FA* 80mm - 200mm f/2.8 (Fantastic & Amazing? Anyone Agree?)


Fletcher8

Link Posted 13/08/2013 - 18:55
I have been looking for a Pentax SMC FA* 80-200mm for some time and even posted a request for one on here.
I never shot film with any brand, but as a child remember Pentax. Anyway I now know why the FA* lenses were held in such high esteem by photographers. My lens arrived just before I was about to go to work, so I had very little time to have a play, so all day I have been thinking about getting back home. All I can say is if you are looking for a fast telephoto, the quality of the Pentax SMC FA* 80-200mm has blown me away. So far my conclusions are that (in my opinion) it is better than the DA* 50mm -135 for colour rendition and bokeh. The ability to have an equivalent focal length on APS-C of 120mm to 300 at f/2.8 is just what I have been looking for and if and when Pentax do release a FF model, I will have the best of both worlds. I will post some images when I get the chance to use the lens for its intended purpose.

Does anyone know why Pentax no longer makes FA* glass? I do like and own a fair bit of DA* glass, but I am certainly going to keep an eye of for FA* lenses.
Fletcher8.
Last Edited by Fletcher8 on 13/08/2013 - 18:55

pschlute

Link Posted 13/08/2013 - 23:24
Well, they stopped producing the FA* lenses around 10 years ago, coinciding with the move into digital SLR manufacture, and obviously efforts went into new lenses aimed specifically at the new technology.

I am lucky to own the FA*24mm and FA*85mm. They dont get as much use as they should, but it still feels like a special occasion when clip one of those onto the camera!
Peter



My Flickr page

LennyBloke

Link Posted 14/08/2013 - 08:28
Hi Fletcher8, I'm glad you tracked down one of these legendary lenses at last and I'm sure you'll enjoy it but it may well lead to other FA* purchases - with the 85 and 24 that pschlute mentioned being particularly fine examples

I agree with your comments about the colour rendition and bokeh, the only criticism I have (apart from the weight) is that it is not as sharp as I would like it to be at maximum aperture (I've used 2 copies and both were pretty much the same) - I have to work on images more than with the DA* lenses to get the look of sharpness that I prefer. When it's stopped down it's certainly capable of excellent images and the overall "look" does seem nicer - but that could be my rose tinted Pentax specs

Enjoy your membership of the FA* club and I look forward to seeing some photos from it soon.
LennyBloke

Fletcher8

Link Posted 14/08/2013 - 09:18
LennyBloke, The copy I have is razor sharp at f/2.8 in the centre and the corners still look good to me. I will be mainly filling the frame with this lens so t is the centre sharpness thats important to me. I can't get over the weight of the lens, it will be going on a monopod. I am really very impressed with the colour rendition and bokeh. If this lens were weather sealed it would be a killer lens for my use.
Fletcher8.

LennyBloke

Link Posted 14/08/2013 - 09:43
Hi Fletcher8 - This is about the best I can get out of it at f2.8 (200mm) - perhaps I'm being too critical and it just doesn't match up to Pentax primes or the 60-250 (but that's not really fair as it's an f4)...







Stopped down a bit (f5.6) at 200 and cropped can produe this...



at lesser magnifications (140mm) it can produce this sort of colour and bokeh...


LennyBloke

Fletcher8

Link Posted 14/08/2013 - 10:08
Love the last image Lennybloke. So far have just been shooting things in the garden, but will be at Burghley Horse Trials in September and thats where i think this lens will shine.
Fletcher8.

seaside

Link Posted 14/08/2013 - 17:02
LennyBloke wrote:
perhaps I'm being too critical and it just doesn't match up to Pentax primes or the 60-250 (but that's not really fair as it's an f4)...

Hi Lennybloke.

Do you find it's still softer than the 60-250 at f/4 and beyond?

weinelm

Link Posted 14/08/2013 - 19:57
Yes the FA*s are rather appealing! Mind you, I wish Pentax would reissue some as updated DA*s, I would pay good money to have my FA* 24mm F2 updated in a more compact weather sealed package! (Although I guess most people want to see a DA 28mm F2.8 first!).

At the very least it would be nice if the FA* were still in production, there is some nice glass that still works pretty well on digital.
Panasonic GX80, Pentax K-1, Pentax MX, Mamiya 6. My Flickr

McGregNi

Link Posted 14/08/2013 - 20:37
I have no doubt the better FA units are very attractive and good value. Those examples posted are very good of course, but don't seem to have that final bit of punch and clarity that I have seen from DA equivalents. Also, in the 3rd (the flower with petals) there seems to be a fair bit of CA (purple fringing type) - this is a bit of an issue with my two A series lenses also.

