SMC-FA 50mm f/1.4 versus SMC-FA/F 50mm f/2.8 macro


JJMARTINEZ

Link Posted 14/05/2007 - 11:54
Hi,

I´m an amateur and I have just bought a Pentax K10 camera with a dark 18-55 mm f/3.5 – f/5.6 lens. I want to acquire a better lens (f/1.4 or f/2. to take good kids and family pictures.

I have seen this benchmark from “Lens Performance Survey” about both of them:

PENTAX SMC-FA 50mm f/1.4:
· Performance WIDE (wide open) : 65
· Performance WIDE (stopped down) : 89
· Performance LONG (wide open) : 0
· Performance LONG (stopped down) : 0
· Distortions WIDE : 92
· Distortions LONG : 0
· Vignetting WIDE : 90
· Vignetting LONG : 0
· Color Balance (+-50) : 3
· Flare : 84
· AF Speed : 50
· Build Quality : 79
· ¿Number of Inputs? : 59

PENTAX SMC-FA/F 50mm f/2.8 macro:
· Performance WIDE (wide open) : 96
· Performance WIDE (stopped down) : 100
· Performance LONG (wide open) : 0
· Performance LONG (stopped down) : 0
· Distortions WIDE : 100
· Distortions LONG : 0
· Vignetting WIDE : 100
· Vignetting LONG : 0
· Color Balance (+-50) : 0
· Flare : 100
· AF Speed : 72
· Build Quality : 100
· ¿Number of Inputs? : 3

Obviously, second one seems much more better than first one, but is also much more expensive (double more or less) and I have seen really excellent pictures with the SMC-FA 50mm f/1.4.

I will be very pleasure if you can help me to decide.

Best regards,

JJMARTINEZ

MattMatic

Link Posted 14/05/2007 - 11:59
The 50/1.4 is an absolutely sublime lens (either SMC-F or -FA). It is perfect for portraits and very low level light. Astonishingly sharp too, but the fact it can open up to f/1.4 means you can focus on the eyes and not get the skin in focus! Needless to say, that at f/2.8 and wider your focussing gets absolutely critical!

The macro lenses were designed for macro work. I have the 100/2.8 macro and it is a superb lens. I have used it for portraiture - but mostly for flower macros. I think it was described as "brutally sharp" - which isn't necessarily what you want if you're going to please your other half! LOL!

The MTF data and reviews don't give the whole picture... it's the bokeh and "rendition" of the lens that's important - perhaps more so than sharpness.

If, as you say, you intend to take shots of family shots, then I'd go for the 50/1.4 Its rendition is astonishing. I couldn't do without mine

Matt
http://www.mattmatic.co.uk
(For gallery, tips and links)

George Lazarette

Link Posted 14/05/2007 - 15:32
These figures you quote are of course very misleading.

It is unfair to compare wide-open resolutions when the lenses have different maximum apertures. For all we know from these figures, the 1.4 could have better resolution than the 2.8 when both are set to f2.8.

The 2.8 lens is a macro, and therefore designed for maximum sharpness at the expense of other, more subtle, qualities.

Matt is quite right. On a DSLR, the 1.4 is a superb portrait lens, which will yield more satisfying people pictures than the 2.8. It will also be much more flexible, and is capable of lovely shallow depth of field effects.

The only better lenses for portraits, in the whole world and from all manufacturers, are the Pentax 77mm Ltd and the Pentax 85mm 1:1.4. And the difference, whilst not huge, is reflected in considerably higher prices.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

Daniel Bridge

Link Posted 14/05/2007 - 15:39
According to this review of the 50mm f/1.4 "At f/4 the center reaches an outstanding performance which will surely be hard to be matched during future Pentax tests". In fact it is bettered by a few Limited lenses, but it is still very good.

Unfortunately they haven't reviewed the macro.

Dan

JJMARTINEZ

Link Posted 14/05/2007 - 16:15
It´s incredible to receive 3 good answers in less than 4 hours.

Normally, I use to lost many time in other forums trying to have answers.

I will take the 50mm f/1.4 and I will show you some pictures if possible.

Really Thanks

JJMARTINEZ

Ammonyte

Link Posted 15/05/2007 - 11:25
Only 3 answers in 4 hours? We obviously weren't trying hard enough!
Tim the Ammonyte
--------------
K10D & sundry toys
http://www.ammonyte.com/photos.html

George Lazarette

Link Posted 15/05/2007 - 19:01
Ammonyte wrote:
Only 3 answers in 4 hours? We obviously weren't trying hard enough!

