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06-09-2010, 04:58 AM   #1
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IQ difference between 300mm DA*, FA* and F*?

Hi everyone - first post from a long time lurker!

I'm currently shopping for a 300mm lens which I will be using for wild life photography, and I have three candidates - the DA*, FA* and F* (not including the 2.8 versions). Iím trying to figure out if there is an IQ difference between these three, and hoping someone could help me out. I keep reading reports about the DA* being a bit soft wide open, but havenít read anything similar about the FA* or F* lenses. At the moment it seems the DA* lenses are easier to find and at a cheaper price than the older FA* and F*.

Any input about the difference between these three lenses would be much appreciated!

Thanks!
Patrick

06-09-2010, 05:07 AM   #2
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I've never compared them directly, but I would choose between the F* and the DA* as the FA* does not have a tripod collar. This is not a problem if you want to use the lens strictly handheld, or try to find/make your own tripod collar.

BTW: I have the F* and I would only replace it with the DA* if I badly wanted the weather sealing (and I do not).
06-09-2010, 05:11 AM   #3
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Get the FA*, then the others. (get also a converter 1.4x)

About the tripod colar, you can use a third party colar for the canon 70-200/4 lens that is the same fit that the FA*300 lens as stated here in the forum on other threads.

(I'm using now a FA*400/5.6)
06-09-2010, 05:23 AM   #4
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Sorry Ashahiflex but he FA* tripod collar "issue" is a non starter. Easily solved with a $20 Canon 70-200 tripod collar found on Ebay everyday. It even matches the silver colour. I have one on mine.

That being said, this is not a heavy lens. I don't use the tripod much at all and is easily hand held. The F* is a bit lighter.

As for the lens comparison, there's no difference between the F and FA versions optically. I can't speak to the DA* though which has the advantage of weather seals.
All 3 are ED lenses as well. My FA* is sharp wide open without any reservations. Look at these figures.

If I had around $1000 to spend on a lens, which would I buy? The F* or FA*. Just because the DA* is cropped image circle although users report that it will do fine on a FF body. Second I just don't have any faith in the current SDM motors. Screwdrive is fast enough and has 20 years of reliable service.

06-09-2010, 05:24 AM   #5
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You will be very pleased with any of them. They all offer excellent image quality. The DA* has the weather seal advantage if you need it.
06-09-2010, 05:29 AM   #6
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See this thread on an FA* collar https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/field-accessories/32386-fa*300mm-f4-5-tri...oods-well.html
06-09-2010, 06:28 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Asahiflex Quote
the FA* does not have a tripod collar. This is not a problem if you want to use the lens strictly handheld, or try to find/make your own tripod collar.
The lens is lighter though, so it doesn't pose a problem for me, even when mounted on my cheap tripod.

Also since it's lighter, it's easier to pack up into the mountains with me.

I dont have the DA* to compare, however, I'm told that the FA* is sharper.
06-09-2010, 07:09 AM   #8
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Oh, I knew about the 3rd party collar, but not everyone wants to fiddle around with 3rd party solutions (yikes, a canon strangles my Pentax! )

On a different note: is it really true that older AF glass is often better because the lens elements and/or coatings have lead in them (which is now forbidden due to ROHS regulations)? I keep hearing this. And if so, was this indeed the reason for Pentax to drop the FA* line completely? I.e. they were forced to.

06-09-2010, 07:12 AM   #9
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I might be wrong but I think the Lead issue predates the FA* series *the 300mm was launched in 1991).

So hard to know if that really is the difference or not.
06-09-2010, 07:20 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
I might be wrong but I think the Lead issue predates the FA* series *the 300mm was launched in 1991).

So hard to know if that really is the difference or not.
Nope, the ROHS regulations were adopted in 2003 by the EU. So it's fairly recent. On Bojidar Dimitrov's excellent K-mount page I see that the FA*'s were discontinued in 2004, so 1+1=2?
06-09-2010, 07:49 AM   #11
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There you go. Maybe that's the issue and reason these are such good lenses. I'm not too worried about lead in the glass. I don't lick my lenses clean.....
06-09-2010, 09:17 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
.... I don't lick my lenses clean.....
Neither do I
06-09-2010, 10:11 AM   #13
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I found this review of the DA*300:

Pentax DA* 300mm f/4 Lens Review

Looking at the images at the bottom of the page, there actually seems to be a significant difference between f4, f8 and f16. Copied from the review:

"Unlike the FA* 300mm, which was known for fairly uniform sharpness across the board, the DA* 300mm is a bit of a roller coaster ride in this regard. In examining 100-percent crops from our test chart shots, both edge and center are noticeably soft at f/4."

Interesting!
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