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06-25-2015, 07:20 PM   #1
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Pentax FA 24-90/3.5-4.5 in 2015

I own several 'standard' zoom lenses, each varying in attributes of speed, zoom range,
compactness, sharpness and build quality. Each of these has a purpose (no, no I do not have
LBA!), they are all good, and all get used:

Sigma 18-50/3.5-5.6, Pentax 20-40/2.8-4, Tamron 17-50/2.8, Sigma 24-60/2.8, Tamron 28-75/2.8,
Sigma 17-70/2.8-4.5

Some time ago I sat down and pondered, if I could only have one, what would be my ideal standard zoom lens. I came up with 20~24- 60~105/ F4, this being a compromise of zoom range, speed and compactness. It would need to be sharp enough; decent build quality along with reasonable price would also be good. And presumably designed for APS-C, not FF; I wanted compactness. No such thing exists! But then I dropped my APS-C demand and started looking at older FF lenses. I found a Pentax FA 24-90/ 3.5-4.5 at KEH. It sounded promising, pretty close to my specs, I sent away for it. The first surprise was it arrived at my front door in 3 days flat! (I'm in Canberra, Australia).

I am wrapped. First the cons. (1) Build quality is just OK, in particular the zoom ring turns far too freely; to make it hold its setting I've ended up sticking a strip of gaffer tape across it, you need to lift one end of the tape, turn the zoom, replace the tape. This is not as bad as it sounds, in fact there are two advantages- you don't accidentally turn it (no zoom creep at all now) and 'locking' the lens into a zoom setting can make you think more creatively about your photos. (2) It is a FF lens (so?).

Then the pros. (1) The zoom range suits me perfectly. For most of the time I can live without wider than 24, and 90 is really quite long. (2) It is surprisingly sharp, at both ends, including at max aperture, eg I find I'm using F4.5 at 90mm in low light situations and getting good results. (3) It is really quite compact (DxL= 70x75mm, weight= 355g, filter= 67). (4) It was reasonably priced at USD339 (AUS525 incl shipping)

Re con (2) above, perhaps had it been designed for APS-C use only, it would have been less sharp and only marginally more compact. I'm wondering how many others have discovered this lens. There are only four of us listed in the Pentax Serial No Database.

06-25-2015, 08:21 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I'd like to see a 16-135 f/4 WR myself. I have the closest thing I can get to it though, the DA 18-135 WR, which I really like.
06-25-2015, 09:13 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by houseofstyles Quote
I own several 'standard' zoom lenses, each varying in attributes of speed, zoom range,
compactness, sharpness and build quality. Each of these has a purpose (no, no I do not have
LBA!), they are all good, and all get used:

Sigma 18-50/3.5-5.6, Pentax 20-40/2.8-4, Tamron 17-50/2.8, Sigma 24-60/2.8, Tamron 28-75/2.8,
Sigma 17-70/2.8-4.5

Some time ago I sat down and pondered, if I could only have one, what would be my ideal standard zoom lens. I came up with 20~24- 60~105/ F4, this being a compromise of zoom range, speed and compactness. It would need to be sharp enough; decent build quality along with reasonable price would also be good. And presumably designed for APS-C, not FF; I wanted compactness. No such thing exists! But then I dropped my APS-C demand and started looking at older FF lenses. I found a Pentax FA 24-90/ 3.5-4.5 at KEH. It sounded promising, pretty close to my specs, I sent away for it. The first surprise was it arrived at my front door in 3 days flat! (I'm in Canberra, Australia).

I am wrapped. First the cons. (1) Build quality is just OK, in particular the zoom ring turns far too freely; to make it hold its setting I've ended up sticking a strip of gaffer tape across it, you need to lift one end of the tape, turn the zoom, replace the tape. This is not as bad as it sounds, in fact there are two advantages- you don't accidentally turn it (no zoom creep at all now) and 'locking' the lens into a zoom setting can make you think more creatively about your photos. (2) It is a FF lens (so?).

