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05-11-2011, 05:39 AM   #1
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FA VS D FA 100mm macro comparison

While studying the various versions of the Pentax 100mm macro, I came accross a strange anomoly. In the D FA 100 macro review, it states that all the Pentax 100mm macro models use the same tried and true formula. My question is how this can be true when the FA version weights almost twice as much as the D FA versions. 600 grams vs 340 grams The newer versions are also shorter and from reviews, not as sharp as the older version.

Thanks, Dave

05-11-2011, 05:49 AM   #2
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FA = mostly or all metal...DFA= more plastic
05-11-2011, 05:55 AM   #3
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You also need to take into account there are more reviews on the D-FA vs. the FA, so that alone will drive the review average down a bit more on the D-FA.
05-11-2011, 06:37 AM   #4
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I think the biggest consideration is the cropping factor with the FA lens.
It's big, unusual, and a good stand-off macro lens. It's heavy, though, that's for sure.

I presume the "tried-and-true" refers to lens and engineering mechanisms?

05-11-2011, 06:56 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
I think the biggest consideration is the cropping factor with the FA lens.
It's big, unusual, and a good stand-off macro lens. It's heavy, though, that's for sure.

I presume the "tried-and-true" refers to lens and engineering mechanisms?
D FA is the designation for FF lenses that have been updated for digital, so the 'cropping factor' is not a consideration here.

As for how it was updated, the D FA features an "optimized lens coating and positioning of optical elements" for the special characteristic of today's image sensors. (quoted from Photozone.de) The newer coatings may give increased contrast, but I'm not sure what changed re the "positioning of the elements."

Also, you'll notice that the FA doesn't need a hood, because the front element is recessed, while the D FA does come with a hood--this probably explains the difference in length.
05-11-2011, 08:29 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by djc737 Quote
The newer versions are also shorter and from reviews, not as sharp as the older version.
They're definitely as sharp

Note that the latest DFA version of the lens has no clamp or aperture ring, whereas the other do. Pentax has also made changes to the barrel, including making the distance scale more elegant. All the minor changes over time account for the reduction in size- they've essentially just taken the outer casing off.

Note that when at 1:1, even the latest DFA lens will stretch out to be very long. Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 WR Macro Review

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05-11-2011, 09:08 AM   #7
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personally, I love the build of the FA. there seems to be a difference in color rendering as well. what I noticed is the FA displays a more pop-ish color.
05-11-2011, 01:22 PM - 1 Like   #8
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there is couple of differences between F/FA/DFA and DFA WR macros.
to start of it's clamp and limiter:
F - limiter no clamp
FA - limiter and clamp
DFA - clamp only
DFA WR - no clamp no limiter

the clam is semi useful IMO, but limiter is great thing to have, you can either have 0.303 - 0.7m or 0.7 - infinity limited focus range, or full 0.303 - infinity focus range. If you are not using this lens a macro exclusively it's VERY useful.

Next thing up is build, F has metal barrel and semi plastic outer shell I believe. FA has metal barrel and metal shell, DFA is just about all plastic with exception of mount and DFA WR has metal shell and plastic barrel. Filter ring is 58mm on F and FA and 49mm on DFA and DFA WR.
Optical layout is the same, but in F and FA the outer shell is much bigger and front element is recessed deeply into the lens body. As consequence these two don't come with hood. The recession is not deep enough for all purposes so sometime extra screw in hood would be handy but it remains constant (the front element is recessed into the inner barrel) so even with 1:1 magnification the front element is somewhat shielded. On the other side, the hood of DFA and DFA WR is fixed on the outer shell and does not extent with the inner barrel (f.e. like with Sigma 105) so when the lens in at 1:1 magnification the front element is nearly at the level with the hood.
The WR version offers rounded blades and WR of course, but both F and FA versions focus quite a bit faster then both DFA versions.
And as Pentaxor wrote, the FA versions has very characteristic FA way of rendering colours which is quite different form DA/DFA series of lenses.

