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09-24-2010, 07:59 PM   #1
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Pentax SMC-FA 28-90mm f/3.5-5.6

Surfing Craigslist Pentax listings today I noticed one for a somewhat busted Pentax ZX-60 (film SLR from around 2003), with the Pentax SMC-FA 28-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens. Seller lives only about 3 miles from me. The digital display was busted and in lieu of the asked $50, seller said they'd take $30/B.O. for the lens. I figured the lens might be a decent addition to my K-x lens kit, so I pedaled over there on my bike and bought the lens for $30.

Inasmuch as this works with a 35mm SLR, I figure the IQ would be even better with an APS-C DSLR. Is my thinking correct?

My other lenses are the kit 18-55mm, the kit 55-300mm and the Pentax DA 18-250mm, which I picked up off Craigslist a few weeks ago.

What do you think?

PS: It seems alright, the exposed glass needed cleaning, don't see any haze or fungus and the focus and aperture rings work smoothly, but this lens is supposed to weigh 195 grams and this weighs 198.6 grams (on both my scales, without end caps). What might account for that?


Last edited by Muse; 09-24-2010 at 09:01 PM.
09-24-2010, 09:32 PM   #2
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You have 4 grams of dust and condensate accumulated over the years.
Nah, that's 2% variance from the specs. It's no big deal
09-24-2010, 09:52 PM   #3
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This lens isn't very good. I'd recommend the FA 24-90 over it. SMC Pentax-FA 28-90mm F3.5-5.6 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Review Database

I believe that it was sold for $99 in a kit back in the day - it was a real budge lens.

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09-25-2010, 04:41 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
This lens isn't very good. I'd recommend the FA 24-90 over it. SMC Pentax-FA 28-90mm F3.5-5.6 Lens Reviews - Pentax Lens Review Database

I believe that it was sold for $99 in a kit back in the day - it was a real budge lens.
I read (and reread) all those reviews carefully before deciding to buy the lens. Of course, I didn't have a shot at the 24-90mm, and had seen it recommended over the 28-90mm in one of those reviews.

Well, am I right that it will have an IQ boost being a FF lens on an APS-C body?

It weighs almost exactly the same as my K-x's kit 18-55mm (both about 221 grams with the caps on), has a similar look and feel (although the build quality is somewhat lesser). Apertures are the same. It does not have a hood, both a disadvantage and an advantage, depending on the conditions and circumstances. I don't know how they compare IQ wise, however the reviews here are quite positive for the IQ of this lens. It uses a 58mm filter whereas the 18-55mm uses a 52mm filter. Other than that, the difference would pretty much be the 28-90mm vs 18-55mm factor. I suppose there might be a time when that will be an advantage on balance and I'll use it. Um, plus, if I ever pick up a FF camera, it'll be an option...


Last edited by Muse; 09-25-2010 at 05:07 AM.
09-25-2010, 05:02 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by paugie Quote
You have 4 grams of dust and condensate accumulated over the years.
Nah, that's 2% variance from the specs. It's no big deal
Inspecting it, I don't see it (the dust or whatever it is). I suppose it's internal. :ugh: I haven't shot with it yet. The sun rises in 1 1/2 hours!
09-25-2010, 05:22 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Muse Quote
Well, am I right that it will have an IQ boost being a FF lens on an APS-C body?
Why would you expect that? Only advantage would be that if the lens had a reputation for weak corners on film, this wouldn't be as big a deal on APS-C because the corners are cropped out. But aside from that, it's not going to become a better lens just because it's mounted to a different body.

QuoteQuote:
It does not have a hood, both a disadvantage and an advantage
Not having a hood is *never* an advantage. Having and then *choosing* not to use it - I suppose that might occasionally be useful in confined spaces.

QuoteQuote:
Other than that, the difference would pretty much be the 28-90mm vs 18-55mm factor
Right, and overall, I'd prefer the 18-55 for that reason alone.
09-25-2010, 05:43 PM   #7
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I myself do not see the 28-90 as altogether terrible and by now you have probably snapped off a few shots with it.
I don't think the image quality is one to even compare with the 18-55 you already have.
I will say that I really enjoy the trick of reverse mounting my 28-90 for macro every once in a while. Sure there are lenses better suited for macro but reversing the FA 28-90 just makes me feel creative.
The focus rings of these lenses are very easily unsettled if you manually focus.
Just have fun with it and don't worry too much about image quality.
09-26-2010, 06:33 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nowhere Matt Quote
I myself do not see the 28-90 as altogether terrible and by now you have probably snapped off a few shots with it.
I don't think the image quality is one to even compare with the 18-55 you already have.
I will say that I really enjoy the trick of reverse mounting my 28-90 for macro every once in a while. Sure there are lenses better suited for macro but reversing the FA 28-90 just makes me feel creative.
The focus rings of these lenses are very easily unsettled if you manually focus.
Just have fun with it and don't worry too much about image quality.
How do you reverse mount this for macro? Do I need some accessory in order to do this? I've never seen (much less done) a reverse mount and I'm new to DSLR's (had a film SLR back in the day). Suggestions? TIA.

