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10-29-2017, 01:35 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Comparing 17-70 to DA15, FA31 && FA77 - subjective throughts

Hello everybody,

This is not going to be a scientific comparison. This isn't going one with 100% crop or whatever.

So that are my feelings:
  • Having the zoom is conveniant but not that much. The range is actually a bit more restricted than with the 3 primes and that show. So much for the added conveniance of a zoom...
  • The DA17-70 is quite prone to flare and has quite reduced constrast and resolution in difficult light. The resolution is also more affected in distant backgrounds at the infinite than with the primes.
  • The DA17-70 AF is slower and less precise than the one of the primes.
  • There less subject pop. This comes from f/4 max apperture but not only. The object in focus pop more with the primes, likely due to increased constrast/micro constrast and overall sharpness of the part in focus.
When I was begining photography I didn't really get the point of primes and maybe limited. But theses lenses, well are really nice. The rendering is great, the size is small, the constrast and resistance to flare are outstanding. The AF even with screw drive is fast and more reliable and faster than SDM. The more different range of focal and apperture one can get contribute to more different styles/photos.

The outcome might have been different with the 16-85 (much better range, apparently less prone to flare and better AF), but I don't own this one.

If you are now a newcomer to photography, like I was a few years ago, it is the kind of things that you don't get by reading the typical DxO lens score or the typical technical review. They focus on resolution. What you see in 100% crop or when you print 60" and stare at the photo from near distance. It true that some test AF. But they almost never really test the constrast, the flare, how much the subject in focus pop and their resolution testing is in the studio. They don't double check how the lens perform at infinite on distant background for example. And honestly a bit more or bit less resolution doesn't change anything. But theses aspects, they are directly visible.

10-29-2017, 01:41 PM   #2
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Thanks for posting this. Is this based on your experience over time, or you have some side by side photos that you can share?
10-29-2017, 02:07 PM   #3
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That's why when we speak of a positive attribute of the 17-70, 16-85, etc, we finishing with the caveat "...for a zoom".

I've owned all of the SMC DA Ltds - although currently I only have the HD 35/2.8 - and I've been impressed with the 17-70 I acquired a couple weeks ago. Yes, having the sun directly in the frame is problematic, but its other optical characteristics are closer to the DA Ltd's than to the kit 18-55, IMO.

I use the 17-70 on my K-01, and it's the only lens that gives a "false positive" for focus lock, and that's only at 70mm. When I try again it's fine.

It's more prone to "shutter shock" on my K-01 than any other lens I've used, so I have to watch for that.




Last edited by luftfluss; 10-29-2017 at 02:14 PM.
10-29-2017, 02:32 PM   #4
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The 17-70mm is how much?

The DA 15mm, FA 31mm, FA 77mm are how much in total?



10-29-2017, 02:33 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
Thanks for posting this. Is this based on your experience over time, or you have some side by side photos that you can share?
It experience over time actually. I got the DA17-70 as my first lens used for quite some time (maybe 2 years ?) and now I'am based on primes only. Recently I given the DA17-70 a try for a week of travel and my feeling comes from that.

I can give photos, but they are not going to be of the same subjects. And as I keep only the images that I find to be great, the difference isn't going to be that visible. Let's say the DA17-70 give me quite lower keeper rate, in particular in difficult lighting conditions or that I need to do more work (for example to remove the flare artifacts, add more constrast). But hopefully you are not going to see a big difference if at all on the final image.

Better gear doesn't mean that much better photos, but mean you are going to get great photo more easily, with a less post processing and that you'll get nice results in a bit widder range of use cases. It like better AF. You can do just fine by doing the focus manually but you get more reactivity and more keeper on moving subject with great AF performance. Of course in that precise case (DA17-70 vs ltds primes), there the max apperture difference. FA77 at f/2.5 is going to have a different look than the DA17-70 @70mm f/4... More subject isolation and better low light performance...

FA77, f/2.8



FA77 f/5.6



FA31 f/5.6



DA15, f/11



DA15 f/8



Examples for DA17-70 are in attachement (I didn't upload them to flickr yet). Respectively 70mm f/8, 36mm f/8, 19mm f/7.1. The sunset, I had to edit it to remove the flare artifact.

