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10-26-2008, 02:18 PM   #1
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FA31 Limited VS Nikkor 35/1.4 AI-S (Lots of images)

Hello All,

I have been reading these forums for quite a long time, but today I found I could share my expirience. It might be interesting for some of you.

If the topic is posted to the wrong forum please move it, however i determined this would be the best place for it.

Me and my Nikonian friend Valentine Iofik used to have lengthy discussions on which of our "normal" primes yield better pictures. I`m using my FA 31mm Limited 90% of all the time with my K10D, and he keeps his Nikkor 35mm/F1.4 AI-S on his Nikon D200. At some point everything has had been discussed and all that was left to us was to settle our score on a lengthy photo-walk. We picked the town of Viborg near the Russian-Finnish border, got everything ready and set off to make the test. Even the fact we had girls with us did not prevent us from producing enough material to compare the two lens.

Main differences between the lens are as follows: Nikkor is manual focus only, it has maximum 1.4 apperture as compared to FA31, although its a bit soft wide open. Minimum focus distance for Nikkor is 20cm which makes it 10cm shorter than that of FA31 - which is an advantage. Also Nikkor produces somewhat "washed-out" colors, I have been struggling to adjust colors during raw to jpeg conversion to match it to the D200/Nikkor combination.

We decided on following test conditions: all the shots were taken at F2.0 apperture, and we tried to get similair framing/distance so the comparison is right.

I will try and not come up with definite conclusions and will instead allow readers see the test shots and decide what is worth what for themselves. After all arguably the best Pentax wide-angle prime and one of the best Nikkor wide-angle prime (the only better Nikkor is 28/1.4, and it costs enomorous amount of cash) are being compared. We tried to give the comparison of the resulting "picture" in the first place, and this is really hard-to-define feature of the lens which is bokeh, DOF, colors, sharpness all taken into account.

Disclaimer: Only few of the shots are of aesthetic value, but i really like some of them. There are some brick walls / buildings too.

Notice: Full sized images are available for download at photobucket at http://s102.photobucket.com/albums/m103/Koluch/31lim_vs_35nikkor/

Alright, here are the 28 test pictures.

WARNING: 28 FULL-RES PICTURES ON SINGLE PAGE, MODEM USERS BEWARE!

http://kalujny.blogspot.com/2009/09/pentax-smc-p-fa-31mm-118-al-limited-vs.html


Last edited by ilya80; 09-03-2009 at 03:14 PM.
10-26-2008, 02:26 PM   #2
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In the end I`d like to post the photos of me and Valentine while atually creating the comparison report

Me
Valentine Iofik

Thanks for looking, and feel free to share your thoughts.
10-26-2008, 02:32 PM   #3
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Speechless...

Well it looks to me like the FA31 consistently has more contrast, and is colder.

But the FA31 images also have consistently better composition, framing, focus point, etc. Well at least to my eye.

I'll say, I'm glad I passed on Nikon and got a Pentax.

Thanks for posting!
10-26-2008, 09:17 PM   #4
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thanks for all of the comparison photos.
i see the same things as deuces, more contrast and colder.

it's an interesting comparison, but i think you've attached too many photos / too big photos to the thread. my computer is literally dying trying to open up all the photos. any way you can speed it up a bit? i would guess a lot of people would be interested in checking out this post, but the bandwidth must be huge.

10-26-2008, 09:29 PM   #5
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Colors look more richer for the FA 31. On some of the Nikon pics, it looks like they were covered in a film of blandness. More pop for the FA and K10D! You can tell some of the FA pics belong in a magazine whereas the Nikon ones would just make the "Hey I took a snapshot !" look.
10-26-2008, 09:40 PM   #6
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For my liking - closer focusing, manual focusing and faster aperture for oof - the Nikkor would be my pick. Alas, I have a 31 and fwiw, it seems to be consistantly crisper at infinity and medium ranges on detailed subjects. I also agree with the contrast being more articulated in the Pentax shots.

