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09-30-2009, 05:40 AM   #1
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Best Fast Lens

Hi all, I'm just wondering what people think is the best 50mm ish lens,old manual pentax,nokton 55mm,sigma 50mm 1.4, 55mm SDM or one of the FA Ltd's etc.Im looking to get one soon and would appreciate any opinions.
Thanks
Tim

09-30-2009, 05:53 AM   #2
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The older Takumar series lenses are still the best bang-for-buck especially the 50mm f/1.4 which is based on a lens design co-engineered with Pentax and Carl Zeiss.

the SMC K Pentax 50mm f/1.2 is also a superb choice, it's the only 50mm lens I use currently- the A version is just as good though it's more expensive. ( and both of these lenses are hard to find on the second hand market)

the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SLII has always impressed me, especially at f/1.4 I have been very tempted to buy one...

though if you want the BEST fast lens it's hard to pass up the Pentax 31mm f/1.8 limited. - the only reason to stop this lens down is to increase DOF,it's performance is excellent at f/1.8
09-30-2009, 05:55 AM   #3
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I rather use the 55/1.8 takumar then the 50/1.4.
09-30-2009, 06:05 AM   #4
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If I was buying a fast lens brand new today, I'd probably go for the Sigma 50mm f/1.4. It's well made, sharp from f/1.4, great resolutions stats, low vignetting and has a silent autofocus mechanism.

That is based on my investigations on other users' findings and reviews, so I am not qualified to say what lens is the best or better than others.

09-30-2009, 06:07 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by timk Quote
Hi all, I'm just wondering what people think is the best 50mm ish lens
What for?
What would be your typical application?

Will you need AF?
Is sharpness more important than bokeh or is it the other way round?
09-30-2009, 06:48 AM   #6
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The various Pentax 50/f1,7 are hard to beat, though their max aperture isn't as exciting as the F1,4s and f1,2s, they perform well even wide open, which can't always be said of the others.

If my budget was infinite, I would probably go for the Sigma, though I find it huge, or more probably the Pentax DA*55. for the time being, I'm immensely happy with my F50/f1,7.
09-30-2009, 08:04 AM   #7
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No-one yet has mentioned the FA 77 f/1.8 ltd.
Arguably the best mid-telephoto prime lens available...
A little dearer than the decent fast fifties, but worth it IMO since it just adds another dimension of pop right out of camera.

Indeed the OP needs to answer the above questions of 'what for?' and 'AF/MF?' to get the right advice for a lens to buy...
09-30-2009, 08:58 AM   #8
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I hear great things about the FA 77 LTD, but sadly for me in the price here in the UK is obscene:

Pentax smc FA 77 mm f1.8 Limited Lens - Only £779.00 - SRS Microsystems - £779

Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Lens - Pentax Fit - Only £359.00 - SRS Microsystems - £359

09-30-2009, 09:04 AM   #9
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Thanks all,I have no primary use in mind, however I dont currently have a real wide aperture lens in my lineup to be used when I cant use flash/what to keep the iso low.It will be used for all sorts,portraits and general photography,I do really want to have a play with narrow DOF aswell.
As for AF/MF I'd prefer AF but its not a deal breaker.
09-30-2009, 03:44 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by timk Quote
It will be used for all sorts,portraits and general photography,I do really want to have a play with narrow DOF aswell.
For general photography, I'd chose a normal focal length, i.e., 28mm on APS-C.

For portraits, although 50mm works, it is a tad on the short side. I'd use one of the 50/1.4s rather one of the 50/1.7s for portraits for their bokeh. I don't know the Sigma 50/1.4 but I hear it is a great lens.

The Pentax DA 55 is an optical improvement over the FA 50/1.4 but you pay quite a lot for the improvements in sharpness below f/2.8 and better corner performance. The focal length is better for portraits and the bokeh could be better as well (I don't know that lens from personal experience). Perhaps some of the older Pentax/Takumars are an alternative for this FL.

The Voigtländer Nokton 58mm has an even better focal length for portraits and has absolutely fantastic bokeh. It is also very sharp. Its only disadvantage, AFAIC, is that it is MF only.

Last edited by Class A; 10-01-2009 at 03:23 PM.
09-30-2009, 05:56 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
For general photography, I'd chose a normal focal length, i.e., 28mm on APS-C.

The Voigtländer Nokton 58mm has an even better focal length for portraits and has absolutely fantastic bokeh. It is also very sharp. Its only disadvantage, AFAIC, is that it is MF only.
Agreed, 28mm or maybe 35mm looks better on APS C. I prefer a little wider when up close, have the A 20/2.8 and planning on the A 24/2.8.
The FA 31/1.8 would be my choice if I had the $$.
I also had the FA 50/1.4 which was a fine little lens, have the A 50/1.4 which is great with better bokeh and can still be had for $125-150.
And, I've been lusting for the Voigtlander/Cosina 58mm/1.4 for a few months now for the outrageous bokeh, sharpness when stopped down, better FL and cool factor

Any of the f1.4 50s would give you a taste of the FL and the A 28/2.8 is very common and can be had for @$125.

I say try as many as you can and have fun.

hth
10-01-2009, 09:12 AM   #12
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I broke today and ordered the DA* 55, the price new was only £30 more than the Sigma which is a bargain considering the weather sealing (which will get used)
Thanks for all your advice.
10-01-2009, 04:10 PM   #13
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Good choice! Congrat's and let us know how you like it.

cheers
10-02-2009, 02:48 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by StevenVH Quote
Good choice! Congrat's and let us know how you like it.

cheers
Will do,it should be here tomorrow.
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