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04-21-2009, 03:56 PM   #1
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50mm f1.4 vs f1.7

been looking at a couple of manual prime lenses in this range. i've noticed a sharp increase of price from f2 to f1.7 to f1.4 to f1.2. the f1.2 seems to be out of range of my pocket book and the f1.4 is in reach, but it seems that the f1.7 is as inexpensive as it gets. my main photo subject will be my daughter. many photo ops present themselves at home and at night in lower light situations. is the f1.4 necessary for my purposes or just overkill. i want as fast a lens as i can get - at least i think i do.

thanks in advance for your input.

az

04-21-2009, 04:08 PM   #2
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I would steer you towards the FA 50mm 1.4. They're easily available and relatively cheap. I'm always taking pics of my kids as well and auto-focus is necessary as they get quicker. With this lens you'll get all the speed you can handle. I've also got the A series 50mm f/2 lens. It lets in plenty of light in my opinion. I've not had much success getting "action" shots of the kids with it though. I've taken some excellent night shots of posed/seated adults however.

If you go the manual focus route you may want to consider something a little longer than the 50mm for shots of your daughter. Maybe a 100mm or 135mm? Keep an eye on the marketplace as many interesting lenses come up.

BTW - this is how lens buying addiction (LBA) starts. Good luck.
04-21-2009, 04:08 PM   #3
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A lot of people say the 1.7 is sharper wide open, I have both but haven't had a chance to compare yet.
The 1.7 is always going to be the better bargain (and more usable) unless you really do want the shallower DOF but then you have the trade off with sharpness.
04-21-2009, 04:53 PM   #4
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Whether the 1.7 is sharper than the 1.4 at f/1.7, there's no doubt either of these lenses are excellent performers. The difference is hard to tell. But I've been very pleased with the results of the 50/1.4 at f/1.4 (which the 1.7 can't do) - still quite sharp, and beautiful, creamy bokeh.

04-21-2009, 04:55 PM   #5
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The f1.7 is a great lens, I own one and love it. Wide open is usable. But you should ask yourself before going for something like a f1.4 or an f1.2 if you really want a manual lens. Do you have a focusing screen? Do you have experience with manual lens on a DSLR without a focusing screen?. If you get a f2 or 1.7 it won't hurt your wallet much if you don't like it. But on the other hand, if you don't like you could probably sell it for what you got for it or close anyway.
04-21-2009, 05:23 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Karl Quote
But you should ask yourself before going for something like a f1.4 or an f1.2 if you really want a manual lens.
i have just started educating myself on the dslr route. my only other noteworthy experience is with my dad's '72 spotmatic. i really like that camera so i was hoping that moving to a dslr would not be all that bumpy of a road. please let me know if my thinking is flawed.

QuoteOriginally posted by Karl Quote
Do you have a focusing screen? Do you have experience with manual lens on a DSLR without a focusing screen?.
um....add to "TO DO" list the following - google focusing screen.

as this is my second post to this forum - i am happy to see that this is exactly the kind of constructive advice i was seeking when i signed up. i was hoping that by hanging around you folks, it would help my educative process. please note, that i have yet to make my dslr purchase.
04-21-2009, 05:47 PM   #7
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I would say that one of the biggest difference between 1.4 and 1.7 is the bokeh in the f/2-2.8 range, the 1.4 renders it a lot more smoothly than the 1.7. THat being said, my 1.4 is an M lens and the 1.7 is the Pentax-F version.
04-21-2009, 06:35 PM   #8
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I'll have a Pentax-M SMC f:1.4 again one day, once it gets out of the shop. I sure miss it.
Jim

04-21-2009, 06:50 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by PollitowuzHere Quote
I would say that one of the biggest difference between 1.4 and 1.7 is the bokeh in the f/2-2.8 range, the 1.4 renders it a lot more smoothly than the 1.7. THat being said, my 1.4 is an M lens and the 1.7 is the Pentax-F version.
Seconded here. The 1.7 bokeh is more blocky. By no means it's bad but if you're after creamy bokeh, 1.4 is the way to go.

I have 1.4 SMC Tak, 1.4 FA, and 1.7 A. 1.4 Tak is the best as far as bokeh and rendering goes imo but it's not as convenient as the FA. Bokeh is really close to the FA though. I just like the Tak colors better.
04-21-2009, 07:33 PM   #10
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Hi Widebody: I think I made some comments on your thread about the K series camera bodies. I suggested the KX.

There just isn't a universally correct answer to your question. There is only your decision, based on your needs, budget and skill.

I have S-M-C Takumar 50/1.4 (screwmount lens for Spotmatics, etc.), K50/1.4 (my first Pentax lens), M50/1.7, A50/1.4 and FA50/1.4. At one time I've had the M50/2, M50/1.4 and briefly, the K50/1.2 (to satisfy my curiosity). I have so many 50's not by choice (except the A and FA), but just because I have accumulated them in package deals and garage sales or as gifts. The K and M lenses are sort of For Sale.

I've never been able to see any difference in sharpness across those lenses, regardless of what pixel-peepers and comparative testers say. They're ALL very sharp, very good and inexpensive lenses (except the 1.2)

The differences are more subtle - better contrast in the newer lenses due to improvements in coatings; better low-light performance and shallower Depth of Field in the 1.4's due to wider maximum aperture; different color rendering, maybe due to different glass or different coatings; different feel in the focusing rings and construction - mass, balance and size; as mentioned above different bokeh.

You buy a lens that has the characteristics YOU want, at your price. I like to use the manual lenses because the construction is so nice - they are just a pleasure to use. My hobby goes beyond just the image - I also enjoy the actual act of taking the picture, but that is just me.

