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08-18-2009, 03:40 PM   #1
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FA* 24/2 or Sigma 24/1.8

I hope this is not a redundant post, but I really searched the forum and couldn't find anything useful.

So here is my question: Does anyone have experience with either lens or better both? I need a fast wideangle on the K20D for weddings. I already considered buying a C***n 5D with a 35 1.4 for exactly this purpose, but I can't handle this piece of mindless non-design

Now I need something that comes close and unfortunately there are not many options in Pentax land. For my purpose I need good center sharpness wide open, corners are not important, and the most important thing is bokeh, really, if bokeh is not good than it is not for me. My landmark here is the FA 31 ltd. which I love for its rendering and bokeh.

Put differently: Is the FA* 24 any good? Because I could live with the Sigma, but I don't know if the rather pricey FA* is worth the extra bucks.

Any help appreciated in putting my mind to rest and give me a deciding point.
Thanks.

PS: Why oh why is there no new DA Ltd. 24/1.4? I just don't get it, since Pentax is commited to primes, and this would be the perfect wedding/reportage combo with the new K-7. I know there is the 21 Ltd., but 3.2 just doesn't cut it for (certain) professional purposes.

08-19-2009, 12:21 PM   #2
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the 16-50mm f2.8 would be your answer. it is much widely used for weddings.
08-19-2009, 12:28 PM   #3
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If you want fast wide primes, Canon is there for you. IMHO, you will get used to any user interface given enough time. The FA*24/2 has good centre sharpness from f2.8 up but donut bokeh when it hits any highlight. It is a good lens for snaps but don't be tempted using it for landscape cos the edge/corners will never be quite sharp even stopped way down (for digital).
08-19-2009, 09:49 PM   #4
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to the OP, I just referred to your other posts and it seems that you have a 16-50mm. if you could find a 20mm, that would be very nice. but those lenses are hard to find these days. a 28mm 2.8 though would be a very good and cheap alternative to the 31mm. but if you dont mind an extra 4mm, you might as well get an FA 35 f/2. that lens would surely met your center sharpness requirements.

08-20-2009, 07:52 AM   #5
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Thanks for the answers folks.

@Pentaxor: yes I have the 16-50 and i like this lens. But I need fast. I have the 31 Ltd. and the 35/2 - please don't ask ;-) The 31 Ltd. is my love, but I want wider and fast.

@wlachan: sorry, but I had a Canon 30D some time ago. No way, I hate the placement of the buttons, plus it feels cheap. Even more annoying there is the odd behaviour of the dials, i.e. they change functions depending if A or M mode. This cannot be changed by user and is an absolute no-go for me. The 5D MKII has a very loud shutter too. The K20D's is not the best in that regard, but way better than the Canon.

I am happy with Pentax (exept some AF issues, but I have seen same or even worse problems with high end Canon and Nikon. A side note on AF: I actually think that (some/many) Pros just don't care, from the little I have seen. But look in magazines and ads: even in high gloss there are often photos OOF if you look close).

Well what I really wanted to say is that I need to know if the FA* 24 is any good. So thanks again to wlachan here.

Do you know any online samples of these lenses' (FA* and Sigma) pictures, or more resources?

Thanks.
08-20-2009, 08:31 AM   #6
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I can approve of the Sigma 24/1.8 - I have it and love it...

...on film.

Now, don't shoot me here...if you want a fast lens for 'different' photos, you could get an old AF K-mount film camera (if you do weddings, you should probably have one anyway for backup) and carry around the Sigma 1.8 with some Delta 3200 in it. I can promise you that if you use it well you'll get photos no-one else does! Sure, it's noisy, but I don't believe people should away from film grain.

On digital I've found the Sigma 24/1.8 great but I'm not in love like I am with it on film. For me it's not a 'test lens'. By that I mean if you use wall charts and the like you'll find it lousy. For me it's a shooters lens, sharp enough in the centre wide open, I really enjoy it - if you get a chance to try one out then I recommend it.
08-20-2009, 09:03 AM   #7
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jptreen, I absolutely respect your opinion, plus I find it very valuable. Because it sounds reality proven ;-) And it seems we are similarly minded what concerns lenses: I also want a shooters lens, not a brickwall miracle.

I would shoot film probably, but unfortunately I am not in that spheres financially. I don't know clients that would pay for the extra effort. And I won't do it just for myself, my love for the chemical darkroom is limited. I love the results, but, oh well.

If you folks don't give me good reason for the FA* soon, I am gonna try the Sigma.

PS: If I shot film, it would be either Olympus OM4 or Leica M, but rather Leica. For slrs there is nothing like OM. And why Leica? I am an RF guy somehow, also having an Epson R-D1 with Voigt 28/2 and I could imagine shooting a wedding with it. I want to sell a certain style, but am not there yet. I know Sean Reid shoots weddings with an M8 solely, and my approach is similar (which doesn't mean my photos are on Reid level, mind you). Maybe there is also no market here in Austria, but this is a different story. If someone is interested, a recent wedding that I shot is here.

Last edited by ratjadi; 08-20-2009 at 09:09 AM.
08-20-2009, 12:56 PM   #8
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I love my old FA 24/2. It may not be a stellar lens by some people's standards, but it is very useful wide open. And stopped down I never had a problem to get sharp landscapes. You may find traces of spherical abberration or coma (can't decide which abberration) wide open, when having highlights near the edges. But if they are bluured (oof), I do not find that obtrusive.
I used it recently for concert photography on the K20 and the results were very good, even wide open. I am not sure, whether I used it on last weekend's wedding shoot (But I'll go through the images tomorrow anyway and have a look) - but if not, it was only, because I needed different focal lengthes. I carry it nearly always with me, though it is decidedly more bulky than the 31mm.

