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12-04-2009, 12:36 PM   #1
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"Limited FA31 sucks, FA43 is like so cooool!"

Hello all,
I observed something very interesting about the dramatic change in “Photo Consumption Habits” these days, and how that turns the long-established assertions on their head. I thought I will share my thoughts with you all in an op-ed style write-up, and hear your comments. Please don’t flame – I am using words like “me” and “we” just as a generalization.


<sarcasm>
I wanted to buy FA Limiteds for my new Kx, so I started out by almost memorizing reviews from numerous sites like www.PhotoZone.de and our own PentaxForums, and scanning through every picture on www.PentaxPhotoGallery.com. The opinion seemed unanimous: FA 31mm is the best Pentax lens ever made.

But before biting this very expensive bullet, I decided to check out pictures taken by these lenses on www.Flickr.com and Facebook photography groups, which is probably a better representation of what new-generation, non-professional photographers can do with these lenses. And THAT totally reversed my conclusion – I came out wildly preferring the Pentax FA43 lens.

Hunting for an explanation, I realized that all wide-spread reviews and opinions are from people whose “Photo Consumption” is very VERY different compared to everyone I know. Every good picture we take ends up on Facebook, and all my friends check them out on their laptops and iPhones. We broadcasting anything weird or funny we see using Twitter apps on phones (I will upload an example in my gallery later tonight). We never print, and in our 800x600 pixel world old pixel-peeping standards of quality are meaningless. The “look” of the picture is the only thing that matters, and Photoshopping helps your popularity among friends.

Even the content of the photographs has changed: We are interested in only “me” centric subjects (me at a party, me at someplace cool, me with someone cool, look what me made, me at a bigger and better party than you), sort of like this German Pentax Kx commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOR-qVVcG5k. Categories like macro and landscape are dead for us; even classic portraits are on life-support reserved only for weddings and parents. Taking pictures of objects, flowers, buildings, or sand-piles doesn’t matter, because “If I am not in the picture, why not just download pictures from National Geographic or some website, where a professional photographer did a much better job than I could ever hope to do?”

And no, we are not a bunch of bird-brains mooching off our parents. Most of us are working hard, and are doing quite an alright job being a good citizen and all that.
</sarcasm>

Thanks for reading!


Last edited by KayMan; 12-05-2009 at 01:14 PM.
12-04-2009, 01:20 PM   #2
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While I agree with the general tone of what you write, I don't see where you mention why precisely the 43 is better than the 31 in your eyes. What aspects of the photos are better?

Not that I dispute that - as myself I have the 43 and love it.
12-04-2009, 01:26 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum.
Thanks for contributing.
Only I too don't see how you deduce that the FA 43 is a preferred lens to the FA 31, especially when you're talking about different focal lengths for different applications, and trying to compare opinions from totally different levels of users.

Nevertheless, it's quite clear that all three FA limiteds are in a class of their own and command a lot of respect all around the photographic world.
12-04-2009, 01:57 PM   #4
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First, I applaud your iconoclastic review. You emphasize something that often gets lost in the shuffle between all the marketing, LBA and photographic bravado ("my lens is longer than your lens"): lens use and appreciation of the resulting photo are a better gauge of lens value than lines per millimeter or odes to bokeh.

I would also say, however, that if your interest goes no further than Facebook and 600x800 images, why get anything more than the kit lens? or a camera phone for that matter? Point still taken that there are diminishing returns with premium lenses, and these returns are diminishing more and more with typical camera usage.

What does concern me a bit from your post is the assertion that folks are "interested in only 'me' centric subjects." Not only do I personally enjoy good photos of sand-piles, but the solipsistic indulgence of which you write can suck all of the life out of the hobby and art of photography.

Taking a photo does more than document the moment; it reveals something new. I have learned a lot about light, color, balance etc. in taking my own photos, as well as looking at the fine work of others. When the action is stopped, I can take the time to look at the subtleties of a face, or a sand-pile.

Do you need to spend $1000 on a lens to find something surprising in a photo? No, but I would prefer one great photo by Nan Goldin to a hundred pictures of me at some party.


Last edited by DavidWasch; 12-04-2009 at 02:10 PM.
12-04-2009, 02:09 PM   #5
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Your conclusion easily shows why the 43 is better...you want "me" in the picture. For that purpose, the 43 usually looks better because things are more intimate (close up) while the 31 is more wide.
Unless you show us examples to the contrary....
12-04-2009, 02:19 PM   #6
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KaYman, welcome to the forum! I liked the way you stated your viewpoint.

