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10-27-2011, 09:33 PM   #1
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FA 50mm 1.4 vs DA* 55mmf/1.4 SDM

I have the Pentax SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 Lens but has also been looking at the Pentax SMC DA* 55mm f/1.4 SDM Prime Standard Lens. This is for portrait would manly. And I would like to find out if it would be a worthwhile step up in getting the DA*55mm f/1/4. Is it worth the money. I have the 70mm and like it but also plan to get the Pentax SMC DA* Series 50-135mm f/2.8 ED IF SDM and the 14mm at a later date. what do you guys think about the 2 fifty's, the FA 50mm f.1.4 or the DA* 55mm f/1.4 SDm. any thoughts.Thanks

10-27-2011, 09:42 PM   #2
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If you're looking for a portrait lens, something like the Sigma 85mm (or pentax FA* 85mm if you want to get a used lens) might be a better fit. I wouldn't go for the 55mm unless you really need the weather sealing. Its AF is slower than that of the FA, and the increase in IQ isn't that big.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 HSM - Review

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10-27-2011, 09:56 PM   #3
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I have both and da*55 in my case is clearly better, even at 1.8 is sharp, and at 2.0 is much sharper than my FA50. Focus is better on da*55, and yes you will get focus confirmation little sooner on fa50 but my unscientific thoughts are that da*55 have more precise focus due to longer focus throw.
10-27-2011, 11:46 PM   #4
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While you have you eyes set ont these two lenses, Adam has a good point on the focal length. I tend to agree that 50mm is a tad short for portrait.

On the other hand, if you want a fast 50mm, there are other excellent fast fifties. I can recommend the Voigtlander Nokton 58 mm f1.4. Although MF, it is a Great lens, with outstanding IQ.

Just my five cents thoughts...

10-28-2011, 12:50 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
If you're looking for a portrait lens, something like the Sigma 85mm (or pentax FA* 85mm if you want to get a used lens) might be a better fit. I wouldn't go for the 55mm unless you really need the weather sealing. Its AF is slower than that of the FA, and the increase in IQ isn't that big.
Even as another happy FA*85 owner I have to disagree, The OP already owns DA70 so I believe he is aware of FL and which one does he want.
From my experience with DA*55 and FA50 the DA* has much better contrast at wider apertures and nicer bokeh as well. It is designed as portrait lens while FA is just another old fast fifty, that happen to become an cheap portrait alternative due to the crop factor.
10-28-2011, 04:43 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
While you have you eyes set ont these two lenses, Adam has a good point on the focal length. I tend to agree that 50mm is a tad short for portrait.

On the other hand, if you want a fast 50mm, there are other excellent fast fifties. I can recommend the Voigtlander Nokton 58 mm f1.4. Although MF, it is a Great lens, with outstanding IQ.

Just my five cents thoughts...
I guess I don't understand. Is 85 mm too short on film/35mm? Then why would 55mm be too short on an APS-C camera?

To the OP, I have owned both the FA 50 and currently own the DA *55 and I much prefer the DA * -- feels sharper, more contrasty and obviously a nicer build.
10-28-2011, 07:17 AM   #7
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Well I never used the FA, but the DA* is a great lens. If you have still some wishes on your list for lenses then I would put the DA*55mm at the bottom of your lensline and firt complete your lensline at a wider range.
10-28-2011, 07:18 AM   #8
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The DA*55 is sharper wide open, but if you're getting the 50-135, I'd suggest that first...

10-28-2011, 09:06 AM   #9
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As you're aware, ~50-60mm is good for head+torso shots and ~70-90mm for headshots on APS-C. From your question, I assume you're not after another headshot lens. The DA*55 gets lots of love for its qualities. Can the FA50 approach those qualities by tweaking sharpness and contrast in JPG capture or RAW development? Consider that the FA50 is a FF lens and so would be suitable for any heritage or impending FF PK cams. Does this matter to you?

If you owned neither Fifty and had to select one for APS-C usage, I'd say to go with the DA*55. Since you already have the FA50, the choice is trickier. My recommendation: Buy the DA*55 from a dealer with a no-questions return+refund policy. Shoot the sh!t out of it. If you love it and it's markedly 'better' than the FA50, great! If not, return it and go for the 50-135.
10-29-2011, 05:40 AM   #10
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Thanks to everyone for their input on this matter. If I get a chance I may try the DA*55 out first before i decide to buy it. Or I may just go right to the 50-135. Thanks again, great ideas and thoughts, really helpful.
10-30-2011, 05:06 PM   #11
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While I don't own either of these lenses, I personally find the 55mm focal length much more pleasing on aps-c than 50mm. Its a subtle difference, but having tested a number of mf 50s I settled on the 55 1.8, not so much because of sharpness or bokeh, it just had a nice feel to it.
10-30-2011, 05:38 PM   #12
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Ive been shooting alot with the DA*55 lately, it is a fantastic portrait lens and very sharp wide open, I shoot this lens about 90% of the time at f/1.4 and always gives excellent results.

If you like fast primes, I highly recomend this lens. If your a zoom guy you probably might want to try the 50-135 instead.
01-13-2012, 02:12 AM   #13
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AF wise the SDM 55 may be slower, but it is almost silent! I am selling my FA77 after working with the SDM feature in the DA300 mm lens and because 77mm is too long for portrait with APS-C cameras. As soon as the FA77 starts focusing my kids are aware of being photograpged - manual focus also helps. You can always move closer to the object, but often you can not back up further, so the shorter focal length wins (in portarit situations that is).
01-13-2012, 03:11 AM   #14
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The Sigma 50 F/1.4 is sharper than the DA55 wide open and apart from a few CA toward the edge of the frame it's great AFAIC. My FA31 and FA77 have worse CA anyway so I don't think it should be an issue of contention here.
01-13-2012, 07:11 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by foots Quote
I have the Pentax SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 Lens but has also been looking at the Pentax SMC DA* 55mm f/1.4 SDM Prime Standard Lens. This is for portrait would manly. And I would like to find out if it would be a worthwhile step up in getting the DA*55mm f/1/4. Is it worth the money. I have the 70mm and like it but also plan to get the Pentax SMC DA* Series 50-135mm f/2.8 ED IF SDM and the 14mm at a later date. what do you guys think about the 2 fifty's, the FA 50mm f.1.4 or the DA* 55mm f/1.4 SDm. any thoughts.Thanks
I've owned the fa50/1.4 and the Nokton 58/1.4. I sold them both after getting the DA*55/1.4. It's better than both of them. Wide open, the 55 is sharper and contrastier (which makes it look even sharper), and has better flare resistance than the Nokton, though I didn't see much over the FA50 in this regard.
I can't speak about the Stigma 50/1.4, as I've never been interested in their lenses.
My understanding from what I've gleaned off the net is that while it is quite sharp, it isn't as well built and is a bit of a flare monster.
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