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01-01-2018, 11:35 AM - 1 Like   #1
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the limiteds do they live up to the reputation and why

I believe that the following Pentax lenses have great reputations:

SMC Pentax-FA 31mm F1.8 AL Limited

SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited

SMC Pentax-FA 77mm F1.8 Limited

____________________

the following can be either HD or SMC

Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited

Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited

Pentax-DA 35mm F2.8 Limited Macro

Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited

Pentax-DA 70mm F2.4 Limited

1 are they worth their reputations

2 I notice that the older FAs are faster, is that because of the different focal lengths or other reasons

3 if only one can be chosen, [ excluding the 40 mm, I have the 40mm XS ] which one would be the best?

01-01-2018, 11:46 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
3 if only one can be chosen, [ excluding the 40 mm, I have the 40mm XS ] which one would be the best?
Well, price is always a factor. I couldn't splurge for the legendary FA 31mm, but I got a second hand SMC DA 21mm that I am quite happy with. Goes well with the 40mm XS. Don't have other limiteds.. yet
But if you are more into portraiture, then think about 70mm or 77mm.
01-01-2018, 12:06 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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The problem with the limiteds is that there is no such thing as only one. Once you have one, you will want the other two
01-01-2018, 12:25 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
1 are they worth their reputations
I only own one Limited (FA 77/1.8) and have not regretted the purchase. The rumors of pixie dust are true and those of terrible purple-fringing are badly exaggerated. Some say it is soft and others claim that it is intentionally so by design. My copy is reliably sharp on both APS-C and 35mm film, so it must be defective. I am happy and don't intend to sell. FWIW, I have never used my FA 77 for portraiture but have used it for close-action sports, available light stage work, landscape, and flowers.

QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
or other reasons
I have pondered the relatively slow speeds of the DA Limiteds as well. I suspect that at least part of the blame goes to design constraints.


Steve

01-01-2018, 12:26 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
The problem with the limiteds is that there is no such thing as only one. Once you have one, you will want the other two

.... this is so true.....


I have the DA 21, DA 40, and the DA 70 (all SMC, not HD's).... and am considering the FA 43 as an alternative to a standard-50mm on my APS-C bodies....


excluding the DA 40 Limited, the next one I would consider is the 21 Ltd - it really is that good... great color rendition, flare-resistance, and starbursts that'll make you go teary-eyed.....
01-01-2018, 12:39 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I have the three FA Limiteds, as well as the SMC DA15 and the HD DA35 macro. I've had all of them on my K-5 and K-3, and all on my K-1 except for the DA15.

If you are restricted to only one of the lenses you list, then I'd suggest the DA15 if you plan to stay with APS-C, and the FA31 if you move to 35FF. Those two lenses have had the greatest use, especially when I've travelled, of all my unifocal lenses. In spite of the difference in FoV, I've found that each has caused me to consider different aspects of similar subjects. The DA15 is a tiny marvel of a lens – I wish there was something similar for the K-1, even though I also have the FA20 and the FA*24 that straddle its APS-C FoV when on the K-1.
01-01-2018, 12:44 PM - 6 Likes   #7
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Quite simply, yes, each Limited lens is worth owning. A strong case can be made that for anything shorter than telephoto the Limiteds would make a complete and exclusive suite of lenses (understanding the FA77 is equivalent to a medium tele on APSC) for their design format.

I prefer the SMC coating, which I believe yields better clarity at the expense of occaisional hazing and flare. On the DA15 and 21 the straight aperture blades produce more appealing starbursts. The DA Limiteds are comparatively slower than the FA’s in order to keep the size small, consistent with the Pentax APSc design philosophy, though neither the FA43 nor FA77 is a horse.

Each lens is sharp, renders colors beautifully and most have a nice transition to OOF areas (though the FA’s excel in this characteristic).

There is a certain amount of taste preference required to fully appreciate the FA Limiteds. They are intentionally designed a bit soft at the edges, to promote the central subject. Devotees of the modern style of edge to edge sharpness versus the classic film style above may well be disappointed, especially with the 43. Done right, they produce a pronounced 3D effect uncommon from more modern lenses.