I cannot comment on the Sigma, as I have never used that lens.

Ben

08-20-2009, 03:27 PM   #9
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My experience with Sigma wide angles (confirmed by other users) is that although they are generally sharp, they are very vulnerable to flare. Pentax wide angles, on the other hand, are exceptional in their flare resistance. That may or may not be a consideration in your decision. I have no experience with the FA*24, however, and they seem a bit overpriced when they come up in the used market.
08-20-2009, 08:32 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ratjadi Quote
Thanks for the answers folks.

@Pentaxor: yes I have the 16-50 and i like this lens. But I need fast. I have the 31 Ltd. and the 35/2 - please don't ask ;-) The 31 Ltd. is my love, but I want wider and fast.

@wlachan: sorry, but I had a Canon 30D some time ago. No way, I hate the placement of the buttons, plus it feels cheap. Even more annoying there is the odd behaviour of the dials, i.e. they change functions depending if A or M mode. This cannot be changed by user and is an absolute no-go for me. The 5D MKII has a very loud shutter too. The K20D's is not the best in that regard, but way better than the Canon.

I am happy with Pentax (exept some AF issues, but I have seen same or even worse problems with high end Canon and Nikon. A side note on AF: I actually think that (some/many) Pros just don't care, from the little I have seen. But look in magazines and ads: even in high gloss there are often photos OOF if you look close).

Well what I really wanted to say is that I need to know if the FA* 24 is any good. So thanks again to wlachan here.

Do you know any online samples of these lenses' (FA* and Sigma) pictures, or more resources?

Thanks.
Are you shooting weddings in places where you can't use flash?
08-20-2009, 08:46 PM   #11
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No experience with the Sigma 24mm but I did recently pick up the Sigma 28mm f/1.8... I wanted a "normal" lens for my K200D and the FA 31 Ltd was out of my price range, and having some macro was a nice perk. Overall I really like the Sigma 28mm f/1.8, and its actually less expensive than the 24mm.
08-21-2009, 11:36 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by K-9 Quote
Are you shooting weddings in places where you can't use flash?
I hate to use flash for the most time. Only at the dancefloor I use off camera flash in my left hand, camera in right hand.
08-21-2009, 02:53 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ratjadi Quote
Thanks for the answers folks.

@Pentaxor: yes I have the 16-50 and i like this lens. But I need fast. I have the 31 Ltd. and the 35/2 - please don't ask ;-) The 31 Ltd. is my love, but I want wider and fast.

@wlachan: sorry, but I had a Canon 30D some time ago. No way, I hate the placement of the buttons, plus it feels cheap. Even more annoying there is the odd behaviour of the dials, i.e. they change functions depending if A or M mode. This cannot be changed by user and is an absolute no-go for me. The 5D MKII has a very loud shutter too. The K20D's is not the best in that regard, but way better than the Canon.

I am happy with Pentax (exept some AF issues, but I have seen same or even worse problems with high end Canon and Nikon. A side note on AF: I actually think that (some/many) Pros just don't care, from the little I have seen. But look in magazines and ads: even in high gloss there are often photos OOF if you look close).

Well what I really wanted to say is that I need to know if the FA* 24 is any good. So thanks again to wlachan here.

Do you know any online samples of these lenses' (FA* and Sigma) pictures, or more resources?

Thanks.
James/ Roentarre has the FA* 24/2. He explained to me :


"Fa* 24mm f2 is a lens with a lot of cons than pros.

Pros

1. Bokeh are often swirly against most background. Neutral bokeh were noted against highlights. Otherwise, I think this lens probably has the best bokeh among all the fa* or fa limited lenses

2. Fantastic protrait lens using wide open. It performs with great contrast at f2, but worsening the overall look stopping down to f8 (A very weird phenomenon for me)

Cons

1. Prone to wear and tear with metallic paint loss

2. Backlighting setting ruins everything (no colour in shadows and flare flooding is a terminology I would use)

3. Landscape photo stopping down to f8 lacks contrast. Many people talk about weak corner on digital sensor. It really does not bother me with prints up to A3 size. But the lens renders a lot of yellow tone while Fa 31 ltd renders strong evergreen colour. Very interesting colour rendering characteristics.

4. Erratic autoexposure on k20d - unreliable


Summary

Sigma 24mm f1.8 would certainly perform a lot better than Fa* 24mm f2 in many areas. However, Fa* 24mm f2 would certainly beat Sigma 24mm f1.8 if it is used wide open at f2 in settings where the lighting is low contrast and homogenous.

Hope that helps!"



Here are some more shots :
The FA*24 jumps a train that never stops [18 imgs] [Page 1]: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

And here are some tests :
Pentax SMC-FA* 24mm f/2 AL [IF] Review / Lab Test Report

Else check Pbase for samples from the lens.

Mark Dimo's signature picture is from the FA* 24.

Darren M. liked the Sigma 28/1.8 a lot. He has now gone for the Sigma 24/1.8, and also likes that one
08-21-2009, 06:39 PM   #14
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Jonson_PL, this I dare call an elaborate answer, many thanks. Seems you know what you're talking about, and the sample pictures are fantastic, albeit don't tell much about the FA* ;-) only one shows weird bokeh (to my eye). But really wonderful pictures.

If the backlight issue is true, then I should go with the Sigma, because I love backlight.

But what you say that the FA* shows good contrast wide open, so is suited for flat lighting conditions, is also mouth watering to me, because these are usually the conditions under which f2 is used.

Really hard decision...
09-15-2009, 08:11 AM   #15
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For some EU forum members, seems there are two lens available on ebay (uk) at the moment, due tomorrow...

Pentax 200mm FA* f2.8 IF-ED and Pentax FA* 24mm f2 SMC IF AL

I was just browsing due to LBA and lens are not mine!
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