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06-02-2016, 11:56 AM   #1
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40mm 2.8 limited vs SMC DA 50mm 1.8

I currently have the 50 1.8 plastic lens and am considering getting the 40mm limited since it's on sale for a good discount.

The primary use will be for hiking and backpacking to complement the 15 limited and DFA 100 Macro. I have been using the 50 but find it lacks ... Something ... The punch of some of the other lenses I have. Since its mostly landscape I wouldn't miss the aperture difference.

Ignoring the focal length and aperture difference, is there a decent difference in rendering and iq? Is it worth the updrade or will I be disappointed?

06-02-2016, 01:11 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by bakerking31 Quote
I have been using the 50 but find it lacks ... Something
It's probably the focal length, even on my film cameras, I only used that focal length for shots of plants or people. I find my landscape shots (on an APS-C camera) tend to group around 15mm (I've got the DA 15 like you), 18-21, 28-31, 36-40, 68, 78-88, 100, 115 and 135 with the 18-135. I've also used the Tamron 90mm macro for low-light landscapes with nice results. I've used my 50's for portraits and still lifes, but it doesn't compress the scene for the distant subjects and it doesn't draw in enough of a field of view to give you an open perspective either. A bit like a plain Jane Goldilocks.
06-02-2016, 02:05 PM   #3
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The DA50mm f1.8 is called a 'plastic fantastic' for a good reason. It gives great IQ for the price range. It is worth however to think of your lens roadmap. Assuming that you have the kit lens 18-55mm and DA50mm, what should be your next prime?

I would query if the DA40mm is the right choice for a next lens. The focal lengths (40 mm vs 50mm) are very close. You may wish to consider a shorter focal length: e.g., 35 mm, 31 mm or 28 mm to complement your DA50mm. Or alternately a longer focal length.

My 5 cents, hoping that it may help.....
06-02-2016, 02:20 PM   #4
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I love the 50 1.8.. It is a close second favorite to my 50-135 as far as IQ goes. Not my most versital lens but great at shallow depth of field and actually has a rather close focus distance.

06-02-2016, 02:35 PM   #5
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It's a matter of preference and personal taste. I had the FA 50 f1.4 and found it soft wide open - seldom used it any wider than f2. A couple of years ago I started building a bag of Limited primes. After using the HD DA 40 f2.8 I was hooked. The slightly wider focal length made it more versatile. The sharpness, colour rendition, shadow & highlight detail along with the unique drawing style of the HD DA Limiteds (21,40,70) made them addictive. I sold the FA 50 f1.4 and haven't looked back (the HD DA 70 is now my portrait lens of choice).

Here is a shot with the HD DA 40 f2.8 Limited with a K-5II...Only you can decide what matches your artistic vision.

Last edited by Saltwater Images; 07-20-2016 at 03:06 PM.
06-02-2016, 03:49 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Saltwater Images Quote
A couple of years ago I started building a bag of Limited primes. After using the HD DA 40 f2.8 I was hooked. The slightly wider focal length made it more versatile. The sharpness, colour rendition, shadow & highlight detail along with the unique drawing style of the HD DA Limiteds (21,40,70) made them addictive.
I agree mostly with this... 40mm and 50mm may be close, but the 40mm focal length on APS-C is much more versatile in my view. Don't get me wrong, I think the DA50 f/1.8 is a very good lens. But the DA40 f/2.8 Limited is more versatile given the APS-C crop factor, very sharp too (even wide open), with lovely colours / contrast. And yet... I still find myself using it far less than I thought I would. Most of the time, I find the other plastic fantastic - the DA35 f/2.4 - is my go-to lens. It's just that little bit wider, and perfect in so many situations... Just like using a 50mm lens on a 35mm film camera or full-frame digital. I love the DA Limited lenses, and I wouldn't give up my DA40 f/2.8 Limited without a fight. But, the much-cheaper DA35 f/2.4 is my preference.

Last edited by BigMackCam; 06-02-2016 at 04:19 PM.
06-02-2016, 04:05 PM   #7
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I can't say how the DA 40 Limited compares to the DA 10 1.8 since I do not have both. I really like the DA 40 Limited. Very compact and sharp, fast focus and very sharp. It is selling at a good price. With all of the lenses I have my three go to's are the DA 21, 40 and 70 limiteds. Depending on what I am going for I also like DA 15 and DFA 100 Macro WR. These cover 99% of my needs.
06-02-2016, 04:32 PM - 1 Like   #8
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In our Single In May "Fifties Festival" challenge, three participants used the DA50/1.8, and the results were often very impressive. If you have the time to trawl through the threads, seek out the shots from dakight, pepperberry farm and cg57. In the same challenge, UncleVanya used the DA40 limited, so there is plenty to ponder.