But... I think the main problem with what you assert is that the people you describe as only caring about shots with "me" in them, etc, are not really interested in photography really in the first place, they're simply using whatever image taking device they happen to have to participate in the social bitstream, through whatever portal they prefer.

The difference between now and, say, 15 years ago is that these folks you describe probably wouldn't even have had a camera 15 years ago, or if they did, would have rarely used it (and it wouldn't have been an SLR.)

I also think that even if you start out not caring about any non-first-person images, that quickly changes as you become more accustomed to the craft, get better at it, and especially if you develop at least a passing interest in what's come before. Same with any medium.

This forum has many members under 20 - and I suspect a lot of them would disagree with your characterization of them. (I don't think you meant to cast your age group in a bad light, but the "me only, or its not worth my time" doesn't come across very flattering, no matter which way you look at it.)

Regarding the FA 31ltd vs, FA 43ltd - it's a wash, IMO, they're both great



.
12-04-2009, 02:20 PM   #7
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The reading was good until I reached the end and then it just sounds like a teenaged rant. No one cares if you're a good citizen. It's usually people who aren't who have to keep saying that kind of stuff.
12-04-2009, 02:29 PM   #8
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Thanks for understanding my ironic twist!

Thank you all for understanding the angle I am coming from and not flaming me out!


@Ash and @Nesster, I realize I wasn’t very specific about image characteristics so let me add some detail here.

First off I selected the FA series lenses and disregarded DAs, because I plan to upgrade to a full-frame SLR as soon as Pentax releases it in future.

The FA77 was an easy elimination because it acts as a 115mm lens on a cropped sensor that we all have now (and for next year or two at least) – this kind of long focal length, handheld in dark indoor environments (read: parties) after a couple of drinks gives blurry pictures no stabilization system can salvage. During daylight and sober shooting, it ends up being too narrow FOV to show off the general awesomeness surrounding the “me”.

So the race was on between FA31 and FA43, and I sat down with a few friends to go through pictures on Flickr. Every FA31 opinion raved about the level of detail, sharpness, and buttery smoothness, but none of this was visible to any of us at 800x600 or other internet-friendly resolutions. The “me” style pictures on Flickr from amateur DigiSLR+FA31 combo looked very flat, as if they were from a Sony T-series cameras girls carry around in their purses, according to one opinion.

On the other hand, more of FA43 Flickr images seemed to have a more immediate impact on my friend-advisers. The very-shallow DOF and the corner-softness everyone seems to complain about simply emphasized the “me” in the picture, while the wide angle FOV hints at the locations the subjects were gracing with their presence. And most pictures with stepped-down aperture showed greater vibrance. Chromatic Aberrations from FA43 that PhotoZone.de complains about can be corrected in-camera by Pentax Kx, so they were a non-issue.

These reasons made me prefer the FA43 initially, and the compact size and weight that can be helpful in backpacking trip and hiking sealed the deal for me.




@David, once upon a time I too enjoyed the art of photography with my fully-manual film SLR I had for a decade. But the time I spend on taking pictures of sand-piles in Mohave and flowers in Ohiopyle is being cut down by the time I am spending now on Twitter and Facebook.

And no, the kit lens or iPhone will no do because it can not emphasize “me” with shallow DOF interchangeable lenses can provide!



@Kenyee – exactly!


@DragonFly – I tacked on the citizen comment just to save myself from flaming. Thanks for reading!

12-04-2009, 02:34 PM   #9
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I think that you want to have photographs of you and your friends because, being young, you are still a reletively attractive group. As you get older, your 'keeper' rate with this photographic group will decline and you'll move on to landscape and flowers.

