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02-28-2014, 09:21 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
It's not a dumb question at all. It caught me by surprise when I first bought it. And it was the first time I'd spent that much on a lens so I thought I was half crazy when I walked out of the store with a new FA31.


It's a bit hard to describe. I'd heard many people talk about how great the lens was, yet I found many photos taken with it that were less than inspiring (to me). Typically with a fast lens you get a relatively sharp foreground with a clearly defined separation from the Out Of Focus background. With the FA31, OOF areas are so smooth that sometimes it's hard to tell if something's almost in focus or slightly out of focus.

So I think what's happening is this. A common photographic tenet is that you'd rather have a smooth OOF background so you don't distract the viewer from the subject (foreground). But the FA31's rendering and transition to OOF is so smooth that the entire image tends to blend together. The background and foreground aren't so clearly delineated. And sometimes none of the image looks that sharp. Then if your camera even slightly front-focuses with this lens, the entire image will be slightly fuzzy. But only just enough to make it look like some 70 year old photo. Yet unlike most lenses, it won't be obvious it's a front focus problem, because of the way the lens renders the image.


All of this means that if you like to shoot at or near wide-open, you'll get results you're probably not used to. At the very least, make sure you do an accurate AF Fine Adjustment on your K-3 with this lens.


But there are hardly any other lenses that can render nearly any background smoothly, which can be great IF you can make it work for you.


You may just need to try it for yourself. I've often taken photos that didn't come out like I wanted with this lens, but they would have with a lens like the DA35/2.4.

Of course, most of this assumes you will shoot at f/4 or wider much of the time. The FA31 and DA35/2.4 are 2 of only 3 Pentax lenses I know that you can shoot wide open without some significant, noticeable loss of IQ. The FA77 is the third one (and the FA*85 and DA*55 come very close). The DA35/2.4 can accomplish this simply because it was originally designed as an f/2 lens (the FA35/2), but then they simply took away the first 1/2 stop (which was unusable, IMO - and I had 2 different FA35s), made the casing a little cheaper, and cut the price in half! In fact, this makes the DA35/2.4 even better than the FA35, because now you can shoot at near-optimum IQ and still get the nice, rounded bokeh that normally only comes when a lens is completely wide-open.


Take a look at the photos on the PPG and then decide for yourself:

PENTAX : Select a PENTAX interchangeable lens camera or a lens model
PENTAX : Select a PENTAX interchangeable lens camera or a lens model

PENTAX : Select a PENTAX interchangeable lens camera or a lens model
PENTAX : Select a PENTAX interchangeable lens camera or a lens model
Ah! I see what you're saying, and I see the concern. Generally, I do like to shoot at wide open - the fuzziness seems to always be one of my allies. Regardless, I understand the concern. I hadn't thought of it that way. Thanks for the in-depth reply! Haha.

Considering that the lens is pretty cheap, even at retail, I might buy the 35/2.4 and the 31/1.8 and keep them both.

On a side note, I just got (secondhand) the FA 50mm 2.8 macro yesterday and I've been putzing around at home, taking shots of my animals. All I can say is: What a sharp mofo of a lens!

03-01-2014, 07:16 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by reverenddude Quote
On a side note, I just got (secondhand) the FA 50mm 2.8 macro yesterday and I've been putzing around at home, taking shots of my animals. All I can say is: What a sharp mofo of a lens
Yes, sometimes claimed to be the sharpest Pentax lens ever made. I still have the F version myself. The FA31's not like that.
03-01-2014, 09:47 AM   #18
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I was struggling with a similar question a while back - a prime between 50 and 28mm. Considering all of the choices I went for the DA 40mm XS and I know it's discussed on the first page of the thread but I found the focal length a bit more useful. It's still different enough to a 50mm from my point of view.

Now if I had the cash to get a 31 limited I'd probably spend it on a DA 40 F2.8 XS and a FA 35 f2.0 or a 43 Limited and a 35 2.4. As wonderful as the 31 is, I'd rather get two still great lenses for that price. But that's just me.
03-01-2014, 10:22 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
Yes, sometimes claimed to be the sharpest Pentax lens ever made. I still have the F version myself. The FA31's not like that.
I ended up purchasing the 35/2.4. I'll see how I like it first - then maybe down the road the 31 might make its way into my hands.

Thanks for the advice, good sirs (and madams)!

03-01-2014, 11:18 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcnicko Quote
I was struggling with a similar question a while back - a prime between 50 and 28mm. Considering all of the choices I went for the DA 40mm XS and I know it's discussed on the first page of the thread but I found the focal length a bit more useful. It's still different enough to a 50mm from my point of view.

Now if I had the cash to get a 31 limited I'd probably spend it on a DA 40 F2.8 XS and a FA 35 f2.0 or a 43 Limited and a 35 2.4. As wonderful as the 31 is, I'd rather get two still great lenses for that price. But that's just me.
I think I'm at the opposite end. You can only have one lens on the camera at a time, right?

I'd rather have one great lens than two very good lenses.
03-01-2014, 03:43 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by ElJamoquio Quote
I think I'm at the opposite end. You can only have one lens on the camera at a time, right?

I'd rather have one great lens than two very good lenses.
I totally agree but I'm a bit picky when it comes to focal lengths and because of that I'd rather have a 43(40) and 35. It's just my point of view as I find the 31 a bit limiting for my style of shooting and I'd definitely need to switch between it and the 50 more often. The 43/or 40/ is a bit in between and does a bit of both for me
03-01-2014, 08:34 PM   #22
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So, I got the 35/2.4 today. My initial impression with it is also a big "Wow!" For $170, this lens is fantastic! Hell, for a few more hundreds it's still pretty damn good. Maybe I won't do the 31 after all. DSims, you were right!

Thank you all again!
03-02-2014, 01:59 AM   #23
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Congratulations! I'de love to see some shots with the new lens

03-02-2014, 08:10 AM   #24
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new lens more beter
03-02-2014, 01:55 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcnicko Quote
Congratulations! I'de love to see some shots with the new lens
Once it stops raining here in SoCal, I'll get out there and take some. Rain in SoCal is boring, at least in the OC.

I have to take care one of my other hobbies today - my bird. I have to get her groomed. She's gonna hate it!
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