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01-05-2020, 09:50 AM   #1
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Are there any 645 lenses that should be avoided?

Any lenses that don't measure up to digital medium format?
Thanks,
barondla


Last edited by barondla; 01-05-2020 at 07:32 PM.
01-05-2020, 10:20 AM - 1 Like   #2
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The 2 weakest ones in the lineup are the 45 and the 33-55. The FA 35 also has a field curvature issue, so has to be stopped down a bunch (the A doesn't have this problem, and it's corrected in the DFA 35). I have had the former, and it's a dead useful FL and a handy size, but it was noticeably softer than my other lenses, including the excellent 45-85 zoom, and maybe had some field curvature (?) that made the problem a little worse.

It depends what you want to do with it. Stopped down it's better, but still less good than the A35 or DFA 35, or the DFA 55 or FA 75 lenses for instance. My use cases, however, put a premium on sharpness/acuity right now, and so I finally traded the lens in. Because of its very useful FL and size, it could be a useful lens for you. It's far from horrible, so you need to think about how you'll use it and for what, and what you want your image to look like. Sharpness isn't everything!

I've had all 3 versions of the 35, and have the fine DFA 35 now.

There's been a lot of stuff written about how Pentax has failed to come up with lenses for the digital age, and how Fuji's are so much better. I think the ones Pentax has come up with, the 25, the 28-45, the 55, and the 90 (all of which I have) put the lie to that---and I think the people you see posting on the medium format photo forum show that that's not true. I don't post there for several reasons I won't go into here, although I feel I should sometime this spring just to be a good contributor to these extremely helpful forums.

As for the rest of the older lenses---they are either just fine or really good. Are they as good as the Fuji's ? Maybe not---some very professional people have tested those lenses---but they haven't tested the Pentax ones, so we don't know for sure. But, remember that the perfect is the enemy of the good. Pentax has given me a system that I have been able to use for 5 years this spring, and has given me the ability to begin shooting professionally for very exacting clients at a time I need to make a transition in the type of work I do as I get older. I am grateful.

Last edited by texandrews; 01-16-2020 at 10:34 AM.
01-05-2020, 12:02 PM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Any lenses that don't measure up to digital medium format?
I would add the SMC Pentax-A 645 200mm f/4 to the black list. This is the manual focus telephoto. At f/8 it's acceptable for film, but there are better options if you need telephoto on a 645D or Z.
01-05-2020, 12:59 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Let me add a general note. Not sure how familiar you are, barondla, with the 645 ecosystem, but of course it has the A series lenses, the oldest, which are manual focus; then the FA series, which are middle aged lenses, and autofocus; and the DA and DFA lenses, which are the younger set, also AF and some with other features, like WR/AW, stabilization, silent AF. But 2 of the newer lenses, the DA 25 and DFA 25 are discontinued. The FA lenses list as not discontinued, but it's unclear what their production status is, I think. There's also 2 black swans, the 75 LS and the 135 LS, both discontinued, which are A vintage I believe.


And you can't necessarily draw conclusions about the lens performance by age: both the A 35 and A 120 are notably sharp, as is the 135LS---I've had all 3, and still have the 135 LS.

01-05-2020, 03:23 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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The only subpar 645 lens I have had so far has been the A 200 mm f/4. I later acquired an FA 200 mm f/4 (totally different lens with 6 elements) that's light-years better. My other disappointment has been with the 2X converter. I tried using the A 200 mm with the 2x converter on my 645N once and these were the only pictures I discarded so that nobody would ever see them.
01-05-2020, 04:32 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I use the 33-55 on my D, the 28-45 is well over my budget and being a tad wider and more versatile than a 35 prime persuaded me to go for the 33-55. I haven't seen any significant issues with it, but I am careful how I use it (mostly landscapes).
01-09-2020, 05:12 PM - 1 Like   #7
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One my list thus far is the 33-55mm FA, corner softness is a major issue, even stopped down to f/11 + it was still soft. Sold!!!!

Anyone have thoughts on the 55-110mm? I see one for sale on ebay currently, person cant seem to sell it, but claims to be a great lens.

