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View Poll Results: I'd go for...
Pentax DA 50mm/f1.8 3131.31%
Pentax DA 35mm/f2.4 AL 6868.69%
Voters: 99. You may not vote on this poll

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04-28-2014, 06:44 AM   #1
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My first prime lens: Pentax DA 50mm/f1.8 vs DA 35mm/f2.4 AL?

As the title says, I need some help choosing my 1st prime lens.
After extensive research, I've narrowed it down to these 2 lenses, mostly for the image quality / price ratio. I'm basically looking for more sharpness, low light performance and an all around better image quality than the kit lens, in exchange for the zoom capability. It's also essential that the lens has AF because it's next to impossible to focus on such a small viewfinder IMO, even one with a pentaprism mirror.
Also, seeing as how I'm just starting out, I'm not looking to spend much. Hence my choice of primes.
I plan to mostly use the lens for landscape,low light, and portrait photography... maybe some street photography mixed in.
So, which one would you recommend and why?
And if they were the same focal length, which one would be the better lens when it comes to image quality?

Also, I'm a little confused with the 50mm lens vs APS-C sensor... Thing. I've read somewhere that the 50mm prime lens is the equivalent of a 76mm on a APS-C, and only 50mm on a full frame sensor. But isn't the Pentax DA 50mm/f1.8 made for a APS-C sensor? Why would it be 76mm then? Now, I've tried the 50mm setting on my kit 18-55mm lens, and that zoom level seems to be acceptable for what I plan to use it for. However, if this lens will appear as 76mm on my kit lens, than that is WAY too much zoom for general use IMO.. again, I'm kind of new at this so if anyone can help clear this out for me, I'd appreciate it.

04-28-2014, 06:57 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Yes, just don't confuse yourself. The APS-C sensor only sees part of what an FF sensor would. That's the crop factor. So everything is a bit tighter on the crop bodies.
I think 50mm is less useful as a "normal lens" than the 35mm - it's a short telephoto now.

The 35mm is supposed to be nice (I don't have one, but I have a Sigma 28mm). For "eye view" use, the 35 is better. For portraits, still life etc, the 50 is supposed to be great but the 35 will also work.
04-28-2014, 07:00 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rayn Quote
Also, I'm a little confused with the 50mm lens vs APS-C sensor... Thing. I've read somewhere that the 50mm prime lens is the equivalent of a 76mm on a APS-C, and only 50mm on a full frame sensor. But isn't the Pentax DA 50mm/f1.8 made for a APS-C sensor? Why would it be 76mm then? Now, I've tried the 50mm setting on my kit 18-55mm lens, and that zoom level seems to be acceptable for what I plan to use it for. However, if this lens will appear as 76mm on my kit lens, than that is WAY too much zoom for general use IMO.. again, I'm kind of new at this so if anyone can help clear this out for me, I'd appreciate it.
Crop factor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the end you will end up getting both, so just buy them both now. Or split the difference and get the DA 40.
04-28-2014, 07:13 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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I voted for the 50mm. Personally, I have had more fun with a 50mm than a 35mm prime in walk-arounds.

Let me throw you a curve ball here. I know you said you wanted a prime for the best IQ but I would like to suggest you look at the DA 18-135mm lens. Maybe I got lucky but mine is very sharp and renders great colors. The disadvantage is that it is going to be slower than a prime. I keep mine at f/6.3 for the best IQ and ISO 100-400 for the least amount of noise although I can go up to ISO 800 with no problems on my K-30. Here's an example of my DA 18-135mm at work.


IMGP1252
by Never Off, on Flickr

I zoomed in to 115mm with an aperture of f/5.6.

If the DA 18-135mm is really not your cup of tea then let me throw you curve ball number two! May I suggest a F or FA 50mm lens? I have both the F and FA 50mm f/1.7 lenses. These are both full frame lenses so the APS sized sensors in our DSLRs will crop the edges which result in a 75mm equivalent FoV in 35mm film speak. The downside is that the lens, like any 50mm, becomes a mild telephoto lens. However, on the plus side the crop sensor cuts out the soft corners of every lens so you get more of the center part of the lens/image going toward the sensor. Here's a sample of my F 50mm f/1.7


IMGP2343
by Never Off, on Flickr

The lens was set to f/5.0 and my ISO was cranked to 2500 so there will be some sensor noise.

04-28-2014, 07:23 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Focal length is focal length--the 50mm setting on your zoom is the same as the DA 50/1.8.

