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04-24-2020, 04:00 AM   #1
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FA 77mm or K 85/1.8 for General Photography ?

Hi there,

Which lens is better for General photography and landscapes, FA 77mm or K 85/1.8 ?

I'm about to buy a compact, reasonable fast telephoto (Manual Focus) for fullframe digital (SONY A7ii).
Once I had a K 85/1.8 lens together with a Pentax LX, but both had mechanical issues and I sold them losing money with the deal. The lens was quite good (used it about 2 years).
The 77/1.8 was new then and expensive and I didn't need the advanced funtions (don't need them either now).
I rarely shoot film now, but both should fit and work with my crome MX. It seems as the silver finish will not fit to older chrome bodies so I would prefer a black 77/1.8 (all my Takumars are black). Never had an FA lens. But I would pay the small extra for a "Made in Japan" one (with the genuine leather pouches which I prefer). I do shot mostly with f/8 but a lot against sun or clear sky so I'm a bit afraid of the "Purple fringing" issue with the 77/1.8. But from the 85/1.8 - as a 1970's lens - I wouldn't expect perfection regarding flare.
For portrait useI understand both should work well, even my antique Auto-Takumar 85/1.8 would do the job, as I don't like the nowadays "clinical" portrait style anyway.
I know that the 85/1.8 is nice lens because I once had it, and the (newer, probably better) 77/1.8 looks good as well - but it is worth the extra money? (About 2x price used in exc. condition).

So what would you decide?

Cheers, Frank


Last edited by Sonnar; 04-24-2020 at 04:23 AM.
04-24-2020, 04:58 AM   #2
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Zeiss Planar 85mm f1.4 ZK T* would be my choice....
04-24-2020, 05:28 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
Zeiss Planar 85mm f1.4 ZK T* would be my choice....
I already have a Zeiss Planar 85/1.4 in C/Y, in fact it was my first highspeed telephoto. Even it's not a heavyweight I wouldn't see it as a "everyday lens". As far as I know the new -one has the same computation. It dated even bit earlier than the K 85/1.8 , and the original lacks a bit contrast wide open even to my taste … no, it should be a TAKUMAR (and no f/1.4 85mm).

Last edited by Sonnar; 04-24-2020 at 06:19 AM.
04-24-2020, 06:24 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sonnar Quote
I already have a Zeiss Planar 85/1.4 in C/Y, in fact it was my first highspeed telephoto. Even it's not a heavyweight I wouldn't see it as a "everyday lens". As far as I know the new -one has the same computation. It dated even bit earlier than the K 85/1.8 , and the original lacks a bit contrast wide open even to my taste … no, it should be a TAKUMAR (and no f/1.4 85mm).

I have not noticed a lack of contrast in my copy, but to each his own....

04-24-2020, 06:25 AM - 4 Likes   #5
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smc PENTAX-FA 77mm F1.8 Limited
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04-24-2020, 06:36 AM - 1 Like   #6
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The 77 is easier to find, and it does offer more possibilities if you ever wish to use it with a Pentax camera body. So I'd go with that one.
04-24-2020, 06:43 AM - 4 Likes   #7
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I have never seen purple fringing from my 77 Limited but then I don't shoot branches against a completely burned out overexposed sky, so I am apparently a bit weird....
04-24-2020, 08:42 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sonnar Quote
Which lens is better for General photography and landscapes, FA 77mm or K 85/1.8 ?
I've got both and only shoot film, so for me I like the FA77 best for an all purpose lens as it's a bit wider than the K85. I like the K85 better for portrait work.
I also use the FA77 as a manual focus lens, so it's handling is not as good as the K85, it also is a pain to use with a LPL/CPL due to the hood.

If I had to keep only one it would be the K85. I also have the A*85/1.4 and that is better than the other two.

Phil.

04-24-2020, 08:44 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sonnar Quote
Hi there,

Which lens is better for General photography and landscapes, FA 77mm or K 85/1.8 ?

I'm about to buy a compact, reasonable fast telephoto (Manual Focus) for fullframe digital (SONY A7ii).
Once I had a K 85/1.8 lens together with a Pentax LX, but both had mechanical issues and I sold them losing money with the deal. The lens was quite good (used it about 2 years).
The 77/1.8 was new then and expensive and I didn't need the advanced funtions (don't need them either now).
I rarely shoot film now, but both should fit and work with my crome MX. It seems as the silver finish will not fit to older chrome bodies so I would prefer a black 77/1.8 (all my Takumars are black). Never had an FA lens. But I would pay the small extra for a "Made in Japan" one (with the genuine leather pouches which I prefer). I do shot mostly with f/8 but a lot against sun or clear sky so I'm a bit afraid of the "Purple fringing" issue with the 77/1.8. But from the 85/1.8 - as a 1970's lens - I wouldn't expect perfection regarding flare.
For portrait useI understand both should work well, even my antique Auto-Takumar 85/1.8 would do the job, as I don't like the nowadays "clinical" portrait style anyway.
I know that the 85/1.8 is nice lens because I once had it, and the (newer, probably better) 77/1.8 looks good as well - but it is worth the extra money? (About 2x price used in exc. condition).

So what would you decide?

Cheers, Frank
Pentax SMC-FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited - Review / Test Report - Analysis

SMC Pentax-FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited Lens | ePHOTOzine
04-24-2020, 09:31 AM - 1 Like   #10
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+1 for the FA77mm f1.8 Ltd. A very special lens. Nibble, easy to use and superb outputs. I have other lenses with comparable focal lenghts: CZ85mm f1.4, Tamron 90mm f2.8. But the FA77mm is my favorite now.
This said, I acknowledge that it took a while to love the FA77mm. The focal length is not the most usual IMHO. But once I learned how to use it, I love it.. It is THE best portrait lens in my opinion. Everyone loves a good shot with the FA77mm (typically with high keeper rate). I learned also to use the FA77mm as a short tele for landscape and outdoor shooting. It can give some superb shots, and that did surprise me. May people talk of the FA77mm for portrait, but I rarely read about its quality for outdoor and landscape shooting. And I love the small size and weight: Very easy to carry.
My 5 cents..

