Pentax HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Review

John Riley reviews the new Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR lens for full-frame and APS-C Pentax DSLRs. Find out how this lens performs with the K-1 II.

25/03/2020 - 09:56

Pentax 70 210mm F4 On K 1 II Front Oblique View

Pentax has always been known for producing compact, elegantly designed lenses and it is only with the advent of the K-1 series of full-frame DSLRs that the size of the lenses has started to become significant and somewhat out of step with that ethos. The current 70-200mm f/2.8 is a good example of this, so it is interesting that now we have a new, significantly smaller and lighter 70-210mm lens, in fact around half the weight. The loss is the maximum aperture, reduced from f/2.8 to f/4, and for many, this will be an equation that favours the travel photographer in particular. An attractive reduction in weight, an attractive reduction in price, so all that remains is to see if the performance is maintained and the lens delivers the goods. Armed with the Pentax K-1 II full-frame body, we set off on our journey of discovery.
 

HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Handling and Features

Pentax 70 210mm F4 On K 1 II

First impressions see a very well made lens, with smooth controls and an excellent finish to the high-quality plastics used in the construction. There is a provided petal lens hood that bayonets securely into place. There is no retaining catch, but the hood stays put and shows no tendency to be prone to being dislodged. Within the bayonet is a standard 67mm filter thread.

The weight is a fairly modest 819g or 859g with the hood attached. This is, as mentioned above, less than half the weight of its f/2.8 big brother and the lens sits well and balances well on the K-1 or K-1 II full-frame DSLRs. If one of the APS-C format crop sensor DSLRs is used the “35mm-format equivalent” field of view becomes 107-322mm. The lens still balances well even on the smaller camera bodies.

The zoom ring is at the front of the lens and has no effect on the overall length of the lens. There are clear and accurate markings of 70mm, 100mm, 135mm and 210mm. Even in 2020, the marking of 135mm reveals a photographic heritage that harks back to the Leica rangefinder cameras, a seemingly illogical length that is the tipping point beyond which rangefinders were no longer accurate enough and the SLR was better for focusing accuracy. AF, of course, renders this somewhat academic, but the focal length still lingers on. The zoom action is smooth and positive.

Pentax 70 210mm F4 Vertical View Side

Behind the zoom ring, a small plastic window reveals the focus scale, clearly marked in both feet and metres. There is no provision for depth of field scales with this design of zoom. We then come to the manual focus ring, which is fully usable in both AF and MF settings via Pentax's QuickShift system. The grip we take on the lens needs to take account of the focusing being live during AF, otherwise with fingers on the zoom control we could catch the MF ring accidentally. This is a consequence of the wide MF ring being closer to the camera body, but with the right technique in holding then, this should not be a major problem. Focusing is down to 0.95m, or 3.1 feet, giving a maximum magnification of 0.32x. The close focusing is very useful and especially so at 210mm which gives huge potential for close shooting from a good working distance, so ideal perhaps for insects and small creatures.

There are two lens switches, the AF/MF one being self-explanatory and the limiter limiting the AF focusing range to 2m to infinity. AF is via an SDM motor, silent and fast in operation and a huge advance on the original SDM system. There is no hunting and the AF is not only crisp but also accurate.
Pentax 70 210mm F4 Front Element View
 

Optical construction is 20 elements in 14 groups. The diaphragm has 9 rounded blades, which offer a circular aperture from f/4 to f/9.5. Lens coatings are the new Pentax HD (High Definition) multi-coating, offering even better flare suppression than the previous SMC coatings. The front element has a Fluorine SP (Super Protect) coating to repel dust, moisture and grease. The lens is also weather-resistant, one of the most advantageous improvements to lenses in general in the past few years.

The well-made metal lens mount is designated KAF 4, indicating that there is an electromatic diaphragm. This means that some earlier Pentax bodies will not be able to stop down the lens, but all recent ones will be fine. The Ricoh website has a list of compatible bodies.

There are rarely any handling quirks with Pentax cameras and lenses, which are straightforward and slick in operation. The lens is a great example of a well designed and highly functional photographic tool.

Pentax 70 210mm F4 On K 1 II Rear Oblique View

HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Performance

First the resolution figures, and at 70mm central sharpness is very good from f/4 all the way through to f/22, only becoming really affected by diffraction at f/32 which is just fair. The edges are very good from f/4 to f/16, good at f/22 and fair at f/32.

At 100mm, sharpness centrally is very good from f/4 to f/22 and good at f/32. The edges are very good from f/4 to f/16, good at f/22 and fair at f/32.

135mm sees the sharpness centrally as very good from f/4 to f/16, good at f/22 and fair at f/32. The edges are good at f/4 and f/5.6, very good at f/8 and f/11, good at f/16 and f/22 and fair at f/32.

