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02-17-2010, 01:58 PM   #1
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Owners of the FA31mm and another FA limited. Is it worth the $1k?

Those who don't like questions like this please ignore the thread. I know only I know what lens I want, and that is not the point of this thread.

The reason I want owners of the FA31 and another FA limited to weigh in their opinion is because they can compare the two. I have both the FA43 and the FA77 limited, and they are the two favorite lenses of mine. I prefer the 43 a bit better than the 77, but I prefer the two more than any other lens I own or ever owned.

Now I sold a few lenses (sigma 10-20, F28/2.8 and the F35/2) and have the 1k for the 31, but that is truly a sickening amount of cash for a lens. I got the 43 and the 77 before the price hike. If the 31 is truly as special as the other FA limited's then it may be worth it. So, what do owners of the 31 and any other FA limited think of the 31 as compared to their other limiteds (43 or 77). Is the 31 better than the other two?

I am seriously considering keeping the 1k until march if in case Pentax announces another lens. But, then none of the lenses Pentax has released recently IMO matches the FA limiteds, so why would it be different now (well the DA55 might be close though....).

02-17-2010, 02:24 PM   #2
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I own the 77, have owned both the 43 and 31.

The 31 was one of the best lenses I've owned, but... personally, for me, it wasn't good enough to justify the cost. I owned both the DA 35 and FA 31 for a period of time, and ended up using the DA 35 more.

But, here's the deal - everyone is different, and everyone values different things in their glass. There are people who (as I'm sure you know) swear by the 31, and might not even shoot a Pentax body of it wasn't available.

On APS-C, it wasn't wide enough or long enough for me, although it wasn't a bad FL. It was especially nice for indoor shooting, but didn't AF particularly fast, so I'd occasionally miss shots because of that.

I think that it might be worth getting for anyone, but obviously worth more to others than to me. It would be nice to complete your FA ltd collection.
02-17-2010, 02:31 PM   #3
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Pcarfan, why not rent it for a couple of weeks ?
02-17-2010, 02:36 PM   #4
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In practical use, the DA*55 is a damn fine hunk of glass, in case you're looking for exceptions to your rule.

Re the 31mm Limited, I love the lens but don't know if I would have been jazzed about paying a grand for it. I got mine used a few years ago for $500. I wasn't really looking to buy one but the chance came along. Obviously, those bargains are long gone but perhaps you can find a used one at a willing to pay price with a little patience.

That said, My FA limiteds seem to spend a lot of time in their little pouches, in the camera bag rather than on the camera. For the 30ish range, I seem to favor the DA35 f2.8 for walkaround everyday use. 2 completely different lenses, I know, but I just like the way the 35 handles with the quick shift focus and the like. The 31 stays here though.. Now if you think you'll use it a lot, and particularly more than the lenses you sold to pay for it, then it'll be a good investment for you. Lenses (I know I'm going to regret saying this) that just sit in a bag or in a cupboard, are, well, nice decorations at best.

Further, if you've set your heart on the FA31mm, you won't be happy with anything else. I know I wouldn't be.



02-17-2010, 02:54 PM   #5
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The FA77 is my favorite lens, but I find using the FA31 for 3/4 of my photos. The DA35 outperforms it in some ways, but in low light at that focal length the FA31 is tops.

I don't know if it's worth $1K. But it sure is a nice lens.
02-17-2010, 03:10 PM   #6
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IMHO No its not.

Purple fringeing wide open and its cumbersome size mean I dont use it as much as the 43 and 77 which are great portrait lenses. Its sharp enough but I think no better than the 35 F2 which optically was a great lens.

Of course it has the build quality, but if I was paying current prices I would buy DA lenses which are better corrected. In fact I would buy a 15 and a 35 macro instead. Just my 2cents.

QuoteOriginally posted by pcarfan Quote
Those who don't like questions like this please ignore the thread. I know only I know what lens I want, and that is not the point of this thread.

The reason I want owners of the FA31 and another FA limited to weigh in their opinion is because they can compare the two. I have both the FA43 and the FA77 limited, and they are the two favorite lenses of mine. I prefer the 43 a bit better than the 77, but I prefer the two more than any other lens I own or ever owned.

Now I sold a few lenses (sigma 10-20, F28/2.8 and the F35/2) and have the 1k for the 31, but that is truly a sickening amount of cash for a lens. I got the 43 and the 77 before the price hike. If the 31 is truly as special as the other FA limited's then it may be worth it. So, what do owners of the 31 and any other FA limited think of the 31 as compared to their other limiteds (43 or 77). Is the 31 better than the other two?

