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09-26-2009, 03:30 PM   #1
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F 50mm 1.7 vs. FA 50mm f 1.7

As an exclusive manual lens shooter, I'm about to make my first autofocus purchase. It's between the F 50mm 1.7 and the FA 50mm f 1.7. As I have no previous experience with either series, is there something to recommend one over the other as far as optical and/or build quality goes. Any recommendations &/or opinions would be greatly appreciated, as this purchase will be completed without seeing or feeling the lenses.

09-26-2009, 04:37 PM   #2
axl
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AFAIK:
opticaly they are identical!
F50 (which I own) is quite cool in tone rendering (which I really like)
chip on FA50 contains more data that are passed to camera
I've read opinion that F50 exists in 2 versions: a) older with metal barell, b) newer - later production run - with plastic barell
FA50 should have smoother MF
If you'll get plastic F50 I think built quality will be the same.
coatings may be differnent.
that's all I know
BR
Peter

PS: F50/1.7 is a GREAT lens
09-26-2009, 06:16 PM   #3
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the only difference that I saw between the F and FA is that the F version has a red label marking and is a generation earlier than the FA. optically, they are the same as people would point out. so it's a matter if you want the earlier version or newer one. but the 50 1.7 lives up to their reputation of their sharpness at wide open.

P.S. I think that the FA version is harder to find compared to the F version.
09-26-2009, 07:17 PM   #4
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At one point in time, I had 3 F and 1 FA copies of the 50mm F/1.7.

Just looking at the photos, I couldn't tell the difference.

The F seems to be heavier, not by much however.

The FA seems to have smoother manual focus action, also not by much.

I keep the FA because of its manual focus action and its black color (vs F's dark gun metal color). But I could keep the F and wouldn't miss anything.

09-26-2009, 07:53 PM   #5
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I think I read somewhere that FA50/1.7 is the same size as FA50/1.4, and so the front element is quite recessed, thus adding a hood gives only a small advantage. That's a good thing, imo.
And it's very rare.
I'm in process of getting a LN one from KEH (exchange of some UG and BGN tamron lenses), can't wait!
09-26-2009, 08:08 PM   #6
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While I haven't had the f or the fa 1.7, all the f series are reportedly slightly sharper than the FA counterparts. I've had both the f and fa 1.4 50's and can attest that the f is slightly sharper under a loupe when I shot slides. Others also related this as noted by some reviewers here on this site's review section. Why, I don't really know, possibly something in the inner coatings or with the material when they changed to the FA series. All MTF scores are slightly higher on the F series over the identical FA series lenses on photodo, and that's with other focal lengths, not just the 50.

I would go with the f 1.7 simply because the fa is too hard to find and will probably be slightly more expensive.
09-27-2009, 12:25 AM   #7
axl
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QuoteOriginally posted by pbo Quote
I think I read somewhere that FA50/1.7 is the same size as FA50/1.4, and so the front element is quite recessed, thus adding a hood gives only a small advantage. That's a good thing, imo.
And it's very rare.
I'm in process of getting a LN one from KEH (exchange of some UG and BGN tamron lenses), can't wait!
AFAIK all Pentax 50/1.7 are like this, i.e. with recessed front element. At least I can confirm my F50/1.7 is.

BR
Peter
09-27-2009, 02:13 PM   #8
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I've used the M50 f2, A50 f1,4, and F50 f1,7. I also have the FA50 f2,8 macro. I'd say between the f and FA f1,7, go with the cheapest. Or the one in the best shape

09-27-2009, 10:51 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by pbo Quote
... FA50/1.7 is the same size as FA50/1.4, and so the front element is quite recessed, thus adding a hood gives only a small advantage
That's correct. But if the hood is small, doesn't take up much room, and offers protection for the front element and for the filter thread, it's still worthwhile.

09-27-2009, 10:54 PM   #10
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QuoteQuote:
That's correct. But if the hood is small, doesn't take up much room, and offer protection for the front element and for the filter thread, it's still worthwhile.
Now THAT's smart!! inspired by DA40, huh?
I'm off to buy a step-down ring Really, very, very nice idea. It doesn't vignette or cut off "useful" light (like aperture blades do), I presume?

Last edited by pbo; 09-27-2009 at 11:00 PM.
09-27-2009, 10:55 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by SOldBear Quote
That's correct. But if the hood is small, doesn't take up much room, and offers protection for the front element and for the filter thread, it's still worthwhile.

now if only they made a hood for the lcd screen...
09-27-2009, 11:51 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by pbo Quote
It doesn't vignette or cut off "useful" light (like aperture blades do), I presume?
Not vignetting at all. I started by using the DA40 hood on the FA50, then I thought about buying an extra DA40 hood. But it's too costly and I'm a cheap guy. A 49-37 and a 37-30.5 step down adapter rings cost me about $10, 1/4 of the price of a DA40 hood.

Here's my post

But I had to back off a bit for the 135-400mm Sigma. For whatever reason, at 400mm, it could not focus with the 37mm opening. So for it, I went down only to 49mm (77-62 + 62-55 + 55-49).
09-28-2009, 06:19 AM   #13
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QuoteQuote:
Not vignetting at all.
Then my next concern about light cutoff... There might be no vignetting, but have you experienced that you needed a slower shutter speed in the same conditions with all other settings same? (that, and aperture wide open)
09-28-2009, 06:56 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pbo Quote
...have you experienced that you needed a slower shutter speed in the same conditions with all other settings same?
No, not at all. The setting is the same with and without the "lens hood."

In fact, I don't know how that could happen.
09-28-2009, 07:10 AM   #15
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QuoteQuote:
No, not at all. The setting is the same with and without the "lens hood."

In fact, I don't know how that could happen.
I'm not exactly sure - but reasoning is the same as with aperture mechanism. There was this DIY article about making "custom bokeh" - with cutting some sort of sign (like, a heart or star) on a piece of paper and putting that piece onto the front of the lens. That sign can be made pretty small - with no vignetting, but significant light cutoff...
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