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11-26-2008, 01:22 AM   #1
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50mm F/1.4 or Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 - Suggestions?

Dear all

I am looking to buy a good low light / fast lens.
More so to be able to get nice close up detailed pictures, and also give better pictures in low light and depth of view effects that my current Pentax 18-250mm DA f/3.5-6.3 ED AL [IF] that I initially bought with my K20D.
Also something that can do better landscape shots that my current lens would be great!

I have seen results from the SMC FA 50mm F/1.4 and am quite impressed. I think alot of users here also feel the same way about this lens. The only downside being its focal length which MAY make it hard to use in smaller spaces. I would have preferred to get a 35mm F/2.0, but I believe these are discontinued, especially in Australia. I have read many positive comments about this lens on this forum and elsewhere.

Hence another alternative suggested was the Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF]. People have told me that I can this performs well under low light for indoors/night type photos, and can also give some DOF effects too. Plus you can zoom and easily frame the picture you want.

- What would be the difference between using the two?
- What are they each suited towards?
- Would you choose one over the another?
- Do you really need both? or just get the prime 50mm?

I probably need some education on lenses too as there are so many and I am not quite sure which type of lens in general is good for what kind of situations.

Thanks for your help


Last edited by nuffsaid; 11-26-2008 at 01:27 AM.
11-26-2008, 02:19 AM   #2
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Hi Nuffsaid,
I have all three lenses you mentioned, and I like all three.

The fa 50 is great if you want to isolate the subject, play around with dof, or do some low light shots. I honestly have got some shots with this lens that I couldn't have got with any other lens (in the pentax lineup).

The fa 35 is great for a little wider angle, and it is still a pretty fast lens. I love this lens on film bodies, and really like it a lot on my dslrs. The shorter focal length really does somewhat limit playing around with dof though. Even so, it is sharp and has great colors, not a bad lens to have when you need it. Indoor photography probably qualifies.

I love the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8. I had the 18-55mm kit lens and liked it. I had the 16-45 pentax lens and really liked it. But the Tamron, with 2.8 constant aperture, and, frankly, really good contrast, color, and sharpness at all apertures (at least with my copy), is a lens I will keep for a long time (the same goes for the fa 35 and 50 of course).

As for your questions, I think, if I were you, I would get both eventually. The fa 50 is not much of a close up lens, but is two stops faster, which can make a big difference when you need it for low light, or when you want it for subject isolation.
The Tamron 17-50 can focus pretty close, and is going to be a more versatile lens in more situations, especially with landscapes, or when you need to go wider (obviously).

Both lenses are great (I really like the fa 35 too) and would suggest you put both on your "to buy" list. (the one you put first has to be determined by what you shoot more, but I have found both to be very useful)
11-26-2008, 07:01 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by nuffsaid Quote
downside being its focal length which MAY make it hard to use in smaller spaces
It's not *may*...it's definitely. I've had to back up into another room to get a group shot in a room. Just letting you know
11-26-2008, 01:36 PM   #4
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I got both... sort of... I got tired of the kit lens as some people here kept showing such beautiful sharp photos that I just couldn't get. I got the Tamron 17-50 as a replacement. I also wanted the advantages that the 50 gives but couldn't afford both....

So, I went and found a used M50 1.7 (not quite a 1.4 I know) to fill that gap. The 17-50 zoom has more utility and does work decently as a low light lens, especially indoors. The 50 is something I used more often for DOF and bokeh shots. Usually that is outdoors, so the focal length isn't an issue. I've also used it once or twice in low light conditions, but usually it has been outdoors again where I don't have to worry about stepping back or running out of space.

If I am indoors where space might be an issue (e.g. in a house), there is usually enough ambient light that I can get away with the 17-50 mm lens. That being said, I think I would really like to have a lower focal length in an f2 or faster (e.g. some of the Sigmas).

Last, I've even made do with the kit lens in an extreme low light situation in the past. The shake reduction really provides a lot of flexibility with the shutter speed, and contrary to many discussions, the ISO performance isn't that bad at the high end.

11-26-2008, 03:33 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenyee Quote
It's not *may*...it's definitely. I've had to back up into another room to get a group shot in a room. Just letting you know
You are very right, i fixed it at 50mm on my zoom lens, and you really have to take a step back

Shame the 35mm cannot be bought in Sydney!
11-26-2008, 03:35 PM   #6
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Looks like I would be better off with the Tamron, and a 35mm F/2.0? any ideas where I can source one in Sydney, Australia?
11-26-2008, 04:20 PM   #7
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nuffsaid,
My first lens was the Tamron 18-250 like you have with no kit lens. People here got me so enthused about the 50 F1.4 that i went out and bought it a few months back. The way i figure it, what i really lacked was a fast lens for dim light. I have used the 50 a lot since i got it. It can sub as a portrait lens (because its really a 75mm with crop factor), or a long distance landscape lens, and its got pretty good bokeh if you want to take pictures of flowers and such. It forces me to narrow subjects a little more than i'm used to, but i think its a great prime lens to have, indoors or out.

Before i got the FA 50 1.4, i had purchased a cheap M 50 1.7. It produces good pics as well, but the lack of autofocusing was a drag in reduced light situations. I used it a 50 a lot more now that i got an AF version.

I hadn't thought of the Tamron F2.8 zoom you mentioned, that sounds like some plausible logic too, you'll have a faster walkaround. But the FA 50 is relatively cheap and they show up on this marketplace as well. I've always wanted a really fast lens for evening work, and am glad i finally got it.

Fun options you've got, Phil
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