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02-14-2010, 02:01 PM   #1
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Wideish angle fast lens for less than $500USD

So I'm looking for a really fast 50mm lens to replace my auto chinon 50mm f1.7. I really like fast lenses and shooting without flash in pretty much all lighting conditions, so I'm not going to consider anything above f1.4, but would consider anything in the 24-50mm bracket. I'd prefer auto focus, but it's not a deal breaker to not have. Also, I'm willing to wait for the right one to show up. My budget is $400-500ish USD

So here are some of my contenders, which would you take:

Manual Pentax 50mm f1.2
Pentax 50mm f1.4 F or FA
Sigma 30mm f1.4FA
Manual Pentax 50mm f1.4 (Tak SMC m42)

A manual Carl Ziess Pancolar f1.8 was one I had considered for a while, but I think I'd miss that 1/2 stop to f1.4. Obviously if something is much cheaper, that's not a bad thing, I've got a lot of other things I'd like to spend my cash on. So any thoughts / suggestions?

02-14-2010, 05:12 PM   #2
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I'd decide what focal length works best for you -- there is a really big difference between 30mm and 50mm. The FA 50 is really nice, but truthfully you need to stop it down to f2 to get the softness to go away. You could get a FA 35 f2 for about that price (maybe the Samsung version?) and it is sharp from wide open.
02-14-2010, 05:25 PM   #3
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I'm really torn on the focal length. I want 50mm most of the time, but I certainly could make due with a 30-35mm in most situations.

What you said about the FA50 is a bit alarming. Are there any other AF 50mm primes out there for less that $500?
02-14-2010, 06:50 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by whelmed Quote
Are there any other AF 50mm primes out there for less that $500?
The Sigma 50/1.4 is $500 new and has HSM to boot. I don't have any first-hand experience with it, however, so I can't comment on its performance (although I've read good reviews).

If you're most concerned with sharpness at wide apertures, go for the Pentax 50/1.7 variants over the 1.4 Pentaxes. By most accounts, the 50/1.7 is sharper until 2.8 or so.

02-14-2010, 09:14 PM   #5
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On a modern dSLR with APS-C sensor, 50mm is NOT wide -- it's a short tele, a portrait lens. 28mm is 'normal ' (ie, the diagonal of the sensor). 24mm is just slightly wide, and 16-18mm are better (wider). Fast wides with autofocus aren't cheap. If you can sacrifice speed, here's what can happen: you can get a cheap non-autofocus 21mm prime on eBay or elsewhere for well under US$200. (My Super-Lentar [Chinon] 21/3.8 cost under US$24, including shipping.) Stop down to f/5.6 and it's sharp as a tack, and the DOF is about 3 feet to infinity. Who needs autofocus? Any wideangle, stopped down a bit, has huge DOF. Of course, it's your money. Have fun.
02-14-2010, 09:19 PM   #6
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Your title states 'wideish', but I don't see any wide angle lenses in your contenders

That aside, below are two links to some test conclusions. If you're concerned about softness at wide open, those two will not do it for you.
photozone test conclusions Sigma 30/1.4
photozone test conclusions Pentax FA50/1.4

On the other hand, if it's the choice between a failed shot in low light or a soft shot in low light, I know which one I will choose.

Also note that the step from your current 1.7 to 1.4 is only half a stop (or so). The 50/1.2 sounds like a far bether option from that perspective.
02-15-2010, 11:47 AM   #7
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I agree - you said you wanted ide, but everything you are listing is actually telephoto (or "normal" at best).

While it is true the FA50/1.4 sharpens up as you stop down, that's really no more true of it thsn any other f/1.4 lens. If you decide you'd rather have telephoto than wide, and need AF, the FA50 is the *obvious* choice.

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