At 210mm, central sharpness is good at f/4, very good from f/8 to f/16, good at f/22 and fair at f/32. The edges are fair at f/4, good at f/5.6 and f/8, very good at f/11, good at f/16 and fair at f/22 and f/32.

Performance is actually very similar to the f/2.8 version, perhaps just a whisker below in terms of sharpness, but still notable for its evenness from centre to edge and its character. The resolution isn't the highest ever recorded, but it is very good and it retains the indefinable quality that Pentax lenses show in general. That is where the balance of lens properties lies and is part of the lens maker's art, going beyond having just the ability to separate black and white lines on a photographic chart. Very few of us spend our lives shooting test charts.

 

Pentax HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR MTF Charts

MTF50 Graph At 70mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_MTF50_graph_at_70mm_1585126605.jpg">High-Res</a>
MTF50 Graph At 70mm
High-Res
MTF50 Graph At 100mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_MTF50_graph_at_100mm_1585126605.jpg">High-Res</a>
MTF50 Graph At 100mm
High-Res
MTF50 Graph At 135mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_MTF50_graph_at_135mm_1585126606.jpg">High-Res</a>
MTF50 Graph At 135mm
High-Res
MTF50 Graph At 210mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_MTF50_graph_at_210mm_1585126606.jpg">High-Res</a>
MTF50 Graph At 210mm
High-Res

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution and sharpness as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-1 II using Imatest. Want to know more about how we review lenses?


CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very well handled, even with the in-camera corrections switched off. Central CA is extremely low, and although there is some edge fringing it is far less than many other zoom lenses and can be corrected in software if desired.

 

Pentax HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Chromatic Aberration Charts

CA Graph At 70mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_CA_graph_at_70mm_1585126282.jpg">High-Res</a>
CA Graph At 70mm
High-Res
CA Graph At 100mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_CA_graph_at_100mm_1585126283.jpg">High-Res</a>
CA Graph At 100mm
High-Res
CA Graph At 135mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_CA_graph_at_135mm_1585126284.jpg">High-Res</a>
CA Graph At 135mm
High-Res
CA Graph At 210mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_CA_graph_at_210mm_1585126285.jpg">High-Res</a>
CA Graph At 210mm
High-Res

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-1 II using Imatest.

 

Distortion is also very low for a zoom lens, showing -1.18% barrel at 70mm, +0.38% Pincushion at 100mm, +1.11% pincushion at 135mm and +1.57% pincushion at 210mm.

Bokeh, the quality of the out of focus areas, is very smooth and ideal for portraiture or any other application where smooth gradation is wanted in the out of focus areas.

The new Pentax HD coating does its job well and there is virtually no sign of flare even in quite difficult conditions such as strong backlighting.

 

Aperture 70mm 100mm 135mm 210mm
f/4 -1.4 -0.9 -1.3 -1.3
f/5.6 -1.2 -0.7 -1.1 -1.1
f/8 -1.1 -0.6 -1 -1
f/11 -1 -0.6 -0.9 -0.9
f/16 -1 -0.6 -0.9 -0.9
f/22 -1 -0.5 -0.9 -0.9
f/32 -0.9 -0.5 -0.9 -0.9


Vignetting is modest and is not particularly obvious in most images.

 


