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10-26-2018, 05:02 AM   #1
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A* 200/2.8 A* 300/4 - star lineage - how do they fit in/opinions on them

I recently succumbed to another round of LBA when I stumbled on a pair of minty star lenses I could not pass up (way below what typically see them on eBay for). So, I now am playing with an A* 200/2.8 and an A* 300/4 and really enjoying them, but also wondering how they fit in with the other 200 and 300 star lenses? I believe the 300/4 is a continuation of the M* 300/4, but beyond that, I haven't been able to puzzle through this. So, what is their optical heritage? Did later 200 and 300 stars continue any of these designs? And finally, what is the general consensus on these lenses compared to the other 200 and 300 stars in real life use?

Thanks!



10-26-2018, 06:13 AM - 1 Like   #2
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The K 200 2.5 is similar looking to the A* 200 2.8 but the K appears to be inferior. The two lenses both use 6 elements in 6 groups also. The FA* and DA* 200 have 9 elements in 8 groups and seem to be quite different in design.

---------- Post added 10-26-18 at 09:26 AM ----------

The M* 300 and A* 300 f4 both seem similar. They use the same polarizer and screw in hood for example. They share the same number of elements and groups (8 and 6 respectively). The F* AND FA* use 9 elements in 7 groups, and have a slower f4.5 aperture. The DA* 300 f4 uses 8 elements in 6 groups. Clearly there are optical differences but the evolution and how these relate isn't clear to me.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 10-26-2018 at 06:19 AM.
10-26-2018, 06:29 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
The FA* and DA* 200 have 9 elements in 8 groups and seem to be quite different in design.
So that would be a big change, but implies perhaps the FA* and DA* are cousins optically?

Part of the appeal of these is using them with my Pentax-F 1.7x AF converter - hoping that they are optically good enough to benefit from the TC instead of magnifying flaws. The weather has not aligned with free time to play with this combination yet, so not sure if they will perform to my expectation.
10-26-2018, 06:37 AM   #4
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I used the M* 300 f4 a long time ago. I remember liking it. But my memories are not very detailed and are based on color film. I have used the K 2.5 and it didn't impress me like the DA* 200. I have unfortunately never used the A* 200.

---------- Post added 10-26-18 at 09:41 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by clickclick Quote
So that would be a big change, but implies perhaps the FA* and DA* are cousins optically?

Part of the appeal of these is using them with my Pentax-F 1.7x AF converter - hoping that they are optically good enough to benefit from the TC instead of magnifying flaws. The weather has not aligned with free time to play with this combination yet, so not sure if they will perform to my expectation.

The DA* 200 f2.8 is known to use an older optical design, my thinking is that this is the same as the FA* version.

As for the 1.7x, I have used mine with the DA* and it performs quite well. @normhead is another user of this combo. We both also sometimes stack the 200 the 1.7 and the HD 1.4 Which works also.

10-26-2018, 07:07 AM   #5
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Was thinking the 200/2.8 and 1.7 would pair well with my K-1 and be a pretty light and versatile combination for walking about for the given reach.
10-26-2018, 07:34 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by clickclick Quote
So that would be a big change, but implies perhaps the FA* and DA* are cousins optically?

Part of the appeal of these is using them with my Pentax-F 1.7x AF converter - hoping that they are optically good enough to benefit from the TC instead of magnifying flaws. The weather has not aligned with free time to play with this combination yet, so not sure if they will perform to my expectation.
They both work very well with the 1.7 AF converter and the K1.
10-26-2018, 11:15 AM - 1 Like   #7
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I don't own the A* 200/2.8 but do have the K 200/2.5 and the A* 300/4,along with the F 1.7x AF. Both lenses work very well with the adapter.
10-26-2018, 11:28 AM - 1 Like   #8
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I’ve owned the K200/2.5 for nearly 20 years and have always been pleased with it, understanding it was designed to satisfy an earlier film era image ethic, with intentionally soft edges. My FA*200/2.8* and FA*300/4.5 are exceptionally sharp and contrasty lenses; the 300 is among the fastest focusing screw drive lenses I own. I assume their properties carry over to the DA* versions.

* so much so that I’ve kept it despite having a 2nd Hand D FA*70-200/2.8.

