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07-06-2009, 04:44 PM   #1
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advice plz, FA 31mm Limited or other 2?

Hello, I would like some advice on what lens would be best for my needs. I want a lens that can be used for indoor low light photography, portraits as well as some landscape( I would be making panoramics using autopano). The SMC Pentax-FA 31mm F1.8 AL Limited seemed to be able to do all of these well, but maybe i am wrong??? At $900 i dont want to be. I bought this from b and h so i can return it if need be. For the same price i could get the , SMC Pentax-FA 35mm F2 AL for indoor /portrait as well as the Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4 AL ED IF for panos and lanscape. Which is the way to go??? Thanks! -Ron

07-06-2009, 04:57 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by iasonis Quote
Hello, I would like some advice on what lens would be best for my needs. I want a lens that can be used for indoor low light photography, portraits as well as some landscape( I would be making panoramics using autopano). The SMC Pentax-FA 31mm F1.8 AL Limited seemed to be able to do all of these well, but maybe i am wrong??? At $900 i dont want to be. I bought this from b and h so i can return it if need be. For the same price i could get the , SMC Pentax-FA 35mm F2 AL for indoor /portrait as well as the Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4 AL ED IF for panos and lanscape. Which is the way to go??? Thanks! -Ron
The FA* 31mm is certainly a GREAT lens and from the pictures I have seen, it produces fabulous results. For landscapes it might not be so useful though because on a APS-C sized sensor, it makes a 48mm which is roughly a "normal" prime. This would be gready for low light, candids, street photography, portraits, and did I mention Street photography?

A more economical way to get the best out of your $900 is to get a Pentax DA* 16-50mm ($600-$700) and a FA 35mm f/2 ($200-$500 depending). I have no personal experience with any of the lenses above except the FA 35mm, which is also a fantastic performer. The FL feels versatile and it's cheap, unlike the 31mm.

If you can, however, afford to keep the 31mm and still have a lot left over to buy other lenses, I am sure others on the forum will tell you it is an excellent lens, although you could easily get more bang for buck with the 35mm f/2 (difference between f/1.8 and f/2 is about 1/3 of a f-stop so not that bigadeal).

Hope this helped and hf shooting!
07-06-2009, 05:24 PM   #3
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I have both 35mmF2 and 12-24mm, played with 31mm. 31mm really shine when you use it in film camera. I am very happy with the 35mm which it is my everyday lens. Get the 12-24 with 35mm! you won't regert on this.
07-06-2009, 07:16 PM   #4
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Ok, so not much of a difference between the picture quality of the 31mm f1.8 and the 35mm f2 on a digital(im using the k20d)? So very little picture quality difference just the 31mm is abit faster ?If that is the case I can definitely get a 12-24mm (or maybe the 14mm) along with it for the same price.

07-06-2009, 08:22 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by iasonis Quote
Ok, so not much of a difference between the picture quality of the 31mm f1.8 and the 35mm f2 on a digital(im using the k20d)? So very little picture quality difference just the 31mm is abit faster ?If that is the case I can definitely get a 12-24mm (or maybe the 14mm) along with it for the same price.
that would be the idea. I would recommend the 12-24. though the 14mm may be 1 stop faster and could be a big deal shooting indoors with lowlight, it is not flexible enough to cover other useful FLs. both 14 and 12-24 are top notch lenses, though some (me included) say that the prime is a notch higher in IQ.

as for me, since I have a 35mm myself, I would go for the 12-24. because it's more cheaper and versatile compared to having a 14mm alone. I dont want to handicap myself with a missing 24mm fl. though buying a fast prime 24mm would certainly fill that length but at a certain cost.
07-07-2009, 08:21 AM   #6
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I personally wouldn't want anything shorter than 50mm as my primary portrait lens - and 70mm or so is better. I mean, sure, you *can* take portraits with a 31, and the IQ will be wonderful, but a 31mm lens will require you to be much closer to your subejct than "most" portrait photographers would prefer or recommend, or else will render your subject rather small in the frame. When that's the effect you want, great, but for general portrait use, no way would I be considering it.

Personally I'd be looking at the 70 or 77 for portraits, plus something in the 30-40 range for basic indoor candids, plus something a bit wider for landscape. $900 would be pushing it to cover all three of these needs with top quality modern lenses such as you seem to be leaning toward, so you might consider the possibility of compromising slightly. One way would be by acknowledging you'll be falling a bit short in one of those departments. If it were me in that position, I'd consider just using the kit lens for landscape - stopped down to typical landscape apertures, it's "almost" as good as more expensive lenses. Another way of compromising would be to use older lenses for one or more of these - still high quality, but not as modern (and in particular, no autofocus). If it were me considering that possibility, I'd think about maybe the M85/2 for the portraits. Or consider the possibility that f/2.8 is fast enough for "most" indoor use and get the 16-50 (or Sigma/Tamron equivalent) fto cover everything except portraits.
07-07-2009, 09:56 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I personally wouldn't want anything shorter than 50mm as my primary portrait lens - and 70mm or so is better. I mean, sure, you *can* take portraits with a 31, and the IQ will be wonderful, but a 31mm lens will require you to be much closer to your subejct than "most" portrait photographers would prefer or recommend, or else will render your subject rather small in the frame. When that's the effect you want, great, but for general portrait use, no way would I be considering it.

Personally I'd be looking at the 70 or 77 for portraits, plus something in the 30-40 range for basic indoor candids, plus something a bit wider for landscape. $900 would be pushing it to cover all three of these needs with top quality modern lenses such as you seem to be leaning toward, so you might consider the possibility of compromising slightly. One way would be by acknowledging you'll be falling a bit short in one of those departments. If it were me in that position, I'd consider just using the kit lens for landscape - stopped down to typical landscape apertures, it's "almost" as good as more expensive lenses. Another way of compromising would be to use older lenses for one or more of these - still high quality, but not as modern (and in particular, no autofocus). If it were me considering that possibility, I'd think about maybe the M85/2 for the portraits. Or consider the possibility that f/2.8 is fast enough for "most" indoor use and get the 16-50 (or Sigma/Tamron equivalent) fto cover everything except portraits.
I got the 31mm because I thought the effective range would be about 46.5 for portraits. I actually got the 31mm in the mail today, I will open up another thread with some samples, I would like some comments if the lens is a good copy Still not sure I will keep it.
07-07-2009, 11:03 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by iasonis Quote
I got the 31mm because I thought the effective range would be about 46.5 for portraits.
"Effective range"? You mean, happens to have a similar field of view to what a 46.5mm lens would have had on film? Well, OK, but on film, most people would want something in the 70-135 range. And if you're not an experienced film shooter, there's no point in converting to film equivalents - just take with digital on its own terms. And on those terms, most would want a portrait lens at least 50mm. And 31 is nowhere near 50.

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