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07-22-2016, 12:17 PM   #1
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43 vs. 55

I basically have enough to buy one, but not both.

FA 43 1.9 limited (the third amigo, i have the other two, and they perform beyond belief)
vs.
DA* 55 1.4 WR SDM

I was set to get the 43. Then I by accident saw some reviews of the 55:
* a "replacement" for the DA* 85 1.4 (not sure how that works out)
* sharpest lens I own (says a few people)
* super fast focusing (says some people)

I would use it for portraits. Although I do have these "standard" shots I take twice a year
with my daughter using the 31 and 77. They come out great. I would add some doing this
(I do use also the plastic fantastic 50). But I would take this lens out and about. The WR
part actually works out as I've had lenses fog up in very humid environments.

I like the idea of super fast focusing as well. I'd like to have a super nice nifty fifty albeit with
APC-C its more like a nifty eighty five.

I'm not trying to start at the end and make the data fit my answer mind you.
The reputation of the FA 31, 43, and 77 are legendary. I don't mind at all getting all three as part of my LBA.

But I can only get one and frankly the 55 is cheaper, its a more modern lens....etc

What do you think?

07-22-2016, 12:26 PM   #2
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You can't go wrong. But the DA* 55 is definitly doesn't fast focusing. I would buy the 55.
I have neighter of them.
07-22-2016, 12:40 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by condor27596 Quote
I like the idea of super fast focusing as well. I'd like to have a super nice nifty fifty albeit with
APS-C its more like a nifty eighty five.
IIRC a couple of users who've gone down the K-1 road have observed that their DA*55 is not quite free of vignetting at some apertures; you might want to PM them and ask details (Sandy Hancock, I think, said something about it.) So if you are at some stage planning to go up to full frame, that may be worth bearing in mind after talking to the right people. However, given that you have valid operating-environment concerns* for which the WR is somewhere between desirable and necessary, that might be something you're prepared to live with once you've assessed to your satisfaction whether there's a significant (to YOU) vignetting issue.

For me, I would buy the 43 first - BUT this is because I also shoot K mount film bodies and it would work well across all Pentax K mount platforms. That doesn't sound like it's the case for you, and you can always get it later once you've saved up more.


* = I, for example, am happy to sacrifice optical flexibility for operating-environment flexibility and eschew the 18-250 for the 18-135 when it looks like the sky might do bad things.
07-22-2016, 12:43 PM   #4
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I would say it is not a super fast focus. I do have the 77 and 31. I do not have the 43. I got the 55 to use on FF so it is comparable to 40 on APSC in field of view. It's a great lens. I wouldn't say it's slow but definitely not fast . I also got it for the WR because the 31 and 77 definitely are not. It might come in handy to have a lens in the range that is WR. My 2 cents.


I can't access flickr at work but here are some with the 55 and K1


https://www.flickr.com/photos/pearsaab/albums/72157668419351081

07-22-2016, 12:51 PM   #5
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I have both. I prefer the 55. Though I didn't use that focal length that much on APSC, I loved it's rendering and am happy that it's become my main lens on my K1. I think it focuses fairly fast.

Some others posted while I was writing. As for the vignetting, It's not bad. The 43, 31 and also the film era 50s I've tried also vignette.

Last edited by sundr; 07-22-2016 at 12:59 PM.
07-22-2016, 12:51 PM   #6
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I'm going to get the 55. I've read a lot of reviews on both as well (here and other places). I do plan to one day go FF but not before at least 3 years but probably 4-5. I have always gotten my lower, I hate to say quality it is all good, cost lenses to unfog (forget the rice method I got 2 lbs of silica gel) but there has been a time when I just took the plastic fantastic and if fogged on me and I lost part or all of the day.
07-22-2016, 12:55 PM - 1 Like   #7
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I have both and definitely prefer the FA43 between the two. But you cant go wrong with either.
07-22-2016, 12:57 PM   #8
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Well to be clear:

replacement for FA85 f/1.4 => That's because 55mm on APSC almost match 85mm and so that very classical focal length framing.
sharpest lens I own => You find people saying that from almost all lenses. Objectively, both are soft wide open (visible on all reviews) and both are very sharp closed down.
super fast focussing: could be but certainely both are good enough on recent Pentax bodies.

Both lenses are great, expensive and have their followers. First I would try to check the obvious if I were you. You don't get the same focal length, the same framing, the same size/weight or same max apperture. This isn't really the same use. I would certainely prefer the 43 because I think FA77 is too near DA*55 and I really prefer small lenses.

