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Old May 7, 2011, 12:07 AM   #1
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Monday I got a new lens and I've been playing with it at lunch. While some of the pictures were amazing quality of very dumb/boring subjects, others weren't very good. After getting over the feeling that I would never take a good picture again, analyzing the bad pictures and taking some comparison shots with the DA 35 macro Limited, I came to the conclusion that the lens was consistently back-focusing, but it wasn't that noticeable at f5.6 or f8 because of the dof. So today I spent some time adjusting the K5's focus for this particular lens, then shooting some flowers (my favorite subject) at f2.8 and larger.

Here's the results - I was very happy with them. I may need to adjust it slightly as I think it may be front focusing a hair, but I'm going to leave it alone for a while. The only real results I get when shooting focus charts is to get frustrated, so this time I'm letting real-world experience tell me if I've got it right or not. I'll shoot with it as it is for a couple of days then decide if the focus is the way I want it.

All shots were taken jpg, are cropped quite a bit, and processed in my normal way.

#1 (K5, FA31 Ltd, f2.8):



#2 (K5, FA31 Ltd, f2.8):



#3 I'm not so sure about the processing on this one - I think Detail added something (grain?) to the OOF wood that is not there on the original. I didn't notice it until I uploaded it to zenfolio and looked at it there. Even with the grain, the transition from sharp to OOF is still pretty smooth, considering the difficult subject (K5, FA31 Ltd, f1.8):



#4 Focus was on the lower big rose, then I recomposed (K5, FA31 Ltd, f8):



Up until today I was wondering if this legendary lens was one that suited me - I was having trouble trying to find a way to get good pictures. And I had read that it wasn't the easiest lens to use. Now that I have adjusted the back-focus issue I don't think I'll have any trouble at all coming up with suitable subjects - though probably most won't be shot at such large apertures as most of the ones I took today. It handles flowers very nicely for a non-macro lens.

I'll re-shoot the comparison shots between the DA35 macro and the FA31, but my initial impression is that the FA is as sharp as the DA (at least in the center, I need to do some flat objects to tell about the edges) and has much better bokeh, what it's known for.
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Old May 7, 2011, 7:45 AM   #2
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Looks like a keeper, I like #2 best, seems like it's going to be a great indoor and low light lens nice and sharp wide open, have fun with it

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Old May 7, 2011, 10:58 AM   #3
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It's surprisingly sharp wide open, though it does have a certain amount of CA/PF at larger than f2.8. But it's easily corrected so not a distraction. I'll probably use it a lot outside, as it's got a rather unique viewpoint compared to my other lenses. It's more like a wide angle than the 35 macro, enough of a difference that I was somewhat surprised. It's high contrast and I can occasionally see that indefinable something some call "pixie dust". I feel very humbled - I've seen so many top shots taken with this lens and I'm the limiting factor now.
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Old May 7, 2011, 1:47 PM   #4
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Congrats on your wonderful new lens !

The 31 is sharper in both the centre and corners until f5.6 where the 35 has higher centre sharpness but the 31 still edges the corners. By f8 the 35 is sharper in all areas.

DA 35 Ltd

http://www.photozone.de/pentax/393-pentax_35_28?start=1

FA 31 Ltd

http://www.photozone.de/pentax/122-p...report?start=1
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Old May 8, 2011, 1:02 AM   #5
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Congratulations, Harriet. Nice work. Just a piece of advice that I will relay from two friends who have owned, loved and even hated the FA 31mm Limited. The lens, because of its very shallow depth of field when wide open, can be a bit of a handful to work with.

For one of these people, who had purchased a brand-new (at the time) K20 and FA31, it was enough for him to give up and sell his small Pentax kit after a couple of months. Now, obviously you are not going to do anything like that. Plus you have a lot more experience than the person who gave up. But it seems even after one adjusts the camera to match the lens, the learning curve might still be a bit longer than many imagine. But I'm sure it's worth it. Just be careful, perhaps in some instances the lens isn't front- or back-focusing.

Alas, I won't be buying any $1000 lenses again for a while. So I will have to live vicariously through your experience. So please... post often.
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Old May 8, 2011, 7:18 PM   #6
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I am in the same boat as Biro. New lenses are something I can only dream about right now. The shots you have posted are beautiful. I am particularly taken with #1. For some reason I can't explain, that one really grabs me. Congrats on the new lens. I know you'll use it well.
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Old May 8, 2011, 10:28 PM   #7
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Thanks for the compliments.

ff - my FA31 seems to be very sharp a little past f8, though by f11 or 12 it's starting to get softer than the DA35, not surprising since macros are designed to stay sharp at smaller apertures (I've used the DA35 at f14 and even f16 on occasion).

The small dof doesn't seem to be bothering me as much now that I've got the focus better adjusted. I ended up not using it quite the way I had anticipated this weekend - more on that later. But I did use it, just not as wide open as I had planned.
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Old May 9, 2011, 12:56 AM   #8
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Have fun, so shots show off that lens very well.
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Old May 9, 2011, 10:51 PM   #9
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I fear I will never be a very technically accurate photographer so I think the FA 35mm f2 and the FA 50mm f1.4 may suit my more haphazard style. Who am I kidding, I want one. Love #3.
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Old May 9, 2011, 11:24 PM   #10
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LOL! I got the bug for this lens a year or two ago. Kept trying to talk myself out of it, got the DA 35 macro instead. I finally gave up trying to fight it, and since we got a decent amount for tax return, I quit resisting. The lens has wonderful color and contrast, makes a good landscape lens at somewhat smaller apertures, too.
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