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02-04-2007, 09:12 PM   #1
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FA* 85mm f/1.4 vs. Limited 77mm f/1.8

I am in *need* of a moderate telephoto. Not saying that I will buy one now, but I need something to dream about. Which is better, the 85mm or the 77mm? Is this really a fair comparison? The 85mm is faster, longer, has a *, and costs more. While the 77mm is shorter, slower, costs less, and is Limited.

My problem is that I just tried to shoot a concert and didn't get any good shoots.
I am aware that photographer can count more than the gear, but using the Kit Lens instead of a fast telephoto doesn't work. At some point I went up to the stage and just used my 31mm (it was a friendly sort of concert, nothing professional).

As a cheaper solution would you recommend the A* 85mm f/1.4? It sounds good. In this case I would also get the magnifying eye cup. My lenses don't seem balanced (31mm and Kit Lens) I must amend this with a good telephoto. Am I now going to be a victim of LBA.


Last edited by Manwe; 02-04-2007 at 09:23 PM.
02-04-2007, 10:00 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Manwe Quote
I am in *need* of a moderate telephoto. Not saying that I will buy one now, but I need something to dream about. Which is better, the 85mm or the 77mm? Is this really a fair comparison? The 85mm is faster, longer, has a *, and costs more. While the 77mm is shorter, slower, costs less, and is Limited.

My problem is that I just tried to shoot a concert and didn't get any good shoots.
I am aware that photographer can count more than the gear, but using the Kit Lens instead of a fast telephoto doesn't work. At some point I went up to the stage and just used my 31mm (it was a friendly sort of concert, nothing professional).

As a cheaper solution would you recommend the A* 85mm f/1.4? It sounds good. In this case I would also get the magnifying eye cup. My lenses don't seem balanced (31mm and Kit Lens) I must amend this with a good telephoto. Am I now going to be a victim of LBA.
You can't really compare the 77Ltd, FA85/1.4 & A85/1.4. The reason is simply because the FA85 and A85 are out of production. The 77 is still being made in batches.

The 77 is small and discrete, but about 1/2 stop slower. The other 2 are larger & heavier, attract more attention, and can be used to fend off muggers and groupies. If you don't care about size and if you can get your hands on the FA*85 or A*85(manual focus), you should. When in doubt, go with a prime and go with the fastest possible lens. Otherwise, get the 77 - pretty much everyone who has used one sings its praises (including me).

You will see threads on DPR and other places talking about the relative merits of the 3 lenses and which is best. In my honest opinion, the differences are really only small distinctions between "very very good" and "very very very good". They are all excellent lenses.
02-04-2007, 10:10 PM   #3
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Here's another thought. If the price of the lens is of concern to you and if you have a body with S/R, get the D-FA100mm f2.8 macro lens. It will function as a good short telephoto lens (150mm equivalent). It's not very big so it's fairly discrete.
02-05-2007, 12:39 AM   #4
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Hi, Manwe. This is a common question being asked again and again. (I was one of those people doing the same few months ago)

Most of my information came from Jonas, Godfrey and Fred. If you searched their threads in DPR, you would get plenty of them.

I can summarise a few things for you to the best of what I knew so far.

Fa 77 ltd shares similar optical design to A* 85 f1.4 (From DPR Fred's post)

A* 85 f1.4



Fa* 77 Ltd



All 6 elements in 7 groups. Structurally very similar. But optically it shall be quite similar. OK. A* 85 f1.4 should be tad sharper but it would be compromised by its own fringeing problems...

Fa* 85mm f1.4 is then quite different compared to these two lenses shown above



So Fa77 mm is not much different compared to A* 85 f1.4 in structure.

Of course there are two different cults supporting one or the other.
The fa77 ltd is sharp wide open but not that ultimately sharp. But stopping down the aperture makes little difference in sharpness which extends to corners. The A* 85 f1.4 tends to have flare and have dramatic chromatic abberations wide open til stopping down to f4 or so. Then A* 85 f1.4 is reported to be sharper than Canon 85 f1.2L at f1.4 in one review testing which causes an outbreak of group hysteria in DPR canon SLR forum...

