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07-08-2018, 04:54 AM - 1 Like   #1
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FA 50 F1.4 or A 50 F1.7?

I currently own a K-50 with a 18-135 WR and a 55-300 PLM. For low-light shots & portraits I would like to get a fast 50 mm lens. Now I got to choose between a used A 50 F1.7 for ~70 $ or a used FA 50 F1.4 for ~200 $. My experience with both objectives is non-existing, thus I was wondering if the additional 130 $ are worth the autofocus and the better aperture value?
Thus, which objective is "better" in terms of quality & price?

Thanks!

07-08-2018, 05:34 AM   #2
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why not a DA 50/1.8 for a little more than the A50/1.7 and a lot less than the FA 50/1.4?
07-08-2018, 05:37 AM   #3
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I own both the 1.4 and 1.7 50 FA lenses. The A lens is very similar optically. The autofocus of FA is a useful feature. At optimum aperture these are both sharp. The difference between 1.7 and 1.4 is noticeable in low light situations. Manual focus is much nicer on the A lens. Only you can judge if the price difference is worth it. Me.....I would opt for the FA.
07-08-2018, 05:49 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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I find the 50 f1.4 lenses more special than the 50 f1.7 lenses by Pentax.

This is a Pentax-A 50mm F1.4 wide open:


This is a Pentax-m 50mm F1.7 wide open:


This is a Pentax FA 50mm F1.7 wide open:


Both 1.7 lenses perform quite similar (note that some difference in rendering is due to lighting differences). Also the Pentax-m was shot on the K-5, the other two on the K-1.


Keep in mind it is pretty difficult to focus wide aperture lenses at maximum aperture.


Last edited by D1N0; 07-08-2018 at 06:16 AM. Reason: replace the FA 1.7 with a version with toned down exposure.
07-08-2018, 05:51 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by D1N0 Quote
I find the 50 f1.4 lenses more special than the 50 f1.7 lenses by Pentax.

agreed - if I were in the market for a 'fast' fifty, it would be an A50/1.4 - even when not at full-open aperture, the rendering of the 1.4 has a much nicer feel to it...
07-08-2018, 06:02 AM   #6
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I find the F 1.7 quite good but have zero experience with the 1.4 on modern digital bodies. What I see does support the idea that the 1.4 has nicer bokeh even at the same f stop, but the difference is not stark.


Generated from my Motorola Droid Mini using tools.rackonly.com

F 50 1.7 wide open on K-3.
07-08-2018, 06:12 AM   #7
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I have the A50mm f1.4 and the F50mm f1.7

I usually use the F for the AF convenience, but they are both nice lenses.

The F is a bit sharper when open (maybe through f2.8) but the bokeh from the f1.4 is nicer, so I prefer it for portraits if Iím thinking that far ahead...

-Eric
07-08-2018, 06:37 AM   #8
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I have both. As above, manually focusing the Pentax-A 50mm f1.7 is much nicer than the SMC Pentax-FA 50mm F1.4, which has a fairly small rubber ring to turn.
The AF may be worth the extra $130, but I wouldn't say the small increase in aperture is. Nearly triple the cost might seem crazy now, but also consider the many years of service either lens will give you. I've had my FA50/1.4 for 10 years now, it's given me at least $20 worth of fun each year.

The A50/1.7 is prone to a small mechanical failure that looks easy enough to fix (link below). Mine has this problem, which is why I have it (it was insanely cheap). With the aperture ring in the "A" position you can let your DSLR control the aperture value and you won't even notice it's broken. However, if I accidentally move the aperture ring my copy takes plenty of fiddling to get it back to the "A" setting, so I mostly use my FA50/1.4. One day I'll get around to attempting the repair:

Pentax-A 50mm f1.7 Aperture ring repair - PentaxForums.com

07-08-2018, 12:18 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I think Pepperberry is on to something with the DA50/1.8. Probably your best bang for the buck. If you want to explore manual focus, I’d suggest a Helios 44-2. At least it has a different rendering to offer.
07-08-2018, 12:57 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by D1N0 Quote
I find the 50 f1.4 lenses more special than the 50 f1.7 lenses by Pentax.

This is a Pentax-A 50mm F1.4 wide open:


This is a Pentax-m 50mm F1.7 wide open:


This is a Pentax FA 50mm F1.7 wide open:


Both 1.7 lenses perform quite similar (note that some difference in rendering is due to lighting differences). Also the Pentax-m was shot on the K-5, the other two on the K-1.


Keep in mind it is pretty difficult to focus wide aperture lenses at maximum aperture.
I am wondering if there is a mixup in your examples. The first marked as A 50mm f/1.4 looks very close in appearance of the background to the 3rd, which is marked as FA 50mm f/1.7, while the 2nd marked as M 50mm f/1.7 appears to have a more blurred background and more pleasing bokeh, which I would have guessed as the f/1.4 lens.

I think if the used FA 50mm f/1.4 is in perfect condition that is not a bad price. And AF is indeed an advantage. Otherwise, I also would recommend considering a new DA 50mm f/1.8 lens. I believe it also offers quick-shift manual focus touchup while in AF mode.
07-08-2018, 01:02 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
...Otherwise, I also would recommend considering a new DA 50mm f/1.8 lens. I believe it also offers quick-shift manual focus touchup while in AF mode.
Sadly no quick shift- SMC Pentax-DA 50mm F1.8 Reviews - DA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database. I always thought that was an annoying design decision.

The FA50/1.4 doesn't have it either of course.
07-08-2018, 01:57 PM   #12
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I have S.M.C 55 f1.8, Super Tak 50 f1.4, M50 f1.4, A50 f1.7, A50 f1.4 and FA50 f1.4.

So it seems I quite like fast 50s. My FA 50 is very slightly better than my A50 which is a little better than M50. I still like the bokeh (not to mention size and build!) of the Super Tak the best (but then it has relatively poor flare and CA control).

That said its the FA50 f1.4 that gets the time on my K-1 (and K-5 before it) - largely due to convenience. I probably use my FA50 more at f2 than f1.4 as I like the bokeh better at f2 but your experience may vary.

As others have said the DA 50 f1.8 is also worth a look at too, as its small, cheap and arguably more modern coatings.
07-08-2018, 06:14 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
I am wondering if there is a mixup in your examples.
Nope no mix up. There are a lot of OOF highlights in the sample pics, those are not really the same thing as bokeh.
07-08-2018, 06:54 PM   #14
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I'll go for the FA one for both the auto-focus and the 1/2 f-stop increase (Yeah, I'm an available-light freak... ), if money was no object. But, currently, my signature phrase says it all.
07-08-2018, 07:48 PM   #15
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Anything 1.4 from the 90s or earlier will be comparitively low contrast and soft, even at the same fstop as a 1.7/1.8 lens. Keep that in mind. You're paying for more light transmission and subjectively better bokeh.

To be honest that FA 50 is getting close to FA 43 territory too which is an absolutely amazing lens, and one I'd pick in a heartbeat.

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