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11-18-2009, 12:03 AM   #1
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FA and DA Series Lens Comparison Question

Hi folks-

I'm still new to Pentax gear, and DSLRs for that matter, and am very impressed with Pentax (and this crowd).

Anyway, I'm starting to look around for my next, second, lens purchase and have been looking mainly at DA lenses, but the FA77 for sale caught my eye, then I started looking at FAs and also Fs. My question, which I'm certain has been asked many times before, is, what is the main difference for use with DSLRs between the DA and FA/F series. Performance? Some images from the FAs and Fs are amazing.

Many thanks.

11-18-2009, 12:16 AM   #2
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FA works just as good if not better.

DA series focused on small and compact. And many are slower aperture wise because of that. There is supposedly a coating on the rear element (as with all "digital" lenses have) that the older lenses don't have, but I can't really see any differences.

DA series has quick-shift, which can be quite useful. Also, the DA has the only weather resistant lenses (WR and DA*).

They also hold more information and can allow lens correction (distortion and CA), which could be corrected in PP.

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11-18-2009, 12:30 AM   #3
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The main difference is that the FA lenses were designed for use on 35mm film cameras and have an image circle appropriate for that format. The DA series were designed and optimized for use with the smaller APS-C digital sensors. The other difference is that the FA lenses have an aperture ring and have full backward compatibility to all K-mount film cameras. All DA lenses lack an aperture ring and have limited backward compatibility as a result. As noted above, many DA lenses have the quick-shift focus feature and some also have environmental seals. All FA and DA lenses provide identity and other data to camera bodies with features able to use that information. Both FA and DA series have "*" and "Limited" premium quality models.

Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 11-18-2009 at 12:38 AM.
11-18-2009, 05:38 AM   #4
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In general, as mentioned above, the FA lenses were lenses that covered full frame (designed for film), while DA cover a smaller image circle and are designed specifically for APS-C. Also, the FA lenses have the ability to choose aperture manually, or to use an A setting and have the camera set it. The DA lenses are missing an aperture ring.

As far as the primes go, the only new FA primes still available are the limiteds. These are faster than the DA primes, bigger and are generally thought to have better bokeh. The DA primes are smaller, tend to be a little slower, but have faster autofocus speeds and the option of quick shift.

Also, the DA limiteds tend to be quite a bit cheaper than the FA limiteds.

11-18-2009, 10:22 AM   #5
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I was about to start my own thread, but since my question is very similar to this one, I hope he doesn't mind me hijacking it. I've got a shoot this afternoon, and this weekend, I thought of an idea that would be perfect for a mid-telephoto prime. I got on cameralensrentals.com and ordered the 77mm. It turned out not to be available, so I went ahead and had them send me the DA 70mm for two weeks to use in the shoot, and then the FA77mm after to play with them both.

Wow, what a mistake that turned out to be. I've only gotten to play with it for about an hour, but I don't want to ever take the DA70 off my camera, and my understanding is that people love the FA77mm even more.

My question is this, from what I've heard there's a slight difference in sharpness wide open, and of course a very very slightly focal distance. I understand the FA77 to have a bit more contrast, while the DA70 is more flair resistant due to the digital optimized coatings. What are the "torture" test shots that will help me evaluate which lens I'd want to eventually buy. Right now, the FA77 is leading for me completely theoretically because it's full frame, a hair faster, there's the talk of the magical pixie dust it has.

My thoughts right now to have a fair comparison is to shoot with bright lights behind to see the difference in flair, some headshots that emphasize the bokeh differences, and some serious lowlight portraiture on my K20D (w/Katzeye) to see how they feel different manually focusing. Any other suggestions for how to try and reign in my LBA lust just from holding the 70?
11-18-2009, 10:41 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote

...As far as the primes go, the only new FA primes still available are the limiteds...
Not quite true...The FA* 600/4, FA 50/1.4 and FA 35/2 are both still officially available according to Pentax Japan, though the FA 35/2 is very hard to find in N. America (Pentax Web store has it). There are also the D FA 50/2.8 and D FA 100/2.8 macro lenses (FA series with updated coatings).

Steve
11-18-2009, 10:48 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mister Guy Quote
I was about to start my own thread, but since my question is very similar to this one, I hope he doesn't mind me hijacking it. I've got a shoot this afternoon, and this weekend, I thought of an idea that would be perfect for a mid-telephoto prime. I got on cameralensrentals.com and ordered the 77mm. It turned out not to be available, so I went ahead and had them send me the DA 70mm for two weeks to use in the shoot, and then the FA77mm after to play with them both.

