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10-16-2012, 11:21 AM   #1
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Help with Lens Choice FA 43 vs. DA 35 2.8 vs. DA 40

Dear Pentaxian Fellows,

I just joined the Pentax Forums about a month ago and totally enjoy the camaraderie. A month ago, I bought the K-5 after struggling with the idea to to get a K-5 II instead. I also had the DA 55-300. Thanks to the feedback on the forums, I felt that I got a good lens for the money. Now I am looking for a medium range prime/fixed lens. Due to my limited budget, I narrow my choice to DA 35 2.8 macro, DA 40 2.8, FA 43 1.9. Some day I will get the DA 12-24 and DA* 50-135. Eventually I feel like I should go with the FA 43 due its reputation for SHARPNESS, contrast and color saturation. Especially it also works with a FF.

1. Does FA 43 has any limitations on a K-5 body?
2. There is some complaints about too narrow DOF. Can the problem be improved by aperture setting?
3. Do you think this plan will work for family activities around the house, street, travel and landscape?
4. Is there a better choice?

Thanks everyone!

Last edited by LukeSkywalker; 10-16-2012 at 11:22 AM. Reason: spelling
10-16-2012, 11:38 AM   #2
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Welcome! Any of those three primes are excellent starting points into the Pentax prime world.

I don't have the DA 35 2.8 macro or a K-5 so I can't answer your questions about them. But I do have the DA 40 and FA 43, which I use on my K-X. I enjoy the DA 40 and FA 43 for different reasons:

(1) DA 40 is the most compact, lightest lens you can get that has quick-shift and a hood included. Wonderful sharpness and colors, fastest AF, and nice metal build.
(2) FA 43 is the least expensive of the pixie-dust-infused FA limited series. Great "3D" images. Fast speed. Excellent build quality.

When I look at pictures I've taken with all of my lenses, the ones that make me smile the most were taken with the DA 40, FA 43, and DA 70.

But for family activities around the house, you may find the 40mm/43mm length too long on an APS-C camera. 35mm offers a bit better width, although even better for a walkaround/indoor prime is a 28mm or 30mm. For many around here, if you can afford it, the FA 31mm is the ultimate prime lens for Pentax, in part because of its useful focal length. Many people will sing the praises of the FA 77, for example, but also admit that it's their least used lens because it's a little too long of a focal length for everyday shooting purposes.

f/2.8 is the slowest you'd want to use for indoors, although your K-5 can boost the ISO quite a bit and still get great shots. I do notice the difference when trying to use my f/2.8 DA 40 compared to my f/1.9 FA 43 indoors-- the FA 43 captures low light shots a lot better. But outdoors, it's a wash, and the DA 40 often is my go-to lens because it's got such fast autofocus speed.

I'm sure many others will have good ideas for you.
Good luck!
10-16-2012, 12:16 PM   #3
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I'd say the DA 40, personally, but you really can't go wrong.
10-16-2012, 12:55 PM   #4
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I would recommend F 35-70 for its sharpness wide open and colors.. Yes, it is plastic, but so what?

10-16-2012, 01:09 PM   #5
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i own(ed) both

1. Does FA 43 has any limitations on a K-5 body? - quick shift, a bit more chromatic abs and shit than the DA (though to be fair that might haev been below 2.8, i dont own it to recheck)
2. There is some complaints about too narrow DOF. Can the problem be improved by aperture setting? - yes, complaints are mountains of molehills
3. Do you think this plan will work for family activities around the house, street, travel and landscape? - its a bit too narrow for indoors
4. Is there a better choice? - very few

the 43 was teh first limited i bought, and recently i purchased teh 35limited for the project i am working on, originally for its macro features.
i sold the 43 after owning the 35 for about a month.
it's that good. i like 35mm over 43 because it gives just the right amount of perspective distortion to make photos slightly more abstract than real life in the best way. 43 seems a bit too flat (of a perspective, the actual rendering is very 3d for a normal lens).

i fell in love with the 35 a) becasue its so sharp that you can see a black pixel next to a white pixel in 100% crops at far distances, and although its a macro lens, the REAL beauty is not using it as a macro lens, but having NO effective minimum focus. thats teh main reason i sold the 43, the closest it focused was about 1.5 feet, which is hindering at times.

i thought 2.8 vs 1.9 would be a big deal, but i never shot at 1.9 unless it was a shot i needed in really low light, because at 1.9 images jsut look noticeably worse than higher apertures. the 35limited i use at 2.8 often and never notice teh difference unless looking at full crops. teh k5 has good high iso and i go to 1600 sometimes and get good shots, the kind only photograpehrs too into their field give a flying **** over how grainy it is.

also, quick shift is important, though on the 35 the only downside is that every one degree you turn the focusing ring, you get about a million inches of focus shift, its very very sensetive, but smooth like butter. the DA has a more... "electronic" feeling than the FA when you turn it, hard to explain, but its a nuance. dotn forget about quick shift.

i own a K5 by the way, so i am (was) in your shoes.
moral of story, the 43 really is a great lens, but the 35 is jsut so versatile and special.
10-16-2012, 02:43 PM   #6
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I don't recall reading that the FA43 has more sharpness or contrast than the DA40. Instead, it seems that the FA Ltd series has more of a unique rendering quality, which I can say is definitely true for the FA 31 (the only Ltd that I have). But (compared to my FA 31) my DA40 is sharper, even wide open, and has noticeably less chromatic aberration. Not trying to knock the FA43 -- just don't assume that it is sharper than the DA40.