My opinion is that the 35 would be the one to slap on the camera and leave it all day. It's a good general purpose FL, and by all accounts a very good lens. However, assuming that you aren't ditching the zoom, I think that the 50 would ADD more to your repertoire than the 35, because it gives you something you don't have--a truly fast lens that can get you those shallow focus shots.

So, if you're moving away from zooms and into primes, the 35 would be my vote. But if you're trying to add something new to your photos, get the 50. My .02.
04-28-2014, 07:53 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I voted for the DA 35/2.4, but I would also like to throw in the idea for the F 35-70/3.5-4.5. It's as small as the DA 35 and it covers the range of both lenses. It's not as fast, but it's definitely as sharp, and it can be found for $50!
04-28-2014, 07:55 AM - 1 Like   #7
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I voted for the 35 but honestly, I have an FA 50 1.8 and the DA 35 2.4, and I don't use either much. The first prime off the shelf in my house would be the Tarmon 90 macro for my wife and the Sigma 70 macro for myself, with the 21 ltd. being prized lens for both of us. But then my theory has always been, leave the 18-135 on the camera and use primes for speed (2.8 or faster) and in the case of the 21 ltd. pixie dust. 21mm is a great indoor type lens on APS-c. Wide enough for shooting in tight places, just barely fast enough.. but also great outdoors for landscape.

DA 35 images/

FA 50 samples

21 Ltd samples

Tamron 90 samples

DA 18-135 images...

Last edited by normhead; 04-28-2014 at 08:25 AM.
04-28-2014, 08:18 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Those are both nice. Also recommended is the DA 40mm. It comes in SMC limited and HD limited versions, which are very nice. But it also comes in the XS version, which should be optically identical to the SMC limited, but is much cheaper (no lens hood, distance scales. There is a tradeoff) and its the smallest lens for this format.
Of the two lenses you listed, the DA 50mm f1.8 is great for low light performance and portraits, while the DA 35mm is more of a everything-lens, "group photos" and landscapes and such. I suspect once you get one of these lenses and learn how to use it right, you will want to get the other one, too

Oh, and ignore the crop factor (full frame, crop sensor, APSC thing). On your camera, all 50mm lenses will have the same field of view, regardless of the manufacturer or when they were made (for film, for FF, for crop, for MF,..). The confusion comes from the fact that the focal length is a lens property, but the field of view is also affected by the sensor size. These factors are only important if you want to visualize a certain focal length on other formats - for example if you have been shooting film for decades and already know what a 50mm or 35mm field of view looks like on film and then switch to digital crop sensor. 50mm on the 645Z (with its huge sensor) is a wide angle lens, one film cameras ("full frame") is normal, on crop sensor it is slightly tele.

04-28-2014, 08:45 AM - 1 Like   #9
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I'd go with the 35mm. There are several options for 50mm, including the F and FA 1.4 and 1.7. You can find these better-built lenses all over the place for only a bit more money than the plastic DA50. The only other option at 35mm is the FA 35, which is considerably more expensive than the DA35 for only 1/3 of a stop difference. And reports are that the FA35 is not that great at f/2 while the DA35 can be used wide-open (I have it and have done so).
04-28-2014, 09:02 AM - 1 Like   #10
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I don't have either one, but on my nikon I used my 35mm 1.8 a lot and loved it. 50mm was a bit too long for indoors.

Also, it's super, super easy to find great 50mm manual lenses for Pentax, cheap, but 35mm ones aren't so common.
04-28-2014, 09:33 AM - 1 Like   #11
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I have the 35 and it is my walk around prime. A great lens to me, 2.4 is ok but gets sharper around 2.8 on up and the colors look really great. I have used the 50 but don't own yet, will probably pick it up sometime soon. I like the 35 because the 50 is a little too tight on some of my indoor shots. On the 35, this is not a problem but on the 50 I have had problems where I had to push myself back to the wall as far as I could to get the shot. Outdoors though this is not a problem but because of indoors limitations, I choose the 35 as my choice.
04-28-2014, 10:05 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by filoxophy Quote
Focal length is focal length--the 50mm setting on your zoom is the same as the DA 50/1.8.
That's what I wanted to know. Thank you.

QuoteQuote:
My opinion is that the 35 would be the one to slap on the camera and leave it all day. It's a good general purpose FL, and by all accounts a very good lens. However, assuming that you aren't ditching the zoom, I think that the 50 would ADD more to your repertoire than the 35, because it gives you something you don't have--a truly fast lens that can get you those shallow focus shots.
So, if you're moving away from zooms and into primes, the 35 would be my vote. But if you're trying to add something new to your photos, get the 50. My .02.
Interesting... I'm definitely not getting rid of my kit lens. At least until I get a quality zoom lens to replace it.