Last edited by Nicolas06; 01-06-2018 at 09:42 AM.
10-29-2017, 02:38 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike.P Quote
The 17-70mm is how much?

The DA 15mm, FA 31mm, FA 77mm are how much in total?

I think the DA17-70 was 480 back in time. I paid 770 for FA31, about 800 for FA77 and my DA15 was around 400 I think. In term of weight, The DA17-70 is 485g. DA15 is 189g, FA31 is 345g and FA77 is 270g.
10-29-2017, 03:21 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nicolas06 Quote
Hello everybody,

This is not going to be a scientific comparison. This isn't going one with 100% crop or whatever.

So that are my feelings:
  • Having the zoom is conveniant but not that much. The range is actually a bit more restricted than with the 3 primes and that show. So much for the added conveniance of a zoom...
  • The DA17-70 is quite prone to flare and has quite reduced constrast and resolution in difficult light. The resolution is also more affected in distant backgrounds at the infinite than with the primes.
  • The DA17-70 AF is slower and less precise than the one of the primes.
  • There less subject pop. This comes from f/4 max apperture but not only. The object in focus pop more with the primes, likely due to increased constrast/micro constrast and overall sharpness of the part in focus.
When I was begining photography I didn't really get the point of primes and maybe limited. But theses lenses, well are really nice. The rendering is great, the size is small, the constrast and resistance to flare are outstanding. The AF even with screw drive is fast and more reliable and faster than SDM. The more different range of focal and apperture one can get contribute to more different styles/photos.

The outcome might have been different with the 16-85 (much better range, apparently less prone to flare and better AF), but I don't own this one.

If you are now a newcomer to photography, like I was a few years ago, it is the kind of things that you don't get by reading the typical DxO lens score or the typical technical review. They focus on resolution. What you see in 100% crop or when you print 60" and stare at the photo from near distance. It true that some test AF. But they almost never really test the constrast, the flare, how much the subject in focus pop and their resolution testing is in the studio. They don't double check how the lens perform at infinite on distant background for example. And honestly a bit more or bit less resolution doesn't change anything. But theses aspects, they are directly visible.
My thoughts based on a similar set of lenses but not exactly the same set. Mine are DA 15, 21, 40 and 70 Limiteds, DA 17-70 and most recently DA 16-85.
Similar experiences as yours the DA 17-70 was almost as good as the DA 21 & 40 Limiteds, but definitely not as sharp as the DA 70 Limited. It was hard to compare it to the DA 15 Limited due to the difference between 17mm and 15mm but images with the 15 Limited were definitely sharper. I was quite satisfied with the DA 17-70 when I needed the convenience of a zoom but never liked its autofocus performance especially above 50mm. Now with the SDM dead, I ended up getting a used DA 16-85 zoom. in terms of image quality this lens is closer to the primes in sharpness in good light but I still think the DA 15 and 70 Limiteds have an edge, especially when pixel peeping. One thing now that I have the DA 16-85 is that I find myself using the zoom more often than I did when I had the DA 17-70. The Limiteds have reliable, accurate but noisy autofocus. The DA 17-70, quiet but unreliable (now useless) autofocus performance. The DA 16-85 has both quiet and reliable autofocus. I still prefer using the primes but do use the 16-85 zoom quite often. Just as you said, the primes have a certain pop to them.
10-29-2017, 07:47 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nicolas06 Quote
So much for the added conveniance of a zoom...
Really? Can you change your primes by simply turning a ring?

10-30-2017, 01:29 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by bxf Quote
Really? Can you change your primes by simply turning a ring?
Basically with that zoom I still need to change the lens to get 15mm framing and I still need to change the lens if I want to shoot a portrait and have nice associated pop to it. I also get less keeper, I need to take more care of missed AF shots and flare.

The 17-70 doesn't much more for me in the end than the FA31 then... More choice of focal length, but, bigger/heavier less reliable and less performance. The flare is particular annoying meaning I may have to get one of the prime to get the shot anyway.

