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11-21-2009, 05:41 AM   #1
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Pentax DA* 55mm 1.4 problems?

I'm considering buying the DA* 55mm 1.4 but I'm a bit putt off by the reviews. Many reviewers have had problems with bad samples. Here is a quote from DPReview.

"Unfortunately, though, we have serious concerns over two issues with this lens which have to temper our enthusiasm; namely optical alignment and autofocus (which are quite likely related). Over the course of what has become a rather protracted regime of testing, we've looked at three samples of this lens, and each has shown a clear tilt to the focus plane; this was most pronounced in the first sample, but relatively minor in the last (indeed in this sample it was only really detectable in our studio tests). This does more than simply mess up our studio tests - it clearly results in real-world image quality and focusing problems too. In fact we've never before seen a lens so capricious when it comes to focusing - we're used to F1.4 primes being challenging for cameras' AF systems, but the 55mm was most difficult of all. We couldn't get any of the tested samples to focus sufficiently accurately for reliable shooting wide open without resorting to focus adjustment, and the amount required on our K20D body (which focused the FA 50mm F1.4 just fine) was huge, a full +10. The lens worked better on the K-7 we received during the course of this review, but still needed adjustment for best results, although curiously in the opposite direction (-3); but on the K2000 we were left high and dry, unable to achieve accurate focus at all. Based on this experience, it becomes difficult for us to recommend the lens to owners of cameras other than the K20D and K-7, on which AF adjustment isn't available, unless you can test it to your satisfaction first."

I own a K200D with absolutely no plans to upgrade yet. I looked at the K-7, but it doesn't offer anything that I feel I need. Currently the K200D works just fine for me. HD video looks fun, but it's not currently enough to make me upgrade. Maybe if the next cameras has 1080p and less problems with panning, but that remains to be seen.

Can anyone here confirm this problem with the 55mm? Was this only a problem when the lens was new?

11-21-2009, 05:57 AM   #2
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Maybe Wheatfield could comment on this lens. I would say that there is a reason why there is an autofocus adjustment on the K20 and K7 -- solves the problem of a lens just slightly out of spec. I don't own this particular lens, but I have made focus adjustments on a couple of other lenses on my K20 and it's really not a big deal. I'd rather do that than send the lens back or have soft photos. I think with any lens, it is worthwhile to shoot a lot when you get it to make certain it is sharp without decentering issues, etc. Whether it is at the factory, or during shipping, some lenses just aren't what they should be, but you can identify those pretty quickly.
11-21-2009, 06:00 AM   #3
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I wouldn't mind making adjustments on the camera, but like I said, can't be done on the K200D. Also I'm more likely to buy a K-x than a K-7 if I do upgrade, which doesn't have that ability either. As far as I'm concerned, all the Pentax cameras should have this capability.
11-21-2009, 09:16 AM   #4
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I don't recall offhand what, if any AF adjustment I had to make with my 55/1.4 to make it focus accurately with my K-7 or K20. What I do know is that the 55/1.4 that I got is one of the better lenses that I own.
Dissing the lens because it needs an AF adjustment isn't very smart in my book. They put the feature onto the cameras to try to solve a known problem, and I'm of the opinion that it is a camera issue, not a lens issue anyway.
That all the cameras, especially those made since the K20, should have this capability is absolutely true.

11-21-2009, 10:33 AM   #5
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I've had my copy for a few months now and probably prior to that review.
I have made no AF adjustments and it works perfectly fine for me. It's usually user error if the picture is out of focus.
11-21-2009, 12:15 PM   #6
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If I do buy it, I'll just take my camera inn and ask them if I can attach the lens to my camera. Shouldn't take long to find out if it is front focusing or not.

So far I have not had any FF or BF problems with any lenses, so I'm probably just being paranoid. My 35mm ltd is probably the sharpest lens I've ever worked with.

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