My advice would be to get the very cheap and optically excellent DA35/2.4. It sits nicely between your 15 and 50, it's small and light, and if you damage it on a hiking trip it wouldn't be the end of the world

Another option might be the DA21/3.2 instead of the DA15/4. I find it a more versatile general wide angle, and it is even smaller.

06-02-2016, 05:35 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
I find it a more versatile general wide angle, and it is even smaller.
Yes, this. In a recent trip, the 21/3.2 probably got most time on my camera of all the Limited primes (except the 35 Macro; I left that one home). It was great for street photography; the 15 would have been too wide for people shots most of the time.

To get back to your question, if you already have the DA50/1.8 and money is not a problem, the 40 is not that much slower (a stop and a half) and makes an amazingly compact one-handed shooter out of any Pentax DSLR up to and including the K-5 in size. While I wouldn't recommend leaving that tiny screw in cap off ALL the time, when you've got the lens fitted for shooting at any moment it can be put in a zip up pocket and the larger hood left on - or the whole thing can be replaced by a pinch cap if you want access in a hurry. The 50 is so light that the balance of my K-5 is not that much different with it on the camera instead of the 40, but drawing it out of a smaller camera bag in a hurry can be a little more awkward; if it's round your neck already, not so much.

I would regard the 40 as a better general purpose lens indoors in tighter spaces, provided lighting is not a problem.

That 35/2.4 has tempted me many a time since first learning of it, but I already have the 35/2.8 macro (bought for medical photography where wide field is as important as macro), and I can't justify another AF lens in that focal length when I also already have the 40 Limited.
06-02-2016, 05:50 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
That 35/2.4 has tempted me many a time since first learning of it, but I already have the 35/2.8 macro (bought for medical photography where wide field is as important as macro), and I can't justify another AF lens in that focal length when I also already have the 40 Limited.
I completely understand that rationale, and I love both the DA35 f/2.8 Macro Limited and DA40 f/2.8 Limited - great lenses, for sure... but if you can pick up a DA35 f/2.4 cheaply, I'd recommend trying it... if not now, then perhaps some time in the future, or maybe borrow one to give it a go. I also have the DA35 f/2.8 Macro Limited and the DA40 f/2.8 Limited, and when I don't need the macro capability of the DA35 f/2.8 (which, for me, is most of the time), I prefer the bokeh from the DA35 f/2.4 at wider apertures out of all three lenses... That said, this is only my personal preference - they're all excellent
06-03-2016, 10:07 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
In our Single In May "Fifties Festival" challenge, three participants used the DA50/1.8, and the results were often very impressive. If you have the time to trawl through the threads, seek out the shots from dakight, pepperberry farm and cg57. In the same challenge, UncleVanya used the DA40 limited, so there is plenty to ponder.

My advice would be to get the very cheap and optically excellent DA35/2.4. It sits nicely between your 15 and 50, it's small and light, and if you damage it on a hiking trip it wouldn't be the end of the world

Another option might be the DA21/3.2 instead of the DA15/4. I find it a more versatile general wide angle, and it is even smaller.

thank you for the mention, Sandy...

my flickr album for the DA 50: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pepperberryfarm/albums/72157659617279172

and for the DA 40 Ltd: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pepperberryfarm/albums/72157666240057890

I agree that they have similar focal lengths, but they differ in flavor....
06-04-2016, 09:08 AM   #12
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had a small thought to add:

the DA 40XS has the same optical formula as the DA 40 Ltd and can usually be had at a much lower price.... just adding another option for you to consider....
06-04-2016, 10:00 AM   #13
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Yeah, I got the DA 40xs when the price got really low, and I thought, well this is a fine novelty lens for the fun of it. Then I found out I like it a lot more than the 50 f/1.8 overall. The rendering is very different. You might call it traditional or natural, more film-like. While the 50 is a bit sharper and has very nice bokeh, the 40 is far more multi-dimensional - much like the FA 35. Even though the 40xs is inexpensive, the screw drive is very quiet, quick and accurate. Unlike the DA 50, no hunting issues. It exposes about one-third stop under compared to the DA 50, but that is a bonus because my K-3 has a tendency to overexpose on some lenses - the DA 50 especially.

Bottom line, you would want to go with the DA 50 for close focusing, use with a TC, low light, landscape and architectural. However, the 40xs is far better for portraits, stealth, and general photography such as street work. They hardly could be more different, as primes go, and in that way they are complementary.
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