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SMC Pentax-A 70-210mm F4 Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-A 70-210mm F4

Sharpness 
 8.6
Aberrations 
 7.5
Bokeh 
 8.2
Handling 
 7.8
Value 
 9.3
Reviews Views Date of last review
61 248,612 Sat February 1, 2020
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $95.45 8.43
SMC Pentax-A 70-210mm F4
supersize


Description:
This popular lens has a macro function (at 70mm) in addition to its good speed.



SMC Pentax-A 70-210mm F4
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 8 blades
Optics
13 elements, 10 groups
Mount Variant
KA
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F4
Min. Aperture
F32
Focusing
Manual
Min. Focus
120 cm
Max. Magnification
0.25x
Filter Size
58 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 23-7.9 ° / 19-6.5 °
Full frame: 34-12 ° / 29-9.8 °
Hood
Built-in
Case
Hard case HD-190
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
One-touch Zoom
Diam x Length
72 x 149 mm
Weight
680 g
Production Years
1984 to 1988
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-A ZOOM 1:4 70~210mm
Product Code
27297
Reviews
User reviews
Features:
Manual FocusBuilt-in HoodAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax-A 70-210mm F4
Author:
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 61
New Member

Registered: April, 2015
Posts: 11

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 1, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $180.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Exposure is correct with TTL flashes; sharp wide open; robust construction
Cons: CA; zoom creeping
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 3    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 5    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-30; K-S2; NX500   

The best thing about this lens is that its Pentax-A; meaning, the exposure is correct with TTL flashes. This alone makes this lens perfect for any Pentax DSLR in indoor environment. Sharp wide open; CA control is not good.
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2014
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 703

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 26, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $45.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IQ, Colors, Handling, Sharp, Inexpensive
Cons: A bit soft at F4,
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-3, K-5iis   

My review will be brief. The positive aspects of this classic Pentax A series zoom are impeccable build quality, SMC lens coatings, IQ from short to long, easy one touch zoom and focusing and very good to excellent sharpness across the frame from f5.6 to f11. The built in lens hood and 58mm filter size are a bonus. The macro capability at the 70mm end is useful, with good IQ and even at 210mm the lens focuses to a close 120cm/ 4 feet.

Negatives? Yes, there are a couple. Images aren’t exactly tack sharp at F4, though they are useable with some PP sharpening. Contrast often needs a small PP boost and magenta/green CA can appear at Wide apertures in high contrast lighting. Manual focusing is aided by the bright, constant F4 aperture, however I highly recommend using the Pentax 1.3X magnifying eyecup to increase accuracy.

Compared to my DA HD 55-300mm WR, the SMC-A lens holds its own in the center but kicks the modern zooms posterior where edge sharpness and distortion are concerned, especially at 210mm. Also, colors have that special Pentax look.
I really like this lens for shooting trains and cars. The lack of distortion and smooth tonal rendition of benefit in these situations.

Verdict, if you can find a clean copy for $80 or less, the SMC-A 70-210mm should follow you home.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Utrecht
Posts: 29

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 5, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Well build, sharp, shines on full frame
Cons: You have to pop up the contrast, a bit fringing wide open
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-1ii, K-01, film   

Another very cheap but interesting A-zoom that performs much better on FF than it does on APC-C. Wide open there is some fringing in harsh areas and some green magenta aberrations in the outof focus areas, but not by much. Stopped down this lens is serving the K1ii real nice delivering nice clean crisp images up to 800 ASA and SR. In post I only adjust the levels somewhat (stretching the histogram to full 0-100%) and adding some contrast in case the pictures might be a bit flat (low contrast). Always focus on the long end and then adjust your zoom range, old school focussing....

About 180 mm at F8
   
New Member

Registered: February, 2019
Posts: 12

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 8, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: It works!
Cons: Long and heavy
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-X ME Super   

Rather long and heavy and unwieldy, but also compact in terms of girth. You can get your hand around this and grip it easily for taking photos. A beautifully made piece of gear. Pretty smooth to operate, although it is slightly more difficult to get to sharply focus in comparison to an M Series 80-200mm lens. Macro is a little limiting and fiddly, but not worth moaning about. However, on Ebay I have bought so many returned Pentax M 80-200mm lenses that are infected through with fungus, that this A series lens is a winner in long-term clean operation. Although sharpness can be an issue in some conditions - probably due to shake along such a long lens - this lens is generally very good. I'm far more likely to use this than lug around a 200mm prime and waste so many photos maneuvering myself around to take a good picture, when this zoom does it all for me. Macro function is an added bonus, too.
   
Forum Member

Registered: August, 2018
Posts: 55
Lens Review Date: October 18, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: cheap
Cons: ... basic
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 7    Camera Used: K-x K-1ii   

Buy with my Super-A camera... in 1984. Incredible for an old and manuel cheap lense.