Pentax HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Sample Photos

Arley Hall | 1/50 sec | f/11.0 | 70.0 mm | ISO 200<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_arley_hall_1585125743.jpg">High-Res</a>
Arley Hall | 1/50 sec | f/11.0 | 70.0 mm | ISO 200
High-Res
CA Test | 1/2000 sec | f/9.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_CA_test_1585125810.jpg">High-Res</a>
CA Test | 1/2000 sec | f/9.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Close Up Garden Lock | 1/100 sec | f/4.0 | 210.0 mm | ISO 200<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_close_up_garden_lock_1585125837.jpg">High-Res</a>
Close Up Garden Lock | 1/100 sec | f/4.0 | 210.0 mm | ISO 200
High-Res
Close Up Rain On Leaves | 1/40 sec | f/8.0 | 210.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_close_up_rain_on_leaves_1585125864.jpg">High-Res</a>
Close Up Rain On Leaves | 1/40 sec | f/8.0 | 210.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Closest Focus | 0.5 sec | f/16.0 | 210.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_closest_focus_1585125899.jpg">High-Res</a>
Closest Focus | 0.5 sec | f/16.0 | 210.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Daffodils | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 160.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_daffodils_1585125930.jpg">High-Res</a>
Daffodils | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 160.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Dental Instruments | 1/5 sec | f/8.0 | 155.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_dental_instruments_1585125960.jpg">High-Res</a>
Dental Instruments | 1/5 sec | f/8.0 | 155.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Feeders | 1/125 sec | f/8.0 | 210.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_feeders_1585125985.jpg">High-Res</a>
Feeders | 1/125 sec | f/8.0 | 210.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Garden Gate And Wall | 1/60 sec | f/8.0 | 190.0 mm | ISO 200<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_garden_gate_and_wall_1585126017.jpg">High-Res</a>
Garden Gate And Wall | 1/60 sec | f/8.0 | 190.0 mm | ISO 200
High-Res
Greenhouse Blooms | 1/50 sec | f/16.0 | 133.0 mm | ISO 200<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_greenhouse_blooms_1585126038.jpg">High-Res</a>
Greenhouse Blooms | 1/50 sec | f/16.0 | 133.0 mm | ISO 200
High-Res
Mallard | 1/400 sec | f/7.1 | 210.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_mallard_1585126064.jpg">High-Res</a>
Mallard | 1/400 sec | f/7.1 | 210.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Portrait 1 | 1/6 sec | f/4.0 | 133.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_portrait_1_1585126085.jpg">High-Res</a>
Portrait 1 | 1/6 sec | f/4.0 | 133.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Portrait 2 | 1/250 sec | f/5.6 | 98.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_portrait_2_1585126109.jpg">High-Res</a>
Portrait 2 | 1/250 sec | f/5.6 | 98.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Portrait 3 | 1/160 sec | f/5.6 | 115.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_portrait_3_1585126136.jpg">High-Res</a>
Portrait 3 | 1/160 sec | f/5.6 | 115.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Portrait 4 | 1/250 sec | f/5.6 | 128.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_portrait_4_1585126162.jpg">High-Res</a>
Portrait 4 | 1/250 sec | f/5.6 | 128.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Recession | 1/5 sec | f/32.0 | 210.0 mm | ISO 200<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_recession_1585126194.jpg">High-Res</a>
Recession | 1/5 sec | f/32.0 | 210.0 mm | ISO 200
High-Res
Ruddy Shelduck | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 155.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_ruddy_shelduck_1585126215.jpg">High-Res</a>
Ruddy Shelduck | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 155.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Spoonbill And Two Men | 1/1000 sec | f/8.0 | 210.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_spoonbill_and_two_men_1585126245.jpg">High-Res</a>
Spoonbill And Two Men | 1/1000 sec | f/8.0 | 210.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Texture In Old Brick | 1/20 sec | f/8.0 | 105.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_texture_in_old_brick_1585126294.jpg">High-Res</a>
Texture In Old Brick | 1/20 sec | f/8.0 | 105.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Weeping Willow | 1/2500 sec | f/8.0 | 70.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_weeping_willow_1585126330.jpg">High-Res</a>
Weeping Willow | 1/2500 sec | f/8.0 | 70.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res

 

Pentax HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Aperture range

Bokeh At F4 | 1/60 sec | f/4.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_bokeh_at_f4_1585125439.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F4 | 1/60 sec | f/4.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Bokeh At F5.6 | 1/30 sec | f/5.6 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_bokeh_at_f56_1585125465.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F5.6 | 1/30 sec | f/5.6 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Bokeh At F8 | 1/15 sec | f/8.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_bokeh_at_f8_1585125493.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F8 | 1/15 sec | f/8.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Bokeh At F11 | 1/8 sec | f/11.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_bokeh_at_f11_1585125522.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F11 | 1/8 sec | f/11.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Bokeh At F16 | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_bokeh_at_f16_1585125551.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F16 | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Bokeh At F22 | 0.5 sec | f/22.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_bokeh_at_f22_1585125579.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F22 | 0.5 sec | f/22.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Bokeh At F32 | 1 sec | f/32.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxD-FA-70210mm-f4-ED-SDM-WR-7518/highres/pentax_70-210mm_f4_bokeh_at_f32_1585125604.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F32 | 1 sec | f/32.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

You can view additional images in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Pentax 70 210mm F4 On K 1 II With Hood

Value For Money

The HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR lens is priced at £1199. The alternative for Pentax users is the HD Pentax-D FA* 70-200mm f/2.8 ED DC AW lens at £1699. This latter price is somewhat lower than the introductory one, so the f/4 lens may, of course, settle in time. For now, it offers a saving in cost of £500.

There being no other Pentax options, to gauge value for money we could look at the costs that other marques pay for similar optics:

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 ED VR, £1349
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM, £1299
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM, £999
Sony FE 70-200mm f/4G OSS, £1149
Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD, £549

Compared to what the cost would be of a similar marque lens with shake reduction, the Pentax does look good value for money.

For more options have a look at the Top 26 Best Pentax Lenses, Third Party Lenses for Pentax.

 

HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Verdict

There has been a tendency for many lenses to get bigger and heavier and it is a welcome change to have a smaller, lighter and less costly option. Although we sacrifice one stop with the f/4 maximum aperture, for many applications this is not really a problem. Current cameras have excellent high ISO performance, and this can more than make up for a slightly slower aperture. We do of course lose out on depth of field control and for some, this will mean the f/2.8 lens will be the one of choice, but where this is not an issue the f/4 versions will offer a trimmer product that is less onerous to carry around, provided of course that there is no penalty in terms of performance.

