Pentax F* or Pentax FA* 300mm


Link Posted 26/10/2019 - 00:10
What are the pros and cons of the F (with a tripod foot or without) against the FA please? Both get good reviews. The F looks more robust than the FA but not having handled either I have no idea. ............ Yes, I know there is a modern DA*300 but (a) I can't afford it and (b) I don't trust their innards.
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Link Posted 26/10/2019 - 07:46
They're identical optically, but have different cosmetic designs. The F* has the tripod mount that can be removed while the FA* doesn't have one. In my opinion the F* looks much nicer.

Compared to the DA*, the F* is a slightly smaller aperture and doesn't produce the same deep contrast wide open. The sharpness is quite close however.

Either of the lenses would be excellent.


Link Posted 26/10/2019 - 11:42
It's personal preference really because as HarisF1 says, optically they are the same. I currently have the F* and use it without the tripod mount simply because I've never found the need to use it on a tripod - the SR system and sensible use of exposure settings are usually more than adequate.

Your point about the DA* innards is probably a view transferred from the significant failing of the 16-50 and 50-135 but the failure rate for the 300 is (I believe) very low. Also, it's worth remembering that the F and FA series lenses do have failures - mostly age/wear related now - but they certainly happen.

I wouldn't swap my F* for a DA*, but if I was replacing now I would definitely choose the DA*. The quieter focus, the slightly faster aperture, and the WR do tip the balance - also the DA* is often available for less than the other options. SRS have/had an FA*300 for 599 and there is/was a DA*300 (originally bought from SRS coincidentally) in the For Sale section on this forum.

Hope those views help a little


Link Posted 26/10/2019 - 11:46
I've only got the FA* (bought new in the mid 90's) and haven't handled the F*. These days they both seem so rare I'd take either based on reputation. If a tripod mount is important I use the Canon 70-200 F4 tripod mount on my FA*, it's an ok fit however I don't use it often, mainly for testing and the occasional moon shot. The lens is so light and easily handheld I don't miss the tripod mount.
Mine's been very reliable so far and has gotten faster and more accurate with every new iteration of Pentax camera. Until a few years ago it was my go to wildlife lens. My far newer DA* 300 has already had an sdm fault and needed repaired.
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Link Posted 26/10/2019 - 23:37
Thank you. It's useful to know they have identical optics. I take the point about the low failure rate of the DA* but also that a failure is reported above. If I had to take a failure from either an F* or a DA* I would prefer the 600 F* rather than the 800 - 900 (or whatever it is) DA*. A second hand screw drive is also a far lesser risk than a second hand SDM at the same price !
Both the *istDS and the K5 are incurably addicted to old glass

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Link Posted 27/10/2019 - 14:43
I'm yet another satisfied DA*300 user whose SDM motor hasn't failed. If it does fail, there's always the option of converting it to screw drive (which is what I would probably do). It must be possible because someone on this forum (carmagw) reported back in January this year that they had done the conversion to compare focus speeds even though the SDM motor hadn't failed. And I know that screw drive works OK because that's how my *ist (film version) drives the lens.

Personally, I tend to prefer new lenses to second-hand ones. Unless you're very sure about the seller, even usually reliable innards might have been mucked up, perhaps unknowingly, and there is no come back if the lens fails after a few months. And as LennyBloke says, older lenses can fail, too - SDM isn't the only thing that can go wrong.

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