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03-02-2018, 12:29 PM   #1
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aps-c portrait primes: 43 Limited or DA*55?

I'm wanting to pick up a fast portrait-ish length prime for my K-30 (with an eye towards the KP or K3 replacement as it's replacement). I have a 50-135 already, but it's time to add a prime or two to the bag. I'm stuck between the 43 Limited and the DA*55 f1.4. Sell me on one or the other. Generally would be using it for portrait work, or as a longer complement to my Sigma 10-20 3.5 (and eventual DA*11-18) while walking around and only wanting to carry a 2nd lens.

No, I'm not interested in the DA 50 1.8 or the DA 40 2.8 limited. I've had both and I might do the 40 again but I wanted something faster.

No, I'm not interested in manual focus lenses. I have a SuperTak 55mm 1.8 already but prefer autofocus 99% of the time.

Yes, I am somewhat interested in the FA 50 1.4 but a straight 50mm never really excited me.

03-02-2018, 12:35 PM   #2
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I've been through the exact same process. In the end I picked up the 43 as I came across a good deal. I like the fact that I can use it indoors as well as for a group portrait. I still want the 55 though. I think they would be different enough.
03-02-2018, 01:38 PM   #3
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The 43 is a pretty compact lens, and is plenty fast. Those are real advantages, in my opinion. However, the absence of quick shift focus may be a pain, though with portrait work and a shallow DOF moving your body forward or backward a hair after focus is locked will be just as easy. I've never used either of the lenses you're after, but both have good reviews as I'm sure you know well. If I were in the same boat, I'd probably go with the 55 due to the extra partial-stop of speed, SDM focusing, and weather sealing.
03-02-2018, 01:40 PM   #4
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Having been through the same discussion with myself I went another route. I got the FA 77 Limited. It's fast, and I always liked the Nikon 105 f/2.5 for portraits which this isn't far off of (77*1.52 = 117mm equivalent field of view; 1.8*1.52 = f/2.7equivalent DOF) I also have the slower 50-135 f/2.8 which is my fall back. But I have taken portraits with virtually every lens... I'm not married to focal lengths. Some of my best have come unexpectedly from the 18-135 - because it was what I had with me I suspect!

Of the two choices it really boils down to how traditional you want to be vs. how much general purpose use you want. The DA 40 is the closest I have to the 43 and I have an F 50 f/1.7 also. I use the DA 40 more because I like the size and the focal length slightly better on APSC. The slightly wider perspective is something I prefer other than in very specific situations (Low light theater with enough distance to still get the FoV I need, Portraits with busy backgrounds needing the extra wide open aperture, etc. )

03-02-2018, 01:46 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Having been through the same discussion with myself I went another route. I got the FA 77 Limited. It's fast, and I always liked the Nikon 105 f/2.5 for portraits which this isn't far off of (77*1.52 = 117mm equivalent field of view; 1.8*1.52 = f/2.7equivalent DOF) I also have the slower 50-135 f/2.8 which is my fall back. But I have taken portraits with virtually every lens... I'm not married to focal lengths. Some of my best have come unexpectedly from the 18-135 - because it was what I had with me I suspect!

Of the two choices it really boils down to how traditional you want to be vs. how much general purpose use you want. The DA 40 is the closest I have to the 43 and I have an F 50 f/1.7 also. I use the DA 40 more because I like the size and the focal length slightly better on APSC. The slightly wider perspective is something I prefer other than in very specific situations (Low light theater with enough distance to still get the FoV I need, Portraits with busy backgrounds needing the extra wide open aperture, etc. )
The 77 lives up to its reputation. I bought it earlier this year and am still stunned by its capabilities. It's my go-to for portraits.
03-02-2018, 02:10 PM   #6
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I have to recommend the 43. Pros and Cons: the 55 is a bit more forgiving whereas with the 43, you have to be more cognizant of your background. The 43 has a very special rendering which you won't find in another lens that focal length. The other reason I say the 43 is you already have the 50-135, which has it's own great image quality and covers the 55 fl.

The 77 is my go-to portrait lens with the 43 next for wider shots. I've also used the 50-135 extensively for paid work, but the other two lenses take up less space and weight in comparison.

Good luck with your decision.
03-02-2018, 02:12 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Examples:

DA 18-135 @ 78mm


DA* 200


DA* 50-135 @ 135


DA* 50-135 @ 50


DA 40 SMC Limited


15mm on LX-7 (4.6x crop = 72mm equivalent roughly)


Another DA 40


FA 31 Limited


FA 77 Limited
03-02-2018, 02:57 PM - 1 Like   #8
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The DA*55 is magnificent for portraits, Skierd. On APS-C the view is similar to the classic 85mm on full frame.

You can hold on to it too if you ever buy the K-1:



03-02-2018, 03:21 PM   #9
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Go with the DA 55 * it is weather sealed, has whisper quiet focus and is tack sharp. It is one of my most used primes.
03-02-2018, 03:49 PM   #10
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I have never owned the 43 but I do own the 55. Let me say it's a fantastic piece of glass. It's my portrait lens and it gets a lot of time on my K3. It's super sharp and the colours are gorgeous. Plus it's WR which goes nicely with your K30.

My only issue is the SDM focus. Mine takes a few minutes to "warm" up when I start shooting. Apparently there's a capacitor in the lens that needs to be activated every so often so you can't just leave it sitting on the shelf for too long. I turn mine on every few days when I'm not shooting.

As long as you understand how to use this lens, you will love it.
03-02-2018, 06:48 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by paulpines Quote
My only issue is the SDM focus. Mine takes a few minutes to "warm" up when I start shooting. Apparently there's a capacitor in the lens that needs to be activated every so often so you can't just leave it sitting on the shelf for too long. I turn mine on every few days when I'm not shooting.
I apologize in advance. This is going to sound rude. However I feel I must say this and it isn't directed to you personally but the entire concept that the quote above is related to.

This is commonly claimed belief and very much the "collective wisdom" but it has never been experimentally proven. It flies in the face of how lenses sit on the shelf for months or years without developing this problem when they are new and in the face of observational reality where some have lenses sit for long periods without use without harm. It seems like guesswork based on observations that have confirmation bias. It does not appear to be science as far as I can tell. As far as I know, no one has run any kind of double blind trial to determine if this behavior of waking the lens frequently is helpful or not. In fact if the SDM is failing it is possible that frequent use could reduce the lifespan of the motor further - after all we have no data.
03-02-2018, 07:17 PM   #12
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From one side, I would say go for the 43 (I have one) since it is truly special, and you have the 50-135, which is another one of those special lenses. But the 55 seems to be very appealing for reasons shown above (don't have one). Do you think you want to stick your toe in full frame at some point? That would push me towards the 43. Love it on the K-1 and K3II. It moves between the two formats very nicely. Part of it's magic.
03-03-2018, 04:37 AM   #13
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I would prefer the 55 on APS-C for portrait work. Obviously you can use any focal length, but 55 converts to 85-ish which is a classic portrait focal length. The DA *55 is very nice. The FA 77 is nice too, but perhaps a little long on APS-C for your intended purpose.
03-03-2018, 06:38 AM   #14
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I would go for the 55, because bokeh. The slight increase in focal length and aperture would go a long way.
03-05-2018, 11:07 AM   #15
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The *55 without a doubt. I have used both.
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