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09-22-2009, 12:40 PM   #1
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Sigma 30mm f/1.4 HSM

I was drooling over this lens today and wondering if anybody has one. I'm guessing it is a path less traveled since Pentax offers so many similar solid options.

I was thinking about going the DA* 16-50 route, but that might overextend me financially, and I'm queasy about the prevalent QC issues that give this lens a bad name. I find myself doing very little telephoto work, but if this lens would complement only a Sigma 10-20 in my kit, would I get enough mileage out of these two? (I also currently own a FA50mm 1.4 but will probably sell to fund the purchase of the Siggy)

09-22-2009, 01:40 PM   #2
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The 16-50 shouldn't have a bad name at all.
SDM failures are not as common as we're led to believe here on the forum, and the IQ issues have been largely resolved with the newer production batch.
Just buy new and keep warranty valid for a year at least.

As for the fast 30, Sigma's offering will probably be just as expensive as Pentax's options, but I reckon the 31 ltd couldn't be improved on much...
09-22-2009, 01:43 PM   #3
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Unfortunately I've never had the experience handling a Limited prime, so I'm not quite the cult follower yet (not a store in the entire Phoenix area carries Pentax). Is the 31 ltd going to be much better than the sigma? At 2.5 times the price, it's difficult to justify.
09-22-2009, 02:20 PM   #4
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Recent thread about it: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/72540-sigma-30...ght=sigma+30mm

09-22-2009, 02:25 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by opianstate Quote
Is the 31 ltd going to be much better than the sigma? At 2.5 times the price, it's difficult to justify.
Hey.. the Pentax has smc!! That must cost something!

09-22-2009, 04:34 PM   #6
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I picked one up a couple of weeks ago. I love it.

If you like the FA50 at all you are bound to like the Sigma30.

Sorry, I don't have images yet to post from it as this is our busy season and I haven't used it yet for an actual shoot (want to do lots of testing before I begin snapping pics for money). The test shots and "personal" images I've taken I'm liking very much though...

c[_]
09-22-2009, 09:33 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
SDM failures are not as common as we're led to believe here on the forum, and the IQ issues have been largely resolved with the newer production batch.
Ash, do you have some evidence or statistics? Your copy may be fine and the poll about SDM problems may be flawed, but it does not necessary mean that all the posts about SDM problems are unbased.
09-22-2009, 10:24 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by emr Quote
Ash, do you have some evidence or statistics? Your copy may be fine and the poll about SDM problems may be flawed, but it does not necessary mean that all the posts about SDM problems are unbased.
I believe he means, as we all know, people that have no problems with their gear/are happy with them don't post to say so. Also, he never stated "that all the posts about SDM problems are unbased."

09-22-2009, 10:33 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by emr Quote
Ash, do you have some evidence or statistics? Your copy may be fine and the poll about SDM problems may be flawed, but it does not necessary mean that all the posts about SDM problems are unbased.
No one has any reliable/representative stats on that.
Of course SDM problems exist - I would never say people are just making up their problems with SDM.
But some of the reasons why SDM fails has been discussed before - indeed my first suggestion to Pentax would be to improve SDM reliability and robustness, then work on AF speed as a priority above any new camera model development...
09-23-2009, 12:39 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
No one has any reliable/representative stats on that.
Of course SDM problems exist - I would never say people are just making up their problems with SDM.
But some of the reasons why SDM fails has been discussed before - indeed my first suggestion to Pentax would be to improve SDM reliability and robustness, then work on AF speed as a priority above any new camera model development...

did they say what and where the production plant of these SDM lenses have experienced a high rate of failure as compared to other plants and previous models of these SDM produced elsewhere?
the last time that I mentioned this, I was considered as paranoid and have no basis whatsoever about the assembly plant's QC, justifying that Pentax is doing a good job in maintaining QC and it doesn't matter where the lenses were assembled. the stats remain the same regardless of where the assembly plant is. well, a high rate of failure doesn't look good or normal at all. this have something to do with the assembly plant. from personnel, supervisors, machines and schematics used to assemble the lens and lastly QC. if I'm proven wrong, then that would only mean that the SDM project is nothing but a failure for Pentax as a whole.
09-23-2009, 09:38 AM   #11
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opianstate, I have owned both lenses and currently own the Sigma 30mm F1.4. Since I am a prime guy and I like sharp photos at lower apertures (especially indoor photography), the Sigma works really well for me.

Some things to note about the two lenses:

The DA*16-50 is a very versatile lens (itís a wide angle to mid-tele zoom thatís weather sealed! Thatís pretty versatile!). I never had any SDM problems for mine. The thing with the DA*16-50 is you have to get used to its ďcharacterĒ. It has purple fringing (CA) at F2.8, the images can be a tad soft at F2.8, it has some distortion at the 16mm mark (more so than the DA16-45 at 16mm) and it has had a bad streak of front-focusing/back-focusing issues too in their early production run.

However, from what Iíve read on the these forums and from my tests of other DA*16-50s I tried recently (just to see if I could fall in love with it again. Hehe), the quality control has been quite improved. Note that on my older K100D, the DA*16-50 had a tendency to front-focus. However, on my K200D it was perfect. Focus was bang on many times and very reliable. And if you can live with a bit of fringing at F2.8 at the distortion, then you have a fantastic lens that youíll love and not want to give up. Especially if its snowing or raining and you feel the urge to take nice images. One thing I like about the DA*16-50 is the way it rendered colors. They always seemed so full and vibrant.

The Sigma 30mm F1.4 is a great lens but itís a bit of a quirky one. When you get a good copy, itís tack sharp and has very reliable focus. However, from what I understand, this lens is optimized for low light and center sharpness. The corners never really get as sharp as the center even if you stop down quite a bit, but if corner sharpness is not a big deal then I wouldnít worry about it. My particular copy shows extremely sharp images from F2.0 upwards.

Note that I said ďWHEN you get a good copyĒ. I tried out one copy in the store a few months back and it front-focused and was soft here and there and just wasnít a very pleasant lens. And definitely not worth the price tag. In Japan, I got to try out a copy which was quite a bit better but still not as good as Iíd like a prime to be. A few weeks ago, I found a used one for a good price that has been stellar from the moment I tried it out. Focus is dead on and the image quality is amazing. What Iím saying is that if you get a good copy of the Sigma 30mm F1.4, youíll be very very happy. But if not, youíll be extremely disappointed and wonder why you didnít pony up the extra money for the very awesome FA31 Ltd. Note that the Sigma 30mm F1.4 does not have HSM in Pentax mount and is not weather sealed.

I was actually seriously considering an FA31 Ltd, but at $1,300 CDN (+ 12% tax) dollars new it was quite a bit more than I was willing to put down on a lens at the time. I think I wouldíve saved up for it over a couple of months but the used Sigma that I found was too good of a price and too nice a lens to pass up.
09-23-2009, 08:27 PM   #12
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Very solid advice from everybody. Thank you all. I'm definitely considering all options....
09-24-2009, 07:05 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by opianstate Quote
Unfortunately I've never had the experience handling a Limited prime, so I'm not quite the cult follower yet (not a store in the entire Phoenix area carries Pentax). Is the 31 ltd going to be much better than the sigma? At 2.5 times the price, it's difficult to justify.
According to photozone review the sigma is soft on the corners while the pentax is sharp all over, and there are other issues not present on the limited. Diminishing returns, you get what you pay for, etc
09-24-2009, 07:56 AM   #14
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Some people quite enjoy that effect, though (Gus and I with our Helios-44s being an obvious example).
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