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04-09-2020, 12:08 PM   #1
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28-70/80/105/200 - Which to Choose?

A local reseller offers these four "midranges" - used, all for good prices:

SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL Reviews - FA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
SMC Pentax-A 28-80mm F3.5-4.5 Reviews - A Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
SMC-Pentax FA 28-105mm F4-5.6 Reviews - FA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
SMC Pentax-FA 28-200mm F3.8-5.6 AL [IF] Reviews - FA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

While not really needed, getting one of them might add an interesting limitation while used on an APS-C body (avoiding wide clichés) and overcome my under 50mm and above 50mm boundary. And it might bring some new fun.
I've read the reviews so I can guess their qualities and the FA 28-105mm seems to be the best choice in this regard.
I don't probably want the 28-80mm because of manual focus only (unless it is really good otherwise).
What would you recommend? Is there a really interesting lens among these you've used and truly liked? Thanks.

04-09-2020, 12:33 PM   #2
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None. If you want to have "interesting limitations", get a prime lens...
04-09-2020, 01:02 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by CarlJF Quote
None. If you want to have "interesting limitations", get a prime lens...
Well I have (and sometimes use) SMC Pentax 24mm F2.8 Reviews - K Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database for this purpose (on an APS-C body). I also considered SMC Pentax-A 28mm F2.8 Reviews - A Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database but it didn't make sense together with 24/2.8.
These might bring a limitation + ability to shoot more distant objects. SMC Pentax 135mm F2.5 Reviews - K Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database is my other favourite prime lens but not applicable for general purpose photography.
04-09-2020, 01:10 PM   #4
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I have the FA 28-70mm and used it on a K50. I thought the IQ to be quite acceptable but perhaps a little bit soft and less contrast compared to the DA 18-55mm and DA 55-300mm. Its limitations became more apparent on a K70 but still acceptable. Be careful though, If I recall correctly that lens had a real problem with some copies having rear element balsam separation. Mine does not. I found the biggest limitation being the max 70mm focal length. I found I constantly wanted a little more reach for a walk around lens. I found the 28-105mm range to be more useful, except I use the D FA version (excellent on APS-C). I know what you mean about the under/over 50mm. Just not a good brake point for a lens change on a crop camera.

04-09-2020, 02:25 PM   #5
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I think out of those I would get the FA 28-70mm f4. If I understand the optical formula picture correctly it has an ED element and two aspherical elements. It was a "step up" from a kit lens which is what the other lenses in your list are. Though the A 28-80mm f/3.5-4.5 might be interesting as long as it's the SMC version.

But with lenses like the DA 16-45mm f4 selling for around 100 dollars I find it hard to go for one of these older film era zooms... now if it's something like the SMC-A 35-105mm f3.5, that's a whole another story. I've often thought about getting one, but it's a bit short on the short end and I think if I'm not going to have wide, I might as well get the SMC K 45-125mm f4 instead - what beautiful colors that lens can give, even Limited like IMHO.
04-09-2020, 03:59 PM   #6
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I'd suggest looking for the FA 24-90mm f/3.5-4.5 AL. Then you'd have some wide angle, even with APS-C, plus a good reach. I've never owned one, but it has a pretty high satisfaction rating.

There were several FA 28-105mm lenses issued. The one shown in the link you provide appears to be the one having the power zoom feature, and is possibly the best one optically. If you have a flagship-type APS-C camera body, it might very well have power zoom capability, which can be effective when dealing with a moving subject. When Power Zoom is activated on the lens, just engaging the zoom will also simultaneously activate AF, like having continuous AF. The power zoom can be used to follow your subject to reframe your shot but also keep your subject in focus. A fast and efficient system.

Last edited by mikesbike; 04-09-2020 at 04:15 PM.
04-09-2020, 05:19 PM   #7
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I would pass on them myself. But there is another 28-105 (SMC Pentax-FA 28-105mm F3.2-4.5 AL [IF], the NON powerzoom) that I would recommend, but you can also get it as Tamron or even Promaster badged for a very cheap price. I've had a couple of those and they were very good, but I sold mine once I got the DA 18-135, which is weather sealed. I have had all of the FA lenses in your group except the 28-70 and was not impressed with any. The powerzoom 28-105 would be fine for say portraits, but lost all sharpness past about 20 feet away. But be advised, all of these old plastic bodied non high end FA lenses seem to have a lot of variation copy to copy, maybe not the highest standards of QC.
04-10-2020, 05:27 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by hjortron Quote
SMC-Pentax FA 28-105mm F4-5.6
The only one which interests me in this list is this one. I have the DFA version, but the others are not good enough, in my opinion, to replace anything else I already have.

04-10-2020, 06:08 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the useful tips! The 28-105mm indeed looks like the only acceptable quality lens.

I've put the PentaxForums ratings to a table:
lime green - lenses I currently use
light yellow - considered readily available lenses



I wouldn't personally rate SMC DA L 18-50mm F4-5.6 DC WR RE autofocus 9.4 (it is more like 6 or 7 in my case) or SMC DA L 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR sharpness 9.0.
On the other hand SMC 24mm F2.8 is probably underrated.

Another highly rated lens which is readily available for me is the SMC A 35-105mm F3.5. Unfortunately 28mm or 35mm at the wide end make a difference and it's manual focus only.

Last edited by hjortron; 04-10-2020 at 06:16 AM.
04-10-2020, 06:31 AM   #10
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I bought an FA 28-200 on whim, because it was a good price... I don't recommend it. The times I've taken on whim and then ended up with nothing worth keeping is starting to pile up, to the point, it's mostly a body cap for an old film camera.

If you are reducing your image size by 50% it renders well. But I rarely take an image, planning to reduce the image size before I've even taken the image. I bought it because I like the 18-135 on APS-c and it's the same field of view.... I can practically guarantee, if I take the k-3 and 18-135, and the K-1 and 28-200, all the keepers will be from the K-3 and 18-135.
04-10-2020, 06:46 AM   #11
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I'd go looking for a DA 55-300 in any form over those lenses. I think used DA-L flavors are for sale for about $100 USD on the bay of online auctions.


What glass do you currently own? What are you actually wanting to do?
04-10-2020, 11:05 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by hjortron Quote
SMC A 35-105mm F3.5
That one has often been called the stack of primes. It's supposed to be that good.

The 24-90 you added at the end also has an excellent reputation. Reasonably fast, also. That's one lens I wouldn't mind testing, although I doubt it would replace my DFA 28-105 and FA 20-35 combo.
04-10-2020, 11:18 AM   #13
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On a crop body, and full frame as well, a 35 to 105mm f3.5 lens that performs well optically would be nice for a portraits zoom. Especially on crop where the whole zoom range would be pretty good for portraits; I think most of the time a FF shooter would shoot at the tight/long/whatever end and away from 35. But there's times when that would do, like group shots or when more of the environment makes sense.
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