09-26-2010, 06:41 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Why would you expect that? Only advantage would be that if the lens had a reputation for weak corners on film, this wouldn't be as big a deal on APS-C because the corners are cropped out. But aside from that, it's not going to become a better lens just because it's mounted to a different body.
Yes, I was just thinking that any weakness in the corners (which I'd figure likely at least to some extent) would be negated on an APS-C body.
QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Not having a hood is *never* an advantage. Having and then *choosing* not to use it - I suppose that might occasionally be useful in confined spaces.
Well, one less thing to do (remove the hood, etc.). If you don't need a hood, dealing with one is an extra hassle.
QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Right, and overall, I'd prefer the 18-55 for that reason alone.
Sure, most times, not always. If what Matt figures is correct, that the 18-55mm has much better IQ, then I have to wonder if I'm going to want to use it, however. The reviews here are generally very positive about IQ although they don't make comparisons. I'll do some comparison shooting with this and my 18-55mm kit lens.

Last edited by Muse; 09-26-2010 at 06:58 AM.
09-26-2010, 07:44 AM   #10
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I am a fan of podcasts about photography, and one in particular that I enjoy is called Photofocus.

The host of the show says every show, "99% of all lenses are better than 99% of all photographers."

Point being even a lens that people say is bad can still produce good results in the right hands.
09-26-2010, 11:19 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by brofkand Quote
I am a fan of podcasts about photography, and one in particular that I enjoy is called Photofocus.

The host of the show says every show, "99% of all lenses are better than 99% of all photographers."

Point being even a lens that people say is bad can still produce good results in the right hands.
Very important to keep in mind. I have some shots I made with my almost 7 years old P&S that are preciously great IMO. It's not the pixel-peep worthy characteristics, it's the artistic value. Any damn camera in the hands of an inspired photographer will yield great results.
09-27-2010, 08:08 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Muse Quote
How do you reverse mount this for macro? Do I need some accessory in order to do this? I've never seen (much less done) a reverse mount and I'm new to DSLR's (had a film SLR back in the day). Suggestions? TIA.
Well, you see this here lens?

You remove the other lens from yer camera an then you take this one, op'n up the ap'ture and turn it 'round, so's the front is facin' the hole in the camera. An then ya take picturez.
I am just teasing. You can search the forum for reversal ring discussions but basically any lens that has a movable aperture ring, just try turning it so the front of the lens is closely matched with the lens mount of the camera body and you will get a magnified image.
Like this, for instance.
09-27-2010, 08:24 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nowhere Matt Quote
Well, you see this here lens?

You remove the other lens from yer camera an then you take this one, op'n up the ap'ture and turn it 'round, so's the front is facin' the hole in the camera. An then ya take picturez.
I am just teasing. You can search the forum for reversal ring discussions but basically any lens that has a movable aperture ring, just try turning it so the front of the lens is closely matched with the lens mount of the camera body and you will get a magnified image.
Like this, for instance.
Thanks for adding your two cents! Beautiful shots of those pennies! Reputation added. I'm not sure I understand. I guess you just hold the lens up to the camera body, or maybe if you have a ring, you screw that to the threads on the end of the lens and mount the ring to the camera, this is my impression (???).
09-28-2010, 05:36 AM   #14
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Yes you can try it yourself to see the disadvantages by simply holding the lens front to the camera body. But first turn the aperture to f8, for instance. Here is more info from other threads.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/105647-need-in...uff-macro.html

But truthfully, if you had the thirty bucks and the chance to do it over again... Sigma made a 28-80mm 1:2 macro that is just a bit more useful and with at least equal image quality as the Pentax 28-90. When Ritz/Wolf was closing stores you could find these lenses as new for less than $30. They pop up here in The Marketplace infrequently and varying in price of course. Or you could call any Wolf/Ritz store in your area and see if they have any Pentax stuff left.
Just some suggestions
The "cheap 28ish - 80ish lens club" thread has recently been resurrected. You could slide over to the Lens Discussion section and see some images taken with both the Pentax FA 28-90 and the Sigma 28-80 and others and get some additional inspiration.

Last edited by Nowhere Matt; 09-28-2010 at 08:44 AM.
09-29-2010, 01:06 PM   #15
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Good info in the discussion linked in Matt's post. Meanwhile, here's an overview of lens reversal.

Reverse a single lens with a MOUNT reversal ring, which is male 49mm or whatever on one side, and a simple PK-M (manual) mount on the other. Don't confuse this with a THREAD reversal ring, which is male 49mm or whatever on BOTH sides. Either sort will cost under US$5 unless you buy from thieves.

Reversing a single lens means that your working distance is now around 45mm, less than two (2) inches. MAGNIFICATION COMES FROM EXTENSION, NOT REVERSAL. If the reversed lens front has a shallow inset, you get little magnification, just the benefit of being really really close. If the lens has a deep inset, you get more magnification. You can increase magnification by putting that reversed lens on tubes or bellows.

Why is the working distance so small? A Pentax-type lens is designed to (normally) gather light from somewhere this side of infinity, and project it sharply onto a flat frame (film or sensor) that's 45.46mm behind the lens mount. Reversing the lens just flips the geometry. Now you're gathering a sharp image from a plane 45.46mm in front of the lens back, and projecting that into the camera.

A reversed lens can't communicate with the camera at all, no way. So it's best to use a lens with a manual aperture ring. Otherwise you either shoot wide open or totally closed, or you have to jam the aperture linkage flag into a usable position. Also, zooms aren't the best lenses to reverse -- unless you have nothing else, in which case a zoom is the BEST (and only) lens to reverse. Zooming doesn't alter magnification much, depending on the lens. An IF (internal focusing) lens probably won't change magnification at all. Try it and see.

A reversed lens has one advantage over more elaborate setups: You can be shooting close-up, and if something further away grabs your eye, you need merely dismount the lens, flip it around, and shoot. Only slightly slower than using a general-purpose macro lens, eh?

Have fun!
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