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12-18-2009, 09:23 AM   #1
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Pentax 645 FA 35mm f/3.5 - mine finally

Hi,

I had to share this with a group that could appreciate my good news. I finally found the FA version of the 35mm f/3.5 for the Pentax 645 series. For those not familiar with just how amazingly good this lens is, have a look at Pentax 645 FA 35mm Review.

I had been looking for this lens for almost three years now. I have come close on some auctions, missed out on some forum buy/sell offerings and have come within minutes of getting one at a large used dealer in the US. I actually had given up and purchased the A 35mm f/3.5, which I really like to use and is a very nice lens. Well I was looking to see what new Pentax 645 lenses had made its way into the used inventory of the shops I usually look at, and there it was, fantastic condition and available. I frantically tried to order it via the web interface, but was being stonewalled by the internet gods. Resigned I figured I might as well make the final effort and call in the order. Busy operators and being inserted into "please hold" hell, I got to speak with a live person who assured me the lens was available and I quickly purchased it. I should have it in hand next week.

I plan on comparing the two versions of this lens FA versus the A series to see what differences exist.

Yuri

12-19-2009, 07:14 PM   #2
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Congratulations, Yuri! I saw that one in Excellent condition had a brief residence a few days ago on KEH. Was it that one? I am finding with mine that I have to stop down quite a bit to get sharp results in the corners, to say f/11. I'd be curious to know if yours exhibits the same behavior. My 67 45mm and 55mm f/4's on the Pentax 67 seem to sharpen up to the same degree at wider apertures, (f/5.6 or f/8). Good luck with it!

Best, Alan
12-20-2009, 11:22 AM   #3
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Thanks Alan. That is the one! That is an interesting observation f/11 for crisp corners. Out of curiousity, what film are you using - or is this noticeable with all different types of film and degrees of 'graininess'? Best, Yuri
12-20-2009, 12:23 PM   #4
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FA 35mm f/3.5

This is without a doubt one of my favorite lenses along with the FA 120mm macro and FA* 300mm. It's sometimes hard to find and a bit expensive to acquire, but definitely a great lens to have!

12-20-2009, 06:55 PM   #5
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Congrats, good story. And thanks for the link
12-20-2009, 10:09 PM   #6
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Hi Yuri,

As you know, I have not had the lens for very long, but I have used it with Kodak EKtar 100 and Provia 400, scanned between two glass plates with a Nikon 9000. I don't think it is grain, as the centre is very sharp. And I do not think it is the camera (as in an out of alignment mount)...I have used the 645 with the Pentax 67 45/4 and though it is not quite as wide, the combination appears sharper at the same distance from centre than with the 35mm.

I suppose that I must now perform more scientific tests to try and ferret this out, but thus far, it appears that the centre region of exceptional sharpness with the 35mm increases as the aperture is closed down, but it does not increase as rapidly as I would have hoped.

It is not my intention to throw water on fire of strong positive opinions concerning this lens. I had, and still have great expectations, but I must try to determine whether it is my copie, or whether it is simply in the nature of the lens. As I normally use wide angles stopped down in the range of f/8 to f/22, this would not necessarily be a big deal...I would just use f/8 less.

Best, Alan

Added later: Yuri, I had a look at the 16-9 review you referred - thanks for that. I see that the Pentax 35 exhibits excellent resolution in the centre, but at the edges, it's about 1/2 of the centre resolution at f/3.5 and f/5.6, and about 2/3 at f/8 and f/11. So the lens does appear to have better centre than edge resolution even at optimal f-stops. Whether such differences are important is another matter. Judging by my initial comparisons, I would have to say that these numbers are somewhat optimistic for my copie. But now that I am interested, I will perform some more careful comparisons over the holiday and report to you the results.

QuoteOriginally posted by yurihuta Quote
Thanks Alan. That is the one! That is an interesting observation f/11 for crisp corners. Out of curiousity, what film are you using - or is this noticeable with all different types of film and degrees of 'graininess'? Best, Yuri

Last edited by ARCASIA; 12-20-2009 at 10:31 PM.
12-21-2009, 03:56 PM   #7
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Yuri, congratulations. I've been looking for one that's within my budget for a while, so I know it took some time and patience to get it. I hope you enjoy it. Please let us know if it has a bayonet mount for the hood. I'm still searching for a functional hood for my A.
Mike
12-21-2009, 09:23 PM   #8
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I am still patiently (not really) waiting for it. It should arrive here tomorrow or Wednesday. I think I am a little mad for getting it -- because I own the A series, which I am very happy with.

To do this somewhat properly, I should get a good test target to photograph to 'see' the real differences. I usually just shoot what I normally shoot to see if I like the lens, but something more scientific might be a nice change of pace.

Alan, your observations are interesting - in regards to center versus corner sharpness. I will look for that in my two versions of the lens to see if one is better in that respect.

Some other good news as it relates to these lenses, I did find and quickly purchased the original Pentax rubber lens hood for the A 35mm f/3.5 - another item I thought I would not be able to purchase. I will take some photos with rulers in there for you to take a close look at Mike. I hope to take it with me to some old school camera stores to see if there is a generic metal hood that would match the rubber hood (and buy multiples of it to share with other owners).