Enjoy the FA43 whilst you can
12-04-2009, 02:36 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by KayMan Quote
...
Hunting for an explanation, I realized that all wide-spread reviews and opinions are from people whose “Photo Consumption” is very VERY different compared to everyone I know. Every good picture we take ends up on Facebook, and all my friends check them out on their laptops and iPhones. We broadcasting anything weird or funny we see using Twitter apps on phones (I will upload an example in my gallery later tonight). We never print, and in our 800x600 pixel world old pixel-peeping standards of quality are meaningless. The “look” of the picture is the only thing that matters, and Photoshopping helps your popularity among friends.
Even the content of the photographs has changed: We are interested in only “me” centric subjects (me at a party, me at someplace cool, me with someone cool, look what me made, me at a bigger and better party than you), sort of like this German Pentax Kx commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOR-qVVcG5k. Categories like macro and landscape are dead for us; even classic portraits are on life-support reserved only for weddings and parents. Taking pictures of objects, flowers, buildings, or sand-piles doesn’t matter, because “If I am not in the picture, why not just download pictures from National Geographic or some website, where a professional photographer did a much better job than I could ever hope to do?”....
KayMan,
Thats an interesting observation of your world and probably of a growing segment of the internet population.
Even the content of the photographs has changed: We are interested in only “me” centric subjects (me at a party, me at someplace cool, me with someone cool, look what me made, me at a bigger and better party than you), sort of like this German Pentax Kx commercial:
I assume you are just being provocative with your statements, but personally this doesn't strike me as photography, its more like narcissism.
Perhaps in the future, cameras will be designed so that the lens faces back towards the photographer, since he or she is the subject
I think you've made a good lens choice, and i agree with you about the FA-31.
12-04-2009, 02:40 PM   #11
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FA31 can always be cropped down to 43mm.. same can't be said for 43mm.... my Canon shooter friend picked up a 24mm 1.4L with that reasoning, his cropped down photos look just as amazing...
12-04-2009, 02:43 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by keyser Quote
I think that you want to have photographs of you and your friends because, being young, you are still a reletively attractive group. As you get older, your 'keeper' rate with this photographic group will decline and you'll move on to landscape and flowers.

Enjoy the FA43 whilst you can
Aye, that's the rub!
12-04-2009, 02:44 PM   #13
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Well, you're talking about some single social group. I think those are people that are not very related to photography. It is completely different form of expression, only the tools are the same. There are many others for whom all of this, or some points may be false.

First i'd think of those that more or less consider themselves photographers (amateurs). They do take ordinary photos, but deep inside there is that spark to try and take those national geographic-like photos, or what ever way of expression suits them best. For them the process of photography, learning and evolving is important, not on-line communities, gadgets and coolness factors. I, for example, don't expect to take professional quality classic photo, but still i like the process of trying to do it.

I rarely photograph parties or social events, because, even considering myself photo enthusiast, i feel it is more important to participate, than go the whole event snapping around, with thought of flickr on my mind.
But when i do take the few pictures, with my humble P&S i try to think of content that will matter to me in years, not of one that will be cool or look good on internet.

And there are lot of different groups of people.

Last edited by ytterbium; 12-04-2009 at 02:52 PM.
12-04-2009, 02:46 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by KayMan Quote
Thank you all for understanding the angle I am coming from and not flaming me out!
If somebody wants a flame war, this is the wrong message board. That's what I (and many others) like about it.

Try the same post at DPR and see what happens...
12-04-2009, 02:46 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by KayMan Quote
Hello all,
I observed something very interesting about the dramatic change in “Photo Consumption Habits” these days, and how that turns the long-established assertions on their head. I thought I will share my thoughts with you all in an op-ed style write-up, and hear your comments. Please don’t flame – I am using words like “me” and “we” just as a generalization.

....snip....
Thanks for reading!
QuoteOriginally posted by jsherman999 Quote
...snip...

But... I think the main problem with what you assert is that the people you describe as only caring about shots with "me" in them, etc, are not really interested in photography really in the first place, they're simply using whatever image taking device they happen to have to participate in the social bitstream, through whatever portal they prefer.

The difference between now and, say, 15 years ago is that these folks you describe probably wouldn't even have had a camera 15 years ago, or if they did, would have rarely used it (and it wouldn't have been an SLR.)
...snip...
.
OK, I've read a lot of things on this forum but I couldn't agree more with Jay than this. I don't think looking at pics at facebook gives you good "picture" of what certain lens is or isn't capable...
If I went on facebook (and I may be one of the very few of my age (26) who doesn't have facebook account, nor twitter - used to do myspace but have been inactive over 2years and have been planning to remain so) I simply couldn't care less what the shots were taken with if they are "me here", "me there" one hand/hand held shots... If most of them would have been taken with kit lens you'd probably assume that the "kit" (as good as it is!) is better than FA ltds....
Do you know why you prefer FA43 shots? It's simple IMO:
a) FA43 is smaller lens, more affordable too (though only by margin) and has much more normal FOV so many shots may look more pleasing to human eye
b) FA31 is 2-2.5x the size of 43 so not so many people will be lugging it around, it offers much wider FOV too and unexperienced/not careful shooter may easily end up with handful of shots suffering from perspective distortion!
but FIRST of all, if I would be on hunt for lens (whichever it is) facebook and similar pages would be the last places where I would be looking for representative pictures...

BR
Peter

PS: having said all of that, I never used FA43 but have 31 and assume that my DA40 is close enough for comparison....
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