Hang around, JJ, and you'll find that some of us are very trying.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

the_drewster

Link Posted 20/05/2007 - 11:42
Would I get the same quality from an SMC PENTAX-M 1:1.4 50mm lens?

George Lazarette

Link Posted 20/05/2007 - 12:30
the_drewster wrote:
Would I get the same quality from an SMC PENTAX-M 1:1.4 50mm lens?

All the Pentax 50mm and 55mm lenses are very good indeed, and differences are minor. The macros, of course, are the sharpest.

Be aware that, macros aside, Pentax 50s tend to be softish wide-open. This is especially true of the two 1:1.2 lenses.

If you are going to buy a non-macro 50, and use it to take macro pictures, the 1:1.7 is reckoned to be better than the 1:1.4 because the focus plane is flatter.

But if you are going to buy a 50mm lens to take macro photographs, it would be perverse not to buy a proper macro lens. And I would say that even if I wasn't selling one!

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

the_drewster

Link Posted 20/05/2007 - 13:10
Quote:
And I would say that even if I wasn't selling one!

Ha! I know pal, I'm just trying to take in as much info as possible. People are rating this lens so highly I did a search on eBay just out of interest and found listed several of the one I specified above. I 'm wondering now if I should be going for a super fast portrait lens. Shhh.. Don't tell the Mrs.

The reason being, I tried to take a pic of my daughter being thrown up in the air. It was very difficult to do without either being blurry or very dark. I managed to get something in the end by increasing the iso to 800, and playing with it alot in the Photoshop. It's a little noisy and not very sharp.

But I wouldn't have this problem with a lens like the SMC M 1:1.4 50mm?


golfdiesel

Link Posted 20/05/2007 - 19:20
A flashgun with a omnibounce would help a lot to get more light on the sensor.
When doing a portrait indoor (actually on most of my indoor shots) I allways use a flash with omnibounce.
You might need to boost the exposure by 1 to 1,5 stops or so when using the omnibounce.
Camera:K20D|Ist*DS|Spotmatic II|MZ-10
Pentax Lenses: DA16-45|DA50-200|50A 1.7
Tamron Lenses: 28-200
Takumar Lenses: SMC 55 1.8
Sigma Lenses: EX DG 50-500 'Bigma'|EX 50mm Macro
Flashes: Metz 58 AF-1|Samsung SEF-36PZF|Pentax AF-220T

MattMatic

Link Posted 21/05/2007 - 09:34
Quote:
But I wouldn't have this problem with a lens like the SMC M 1:1.4 50mm?

You'd have other problems
If you use a very wide aperture (like f/1.4) in low lighting then the depth of field is unbelievably narrow. So narrow that you can get the eyes in focus but not the nose! So focus is sooooo critical... and on a moving target it's impossible.

For capturing that kind of shot, golfdiesel has the right idea - a flash with an Omnibounce is good. If you have the K10D and AF360 or AF540 then wireless remote would be even better.

Matt
http://www.mattmatic.co.uk
(For gallery, tips and links)

George Lazarette

Link Posted 21/05/2007 - 10:05
This is an occasion that cries out for manual flash. A fast moving object with black and white clothes is bound to confuse the metering system. Much better to experiment to find the necessary settings to give a good result on skin, then fire away with any old diffused flash on manual.

G
Keywords: Charming, polite, and generally agreeable.

MattMatic

Link Posted 21/05/2007 - 10:13
Ditto George's advice

Two minutes spent getting the exposure right and you'll get every shot right from then on. Easy
Matt
http://www.mattmatic.co.uk
(For gallery, tips and links)

Mongoose

Link Posted 22/05/2007 - 13:15
your comment about your intended use for the lens made me think of these. I took these shots recently while visiting relatives in Canada. It was indoors and overcast and I didn't have a flash with me. Not wanting to resort to the built in flash, I mounted my trusty SMC-A 50 1.7.







I don't pretend these are the worlds greatest portraits, but this lens makes for some wonderful candid captures of special moments because it can be used in many situations without the need for flash. The subject doesn't have to know the shot is being taken

Users of the other camera brands just don't know what they are missing in not having a stabilised 50mm prime.

note though, what is said about focusing above is 100% true, each of these is the best of several shots, I was just lucky that the one where I nailed the focus happened to be the one where my cousin was in the middle of blowing out her candles.

edit: calling to mind a recent thread which was accidentally hijacked, I would like to make it clear that I have posted these shots as an example of the capabilitys of the nifty fifty and I am not looking for critique here (TBH they are basically family snapshots anyway)
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