For "family activities around the house", both the DA40 and FA43 are a little long, and can be a little awkward. For that reason alone, out of the choices you mention, I would probably recommend the DA35 Ltd. But you could also consider the DA35 f2.4, it gets rave reviews despite the plastic construction, and as a minor bonus it is a wee bit faster than the DA35 ltd. Just a thought.
10-16-2012, 02:57 PM   #7

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I own the 43. I'm mildly disappointed with the lens because, while great for most photography, it's unusable for astrophotography. Stars show an excessive amount of coma as soon as you move a little bit away from center. I wasn't into AP when I bought the lens so didn't notice the coma within the return period.
10-17-2012, 08:51 PM   #8
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Original Poster
Thanks everyone for the quick and insightful replies. It was amazing that within minutes, seventysixersfan responded to my inquiry right away. Within less than 4 hours, there were more replies from others. Again, I am very touched!

Based on the majority of the advises, I should go with a a 35mm-lens. I was tempted to go with the DA 35 2.8 macro, then I changed my mind and decided on the DAL 35 2.4 - mainly for the price and many positive reviews -- after I viewed the photos taken with this lens in Pentax Photo Gallery.

So today I ordered the DAL 35 2.4 via Market Place with Adorama. Hopefully this forum will benefit from the sales. It should arrive next week.

Then... I reviewed Pentax Photo Gallery for the photos taken with DA 17-70. IMHO, the photos looked very good for a zoom lens. However, most reviews of this lens in the Pentax Lens Review are negative for various reasons. The reviews of 2012 were all positive. Reviews of prior years were more negative. I cannot help wondering if most of the problems have been fixed in 2012!

The range 17-70 is very tempting for me. I realize that it is not a fast lens but I hope that with a K-5, I can push it with higher ISO.

Here are my questions for DA 17-70:
1. Is it as sharp as DA 35 2.4?
2. Have you heard of improvements with latest batch of 2012?
3. Is it a safe choice for family activities, travel, and landscape? Is there any nagging concerns?

Thanks again!

10-18-2012, 07:21 AM   #9
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One of the best things about the community on this forum is everyone is very willing to help and very quick to respond! I haven't personally used the DA-L 35/2.4, but from what I've read about it and from others' experiences, it seems you can't go wrong! I can't help you with the 17-70 questions though, haven't read much about it.
10-18-2012, 08:42 AM   #10
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17-70 is indeed a very nice, convenient range, and you should look at the comparative review of 17-70 zoom lenses here:
Pentax 17-70mm Lens Comparison - Introduction -

I have never owned one of these but have been very tempted to get the Sigma version-- either the original one, or maybe the newly announced (not yet available) one that has the nice HSM quiet focusing motor (and larger aperture) as version 2 but comes in the size/weight of version 1.

So I don't know how the image quality of these zooms compares with the DAL 35, but usually primes are better optically than zooms. Plus the DAL 35 is a f/2.4 so it's faster than the f/4 of the DA 17-70 and faster than the Sigma too, which is f/2.8 only in the 17-20mm range and then gets smaller from there.

There has been supposedly a "fix" for the SDM problems in newly manufactured Pentax lenses (in 2012), according to:
Pentax Engineer on SDM Failure and Pentax DC - Pentax Camera News & Rumors -

As for whether the 17-70 is a good choice for family activities, travel, landscape, I would say YES because of the range of focal lengths available to you. It's very convenient to swing out wide to 17 for landscapes and then zoom up close to 70 for portraits. But the 17-70 lenses are obviously much heavier than your super light DAL 35 prime lens, so portability and handling will be more of an issue. Not only heavier but also larger filter sized, so it can look a little more intimidating to your subjects compared to pointing a DAL 35 in their face.
10-19-2012, 06:29 PM   #11
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I think the DA35mm 2.4 is probably the best choice (both in terms of IQ and price) for a 1st prime lens...

My first prime was an A-50mm f2 (which I quickly replaced with a 1.7 M-version - which is very good despite the lack of in-camera aperture control) the f2 imo is a dog...
Having later deciding that AF is something I need (some don't... I do...) I bought an FA50 1.4... It's a very nice lens and has produced great images...

However these days the FA50 sees little use and often gets left at home as I can totally survive with the FA35mm f2 (my most used lens) and the D-FA100mm macro f2.8 (I got a used copy of the Samsung version - Generally 100ish cheaper than the Pentax version and for all intent identical...)

35mm is a focal length that to me just looks right in the viewfinder for around 80% of my shooting... I find 50mm both too narrow AND not long enough for apsc (especially narrow indoors - unless in a big room - which I don't have in my small house)

I am however, seriously thinking about how to fund a DA*55 1.4 - The IQ looks great but more importantly is the IQ in combination with weather-sealing... This is something I need as I've not been happy with my DA50-200mm's performance (plus I just don't like shooting with zooms - it's one of 2 I currently own and rarely use) since moving to K5... Need me a decent WR prime lens for the rain here in 'blighty'

Bit of a ranty ramble but hope it helps (someone)


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