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09-23-2008, 09:19 PM   #1
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Sigma 28mm f/1.8 vs Pentax FA 35mm f/2

Anyone with experience able to help me compare the Pentax FA 35 f/2 (the older, less expensive non-macro Pentax 35mm) with the Sigma 28 EX DG f/1.8 macro? Both seem to sell for about $300 and both look like very good lenses for the price. I like the Sigma's focal length a little better - 28mm (42mm-e) is closer to what I want - the 35mm is a tad long. (A 26mm would be even better but doesn't seem to exist.)

Thanks in advance.

Will

09-23-2008, 11:12 PM   #2
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Hi Will

I used sigma 28mm f1.8 on canon system in the past and I loved it. Again, it is sharp in the centre and then softening towards the corners. This is a result of measurebation some people love to do. When I get to review these images taken in real life application, it does perform well. "Everything" seems sharp. The contrast and colour are pretty accurate and great as well

This sigma 28mm f1.8 somewhat produces images that are suitable for street candids. It is solid and balancing well with SLR body. This lens is not known for poor quality control neither. Bokeh is weak as typically as sigma. You would get by by some careful selection of themes.

Fa 35 f2 is good in technical terms and this lens has been discussed many times in the forum (sure you are fully aware of this lens). I would pick sigma 28 f1.8 out of these two choices if I have to buy a lens here. As long as you are not intending to sell sigma, I would go for 28/1.8
09-24-2008, 04:10 AM   #3
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Another idea may be to pick up an older Pentax (Takumar or Super Tak) and play with both focal lengths. You should be able to get one of each for anywhere from $40-50 each, or better maybe...and you can get some first hand experience with both and see which length you fancy the most. You may even just nix the idea of a new lens and keep these are your "go to" lenses for this length.

Jason
09-24-2008, 07:26 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
I used sigma 28mm f1.8 on canon system in the past and I loved it. Again, it is sharp in the centre and then softening towards the corners. This is a result of measurebation some people love to do. When I get to review these images taken in real life application, it does perform well. "Everything" seems sharp. The contrast and colour are pretty accurate and great as well
Thanks, roentarre, and thanks for putting the corner softness the way you did - by referring to measurbation. That's what I suspected and I'm happy to hear it.


QuoteQuote:
This sigma 28mm f1.8 somewhat produces images that are suitable for street candids. It is solid and balancing well with SLR body. This lens is not known for poor quality control neither. Bokeh is weak as typically as sigma. You would get by by some careful selection of themes.
Well, I'm not planning to do street photography with it. Rather, I'm thinking of it as a possible replacement for my Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 (macro) for low-light wedding work, mainly in the church. I usually work with two cameras: the K20D has the Pentax DA* 50-135 f/2.8 on it, and the K10D has the shorter lens (has been the Sigma 18-50, would now be the Sigma 28 or the Pentax 35).

I'm generally partial to zooms - for convenience and versatility - but the Sigma 18-50 macro is just "pretty good," not better than that. I'm not looking for "great" at $300 but "really good" would be nice. If I move to either the Pentax 35 or the Sigma 28, I'll lose the ability to zoom, but get a faster and I hope somewhat better lens. The problem with the Pentax FA 35 (which I actually own already) is that it's just a bit too long. Not a HUGE difference in angle of view between 28 and 35mm, but it's enough to matter to me.

I shot a wedding earlier this year using the Pentax 16-45 f/4 as my short lens and the results were pretty good. But that means losing a full stop in the aperture, which is a move in the wrong direction for shooting in the church. Can't afford the Pentax DA* 16-50 f/2.8 (or whatever its range is, can't remember).


QuoteQuote:
Fa 35 f2 is good in technical terms and this lens has been discussed many times in the forum (sure you are fully aware of this lens). I would pick sigma 28 f1.8 out of these two choices if I have to buy a lens here. As long as you are not intending to sell sigma, I would go for 28/1.8
Not sure what you mean by "as long as you are not intending to sell sigma...." Are you saying that you think this lens's resale value would be negligible?

Thanks,

Will

09-24-2008, 08:15 AM   #5
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when i had the 35 f2, i hardly used it

ever since i got the 28 f1.8, its been on the camera alot, esp when out in the city in the evening.

its performance at 1.8 is stellar, and the macro function can be really fun to use, so between the two i would opt for the 28
09-24-2008, 09:32 AM   #6
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I'm also in the same boat, and also debating saving up a while longer and getting the 31 Ltd.

While I would love to get the Pentax 35mm (because it's Pentax), I want wider than that, and 28mm is very nice on APS-C as it's the normal lens for this format.

I don't understand why Pentax hasn't released a fast 28mm, and I suspect the upcoming DA* 30mm will not be full-frame (I just happen to want to be able to use the 28/30 on my film camera too).
09-24-2008, 10:33 AM   #7
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Somewhat relevant ...

QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
Anyone with experience able to help me compare the Pentax FA 35 f/2 (the older, less expensive non-macro Pentax 35mm) with the Sigma 28 EX DG f/1.8 macro? Both seem to sell for about $300 and both look like very good lenses for the price. I like the Sigma's focal length a little better - 28mm (42mm-e) is closer to what I want - the 35mm is a tad long. (A 26mm would be even better but doesn't seem to exist.)
Hi,

I have the Sigma 24mm f/1.8, which is I believe the same size as the 28mm, as well as the Pentax FA35. And I've read that the Sigma 24 and the 28 are similar in other ways as well, but I can't say from first hand experience. So this is only sort of relevant to your question.

I think the FA35 is a terrific lens, world class. I think the same of the Sigma 24. No complaints whatsoever re image quality, rendering, etc.

However, I don't use the 24 nearly as much as the 35, simply because the Sigma 24 is a big, clumsy hunk of glass. It's at least 2x the size of the 35, maybe 2.5 or 3x. Obviously, this sort of thing matters to some people but not others.

Also, I find the Sigma's build quality unsatisfying. For some reason, the plastick-y FA35 feels more solidly built to me. (BTW - I also have the Sigma 18-50 macro f/2.8, like you, and the Sigma 24 doesn't feel as solid as the 18-50. But I agree with you that the 18-50 is just 'pretty good,' not stellar. Very useful, nonetheless, and 'good enough' for most occasions).

Good luck.
09-24-2008, 11:10 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ycl Quote
I have the Sigma 24mm f/1.8, which is I believe the same size as the 28mm, as well as the Pentax FA35. And I've read that the Sigma 24 and the 28 are similar in other ways as well, but I can't say from first hand experience. So this is only sort of relevant to your question.
No, I am grateful for your input, too. I've also been looking at the Sigma 24. Somebody somewhere (can't remember if it was in this forum or elsewhere) said they liked it better than the 28. Bit tricky: 28mm on our Pentax cameras is just about perfect (see this article at TOP on why 40mm-e is "just right"), while 35mm is a bit long, and 24 is a bit wide.


QuoteQuote:
I think the FA35 is a terrific lens, world class. I think the same of the Sigma 24. No complaints whatsoever re image quality, rendering, etc.
I like the FA35 but I'm not sure I am as enthusiastic about it as you. I've done a number of test shoots comparing the FA35 to the Pentax 16-45 - and at 35mm and, say, an aperture of f/5, I generally like the results from the zoom lens better.


QuoteQuote:
However, I don't use the 24 nearly as much as the 35, simply because the Sigma 24 is a big, clumsy hunk of glass. It's at least 2x the size of the 35, maybe 2.5 or 3x. Obviously, this sort of thing matters to some people but not others.
I actually kind of like big lenses. Not sure why. Easier to hold on to, I think.


QuoteQuote:
Also, I find the Sigma's build quality unsatisfying. For some reason, the plastick-y FA35 feels more solidly built to me. (BTW - I also have the Sigma 18-50 macro f/2.8, like you, and the Sigma 24 doesn't feel as solid as the 18-50. But I agree with you that the 18-50 is just 'pretty good,' not stellar. Very useful, nonetheless, and 'good enough' for most occasions).
Grateful for this comparison, too. If I can't make up my mind I may just shoot the next wedding with the 18-50 and keep thinking about my options.

Will

09-24-2008, 12:03 PM   #9
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Will, As you might know, I shoot weddings as well. The Sigma 28mm f1.8 is an essential part of my kit. I had a 31mm limited and it's a truely wonderful lens. But I just did not use it enough to justify the expense. For entirely different reasons, I had an FA35mmf2 and sold it after 1.5 years of fairly regular use. When I had the $$ I bought the Sigma 28mm.

I loved the 35mm for all the reasons you already know. But the extra 7mm makes a pretty big difference. The Sigma is an excellent lens in all respects. I would say Roentarre has it nailed. It's only flaw is the size but that's a small issue overall (was that a pun??).

Overall you gain a little speed and a wider FOV with nothing lost in optical quality.

Btw. my 5 lens kit for weddings is:
*Sigma 70-200 f2.8
*Pentax 16-45 f4 (like you I'd love a DA* but don't trust it and did not like the Sigma 18-50mm Macro)
FA50mm f1.4
Sigma 28mm f1.8
Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro.
Dual body kit.

*these 2 get the vast majority of the work.
09-24-2008, 12:31 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Will, As you might know, I shoot weddings as well. The Sigma 28mm f1.8 is an essential part of my kit.
Peter,

Thanks for chipping in. In what way is the Sigma 28 "essential"? In your list of lenses, you starred the Pentax 16-45 and the Sigma 70-200 as doing most of the heavy lifting.