The f/2.8 lens is actually one of Pentax's star range of superior optics, but in fact, this f/4 version is not very far behind. The figures for resolution are very slightly lower, but the difference is not a deal-breaker by any means. It is even possible to make satisfactory images at f/32 where, although diffraction will certainly take the edge off the fine detail, if depth of field is the main requirement then it is a good thing that the smallest aperture is available.

Of course, what we can't measure is that indefinable “something” that makes an image glow and this lens does have some of that quality. It can't be given a quantity, but I can say that the Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR lens is now on my own shopping list and it comes Highly Recommended.

 

HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Pros

  • Very good and even sharpness generally
  • Low CA
  • Modest vignetting
  • Low distortion
  • Reliable AF
  • Weather resistance
  • Smooth bokeh
  • Half the weight of the f/2.8 lens
  • Excellent flare control
  • Well priced

HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Cons

  • f/4 aperture may not suit all
  • Edge sharpness drops off at longer focal lengths

Features: 4.5/5
Handling: 5/5
Performance: 4.5/5
Value: 4.5/5
Overall Verdict
4.5/5

Own this lens? Let us know what you think of it in the EQDB.

Pentax HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Specifications

ManufacturerPentax
General
Lens Mounts
  • Pentax K
Lens
Focal Length 70mm - 210mm
Angle of View 11° - 34°
Max Aperture f/4
Min Aperture f/32
Filter Size 67mm
Stabilised Yes
35mm equivalent 107mm - 322mm
Internal focusing Yes
Maximum magnification 0.32x
Focusing
Min Focus 95cm
Construction
Blades 9
Elements 20
Groups 14
Box Contents
Box Contents No Data
Dimensions
Weight 819g
Height 175mm

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RobL

Link Posted 25/03/2020 - 16:59
Cameraville has just compared this lens with the Tamron equivalent and the sharpness and CA didn’t do well, his examples look soft right through the aperture range. Your review puts a bit of a gloss on this but it is disappointing in a new lens. I had thought to supplement my f2.8 70-200mm but have decided against that. I also have a Sigma 70-300mm “macro” which is very cheap for times I need minimal weight and may as well keep that instead.

johnriley

Link Posted 26/03/2020 - 09:26
Well, I can only look at the sample I was sent and report accordingly. The problem is that we can never compare like with like as we can't use the Tamron on a Pentax body and we can't use the Pentax on a Canon or Nikon. Then we don't know how the images were examined - with or without corrections? RAW or JPEG?

This lens is still on my shopping list and if it wasn't sharp then it wouldn't be.
Best regards, John

LennyBloke

Link Posted 27/03/2020 - 08:51
Thanks to John for providing this review - Having been a user of this lens for a few weeks I can say that this review marries with my experiences, I don't have the D-FA* f2.8 version to compare absolute sharpness, but having owned the FA*80-200/2.8 for several years I can say that this f4 version is great for travel/hiking/walking - the f2.8's wouldn't make it into my camera bag
LennyBloke

RobL

Link Posted 02/04/2020 - 11:21
johnriley wrote:
Well, I can only look at the sample I was sent and report accordingly. The problem is that we can never compare like with like as we can't use the Tamron on a Pentax body and we can't use the Pentax on a Canon or Nikon. Then we don't know how the images were examined - with or without corrections? RAW or JPEG?

This lens is still on my shopping list and if it wasn't sharp then it wouldn't be.

I appreciate what you say and I didn't mean any criticism of your review, its possible Cameraville's version was off and it wouldn't be the first time but I was surprised how soft the images were. You say the sharpness was "very good and even generally" which is the sort of response I would expect on a cheaper lens, not one costing four figures but of course your performance review would be in absolute terms not value for money. The fact that the inconsistency in Cameraville's case was throughout the aperture range suggests a poor sample or maybe needing correction in camera. He was critical of the f2.8 version for focal length inaccuracies but even if that's the case I find it's almost my most commonly used lens and is pin sharp so if it says 200mm but is actually 180mm I really don't care. The Tamron was on a Nikon D810 so it should be a fair comparison of unedited images.

smc

Link Posted 02/04/2020 - 18:06
Possibly a duff sample. It happens for all marques.

JohnnyDavey93

Link Posted 28/10/2020 - 02:42
I have a friend who works at central coast stockfeeds and he swears by this lens. thanks for helping me understand it all.

JohnnyDavey93

Link Posted 18/11/2020 - 00:02
yeah wow, our company wollongong bathroom renovations uses this lens all the time for our testimonial pics, it defiantly shows the difference
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