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02-02-2019, 09:45 AM - 4 Likes   #1
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New DFA* 50mm f/1.4 (kinda, mostly...yeah, it is!)

In a complaint that I'm sure will surprise no one who is familiar with me, I found the Nikon offerings in the 50mm focal length both severely lacking for my newly acquired D850 after just one weekend of shooting both and decided to look at 3rd party options. While I've had a very troubled history with Sigma, I decided to give their Art 50 a whirl because it's reviews are just beyond rave.

I guess all those reviewers were paid off handsomely or something. Or given a functioning unit. Hands down, the copy I got has the most abysmal autofocus of any lens I've ever tested. It misses BADLY on a human subject from 4-5' away. Calibration might help but a $950 lens needing this much work out of the box means Sigma has absolutely no quality control at all. Or heck, maybe this is just how it works. Someone once described Sigma lenses as lens Russian Roulette: "You pull the trigger and hope to get lucky." WOW. Someone else, who has the 50 Art and loves it, told me if I was looking for a reliable lens, this probably wasn't going to be it. WOW. That's one heck of a slam.

So I decided to try out the Tokina Opera 50mm. As you surely know, it's a rebadge of the new Pentax DFA* 50mm f/1.4. It arrived yesterday and I immediately stuck it on my camera to give it a try.

HOLY SMOKES. This lens is great. Just plain great. It rivals the Tamron 85mm I've been using and that one is really close to the Sigma 50 and 85 Arts that are rated by DxO as the "sharpest lenses on the planet." The autofocus is dead on from the box, nailing precisely where I want without hesitation, even at wide apertures. The bokeh is lovely and sublime.

If you have a K-1, this is the lens you've been waiting for. I can't test it on the K mount, obviously, but this lens just makes the D850 sing. On the other hand, it kinda makes me sad because if Pentax could have just put out a few more lenses like this, it would have been enough to stay with the brand. I do hope that they can continue to make products like this.

02-02-2019, 10:40 AM   #2
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Yeah, Ricoh spent so much time to bring that DFA*50mm lens to perfection that it delayed the other new lenses on the roadmaps. I can believe it's perfect.
02-03-2019, 02:34 AM   #3
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If you shoot with the K1 and you don't have this lens you're denying the opportunity to get the best out of the Pentax FF system, by quite some.

I'll be curious to hear more user feedback from the Canon and Nikon users of the Tokina lens.
02-03-2019, 06:49 AM   #4
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Thanks for saying that MMM - great to hear a confirmation from somebody who's moved on and tried other options - make sure you tell the Nikon crowd!

02-03-2019, 12:52 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
In a complaint that I'm sure will surprise no one who is familiar with me, I found the Nikon offerings in the 50mm focal length both severely lacking for my newly acquired D850 after just one weekend of shooting both and decided to look at 3rd party options. While I've had a very troubled history with Sigma, I decided to give their Art 50 a whirl because it's reviews are just beyond rave.

I guess all those reviewers were paid off handsomely or something. Or given a functioning unit. Hands down, the copy I got has the most abysmal autofocus of any lens I've ever tested. It misses BADLY on a human subject from 4-5' away. Calibration might help but a $950 lens needing this much work out of the box means Sigma has absolutely no quality control at all. Or heck, maybe this is just how it works. Someone once described Sigma lenses as lens Russian Roulette: "You pull the trigger and hope to get lucky." WOW. Someone else, who has the 50 Art and loves it, told me if I was looking for a reliable lens, this probably wasn't going to be it. WOW. That's one heck of a slam.

So I decided to try out the Tokina Opera 50mm. As you surely know, it's a rebadge of the new Pentax DFA* 50mm f/1.4. It arrived yesterday and I immediately stuck it on my camera to give it a try.

HOLY SMOKES. This lens is great. Just plain great. It rivals the Tamron 85mm I've been using and that one is really close to the Sigma 50 and 85 Arts that are rated by DxO as the "sharpest lenses on the planet." The autofocus is dead on from the box, nailing precisely where I want without hesitation, even at wide apertures. The bokeh is lovely and sublime.

