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08-12-2016, 02:58 AM   #1
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50 mm prime doubt

Hi all,

I'm in the market for a 50mm prime. The candidates are the DA 50 1.8 (Plastic Fantastic) and the Sigma 50 F/1.4 DG HSM (discontinued and hard to find used) which would be more of a long term solution.

According to the reviews I'm reading here the DA 50 seems to be the best bang for the buck, although I don't like the screw drive AF...while the other is probably a 50mm I could live with for the rest of my days and also gets some very high reviews around here and elsewhere.

Not sure really, as this would be my first prime, should I make do with the DA or wait untill a Sigma comes up at a decent price (I missed one just a couple of days ago by a few bucks...), but since I'm about to leave for a trip to Iceland I think that would be a good opportunity to test how I fare with a prime lens in the field...

Thanx

08-12-2016, 03:16 AM   #2
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There were a couple threads about Iceland trips, about which lenses to bring along. Maybe you want to look at those, to see what others brought, and whether a 50mm is important there?
I don't know what other glass you have, so maybe the money could be spent more optimally on another lens.
But like you said, the DA 50mm is best bang for buck. You can even try buying one used and simply selling it after the trip if you decide you don't need it.

Note you have some other choices as well, mostly from the used market. FA 50mm f1.4 can still be bought as new, and it has a slightly different optical formula from the DA f1.8. Or an older F 50mm f1.7, which was a predecessor of the DA 50mm f1.8, but many claim it has better over all construction and slightly sharper photos. Then there is the DA* 55mm f1.4 - stunning lens, silent AF, good WR (important for Iceland), but slightly higher price tag.

50mm lenses are some of the most affordable lenses out there, especially if you are willing to buy older manual focus lenses. They give you best image quality for that amount of money. At other focal lengths, you need to pay much more to get such fast aperture and good image quality.

Again, I don't know what other lenses you have. If this is a once in a lifetime type trip, you might want to consider renting a lens, or buying one used to sell it later. Something like DA 17-50mm can give you a wide range, WR, silent AF (as long as it works).. or DA 20-40mm ltd.. yes, the cost is higher, but if you buy used and sell later, it can be manageable. Maybe you can also try renting a lens. If you tell me what other lenses you already have, I can tell you exactly what I would buy in your shoes
08-12-2016, 03:19 AM   #3
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The DA50/1.8 is very highly regarded, and the results I have seen from it justify that. What don't you like about screw drive?
The FA50/1.4 is another worthwhile consideration; the bokeh this lens produces is exceptionally nice.
08-12-2016, 03:56 AM   #4
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Thanx for the replys.

To answer your questions: I'm bringing all my lenses to this trip, which would be Sigma 10-20 F/3.5 DG-HSM, Sigma 17-50 F/2.8 EX DG HSM, Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 EX DG HSM Macro.

What I don't like about the screwdrive AF is basically noise...

Being that this would be my first prime I wouldn't want to commit to a big investmente just to understand how I deal with prime lenses, so that would have me lean towards the Pentax DA...after all, it can be had for a 100 € or so, and if it retains its value just a bit I could as well sell it later on if/when I decide I want to to go for something more "serious" like the FA50 or DA 55...

Ah, BTW, I think I'll be switching from the current K30 to a K1 in a few months...

Thanx

08-12-2016, 04:35 AM   #5
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Can I ask, what is it that attracts you to a 50mm prime? Do you really need that fast aperture of f/1.4 or f/1.8?

The reason I ask is that the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 (that you already own) is just as sharp right across the frame as the DA50 f/1.8 at the available apertures. The only benefits to owning the prime would be that it's smaller, lighter, and provides a faster aperture to let in more light and create a shallower depth of field. From f/2.8 onwards, optically, there is no benefit to the DA50 f/1.8.

As for the Sigma 50mm f/1.4, review data suggests that it isn't as sharp as the 17-50 f/2.8 in the frame centre at any aperture (though this is probably due to the cameras used for testing, as the reviews were several years apart), and is always weaker in the borders than it is at the centre. The benefit to the 50mm f/1.4 over your existing 17-50 f/2.8 is the faster aperture, but I doubt you would see any improvement in IQ over your 17-50.

Last edited by BigMackCam; 08-12-2016 at 04:43 AM.
08-12-2016, 04:48 AM   #6
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If you're planning to upgrade to the K-1, do yourself a favour and get the DA*55/1.4

SOME SAMPLE SHOTS. Ignore the first ten images - they were taken with the A50/1.2
08-12-2016, 05:35 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Can I ask, what is it that attracts you to a 50mm prime? Do you really need that fast aperture of f/1.4 or f/1.8?


The reason I ask is that the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 (that you already own) is just as sharp right across the frame as the DA50 f/1.8 at the available apertures. The only benefits to owning the prime would be that it's smaller, lighter, and provides a faster aperture to let in more light and create a shallower depth of field. From f/2.8 onwards, optically, there is no benefit to the DA50 f/1.8.


As for the Sigma 50mm f/1.4, review data suggests that it isn't as sharp as the 17-50 f/2.8 in the frame centre at any aperture (though this is probably due to the cameras used for testing, as the reviews were several years apart), and is always weaker in the borders than it is at the centre. The benefit to the 50mm f/1.4 over your existing 17-50 f/2.8 is the faster aperture, but I doubt you would see any improvement in IQ over your 17-50.

It's not a need, but more of a "want to try" although some music gig shooting I do could benefit from the additional aperture.

That's another thing I'd like to experiment with, shallow depth of field.

---------- Post added 08-12-16 at 02:36 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
If you're planning to upgrade to the K-1, do yourself a favour and get the DA*55/1.4

SOME SAMPLE SHOTS. Ignore the first ten images - they were taken with the A50/1.2
One has to get his feet wet before diving in, right?
08-12-2016, 05:40 AM   #8
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There is anFA 50 1.7 on the forum for sake. Great lens and full frame.

