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10-25-2018, 12:53 PM   #1
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Which lens is sharpest

I am getting the itch to buy a SUPER sharp lens for my K-70. Among the lenses I now have the only one I consider to be real sharp is my 100mm 2.8 macro. The rest do not impress. My biggest issue is the images are far too soft for my liking. I have heard praises for the 43MM limited and a while back downloaded a picture of a frog on a branch that was supposedly taken with a 43mm Limited that is truly awesome when it comes to IQ. IMHO. I hesitate to post it here as it is not my picture. Is this lens as fantastic as claimed? I am not interested in the 77MM. Too close to the 100MM I already have.

I have only owned a Pentax for a few months and I am hoping someone here can point me in the right direction. I know I can buy one and send it back if I am not pleased but really would prefer not to.

Thank

10-25-2018, 12:55 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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D FA 50/2.8 Macro...
10-25-2018, 12:58 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by 54bravo Quote
I am getting the itch to buy a SUPER sharp lens for my K-70. Among the lenses I now have the only one I consider to be real sharp is my 100mm 2.8 macro. The rest do not impress. My biggest issue is the images are far too soft for my liking. I have heard praises for the 43MM limited and a while back downloaded a picture of a frog on a branch that was supposedly taken with a 43mm Limited that is truly awesome when it comes to IQ. IMHO. I hesitate to post it here as it is not my picture. Is this lens as fantastic as claimed? I am not interested in the 77MM. Too close to the 100MM I already have.

I have only owned a Pentax for a few months and I am hoping someone here can point me in the right direction. I know I can buy one and send it back if I am not pleased but really would prefer not to.

Thank
Pretty much all modern primes are super sharp, especially when you enter the premium lens territory. If you're looking for macro work, get the D FA 50mm F2.8.

For portraits and landscapes, there's always the D FA* 50mm F1.4. Probably can't do better!

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10-25-2018, 01:15 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Heck the DA 50/1.8 was given relatively high praise in Adam's compare and contrast of 3 Pentax Fast-50s a few years ago and its a steal new at around $115.

Pentax 50mm Prime Lens Shootout Review - Introduction | PentaxForums.com Reviews

10-25-2018, 01:22 PM - 5 Likes   #5
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Don't forget that you need to fine-tune the focus, or else you might be mistaking lack of sharpness for lack of focus.
10-25-2018, 01:38 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by microlight Quote
Don't forget that you need to fine-tune the focus, or else you might be mistaking lack of sharpness for lack of focus.
This thought crossed my mind also.

While the 100 2.8 is a very sharp lens, I’m curious to find out what other lenses the OP has that aren’t “sharp” enough?

With some lenses, micro-contrast gets confused with sharpness. I had a Sigma lens that was clinical sharp (center) but lacked the colors and contrast of most Pentax lenses.

The 43 Limited is a sharp lens, but tends to get knocked for its out of focus areas, until you learn the strengths of the lens.
10-25-2018, 01:42 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by 54bravo Quote
I am getting the itch to buy a SUPER sharp lens for my K-70. Among the lenses I now have the only one I consider to be real sharp is my 100mm 2.8 macro. I have heard praises for the 43MM limited. Is this lens as fantastic as claimed? I am not interested in the 77MM. Too close to the 100MM I already have.
If money and weight is not a concern, you'll find the Pentax HD FA 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW extremely sharp and eventually compatible if you upgrade to full frame.

The Pentax 43mm Limited is also very sharp as is the Pentax HD DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited and Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art prime.

QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Pretty much all modern primes are super sharp, especially when you enter the premium lens territory.
I agree with Adam on the Pentax HD and Sigma Art primes. I've been disappointed with inconsistent (sample variation) results from various Rokinon/Samyang and Irix primes.
10-25-2018, 01:42 PM   #8
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Which lenses are giving you disappointing results? Posting an illustrative image might be helpful.

What focal lengths and price range are you looking at?

10-25-2018, 01:49 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Is it safe to assume the frog photo mentioned in the OP is post #15 in the FA Limited Club thread? I suspect that image is responsible for the purchase of many copies of the FA43
10-25-2018, 03:16 PM - 2 Likes   #10
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I have 100wr too and below are lenes i have or used to have that i think It is (more than) satifactory in term of sharpness when compared to the 100 wr regardless of focal length.

Da21
Fa35
Fa50macro (this should include F and DFA too)
Da*55

I can't comment on lenses l have never used.

***edit***
I am using DFA100wr for landscape. I like its sharpness and rendering very much, so when searching for a 50mm, similar to you, I used what I see from 100 wr as a bar to meet. I ended up with FA50macro. After some months of using, I crowned it the sharpest lens in my bag. (I have no way to proof if it's sharper than 100wr. It was what I "feel". May be it is easier to use, so I use it more than the rest so I developed more emotion to the lens.) Later I want a 50mm WR lens, I didn't have much choice, I have to get the DA*55. and I couldn't believe, I let the 50 macro go. That's tell a lot. If 55* is still not sharp enough, the only option left would be using a knife to take a photo.
*Again, I am not saying who's sharper. I just say it out of my "feeling", no scientific proof.

Last edited by pakinjapan; 10-26-2018 at 12:07 AM.
10-25-2018, 03:35 PM - 2 Likes   #11
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If the 100/2.8 Macro is your benchmark, then there’s a limit to the number of lenses that perform similarly well across the field of view at all aperture settings and distances. The D FA50/2.8 (or any of its predecessors with the same optical formula) and the DA35/2.8 Macro Limited come to mind, though there’s also some older exotica that are highly regarded, like the FA*200/4 Macro (good luck in finding one of those, letting alone affording it).