Is it not the case that the newer DA examples would be better corrected on digital to reduce this type of aberration?
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver

Fletcher8

Link Posted 14/08/2013 - 23:27
McGregNi
I agree that the flower with petals image does have purple fringing. However the FA* 80 - 200 is not really the best lens to use for this type of image anyway (my opinion) also the image is cropped.
For my intended use, I think the FA* 80 - 200 will work very well, I use the DA* 200mm and the DA* 50 -135, but having a lens from 80mm to 200mm at f2.8 will provide me with more scope on one camera body for the type of shooting and focal lengths I require. I wish Pentax made a DA* 80 -200 f/2.8, the DA* 60 - 250 is not f/2.8. so bit unfair to compare. Without getting into the K5 v K5lls debate, I personally have found that I can obtain a clean image with the FA* 80 200 which I can then process and get the look I am after which will match the DA* glass images. I have also found that the focus speed on the FA* 80 - 200 is also faster than the DA* 50 -135, so again for my shooting needs another plus.

I know lens coatings have changed over the years, but I also know that the same lens models can perform differently. In relation to the FA* I have just purchased, perhaps I have been very lucky? Also it's early days to state specifically how good this lens will meet my needs, but so far on the K5lls it is working a treat. I will post some images taken with the DA* 200mm, the DA* 50 135mm and the FA* 80 200mm in mid September after I have attended Burley and see what people think and I will then be able to provide any plus or minus points.
Fletcher8.

johnriley

Link Posted 14/08/2013 - 23:47
The FA* 80-200mm cost almost 2000 when released, so a serious lens.

The FA* 28-70mm f/2.8 cost around 1000 IIRC, so another seriously high quality optic.
Best regards, John

LennyBloke

Link Posted 15/08/2013 - 07:38
Hi McGregNi - your points about the punch and clarity of the FA* 80-220 should really be made in comparision to other images I have taken. I am particularly bad at post-processing and tend to do very little with clarity, contrast and sharpening, and my skills with resizing are very poor I don't find any issue with punch or clarity - I suspect I am just over critical of the sharpness at wide apertures

Hi Seaside - It does sharpen up nicely as the aperture is stopped down, but my personal opinion is that the DA*60-250 is a tad sharper generally. But that is not the whole picture - I know it can't be measured - but the overall "look" of some of the photos that come out of the FA*'s is very often better (as I said, in my opinion).

Having said all that - I'm not doing a very good job of "bigging up" a lens that I am intending to sell
LennyBloke

McGregNi

Link Posted 15/08/2013 - 09:09
I know its hard to compare when there are variables of sharpening and resizing to consider, and I've no doubt about the abilities of the FA zoom - as John has said, it was clearly a premium product.

I was really raising the question of whether even cheaper DA equivalents are superior on todays DSLRs, due to being digitally 'optimised' and with newer coatings and other modern refinements ? Or, of course, whether the older items stand up and still offer top quality results now.
My Guides to the Pentax Digital Camera Flash Lighting System : Download here from the PentaxForums Homepage Article .... link
Pentax K7 with BG-4 Grip / Samyang 14mm f2.8 ED AS IF UMC / DA18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL WR / SMC A28mm f2.8 / D FA 28-105mm / SMC F35-70 f3.5-4.5 / SMC A50mm f1.7 / Tamron AF70-300mm f4-5.6 Di LD macro / SMC M75-150mm f4.0 / Tamron Adaptall (CT-135) 135mm f2.8 / Asahi Takumar-A 2X tele-converter / Pentax AF-540FGZ (I & II) Flashes / Cactus RF60/X Flashes & V6/V6II Transceiver

Fletcher8

Link Posted 15/08/2013 - 09:28
Hi McGregNi, I can't comment on all of the pre digital glass, but the FA* 80 - 200 can give any new lens a run for it's money in terms of image quality. I prefer it to my DA* 50 -135 which used to be my lens of choice. Between the DA* 200 and the FA* 80 - 200, the jury is still out though.

Are cheaper DA equivalents superior on todays DSLR? Personally I don't think so. Some of the old glass is as good now as it was when it was first released. Lab tests are great, but real life images can tell a different story.

Pentax, please update the FA* lenses with weather sealing, I know I would be willing to pay a little extra for them.
Fletcher8.
Last Edited by Fletcher8 on 15/08/2013 - 09:35

LennyBloke

Link Posted 15/08/2013 - 10:02
Fletcher8 wrote:

...Are cheaper DA equivalents superior on todays DSLR? Personally I don't think so. Some of the old glass is as good now as it was when it was first released. Lab tests are great, but real life images can tell a different story....

I couldn't agree more - I use the FA*24, FA*85 and F*300 more often than the rest of my lens collection (which includes DA*'s and FA and DA Ltd's). The FA*80-200 is simply too heavy most of the time so doesn't get much use and the FA*28-70 (recently aquired) is fast becoming a regular in my camera bag.

Before I owned any older Star lenses I thought that most of the comments about the "look" they produced was waffle from guys too set in their ways to try the newer glass - i no longer hold that opinion
LennyBloke
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