I have consdiered buying it and trying it out..
01-13-2020, 07:38 PM   #8
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I find the 200mm fa f4 to be a great lens even with the 2x tc.

01-14-2020, 02:49 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
I would add the SMC Pentax-A 645 200mm f/4 to the black list. This is the manual focus telephoto. At f/8 it's acceptable for film, but there are better options if you need telephoto on a 645D or Z.
QuoteOriginally posted by bull drinkwater Quote
I find the 200mm fa f4 to be a great lens even with the 2x tc.
The OP was asking what 645 lenses to avoid; not recommend. My post was stating the 645 200mm SMC-A should be avoided IMO, not the FA which Pentax greatly improved.
01-14-2020, 03:27 AM - 1 Like   #10
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Every 645 lens I have had so far has impressed me greatly, so I'd say you can definitely take the following off the list of lenses to avoid:

DFA 35/3.5
DFA 55/2.8
FA 75/2.8
DFA 90/2.8 macro
A 120/4.0 macro
FA 120/4.0 macro
FA 150/2.8
FA* 300/4.0
01-14-2020, 10:40 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
Every 645 lens I have had so far has impressed me greatly, so I'd say you can definitely take the following off the list of lenses to avoid:

DFA 35/3.5
DFA 55/2.8
FA 75/2.8
DFA 90/2.8 macro
A 120/4.0 macro
FA 120/4.0 macro
FA 150/2.8
FA* 300/4.0
Sandy, How do you like the FA 120 vs the A 120, and those vs the DFA 90. I had the A 120, but didn't use it much at the time. Now I have the 90 (and sold the 120) and am using it a lot, and really do like it. Interested to see what you have to say.
01-14-2020, 05:32 PM - 1 Like   #12
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The A120 is just as good for real macro work (superb actually), but for general use I like the AF and generous hood of the FA120. I now have the A120 listed in the Marketplace.

I'm not in a position to comment on the DFA90. I got it recently in what seemed like a too-good-to-be-true second hand deal from a reputable Australian eBay trader, and unfortunately it has had to go back for adjustment/repair as it doesn't focus beyond about 5m. Despite appearing mint in every other respect, it has obviously taken a serious fall. The checks in the shop were probably all done at close range, where it functions perfectly.
01-14-2020, 06:02 PM - 1 Like   #13
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My experience is that the A120 and the FA120 are optically almost identical (the latter may have slightly newer coatings, but the optical formula is the same, I think). As for the importance of AF and hood design, obviously that's a personal decision around usability. But optically, there's almost nothing between them.

As for a comparison to the 90mm, that lens is superb. The 120 is very very good. The 90 is outstanding. Even sharper, nicer bokeh. Faster. Has image stabilisation. But it's much heavier!

You really can't go wrong with any of these three lenses though.
01-14-2020, 06:58 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ed Hurst Quote
My experience is that the A120 and the FA120 are optically almost identical (the latter may have slightly newer coatings, but the optical formula is the same, I think). As for the importance of AF and hood design, obviously that's a personal decision around usability. But optically, there's almost nothing between them.

As for a comparison to the 90mm, that lens is superb. The 120 is very very good. The 90 is outstanding. Even sharper, nicer bokeh. Faster. Has image stabilisation. But it's much heavier!

You really can't go wrong with any of these three lenses though.
Thanks, Ed.
01-16-2020, 04:11 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ed Hurst Quote
My experience is that the A120 and the FA120 are optically almost identical (the latter may have slightly newer coatings, but the optical formula is the same, I think). As for the importance of AF and hood design, obviously that's a personal decision around usability. But optically, there's almost nothing between them.

As for a comparison to the 90mm, that lens is superb. The 120 is very very good. The 90 is outstanding. Even sharper, nicer bokeh. Faster. Has image stabilisation. But it's much heavier!

You really can't go wrong with any of these three lenses though.
I second that (except for A120mm lens comment, which I have never owned) !!
To me, except for focal length difference that one could prefer over the other, the main interest of the 120mm macro is the 1:1 macro capability. For all the rest, the 90mm is more enjoyable
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