- Born in Tokyo, Hanawa is a freelance photographer capturing people as his main subject. In addition to contributing photos and articles to camera magazines, he also photographs actors, media celebrities and politicians. His work includes portrait photography captured overseas; snapshot photography of cityscapes; and the Yoru-suna! (“Nighttime Snapshots”) project, capturing nighttime city scenes. He has held a number of photo exhibitions.
HD PENTAX-FA 31mmF1.8 Limited
HD PENTAX-FA 43mmF1.9 Limited
Of all the FA Limited-series lenses, the 31mm and 43mm models are the best suited for snapshot photography. Even though these two lenses feature similar focal lengths, they produce quite different photographic expressions.
The 31mm lens produces a sharp, high-contrast, high-resolution image with peripheral areas that appear slightly less bright, creating a tightly condensed image composition. This is useful when you try to capture a subject positioned in harsh light, or if you want to make the image more dramatic.
On the other hand, the 43mm lens produces a softened image rendition. Even at the open aperture of F1.9, it captures the subject in somewhat broader focus, rather than in pinpoint focus. It produces a pleasant, true-to-life image with a smooth bokeh (defocus) effect, close to that seen by the naked eye. When I mount this lens on my camera, I often find myself seeing the subject more gently and affectionately.
It is true that FA Limited-series lenses make a slightly loud sound during autofocus operations, and their autofocusing speed is not super-fast. This may surprise photographers who are used to latest lenses equipped with ultrasonic motors. But I believe that this is actually the most attractive element of the FA Limited series. It makes you slow down and closely observe the subject, then quietly release the camera’s shutter as you enjoy the process of photo shooting. This becomes a kind of photographic ritual, one which only the FA Limited series can offer. The two lenses I am reviewing here have been upgraded to the HD (High Definition) version, which assures better imaging performance in backlit scenes. You will be more confident when releasing the shutter in confusing lighting conditions. Conventional lens coatings sometimes suffer from flare spots when there is harsh backlighting, but the PENTAX-original HD coating effectively solves this problem. In fact, these new lenses make me more eager than ever before to capture high-contrast scenes positioned against harsh backlight.
At the start of this review, I stated that the 31mm and 43mm lenses produced considerably different photographic expressions. When I first replaced one lens with another, I noticed that the difference in focal length was more obvious than I had initially expected. The 43mm lens belongs to the standard lens category. When I replaced the 31mm lens with this lens, however, I got the feeling that it was more a telephoto lens. So you can use the 31mm lens largely for snapshot photography, then replace it with the 43mm model only when you want to move in on the subject. You will be surprised by the highly dramatic, tightly cropped images that this lens captures. If you like taking casual snapshots or travel photos with your camera, I recommend that you choose the wide-angle 31mm as your main lens, saving the 43mm lens as “your secret telephoto lens” for special occasions. You will find that this lens interchangeability opens up a whole-new range of photographic possibilities in the otherwise ordinary scenes spreading out in front of you.