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05-25-2009, 10:54 PM   #1
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Considering the DA*55 F1.4 for my "people shots" work

At the beginning of the year, I decided to take my photography to another level and start a portfolio project to build up my own skills and develop a portfolio. The focus has been on model shots.

The lens I've been using has been both the DA70 Ltd and the DA*50-135. However, I've been using more of the DA*50-135 because I find the DA70 a bit long, and I love the ability to blur the background by zooming to a longer focal length.

Then, as fate would have it, I had a chance to try the DA*55 F1.4. Man, what a nice lens. But man, what a price.

I'm contemplating on selling my DA70 Ltd to help fund my DA*55 F1.4. The DA70 Ltd is a fantastic lens, but my work seems to favor the 55mm focal length. I have a 50mm or two, but for some reason 55mm seems to have that extra "punch" to blur things out (or so I think...). Then you add the SDM, weather sealing, good manual focus feel and punchy DA* lens IQ... *Sigh*


Curious on what you guys think of the DA*55 F1.4. Should I really save my pennies up for this one? I've read the reviews and everything seems to be good for it, and my own experience so far has been positive.

05-25-2009, 11:56 PM   #2
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You seem to really like it, and I think you should go for it. I find the 70 a bit too long at times, and my 40 too short. So I have a FA50 for that intermediate focal length, but the way it renders is just different from how my limiteds render. I think you'll be happy with the 55
05-26-2009, 01:30 AM   #3
pdo
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I think you're just trying to find an excuse for that LBA fix. Just use what you've got.
05-26-2009, 01:38 AM   #4
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Give in to the Dark Side, but cheaply: get a great FA 50/1.4 and then a few old Takumar primes. Or wig-out and get the Vivitar/Cosina 55/1.2 and cackle evilly.

05-26-2009, 05:59 AM   #5
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What you get from the 70, you can already get from the 50-135 (aside from size). That extra half stop is nothing you can't compensate for by zooming a few extra mm on the 50-135, as far as blurring out the bg goes.

I think it's safe to let it go--it's nice to have, but if you need the money for other things, you won't really miss it if you're not digging the FL.

The 55 is a whole different animal. Slow but rock solid AF, and sharp from the get-go. Beautiful rendering, and it'll allow you to get in closer but maintain the level of IQ you like about the 70. I'd play with one of your 50's for a bit too--to make sure it's not just your love of the 50-135 that's keeping you from loving your 70 more--and see how you like sticking to that focal length.

But if you get the 55 and still have the 50-135, I don't think you'll miss the 70 much (except of course for the size and weight!).
05-26-2009, 06:15 AM   #6
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I'd agree with what farfisa has said but would add one thing. For me I need to have confidence in a lens. It's hard to describe but if a lens just doesn't feel right for whatever reason, I can't make it work the way I want it to. I always feel like I'm fighting with it.

So if a lens feels this way to me, I'll sell it right away and not think twice. If a lens is good for me, it's a joy to go shooting. What makes the difference is I have an idea in my head and I know the attached lens can do the job. So I don't have to think about the gear at all. It just becomes part of that vision and creative process. So the cost of the lens doesn't really matter (within reason). What matters is if the tools you have allow you the creative freedom to capture your vision without thinking about the technical aspects of how to wrestle an image out of that lens you love to hate sometimes.
05-26-2009, 10:15 AM   #7
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Just a little picture to help you visualize that DA* 55mm f/1.4...
Quick... buy, buy, buy...

05-26-2009, 10:46 AM   #8
TKH
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
Quick... buy, buy, buy...
Yeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssss!





Go for it!

Best,
Rainer


Last edited by TKH; 05-26-2009 at 10:55 AM.
05-26-2009, 10:59 AM   #9
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Rainier, I really like that 1st shot (ISO 1600) - a lot of noise, but typical
K20D detail retention makes the image look great to my eyes.
05-26-2009, 11:14 AM   #10
TKH
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Oh, thanks a lot. It was a horrible day in the scottish highlands. The little woman fought a few hours against hail and rain. And than rain and hail. And again. Our tent place was a little lake and we were lucky enaugh to get a few rooms in a hostel. We started with 15 guys and 3 woman. At the end of the West-Highland-Way we were 2 woman and 3 guys:



Your man with the Pentax right hand.

The DA*55 was a winner with the K20D. We lost a Canon 5DII and a Nikon D80. The water killed them in there bags.

The Pentax is still alive.

Pentax rules!

Rainer
05-26-2009, 11:57 AM   #11
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I've become a big fan of the 55/1.4. The AF leaves it unsuitable for anything that is moving at any speed, but it's imaging characteristics are such that I can forgive it this failing.

It's good in the studio:



and it's good outside:




And it's really good for still lifes:



If you have the coin, it's a sweet lens.
05-26-2009, 12:09 PM   #12
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Rainer, I love that high ISO shot too. I love the grain
05-26-2009, 03:27 PM   #13
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I yet bought this lens but it seems that the slow autofocus speed might be a potential hindrance...
05-26-2009, 07:53 PM   #14
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pick up an FA50/1.4 for way cheaper and see what it does for you...if you fall in love with it, maybe you'll keep it or maybe you'll understand the focal length and can later justify the price for the DA55. To me, unless you are always shooting wide open, there is VERY little difference between both lenses once stopped down past 2.8.

Jason
05-26-2009, 11:47 PM   #15
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Original Poster
haha... well, I bought the FA50 F1.4 and eventually sold it to buy the DA21 Ltd. It was a great lens but I only really used it from F2 and up. Beyond that it got really soft.

I am right now experimenting with my Dad's old SMC Takumar 55 F2 and it's a pretty decent lens. Even for a 39 year old lens it's got great IQ.

But there was something in the DA*55 when I shot it at F1.4, F2.8 and F8. This lens is pretty darn sharp all around, even at the lowest F-stop.

I didn't try it with moving people but people who didn't shuffle too much and still images were very quick to focus onto. I'm not sure what people think of as "slow", but this lens is not AF slouch IMO. Further testing may be required :P
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