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12-07-2009, 03:43 AM   #1
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DA55 vs FA77, who owns?

I'm looking for a fast portrait prime and choosing between these two. So I'd like to hear from people who have both about the things we don't see in the specs: the IQ, the focusing speed, reliability and sound, the bokeh and the mechanical quality. Which lens do you prefer taking with you (and why?), which produces the most keepers? Performance wide open is important.

12-07-2009, 05:17 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kameraten Quote
I'm looking for a fast portrait prime and choosing between these two.
Forum member TKH went through this decision process a while ago.
12-07-2009, 05:22 AM   #3
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I think Wheatfield owns both of these lenses.
12-07-2009, 06:45 AM   #4
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Actually, I own the 55, the 70 and the 77.
All three are excellent lenses.
The 55 is very good wide open, I think very slightly better than the 77, and is a half stop down and just gets better until about f/8, at which point it is spectacular.
The 77 is pretty much in lock step this way, but has somewhat more spherical aberration, which is what gives it that wonderful 3D bokeh quality.
Honestly, for the type of work I tend to do, I find myself reaching for the 70 more often though. It's AF is faster and more accurate on my cameras than the 77, and I like the extra length of it over the 55.
Regarding AF speed, the 55 seems slow in brick wall tests (that's where you focus from minimum to a brick wall at distance), but in use it is plenty fast enough, perhaps a bit faster than the 77. The 70 is faster than both, but not by enough of a margin to make it a deciding factor. Pentax doesn't have blazingly fast AF, it's just a fact of life.
The quietness of it is a bit off putting if you are used to the mechanical noises that come out of screw drive lenses. The 70 and 77 are typical screw noisy.
Both lenses produce an adequate number of keepers for me, but other than a few times I've cursed Pentax's (still somewhat) moribund AF, I tend to not blame my equipment for when a picture doesn't turn out.
All three lenses are way too sharp for portraiture, unless you like to embarrass people with how bad their skin really is. A really good accessory to consider for any of these lenses is a copy of Portrait Professional for Photoshop.

12-07-2009, 09:59 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Actually, I own the 55, the 70 and the 77.
All three are excellent lenses.
.....All three lenses are way too sharp for portraiture, unless you like to embarrass people with how bad their skin really is. A really good accessory to consider for any of these lenses is a copy of Portrait Professional for Photoshop.
Actually, with digital I like sharp. In film days that was a problem but it is so easy to soften and clean up skin with PS, I like the abilty to shoot sharp and edit in PS. Whereas, if you shoot soft to begin with, you can't get a sharp image, or any part of your image sharp in post processing.
12-07-2009, 10:06 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Actually, I own the 55, the 70 and the 77.
...snip...
lucky man!
If you will ever get bored of any of those three and you'll want to thin it out, let me know please, will you

out of interes and not to hijack the thread:
How do these three compare to to Tak/K 85/1.8 and M85/2???
Would really appreciate your point of view.

Thanks
12-08-2009, 12:39 PM   #7
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Thanks, I was happy to read Wheatfields assessment which contains the kind of things I want to know about. Nobody else out there with an extensive experience of these two lenses? (And yes I knew about the earlier thread – the problem there was it contained very little first-hand experience)
12-08-2009, 07:19 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by MikePerham Quote
Actually, with digital I like sharp. In film days that was a problem but it is so easy to soften and clean up skin with PS, I like the abilty to shoot sharp and edit in PS. Whereas, if you shoot soft to begin with, you can't get a sharp image, or any part of your image sharp in post processing.
Why do you automatically presume that the only choices out there are either relentlessly sharp or "soft".
You need to get our more, see the world. There is a whole raft of choices in between too sharp and soft.
Things like really sharp, pretty sharp, kinda sharp, was sharp but is now just kinda average, not bad, but not good either (this is what excels as a glamour portrait lens, BTW), definitely sub par, soft wide open, but pretty good at f/8, low contrast at 1.4 but very spliffy at f/11...
Anyway, hopefully you can pause and stop to view the world with less absolute eyes.

Pretty much any decent quality lens will require some filtration, either in post processing or on lens for flattering portraits, especially if you are going for a glamorous look.

12-08-2009, 09:32 PM   #9
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Da* 55mm is probably an improved version of Fa 50 in all aspects especially in PF issue and bokeh quality. The autofocus is accurate but rather slow. The image quality from this lens shares problems shared by many 50mm lenses: softer corner, harsh specular highlight.

Fa 77mm is a great lens just like most of competition lenses in this focal length. This lens does pop its images better than Da* 55mm.
12-08-2009, 09:57 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
The image quality from this lens shares problems shared by many 50mm lenses: softer corner, harsh specular highlight.
Which lens isn't softer in the corners? One of the biggest improvements of the DA* 55 over the FA 50 is the corner sharpness. If it is still problematic, the FA 50 would be practically unusable by implication.
12-09-2009, 01:01 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
Which lens isn't softer in the corners? .....
DA40 comes probably as close as possible. Wide open the difference is not worth mentioning...
12-09-2009, 10:35 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
...Both lenses produce an adequate number of keepers for me, but other than a few times I've cursed Pentax's (still somewhat) moribund AF, I tend to not blame my equipment for when a picture doesn't turn out.
All three lenses are way too sharp for portraiture, unless you like to embarrass
What camera bodies do you use with the 55/70/77?

The FA77's AF on my k20d is par for the course. It works better when the subject has some contrast to lock the AF onto.

Last edited by superfuzzy; 12-09-2009 at 01:51 PM. Reason: typo fixed
12-09-2009, 12:39 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by superfuzzy Quote
What camera bodies do you use with the 55/70/77?

The FA77's AF on my k20d is par for the course. It works better when the subject has some contrast to lock the AF onto. I
I've used the 70 & 77 on the K10, K20 ans K7. I've only used the 55 on the K7 so far.
I've had lock on problems with all three cameras, but I tend to ask a lot of the AF when I am using it, such as using the end sensor under studio illumination.
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