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04-17-2010, 06:38 AM   #1
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DA*55mm f1.4 vs. Nokton 58mm f1.4

Is there anyone who has had experience with both of these lenses that they would like to expound on?

Or, if you were trying to decide between the two and finally choose one, which one and why?

04-17-2010, 06:49 AM   #2
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the biggest difference between them is that one has auto focus and the other one doesn't. all the other differences are largely a matter of taste.

I would get the DA* 55mm f/1.4 it's weather sealed. and the nokton isn't as resistant to flare as pentax lenses generally are. But, in terms of image quality (taking bokeh into account) the nokton is ahead.
04-17-2010, 07:28 AM   #3
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There are some relevant, independant reviews at Photozone.de and slrgear.com that are available:
DA*55mm f1.4 (Photozone.de and slrgear.com)
Pentax SMC DA* 55mm f/1.4 SDM - Review / Test Report
Pentax Lens: Primes - Pentax 55mm f/1.4 SDM SMC DA* (Tested) - SLRgear.com!

Nokton 58mm f1.4 (Photozone.de)
Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL II - Review / Test Report

Photozone.de did not rate highly the DA*55mm: "Optically the DA* 55mm f/1.4 is not all THAT different from other lenses in this lens class. The mechanical qualities are certainly worth a couple more bucks but generally we do believe that it's quite overpriced by say 150EUS/US$. Alternatively you may also have a look at the Pentax SMC FA 43mm f/1.9 Ltd." Slrgear.com added: "If you don't need the SDM ultrasonic motor, you can save a fair amount of money going with Pentax's previous offering in this category [FA50mm f1.4]".

Pricewise, the DA*55mm is expensive (US$800 at Adoiama.com) compared to the Nokton 58m (US$379 at Adorama.com) and the Pentax FA50mm (US$360 at Adorama.com).

The DA55mm is rated WR, but the Nokton 58mm is built like a tank. It is basically WR (although not rate). I have used the Nokton outdoor in rain and mud, and I had no problem. Other Pentaxians had some similar experience with the Nokton.

Three months agos, I was after such a fast prime for outdoor low-light shooting (https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/84601-advice-l...oor-photo.html). I got some good advice from this forum. I deemed the DA*55mm far too expensive and not worth the exhorbitant price tag, and I hesitated between the FA50mm and Nokton 58mm. I chose the Nokton 58mm for its built quality and I do not regret my choice.

It may help others to provide further advice if you can tell us your intended usage of this fast prime: indoor, outdoor, landscape, portrait, ...

Hope that the comment wil help....
04-17-2010, 07:33 AM   #4
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Photozone's MTF tests (both tested on 10MP DSLRs):





As you can see, other than at F4, the Voigt is superior, resolution-wise, to the DA*55/1.4.

Yet, looking at the MTF progression of Photozone's labtests, I wouldn't be surprised if the DA*55/1.4 F4 results are somewhat erroneous.

Another thing - you can get almost 2 Voigts for the price of one DA*55/1.4

04-17-2010, 07:48 AM   #5
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Yeah, I guess I should have said what I already know:
1. Nokton is MF only vs. SDM for the DA*
2. Nokton is almost half the price ($380ish vs $650ish)
3. Nokton will work on FF (if Pentax ever makes one, or if I ever got a 35mm film Pentax - hey, it could happen)

My main uses would be street, travel, and portrait (the last two could be out in the woods, in a park, in a dim restaurant or museum, etc.). An MF-only lens is fine in a prime as long as the optical and build quality are good and the price is right.

I think that if I were shooting something where AF was important (lots of action, need to capture moments quickly, etc.), then I'd be using a zoom anyway.

I did see a thread on the Nokton and on many of the sample images the bokeh seemed rather "nervous" - generally soft, but with hard edges here and there. I've never seem shots that directly compare the bokeh of the two lenses.

It's nice to hear that the Nokton is as tough and weather sealed as you say it is.
04-17-2010, 07:51 AM   #6
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At f/4 you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between any decent fast fifty ever made vinceloc. There is more to a lens than it's resolution. There is flare tolerance; off the top of my head there are at least 8 basic types of flare to deal with,vignetting,coma,astigmatism,chromatic & transverse aberrations to deal with, And on top of it all don't forget about bokeh.

lenses aren't all about numbers.
04-17-2010, 08:22 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by GregX999 Quote
Yeah, I guess I should have said what I already know:
1. Nokton is MF only vs. SDM for the DA*
2. Nokton is almost half the price ($380ish vs $650ish)
3. Nokton will work on FF (if Pentax ever makes one, or if I ever got a 35mm film Pentax - hey, it could happen)

My main uses would be street, travel, and portrait (the last two could be out in the woods, in a park, in a dim restaurant or museum, etc.). An MF-only lens is fine in a prime as long as the optical and build quality are good and the price is right.

I think that if I were shooting something where AF was important (lots of action, need to capture moments quickly, etc.), then I'd be using a zoom anyway.

