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01-25-2010, 03:02 AM   #1
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Which lens.....?

Hi Folks,
Yes, I am sure you all have answered this one many times. Please bear with me.
Have snapped away for over 50 years and just bought my first Pentax, a KX, a week ago. Bought it with two zooms.
Though not sure exactly why I bought it, one reason is that I have an interest in video. However, I've decided that I want a standard-type lens to use 95% of the time.
Though I have many cameras, twenty-plus film and 7/8 digital, for the past two years, other than a car race, the only camera I've used is a Ricoh GR II with a 28mm fixed lens (35mm equiv). Yes, as we say, I let my legs do the zooming.
Anyway, I've spent hours here and all over the Net looking at reviews and such. And, I've narrowed it down to just a few.
Sigma 30mm 1.4, DA 21 3.2, DA 35 2.8 (micro). Ideally I'd like something in the 35mm (35 equiv) range; however, I also realize that may not be possible. Anything from (35 equiv) 28mm to 50mm would be fine.
Have read reviews that raved about the Sigma and others that weren't so kind.
I somewhat ruled out the Sigma 28MM because of the size, though the 42mm (eqiv) would be fine as well as the close-focusing distance.
The DA 21, well, the 3.2 seemed a little too high. Yes, I would like a nice out-of-focus look.
Anyway, I want a lens that I can put on my KX and leave there. Most of what I will be doing is vacation kind of shooting and wandering the streets shooting whatever is out there.
Any suggestions, comments, or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. If there is a lens I missed, please let me know. I have no interest in another zoom.
Thanks all....
BTW, I am planning on using the KX and whatever lens I buy as my main camera. I really like the KX and am looking forward to using it.

Last edited by george c; 01-25-2010 at 03:09 AM. Reason: Need to add something that I forgot....
01-25-2010, 03:23 AM   #2
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While I dont have the lenses you referred to I was doing quite some investigation before taking an alternative route... the upgraded zoom route (16-50, 50-135).

There are a number of options here that I was looking into...
DA35 2.8 Macro, people talk of its sharpness... added benefit of being a macro.
DA40 2.8 also receives a lot of positives, is also incredibly compact
FA31 1.8 by far the most expensive of the lot... but some say is well worth every $
FA43 1.9 cheaper than the 31... softer when wide open

each of the above has its own fan club... you could also check out the lens review section of this site to learn more...

Money being no object... I would probably take the FA31
01-25-2010, 09:56 AM   #3
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The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is a rocking lens!
01-25-2010, 10:33 AM   #4
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The FA 35mm f/2.0 is sharp from wide open. It's great to partner with the K-x's high ISO performance.

01-25-2010, 07:55 PM   #5
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George the DA21 will make for a great combination with the Kx.
01-25-2010, 08:27 PM   #6
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I have all of the lenses you mentioned.

Of those, the DA 35mm is my favorite... one of the best lenses Pentax ever made, in my opinion, and a beast at both infinity and macro focusing range. Some complain about slightly "busy" bokeh, but I don't see it. Can't recommend it highly enough.

As for the other two... the DA21 is probably the ugly duckling of my DA Limited collection, but that's probably because I just haven't learned to "see" in that focal length yet. It's very sharp from 3.2 on up, and it's quite wide.

The Sigma 30 is very very sharp in the center from wide open, provided you can focus it accurately. However, the border performance is poor, and that means it's not the best overall lens (landscapes, etc). I'd suggest it as a specialist lens for people/pub shots.
01-25-2010, 08:46 PM   #7
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George... the fact that you own a K-x is a great advantage. The camera's excellent performance at high ISO (you can use up to ISO 6400 with confidence) means you can stick with Pentax glass if you want and still get good low-light performance without necessarily requiring f/1.4 or f/1.8.

If you don't need lightning-quick auto-focusing, the DA 35mm f/2.8 macro Limited is an excellent lens. Because this lens is a macro and has no focus limiter, it tends to focus a bit slower than some other lenses. This is by design. But this lens is sharp and renders images wonderfully. $539 at B&H.

If you require faster auto-focus, then the less-expensive DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited pancake lens is a great option. Light, very compact... and less money than the DA 35 Limited. $339 at B&H.

But if you really want a lens with a very wide aperture, there is the FA 35mm f/2.0. This is a very good lens that originally came out during the film era. It's a bit plasticky but no one has ever reported this being a problem. Some people complain about the slightly "harsh" bokeh (the lens has six blades versus 8 or 9 for the others). Again, I don't think this is a deal-breaker in the real world. It's also sharp even when wide open. But because this lens is no longer in production, you either buy one used - or pay Pentax $475 for a new leftover with warranty. This lens wasn't intended to be all that expensive when it was introduced. But supply and demand will do things like that.

Of course, there's the very expensive FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited. If you absolutely, positively must have the best and are willing to pay for it, this is your lens. But be forewarned, the legendary narrow depth of field this lens offers can also make it a lot of work when focusing. The FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited is also a wonderful lens - just a bit less sharp than the 31 when wide open (but still very good) and features a longer focal length and a lower price tag. $964 for the 31mm at B&H... $749 for the 43mm.

And then there are , as you mentioned in your original post, the Sigmas: the 28mm and 30mm. You already said the 28 is too big and heavy, so that leaves the 30. The general consensus is this: The Sigma is a very good lens - fast and well-built. It is noted for having excellent sharpness in the center and being soft at the edges - particularly when wide open. But, depending on what you're shooting, this may not be an issue - and might even be an advantage for portraits. B&H offers this lens for $439 - less than half the cost of the FA 31 Limited.

Any of these lenses will do a solid job for you at the very least. Others will do even more - but for more money. Oh - I almost forgot - your K-X includes a feature (which you can turn on and off) that corrects for lens distortion. But it only really works with Pentax DA and D FA lenses. Just an FYI... but I don't think this focal length should be much of a problem in terms of distortion.

Now I'm assuming you want an auto-focus lens. If you have no problem with manual focusing, there are plenty of classic, used Pentax lenses available and Voigtlander's line of excellent manual-focus primes are as good as Pentax and have been compared at times with Leica.

Last edited by Biro; 01-25-2010 at 09:03 PM.
01-26-2010, 04:58 PM   #8
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Thanks so much for your help....

Hi Folks,
What a great forum. Thanks for all of your comments, suggestions, and thoughts. I really haven't gotten out and used the KX...just messing around at home and at my office. Have a day off coming up.
As I mentioned, I have more or less used a 28MM (35 equiv) for the past two years which would be closest to the DA21. Went back through a bunch of my snaps and it seemed to do a great job.
I think I have sort of ruled out everything except for the DA21 and DA35.
I'm sure the DA35 would do a better job with the out-of-focus and of course the lens is a tad faster.
When I get out I plan on setting the zoom to the two FLs and see how things feel.
Anyway, again, thanks so much for your help......
Will check back when I make a decision....


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