I am willing to learn how to deal with a lens' shortcomings, such as the extra metering steps with K and M lenses on dSLR's, in order to use it - to take the time - because that is part of my fun. Others think that is a waste of time.

Each has its merits and drawbacks and each is the best lens for certain people or in certain applications.

If you plan to take up this hobby for a LONG TIME (such as for the rest of your life) then plan to "test" lenses by buying and trying until you find the one (or more) that suits your needs. You have literally forever to settle on one lens - they aren't going away.

If you plan to start with a film camera, the M50/1.7 is a great starting choice on a price/value basis - shoot with that until your skill outperfoms the lens, then get another, etc., until you and your lens are in harmony.

If you want to produe a certain effect that your lens can't do, get the one that can do it (for instance, shallow DoF - isolating the subject by blurring the foreground and background- might call for a 1.4 or 1.2 eventually).

If you intend to get a DSLR, then there is little reason to buy anything but the FA50/1.4, unless you really WANT to shoot manual on the digital body.

That is an entire discussion we have here daily - many, many threads on the subject.

All that being said, the A50/1.4 is an awesome lens to use.

Last edited by monochrome; 04-21-2009 at 08:24 PM.
04-21-2009, 09:10 PM   #11
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i do plan to be in this hobby for the rest of my life. i've been interested in photography for many years and my interest has been peaked by the efforts of recording my daughters childhood. i've had some fun with my dad's spotmatic, but, alas, it's not mine to shoot with. most of my shots have come from my wife's fuji s7000. i believe that i am near the point as you say where my skills have outgrown my camera. i've included a few shots to show what i've done and where i want to go. the reason i've been leaning towards shooting manual is mainly due to the fact that i really like shooting the my dad's old spotmatic and also it seems that the manual route happens to be the cheaper route. where can i find the fa50/1.4 for sale?
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04-21-2009, 09:42 PM   #12
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Unless you are really good with manual focusing with the stock dslr screen, a manual 50 isn't exactly the "cheapest" option imo since imho split screen (30$ from ebay) is almost compulsory to get these lenses to a usable state. Add a magnifying eyepiece (optional but really nice to have) and you've already done at least 70$ in total damage. If you're planning to grab more manual lenses (there are many great ones out there), then using manual might be the way to go. It's also nice that you can borrow your dad's 50mm from the spottie and use it on yours.

You can get FA 50 on sale in the marketplace really quite often. Most of them are probably still in great condition since it's hard to mess up a prime. If you want to be safe you can get from amazon, B&H, adorama, and the like, or a local store with proper return policy and pentax warranty.

And since no one mentioned it yet ... there's the crop factor thing coming into play when you use a 50 on a dslr. 50mm fov isnt as normal as it is on film cameras, more telephoto because of the crop factor.
04-21-2009, 10:16 PM   #13
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i don't know what good is when using manual focus. when using my dad's spotmatic, it seems quite easy to focus manually. i can't imagine that it is much harder or easier when going digital. regarding the crop factor, thank you for bringing that up. i have read about this, but i'll still start with the 50mm. i think that my next lens will be either or both the 28mm and/or the 35mm. again, i want to go down the manual path just due to the cost factor. i'll probably buy the kit with it's accompanying combo lens, then everything after that will be good old prime glass.

thanks again for your input everyone.

az
04-21-2009, 11:00 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by The WideBody Quote
i have just started educating myself on the dslr route. my only other noteworthy experience is with my dad's '72 spotmatic. i really like that camera so i was hoping that moving to a dslr would not be all that bumpy of a road. please let me know if my thinking is flawed.
I made a similar move. Years ago my dad gave me his old Spotmatic and lenses. Transitioning to a DSLR has been really easy. The hardest part has been simply adapting to all the technology in the DSLR; it was really odd adjusting the apeture from the body. Ye olde Spottie needed but a tiny watch battery for just the meter and even that was optional. I don't think you'll have any problems.

QuoteOriginally posted by The WideBody Quote
when using my dad's spotmatic, it seems quite easy to focus manually. i can't imagine that it is much harder or easier when going digital.
I didn't think it'd be an issue either. However, the Spotmatic was designed for manual focus so it has a focusing screen to assist. Scroll to the bottom of this page and you'll see some comparisons of different focusing screens. DSLRs have nothing to assist manual focusing; the screen is basically as clear as the beautiful images you posted.
04-22-2009, 06:37 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by wasser Quote
I made a similar move. Years ago my dad gave me his old Spotmatic and lenses. Transitioning to a DSLR has been really easy. The hardest part has been simply adapting to all the technology in the DSLR; it was really odd adjusting the apeture from the body.
Glad to hear your reassurances. I didn't learn on the spotmatic, but using it was quite simple. On other non-dslr type cameras, such as my wife's fuji s7000, all of the controls are on the camera and i like to shoot that in manual mode most of the time. i like to think of myself as a student of photography and shooting that camera in manual mode has forced me to learn some things.


QuoteOriginally posted by wasser Quote
However, the Spotmatic was designed for manual focus so it has a focusing screen to assist. Scroll to the bottom of this page and you'll see some comparisons of different focusing screens. DSLRs have nothing to assist manual focusing; the screen is basically as clear as the beautiful images you posted.
i've got to get out the spotmatic. i don't remember which of those images you so kindly pointed me at was representative of what i remember seeing through the spotmatic. i found the design for focusing the spotmatic very intuitive. i must've been doing it wrong, or it was just that intuitive, cuz i don't remember that circle being as significant to my composition as maybe what i am being relayed to right now as it's significance in digital camera bodies. maybe i am just misreading.

seeing as how i want to go down the manual route, do you suggest i get one of these focusing screens installed on whatever body i end up purchasing? is there a suggested/better screen?

thanks everyone for all of this useful info. it might take me months of reading and still not come up with all the info packed into this forum.

az
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