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12-25-2009, 02:34 AM   #1
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Pentax SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 VS Pentax SMC DA* 55mm f/1.4 SDM

As I am a noob, I would like to know why the 55mm costs couple hundred more than the 50mm? Is it really the 5mm difference? They both seem to auto focus.


12-25-2009, 02:45 AM   #2
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Wide open performace is better on the DA. The FA is soft, almost creamy, very uncontrasty when used below f/2; it's still pretty good performance but not as good as the DA. You're also paying for build quality, WR and silent AF (SDM), although SDM is actually slower that screwdrive, shame Above f/2.8 I'm not sure if anyone has claimed that they see any difference vs the FA...

Bokeh is slightly different, I dont prefer one over the other from what I've seen so far.
12-25-2009, 03:09 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by joodiespost Quote
As I am a noob, I would like to know why the 55mm costs couple hundred more than the 50mm? Is it really the 5mm difference? They both seem to auto focus.
The FA 50mm has been on the market a number of years. The 55mm is relatively new and has a list of new features; SDM AF, it is water resistant, lens and coatings optimized for digital, has Quick-Shift, and a modern chip set that works with the newer bodies to correct CA and distortion in the lens. The DA 55mm also comes with a lens hood.

The DA 55mm is supposed to be better below f2.0 than the FA 50mm f1.4 in edge sharpness and in contrast. Build quality of the lens is also better. Manual focus of the DA 55mm is better both in the mechanics (longer throw for more accuracy) and ergonomics of use with a wide focus ring.

The elevated price of the DA 55mm over the FA 50mm plus the FA 50mm being one of the first lenses that people have bought in the past, have made uptake of the DA 55mm slow. The performance of the FA 50mm at smaller apertures is very close to the performance of the DA 55mm and most people are working with the lenses at the smaller apertures. The DA 55mm f1.4 as a portrait lens also has some stiff competition from the FA 77mm f1.8 to overcome.

All that said, it is good to remember that until the DFA 100mm f2.8 WR macro is released, the DA 55mm f1.4 is the only prime in the Pentax system with weather sealing.

Thank you

Last edited by Russell-Evans; 12-25-2009 at 03:59 PM.
12-25-2009, 03:10 AM   #4
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i see what you guys are saying. I do understand when it comes to highend stuff, people actually pay an exponential amount for that last bit of quality.

12-25-2009, 04:02 AM   #5
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I recently asked myself the very same question and then had the chance to buy the 55mm for a very good price. Knowing that if it came to the crunch I could easily get my money back on Ebay I took the gamble and bought it.

Not really had much of a chance to play but a couple of quick snaps convinced me to sell the FA 50mm 1.4 the next day.

I kept my FA 50mm f1.7 just in case though
12-25-2009, 08:41 AM   #6
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How does the DA compare to the F & FA 1.7 wide open, as these lenses are sharper than the F & FA 1.4 at that aperture?
12-25-2009, 08:58 AM   #7

Well, first the 55 mm is a DA STAR which means supposedly higher specs and weather resistance. It also has the SDM focusing, but that door swings both ways: some are today reluctant to buy SDM lenses due to the failure rate (which may or may not be as high as forum posts suggest). SDM is usually supposed to be more silent and faster than the conventional screw mechanism, but IIRC in DA* 55 mm's case it's barely faster. Also, when the 55 mm was newer, many reviewers compared these two and while DA* was a bit better in some aspects, the difference didn't seem big enough for me to justify the difference in price. The old price that is, before the hikes. Don't know how big a difference there's today.
12-27-2009, 08:24 PM   #8
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Did anyone mention size? The DA* 55 is significantly larger and heavier than the FA 50/1.4.



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