Pentax SMCP FA 85 F1.4 (IF) lens - Gymnastics photography


Link Posted 03/01/2003 - 01:33
I currently own a Pentax ZX-7 camera body with a Sigma 70 -200 F2.8 telephoto lens. My daughter is a collegiate gymnast. I shoot not only her routines but the entire team's during meets. For the most part, I get "decent" pictures from this lens, except when our team visits some other college gyms whose lighting is not so bright, where my pictures then contain more noise (graininess). I'm using 800 speed film with a shutter speed of 500, and the aperature is fully open when I'm shooting these gymnasts' routines.

Could some one advise me as to a Pentax 85 SMCP FA F1.4 (IF) lens and whether or not that might solve my problem with lower light environments? I've read some negative comments about the sharpness of this lens, but obviously it would give me more light. I do have some leeway with getting to within 20 feet of the athlete at times during these meets. At this distance I think an 85mm lens would certainly be adequate enough. Thanks for your help.

Bob Harley


Link Posted 03/01/2003 - 19:38
I have read a review of this lens, and also handled one, but not actually used one. I understand it to be a professional quality (and expensive) lens that should be critically sharp. At open aperture you will have a huge advantage in light gathering power, but also very shallow depth of field.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 03/01/2003 - 23:47

Thanks for your reply. I've taken the liberty to include another reply from a fellow camera enthusiast from a different forum. He commented as follows:

The Pentax 85mm f1.4 is an amazing portrait lens. Users have commented that its ideal working distance seems to be between 4 and 12 feet, with fantastic sharpness (when stopped down) and a very "creamy" rendition of the out of focus areas. Wide open it is a little soft, but that looks pretty nice with portraits. It never seems to perform great at distances aproaching infinity. A better bet for general purpose photography would be the 77mm f1.8. It is a half stop slower, and a little shorter, but it is a sharper lens wide open and at distances. The 77 is also a jewel of a lens, its part of their "limited" line.

Other options include some older, manual focusing beauties from Pentax. The 85mm f1.4 A and the 135mm f1.8 are both stellar performers, and both are sharper wide open and at distances than the current 85mm lens.

Thank you again for your reply.

Bob Harley


Link Posted 22/03/2003 - 05:03
The FA 85 f1.4 has the most amazing 3D quality about it, and is very 'real' it can be a bit soft wide open but suits it's portrait lens style.

It's a bit bulky and on the heavy side though.
The clutch focusing mechanism is very good too, which engages and disenages the autofocus mechanism quickly.

One of my favourite lenses... one of Pentax's best IMHO.
I love cameras ending in -tax
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