I personally want to get A* 85 f1.4, just to see how different it is comparing to fa 77 ltd. There were 3 copies on ebay sold last week: all in bad conditions costing 850 Euro each roughly. 2 of them from Poland actually ...

Now Fa77 ltd is pricing similarly to A* 85 f1.4 prices on ebay. I think whenever you can lay your fingers on any of them, it should do you justice for concert shots (maybe not long reach enough?) And you are going to use it in dark environment, CA should not be a major problem.

Maybe Fa 135 f2.8 will be a better option for a concert or even Fa* 200mm f2.8 will do a better job? Or the forth coming D FA 200mm f2.8...

Da* 50-150 f2.8 might be also a good option (I am sailvating for this lens too)

LBA or GAS never stops hehe

Cheers

02-05-2007, 01:58 AM   #5
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I doubt you'll regret either lens. I recently picked up the 77 and am completely in love with it. It's a fantastic performer wide open and is surprisingly long with the 1.5x crop.
02-05-2007, 01:48 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul_C Quote
I doubt you'll regret either lens. I recently picked up the 77 and am completely in love with it. It's a fantastic performer wide open and is surprisingly long with the 1.5x crop.
Do you mind posting 2 100% crops of the same thing, one shot f/1.8 and the other f/8?

roentarre: Thanks for the delightfully informative reply. Where do you get these diagrams? I can't seem to find them on Pentax's site. Do you possibly know where to get MTF curves also? *bookmarks for future reference*
02-05-2007, 03:42 PM   #7
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I think James covered most of the important things.

It can be added that the FA*85/1.4 in general is considered to be a fantastic lens for short distances, like in good portrait distances. There are many reports about this lens being not good for general use, or landscape shooting.
In the short distance realm it performs superbly with regards to resolution, contrast, bokeh (it even has less CA than many other Pentax lenses).

I have owned the FA77 (2 pcs) and the A*85/1.4 (2 pcs) but not the FA*85/1.4 so the informaton above is what I have got from looking at many pictures and reading a lot of testimonials. I have always been interested in the "short tele" FOV. Now I find the FL too long. It will be interesting to see what the coming DA35/xx and DA55/xx will be like.
02-05-2007, 05:56 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Manwe Quote
Do you mind posting 2 100% crops of the same thing, one shot f/1.8 and the other f/8?
You know, I don't think I've stopped it down that far yet. I don't usually do the pixel-peeping thing but if I get bored this evening I'll give it a shot.

02-05-2007, 10:47 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonas B Quote
It can be added that the FA*85/1.4 in general is considered to be a fantastic lens for short distances, like in good portrait distances. There are many reports about this lens being not good for general use, or landscape shooting.
In the short distance realm it performs superbly with regards to resolution, contrast, bokeh (it even has less CA than many other Pentax lenses).
I own the FA85 and the 77. From the perspective of just practical normal usage, I must respectfully disagree.

When do I use the 85 wide open? For portraits of people. And landscapes too! When do I shoot a landscape wide open? When I want to isolate a particular item like a flower. In that situation I want the same lighting conditions and the same technique that will yield me a good people portrait, as I am effectively doing a flower portrait.

So when do I want to use the 85 focussed at infinity? When I want to have everything in sharp focus in a landscape, which usually means I have to stop down the lens. Once I stop down the FA85, it functions like a typical good quality Pentax lens thats been stopped down. (BTW I have also used the 85 at infinity and wide open/slightly stopped down, and I have no complaints either!)

Disclaimer: I don't pixel peep or 'measurebate' and I have no intention of doing so. That's what I meant when I said practical normal usage.