That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

Last edited by monochrome; 01-01-2018 at 12:53 PM.
01-01-2018, 12:56 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
1 are they worth their reputations

2 I notice that the older FAs are faster, is that because of the different focal lengths or other reasons

3 if only one can be chosen, [ excluding the 40 mm, I have the 40mm XS ] which one would be the best?
1) Reputations (good or bad) are earned by collective experiences. They sell at a premium price because they are unique in a combination of size, build quality, IQ, and unique focal lengths. Canikon don't have an equivalent OEM. IMO, yes.

2) The older FAs are faster? Are you referring to aperture or AF speed? One reason I love Pentax is that their DSLRs have a bit of heft or weight to them, whereas the lenses (sans OS/IS/VR) are relatively lighter. It creates an ergonomic balance hand held. Faster lenses, like the f/1.2 or f/1.4 means bigger glass which means more weight.

3) Which limited would be the best in what way? Every one of them, including the 20-40mm Limited zoom is best for a certain purpose or taste. I have the HD DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited, and if you love your 40mm XS, you'll love the HD even more!

01-01-2018, 01:08 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I can only speak of the HD DA Limiteds, but yes - they're all worthy of recognition, and generally deserving of their individual and overall reputation.

My least favourite is the 20-40, due to border and corner performance and quite pronounced field curvature. But that's a personal and highly subjective view, as most people that own one seem to love it. Used to its strengths, it's undoubtedly capable of producing beautiful images. Of course, it's also WR and has near-silent AF.

All of the primes are, without exception, excellent. Not perfect, as some people occasionally seem to expect... but excellent nonetheless. I'd recommend any one or all of them, but my favourite is the DA21. It's not particularly fast, but it's a versatile focal length on APS-C, it renders very nicely indeed, and it's pretty compact too. Interestingly, most of my shooting seems to take place quite naturally between 28mm and 85mm... I rarely venture wider than 28mm, but when I fit the DA21 to my camera, I'm encouraged by the field of view and the image quality. It's quite an inspiring lens to shoot with.

The HD models have slightly different coatings and rounded diaphragm blades. The resulting aperture leads to circular out-of-focus highlights and ever-so-slightly smoother bokeh, but loses the impressive diffraction stars on light points. Again, it's a personal choice as to which is better, and depends on your priorities. Personally, I'm happy with my HD models

Last edited by BigMackCam; 01-01-2018 at 01:14 PM.
01-01-2018, 01:16 PM   #10
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I have to agree with Mike about the field curvature on the DA 20-40, but I still love what the lens (and it's pixie dust,) is capable of. Perhaps some day I can do it justice.
The SMC DA 15 is amazing although the width of the FOV is surprising and needs to be accounted for. I love my FA 77 though, it is full of pixie dust. I am learning to love my DA40 XS also. With a step up ring and a Red enhancing filter, it is pretty good for amateur Astro attempts. I just need a clear night that isn't -25C to go out and try some more.
01-01-2018, 01:27 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
. . .
2) The older FAs are faster? Are you referring to aperture or AF speed? One reason I love Pentax is that their DSLRs have a bit of heft or weight to them, whereas the lenses (sans OS/IS/VR) are relatively lighter. It creates an ergonomic balance hand held. Faster lenses, like the f/1.2 or f/1.4 means bigger glass which means more weight. . . .
to me faster means aperture

not sure where I got that thought

so the 1.8, 1.9, 1.8 as opposed to the 2.4, 2.8, 3.2 and 4

as far as weight

well, I do have the D FA * 70-200 F2.8 and the D FA 150-450

so weight is " relative "
01-01-2018, 01:28 PM - 4 Likes   #12
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I have the DA15, DA21, FA31 (two copies), HD DA35 macro, FA43 and FA77, and use them extensively. I have also previously owned the DA40 and DA70 (and the 20-40 zoom for that matter), and second copies of the DA15 and FA43.