08-12-2016, 05:43 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by gerax Quote
It's not a need, but more of a "want to try" although some music gig shooting I do could benefit from the additional aperture.

That's another thing I'd like to experiment with, shallow depth of field.
Understood. Those are perfectly valid reasons

I have no experience of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4, but I do have the DA50 f/1.8. It's a nice lens with some caveats:

- AF accuracy can be a little hit and miss at times, especially in less than decent light. It's not bad, by any means, but not as consistently accurate as I would prefer
- if you need to manually tweak the focus on the DA50 f/1.8, you have to switch the camera to MF, as it doesn't benefit from the quick-shift facility found on some of the more expensive lenses
- the screw drive is quite noisy for people who prefer silent focusing lenses (it doesn't bother me, though); the upside is that it focuses quickly

If you can live with those quirks, it's a great little lens that punches well above its price.
08-12-2016, 06:34 AM   #10
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Ah, so you just want a nice prime to try. The DA 50mm f1.8 has some threads here:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/122-lens-clubs/233786-fantastic-fifty-da-...-1-8-a-13.html
SMC Pentax-DA 50mm F1.8 Reviews - DA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
So it is quite capable of producing wonderful images. Silent focusing and QS are generally premium features, so you will have to spend more than twice as much to get them. If you prefer quiet focusing, you might want to buy a Pentax A 50mm f1.7 - no AF at all, so you can only focus by hand, but its silent and has the same optical lineage as the DA 50mm f1.8

I would really recommend you buy a Pentax lens, to get opportunity to see Pentax colours and rendering. It is usually slightly different from Sigma's style. DA 50mm f1.8 is a good place to start that, or even DA 40mm XS (sure, aperture is not spectacular, but it is super compact and has that limited style contrasty, colourful rendering).

DFA 50mm f2.8 macro is a lens that would actually stand out in your lineup, as it is super sharp and true 1:1 macro, but doesn't have such fast aperture (and there is a noticeable difference between f2.8 and f1.8). I think the Pentax macro primes are really fairly priced, but they will not be as affordable as the DA 50mm and DA 35mm primes.

tl;dr: If I had your kit, I would get DA 50mm f1.8 (or an earlier version of this lens, like FA, F or even A series. I already own M 50mm f1.7, was my first manual prime, and it is sharp, with wonderful rendering!). Or even DA 40mm XS, as it is an interesting FoV and has that "Pentax limited" style rendering with Tessar style bokeh, a real pancake lens. That said, the prime that I use the most is DA 35mm (really sharp, and still affordable), followed by Samyang 14mm and DFA 100mm. And I practically never use zooms.

Here is a photo I took with the Pentax M 50mm f1.7 on Pentax K-01 (with some PP, obviously):

Mount Teide


So, if you use DA 50mm f1.8 on K-3, you should be able to get photos this sharp or sharper. On the full size version you can see the stones on floor, stalks on bushes, and even detail in the mountain peak.

Last edited by Na Horuk; 08-12-2016 at 06:42 AM.
08-12-2016, 07:03 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Ah, so you just want a nice prime to try. The DA 50mm f1.8 has some threads here:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/122-lens-clubs/233786-fantastic-fifty-da-...-1-8-a-13.html
SMC Pentax-DA 50mm F1.8 Reviews - DA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
So it is quite capable of producing wonderful images. Silent focusing and QS are generally premium features, so you will have to spend more than twice as much to get them. If you prefer quiet focusing, you might want to buy a Pentax A 50mm f1.7 - no AF at all, so you can only focus by hand, but its silent and has the same optical lineage as the DA 50mm f1.8

I would really recommend you buy a Pentax lens, to get opportunity to see Pentax colours and rendering. It is usually slightly different from Sigma's style. DA 50mm f1.8 is a good place to start that, or even DA 40mm XS (sure, aperture is not spectacular, but it is super compact and has that limited style contrasty, colourful rendering).

DFA 50mm f2.8 macro is a lens that would actually stand out in your lineup, as it is super sharp and true 1:1 macro, but doesn't have such fast aperture (and there is a noticeable difference between f2.8 and f1.8). I think the Pentax macro primes are really fairly priced, but they will not be as affordable as the DA 50mm and DA 35mm primes.

tl;dr: If I had your kit, I would get DA 50mm f1.8 (or an earlier version of this lens, like FA, F or even A series. I already own M 50mm f1.7, was my first manual prime, and it is sharp, with wonderful rendering!). Or even DA 40mm XS, as it is an interesting FoV and has that "Pentax limited" style rendering with Tessar style bokeh, a real pancake lens. That said, the prime that I use the most is DA 35mm (really sharp, and still affordable), followed by Samyang 14mm and DFA 100mm. And I practically never use zooms.

Here is a photo I took with the Pentax M 50mm f1.7 on Pentax K-01 (with some PP, obviously):

Mount Teide


So, if you use DA 50mm f1.8 on K-3, you should be able to get photos this sharp or sharper. On the full size version you can see the stones on floor, stalks on bushes, and even detail in the mountain peak.

Again, thanx all for your valuable input.
I may think about that a bit more, but pulling the trigger on a 100 DA50 1.8 will not break the bank and could get me an idea of what is it to shoot with a prime. That could lead (in a reasonably short amount of time, after I upgrate to K1) to a DA 55 as I'm starting to question the fact that I have all Sigma lenses with a Pentax body and I haven't tried a "real" Penatx lens other than the original kit lens that came with the K30...
08-12-2016, 06:15 PM   #12
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The DA 50 is a great lens with great IQ. It also will work on K1 in FF mode.
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