'. A 50mm lens is a 50mm lens no matter how large an image circle it is designed to project. It is far better to learn how different focal lengths perform on differnt formats. 50mm is a short telephoto on APS-C. 28mm and 35mm are 'normal' focal lengths. 24mm is a narrow wide angle. etc.
01-24-2015, 01:12 PM   #14
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im not sure about the image quality but i think it'll be the same. if aperture ring was not important i would get da50 instead of f50 because it has 7 rounded aperture blades instead of 6. on some of my shots i see a hexagonal bokeh and i just hate it. i have several lens with 6 blades right now f50 is one of them. sigma10-20 4-5.6 is another one and i wish i had the 3.5 version because the star bursts mine gives me are ugly.

Last edited by furryurry; 01-24-2015 at 01:31 PM.
01-24-2015, 01:23 PM   #15
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From the two mentioned I recomend going for a F50 1.7 - this lens truly is excellent, and the aperture ring might come handy when doing macro or focusing closer with small extension tube. Also metal mount is is definitely much better, despite the durability of plastic used I still think that DA will have the mount worn or cracked sooner or later , where F will simply habe only bit of brassing.

The image quality is excellent and focusing speed is also speedy. I know the new coating might make a difference but in years of my shooting with F 50 1.7 I am yet to see the flare problem with most severe backlit shots. Besides - the lower price at which the new DA comes doesn't come from goods packed into it you know.... :P
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