I have noticed one thing about the 85 that others have reported. When shooting wide open, like a head & shoulders portrait, the DOF is set ever so slightly to start in front of the subject. This means that the eyes will be in focus and immediately behind them, nothing else is; on a typical lens the eyes and a small distance behind will be in focus. The result is that fabled portrait character of the FA*85. I actually noticed this only recently when I took a h&s portrait of my son. After the picture was printed out I realized what was going on... or maybe it was just poor focusing technique on my part. Take your pick.
02-06-2007, 12:13 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Manwe Quote
roentarre: Thanks for the delightfully informative reply. Where do you get these diagrams? I can't seem to find them on Pentax's site. Do you possibly know where to get MTF curves also? *bookmarks for future reference*
The diaghrams are from DPR Godfrey threads.

The MTF thing is from this website comparing canon 85L to A* 85/1.4

Zeiss ZF 85mm f1.4: First Impressions

You can have a look of the simple review some time ago regarding fa 77mm ltd

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/1962-review-sm...8-limited.html

Cheers
02-06-2007, 12:38 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by tranq78 Quote
I own the FA85... ... ...I must respectfully disagree. -snip-
That's interesting as it is the first time I have heard this. It sounds great and make me wish I had the opportunity to try one out myself. It's always hard to go by different messages picked up at the net only. Do you think this is about sample variations or some strange desinformation getting spread?

regards,
02-06-2007, 09:43 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonas B Quote
That's interesting as it is the first time I have heard this. It sounds great and make me wish I had the opportunity to try one out myself. It's always hard to go by different messages picked up at the net only. Do you think this is about sample variations or some strange desinformation getting spread?

regards,
If the DOF ends at the eyes then everything after will blur in a nice, soft way... ideal for portraits. What I have read is that someone did extensive testing and came to this conclusion. I can't find the link or remember where I read it.

There was also a conclusion that the lens is optimized for portrait distances. That doesn't mean it can't be used for other purposes. But I think people took this comment and concluded it was only good as a people portrait lens.

I also read that this lens is slightly soft wide open. Someone was disappointed by this when compared to his/her A*85, and posted comments on the web. Others then posted comments about their FA85's. Hence the likely genesis of the reputation that this lens is soft.

Sample variation may have had something to do with the different conclusions people have reached. It may very well be slightly soft wide open, which makes sense if it was optimized to shoot portraits at close distance. I don't worry about it... if I want to sharpen the image even more than it is, I'll simply stop down to F1.7/F2.0 (or a bit more).

The FA*85 gives beautiful 3D like images, just like the 77. Bokeh on the FA85 is arguably better, and the 77's bokeh is fabulous.

Hmmm. I don't think I've answered your question, only given you my opinions.
02-06-2007, 04:19 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by tranq78 Quote
-snip-
Hmmm. I don't think I've answered your question, only given you my opinions.
No problems; that's often all there is to it, opinions.

I recall I have read a few times that the FA*85/1.4 is soft at long distances - explicitily spelled out like that. As it has been from more than one source I dared to mention this in my first reply. From now I think about long distance resolution with this lens as a "various reports from various sources" thing...

Maybe some concensus will be possible in the future?

regards,
02-06-2007, 07:57 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonas B Quote
I recall I have read a few times that the FA*85/1.4 is soft at long distances - explicitily spelled out like that. As it has been from more than one source I dared to mention this in my first reply. From now I think about long distance resolution with this lens as a "various reports from various sources" thing...

Maybe some concensus will be possible in the future?

regards,
Hi Jonas,

I hope that you can get your hands on the FA*85 to try it some day. I actually don't find my 85 soft at infinity. At least nothing I pay attention to. BTW I have a FA85 lens that is soft... the FA85/2.8 Soft. Now that's an interesting portrait lens!

You know, the issues we have been discussing about the FA*85 is something Mr. Rice High should test. Seriously. I don't have the patience to do this and he has disclosed that he also owns this lens. I hope he chimes in.

-George
02-06-2007, 08:43 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by tranq78 Quote
-snip-
You know, the issues we have been discussing about the FA*85 is something Mr. Rice High should test. Seriously. I don't have the patience to do this and he has disclosed that he also owns this lens. I hope he chimes in.
I recall RH having written something like "The FA*85/1.4 - my most beloved lens on the planet".

No, I don't think it can be soft.

Let's wait and see.
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