Thanks for sharing.


Kelly.
10-26-2008, 10:35 PM   #7
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It looks like the FA 31mm ltd is better in most of the images except the flare control picture with the bell tower up against the sun...Nikkor lens clearly is better there. I agree about the images slowing down my computer though at the moment I am on by no means a workhorse (Mac mini).
10-27-2008, 12:26 AM   #8
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I`ll take my time and put only thumbnails in here, with links following to full size images.

10-27-2008, 10:04 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ilya80 Quote
I`ll take my time and put only thumbnails in here, with links following to full size images.
I fail to see the point of this thread. You are comparing one of the best Pentax lenses with a Nikkor that is only so-so. It is well known that the Nikkor 35mm f1.4 AIS lens has low contrast and a poor performer wide open. I had one of these on my Nikon F2 and later my FM3a for a while. I finally gave up and got a Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AIS, a really sharp lens with excellent contrast. And no flare or ghosting if you have a bright light source in the frame, like the sun. Slower sure, but what good is f/1.4 if it is basically unusable?

However, I've quit using film. This past summer I went on a photo jaunt in Vermont and took 8 rolls of Fuji Velvia 50, one of my Nikon bodies, and the 28mm AIS with the intention of shooting some sunsets over Lake Champlain. But I wound up only using my Pentax gear. So back in the freezer goes the film. I'll probably never use it.

I briefly considered getting the Nikon D200 to use with the 28mm AIS but finally rejected it. The capture angle would translate to about 42mm and hence would no longer be a wide angle. I now use the DA 21mm for those type of images and I really like it. But I still wish the 21mm had the flare and ghost characteristics of the old Nikkor 28. In other words, no flare or ghosting.

Richard
10-27-2008, 10:13 AM   #10
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sadly I like the bokeh on the nikkor better, might be difference in photo tecniques.
10-27-2008, 10:25 AM   #11
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The Nikkor 35 F2.0 is a much better performer then the f1.4. I think that it would compare much better to the DA31 f1.8. This was a very interesting test.

Dave

QuoteOriginally posted by ilya80 Quote
In the end I`d like to post the photos of me and Valentine while atually creating the comparison report

Me
Valentine Iofik

Thanks for looking, and feel free to share your thoughts.
10-27-2008, 11:38 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Big Dave Quote
The Nikkor 35 F2.0 is a much better performer then the f1.4. I think that it would compare much better to the DA31 f1.8. This was a very interesting test.

Dave
I have an old non-AI 35MM F/2 that I had converted so I could use it on my FM3a. It was definitely better than the f/1.4 AIS. Sadly it is no longer usable due to a problem with the aperture blades. I don't know if the conversion had anything to do with it but Photo Tech here in New York said it could not be repaired because there were no longer any spare parts for this lens. Too bad because I used this lens for years, first on a Nikon F, then a Nikon F2, and finally an FM3a. It's now a cute paperweight.

On another note, I might be nice if the OP took down those huge files. I suspect more people might join the conversation if viewing this thread didn't crash their computers.

Richard
10-27-2008, 01:07 PM   #13
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While it was entertaining to look at the pics, I cannot draw any conclusions from them because we are talking about lenses mounted on different brand camera bodies that process images in very different ways. I cannot tell if the colour-cast is due to sensor differences, contrast/saturation differences in the personal jpeg setups or actual differences due to the lenses themselves.

Back in film days these tests could be done as long as all parties used the same film and got them processed in the same lab, but now it's a lot more difficult.
10-27-2008, 02:27 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by deuces Quote
Well it looks to me like the FA31 consistently has more contrast, and is colder.

But the FA31 images also have consistently better composition, framing, focus point, etc. Well at least to my eye.
My thoughts exactly! The Nikon appears to be warmer and the Pentax shots are better composed. I think the majority of these shots show more about the photographers than the lenses.
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