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04-08-2010, 07:41 PM   #1
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Rather underwhelmed by the FA 50mm/1.4

I've been using the FA 50/1.4 for the past 2-3 months. I'm rather underwhelmed. I don't think there's anything wrong with my copy, it just lacks something.

I've just returned to Pentax after an absence from photography in general. A few years ago I had a K10D with FA43 and FA77, so that's what I'm comparing the 50/1.4 against. Which probably isn't fair.

This time around funds are much tighter. I don't think I can afford the FA43, which would be my first choice. Maybe I should try the DA40? How does that lens compare to the FA50?

I know there are other good manual 50s, but I want the AF.

04-08-2010, 07:45 PM   #2
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I've heard a lot of similar comments about the lens. It's not bad, it's just not that great. I suppose the aspect of having a lens that has f/1.4 is too much excitement being built up, and then when you actually get it you're a bit dissapointed. I would suggest the 40mm pancake as an alternative though. It's incredibly small if you have a small body like the K-x and it is pretty good in terms of image quality. You do lose a stop or two of light through it though.
04-08-2010, 07:48 PM   #3
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What I've found is that I almost never shoot under f/2.8 with the 50 because it's so soft. Also, since I'm mostly photographing people, f/1.4 isn't often useful - unless I'm going for a really "artsy" shot.

I think I will give the DA40 a try. Sigh. I wish I could afford the FA43. That was an inspiring lens.
04-08-2010, 09:32 PM   #4
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My FA50/1.4 does not look that sharp in my k100D. I think there are some focus mismatch issue (either FF or BF). The same lens on my K-7 is great and tack sharp.

A friend has the sigma 50/1.4 and he mentioned that the lens is razor sharp even at f1.4. maybe u want to check that out.

04-08-2010, 09:32 PM   #5
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I did shoot for several weeks with the FA50 in low light, most of the time at f/1.4. It's not at all soft but you have to get the focus right (I use manual focus pretty much all the time). I expect that some softness when using it wide open might be more visible on charts, but on portraits it's not an issue at all - thin DOF is another thing.

My initial impressions were also not overwhelming, but I've learned to use my lenses better and this is a very fine lens.

On the other hand, I would be disappointed if the FA43 and FA77 were not better than the FA50, given that they are some of the best regarded prime lenses in the Pentax lineup (next to the 31mm).
04-08-2010, 09:51 PM   #6
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I had the Sigma 50/1.4 with a Canon 5D at one point. It is a fantastic lens - if you get a good copy. It took me three tries, but the third really was nearly perfect. Except that it's big and heavy. Felt fine on a 5D but suspect it would be awkward on a K-x.
04-08-2010, 10:07 PM   #7
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I would take a look to the 35mm/2 or the Sigma 50mm/1.4. I own the latter and it is a fantastic lens (provided you get a good copy) and I have tried the 35/2 and I found it very sharp. Both can be purchased at roughly half price compared with the FA 43mm so...
04-08-2010, 10:15 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by switters Quote
I've been using the FA 50/1.4 for the past 2-3 months. I'm rather underwhelmed. I don't think there's anything wrong with my copy, it just lacks something.

I've just returned to Pentax after an absence from photography in general. A few years ago I had a K10D with FA43 and FA77, so that's what I'm comparing the 50/1.4 against. Which probably isn't fair.

This time around funds are much tighter. I don't think I can afford the FA43, which would be my first choice. Maybe I should try the DA40? How does that lens compare to the FA50?

I know there are other good manual 50s, but I want the AF.
I tried the DA40. from my experience, I like it more than the FA50/1.4. it's 2 stops slower, but I like it's character. I suggest the DA40 because it's the cheapest of the bunch, right after the FA50/1.4. I think there is also an F50/1.7 being sold at the marketplace right now. you might want to check that out as well. it also has a different character compared to the FA50/1.4.

04-08-2010, 10:17 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by kytra Quote
I would take a look to the 35mm/2 or the Sigma 50mm/1.4. I own the latter and it is a fantastic lens (provided you get a good copy) and I have tried the 35/2 and I found it very sharp. Both can be purchased at roughly half price compared with the FA 43mm so...
I was thinking about this one as well, but held back because switters might find it wide for his taste. but anyway, if 35mm doesn't bother him, it's a great lens in it's own right.
04-08-2010, 10:21 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxor Quote
I was thinking about this one as well, but held back because switters might find it wide for his taste. but anyway, if 35mm doesn't bother him, it's a great lens in it's own right.
Oh I hadn't even thought of the 35mm. That is apparently one of the best prime lenses that Pentax makes. I would definitely recommend that one especially considering how cheap you can get it used. And have you seen the awesome hood that goes with it? I really like it.
04-08-2010, 10:40 PM   #11
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I had the FA50 1.4 for a while and was similarly unimpressed. I sold it and bought the DA35mm macro Ltd. for right about the same price and that lens blows me away. Stunning It *definitely* has that special something - apparently all the Ltd. lenses come with fairy dust dispensers. You can't go wrong with any of the DA Limiteds, and they're for sale at very reasonable prices at the market place here all the time
04-08-2010, 11:04 PM   #12
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I may go against the grain, however I'd stand by the opinion that the FA 50/1.4 is indispensible. I very rarely shoot at f/1.4, but I have often shot at f/2.0 with absolutely stellar results. Perhaps not in terms of microcontrast, but the bokeh and control of DoF is excellent with the FA 50.

I find the 31 and 77 ltds are exquisite straight out of the camera, but with some PP work my FA 50 results can come quite close to what these FA ltds can produce. Having the FA ltds makes me wonder whether I should keep the FA 50, and indeed I use it a lot less now, but I've just been too pleased with it to let it go.

Might just leave it to the Mrs to use once she gets into photography.
04-08-2010, 11:06 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
I may go against the grain, however I'd stand by the opinion that the FA 50/1.4 is indispensible. I very rarely shoot at f/1.4, but I have often shot at f/2.0 with absolutely stellar results. Perhaps not in terms of microcontrast, but the bokeh and control of DoF is excellent with the FA 50.

I find the 31 and 77 ltds are exquisite straight out of the camera, but with some PP work my FA 50 results can come quite close to what these FA ltds can produce. Having the FA ltds makes me wonder whether I should keep the FA 50, and indeed I use it a lot less now, but I've just been too pleased with it to let it go.

Might just leave it to the Mrs to use once she gets into photography.
Sadly I think the basic design around the lens was to get a foothold on Canon and Nikon with the f/1.8 lenses. Unfortunately though, the Pentax isn't sharp at it's wide open aperture like those lenses.
04-08-2010, 11:16 PM   #14
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Well I sold my FA 50 f1.4 to fund a Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4 so I guess it didn't do much for me either.
04-09-2010, 02:12 AM   #15
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I think I'm with Ash in this one. My copy of the 50/1.4 delivers very good results, even wide open. Not in first instance. I had to work on my technique. But after getting used to the lens, I am very ( read: very!) pleased with its results.... Colour, contrast, sharpness....it's just what I want in a lens...
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