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Old Jul 17, 2008, 12:07 AM   #1
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I've now had the Pentax FA77 f1.8 Limited for over a week. I haven't had as much variety of topics to photograph as I had planned (due to circumstances beyond my control) so my sample shots aren't the most interesting in the world. All of the pictures were taken with the K20, and where I provide a link to a full sized file, remember that the K20 has big files! I've also provided 100% crops for those who are on dial-up or slower internet connections. Finally, I'm using my laptop's monitor, which is lousy and not accurate when it comes to color (even though I brought the Huey along, it's not quite capable of correcting the monitor's limitations). If any of the pictures are way off, let me know.

I also have the DA*50-135 f2.8, and took some comparison shots with both lenses. At first the DA appeared to be back-focusing compared to the 77 Limited, so I shot a bunch of focus charts. They didn't show any back focusing at all, and the next two days I shot some comparison shots without focus problems - don't ask me to explain it.

First - there's a huge difference in size. That has unexpected implications - a couple of days ago I was wandering around a park and ended up taking a couple of pictures of some dogs and their owners using the DA*50-135. The next day I was walking around with the 77 on the camera and talked to someone who mentioned that someone with a "big camera" happened by and took pictures. I think they weren't sure I was the same person and the 77 is a whole lot smaller.



The 77 is metal and has a nice feel to it. The lens cap (pictured in front of the lenses) is also metal and lined, it just slips on the lens - it doesn't have pressure clips to attach to the lens (not sure that's the right way to explain most lens caps). It has an aperture ring and I love having the DOF scale.

Some comparison shots:

77 Limited, f2.8:



Full sized file is at: http://mtngal.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p1009430602.jpgif you are interested.

DA*50-135 at 75mm, f2.8:



Full sized file at: http://mtngal.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p1025796324.jpg.

Here's two shots that are 100% crops. The pictures were taken raw, converted in Lightroom, then cropped in CS2 without other processing:

77 Limited f2.8:

The DA*50-135 at f2.8:



These next two pictures have been processed the way I normally do and were done the same. They were taken in P mode - the camera chose the same shutter speed for both pictures, but chose different apertures with each lens.

77 Limited, f2.5:



DA*50-135, f2.8:



Here are a couple of miscellaneous pictures I took with the 77, no comparisons. This first one is another 100% crop - the butterfly wouldn't let me get any closer than this.



This flower is another 100% crop, taken at f4.5:



Here's two more shots. I thought they were interesting, even though they aren't really comparable. The 77 Limited has a shorter minimum focusing distance, which gave me the idea of this.

First, the 77 Limited (close to its minimum focus distance):



Next, the DA*50-135 at 135mm at close to its minimum focus distance.



There's not a huge difference between the lenses - both are very sharp wide open. The extra speed of the 1.8 is useful since thelens doesn't lose sharpness. Both lenses have very pleasing bokeh.

The Limited is a higher contrast lens. It has more CA and purple fringing wide open, but is by no means horrible. It goes away as the lens is stopped down. It has none of the vignetting that my DA*50-135 has wide open, especially when shooting the sky.

The Limited is much smaller and lighter, making it a pleasure to use. It has a closer minimum focus distance, very useful, but the DA*50-135 makes up for it by having a longer focal length (which is what I wanted to show with the last two shots). It's no macro by any means, but is so sharp you can crop quite a bit without quality loss so it would be quite useful for flowers and other close-ups.

When you look at the comparison shots in detail, there doesn't appear to be all that much difference between the DA* and the Limited. The main differences between some of them is a difference in focus. However, there's been some pictures taken with the 77 that have something intangible that's different. It defies description and isn't a matter of sharpness. I love my DA*50-135 (anddon't know why it was having trouble focusing last week while it's perfect now), butI'm just starting to see why the 77 has such a stellar reputation. I'm not going to be selling either one any time soon.
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Old Jul 17, 2008, 6:09 AM   #2
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mtngal wrote:
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First - there's a huge difference in size.* That has unexpected implications - a couple of days ago I was wandering around a park and ended up taking a couple of pictures of some dogs and their owners using the DA*50-135.* The next day I was walking around with the 77 on the camera and talked to someone who mentioned that someone with a "big camera" happened by and took pictures.* I think they weren't sure I was the same person and the 77 is a whole lot smaller.