If you have a K-1, this is the lens you've been waiting for. I can't test it on the K mount, obviously, but this lens just makes the D850 sing. On the other hand, it kinda makes me sad because if Pentax could have just put out a few more lenses like this, it would have been enough to stay with the brand. I do hope that they can continue to make products like this.
Glad to hear this and that you are enjoying the DFA 50 * via the Tokina 50 Opera on your Nikon system. This lens which was glued to my K1-II for the first several months is something to behold... I am back with the 28-105 on it but will likely swap it out. Pentax proved they still “got” it as a world class optical company with this piece of glass. In fact I have taken some awesome natural light portraits with it and anxiously await the upcoming DFA 85 *. Again thanks for the post and glad you are enjoying the world class DFA 50 *.
02-07-2019, 09:46 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by gm4life Quote
Pentax proved they still “got” it as a world class optical company with this piece of glass. In fact I have taken some awesome natural light portraits with it and anxiously await the upcoming DFA 85 *.
I recall the line at the end of Mystic River, when Jimmy says to...whatever Kevin Bacon's character's name was: "Thanks for finding my daughter's killer. If only you'd been a little faster...." It makes me wonder what the K-1 would be able to do if it had that modern 85!

---------- Post added 02-07-19 at 10:47 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by ffking Quote
Thanks for saying that MMM - great to hear a confirmation from somebody who's moved on and tried other options - make sure you tell the Nikon crowd!
I plan to!! I will dazzle them with my photos and then tell them the story.

QuoteOriginally posted by Dericali Quote
I'll be curious to hear more user feedback from the Canon and Nikon users of the Tokina lens.
I'll be taking it out for a rigorous test next weekend most likely, so I will let you know how that goes!
02-07-2019, 04:44 PM   #7
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Yep our Fat 50 is pretty good!
02-07-2019, 06:09 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
I recall the line at the end of Mystic River, when Jimmy says to...whatever Kevin Bacon's character's name was: "Thanks for finding my daughter's killer. If only you'd been a little faster...." It makes me wonder what the K-1 would be able to do if it had that modern 85!
That 85 was originally going to be the first of the DFA* line, but new market research caused them to reverse the decision and do the Fat Fifty first.

02-10-2019, 11:03 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
That 85 was originally going to be the first of the DFA* line, but new market research caused them to reverse the decision and do the Fat Fifty first.
And Clackers I am glad they started with the fast 50...

Truly a class leading 50 from an optics and build quality perspective.
02-11-2019, 01:15 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
the copy [of the Sigma Art 50mm f1.4] I got has the most abysmal autofocus of any lens I've ever tested
Why am I not surprised by this. Seems like the Sigma 50 f1.4 has the same erratic AF as the Sigma 35 f1.4.
02-11-2019, 10:23 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by rawr Quote
Why am I not surprised by this. Seems like the Sigma 50 f1.4 has the same erratic AF as the Sigma 35 f1.4.
I really don't know how the Sigma Art gets such rave reviews. I don't see how spending $1000 on a lens that works when it feels like it is remotely acceptable to the same people who routinely write about Pentax's lacking autofocus--it is a true weakness, but like...Sigma totally seems to get a pass on the highly questionable autofocus on their Art lenses.
02-11-2019, 10:58 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
I really don't know how the Sigma Art gets such rave reviews. I don't see how spending $1000 on a lens that works when it feels like it is remotely acceptable to the same people who routinely write about Pentax's lacking autofocus--it is a true weakness, but like...Sigma totally seems to get a pass on the highly questionable autofocus on their Art lenses.
When the Nikon D800 came out, they posted a beautiful library image that I just loved, later in the text they revealed it took 7 tries to get it right. For some reason, AF accuracy is often not discussed, only speed of AF. I've never been sure how speed of AF is even a thing, if it misses focus.
02-11-2019, 05:14 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
I really don't know how the Sigma Art gets such rave reviews.
With the Art series full-frame behemoths, they get them for the MTF. So as manual focus lenses for landscape or studio they are fine.

That's why I tolerate my Sigma 35.
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