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06-02-2011, 12:11 AM   #1
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Can't decide on which f/1.4

I'm looking for a f/1.4 lens for night/low light shots and astro time lapse but can't decide which one to buy. I was reading a lot of reviews and ratings but that made it even harder to come to a final decision.
Anyone doing night and astro with a f/1.4 here ? What lens would you recommend ? Could you might post some shots ?

Pentax DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM ($650, pricy)
Pentax SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 ($370, highly praised, good price, but no AF, tricky to adjust focus ?)
Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM ($440, some reports of bad copys, quality issues at Sigma, HSM doesn't work on a Pentax ?)
Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM ($500, not available at the time, some reports of bad copys, quality issues at Sigma, HSM doesn't work on a Pentax ?)
Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM ($970, way to expensive, would rather have a wider lens)

or i'll go for the compromise to sacrifice a bit of aperture and go for a f/1.8:

Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG RF Aspherical Wide Angle ($615, pricy, not the best critics)
Sigma 24mm F1.8 EX DG ASP Macro ($532, Macro!, great view angle of 84, not the best critics)
Sigma 28mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro ($450, AF problems? not as sharp as others ?)

Don't have much experience and depend and advice of the pros here.

THX in advance for your advice !


Last edited by Ragnar; 06-02-2011 at 12:35 AM.
06-02-2011, 12:22 AM   #2
hcc
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First you may need to ascertain that you need AF. There are some excellent f1.4 MF lens, including
Zeiss 85mm f1.4
Voigtlander Nokton 58 mm f1.4
Vivitar 85mm f1.4 (Vivitar Series 1 85mm F1.4 Review)

I am not an expert in astro.

However, in very dark situations, a MF lens is great and often easier to use than a AF lens. The MF lenses have typically some nicer focus ring.

Food for thought...

Last edited by hcc; 06-02-2011 at 01:51 AM.
06-02-2011, 12:22 AM   #3
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The FA 50 does have AF (in fact it is up to 1 second faster than the DA*) so unless you need the weather sealing I would go with that. 85mm is a great focal length overall, but for the typical user it'd likely end up being used for portraiture.
06-02-2011, 01:00 AM   #4
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Wow, fast reply ! THX guys !

@hcc: Since you are an expert in astro i'd have a couple of questions for you if you don't mind.

I wasn't sure about the AF cause i would like to use that lens for day light, urban and portray shots aswell. But i'd rather have a lens which is good for astro and dedicate it to mainly that purpose.

- Correct me if i'm wrong: In astro you would set focus somewhat to infinity, so AF is not really needed/usefull there?
- Would you prefer a rather small focal length (<50) with a wider angle to capture a larger area?
- What settings do you usually start off with when you do astro ?

Appreciate your help !

06-02-2011, 01:19 AM   #5
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Why would you need to focus? If you are shooting stars wouldn't the lens spend all of it's time on infinity anyway?
06-02-2011, 01:28 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ragnar Quote
Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM ($440, some reports of bad copys, quality issues at Sigma, HSM doesn't work on a Pentax ?)
There is no Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM in K-mount; it is only available as the Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC (no HSM, i.e. screw-driven focusing). However, the 50mm F1.4 and 85mm F1.4 are available in HSM for K-mount and also work for K-mount.
06-02-2011, 01:38 AM   #7
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I had a FA 50mm 1.4. I sold it because I thought it was too soft at my K-5.
Now I have a Sigma 50mm 1.4 (for sale). The center is sharp all the way from 1.4, but the borders are a bit too soft wide open. I think it is better than my old FA 50mm. For portraits it does not matter with the soft borders.
I would like to test the DA*55mm, but from what I have read it might be similar to the Sigma.
I would not go for the 1.8 Sigmas. I had them all several years ago. They are big and bulky and their optical performance is below average.

Personally, I prefer the FA Ltd. lenses, but they are expensive.
06-02-2011, 01:52 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ragnar Quote
@hcc: Since you are an expert in astro i'd have a couple of questions for you if you don't mind.
Ragnar,
My apologies: I meant I am not an expert. (Missed the not.) Again mea culpa...

I have to f1.4 (58mm and 85mm), both MF. When I shoot landscape far away, I can simply set the focus ring to infinity. In your case, you would focus to infinity similarly and the MF (or absence of AF) is not an issue. IMO I would think that a MF lens would be a good solution.


Last edited by hcc; 06-02-2011 at 02:24 AM.
06-02-2011, 03:03 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
The FA 50 does have AF (in fact it is up to 1 second faster than the DA*) so unless you need the weather sealing I would go with that. 85mm is a great focal length overall, but for the typical user it'd likely end up being used for portraiture.
true, but at f1.4 the DA* is better than 50/1.4. I have owned K and A series and tried FA too, plus I owned K50/1.2 and K55/1.8 and FA43. The only lens shaper than DA* is 43.
06-02-2011, 05:28 AM   #10
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QuoteQuote:
Ragnar,
My apologies: I meant I am not an expert. (Missed the not.) Again mea culpa...
Ups, ... I swear, ... i had only two beers !

Sorry, will read more thoroughly next time, .. promise!

Last edited by Ragnar; 06-02-2011 at 05:44 AM.
06-02-2011, 05:44 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ragnar Quote
Ups, ... I swear, ... i had only two beer ! Snip
This would seem to be the problem my friend... ONLY two beers! Texans and Aussies should stage a drink off...
06-02-2011, 06:17 AM   #12
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QuoteQuote:
Texans and Aussies should stage a drink off...
Got a marginal advantage ... I live in Texas, ... but i'm german.
We watch you Aussies go sh**faced on Octoberfest every year, ... it's fun though.

Back to topic:

The DA*55 would probably be the first choice. What i don't like about it though (besides the price) is the narrower view angle of only 28.5, while other lenses around 50mm got something like 45-47. Sigma's 85 got a view angle of 28.

Think i should get a FA 50, play around with it.
06-02-2011, 09:15 AM   #13
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Bought a used FA 50/1.4.

Thx Bob
06-02-2011, 09:19 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ragnar Quote
Bought a used FA 50/1.4.

Thx Bob
Congrats, you will love it.
06-02-2011, 08:04 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by axl Quote
true, but at f1.4 the DA* is better than 50/1.4. I have owned K and A series and tried FA too, plus I owned K50/1.2 and K55/1.8 and FA43. The only lens shaper than DA* is 43.
Axl has a good assessment here. The DA*55 is very good at f/1.6 and f/1.8 - something none of the Pentax AF 50's do (I've owed 3 of the 4 AF 50's < f/2), and a fact that typically gets neglected in tests and reviews.

The DA*55, along with the FA43 and K50/1.2 (both of which I have) are the top candidates at this FL. The K50/1.2 is arguably the best, with smooth OOF rendering - somehow even slightly better than the A50/1.2. The DA*55, which I've used, is the opposite of the K50/1.2 - AF, WR, very sharp near wide-open, but with sometimes beautiful/sometimes harsh OOF rendering. And the FA43 has perhaps the most fantastic color rendering of any Pentax lens (as may the DA15), and is very sharp stopped down a bit (especially if by more than a stop).
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