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08-21-2009, 10:40 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonson PL Quote
For a fast normal lens, there is also the FA 35/2
F/2 is not fast. F/2 is average.
The slews of cheap kit 50mm lenses were all 1.7s, 1.8s or 2s. A fast lens is a 1.4.
The only reason people think f/2 is fast is because the kit lens now is an f/3.5-5.6.

08-22-2009, 06:53 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
F/2 is not fast. F/2 is average.
The slews of cheap kit 50mm lenses were all 1.7s, 1.8s or 2s. A fast lens is a 1.4.
The only reason people think f/2 is fast is because the kit lens now is an f/3.5-5.6.
But my 35mm F2 is fast enough, and my 28mm F2.8 is not, so to me F2 is fast. I can't understand why Pentax discontinued the FA 35 with no suitable replacement.
Fortunately I got mine just before they did.
08-22-2009, 07:06 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
F/2 is not fast. F/2 is average.
The slews of cheap kit 50mm lenses were all 1.7s, 1.8s or 2s. A fast lens is a 1.4.
The only reason people think f/2 is fast is because the kit lens now is an f/3.5-5.6.
this is the biggest problem with crop frame...

making a cheap fast 50mm lens is easy

making a cheap fast wide lens (30mm+-) is hard

meaning making a cheap fast normal lens for crop frame is hard

if you have money tho Pentax have some of the best options in the world for that like the FA 31mm or the FA 40mm
08-22-2009, 08:02 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
This is, at the moment, Pentax's biggest failing, in my opinion. They don't have a fast normal lens for their DSLR line. The closest they come to it is the 31/1.8, which is a nice lens, but it's not a 1.4.
I think they were pretty retarded when they put the 35/2.8 macro on the market, even though it is a very good optic. It's too close in focal length to the 40 and no faster.
What they should have put on the market instead is something in the range of a 30mm f/1.4.
The half-stop between 1.4 and 1.8 is hardly worth worrying about. Can you name a case where 1.8 isn't adequate yet 1.4 would be?

It the 31 is too costly for the OP there are the sigma primes as pointed out already.

Also the 28mm shows up regularly on ebay.

08-22-2009, 09:07 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by kristoffon Quote
The half-stop between 1.4 and 1.8 is hardly worth worrying about. Can you name a case where 1.8 isn't adequate yet 1.4 would be?

It the 31 is too costly for the OP there are the sigma primes as pointed out already.

Also the 28mm shows up regularly on ebay.
Yes, anytime I have to compose in dim light the half stop makes a huge difference. Back in my manual focus days I bought a 50/1.2 specifically for shooting weddings simply because I found the difference the 1.2 gave me over the 1.4 was worthwhile when shooting in dimly lit churches or even more dimly lit dances.
F/1.4 gives the AF an advantage over f/1.8 in a lot of situations. I've found a lot of times where an f/2 lens will hunt and give up where an f/1.4 lens will allow the camera to secure focus.
The fact that the Sigma is a Sigma is reason enough not to buy it, and what 28 are you talking about that is a 1.4?
08-22-2009, 09:43 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by redpigeons Quote
this is the biggest problem with crop frame...

making a cheap fast 50mm lens is easy

making a cheap fast wide lens (30mm+-) is hard

meaning making a cheap fast normal lens for crop frame is hard

if you have money tho Pentax have some of the best options in the world for that like the FA 31mm or the FA 40mm
And unfortunately, I expect we won't be seeing a 30/1.4 from Pentax for this reason. People have gotten used to slow zooms being normal (when did f/5.6 become acceptably fast?), so an f/2.8 all of a sudden looks like a fast lens and an f/2 is incredible.
Since really fast glass is harder for the AF to be accurate with, there isn't really a compelling reason for Pentax to make a 30/1.4 (or similar FL).
I'm in fairly regular contact with another photographer who dearly loves his Limited lenses for his portrait work but is primarily a Nikon shooter simply because the Pentax AF just isn't up to speed in terms of accuracy.
I've found the same thing myself. The K7 is better than the K20 in this regard, but the AF is still just a tweaked out version of the film *ist AF which is going on 8 years old now, and it regularly misses focus by a couple of inches.
This is huge in critical focus portrait situations when you are trying to shoot with wide apertures to limit DOF.
Limit the user to an f/2.8 lens and all of a sudden the AF looks accurate.
A few more focus points would be nice as well, but that will have to wait for an updated camera.
08-22-2009, 11:01 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattdm Quote
The DA★ 30mm, for example.
I don't understand why they dropped this lens. But it is not only Pentax. It looks like camera makers are afraid of bringing fast normals or moderate wa's for APS-C, as if they are coursed. Also Oly promised fast compact lenses. Where are they, many years after the introduction of 4/3???