Last edited by hcc; 04-24-2020 at 04:31 PM.
04-24-2020, 10:16 AM - 1 Like   #11
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I've had the 77 for a couple of months (also black and mij), here is a handheld flat file of an overcast grey sky landscape - f9 with the K1 (you should download it), in case you want to evaluate the fringing IMGP1540.dng - Google Drive
04-24-2020, 10:39 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sonnar Quote
Hi there,

Which lens is better for General photography and landscapes, FA 77mm or K 85/1.8 ?

I'm about to buy a compact, reasonable fast telephoto (Manual Focus) for fullframe digital (SONY A7ii).
Once I had a K 85/1.8 lens together with a Pentax LX, but both had mechanical issues and I sold them losing money with the deal. The lens was quite good (used it about 2 years).
The 77/1.8 was new then and expensive and I didn't need the advanced funtions (don't need them either now).
I rarely shoot film now, but both should fit and work with my crome MX. It seems as the silver finish will not fit to older chrome bodies so I would prefer a black 77/1.8 (all my Takumars are black). Never had an FA lens. But I would pay the small extra for a "Made in Japan" one (with the genuine leather pouches which I prefer). I do shot mostly with f/8 but a lot against sun or clear sky so I'm a bit afraid of the "Purple fringing" issue with the 77/1.8. But from the 85/1.8 - as a 1970's lens - I wouldn't expect perfection regarding flare.
For portrait useI understand both should work well, even my antique Auto-Takumar 85/1.8 would do the job, as I don't like the nowadays "clinical" portrait style anyway.
I know that the 85/1.8 is nice lens because I once had it, and the (newer, probably better) 77/1.8 looks good as well - but it is worth the extra money? (About 2x price used in exc. condition).

So what would you decide?

Cheers, Frank
Hi Frank,

I do not own or know much about the K 85 f1.8. However, I do own the FA 77. If I had to take issue with one flaw of the FA77, it would be the CA. Also note that CA is bad wide open but almost gone by f4 or so. I would say you should not have any worries if you shoot at f8.

I have shot the FA77 on Pentax K3 and K1 with fantastic results. You mentioned a Sony FF body as your camera. I shot a video for a client back in 2016 and used two Sony A6000 bodies. One was fitted with the Sony autofocus pancake zoom for the action and gimbal shots. For the other Sony A6000 I used my FA 77 for all the interviews and static shots where I did not to move the camera too much. I shot mostly f2.2-2.8 to get the shallow depth of field and minimize the CA. I know how to eliminate CA in still images but did not know back then that video editors can do a similar job. So if I shot with my FA77 today, I would not hesitate to shoot wide open knowing I can fix the CA issue in post.

As far as FA77 vs. K85, I would say let your budget dictate the choice. FA77 is a piece of artwork. I call it my poor man's Leica. It is one lens you buy and never sell. Back in 2013, I paid full price for my FA Three Amigos (31, 43, 77). I am seeing much lower used prices for them now. BTW, my Three Amigos are made in Vietnam. They have the leather pouches and I do not see anything wrong with them vs. the MIJ versions.

Cheers, Boris
04-24-2020, 11:03 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by gofour3 Quote
it also is a pain to use with a LPL/CPL due to the hood
I think that's quite an important point for a general purpose lens
04-24-2020, 11:10 PM - 5 Likes   #14
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I have both the FA77 and the K85 (and in fact, most of the Pentax 85 )

They are different in real world use.
The 77ltd is a more versatile lens in that its shorter focal length makes it much more usable indoors as well as out.
The engagement distance is shorter for the same framing.
Add to that, its got 50mm like characteristics in that its very sharp once stopped down 1 stop and sharp all thru in the f5.6-f8 range (50mm like sharpness)

The K85/1.8 is 85mm and hence the engagement is that of any other 85mm lens.
In other words, you stand further from your subject than the 77mm for the same framing.

This is with the 77ltd.

I simply asked if I could take a photo to the porter at the fishman's jetty, he acknowledged with a nod, I lifted the camera, shifted a little for framing and snapped the photo.
With the longer working distance of the 85mm, I would have had to ask him to hold on a bit, walk one or two or even 3 steps back (and the moment might have passed, or he may go about his usual business)
Its such practical aspects in use that seldom gets mentioned when all people try to compare is DOF, bokeh, etc.


Somewhat similar situation here. There isn't that much to move back in the temple area, I framed the shot with that short moment of eye contact and took the shot. With the 85mm, I might have had to press myself to the wall to get the framing or even move to another spot, loosing the moment.

77ltd is also much smaller, almost a negligible addition into the bag as a short telephoto option.


That said, the K85/1.8 is a great lens too.
Basically you need all of them (which is why I have so many )

With the K85/1.8



Yes, I had to say .. "wait.. wait.. as I moved a step or two back to frame"

Last edited by pinholecam; 04-25-2020 at 08:03 PM.
04-25-2020, 09:53 AM   #15
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I believe the purple fringing is a digital-only artifact, so if you are using it for film, then it won't be a factor. Can anyone confirm this?

Checking my few film FA77 photos, including one that is against a white sky, I see no evidence of purple fringing. Wikipedia talks about it as a digital artifact, but is a little unclear.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_fringing

Last edited by leekil; 04-25-2020 at 10:07 AM.
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