CP+ Report: Pentax 70-200mm and 150-450mm

By Albert Siegel in CP+ 2015 on Feb 16, 2015
CP+ Report: Pentax 70-200mm and 150-450mm

For Pentax fans, this year's CP+ was by far one of the most interesting trade shows in recent years.  The last two years were a bit of disappointment, but this year Ricoh finally announced that a full-frame Pentax was close to release.  Not only that, but we also saw working samples of two recently-announced full-frame lenses.  We were able to give these a try and were pretty impressed.

Let’s start with the HD Pentax-D FA* 70-200 F2.8 ED DC AW.  The first impression is that it’s big and has quite a bit of heft, but at the same time has the usual Pentax feel of very high build quality– on par with premium lenses from the competitors.

Video: hands-on demo of the 70-200mm

The ergonomics of the lens are good.  In an unusual move for Pentax on their high-end lenses, the focusing ring is now located near the mount.  At the same time, since the zoom ring is now at the front of the lens, those accustomed to the reverse will need to get used to the new layout in their handling techniques.  Both the zoom and focus are internal.

The autofocus was difficult to judge.  Although the lens on display is close to being final and the only changes we imagine would be in firmware, the lighting at CP+ was quite poor and not the best for testing.  With that said, the autofocus did feel smooth and responsive.

The HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW was much the same in terms of build quality and autofocus.  The handling is a matter of personal taste.  It’s quite big and heavy, so might be best used with a monopod or other form of support for anything other than a short burst.

Video: hands-on demo of the 150-450mm

While it has internal focus, it extends when zooming in the same way the current DA* 60-250mm F4 does.  The 150-450mm lens has a removable tripod foot/mount as does the new 70-200mm.

We were unable to judge image quality, as we were not permitted to other anything other than their demo camera and memory card.  These kind of tests are better left for our in-depth reviews regardless.

Overall, one cannot help but to be impressed with just about every aspect of these new lenses.  They are as well made as the best of any Pentax lens, with tight and smooth operation on the rings with no zoom creep.  But both are bigger than they look in the press release photos.

Although some may think the price a bit high, that feeling disappears after holding either lens in your hands.  Considering the quality traditionally found in the optics of higher-end Pentax lenses, there can be little doubt the new D FA lenses will be a hit among serious photographers.  For more details, visit the press release or our lens database entries for either lens:

See also more photos of both lenses at the show.




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