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04-13-2009, 10:44 AM   #1
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Pentax FA* 200mm f2.8 bad copy??

I've long had the impression that this grail lens I purchased new on 2005 was less than a stellar performer. I tried it once back in 05, and I thought I'd try it again to see if my opinion had changed. I did a little test. I had nothing to compare it to so I used the Voigtlander 125. Not apples to apples I know, but it's all I have at the moment.

Both shots taken on a tripod, manual focus, f4. I took many shots and in all cases, the FA 200mm seemed less sharp. This has been my impression in the real world also with this lens. What do you think? Am I overreacting?

Voigtlander photo:

Pentax photo:

Voigtlander crop:

Pentax crop:

There is a noticable difference across all f stops. I suppose I really have no options with this lens. No more warranty and it's out of production. Is it possible the lens could be somehow fixed??


04-13-2009, 01:42 PM   #2
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I think your test is flawed in a few ways. The Voightlander is certainly sharper to start with, because it's a macro. I think longer telephotos are likely to be softer than shorter telephotos too. If I'm right, that's two factors against the FA already, and it'll be hard to decide whether a softer FA result is too soft.

I guess you tested at different distances to end up with subjects of equal size? I am not sure whether that works out or not, and it gives me a headache to think about it. So I'll leave that for others to decide.

You should probably test to see if the FA has consistent sharpness on the left and right sides of the frame. If one side is sharper than the other, that may indicate decentered elements or other alignment issues. The new DA 200mm is supposed to be optically the same as the FA, so you may be able to learn something about how sharp it should be from DA samples.
04-13-2009, 03:03 PM   #3
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Posting examples as I did are pretty much useless, I know. Resized photos for web viewing is like watching fireworks on television too. It doesn't represent the real thing.

I guess with this lens, I'm a bit disappointed when I compare it to other lenses I've had in the past. For example, the A* 300mm was tack sharp compared to the 200. From the moment I tried this lens some 4 years ago, I thought it was missing that wow factor that I had come to expect. It just seems softer than it should be.

I will now insert another worthless test shot. F5.6 this time and only cropped top and bottom. Again, the shot doesn't seem sharp.

Tomorrow, I'm going to give it a workout.

04-13-2009, 03:09 PM   #4
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Does anyone know of a online source of the new DA* 200 or FA*200 where I could download a fullsized image to get some idea of what others have done? Maybe someone could email me a sample?


04-14-2009, 10:08 AM   #5
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I think I may have overreacted a little concerning this lens. I replaced the above shots with some real world samples from today. Apologies for the morbid cemetery photos......plastic flowers are the only things with any color this time of year. This is a very nice lens.

04-15-2009, 07:13 PM   #6
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Those look pretty good to me. The FA* 200mm has got to be my best lens, well worth the hype. Any flaws are usually due to me, rather than the lens. I find it very sharp, and pretty resistant to PF/CA (much more so than any of my other telephotos).

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