I am seriously considering keeping the 1k until march if in case Pentax announces another lens. But, then none of the lenses Pentax has released recently IMO matches the FA limiteds, so why would it be different now (well the DA55 might be close though....).
02-17-2010, 03:14 PM   #7
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The 31 is a great lens. I love mine Whether or not it is worth $1,000 can only be determined by the person writing the check. Mine is worth it to me but your mileage may vary.
02-17-2010, 03:41 PM   #8
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i got mine for cheap so i cant complain (prior to the price hikes)

i tend to use it at F2.8 - F4.0

usually the wide open photos take too much effort and the desired result almost never present (just too damn soft)

having said that its on my camera almost all the time, with the 10-20 as a backup for wide stuff.

lately i have been considering the DA40 to replace the FA31.. but i would need to get ahold of a copy and do F2.8 tests to see if i am willing to sacrafice quality (if any)

is it worth the money?

tough question..

02-17-2010, 03:41 PM   #9
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For me the 31 is pretty much indispensable. It is as close to a standard lens as we can get from Pentax for their DSLR cameras.
I happen to like standard lenses, so this is a fairly big deal for me.
As much as I like the 31 though, I think I'd have a fairly hard time justifying what they want for it right now.
Almost Can $1300.00 is steep. I don't think I paid that much for both of my 31s combined.
At the same time, there is no way I'd pay over $700.00 for the FA35/2, and that's what they think that lens is worth at the moment.

Pentax may well be driving their customer base over to third party lenses, or at least they seem to be dissuading people from buying 135 format lenses, as the small sensor lenses seem much more reasonably priced (the 55 being a notable exception).
02-17-2010, 04:41 PM   #10
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I've been shopping around for an FA31 and have thought about this question myself. I too really like standard lenses as 50mm to me seems like the 'right' focal length for me on film.

Wheatfield is right. It's hard to justify it for what they want for it right now. I did some scoping around and for me to get an FA31 brand new with the CDN 2 year warranty would be $1250 + 12% BC tax = $1400. Wow.
And yes. Even the lovely FA35 F/2 is about $740 + 12% BC TAX = $829. Ouch.

I'm glad my Sigma 30mm F1.4 is still working strong and a great copy. Build quality and feel of the FA31 is completely unmatched but whether I can justify that to $1400 CDN is... well, that's tough.
02-17-2010, 05:54 PM   #11
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I appreciate all the very helpful replies. I wish I bought it when I could have had it for ~$700. I enjoy the rendering of my two limiteds and didn't want to miss out on another that could do the same at a very different focal length. But 1k is just too much money for a prime at a focal length I may not even use much, as I am not that much into the normal FOV. My outdoor walk around lens is the FA*24, and I like that focal length very much, was hoping the 31 might do the same for indoors, but the price is just too steep. I am going to wait for now. Thanks!

P.S: In my first post I may not have given enough credit to Pentax's recent lenses. I did mention the DA55, but the DA15 and DA35 are very nice lenses as well.
02-17-2010, 07:13 PM   #12
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I own the DA 35 and the FA 31. I hapened to buy the DA 35 when it was only 379 $. None the less, I ended up spending 1 200 $ on the FA 31. Is it worth it? If you affectionate speed (f1.8 vs f2.8), creamy bokeh and "magic", then yes. What is magic? Everytime I use the FA 31, I feel soooo good. I can't explain this feeling. I might just be narcisic and love the fact that it is one of the best autofocus lens outhere. I might not even be worthy of this legendary lens, but who cares. Using it makes me happy. What else can I say?
02-17-2010, 08:25 PM   #13
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My short answer to your question: No, it is not worth $1K. But I would highly recommend it if you can find a good used copy at ~$800 (I would prefer a "Made in Japan" copy).

I own 31mm along with 43mm and 77mm, and 31mm is my walk around lens being stuck on my K20D for, say, 80% of time. FA 31mm has a totally different character from FA 35mm. It's not as sharp as 35mm wide open, but gets very sharp at F/2.4~2.8. At F/4.5, 31mm renders amazingly clear images, adding sort of transparent and 3-D feels.

For me, the focal length of 31mm (46.5mm equivalent on 35mm films) is a perfect one-lens solution for shooting both scenery and people. I am not very comfortable using below 28mm for shooting people due to facial distortions. On the other hand, 35mm is sometimes a bit too long for indoor group portraits.