It is still the situation that many photographers are longing for the simple things that were natural 15 years ago. Some call this progress
08-22-2009, 11:07 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by vmax84 Quote
I would actually be looking for something like a "fast 28" or something like that......the 50 just seems like it has too much zoom for indoor flashless work for me. But they don't seem to be there.
I would second Peter Z's recommendation of the Sigma 28 f/1.8. I have it too and it's almost my favorite lens - except that mine has a small problem where it sometimes won't talk to the camera. Have to send it back for adjustment. But my experience with Sigma lenses has been generally good and this lens, when it works, is a really nice lens - and an excellent focal length. I think I might like 24 even more - just a tad wide - but I'm happy with the 28 and can recommend it if you're looking for something fast in a "normal" field of vision range. 28 on a Pentax = 42 in 35mm film SLR terms, which is pretty close to "normal". I think 50 even on a film camera was always just a tad beyond normal FOV.


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Edit: It seems like Pentax use to offer the type of lens I'm looking for, but I don't believe they make them any more. Why?
I don't know what factors determine their current lens releases. They aren't the biggest company in the world and obviously they can't put out new lenses at absolutely every focal length that one would want. But you can do pretty good. Forgive me for not digging up all the tech details but here's a general list of lenses that I either own or am familiar with, know to be high quality, and know are available for purchase right now:
  1. Pentax 15
  2. Pentax 21 (a classic)
  3. Somebody has a 24, can't remember who
  4. Sigma 28
  5. Pentax 31
  6. Pentax 35 (couple different versions)
  7. Pentax 40 pancake (I just bought this)
  8. Pentax 43 limited
  9. 50mm, several options from Pentax and Sigma
  10. Pentax 70
  11. Pentax 77
  12. Pentax, Sigma and Tamron all have macro primes in the 90-105 range

That's just a quick selection of available primes. I'm quite sure I'm overlooking as many lenses as I've remembered. One thing that I don't think I'm missing is lenses in the 60's: I don't know of any. Odd, that.

If you want zooms, you've got tons of choices there, too. In the wide-to-normal range, I think it's hard to do better than the Pentax 16-45 in image quality or price. It's not weather-sealed but other than that, it's a really good lens.

And of course beyond 100, you've got lots of choices, too, I just don't know too much about them.

Will

08-22-2009, 04:46 PM   #24
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I have a copy of "The Amateur Photographer's Handbook", published in the 70s I believe. The author reports as a matter of fact that "fast" lenses start at f/2.8. So calling f/2 fast isn't something new.
08-24-2009, 04:54 AM   #25
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An entirely unscientific poll, with a small sample size of 4, shows that my acquaintances with a casual interest in photography all own a fast prime.

Two Canon owners both with the kit lens + 50/1.8.
A Nikon owner with kit lens + 35/1.8.
One Konica Minolta owner with a wide-angle zoom and a 50/1.4.

I think it just makes business sense to have a cheap fast prime in the lens lineup. When new buyers realize that their kit lens is not a low light monster, or when they see images with a totally OOF background, they will want to buy a cheap fast lens. Such a lens is of course also a very useful tool for more advanced photographers.
08-24-2009, 06:50 AM   #26
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I'm definitely experiencing some lens envy, especially with Canon shooters having 24mm/f1.4, 35mm/f1.4, and 85mm/f1.2 lenses to choose from. Granted, those lenses are pretty expensive, but I guess there's a price to pay for good, full-frame glass that fast.

