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02-27-2014, 06:14 PM   #1
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Stupid question: Which would you...?

So, I'm in the market for another prime. I have a K-3, an FA 20mm, an FA 50mm 1.4, and an FA 50mm macro. I'm looking for something in between the 20mm and the 50mm. I've been going between the 35mm f2.4 and the 31mm f1.8 limited.

I know there is a VAST difference in price between the two, but I see a lot of users saying that for the price, the 35mm is pretty damn good. Is the 31mm REALLY that good to justify spending the money on it?

Or perhaps there's something else I should look at? The 50mm is just a little TOO close and the 20mm is just a little too far away.

I'm sure you all hate getting these questions, but, who else can I trust? *puppy dog eyes*

02-27-2014, 06:22 PM   #2
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If you are even considering the FA 31mm then buy it, there is nothing that even compares to it. It is considered one of the best lenses that Pentax has ever made. The 35 is good, but next to the 31 there isnt going to be a contest.
02-27-2014, 06:29 PM - 1 Like   #3
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The DA 35 Macro Ltd is a great lens. Check out the Pentax Forum lens reviews. I own one and use it as my "normal" lens. The 1:1 macro capability is a very nice bonus. I also have 21mm and 50mm primes and the 35 fills that gap nicely. As a bonus, the 35 Ltd is a superb landscape lens. And the colors are better than with my Sigma 50.

---------- Post added 02-27-14 at 07:48 PM ----------

By the way, as a great teacher once said, "There are no stupid questions. Only stupid answers."
02-27-2014, 06:56 PM   #4
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You could look at both lens' (and other similar) sample thread of images and see what strikes your fancy. You should get the 31 only because you will always wonder if you should have, instead of something else. I was not willing to pay that kind of money.

02-27-2014, 07:03 PM   #5
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Put simply......the 31 (and arguably the other two sisters) are life time lenses........if you appreciate form and function.
02-27-2014, 07:34 PM   #6
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The 35mm f/2.4 is a well respected lens. However, the 31mm limited has pixie dust so if you are even thinking about it just get it because if you don`t you will always wonder.

The 35mm limited is another option which has advantages.
02-27-2014, 07:37 PM   #7
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I bought an FA 35mm f2.0 a long time ago. I've never regretted the decision. I chose it over the DA 35mm macro because it was a stop faster, with better bokeh and slightly higher resolution. I didn't need macro because I already had a D FA 100mm macro. I believe the FA 31mm is a better lens than either 35mm, but the price gap hasn't turned the key for me, not so far anyway. The FA 31 larger size is also a concern, as is the filter size. I have seven primes with 49mm filter size. That's a nice feature for sharing filters (CPL only for me), and even hoods.

I particularly valued the speed of the FA 35 over the DA 35 Ltd, so that carried most weight, but bokeh was a factor as well. The FA 35 is a half-stop faster than the new DA 35mm f2.4 and better constructed.

A great photo is a great photo with any of these lenses. I'm just throwing my decision making process out for consideration.

Last edited by audiobomber; 02-27-2014 at 08:05 PM.
02-27-2014, 07:40 PM   #8
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I have both the 31 and the 35 Macro...both are keepers. The 35 Macro has the advantage of the Macro obviously but there are much dedicated macro lenses out there if that's what you're looking for. The 31 on the other hand was the wider advantage and is what I keep on my K-5. If I had to only choose one I'd go with the 31.
For a Macro lens I'd recommend the FA 100 2.8 Macro, it's an awesome lens and actually quite reasonable on Ebay or KEH.

02-27-2014, 09:32 PM   #9
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He already has a macro.

I got the 31mm. (Actually I already have two 35mm Macro's, too).

YMMV.
02-27-2014, 10:12 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by reverenddude Quote
So, I'm in the market for another prime. I have a K-3, an FA 20mm, an FA 50mm 1.4, and an FA 50mm macro. I'm looking for something in between the 20mm and the 50mm. I've been going between the 35mm f2.4 and the 31mm f1.8 limited.

I know there is a VAST difference in price between the two, but I see a lot of users saying that for the price, the 35mm is pretty damn good. Is the 31mm REALLY that good to justify spending the money on it?

Or perhaps there's something else I should look at? The 50mm is just a little TOO close and the 20mm is just a little too far away.

I'm sure you all hate getting these questions, but, who else can I trust? *puppy dog eyes*
Why not the DA 40 Limited or FA 43 Limited? I have the 40, it's a gem.
02-27-2014, 10:15 PM   #11
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Don't you think both the 40 and 43 are very close to the 50's he already has?
02-27-2014, 10:25 PM - 1 Like   #12
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I think the FA31 is the weirdest lens I own. And I have the 2 FA SOFT lenses.


How hard do you want to work at your photography? Because the FA31 has the smoothest transition to Out Of Focus I've ever seen in a Pentax lens (or most any lens, for that matter), you'll have to work hard for effects that used to come easy. I wouldn't dare give that lens to my daughter right now (even if it cost the same). Instead, I bought her the DA35/2.4. Although I'd never used one, when I gave it to her I was able to quickly pop it on the front of my camera and in 3 minutes I was showing her nice examples of how it can be used wide-open.


Be careful with the FA31 or you may get boring photos.


OTOH, FA31 photos often come out much better than what you can tell on the back of the camera. So if you get one, don't change out the lens just because you don't think the photos look good when you chimp them.



The FA*24/2 is a more conventional lens that has a great focal length. I often take it while leaving both the FA20 and FA31 home. Interestingly, it's the opposite of the FA31. It has about the shortest (in distance), most obvious transition to OOF I've seen.

The FA28/2.8 is one other option. While it's not spectacular in any way, images have a special, desirable quality that's hard to describe. It's different optically than the F version, and I think it's better than the F28 - just as long as you get a good copy. But it still stays home while I take the FA*24.

Last edited by DSims; 02-27-2014 at 10:36 PM.
02-27-2014, 11:10 PM   #13
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Fa 31, for sure, if you can swing it. You'll have a hard time taking it off your camera.

Brandon
02-27-2014, 11:31 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
you'll have to work hard for effects that used to come easy.
May I ask what you mean by this? I don't really have a set number or list of effects that I go for. My apologies if this is a naive response... I've never been one to follow technicalities; I've always done whatever I do by flying by the seat of my pants.

QuoteOriginally posted by Paul the Sunman Quote
Why not the DA 40 Limited or FA 43 Limited? I have the 40, it's a gem.
I thought about the 40 or 43, but yeah, they're a little close to the 50. I want something square in the middle. One of these days I may get one of those, but they aren't my priority.

The only thing I ever truly aim for is really fast lenses. I know we all shoot for that, but I'd rather have a really fast lens that suffers in certain areas than a slow lens that's phenomenal in those same areas. I am terrible at figuring out how to properly use a flash anyway.
02-28-2014, 02:09 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by reverenddude Quote
May I ask what you mean by this? I don't really have a set number or list of effects that I go for. My apologies if this is a naive response... I've never been one to follow technicalities; I've always done whatever I do by flying by the seat of my pants.
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

Last edited by DSims; 02-28-2014 at 02:19 AM.
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