Here's my list of the lenses I take to a wedding:

*Pentax DA 16-45 f/4
*Sigma 18-50 f/2.8
*Pentax DA* 50-135
Pentax 50 f/1.4
Sigma 10-20

As you did in your list, I've used the asterisk here to indicate the most important lenses. In the church, I'm probably using the Sigma 18-50 on the K10D and the Pentax 50-135 on the K20D; I might have the 50 f/1.4 in a bag nearby on the *ist DS that I bring as a backup, but to be honest I don't use it much. I TRY not to change lenses during the ceremony as I just don't feel comfortable doing it. I'm afraid that just after I get the lens off something important will happen that I didn't anticipate. Hasn't happened yet but, if a church were really dark, I'd probably move the 50 to the K20D where I'd get benefit of wider aperture AND the camera's better high-ISO/low-light performance.

I use the Pentax 16-45 for the formals (with help from both Pentax flash units). The Sigma 10-20 is there mainly for a couple of nice shots of the interior of the church.

Anyway, where do you use the Sigma 28? What I am seriously considering is chucking the Sigma 18-50 in favor of the Sigma 28, in other words, making that one prime my primary lens for one camera, with the 50-135 zoom on the other body....

Will
09-24-2008, 02:47 PM   #11
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Will. The 28mm is great in a few areas. Primarily in the church if there is the right venue. Nice length for a full length formal portrait. Great in tighter areas where you can get in close enough to use it's length. Fast for natural light shooting (which I try to do as much as possible). I would say I use it for 15% of my shots at most venues. The 10-20mm is always with me but not used unless there is something unique I can get. Like you it's in the spare bag. I wear a Lowepro waist belt with the detachable pouches and have the 28,50 and 105 in there. A Cokin filter kit (CPL for all lenses with various rings and soft focus filters). The last pouch has a Wolverine and 34Mb worth of cards in a card safe. I only shoot the ceremony with one camera and almost always 16-45mm (50% of the shots). The second camera is nearby with the 70-200 (25% use). The least used lens is the 50. It's the low light lens and gets light use. I'm looking for a pouch to put the 70-200 in safely and just have the backup camera in the car as needed.

What's on the belt changes depending on the venue. No point in carrying extra weight when I don't have to. And some lenses get use at different times. The 105 (a new addtion) is often used for portraits. The 70-200 at receptions for candids, etc.
09-24-2008, 02:49 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Will, As you might know, I shoot weddings as well. The Sigma 28mm f1.8 is an essential part of my kit. I had a 31mm limited and it's a truely wonderful lens. But I just did not use it enough to justify the expense. For entirely different reasons, I had an FA35mmf2 and sold it after 1.5 years of fairly regular use. When I had the $$ I bought the Sigma 28mm.
You are right about Fa 31 ltd not as applicable to wedding comparing to a sigma 24mm f1.8 or 28mm f1.8

Call me clumpsy. All the weddings I did this year (3 major and 4 assist) relied heavily on the zooms on my pentax gear. I get better results with primes on canon gear on the contrary.

Most of the shots with Fa 31 ltd resulted in malfocusing problem and manual focusing on the lens itself is not easy and fast enough enough with photojournalistic wedding shoots. Yes, classic say "cheese" kind of shots are no issues. But Fa 31 ltd is really not so suitable in "snapping" the moment kind of photography.

Again, Sigma 28 f1.8 is noted to have more consistent quality control comparing to 24 f1.8.


Will - the resell value is always low with sigma. This is due to the prejudice of many old photographers or the silly die hard canikon fans out there believing sigma as crap etc. Unless you are ready to sell sigma to some countries like Indonesia or Eastern Europe (high risk but these lenses do sell a little bit more in these regions).
09-24-2008, 03:02 PM   #13
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Yes that's true Will. My kit is getting Sigma heavy. 24mm, 28mm, 105mm, 10-20mm, 70-200mm and all are solid lenses with excellent optics. As James said, zooms get the heavy use but the primes have their place while they are at the alter and in places where you have time to compose. The Canikon shooters I've spoken to are also telling me that a wide to mid zoom is the most essential lens.

My plan is to find a DA*16-50 that is used from a trusted member and ALWAYS keep the DA16-45mm close by. A great lens and a reliable backup.
09-24-2008, 03:33 PM   #14
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Thanks for the reply, Peter. Takes us a little outside the original topic, but hey, it's my thread. :-)

I'm interested that you use the 16-45 so much. I use it a lot when the light's good, but it's never good in the church. I used it once in the church but I paid for it with extra post-processing time, having to increase exposure and reduce noise after the fact.

The idea of doing a good bit of a shoot using a prime is something of a new challenge for me. I've tried some shoots (not weddings) with the FA 35 f/2; that's how I know that I would like something a little wider. I have also thought about buying another Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. (I used to own it, liked it, but sold it to raise $$ to buy the 50-135... sigh.) But I think the Sigma 28 might be more fun. I placed an order for it today, should have it from Amazon tomorrow.

I'm thinking possibly of getting the Sigma 105 f/2.8 and trying to shoot with two primes. Don't know if I could pull it off or not. Would need to practice. I'm just so used to zooms.

Thanks again.

Will
09-24-2008, 03:37 PM   #15
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Hey Peter, I never knew you had the Sigma 28mm f/1.8. I'll pick your brains about it at some point in the future.
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