You could save some money by selling either of 43mm or 77mm. You would probably use 43mm a lot less after getting 31mm. I am exactly in this situation, although breaking up my FA limited collection is emotionally very tough.
02-17-2010, 08:26 PM   #14
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pcarfan, i do notice that you don't have any film cameras. imo, the coolest part about the FA31 is using it on film (on a MZ-S preferably). on digital, it becomes a bit more ordinary.

if i were you, there's no way i would spend that much money on this lens. to me, the reference points for primes are always the canon L primes. when you can get the 35L for $1400 new and probably substantially cheaper used, then it doesn't really make sense.

QuoteOriginally posted by *isteve Quote
IMHO No its not.

Purple fringeing wide open and its cumbersome size mean I dont use it as much as the 43 and 77 which are great portrait lenses. Its sharp enough but I think no better than the 35 F2 which optically was a great lens.

Of course it has the build quality, but if I was paying current prices I would buy DA lenses which are better corrected. In fact I would buy a 15 and a 35 macro instead. Just my 2cents.
there is a purple fringe wide open, but nowhere as extreme as the FA77 under bright circumstances. as to the "cumbersome size", the lens is only large in comparison to the other pentax 49mm primes. in comparison to lenses from other brands it's not that big.

the fa31 has better bokeh than the fa35, it's not a myth, in terms of sharpness and contrast it was a wash for me.

QuoteOriginally posted by Gooshin Quote
usually the wide open photos take too much effort and the desired result almost never present (just too damn soft)
maybe there's a bit of sample variation. the fa31 is a bit softer wide open than 2.8 or 4.0, but i did some quick tests at home before and the difference wasn't as big as i thought it would be.
02-17-2010, 09:02 PM   #15
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Worth depends on the person

Hi:

I owned the 31 Limited for about a month. I returned it. I just did not think it was worth almost $1k. I bought a Sigma 30 1.4 and an Alien Bee 800 (with a beauty dish and grid spot) for the same money!!!

Though my posts may seem to betray me, I am an intermediate photographer. Beyond, beginner, but certainly not advanced--so please take my comments appropriately.

The 31 is very well built, but I think it feels so solid in comparison to the way electronics/optics are made these days, as it is a legacy lens, so to speak, from not too long ago film days. Well built, but I did not feel stunningly so.

Image quality at all apertures is excellent, but I generally use my k20d for my weekend warrior moonlighting as a portrait photographer. Since I shoot at either F 1.4 to 2.0 or 8 to 11, I do not need, say 2.2 to 5.6, where the 31 probably fairly well outperforms competitors (at least on a pixel peeping level). For portrait work, though, exacting detail simply is not necessary and it was a mistake on my part to get the 31 thinking I would be able to really appreciate its quality in the middle “ish” wide apertures that I do not really use.

I think of the 31 as a very well made item that is probably like other very well made items for other hobbies/professions. If you need its virtues, it becomes worth it, if you do not, the expense is not justified, unless cost is not an issue.

I have a pretty good gym set up in our basement. I used to compete in powerlifting and I like using heavy duty commercial quality equipment. I do not squat as heavy as I used to, but really like squatting in my monster commercial power rack. Could I do squats in a lighter duty power rack and get the same actual benefit--sure, but I appreciate the qualities of the honking steel and feel nice and safe in there when I squat (or bench).

So, I think the 31 limited is much like specialized equipment in other hobbies. It clearly is well built and provides great images throughout the range--but there are many lenses with good build quality that provide excellent images, just perhaps not as solidly throughout the whole range of apertures. Throw in post processing and the lenses begin to meld together to some extent (save perhaps kit quality lenses).

So--it really becomes an issue of whether you are willing to pay for the characteristics that differentiate the 31 from other lenses (and are ok with the recent price jump).

I decided to get a Sigma 30 1.4. I had a Sigma 28 and was disappointed with it, but the more I look at my pictures the more I think I was too hasty. The Sigma 30 1.4 gets criticized a lot for softness. Well, perhaps there are better landscape/outdoor lenses, but for portrait work it is very nice. I find it more than sharp enough even wide open (I use it for full length portraits and to be able to include other scenery in a full length portrait). It is very nice, well made (maybe a notch below DA* lenses--I have the 16-50, 55, and the 50-135--but only slightly so), comes with a nice case, decent lens hood, and a 4 year warranty (1 plus a 3 year extension when registered). I hope to post a more detailed review of it when I have some good samples to post.

Anyway, hope the above is helpful.

Gregg

Last edited by candgpics; 02-17-2010 at 09:31 PM.
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