10-26-2018, 11:52 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by clickclick Quote

Part of the appeal of these is using them with my Pentax-F 1.7x AF converter - hoping that they are optically good enough to benefit from the TC instead of magnifying flaws. The weather has not aligned with free time to play with this combination yet, so not sure if they will perform to my expectation.
The A* 2.8/300mm, and to a lesser extent the 2.8/200mm, work very well with their dedicated 1.4x converters (L and S versions, respectively).
2x teleconverters are more of a stretch.
The F 1.7x AF is usually not performing at the same level of the appropriate 1.4x converter. Though it performs well enough with many long focals.
I have no direct experience with the 200mm, but I have no reasons to think it would not perform in a satisfying way.
The longer the focal the more limited the range, so better do a coarse prefocusing before activating the AF.


10-26-2018, 02:16 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by cyberjunkie Quote
The A* 2.8/300mm, and to a lesser extent the 2.8/200mm, work very well with their dedicated 1.4x converters (L and S versions, respectively).2x teleconverters are more of a stretch.
I forget about these older converters. I think it's the lens restrictions that kept me moving when I was first looking, but your feedback makes me think they're worth keeping an eye out for at the right price. I'd like to play with the current DA 1.4x, but knowing that Ricoh is thinking about some new FF versions has kept me where I am.
10-26-2018, 02:21 PM - 2 Likes   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
understanding it was designed to satisfy an earlier film era image ethic

Yep, this is important to remember. It's really easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of thinking you need edge to edge sharpness for a great photograph.
10-27-2018, 02:02 AM   #12
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I love my A*300/4. It is a very good and – by the way – the smallest 300mm ever build! To reduce the nearest distance I use a Kenko Pz-AF Uniplus Tube 25 or one of my old Pentax Makro Rings (best is the 10mm).
The IQ of the A*300/4 on the K1 is superb. From f5.6 it is supersharp. F4 is sharp also and has nice Bokeh, but stopping down a little is helping for more contrast and more sharpness. The color rendering is beautiful.
I added an longer screw-in-metal-hood, because the build in is a little bit short.
10-27-2018, 03:10 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by clickclick Quote
Yep, this is important to remember. It's really easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of thinking you need edge to edge sharpness for a great photograph.
The problem with the old 2.5/200mm is not edge sharpness (which is often unnecessary, in my opinion), it's the strong fringing.
I won one quite recently, then the seller canceled the sale I would be happy to have one for collection, it's still a nice lens (given the right lighting) but I believe it's nowhere near the the A Star.
According to my personal experience with vintage tele lenses, 200mm was a more "difficult" focal than for example 135mm.
There are very old preset 135mm's that show little fringing and very good sharpness across full frame format (but the corners).
Most of the more recent 200mm lenses without special glasses are definitely more problematic, especially concerning CA.
The best 200mm I have is... not a 200mm It's the Tamron 2.5/180mm "Anniversary". Even better than the A Star.
Second best the Pentax-A 4/200mm (different from K and M versions, and with a more advanced optical design).

Regarding the S and L 1.4x converters, they are both very good and well worth buying, if you have Pentax-A tele lenses and you can find them at a decent price.
Of course the L version can be used only with specific lenses because of its shape and optical optimization.

Last edited by cyberjunkie; 10-27-2018 at 05:43 AM.
10-27-2018, 07:31 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by cyberjunkie Quote
... Regarding the S and L 1.4x converters, they are both very good and well worth buying, if you have Pentax-A tele lenses and you can find them at a decent price.
Of course the L version can be used only with specific lenses because of its shape and optical optimization.
By the way: the L 1.4x works great with the DA*200/2.8 too! Seems to have no loss of IQ.
10-27-2018, 07:45 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by pid Quote
By the way: the L 1.4x works great with the DA*200/2.8 too! Seems to have no loss of IQ.
I'm not surprised.
It depends very much on the host lens. If it has very good sharpness there are very good chances that the combo would perform very well.
If the host lens is already quite poor on recent high-performance sensors, then the converter would only exacerbate its shortcomings.
The issue of converters vs cropping has been debated many times on this forum. My take is that outstanding lenses generally work very well with 1.4x converters, while average ones are better used at their sweet spot and the final image cropped as needed.
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