   
Pentaxian

Registered: February, 2010
Location: Eureka, CA
Posts: 3,966

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 12, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $45.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Reasonably sharp edge to edge when stopped down; very inexpensive
Cons: Heavy, zoom creep, not as sharp as modern lenses
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 5    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-1   

Generally I've relegated most of my telephoto work to my KP. I find full-frame telephoto lenses to be too large and heavy to carry around, and I don't like leaving expensive glass in the car. So more often than not, when out shooting with the K-1, I bring along the KP and DA 55-300 PLM to provide a lightweight solution for telephoto photography. But sometimes I don't feel like bring along a second camera. Since it would be nice, in such circumstances, to be able to shoot beyond 105mm, I began looking for some of the older legacy telephoto zooms that can be had for very low prices to fill the gap. I came across a good deal for this old manual focus zoom from mid-eighties and purchased the optic. How, then, does it perform on the K-1?

First, the good news. The biggest issue with many of the older zooms is that they're not sharp away from the center, even when stopped down. That's not a problem with the A 70-210. At f11 through f16, it doesn't seem to suffer any significant loss of sharpness as you move toward the far corners. This standard of performance seems to persist throughout the entire zoom range, even at the long end, where many older telephoto zooms begin to weaken. In addition to this, the A 70-210 has reasonably good contrast and color, and it renders beautifully.

Now for the not so good news. I've compared what the A 70-210 can do when combined with the K-1 against the DA 55-300 PLM combined with the KP. Despite the smaller size and MP count of the KP, the DA 55-300 nonetheless, in the FOV range it shares with the A 70-200 on the K-1, is able to capture as much detail as the old A series zoom --- which is actually rather impressive given the built-in resolution advantages of the K-1's full-frame sensor. And while it may be a draw between the DA 55-300 and the A 70-210 in terms of detail captured, the DA 55-300 is clearly the better lens when it comes to contrast, saturation, handling, auto-focus, size and weight. The A 70-210, of course, enjoys a clear advantage when it comes to price.

One important caveat to the above findings. I bought the A 70-210 to exclusively for landscape photography, which means my comparisons with the DA 55-300 PLM involve capturing detail at long distances. At closer distances, you may get different results.

Some images, all taken somewhere between f11 and f16:





   
Senior Member

Registered: April, 2012
Location: Endeavour Hills, Victoria, Australia
Posts: 100
Lens Review Date: August 21, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Surprisingly sharp
Cons: Suffers from lens creeping
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: ME Super, K-1   

I bought this new in 1985 to use on my ME Super. I wanted to use it for sport but was disappointed with the manual focus being difficult. When I purchased a camera with auto focus, this lens became redundant. However, I kept it and when I purchased my K-1 I wondered how it would go. I knew it would be ok for full frame, but I was more than pleasantly surprised by how sharp it was. I also discovered that the manual focus actually became a strength. This was because sometimes, auto focus just will not focus on what you really want. With the manual focus you have much finer control. To my mind this lens is now sharper than it ever was when using film.
   
Junior Member

Registered: May, 2018
Posts: 34
Lens Review Date: June 5, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Using this a lot with my K-1
Cons: It's a zoom, not fast, not optically perfect but what do you expect?
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: Pentax K-1, Ricoh KR-10   

This lense surprised me. I bought a K-1 to use with my legacy Pentax and PK third party manufactured prime lenses. Now I'm not scared to carry tripods around with me. Stop this down to f8 or f11 and it's perfectly good enough to shoot library / stock image footage to the extent where I leave this on my K-1. I prefer manual focus and often shoot in poor light so I get sick of DSLRs and AF lenses hunting around for something to focus on in poor light before the shutter will fire. It's big, it;s heavy, has a built-in lense hood, can be picked up cheap. Let's put it this way, it seems Pentax were making very nice zooms in the 80s and if you have a load of APS-C lenses and can't justify spending a lot of money on a load of lenses to use with a FF, this is worth looking at. I will, eventually, look at more modern zooms and compare them to this but so far, I've been please with what this delivers on my K-1. The FA 50mm 1.4 and Pentax-A 28mm f2.8 are probably my go to lenses for absolute quality at the moment but I don't think enough clients of picture editors are doing so much pixel peeping they're going to reject anything from this lense
   
New Member

Registered: January, 2018
Location: London
Posts: 2
Lens Review Date: January 17, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Useful zoom range, 1:4 macro, constant f4 aperture, built-in hood
Cons: Not sharp at f4, purple/green fringing towards edges
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1   

Overall this is a well-constructed lens that can give good results.