The FA43/1.9 Limited is sharp, and, as a general-use lens on the K-1, it’s remarkably useful. Similarly, its fellows the FA31/1.8 Limited and FA77/1.8 Limited are likewise, within the limitations of their respective focal lengths. However, they aren’t sharp across the field of view at wider aperture settings, and quite deliberately so. Somewhere here there’s an article on the philosophy behind their optical design, but I can’t lay my hand directly to it.

Staying with older lens designs for a while, the other FA* lenses are well-regarded for sharpness, including the zooms, such as the FA*28-70/2.8 and the FA*80-200/2.8. An exception is the FA*24/2, which isn’t noted for sharpness (though it’s still pretty good) but for contrast and colouring. The longer zooms and unifocal lenses are exotica, and priced accordingly, but I have no personal experience of them, whereas I do own the others above, except for the FA*200/4 Macro.

Seeing you have an APS-C camera, there are, of course, the DA* lenses, although the DA*16-50/2.8 is frequently derided for not being always sharp. Its companion zoom, the DA*50-135/2.8 is conversely highly praised. I have both those lenses, and enjoy them both on my K-3.

If you have no need for a longer focal length, my suggestion would be to try the DA35/2.8 Macro Limited, as it’s a very useful focal length for general work, and it’s a very capable macro lens.

QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Heck the DA 50/1.8 was given relatively high praise in Adam's compare and contrast of 3 Pentax Fast-50s a few years ago and its a steal new at around $115.

Pentax 50mm Prime Lens Shootout Review - Introduction | PentaxForums.com Reviews
Nice to see you here again, Robert.

Last edited by RobA_Oz; 10-26-2018 at 02:58 PM.
10-25-2018, 03:45 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
.....

Nice to see you here again, Robert.
Thanks, its good to see a few familiar names still around this old place.
10-25-2018, 04:14 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
Which lenses are giving you disappointing results? Posting an illustrative image might be helpful.

What focal lengths and price range are you looking at?
SMC PENTAX DA 18-135 F3.5-5.6 ED AL (IF) DC WR Focus at 50mm acceptable 18mm not acceptable 135mm too soft
SMC PENTAX DA 1:2.4 35MM AL Too soft for me. I do not like soft images unless it is a wedding.
SMC PENTAX DA 1:1.8 50MM About equal to 35MM except for focal length
SMC PENTAX DFA 1:2.8 100MM MACRO Easily the best of the bunch. Pictures are sharper, more vibrant that anything I own for a Pentax
TAMRON AF 70-300MM 1:4-5.6 LD TELE MACRO 1:2 Actually this lens takes great pictures especially when you factor in I only paid $40 for it in near mint condition.
SIGMA 10-20MM DC HSM Takes fairly nice pictures but too wide for a carry around lens.
VIVITAR 28MM 1:2.0 MC CLOSE FOCUS WIDE ANGLE All manual lens but images OK+.

I am not interested in macro or any zoom lens that is not at least the equal in IQ to a prime. Price range less than $800 new but I will buy used from reputable seller. I was hoping to get some feedback and sample images from a 43MM user. This will be the last lens for this camera. Sharp enough is not what I want. I have that. Like I said in my original post that frog picture blew me away. If the 43mm can do that then I want it. I do appreciate all of your input.

---------- Post added 10-25-18 at 04:26 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
Is it safe to assume the frog photo mentioned in the OP is post #15 in the FA Limited Club thread? I suspect that image is responsible for the purchase of many copies of the FA43
I don't know. Could be I could not find out how to find the thread you referenced. I any case I fully understand how that photo could cause someone (like me) to run out a pick one up.

Last edited by 54bravo; 10-25-2018 at 04:20 PM.
10-25-2018, 04:55 PM - 1 Like   #14
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I thought the DA 35mm F2.4 and DA 50mm F1.8 were sharp until I bought the DA Limiteds (15mm F4, 21mm F3.2, 35mm F2.8 macro, 40mm F2.8 & 70mm F2.4).
I thought the DA Limiteds were sharp until I bought the FA Limiteds (31mm F1.8, 77mm F1.8 and to a lesser extent the 43mm F1.9).
Also recommend the DA* 55mm F1.4 for portraits on APS-C (k-70), but I know that the D FA* 50 will by far surpass the lot for sharpness across the frame.

Regarding zoom lenses, you should try out the DA 16-85mm and D FA 28-105mm. Both of these are relatively affordable, sharp for the price, and so much better than the DA 18-135mm.
However, if you can handle the weight and cost, the D FA 15-30mm F2.8 and D FA* 70-200mm F2.8 are very sharp, especially the latter. As a rule of thumb, * lenses are all of good optical quality but some people have had SDM issues with the DA* lenses (not me though).

To get the most our of your current lenses, minimise use of filters if you can and certainly avoid UV or Skylight filters. A tripod is important, and use live view with focus peaking if possible. When taking landscapes I use live view or mirror lock up and then set the timer to a minimum 2 seconds, or even 12 seconds if using a telephoto lens. As recommended, lenses should be tuned to the body with micro focus adjustments. Stop the lens down rather than shoot wide open and try to not exceed F11 to avoid diffraction. If your photographing something truly static try using pixel shift (with a tripod).

If, after following the above, your photographs are still not sharp, then you need to make an appointment with an optician. It might save you a pretty penny on lenses.

I hope you find what you're looking for.
10-25-2018, 04:57 PM - 3 Likes   #15
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The 43 Limited can be very sharp, especially from 5.6 on. I returned from my trip this morning at 4:30, having gone from Florida, through Texas, up to Montana and North Dakota, and back by car the same route. While the 43 spent most of it's time on one of my film cameras, I did take a few shots with it on the K-1.

Here's a couple from Wyoming... both at f5.6
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