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03-27-2019, 01:44 AM   #1
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FA* 300mm f4.5 vs. DA*300mm f4 - which is better full-frame?

Hi All,

I'm wondering whether anyone with experience of both the FA* 300mm f4.5 and the DA* 300mm f4 on full-frame could comment on their relative merits. I'm primary thinking in terms of IQ - does either edge out the other?

Cheers.

03-27-2019, 02:40 AM   #2
hcc
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Both lenses are well-liked by Pentaxians. See the reviews.

I shoot APS-C and I selected the FA*300mm f4.5 over the DA*300 f4, mostly because of the weight and size. I shoot handheld and carry my lenses bushwalking. I value highly the lighter weight and smaller size of the FA*300 mm f4.5. I feel further that the FA*300 f4.5 is better balanced than the DA*300mm. In my cases, while both lenses are great, the FA*300mm was better suited to my needs.


My 5 cents, hoping that it may help.
03-27-2019, 03:01 AM   #3
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I have the DA*, and have seen lots of images from the F*/FA*. They are all brilliant optically.

If weather sealing, silent focus, quick shift, and the extra 1/3 stop of aperture are important, get the DA* - available new just about anywhere.

If compactness, an awesome tripod foot and a nifty built-in hood take your fancy, get the F* if you can find one. Don't expect it to be any cheaper.

If you can't find an F*, and you don't mind the dodgy silver paint job, the FA* will be fine.
03-27-2019, 05:23 AM   #4
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If an aperture ring is important to you, then the F* or FA* is the lens to get.

03-27-2019, 06:21 AM   #5
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If you want WR the 300 is the lens to get.
03-27-2019, 09:22 AM   #6
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I have the FA* and love the lens. It is heavy (lots of metal) but it works nicely with my K1 Mark II as well as my K3 Mark II. The lens is very sharp and compact. The biggest issues would be it is not WR and the lens hood. The lens hood is the weakest link. The lugs on the inside of the lens hood wear out causing the hood to dislodge from the lens too easily when in the field. On more than one occasion I lost the hood and had to backtrack on the trail to find it. Replacement lugs are not available and the only option that I found was to replace the hood. After two years of searching, I found an unused one on eBay at an acceptable price. Now when I store the lens I keep the hood loose not connecting it to the body in order to reduce the lugs from premature wear.
03-27-2019, 10:52 AM   #7
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Weather sealing is important in several ways.. not just whether you choose to shoot in extreme weather conditions or not. The fact that the lens is nearly sealed it prevents moisture/dust from accumulating or entering into the inside elements and causing mold inside over a period of time. A 3rd of a stop is useful too and silent focus is a welcome. Also the fact that the lens is still in production I would get the DA* any day as it can still be fixed if you have a may day.

The old copies of F* or FA* even if clean will eventually have mold/fungus in them based on how you keep them stored when not in use. I would recommend DA* 300 any day for that reason alone and IQ is on par with more recent coatings.
With the lens hood on I just find this lens even more exsy.
03-27-2019, 02:37 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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I have an FA*300 f4.5 and it's a very good lens for all the reasons given. One advantage it has over the DA*300 f4 is that it will work with a wide range of Pentax and third-party teleconverters, whereas the DA* really needs the DA 1.4 TC. I have a Kenko 1.5x TC, which was one-third the price of the Pentax 1.4x TC. The Kenko should work properly on FF too, whereas the Pentax TC vignettes a lot.

But putting aside the price advantage, the only other edge that the FA* has is slightly smaller size and weight. The FA* is 1067g with the hood; the DA* is 1160g with the hood, plus 80g for the tripod foot. The FA* is 72.5mm x 160mm and takes a 67mm filter; the DA* is 83mm x 184mm and takes a 77mm filter. The absence of a tripod foot on the FA* doesn't bother me, but aftermarket ones can be bought fairly cheaply.

The AF difference is controversial. The screwdrive on the FA* is not particularly noisy for a screwdrive AF, but it's certainly not silent. It's not particularly slow, nor is it particularly quick in my view (not surprising given the heft to be moved). It doesn't have QS of course, although there is a clutch to switch to MF. I can't comment on the performance of the SDM on the DA* but it should be quieter. There are several user reports that if the SDM fails, conversion to screwdrive works well.

The FA* has given me many good images and I use it often. Samples here: Pentax FA*300mm f4.5 images - Des(Australia) - Flickr It's quite sharp wide open but stellar at f6.3 and f8. CA is well controlled and there is minimal distortion or vignetting.

If I have quibble about IQ, it's that the bokeh can be a bit disappointing at times. When there is a good subject to background distance, it's lovely.


