FA Limiteds - Made in Vietnam vs Made in Japan


Link Posted 14/06/2015 - 11:07
It's an itch that has to be scratched sometime - completing the set with a 43mm.

What is the difference between earlier Japan built versions of these lenses versus the newer Made in Vietnam copies? I know that the earliest ones (that came with the MZ-3) were somewhat different because of lead content but this was changed for later versions - correct? Are the Japanese made ones considered better? or is that just misplaced perception that Japan is best?



PS it's not a NEED, it's a WANT
AKA Welshwizard/PWynneJ
Assorted Pentax/Nikon/Mamiya stuff


Link Posted 14/06/2015 - 13:42
There is no difference between the Japanese made FA Limiteds and the one assembled in Vietnam.

The components are still made in Japan and then shipped to Vietnam.

The quality will be supervised by Pentax (Ricoh). The Pentax cameras and lenses are only assembled in Vietnam.

If yo buy a pair of Adidas shoes , you'll find none of them are made in Germany, but in various countries to Adidas specifications and quality requirements.

Assuming a type of lens has been made in japan and later on the same type is assembled in Vietnam, In the meantime there may be some improvement , like HD, then the better lens will be the one from Vietnam.
Regards, Horst


Link Posted 14/06/2015 - 14:06
In days of yore, some German manufacturers moved their plants to other locations, such as Rollei moving production to Singapore. There did seem to be a lower performance from the Singapore products, but manufacturing wasn't perhaps as precise then as it is now.

It would be interesting to do a test on Japanese and Vietnamese Limited lenses. No doubt Pentax already know the answer, but they are unlikely to tell us. It would be interesting if the Vietnam products turned out to be better - why do we assume that the Japanese ones would have the edge? I suspect quality control in Vietnam is every bit as keen as in Japan.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 14/06/2015 - 15:04
There were some differences between various 43mm's. The colour of the SMC was changed over time. The first one's that the magazines raved over didn't have the wart on the side. Lens caps changed.... some had felt on the inside. Some had just black screen printing others were stamped into the metal.

Half Man... Half Pentax ... Half Cucumber

Pentax K-1 + K-5 and some other stuff



Link Posted 14/06/2015 - 15:15
There was a time way back in my youth (the 60s) when Japan had a very bad reputation; cheap goods, cheaply made. Of course, I hadn't laid my hands on a 1957 Asahi Pentax at that tender age!

I agree, Vietnamese assembly should be no worse. My HD20-40 Limited is superbly assembled, felt-inlaid metal cap and all.
K-3II - HD DA20-40 Limited, HD DA55-300PLM, SMC DA10-17 Fishy, AF201FG Flashy


Link Posted 15/06/2015 - 00:24
I'd wanted an FA43 since they were first announced, but not needing an MZ-3, I didn't pursue it (I really wanted the special 'L' version with the rangefinder L screw mount so I'd have a reason to buy a Leica). IIRC the original FA43s were only available in silver.

For me the FA43 was the Pentax lens to have, it's the only 43mm (135 diagonal) lens* out there and given my preferred 135 focal length was my M40/2.8 it made sense. I'd missed out on buying an MIJ version and struggled to find a dealer with one to try (at this point they were 700 and I wanted to try one first). Last year I found one at The Photography Show (I had the LX and M40/2., I tried the lens, simply looking through the 'finder convinced me. This was the AIV version but I wanted my copy - not somebody else's. Since then I've seen several MIJ versions for sale for much less than I paid, but my 'AIV' example is mine.

There are many ways of looking at it, either original MIJ's were better made or in the 20yrs Pentax (Ricoh) have been making them they've perfected the manufacture, but I really doubt either has as much variation as the usual sample variation related to manufacturing tolerances. As a collectors item the MIJ's are probably more sought after if you're into that kind of thing, but as user lenses I doubt there's a difference.

* I've only ever used my FA43 on film (this will change when the FF arrives), on APS-C it's a focal length that doesn't appeal to me at all. I've only put it briefly on my K-5 to test that the AF works as expected, otherwise it's the lens I use most on my LX.
PPG Flickr


Link Posted 16/06/2015 - 12:23
I've owned 4 FA43 Limiteds - the first was a very good lens, but I never got anything I considered special from it. The 3 I've owned since have IMTUSO (in my totally unscientific subjective opinion) produced better images - coincidentally these three were all MIJ and the first was an AIV.

There are variations in lenses and, I believe, coating improvements throughout the manufacturing lifespan of particular lenses. I've reached the point where I've owned and used multiple copies of many lenses and generally speaking the "high end" lenses (which I would include the FA43 in) have very little differences - they are pretty consistent - the only notable exception I've come across if the FA*24/2.0, which seems to have "soft wide open" versions as well as the sharp ones. I haven't used more than one copy of an AIV, so can't say there is a difference, and many AIV users are more than happy with their copies.
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