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12-16-2009, 09:31 AM   #1
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F 28mm 2.8 > FA 28mm 2.8?

Is the Pentax F 28mm f/2.8 a better lens than the FA 28mm f/2.8? I just bought an F 28 at KEH for $265. I would have liked to ask this question first, but I didn't want to create interest in the F and take a chance of losing the only one I'd found.

The price seems a bit steep, considering I paid $299 for a new 35mm F2, but I think it was an acceptable deal if the F 28 beats the FA 28. From the lens review database:
F 28 scores 9.42 based on 13 reviews
FA 28 scores 8.3 based on 10 reviews


What do you think, was I foolish to trust in this difference?

12-16-2009, 10:01 AM   #2
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I looked around a couple of years ago when I got my F28, and there was no agreement. I remember a post by Roland Mabo on dpreview, talking about how few people liked the FA28 when it came out. Just after the FA28 was discontinued, it was like the FA35 is now, expensive and popular. It uses an aspherical element like the FA35, and descriptions of its rendering sound similar. At 28mm, there's lots of disagreement about which lens is best.

I had a Pentax-A 28mm f2.8, which has the same disagreement issue. Some like it, some don't. I thought it was a great little lens. The F28/2.8 uses the same formula so I was happy to upgrade when I had the chance. I found mine on eBay attached to a Pentax MX Data, a camera that's so rare, Jim King did not have one. So I sold it to him.
12-16-2009, 11:44 AM   #3
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The user ratings in that database aren't very scientific, I wouldn't use that to make the decision between the two.

My understanding (hearsay, so also not real scientific) was that the FA28/2.8 AL is better, possibly from the inclusion of an aspherical element, and that the F28 is an AF version of the A28, which isn't particularly shabby. If the F28 is built like most other F-series lenses, it probably has a sturdier-seeming build than the FA. Since both are rather difficult to find used, the price is not that surprising. Use it, be happy. You'll probably not find another F or FA all that easily.

In my mind the strong points of either lens is that they are as fast as any zoom, very compact, and probably perform as well or better than most zooms (though most designed-for-digital zooms are pretty good at 28mm). Drawback is that it's not particularly close-focusing though--the zooms (and probably some of the Sigma 28mm primes) are usually better at this.
12-16-2009, 12:54 PM   #4
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It would be interesting to see a direct comparison of F and FA 28's some day. It makes sense that an aspherical element would be a good thing, but then sometimes less is more.

I have an Image A 28 2.8. It overexposes up to a stop on my K100DS, and lowering Ev negates the Auto ISO feature. I don't mind MF, but by the time I fiddle with Ev, ISO and aperture, it's a lot slower than an AF lens. The Image is a bit sharper than my 16-45, which is impressive, but not as contrasty as my Pentax primes.

I like my FA 35 just fine, especially for its speed, but I prefer the 28mm fov, so I've been considering a Pentax 28mm for a while. Seeing a potentially better F series pushed me over the edge. The "new" 28mm will replace the FA 35mm in my K20D main kit. It should partner my FA 50mm better than the 35mm. The 35mm moves to my grab'n'go kit with the K100DS, 18-250, Raynox 150 and Puffer.


Last edited by audiobomber; 12-16-2009 at 01:01 PM.
12-16-2009, 12:57 PM   #5
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Here's something that's at least a little more scientific. Possibly doesn't hold true across all subject distances, though.

photodo F28/2.8 (MTF score 3.2) vs. FA28/2.8 AL (MTF score 3.8).

Still, (again) the F rates better than most zooms and the F in hand is better than an FA in the bush.
12-16-2009, 01:06 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by AndrewG NY Quote

Still, (again) the F rates better than most zooms and the F in hand is better than an FA in the bush.
Crap, I should have done better research

FA 28's are not terribly hard to find.
12-16-2009, 02:01 PM   #7
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I was just fooling around with the F28/2.8 and took this. It doesn't show anything particular about lens quality but I like it. I used f8 and zone focusing - no, AF is not fast enough for a flying dog.

12-16-2009, 02:08 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
I was just fooling around with the F28/2.8 and took this. It doesn't show anything particular about lens quality but I like it. I used f8 and zone focusing - no, AF is not fast enough for a flying dog.

looks like someone needs his nails trimmed. Wonderful shot btw...looks like he is a character for sure!

12-16-2009, 02:12 PM   #9
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They are both good, but the F is better.
I compared the two and the F shows significantly better contrast at f2.8 compared to the FA. At f4 they are roughly the same. Other parameters are the same, too. It's only contrast at f2.8.

Can post a sample tomorrow, if you want.
12-16-2009, 06:17 PM   #10
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I have no clue which is better. FA28mm is a great party lens I am sure.
Back 3 yrs ago I was in a dinner party and stuck at the back of long row of guests. I reluctantly gave my K100D & FA28mm to a waitress who took this image. I figured it out that at 1/25 and SR, the vibration should be ok. So I set that to 1/25s and let the camera do the rest. It turned out that it just snapped wide open at F2.8 (with no flash of course)






If you have a high resolution monitor and you can see how much this lens and K100D can resolve, look at this inch by inch


http://www.pbase.com/danieltong/image/69298961/original.jpg


As you see I was stuck in the middle and it was taken by a novice. She was centering on me and the first fellow at right was out of focus which is reasonable at wide open


Daniel
12-16-2009, 06:26 PM   #11
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I have a rare occasion of comparing FA28mm (+ lowly DL) with Nikon D200 & a prof zoom of 28-70mm I believe


FA28mm compared with a prof Nikon zoom - Steve's Digicams Forums
12-16-2009, 06:34 PM   #12
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Okay it BF, but that's not the fault of the lens.
12-16-2009, 06:42 PM   #13
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I have had both. I got the F28 first, and was impressed with the sharpness and clarity of the images all the way from F2.8. I later got an FA28 to see if it was any different/better, but it didn't seem to perform as well at F2.8, smaller aperture being about equal. So I sold the FA28 and stuck with the F. You should not be disappointed with your choice. Just take a few shots with it when you get it and you should be happy

Anyone that tells you that the F28 is bad is probably wrong. Check out this original, zoom in on my brother's face (he's checking out my other camera, K200D). Shot at F2.8.

Original

here is a preview:
12-16-2009, 08:43 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by brecklundin Quote
looks like someone needs his nails trimmed. Wonderful shot btw...looks like he is a character for sure!
Yes, and always handy for lens tests.

QuoteOriginally posted by arpaagent Quote
Anyone that tells you that the F28 is bad is probably wrong. Check out this original, zoom in on my brother's face ...
I zoomed in on the S-M-C Tak 135mm f2.5.
12-16-2009, 09:21 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
I zoomed in on the S-M-C Tak 135mm f2.5.
Yea, that's slightly more pleasing to the eye, and didn't have a 5 o'clock scruff going on . Too bad it wasn't in focus. Side note S-M-C Tak 135mm F2.5 is one of my favorite lenses.
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