Then the pros. (1) The zoom range suits me perfectly. For most of the time I can live without wider than 24, and 90 is really quite long. (2) It is surprisingly sharp, at both ends, including at max aperture, eg I find I'm using F4.5 at 90mm in low light situations and getting good results. (3) It is really quite compact (DxL= 70x75mm, weight= 355g, filter= 67). (4) It was reasonably priced at USD339 (AUS525 incl shipping)

Re con (2) above, perhaps had it been designed for APS-C use only, it would have been less sharp and only marginally more compact. I'm wondering how many others have discovered this lens. There are only four of us listed in the Pentax Serial No Database.
I own a 24-90. It was my handy dandy lens when my main camera was an MZ-S. I still have it, although I haven't tried it much on the K10D. I found it was a quite good lens. My DSLR replacement is the DA* 16-50, with a field of view of 24-75. It was a very good replacement. Similar field of view, and so on. I took some very nice pictures with that lens. It seems that is my personal right field of view.
06-25-2015, 09:15 PM   #4
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Either one sounds like a great lens, but costly. Instead I have an F 24-50/4, which seems to be a very rare bird. I found mine in rough shape in a pawn shop for $40 with a junk film camera/rear lens cap attached, but it's very sharp. The focusing ring's rubber was gone, so I glued on a piece of thin cork sheet cut to fit. The glass over the focus scale was cracked open, so I put scotch tape over it. The filter ring was cracked around 1/4 its edge, so I superglued it. Yes, it looks like schist, but it's sharp and handy!

06-26-2015, 03:44 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by houseofstyles Quote
I'm wondering how many others have discovered this lens.
A few years ago, when I was looking for something better than the kit lens on my K-x,
I "discovered" a new copy of this lens in a shop in the northern Rockies.

The range seemed ideal, the build quality less so.
However, since it didn't seem to be really sharp at my favorite 24mm focal length,
I finally went for a Tamron 17-50/2.8 instead.

Now, since I recently acquired a good DA 20-40,
the Tamron sees less use, mainly as an "event" lens.
06-26-2015, 08:50 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by houseofstyles Quote
I'm wondering how many others have discovered this lens. There are only four of us listed in the Pentax Serial No Database.
I discovered it a couple of years back, dislike the build quality but love the weight, love the IQ and colours - it's my second favourite FA zoom (after the 20-35/4.0), in fact I like it so much I bought a second copy a few months ago

I think it was NorthCoastGreg who first brought the lens to my attention. I like his honest, practical reviews of lenses that he has actually used: Pentax FA 24-90 f3.5-4.5 | Lens Reviews | The Northcoast Photographer

Here a photo from a couple of weeks ago, nothing special but shows off some of the lens capabilities:
06-26-2015, 02:37 PM   #7
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24-90 - had one too.

Hi,
I agree with what has been said about the performance of the 24-90. At the 70mm setting I felt it out-performed my DA17-70.
I too used it as a standard zoom on an MZ-S and hung onto it in case Pentax did develop a FF camera. Sadly it rolled off my kitchen table and was not usable after that accident. Build quality was not great however, as at full zoom there was a worrying wobble of the lens barrel.
It will be interesting to see what standard zoom Ricoh partner their FF with.
06-27-2015, 12:45 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by LennyBloke Quote
I discovered it a couple of years back, dislike the build quality but love the weight, love the IQ and colours - it's my second favourite FA zoom (after the 20-35/4.0), in fact I like it so much I bought a second copy a few months ago

I think it was NorthCoastGreg who first brought the lens to my attention. I like his honest, practical reviews of lenses that he has actually used: Pentax FA 24-90 f3.5-4.5 | Lens Reviews | The Northcoast Photographer
Thanks for pointing out that review, it's very favourable. I am really enjoying the lens and find it sharp at 24mm and not bad at 90; pretty good even wide open at both ends of the range. Pity about the loose zoom action, it sounds as if they are probably all like that, not just my second hand copy. However, it is so handy, being light and compact and offering (for me) a great general purpose range of focal lengths, and reasonable speed
Out of my existing array of 'standard' zooms, the one that comes closest would be the Sigma 24-60/2.8 which I love, but it's bulky and 60 is just not long enough. But it's fast and sharp and I couldn't part with it. The Tamron 28-75/2.8 is pretty bulky too, and is not wide enough. But it also is fast and sharp and I need it too. The Tamron 17-50/2.8........., etc. --This forum has been great in easing my conscience about such matters!

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