That is injustice.
You have already shown the small size image of the zoom without its huge hood. Without hood, the prime is just 1/3 in length if not small. When it comes to actual use, prime lenses , at least to me IMO, is a lot easier to handle and less obtrusive.
My DA200mm also has a huge hood. I have never used it and instead I have dummy filter ring of around 1/2 inches for protection (mainly for my fingerprint)

Daniel
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Old Jul 17, 2008, 8:48 AM   #3
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Thanks for the comparo Harriet, as always your post's are interesting & informative. Did you get rid of any lens' to make way for the 77 ?

Simon
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Old Jul 17, 2008, 9:58 AM   #4
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I forgot to add - I have full sized versions of the last two, with the same subject at the same spot and same focal length.

77 Limited: http://mtngal.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p545105500.jpg
DA at 135mm: http://mtngal.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p550247848.jpg


Here's a link to the same plant, but taken from the same spot and using close to the same focal length:

DA*50-135 at 75mm: http://mtngal.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p1067121813.jpg
77 Limited: http://mtngal.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p725268131.jpg

Simon - The 77 was a result of a generous bonus at work and I didn't get rid of anything else. The only lens I would like to sell off is the M 50mm 1.4 that was my fathers - I prefer the M 50mm 1.7 that came with my ME. I've been saying that for the last 3 years and still haven't bothered to do anything about it. This was definitely a case of want rather than need.
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Old Jul 17, 2008, 10:31 AM   #5
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Thanks for the helpful comparison.

Re. the concerns with back focusing on the DA*50-135, I imagine part of the issue may have been caused by DoF and it's relationship to focal length.. At 77 mm, the DoF on the prime would be deeper than the DA*50-135 at a focal length larger than 77 mm. Do you have the results based on the same focal length?

I've thought about investing in prime glass, but I'm afraid that I may miss the flexibility of the zoomto crop vs. cropping as part of PP.From what I can tell, the IQ of the prime vs. the DA* zoom appears to be almost identical!

Just my $0.02 worth!

Jay
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Old Jul 17, 2008, 2:31 PM   #6
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I don't think the problem with the DA*50-135 is related to the focal length, I think that sometimes mine gets a headache orit doesn't like the weatherand won't focus right once in a while. As you can see fromthis set of shots, I had no trouble getting the focus point the same.

I couldn't get the zoom lens to go to 77mm - I could get 75 or 80, but nothing in between. I would imagine that it would be very difficult/impossible to have a zoom lens that was infinitely adjustable as far as focal length. 75 looked more comparible to me than 80, which is why I used it mostly for my comparison shots.

There are advantages both ways. I very much appreciate the smaller size and weight of the 77. They really have two purposes - the zoom is a great lens for quick shots, while the prime makes you look closer at your subject and think of angles, lighting and so on. I find myself taking more time, even for simple shots taken ina park (desperately looking for a subject). It's a lens that would be wonderful for basketball, still lifes and portraits (though it's very sharp, which isn't always what you want in a port). I'm finding thatI rather like shooting with primes again, but it will definitely depend on one's style.

P.S. Daniel, you are right - the lens hood is extended. I was going to take the picture with both hoods on, but found that I couldn't manage the DA*50-135 with hood under the conditions I had.

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Old Jul 18, 2008, 7:03 AM   #7
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mtngal wrote: I'm not going to be selling either one any time soon

And you have not shown me anything to take either one off of my "to buy" list either. Thanks for all the comparison shots Harriet, I agree that you have two winners there.

Tim
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Old Jul 18, 2008, 5:00 PM   #8
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I'm struck by the similarity of the shots between the two lenses. The 77mm remains high on my list of "must have's,"even though it is right in the middle of the 50-135's range, the quality is, as you have shown, very similar. I want the 77 because of ability to stretch on out in exteme low light conditions...poorly lit gyms, stage productions, etc. The 50mm f1.4 is one of my most frequently used lenses because of this very flexibility; I have just always wanted more reach with it.

Paul
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Old Jul 18, 2008, 6:40 PM   #9
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Paul - the 77 would beexcellent for you. I'd really like to try shooting basketball some day - I think this would be a wonderful lens for it. Just don't expect it to have significantly better sharpness/image quality than the 50-135.

I wasn't totally surprised with my shots because I had once experimented with a demo 77 that a Pentax rep let me try, and I was very surprised at how comparable it was to the 50-135. I kept trying to talk myself out of this lens because of that - it's not like I take basketball pictures all the time where I'd want the f1.8. However, I use this focal length quite a bit and really wanted to have a smaller/lighter lens sometimes. Also, I have a softness for really sharp lenses.
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Old Jul 18, 2008, 8:40 PM   #10
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mtngal wrote:
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Also, I have a softness for really sharp lenses.
Isn't that an oxymoron?:blah:
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