I did see a thread on the Nokton and on many of the sample images the bokeh seemed rather "nervous" - generally soft, but with hard edges here and there. I've never seem shots that directly compare the bokeh of the two lenses.

It's nice to hear that the Nokton is as tough and weather sealed as you say it is.
Greg,
You already received some good advice in earlier posts from various Pentaxians. I may add a couple of comments.

I would not be too nervous about MF if you shoot outdoor (eg in street). With the Nokton 58mm and most 50mm f1.4 lenses, the focus adjustment is minimum to nil when the focal distance is more than 5-7 m away. Simply the MF is irrelevant for outdoor shooting.

I shoot a lot of actions and I am quite happy with MF. I combine often Hi continuous shooting with MF, and I get better results than any AF systems. Most AF are too slow for actions.

In addition, I found the K-7 focus indicator (in viewfinder) to be spot on with the Nokton focus, and the K-7 AF assist is pretty good.

Hope that it will of interest...
04-17-2010, 10:27 AM   #8
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I had both, and sold the Nokton in favour of the DA*55. This is not a slam of the Nokton, it is a very good lens. However, after using both in side by side picture taking situations I decided to keep the DA lens. I found it to be somewhat sharper wide open (not by much), quite a bit sharper stopped down, and much more flare resistant.
The Nokton does have somewhat nicer bokeh, the 55 is a bit busy, but this is offset (and probably to a degree caused) by the somewhat greater sharpness at wide apertures.

04-17-2010, 11:25 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by GregX999 Quote
Or, if you were trying to decide between the two and finally choose one, which one and why?
If you like MF, you should get a MF lens. AF lenses have shorter throw in their focusing ring, to allow for faster AF, so by design they're not as good for MF - their focusing rings are less precise for MF.

The Nokton is my favorite lens and arguably the best value for the money.
04-17-2010, 06:08 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
At f/4 you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between any decent fast fifty ever made vinceloc. There is more to a lens than it's resolution. There is flare tolerance; off the top of my head there are at least 8 basic types of flare to deal with,vignetting,coma,astigmatism,chromatic & transverse aberrations to deal with, And on top of it all don't forget about bokeh.

lenses aren't all about numbers.
True, and that's why I clearly stated "resolution-wise". Obviously there are other factors to consider. One major factor to consider is the fact that one is purely manual, while the other uses SDM AF. So comparing both enumerating their over-all features is really quite difficult and could be more like an "apples to oranges" comparison.
04-17-2010, 06:33 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by vinceloc Quote
Another thing - you can get almost 2 Voigts for the price of one DA*55/1.4
Actually in Australia it was more like 3-4 with some cash left over... It has dropped recently to a bit over 2x times the price.. It is by far the most expensive fast 50 from any major brand, partly made up for by the fact you can still get the FA50 (although double its price from a few years back)..

I thought long and hard about this one and tried out James's and did like the DA*55 but in the end I got a FA50/1.4 and Voigt 58/1.4 for less money than the DA*55.. The FA50 gives me AF when I want it, and the Voigt58 has the bokeh I like and good wide open performance.

Not to say the DA*55 isn't a great lens, it just costs so much that to justify it I expect the best fast 50 ever made, which it isn't.
04-18-2010, 12:10 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GregX999 Quote
3. Nokton will work on FF (if Pentax ever makes one, or if I ever got a 35mm film Pentax - hey, it could happen)
I'm told the DA* 55mm will cover full frame and that people are using it on their FF 35mm cameras.

I don't agree with the broader statements about bokeh. I really like the bokeh on the DA* 55.

This thread that I Wound up may be worth your time to look at: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/94382-if-you-c...-you-pick.html
04-18-2010, 12:33 AM   #13
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I'm a bit unsure with the photozone MTF resolution results that the DA*55 got. from what I got from my personal tests, the lens is sharper from wide open and much better than the FA50/1.4. and I'm wondering why it seems that the FA50/1.4 seems to be consistently better than the DA55. and oddly enough, it is only better at f4.
04-18-2010, 05:17 AM   #14
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The main problem with lens tests is sample variation. The more lenses I buy, sell and use the more I see they are far from being born equal... I had a new 50/1.4 years ago that was far from impressive when it came to PF and general sharpness, my current one (bought second hand) is like a different lens (well obviously it is, but you know what I mean)..
04-18-2010, 09:34 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by cgoudie Quote
I'm told the DA* 55mm will cover full frame and that people are using it on their FF 35mm cameras.

I don't agree with the broader statements about bokeh. I really like the bokeh on the DA* 55.
The DA*55 will cover the 35mm frame, or at least I didn't see any vignetting in the viewfinder when I stuck it onto an ME Super that I have floating around the house.

Have you compared the bokeh of the DA and the Nokton side by side?
The Voigtlander is a little bit smoother than the DA. It isn't by much, and it isn't a big deal ever, but in the partially out of focus areas, the Nokton is a bit smoother.
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