Second I would check the rendering. The FA43 is the lens of the Pentax line-up that may give the most 3D pop to your pictures, and comes with quite aggresive bokeh. DA*55 I think is more classical, with softer bokeh.

In the end the problem for me would be that 43 is too near to 31 and 55 too near to 77. I would not get all theses lenses in the bag at the same time and I would be bored to change lenses all the time while I could as well move a bit to get the framing I would want. For a walkaround I would get 15, 31, 77 or maybe 21, 31, 77. Maybe I get the F135 with me if I think I need reach and get both the 15 and 21... That would be already 5 lenses. Too much !!! But adding a 6th one that would not really provide anything the other couldn't... Well Let say at time I could do 21 43, 77 or 21, 55, 135 but that would reduce the use of the lenses overall without bringing much to the table.

If I wanted a sharp lens at all focal length from 24 to 77mm, I would be quite better off buying a K1 and 24-70. No more expensive, much sharper thank to 36MP FF, more conveniant (zoom) and better AF performance.

07-22-2016, 12:58 PM   #9
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On APS-C I like more my DA*55, than 43, even if 43 is faster in AF. it sure is nice Fov. and great Bokeh too. On FF, 55 does not get in bag so often...which i'll try to change, because I liked it so much on APS-C. And it is AW sealed. FA 43 is a LOT smaller, and FA 77, would be somewhere where 55 was on smaller format. If you are planning on shooting APS-C I'd recommend DA*55, even if focus is not the fastest, but You'll lear work around it.
07-22-2016, 01:14 PM   #10
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On APS-C, I would get the DA 55 hands down. It has WR, quick shift and it is very reminiscent of the 77mm on FF (someone will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe both were designed by Jun Hirakawa).
Neither are particularly fast focusing.

I guess it is purely preference, but to be honest, the 43mm has a hard time making it onto my camera. I think it is because I am just not a big fan of the "normal" perspective.
Don't get me wrong, I love the way it renders, and it is small enough that i can take it around with almost no effort. But I find that I either reach for the 31mm or the 77mm and the poor 43mm collects dust.
07-22-2016, 02:17 PM   #11
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The DA55 is a great lens - NOT fast focussing, but sharp from wide-open, no worse vignetting on FF than an FA50 (1.4 or 1.7), and great rendering (apart from occasional fussy bokeh at apertures wider than f/2)

Can't compare it to the 43 though I'm afraid!

QuoteOriginally posted by Nicolas06 Quote
sharpest lens I own => You find people saying that from almost all lenses. Objectively, both are soft wide open (visible on all reviews) and both are very sharp closed down.
An old shot from a K10D, but when you nail the focus, it is pretty damn sharp straight from f/1.4 (click for full-size, more in that album):


07-22-2016, 02:41 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by rob1234 Quote
An old shot from a K10D, but when you nail the focus, it is pretty damn sharp straight from f/1.4 (click for full-size, more in that album):
Well it is certainly sharp enough on the center and except for astro or other very specific use I guess the main problem is more to nail the focus and have enough dof than corner sharpness This is more to me that I was not sure it was really the key factor here, the sharpness.

Pure sharpness or AF are unlikely to key differentiatorq for theses lenses (from the intial post of the OP).

For me other factor like the focal length you like, the bokeh characteristic, the max apperture, the size/weight are more important.
07-22-2016, 05:50 PM   #13
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I have and like both, though I've never put them in head to head competition. If I had to choose, I'd go for the 43, which participates in the magic of the limited lenses. If bulk and weight mean anything, that would give you a criterion. The 43 is a miracle of compactness with a small elegant hood; the 55 is big, with a monster of a hood.
07-22-2016, 05:59 PM   #14
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Everyone has given fantastic info. As a side note I really wanted to get the DA* 85 1.4 but just too much right now.

I'm thinking the deciding factor I'd like to have a modern lens that is near the 85mm portrait by FF standards and see what it is like.

I'm certain it won't be the last lens I buy for myself ( or my daughter ).
07-22-2016, 07:54 PM   #15
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Based on that last reply I will end up getting both. Soon. I guess the baby will get no formula this month. The 3D pop aspect of the 31 and 77 surpass my sisters $14000 Nikon lens.

I love Pentax and are biased. I wonder if that 77 is the best lens ever made.
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