05-11-2011, 02:21 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for the tutorial on the model differences. I guess I am trying to decide weather to get a FA version for about $400 or a new D FA WR for about $630. I like the build quality of the FA but am also attracted to the smaller size and weight of the D FA WR. I have mostly small primes at this time and am leaning toward staying that way. Would the FA really outshine the newer models? Dave
05-11-2011, 02:34 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by djc737 Quote
Thanks everyone for the tutorial on the model differences. I guess I am trying to decide weather to get a FA version for about $400 or a new D FA WR for about $630. I like the build quality of the FA but am also attracted to the smaller size and weight of the D FA WR. I have mostly small primes at this time and am leaning toward staying that way. Would the FA really outshine the newer models? Dave
In terms of IQ, no, both the FA100 and 100WR are going to give you equally outstanding results (IMO).

The FA100 has the advantage of quicker AF when used for non-macro applications (through the use of the focus limiter). The 100WR has the advantage of being much smaller/lighter and has weather seals. It's just a matter of choosing which is more important to you.
05-11-2011, 03:40 PM   #11
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If size and weight are important factors, then you've made your choice.
The DFA 100 WR is for you. It's smaller and lighter, but still built very solidly.

Don't worry about any minor differences in optical quality between the various Pentax 100mm macro lenses. They're all excellent and difficult to fault. If it were me, I'd also go for the WR version, but because I already have the FA 100 macro, I'm already pleased with what it gives me: very sharp, beautifully rendered macros and portraits - all very much what the DFA offers as well.
05-11-2011, 04:07 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by farfisa Quote
D FA is the designation for FF lenses that have been updated for digital, so the 'cropping factor' is not a consideration here.

As for how it was updated, the D FA features an "optimized lens coating and positioning of optical elements" for the special characteristic of today's image sensors. (quoted from Photozone.de) The newer coatings may give increased contrast, but I'm not sure what changed re the "positioning of the elements."

Also, you'll notice that the FA doesn't need a hood, because the front element is recessed, while the D FA does come with a hood--this probably explains the difference in length.
I really think Photozone is f.o.s. about the coatings. The only truly new digital era coating from Pentax is Aero Bright and the SP (Super Protect). Given how photozone doesn't seem to like Pentax very much, I doubt they would tell them much about the coatings. I say that because there is very little information available on any of their coatings. from 1952 to present and can't imagine Pentax or Hoya being forthwith. The Ghostless Coating used in many of the FA*, DA* and all the LTD lenses as well as the FA 35/2, DA 35/2.4 has been around since 1992 and used first in the FA 43 LTD.

That said, the biggest change in the D FA WR was the aperture blade mechanism and removal of the aperture ring and the seals.

All for af versions have FREE. However the major differences other than the barrel lie with the arrangement of the elements. The F and FA lacks the Ghostless Coatings, but I suspect the D FA and D FA WR have it. It is possible that the last years of the FA had it added.

The F and FA are:



Both D FA are:



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05-11-2011, 07:09 PM   #13
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I have owned all three of the FA, DFA and DFA WR 100mm macro lenses and there is definitely a slight difference in color rendition between the FA and DFA versions.
The FA lenses give a deeper, more intense color but exhibits less contrast compared to the DFA's more neutral color rendition and higher contrast.
All are good lenses optically but practically speaking the best lens I'd recommend would be the DFA WR because of the balance of ease of use (Quick Shift), size and weight, WR and bokeh.
05-11-2011, 10:49 PM   #14
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QuoteQuote:
FA has metal barrel and metal shell
My FA 100's outer shell is made of hard plastic not metal. Still, it's a very solid lens.
05-11-2011, 11:30 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Roland303 Quote
My FA 100's outer shell is made of hard plastic not metal. Still, it's a very solid lens.
I would say the shell is different from the normal FA lens. it's a bit more durable, IMO.
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