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04-07-2015, 07:33 PM   #1
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645 FA vs A lenses

Hello everyone. I've been lurking on the forums for several months and finally decided to actually register. I'm a landscape photographer and currently shoot digital with Canon, but picked up a 645N film camera last January and have been having a blast with both the new format and shooting with film.

I picked up the 645N used through Adorama and purchased the 45mm A and 75mm A lenses since those were the only ones they had used in stock (without fungus/mold). Since then, I've put several rolls of film though the camera and have enjoyed every second of learning how to do photography all over again with film. I also haven't touched the 75mm lens since that first roll when I tested it to make sure if wasn't defective as I don't need that FOV much. I do, however, absolutely love the 45mm lens and haven't any of the flare issues that I've read about on the forums here.

My question tonight is, are the FA lenses worth the extra hundred dollars over their A counterparts? Giving that this camera will likely be 100% used for landscapes, I don't need the autofocus functionality. From what I've researched, the FA versions are likely about a decade newer than the A versions, but were their major optical enhancements in this time? Specifically I'm looking to pick up the 35mm lens next and would prefer the A version if for no other reason than I already own 77mm filters. I'm also looking to possibly add the 150mm, as the equivalent ~100mm FOV is attractive as well.

I also want to direct the FA vs A scenario to my (hopeful) future upgrade to the 645D, and maybe the Z if stars align properly. I've read about people building 645D/Z kits with these older lenses, but most seem to gravitate towards the FA, perhaps thats just what they can find. I apologize if any of this seems like odd questions, but I come from the Canon realm where newer lenses far out class a decades-old lens. Thanks.

04-07-2015, 08:35 PM   #2
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The FA 35mm and A 35mm are of different optical design and the "FA" is held in higher regard than the "A". The specs are different which is a give away.

In all cases where the specs are the same (like max. aperture, use of AL, IF, or ED elements), the FA and A variants are identical optically.

Our user reviews have some good information on these lenses.
04-08-2015, 08:17 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 49

this covers it:

I use the 35mm A for my landscape work on a 645z and it is a truly beautiful lens.

From experience, the A 45-80 and 80-160 have rotating lens fronts which makes careful composition and the use of graduated filters a PIA. That was the only reason I moved to the FA versions. Optically both FA and A are fantastic.

If you want to make a slight investment, the FA versions will be easier to sell off in the future

Don't forget that as and when you get a Z or D you will be using the sweet spot of the lenses anyway so A or FA doesn't matter
04-08-2015, 05:44 PM   #4
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Original Poster
Thank you both for the replies. I'm hoping to pick up a used 35mm soon, and all of these resources point me to the A version. It looks like more fun with film is in my future.

04-11-2015, 09:32 AM   #5
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Join Date: Mar 2015
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I am new to the Z, but the only MF lens I own that is the 645A35/3.5. Perhaps inferior to the new one, but I find it terrific and with this lens setting zone focus is easy. My main purpose for the z is also landscape use and I like WA lenses more then other lenses generally for this use. I did try the 35 on the street the other just to see how it performed and I was amazed at how easy it was to use with focus confirmation both with a beep and the plane of focus on the OVF. What a pleasant way to use a manual focus lens. Works just like my Hasselblad V lenses did. Got this one from Japan for like $550 without hood and put on a B+W UV 77mm filter and then decided to add a B+W 77mm shallow WA lens hood #970. The hood was not cheap, but what a great combo.

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04-12-2015, 09:44 AM   #6
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i have both and see no difference, with the 35 and 45mm lenses I set them to infinity and f 8.0 and shoot all day.

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