I think the 16-85 would be a better choice (AF, flare, range) but even I would still need a fast prime for portraiture.

Last edited by Nicolas06; 10-30-2017 at 01:38 AM.
10-30-2017, 01:40 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
With events or even studio dance sessions. I can switch between two cameras but not lenses. I've found the DA 17-70 to be very useful. Never compared it to anything and I don't know why I would.
Didn't want to compare it actually. Just wanted an all in one solution for 1 week in Corsica. Got annoyed by the limitations and didn't find it more practical than the primes for my very subjective use
10-30-2017, 11:11 AM   #11
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When I got the DA17-70 new , I liked its range and constant f4, size and image quality compared to the 18-55 kit. I used the 17-70 so much everywhere. After a few years of use, SDM started to show some fatigue, got a number of beautiful landscape from vacation blurred because focus at infinity wouldn't quite be it. I sold it for repair. That lens optics are good good, too bad that SDM was so so.
10-30-2017, 04:39 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
My gear is based on what gets the job done, personal or recreational use is secondary.
I am not a pro, I don't make a living out of photography. Then if I travel for vacations I do it for leasure. There no job to be done. I know I can get perfect photos by buying a book in a shop or browsing on the internet. There no hurry to shot everything and no issue if I don't take a shot. If am not in the mood, I just don't take photos.

QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
I really don't see much difference across my lenses.
I don't see much difference on keepers. The difference lies in photos that do not make it and the effort involved to get the job done. Also , I like to leverage large appertures for some shots and the zoom can't do it well.
10-30-2017, 05:57 PM   #13
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Pentax's Australian distributors C R Kennedy were recently selling a new (old stock) DA 17-70 for $A160 (about 106/$US125). That's less than 10% of the secondhand cost of the 15, 31 and 77 Ltds (roughly $A400, $750 and $600 respectively).

You make some good and interesting points Nicholas, and I appreciate the comments are subjective, but it's hardly a fair comparison. You could say that the unloved 17-70 is one of the great bargains. And we could also reflect on how much zooms have improved since the film era.

As much as I love my primes (DA 35, FA 43, FA 50 macro, FA 77, DFA 100, FA*300), I tend to use a zoom for walks, unless there are no time constraints or I want a particular kind of shot.

Last edited by Des; 10-30-2017 at 06:05 PM.
10-30-2017, 06:19 PM   #14
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This discussion comes up quite frequently about the 17-70. Like Brooke, I’ve had mine for years and used it for nearly every paid shoot since I bought it. The exception being studio portraits when I’d use the FA77. I did do some comparisons with various Sigma zooms and the images from the Pentax were just better and needed less work. The constant f/4 aperture, with very useable images wide open was a necessity.
For me, the lens does the job, and one my customers and I were happy with.
10-30-2017, 11:36 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
I shoot a lot at f2.8 which is a pretty large aperture and have no complaints about IQ with either the Pentax 50-135 or Tamron 28-75. I think a good zoom can do that very well. I've never owned a kit lens so you may be right about those.
This comparison I made apply to the DA17-70 only. I can't comment on the kit lens zoom, I never got it. I had the 50-135 that overall was less pleasing than the FA77 for portraiture. I sold it some time ago, was not for me but except it was a bit on the slow side for AF it did the job.

Also, one as to understand this is subjective, may be influenced by the actual sample I got but also my practice. For example I do lot of landscape where the lens flare often and were 17mm feel limiting at times and as I use the primes a lot I have their performance as a reference.

Again this isn't like the keepers would be any bad or you would see the difference on the keepers. It is more the ratio of keepers and how often I get frustrated because the gear didnt do what I wanted. I also think that for example the 16-85 would be much better from what I heard. I do not say you can't find a zoom that does what you want.

It is more that things are not always as one would think and for sure I wouldn't think it could be the case if I didn't work mostly with primes for years. The common wisdom is you need the zooms. And it may be a nice advice... But it doesn't necessarily translate in practice. One may get as much satisfaction or more shooting with primes than with a zoom.
.

Last edited by Nicolas06; 10-30-2017 at 11:48 PM.
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