Wow, what a mistake that turned out to be. I've only gotten to play with it for about an hour, but I don't want to ever take the DA70 off my camera, and my understanding is that people love the FA77mm even more.

My question is this, from what I've heard there's a slight difference in sharpness wide open, and of course a very very slightly focal distance. I understand the FA77 to have a bit more contrast, while the DA70 is more flair resistant due to the digital optimized coatings. What are the "torture" test shots that will help me evaluate which lens I'd want to eventually buy. Right now, the FA77 is leading for me completely theoretically because it's full frame, a hair faster, there's the talk of the magical pixie dust it has.

My thoughts right now to have a fair comparison is to shoot with bright lights behind to see the difference in flair, some headshots that emphasize the bokeh differences, and some serious lowlight portraiture on my K20D (w/Katzeye) to see how they feel different manually focusing. Any other suggestions for how to try and reign in my LBA lust just from holding the 70?
You are going to want both!

I have never shot with the DA 70, but I do own the FA 77. As far as torture is concerned, the only flaw in the FA 77 is that it is somewhat prone to purple fringing (PF) at high contrast transitions. Think shooting up at the sky through tree limbs or brightly-lit white clothing (wedding dress?) against a dark background. The PF thing bothers some users, but my impression is that it is not that bad.

Steve
11-18-2009, 10:51 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
. All FA and DA lenses provide identity and other data to camera bodies with features able to use that information.
Steve
The FA lenses don't transmit distorion correction and CA correction to the newer (read K-7 and maybe K-X) pentax bodies.

11-18-2009, 11:27 AM   #9
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To add to the other posts, there is little difference between F and FA lenses except for looks. F lenses work flawlessly, and are optically comparable.

People will tell you (rightly) that coatings evolve, and that Pentax is renowned for its coatings. This is true but in real life, there is little difference. You'd be hard-pressed to distinguish between similar pictures taken by similar lenses from the F and FA lines.
11-18-2009, 05:24 PM   #10
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Lots of focus on full frame, aperture versus size, and FF concerns. But I just wanted to make sure quick shift (which did indeed get mentioned) doesn't get lost in this - it's actually a very important factor in which I have 5 DA lenses and no FA lenses. An AF lens without quick shift is barely better than an MF lens in my book, and I can get MF lenses much cheaper. But that's me...

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 11-18-2009 at 09:29 PM.
11-18-2009, 06:09 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by flyer Quote
The FA lenses don't transmit distorion correction and CA correction to the newer (read K-7 and maybe K-X) pentax bodies.
The lenses identify themselves correctly. The bodies just don't apply the correction for other than DA lenses. A small, but important point. The correction feature is a property of the newer bodies, not the lenses.

Steve

BTW...what distortion and CA? Well, maybe a little PF on the 77 Limited...

Last edited by stevebrot; 11-18-2009 at 06:14 PM.
11-18-2009, 06:14 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
...An AF lens without quick shift is barely better than an MF lens in my book, and I can get MF lenses much cheaper...
I guess that is why I own so very few AF lenses. If the focus needs frequent adjustment via quick-shift, why bother with AF?

I get your point though. There have been many times when I have been shooting with the FA 77 Limited and have switched to MF due to wrong focus point or other factors. Quick-shift would have been much easier. At least the FA 77 has a usable focus ring.

Steve
11-18-2009, 09:32 PM   #13
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I should add that one reason I feel this way about quick shift is that the difference for me is being able to switch to MF by putting my thumb on the OK button (AF button for some cameras) versus needing to toggle the switch on the front of the camera. It's actually fairly rare that I use quick shift in the usual sense of adjusting focus after AF lock is achieved; I normally switch to MF before I even try to use AF in the cases where I anticipate needing it.
11-18-2009, 10:21 PM   #14
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Thank you very much everyone for your clear and informative replies. Once again, and it needs to be said again, this forum proves how great it is.

I guess my take away is I'll lean towards DA lenses but won't hesitate to buy a quality FA lens if a great opportunity presents itself. That FA 77 still looks tempting...
11-19-2009, 12:18 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I should add that one reason I feel this way about quick shift is that the difference for me is being able to switch to MF by putting my thumb on the OK button (AF button for some cameras) versus needing to toggle the switch on the front of the camera. It's actually fairly rare that I use quick shift in the usual sense of adjusting focus after AF lock is achieved; I normally switch to MF before I even try to use AF in the cases where I anticipate needing it.
It never occurred to me to use it that way. Sounds like a real good way to use the feature.

Steve
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