QuoteOriginally posted by 6BQ5 Quote
Let me throw you a curve ball here. I know you said you wanted a prime for the best IQ but I would like to suggest you look at the DA 18-135mm lens. Maybe I got lucky but mine is very sharp and renders great colors. The disadvantage is that it is going to be slower than a prime. I keep mine at f/6.3 for the best IQ and ISO 100-400 for the least amount of noise although I can go up to ISO 800 with no problems on my K-30. Here's an example of my DA 18-135mm at work.

Sounds great, except DA 18-135mm costs 3 times as much as any of the two primes.
I would love a nice, sharp zoom lens.. if I could afford it. But seeing as how the DA 18-135mm costs considerably more than my camera body and kit lens combined, I'm gonna skip it for now. Someday perhaps..


QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Oh, and ignore the crop factor (full frame, crop sensor, APSC thing). On your camera, all 50mm lenses will have the same field of view, regardless of the manufacturer or when they were made (for film, for FF, for crop, for MF,..). The confusion comes from the fact that the focal length is a lens property, but the field of view is also affected by the sensor size. These factors are only important if you want to visualize a certain focal length on other formats - for example if you have been shooting film for decades and already know what a 50mm or 35mm field of view looks like on film and then switch to digital crop sensor. 50mm on the 645Z (with its huge sensor) is a wide angle lens, one film cameras ("full frame") is normal, on crop sensor it is slightly tele.
Thanks for the explanation. I understand now

And thanks everyone for the recommendations. I see the 35mm is clearly more popular, although the 50mm is not bad also.
The thing is... I really don't mind the slight telephoto zoom of the 50mm. I rarely do indoor shots. Not that I'd mind the 35mm either, but all things being equal, which of these 2 primes do you think has the better sharpness and IQ?
04-28-2014, 10:05 AM - 1 Like   #13
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Yes, like others have posted a 30-35mm lens is a better choice than a 50mm on a crop sensor camera. It won't be as tight for lowlight pics. I just got a new K50 this week and a new Pentax DA 35mm f2.4 with a DA 50mm f1.8 on backorder. From the few pics I took the cheapy 35mm f2.4 is darn sharp, I'm amazed at the photos. I own mostly Canon stuff and I find carrying a prime lens like a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 or the Pentax 35mm to be a good choice for good walk around photos. I have zooms on my Canon in 24-105 and 18-200 but I use the short fast primes a lot more.

I have a 5 year old that plays small field soccer and I use my Canon 85mm f/1.8 prime for that and it works perfectly in the late afternoon light. I'm getting spoiled by these fast primes that a f/2.8 lens almost feels too slow...
04-28-2014, 11:02 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Oh, and ignore the crop factor (full frame, crop sensor, APSC thing). On your camera, all 50mm lenses will have the same field of view, regardless of the manufacturer or when they were made (for film, for FF, for crop, for MF,..). The confusion comes from the fact that the focal length is a lens property, but the field of view is also affected by the sensor size. These factors are only important if you want to visualize a certain focal length on other formats - for example if you have been shooting film for decades and already know what a 50mm or 35mm field of view looks like on film and then switch to digital crop sensor. 50mm on the 645Z (with its huge sensor) is a wide angle lens, one film cameras ("full frame") is normal, on crop sensor it is slightly tele.
Agreed. Ignore crop factor and focus on field of view based on a combination of focal length and sensor size.

If you want to see what an APS crop is then mount a modern APS lens onto a FF film SLR. The center of the images you see through the viewfinder should be the same but the corners of the DA lens on the FF film body will be missing / dark. Some APS lenses cover the FF dimensions and others don't so your mileage in this experiment could vary. It is usually more apparent in wide angle lenses or zoom lenses zoomed out to their minimum focal length.
04-28-2014, 11:50 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rayn Quote
...
I plan to mostly use the lens for landscape,low light, and portrait photography... maybe some street photography mixed in.
...
For landscape - 15 or 21. The only problem is the price.
For portrait - I prefer 85. (Samyang 85/1.8) Almost same price a DA 35/2.4. The only problem is AF (non-AF).

There is the reason, why I voted for the DA 35/2.4, but I would also buy 50 (used). The benefit to me has been the exceptionally low cost for the second hand gear.

About crop-factor:
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