70-210 is a useful range and this lens provides a maximum aperture of f4 over the whole range.

There is a 1:4 macro mode at the 70mm end - not as much magnification as you would want for proper macro photography, but still useful when out and about.

Sharpness is not good wide open, but improved at f5.6, and good at f8. Upwards from f11 the sharpness starts to reduce again. I've compared many similar zooms in this price range and this is one of the sharpest.

Bokeh looks great at f4, and not at all bad at f5.6 and f8.

Purple/green fringing is a significant problem towards the edges of the frame at all apertures.

Build quality, as with most Pentax-A lenses, is excellent. All-metal construction gives this lens a great feel but also quite a lot of weight.

If not for the poor sharpness wide open and the purple fringing, this would be an excellent lens. But it's still pretty good, and for the price at which you can pick these up (I got mine for US$49), they are very good value.
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2015
Location: Hampshire
Posts: 880

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 23, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, constant F4, A series.
Cons: None really.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-5   

This is a very good zoom at it's price.
Just to indicate what it can be bought for, I paid more for the postage and packaging. I have not indicated a price on this review as the purchase must have been blessed and it would reduce the average price paid.
Like other reviewers I did have to tighten the screws under the focus ring rubber to improve the handling and even though it has a slow creep and requires a little effort to turn to the focus ring it is so much better than a lens with a sloppy focus/zoom ring.
IQ at F4 is not brilliant, CA is evident at this aperture. Stop down to F4.5 or F5 the images get much better.
I have the Pentax-A 35-105mm and this 70-210mm is close for IQ, I preferred it to the Tamron SP 70-210mm!
I also prefer the images to my Pentax-M 200mm at the long end.
Focussing is easy for me even on a digital camera, who needs AF? (though AF can be great).
The Pentax-F 70-210mm is also a great lens but noisy focussing and the violent way it hits the stops do annoy me. especially when the violent stops make you lose infinity focus and require the lens to be adjusted.
The "macro" at 70mm is handy too and provides good images.
This is a cropped image taken at 210mm not macro.

   
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2016
Location: Silverstone
Posts: 195

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 23, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Value, IQ
Cons: Weight, zoom creep
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-S2   

This lens is massively under-rated, and has clearly fallen from favour, given the way prices have fallen. My copy was found on eBay for £11.50. One day, there will be a reappraisal...

My copy arrived with a wobbly zoom barrel, as many do. The repair is very easy, though.

Remove the zoom rubber by prising up an edge near the mount (that's where the screws are). Insert a thin flat knife or spatula and work the rubber off with a twisting motion, lifting it away from the barrel. You can remove the rubber completely if you want, or stop after exposing the retaining ring.

Slide the zoom into the Macro position at 70mm to get a fixed position (this lens focuses past infinity), ensuring you are up against the stop. Tighten the four retaining screws with a PH000 precision screwdriver. Finger tight only. Refit the rubber, pushing with your thumb whilst turning the lens.

I prefer to use mine for action sports. I've used both catch in focus and good old fashioned subject tracking here:

   
Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2011
Location: Niagara, Ontario
Posts: 55

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 24, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Zoom range, push-pull zoom and focus ring, Macro, image quality, build quality
Cons: None that bother me

I carry and use this lens frequently when shooting with my k5-11 because of it's zoom range for many types of shooting subjects, ease of use as well as it's superb image quality, especially color and contrast. It was thrown in with another Pentax purchase and appears to be brand new and unused. Build quality is excellent. Although not a true 1:1 macro lens it is flexible enough for good close-up photo opportunities. The relatively fast f4 lens throughout it's range is also an asset for video. I have also used it for figure skating aided by the single zoom and focus ring and was surprised at the sharpness and image quality.
Don't leave home without it.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: June, 2015
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 390

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 12, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: sharp, cheap zoom
Cons: chromatic aberration, short throw
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 5    Value: 9    Camera Used: Pentax K-50   

This zoom has two great properties: cheap and very high IQ when used in the proper conditions. It is also quite sharp. Although it is not terribly hard to nail the focus of this lens, it is not so pleasant or fast to do so because the throw of this lens is so short. This is especially noticeable when in the pseudo 1/4 macro mode, which incidentally is pretty handy to have.

The 70-210 focal length is very versatile. It can capture reasonably close images of some types of wildlife, especially the acclimated kind. In such situations the chromatic abberations are sometimes strong, but this doesn't happen so often so that I get irritated by it. This lens is also great for portraits. Since the focal length, it still produces backgrounds that are blurred sufficiently, even at the f/4 aperture. Flowers are easily captured using the macro mode, available only at 70mm. Sometimes I find myself hovering at the macro point, which makes focusing a little difficult. In outdoor situations, the lens has a handy retractable hood. It has some zoom creep but has never bothered me so far.

