35mm f/2 FA or 31mm Ltd... any users of either/both?


Link Posted 23/06/2007 - 19:15
Hello again!

For several reasons, I am now giving serious though to cancelling my order of a Sigma 70-200mm. I am thinking of instead putting the money towards a "normal" lens for digital - wider than the 50mm - and which will also be around 35mm on film. I haven't yet given up on film, which is one reason I'm considering these over the new 16-50mm (the other reason simply being I expect either prime to be better optically than the zoom, especially wide-open).

The specific lenses I'm considering are the 35mm f/2 FA, and the 31mm f/1.8 Limited. The Limited would cost me about the same as the Sigma would have; the FA lens would save me nearly 400.

The FA lens obviously has the advantage of being much cheaper. The 31mm of course I expect to be better in every way, but I am not sure how much. The build quality and feel of the Limited is clearly going to be better, and it will surely hold its value better, but I am mainly interested in the optical qualities. 31mm is admittedly wider than 35mm but not by that much. F/1.8 is faster than f/2, but again not by that much. The little information I can find on the 35mm FA (and not on Photozone where they say they have a bad copy) suggests that it's very sharp wide-open, sharper than most if not all 50mm primes. The bokeh is also said to be very good. So can anyone from experience agree or disagree with these claims? Obviously I'd love to own a Limited lens but realistically I know that 400 difference could be put towards filling other needs.

So my main questions are, has anyone used the 35mm FA on digital? Is it really that sharp even wide-open, and in general would you say it is a good "standard" lens? And for anyone who's used both lenses, would you say the Limited is better enough optically (ignoring the obviously better construction) to justify the extra cost?

Thanks in advance, and sorry for posting yet another "which lens" type post

George Lazarette

Link Posted 23/06/2007 - 19:25
"Which lens" type posts are the purpose of this section.

I own a 31 Ltd, and have never owned the FA 35, but my researches suggest that it is very nearly as good as the 31, and smaller, cheaper and more convenient (the fixed hood on the 31 is a nuisance).

So if money is an issue, you will not lose much at all by going for the FA 35.

However, have you considered Ebay - or even this forum? By looking around you should find a 31 for 400 or less. I did.

Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.


Link Posted 23/06/2007 - 20:10
Thanks for the reply George. I do tend to check eBay and classifieds regularly for top Pentax glass. Unfortunately I very rarely see the 35mm f/2. I will certainly continue to look for 31s at a good price. Thanks again.

George Lazarette

Link Posted 23/06/2007 - 22:09
ZaphodB wrote:
Thanks for the reply George. I do tend to check eBay and classifieds regularly for top Pentax glass. Unfortunately I very rarely see the 35mm f/2. I will certainly continue to look for 31s at a good price. Thanks again.

I saw one for sale on US Ebay last week. So keep looking!

Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.


Link Posted 23/06/2007 - 23:37
I also own the 31mm and never had the 35mm. I had the same dillema you're having, and I went for the 31mm. I got it from eBay for about 700 Euro.

Why the 31mm? Well, after looking at a lot of pics from both lenses I figured I had to have the best Pentax lens in the World. The difference optically seems to be negligible, but a Limited is something more than a lens... it's a work of art. And being a 31mm, it equates to a 46.5mm on digital, arguably a better normal.

To sum up: yes, the 35mm is worth every penny, and seems to be a worthy optical sister of the 31mm. And yes, the 31mm is every bit as good as people say.
So get the 35mm if thinking rationally. Get the 31mm if you want the very best (in the World, some say) and have a passion for it (and can afford it).

That's how I see it. And I love my 31mm.

George Lazarette

Link Posted 24/06/2007 - 11:29
OK, here's the clincher:

The rational thing is to buy the 35mm.

However, if you buy the 31, you'll never regret it. Whereas, if you buy the 35mm, now and again a little voice will say to you in the dark hours before dawn: "For just a few quid more, you could have got the 31mm".

This is quite simply a test of how rational you are.

Irrational G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.


Link Posted 24/06/2007 - 14:34
Very true George... but I might be able to sell the 35 and buy the Limited in a year or so when I hope to have a decent job. The rational side of my brain wins for now and the irrational side can continue to dream


Link Posted 24/06/2007 - 16:33
The 35 2.0 FA is aparently out of production. However Park Cameras still had some stock a couple of weeks ago or so when I got mine. Personally I am very pleased with it. Optically it has a fantastic reputation, and it has two advantages over the 31 (aside from being much cheaper) - the removable hood means I can use my Cokin fiter system with it, and it is significantly smaller and lighter. I suspect it will be on my camera as much as my 16-45.

I also discovered you can leave the hood in place even when using the flip-up flash - it is small enough not to cast a shadow (though deeper than the hood on the 31).
Tony Milner
Super A, ME Super, MZ6, K5II, Ricoh GR & lenses from 8-500mm
www.amilner.org www.flickr.com/photos/tonymilner


Link Posted 24/06/2007 - 21:19
Got my 35mm F2 from SRS via ebay

2x K20D, 2x K10D, istDS, 2x AF 540FGZ & Pentax lenses + back-up kit


Link Posted 24/06/2007 - 22:59
Thanks for the suggestions. I did check SRS (usually my first choice) but they have now sold the last of theirs.


Link Posted 01/07/2007 - 11:33
Out of production? The FA 35mm F/2? I've seen Samsung advertise their D-Xenogon 35mm f/2 AL, wich seems to be the Pentax lens in disguise.

Maybe Pentax is still manufacturing the 35mm for Samsung and not for themselves? They do have both a DA 35mm F/? SDM and a 35mm F/2.8 Macro in the pipeline...


Link Posted 01/07/2007 - 14:11
The Samsung is indeed the Pentax lens in disguise with only a couple of minor physical changes - I now have one, I should have mentioned that. Thanks for your post.
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