But when there isn't - it can be unpleasant and distracting. (Magnified here by the TC.)


If I had to buy afresh and money were no object, I'd get the DA*300 and Pentax DA* TC. The WR, quiet AF, QS and faster aperture would more than compensate for the slight increase in weight and bulk. The TC is clearly the best going, is WR and transmits the focal length info correctly to the camera. But this is assuming use with an APS-C body.

There are rumours of a FF TC to be released this year - it would increase the attractiveness of the DA*300 as a FF option. (The bare lens apparently works perfectly on FF.)


Last edited by Des; 03-27-2019 at 06:59 PM.
03-27-2019, 02:57 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
Both lenses are well-liked by Pentaxians. See the reviews.

I shoot APS-C and I selected the FA*300mm f4.5 over the DA*300 f4, mostly because of the weight and size. I shoot handheld and carry my lenses bushwalking. I value highly the lighter weight and smaller size of the FA*300 mm f4.5. I feel further that the FA*300 f4.5 is better balanced than the DA*300mm. In my cases, while both lenses are great, the FA*300mm was better suited to my needs.


My 5 cents, hoping that it may help.
Same for me. I've had mine for more than 10 years. No problems with fungus or any other abnormality. It is even less bulky than the "F*" version from what I have seen, and I seem to remember that version requires shifting to AF/MF on the body as well as on the lens, while the FA* version only needs the handy lens switch, usually right next to the thumb when holding.

The silver finish of the FA* looks absolutely great on my silver KP. For film I also have a very small ZX-L (MZ-6?) and a silver version MZ-S that it work well with. It also has the aperture ring, which the DA* 300mm does not have. At least with my cameras, its screw-driven AF is very fast, even among the fastest, even when compared with the excellent DA 18-135mm. I would bet it is significantly faster than the DA* 300mm SDM, based on my experience with my DA* 200mm f/2.8 SDM. I have an old Tamron AF 1.4x TC that works fine with it.

The WR factor is the main advantage for the DA* but I prefer the FA* 300mm f/4.5's design for my needs.

Last edited by mikesbike; 03-27-2019 at 03:14 PM.
03-29-2019, 09:54 AM - 1 Like   #10
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FA* 300 mm f/4.5 : stellar results !



Pictures are worth 1000 words ... FA* 300 mm f/4.5 on a Pentax K1 @ f/8. What more can you ask of a lens ?
03-29-2019, 11:46 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
whereas the DA* really needs the DA 1.4 TC.
I use the DA 1.4X TC as well as the oldie SMC Pentax-F 1.7x AF Adapter on my DA*300/4 ... works well; actually better than the DA-type.
That's for me ... some others will claim that the DA is better.
03-29-2019, 01:38 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jpzk Quote
I use the DA 1.4X TC as well as the oldie SMC Pentax-F 1.7x AF Adapter on my DA*300/4 ... works well; actually better than the DA-type.
Thanks for correcting that Jacques. I forgot about the 1.7x.

In theory the Tamron1.4x and Kenko 1.5x TCs with pz contacts should be capable of driving SDM AF but real world user reports seem to suggest that they don't work well. See, e.g.:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/330084-cra...onverters.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/335085-ken...-any-good.html
03-29-2019, 03:17 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
I have the DA*, and have seen lots of images from the F*/FA*. They are all brilliant optically.

If weather sealing, silent focus, quick shift, and the extra 1/3 stop of aperture are important, get the DA* - available new just about anywhere.

If compactness, an awesome tripod foot and a nifty built-in hood take your fancy, get the F* if you can find one. Don't expect it to be any cheaper.

If you can't find an F*, and you don't mind the dodgy silver paint job, the FA* will be fine.
I actually prefer the FA* to the F* because it feels lighter and is a lot less expensive.Any of the three will be awesome on a K-1 or K-3 (or KP).

Last edited by monochrome; 04-03-2019 at 05:17 PM.
04-03-2019, 05:00 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
If I had to buy afresh and money were no object, I'd get the DA*300 and Pentax DA* TC. The WR, quiet AF, QS and faster aperture would more than compensate for the slight increase in weight and bulk. The TC is clearly the best going, is WR and transmits the focal length info correctly to the camera. But this is assuming use with an APS-C body.
I think you saw this Des, but in case someone does not know, this post gives an idea of the vignette that the DA*300, K-1, & 1.4x TC combination produces. My actual pixel crop shows why I like the combination. It's usable on the K-1 and gives more pixels than the K-1's auto crop area. One just needs to remember that it will vignette. For some folks it will be too much. I'm quite happy with it.
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