12-22-2009, 08:24 AM   #9
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Congrats on your purchase, Yuri! I, too, just bought a copy of the 35mm f/3.5 FA from KEH and mine did include the lens hood, which is indeed bayonet mount.

(It's funny, until I bought mine KEH had 3 copies listed. They must have been saving them for the holidays... another note is that the lens was marked "EX" condition and it's in absolutely pristine condition... if the previous owner used it, there's no indication anywhere on the lens)

Anyway, yes, the reviews of the lens are deservedly spectacular, but I think the most undervalued aspect of the lens is its ability to close focus! I'm focusing 8 inches away from my subjects and as any skilled photog will tell you, the best use of the ultra wideangle is getting as close to your subject as possible to create the feeling of being surrounded by the subject.

I'm not sure about the FA version but the 45mm f/2.8 A only focuses twice as far away so the 35mm is already re-inventing how I use wideangles.

Who cares about corner sharpness when you're actually taking good photos?
12-22-2009, 12:18 PM   #10
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Thanks andycogbill. I have to take a look again at the A version to see what the close focus distance of it is, but I recall it was quite nice. I have a set of extension tubes, so can play with that a little as well. Good to know the FA is great with close focus though.

Any chance you could record and share any markings on the lens hood? "PH..." I want to start to look in earnest for a lens hood for the FA version.

I wonder how hard it would be to get something machined - at least for the A series? Especially if we had a few people with the same needs.
12-22-2009, 12:39 PM   #11
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Yuri - I think the consensus is that if you have EITHER version of the 35mm, you're a lucky photog. I'm comparing the 35 primarily to the 45, which has left me quietly unsatisfied for about a year now. The resolving power doesn't seem to be there as much as with my other p645 lenses, and the focus, while still pretty close, is still sometimes limiting.

Am checking on that part # for the hood, though. I will say it's of really great quality... nice matte finish on the inside, a removable door for turning filters, and pretty ballistic plastic material. Not sure it was worth the extra $50, but then, I haven't *needed* it yet.
12-25-2009, 01:54 PM   #12
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Since you'll soon have both...

Please let us know if the FA version trounces the manual focus version and whether the difference shows up in the images. I've got the SMC-A 35mm f/3.5, which can be pretty spectacular itself.

But my very clean copy cost less than $300 used. I've not seen an FA version sell for less than 3X that amount on eBay in the past year, with two reaching more than $1200. I've bid on a few of these, without getting caught up in any bidding war, because it's really difficult to believe the FA version is worth the price differential on the basis of image quality alone, at least on film (I don't care one whit about AF in lenses this short that are best scale-focused at the hyperfocal distance).

Note that the 16:9 article is the sole reference to lp/mm to be found on the web, and what application they're pushing with adapters. I think the prices are holding up on this lens so well largely because Canon has had fewer options for shift/pan and Canon ultrawides are so sketchy. It can't all be speculation about the prospects of a P645D, because if and when that gets rolled out, there are bound to be new lenses available for it as well-- expect that Pentax either has a new ultrawide in the wings-- or merely needs to redesign/dust off boxes containing 33-55mm and 35mm FA's to re-launch them.
12-26-2009, 08:59 AM   #13
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I've had the wonderful opportunity to shoot landscapes with my Pentax setup (645N; 35mm, 45mm, 75mm, 150mm) this past week and, I have to say, the 35mm is already my favorite in the lens lineup. And I have yet to uncap the 45mm.

The 35mm has a "quality", even just looking through the lens, that is really confidence-building while taking detail shots. I can already tell the slides are going to be gorgeous, not just from perceived sharpness -- though this lens has that in spades -- but also from how colors look through it. Similar to the 45-85mm in that sense.

Not to mention the 35mm has zero distortion: a lot of UWAs warp images from what you see with your naked eye. But looking through this 35mm you just get more in the frame with no "effect". It's very liberating.

Anyway, the part # on the lens hood is PH-BBB.
12-26-2009, 09:49 AM   #14
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Here are the Pop Photo lp/mm tests for the current best wides:

H=Hasselblad 40mm IF FLE
M=Mamiya AF 35mm f3.5
P=Pentax FA 35mm f3.5

Center/Corner
f4 H-74 47 M-70 35 P-68 34
f5.6 H-74 47 M-74 39 P-76 38
f8 H-74 52 M-62 35 P-76 54
f11 H-59 42 M-62 39 P-76 54
f16 H-59 42 M-60 39 P-68 43
f22 H-52 37 M-49 35 P-48 38
f32 P- 43 34

Sorry about the formatting above.

I don't know if I can ever land one. Oboy prices are getting over $1200 now.

Warren

Last edited by wkkato; 12-26-2009 at 09:51 AM. Reason: error
12-27-2009, 08:34 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by wkkato Quote
I don't know if I can ever land one. Oboy prices are getting over $1200 now.
Warren - I paid $915 for mine with lens hood at KEH.com. I literally bookmarked the search for Pentax 645 - Fixed Focal Length Lenses on the site and checked it multiple times a day until I saw my copy show up. With a little vigilance you'll be able to find a great deal.

This copy looks decent but the eBay auctions usually sail pretty high in price at the last moment.

Good luck! It's worth it.
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