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06-08-2013, 06:52 AM   #1
Jane Spencer
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Pentax Lenses 50mmf1.8 or 70mm pancake?

I want to buy a fixed lens for my pentax K5ii and can't decide between 2 lenses: 50mm f1.8 or the 70mm f2.8 pancake lens. This would be for travel shots, candid portraits and possibly flowers. Of course, the 70mm is much pricier.

06-08-2013, 07:45 AM   #2
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Primed?

Hello Jane, welcome to the Forum!
Although the 70mm is a fine optic, is is, as you mentioned, expensive and a bit long (in focal length) for landscapes and portraits.
But if you're willing to spend $400 - $500, here's my suggestion; Buy the 50mm f/1.8 AND the 'plastic fantastic' 35mm f/2.4. This will give you two fast prime lenses in very useful focal lengths. The 35 is great for a walkaround and scenic shots, the 50mm is good for tighter scenes and 'head' shots or candid portraits.
Bear in mind that the aps-c crop factor means that the lens view is actually 50% longer than the listed length, the 50mm is more like a 75mm (a near-ideal portrait size) and the 35mm is similar to a 50mm point of view.
So, what you'll end up with, is a 'normal' lens and a short telephoto, both in good-quality, fast and sharp primes.
You can use either one for flowers and small objects, but you'll have to get pretty close to the subject. If you find you like this type of photography (and Macro is addicting!) you'll be much more well-served by a dedicated macro lens in the 90-105mm length. That choice will be easier once you try the shorter primes.
Another option, and one that's much less expensive, is to find a used 'F' series 35-70mm Pentax zoom. This is a highly-regarded auto-focus zoom with a macro function at the 70mm end. There are many fans of this tiny gem here and several reviews in the lens review section. You can easily find one online for $50-$100.
Whatever you decide, good luck!
Ron

Last edited by rbefly; 06-08-2013 at 07:53 AM.
06-08-2013, 08:25 AM   #3
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Welcome aboard the forum, every photographer has got to own a nifty fifty, nuff said.
06-08-2013, 09:27 AM   #4
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Hello and welcome! If you are on a budget, you might consider getting the 35mm f2.4 or 40mm XS for landscapes and such (wide, sharp, fast AF on both of these lenses, very light and small, especially the 40mm pancake), and a used 50mm f1.7 (for portraits, closeups, flower photos, indoors and night time photos). You can get two high-quality lenses for a low price. But the 70mm is also very highly valued, I doubt you wouldn't enjoy it. You can use it for some landscapes, but in a "closeup landscape" type photos

06-08-2013, 06:04 PM   #5
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Welcome on PF!

A 70mm for portraits and flowers may just be ok, but for a more general use as for travel shots something in the range of 24-50mm would get probably more usage (some would say for this you need several primes or a zoom).

Keep in mind that a pancake is always a compromise. Originally they were invented to save production cost, not to make a lens with better IQ. You can design and produce a much better lens if you are not restricted to make it extremely short (but it will be more expensive). For marketing reasons, this is not always reflected in the selling price.
06-08-2013, 06:21 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by RKKS08 Quote
Welcome on PF!

A 70mm for portraits and flowers may just be ok, but for a more general use as for travel shots something in the range of 24-50mm would get probably more usage (some would say for this you need several primes or a zoom).

Keep in mind that a pancake is always a compromise. Originally they were invented to save production cost, not to make a lens with better IQ. You can design and produce a much better lens if you are not restricted to make it extremely short (but it will be more expensive). For marketing reasons, this is not always reflected in the selling price.
I disagree. The only particular compromises that I ever found in shooting the DA 70 were the fact that it isn't super fast (aperture of 2.4) and that it doesn't focus very close. Otherwise, it is sharp corner to corner, has nice bokeh, nice rendering and is overall a lens I recommend highly.

That said, to the OP, I would recommend the DA 50 f1.8 for what you are looking and if you have the funds, you should get the DA 35 f2.4 as well. It feels to me like the 70mm focal length would be too long for your purposes and the other two primes will work better.
06-08-2013, 07:47 PM   #7
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@Rondec
In some cases the preferred specs may lead to a very short design.

But Pentax (and some of the competition) offer pancakes with very different specifications (focus length, max aperture). To meet the restriction to get a sensational short lens, other respects must be neglected. It could be max aperture, or some optical correction they think users will not complain about.

This does not mean you'll get a bad lens. It may still be good enough for the purpose and for the sensor used. It just means the designers in most cases would be able to make a better one if they were not restricted. After all it`s a marketing decision, and if the customer doesn't see flaws (or, for his usage, flaws don't exist), and a short lens is a must for some reason, everyone can be happy.

There are situations where I would prefer a short lens, too. But in cases where it doesn't matter, I would probably choose a non restricted design.

EDIT.
About the recommendations for the OP, I could agree with you.

Last edited by RKKS08; 06-08-2013 at 07:53 PM.
06-09-2013, 11:42 AM   #8
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I don't think pancakes are really that much of a compromise. I mean, lenses already make all sorts of compromises, about materials, build quality, features like aperture ring and quickshift.. And I think the Pentax pancakes, according to tests, perform really well, pretty much indistinguishable from non-pancakes.
If you want a lens without compromises, feel free to get an extremely expensive Leica.

06-09-2013, 05:30 PM   #9
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That pancake is one heck of a nice lens, it's great for concerts too!
I just posted some shots here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/227469-pentax-...ml#post2413819
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