The answer to your first question is an unreserved yes. Earlier posters have summarised the reasons. Each lens has its strengths and in my opinion they are the jewels in the Pentax crown. No other brand makes a series of lenses anything like them.

The FA limiteds are faster because they are designed that way. Priorities included overall rendering quality and a maximum aperture below f/2.0 while covering the 135 image circle as compactly as possible. The DA limiteds were designed with compactness as a guiding principle to take full advantage of the smaller APS-C sensor. Speed was a necessary compromise in achieving that goal.

Which single Limited you should buy will depend on what sort of photography you prefer, and what other lenses you already have. But let's not fool ourselves; you won't stop at just one
01-01-2018, 01:54 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
so the 1.8, 1.9, 1.8 as opposed to the 2.4, 2.8, 3.2 and 4
as far as weight
well, I do have the D FA * 70-200 F2.8 and the D FA 150-450
I was referring to the limiteds weight not the FAs (in terms of ergonomic balance).

Under or over f/2? (for APS-C or FF)

f/1.x is ideal for:
Manual focusing with a brighter finder and/or better AF performance in lower light.
Less depth-of-field resulting in better subject separation, more bokeh, increased sharpness contrast between the center and frame edge.
Faster shutter speed or lower ISO or less need for flash or less need for a tripod.

>f/2.x is ideal for:
Reduction of size, weight, and/or price.
Easier to obtain acceptable focus because wide open the depth of field isn't ultra small.
Less potential flare or vignetting.

With medium format, the 75mm f/2.8 looks like a 50mm f/1.4 to me, and I love it and use it wide open often. However the 35mm f/3.5 vignettes, so I rarely shoot wide open and typically use a midrange aperture like f/8.
01-01-2018, 02:12 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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I have the SMC DA 15, 40, and 70. They are all jewels, and the latter two are more than serviceable on the K1. However, on APS-C, the most indispensable is the DA 15. It handles the wide angle beautifully, is wonderfully flare resistant (I have come to appreciate this even more since buying the DFA 15-30 for FF, which is not nearly as good in this respect), sharp at centre, great colours and starbursts, ... and great drama. It's first lens in the bag with APS-C.
01-01-2018, 02:13 PM - 3 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
1 are they worth their reputations
I'd say yes. In my view it's a combination of image quality (incl pixie dust) and small size. Small size means I will use them, which makes the image quality really count. The world's best lens wouldn't do much good sitting on the shelf at home (and all my bigger lenses do just that).

QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
2 I notice that the older FAs are faster, is that because of the different focal lengths or other reasons
The FAs also are a bit bigger than the DAs. Not by much, but the 77 is slightly bigger than the 70, the 43 than the 40.

QuoteOriginally posted by Aslyfox Quote
3 if only one can be chosen, [ excluding the 40 mm, I have the 40mm XS ] which one would be the best?
The one with the focal length best fitting your shooting. My most used Limited is probably the DA70 (both on APS-C and FF).

To list mine:
DA15 - unique lens for APS-C, and in some ways the "best" lens I have simply because it does what it does so well. But it's too wide for general use IMO.
DA21 - a more diverse wide lens for APS-C. Not one I have used a lot, though. I guess I tend to jump to 28mm if I need something longer than 15.
FA31 - didn't use it much on APS-C for some reason, but it's wonderful on FF - a joy to use and yields consistently great images.
FA43 - a favourite both on APS-C and FF, but not as consistent in its output, a bit more "temperamental". A perfect all-round focal length and tiny size makes this a definite must-have for me.
DA70 - a perfect mate to the 43 for both formats. Always happy with the results, enough so that I don't really crave the 77. Would I get the 77 (instead of the 70) if I didn't already have the 70? Tough call, but probably yes - even though the price difference would be hard to justify.

Edit: My DAs are all SMC (since I got them before the HDs were launched). The 15 and 21 I'd have no other way. All the other's I'd prefer the HD version (unless there was too much of a price difference).

Last edited by savoche; 01-02-2018 at 03:47 AM.
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