Thoughts on Pentax FA 50 f/1.4

Jack In The Box with FA 50 f/1.4 hand-held 1/2 secHand-Held 1/2 sec, f/5.0, iso 400, 0 Ev
Post procesed with Picasa Focal B&W

My 1st copy has softness issues even at small apertures in daytime shooting and I returned it for an exchange. I love my 2nd copy of FA 50 f/1.4, I have procrastinated on all the front/back focusing tests that I set out to do when I got my 2nd copy.

The formal testing on my 2nd FA 50 f/1.4 may never happen as I already fall in love with my new lens.
The more that I use my FA 50 f/1.4, the more I love the lens. I love it not for the sharpness obviously. I love it for the great color, contrast, wonderful 3D look with narrow dof when I get lucky. And it is a funny term that I use, the picture looks creamy and sometime it sure looks better than the actual scene through my eyes. I have many pictures done at home and I always have the messy feeling about my home and the narrow DOF correct that and my home is as pretty as I can dream about :-)

Okay, back to the softness testing, I find it soft until f/2.0+ for me for indoor portraits -- this is not a definite as I no longer pixel peep to continue the formal part of my testing. For shooting on fine print, I would have guessed it to be sharp at f/2.8 and beyond. For portraits, the creamy look, color and contrast offset the softness that I see. Maybe the softness help in disguise. If you do plan to purchase FA 50 f.14, please do test your copy with some pixel peeping especially for daylight pictures at small apertures such as f/4.0. In my 1st copy of FA 50 f/1.4, it has very unusual softness compared to my 2nd copy and hence I returned for an exchange. Few pictures from my 2nd copy that I am pretty proud, all done hand held

My Crumpler 2 million bag
Crumpler 2 million bag with FA 50 f/1.4
Yummy Mooncake Label
Yummy mooncake with Pentax FA 50 f/1.4
My Ben On Nebulizer
Ben on nebulizer with Pentax FA 50 f/1.4
In short, though FA 50 f/1.4 is a very difficult lens for me to use especially for the narrow DOF, I will not hesitate in recommending it highly to others. But I will add the caveat that one should buy it from good places with a return policy such as BuyDig and BeachCamera. When I find focusing problems and softness at f/4.0 in daylight shooting environment, I am glad that BeachCamera allows me for an exchange. Included below are bunch of links related to testing a new lens. I manage not to use any of them as my normal use on my FA 50 has sold me the idea to stick with the lens for its great color, contrast, relatively low cost, and extraordinary high speed compared to other lens that I have. Pictures are bright and they have the creamy look and rich color that I don't find in my other lens.

1/160 sec, f/2.4, 50mm, iso 200, 0 Ev
Pentax FA 50 f/1.4 Test Shot
Golden Retriever with Pentax FA 50 f/1.4

Korean lunch with pentax fa 50 f/1.4
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Mariuca said...

Wow, what a huge dog! Am afraid of dogs actually ;)

Thanks for joining my contest! :):):)

Genie Princess

spindart said...

Great color and composing, my man. Enjoy your pix blogs. I'm curious to *see* photos of your actual new/old camera equipment?? Keep up the good work! <><

James G said...

I'm new to the world of dslrs, coming in from simple point and shoot cameras. I got a k100d super for Christmas and also decided to buy the 50mm 1.4 lens.

I've been really happy with the camera, but I've got similar concerns as you raised with your first lens .

I've followed your posts in the forums but still don't know if I should return my lens. I don't really have a trained eye and can't make that determination. What ultimately made you decide to exchange it?

Your blog has been really helpful. Thanks for your time.

Hin Man said...

James, it is much easier to make a focus error on this lens due to narrow DOF. Please lookup the link in this blog post with 'Narrow DOF' and see all the links to the relevant info for lens testing. I would suggest testing the lens with a tripod in smaller apertures in daylight for focusing first. I tested my 1st copy of FA 50 f/1.4 in daytime lighting in f/4.0 and smaller apertures as in f/8.0, f/11.0 to ensure focusing accuracy before I test it for indoor. I returned my 1st copy after having enough pictures in normal lighting with unsharp pictures. If you test it with wide open aperture, you are likely to get user errors. Using a tripod will also help minimize user errors. Hope this helps you.

shoey said...

i'd like to add that this lens is fantastic with the K100D/K10D/K20D's shake reduction. what other camera system will offer SR/IS/VR with a F1.4!!

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