This brings me to the bokeh. The lens has eight aperture blades, and so whenever there are no light points, the bokeh is very smooth and pleasing. Wide open the lens is also quite nice. I'd say one place where the lens fails with the bokeh is when there are light points and the lens is stopped down a little. In this case the octagons are not regular and are a bit distracting. Compare for instance the Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7: this six bladed lens produces fairly regular hexagons, which are more pleasing than irregular octagons in my opinion. But again, in most circumstances this isn't a problem, and when it is, you can still shoot wide open and get nice circles and the IQ is still pretty high at f/4 for portraits.

Ultimately, my complaints are minor. This lens in most situations provides sharp, clear images throughout its zoom range. f/4, while not fast and can struggle in evening situations, is still pretty nice being constant aperture. All in all it was $60 well spent!

Sample image taken at f/8:




   
Forum Member

Registered: December, 2015
Posts: 50

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 4, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $28.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: macro mode, really smooth to use, solid as a rock
Cons: heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-50   

This might be my 2nd best lens, after the 50mm 1.7

It's incredibly fast for a 210mm, F4 all the way is magic, and the macro mode saves your life if you don't have enough money to buy a good macro like me.

Overall, it's really smooth, the zoom and the focus on one ring is really fun, makes this lens (imo) some sort of extraterrestrial.

It has a builtin hood, which is also excellent for photography.

I find the contrast not excellent, but the colors it renders make up for it. And these days, it's nothing a raw editor can't fix.

I strongly recommend, if you're not afraid of the weight of this lens.
   
New Member

Registered: June, 2015
Posts: 15

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 4, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $85.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Image Quality, Construction, Handling
Cons: Zoom Creep, lens hood
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-50   

I used this lens for the Pentax Single of the Month, March 2016.

I really, really like this lens. Most importantly it has excellent image quality. The colours are nice and vivid, with the right amount of punch, even shot wide open. Sharpness is stellar, particularly for a zoom lens. Having mainly just shot with primes i was expecting to have to settle on sharpness, but this is not the case. While not quite as sharp as my DA 35mm f/2.4, it can produce some amazing results even without PP. However with a small amount of PP it can be deadly sharp from f/5 onwards. f/4 and f/4.5 are a little soft, but nothing I wouldn't ever use. This lens sweet spot is around f5/5.6, and is where i spent most of my time shooting. While this lens was sharp across the frame up to f/10, and a bit soft over, there really isn't any situation that this lens is no decent, and in most cases excellent. During the month i didn't notice any significant difference between the wide and tele ends, i suspect 70mm is sharper, but i haven't done any tests to compare, and I've got sharp results at both ends, and great results in between. The lens coatings are excellent, and i can easily shoot into the sun without any problem. The lens hood does improve the contrast, but it isn't needed, and for most of my shots I didn't use the lens hood. Focusing with this lens is very easy. Comparing to my Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7, when your in focus, things just 'snap', and i usually hit focus much easier with this lens than other lenses. I do like the one touch zoom/focus, however i know a lot of people don't. I found it easy to lock focus while zooming out on a subject (bikers coming towards me), something i don't think a two touch lens could have achieved.

f/4 https://www.flickr.com/photos/40074476@N00/25110179269
f/5 https://www.flickr.com/photos/40074476@N00/26027306982
f/5.6 https://www.flickr.com/photos/40074476@N00/25462942960
f/6.3 https://www.flickr.com/photos/40074476@N00/25763585325
f/8 https://www.flickr.com/photos/40074476@N00/25210269664
f/11 https://www.flickr.com/photos/40074476@N00/25668544541
f/16 https://www.flickr.com/photos/40074476@N00/25451593286

Build quality
I brought this lens used from SRS, in what can only be described as mint condition. Not a single knock, scratch or ding to any part of the lens, a couple of light dust specks on the inside of the front element, but nothing to affect image quality. The Lens feels solid, and all metal, with the exception of a plastic aperture ring. The Aperture ring does feel quite cheap, when compared to the excellent precision metal that it accompanies. The lens has a good amount of weight, but not that it ever got uncomfortable. I could easily shoot all day with this lens without any problems. The only downside, its a slight amount of zoom creep. However this is very slight and only really occurs when its warm. On a cold day the lens stays in position, but on a hot day it will creep. This doesnt bother me, but it might bother some. The built in lens hood is nice, but i felt like it could do with being slightly longer (this may be due to it being a full frame lens on a crop body). The lens hood isn't loose, but it doesnt feel as solidly built as the rest of the lens.

Overall I really like this lens, very pleased with the results and I'll probably keep it with me at all times, as my go to tele lens.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-A 70-210mm F4



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