For now we'll have to opt for the Sigma 20/24/28/30 (which are a reasonably priced) and the 31/43/77 Limited trio to satisfy our fast glass cravings.
08-24-2009, 06:56 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nick Siebers Quote
I have a copy of "The Amateur Photographer's Handbook", published in the 70s I believe. The author reports as a matter of fact that "fast" lenses start at f/2.8. So calling f/2 fast isn't something new.
Are we becoming too obsessed with having a faster lens?
How fast is fast enough?... 'Just a little faster than what I have', I guess...

But what useable DOF can we get from a lens of f/2 or larger, esp. in the >50mm variety?
Do we want them faster just so that we can have the choice to go faster when we want? Or brag that 'my lens is faster than your lens', because size matters?

When the new 85/1.0 comes out, there will be those who won't be satisfied until a 200/1.2 is available... and so on and so forth...
08-24-2009, 08:02 AM   #28
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I too want a high-quality fast normal lens for APS-C. Since I cannot actually try any lenses before I buy them I am forced to evaluate based on what other people say and shoot.

The FA31/1.8 is available and no-one ever complains about the quality. However, it measures closer to 32mm and so is too narrow to be normal. I don't like 35mm or thereabouts on cropped sensor; it just feels wrong. Perfect normal is 28mm, a focal length missing from the current Pentax line-up, for some reason that cannot be explained, especially as it was one of the most popular focal lengths in the film era.

The second problem with the FA31 is that it now sells for 1140.

The Sigma 28/1.8 is the "correct focal length" and much cheaper at 330. The problem is -- don't hate me here -- that it is a Sigma, with all the problems that entails.

QuoteOriginally posted by WMBP Quote
except that mine has a small problem where it sometimes won't talk to the camera.
Yeah, exactly. Buying a Sigma is a gamble. I've read any number of reviews complaining about random focusing problems. It's fairly soft anywhere outside the center (unless you stop down a lot). I actively dislike the feel of Sigmas in my hand. This lens is big and weighs a ton. And I'm not so hip to their rendering. But the price is right at 800 less than a lens with that special Limited quality.

What about other systems? I know Canon has the 28/1.8 USM at 390. It's reputed to be soft wide open and doesn't have the godlike bokeh of the FA31, but it does have USM. The 24/1.4 L II is difficult to compare since it's in a different class entirely: big, weather-sealed, USM, wider. And it's more expensive than the FA31 at 1350.

I would love a Pentax 28/1.4 Limited, even if restricted to cropped sensor. But if it existed, I doubt I could afford it.

Just to be clear, I don't mind stopping down once to sharpen up the image and twice to get it perfect, but I do not want a lens useful only in the centre. That might be fine at portrait lengths but 28mm is useful for street, landscape and other applications where the sharpness in the corners matters.

All of this brings me full circle to the thread Vivitar 28mm As FA31mm Replacement? I am happy to have found solid metal lenses that perform well and have a great feeling in the hands, covering full frame, not gigantic, for less than 100. All you give up is auto-focus to get a close focus 28/2 that is well usable at f/2.8 and great at f/4.

It's a perfect street lens and would go well on a new small Pentax Limited body. But that's another story.
08-24-2009, 08:03 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Are we becoming too obsessed with having a faster lens?
How fast is fast enough?... 'Just a little faster than what I have', I guess...

But what useable DOF can we get from a lens of f/2 or larger, esp. in the >50mm variety?
For 28mm f/4 gives very usable DOF. And the faster the lens the easier the composition, regardless of what aperture you shoot at.
08-24-2009, 08:07 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
For 28mm f/4 gives very usable DOF. And the faster the lens the easier the composition, regardless of what aperture you shoot at.
Sure f/4 is fine at that FL - would f/1.4 be all that more useful in terms of DOF control?

I appreciate the faster lenses definitely making viewfinders brighter in camera and providing swifter AF in low light, but composition? How do you mean, Robin?
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