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SMC Pentax-A* 645 600mm F5.6 ED [IF] Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-A* 645 600mm F5.6 ED [IF]

Reviews Views Date of last review
5 35,163 Tue November 25, 2014
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $3,137.50 9.40
SMC Pentax-A* 645 600mm F5.6 ED [IF]


The longest lens available for Pentax 645. This manual focus lens is a member of Pentax' star series of quality lenses. It features internal focusing and a tripod mount. It is heavy and not suited for handheld photography.

SMC Pentax-A* 645 600mm F5.6 ED [IF]
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
645 film
Lens Mount
Pentax 645
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Automatic, 8 blades
12 elements, 11 groups
Mount Variant
645 A
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
Min. Focus
500 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
49 mm (Rear drop-in)
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

645 Digital: 5.2 ° / 4.2 °
645 Film: 6.6 ° / 5.3 °
Built-in, slide out
Lens Cap
Weather Sealing
Other Features
Drop-in Filter Holder,Tripod Mount
Diam x Length
156 x 353 mm (6.1 x 13.9 in.)
4800 g (w/o attachments) (169.3 oz.)
Production Years
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-A* 645 1:5.6 600mm ED[IF]
User reviews
ED elements.
Manual FocusInternal FocusingBuilt-in HoodAperture RingAutomatic ApertureMedium-Format SupportAdapter needed for DSLRsDiscontinued
Price History:

Add Review of SMC Pentax-A* 645 600mm F5.6 ED [IF]
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New Member

Registered: November, 2014
Posts: 4
Lens Review Date: November 25, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $3,950.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharp, around 480mm for 645 format
Cons: heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 3    Value: 6    Camera Used: 645z   

i like its hood,
manual focus ring is smooth ,and easy to bingo the target
i suggest this lens should use 3 points to support the whole gear,
landscape i can use mirror up , iso 400 f11 1/50 shoot ,without shaking
1/200 f8 iso 400 also can hit the birds

Registered: February, 2008
Posts: 424

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 11, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $2,600.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, beautifully made
Cons: Heavy, not cheap
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: 646D   

Well, I can only repeat what has already been said. The build quality is from a former time, before the age of two year upgrades. Whether the extra reach of this lens is worth the cost and weight vs. the excellent 400mm is a question only the user can decide. I'm not selling mine. Extra stabilization is required at a shutter speeds less than 1/500. I based mine on the post by rlj (thanks!), substituting a Sunwayfoto long lens support. It works well, but even this support is helped by a Manfrotto long lens support at slow shutter speeds.

_IGP1179 by tsjanik47, on Flickr
Forum Member

Registered: November, 2007
Location: Germany
Posts: 98
Lens Review Date: June 29, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $3,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp - incredible reach on K5
Cons: weight, weight, ...weight
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: Pentax K5   

A lot has been said before which I can fully support: this is a heavy beast, beautifully made with stunning image quality. I used it with 1.4 and 2.0 extenders and at least with the 1.4 extender there is hardly any loss of image quality though the bokeh tends to suffer a bit, the 2.0 is really only for exceptional shots of more or less stationary subjects. Used on a crop camera makes a strong support and good technique even more necessary but you sure get the results. For bird photography there is only the setback of it being manual focus, otherwise it is exactly the kind of reach which makes it possible to take these "impossible" shots.

In good light it works with the 1.7 AF-converter and the colours and sharpness are really great - when you get all stars lined up, as was said before. The image stabilisation in the K5 makes it possible to grab the odd shot from a monopod or even without support, but to get the real sharpness a support is needed. I use a Berlebach mini with the inbuilt head and a Feisol carbon tripod along with a Manfrotto lens cradle and this works out fine. Shooting from a vehicle using a Berlebach window-support worked very well for me on a recent trip to a windswept island - sample photographs can be found in my gallery. (also more shots with this lens - kingfishers and other birds)

Overall I can highly recommend this lens as it gives you top quality at a bargain price if you compare it with similar offers from CaNikon including image stabilisation.

I haven't tried it on a 645 camera, but I have been able to compare it side by side with a 600/4 IF ED FA* and image quality was on the same level. The long reach cries out for stopping down a bit, mostly I use the lens open, though as small birds at a distance conveniently fit into the field of sharpness.
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2011
Location: Arizona
Posts: 330

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 27, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

Pros: Nothing like it specific for 645 cameras
Cons: Slightly low contrast and practicality of field use
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax 645D and 645N   

This is only an initial review which I will edit with more experience with it. I have been using the lens now for 2.5 months.

Top end build. Great handling for such a lens. Pentax really paid attention to the details with this lens. I don't know what more to mention other than there is nothing I would change on the design and construction of the lens. The double extending hood provides spectacular protection. The top handle is a huge asset. This is a super aid in handling the lens and moving it around quickly. The handle even has a nice groove down the top to assist in rapidly locating your subject. Focusing is smooth as could be. I almost wish it was dampened it is so smooth. The focus preset is a great advantage. Infinity changes on this lens depending on your conditions. I use the focus preset to lock infinity for the environmental conditions of each shoot. Rotating between vertical and horizontal is a great design. The top handle stays at the top no matter if the camera is set to landscape or portrait. Only the rear grey portion rotates. Filter drawer stays locked closed and does not accidentally come loose like the k mount FA*s. Lens foot is very beefy and solid, does not induce as much vibrations from the foot as other FA, A, Nikon, and Canon counterparts.

Image Quality:
This lens has it with proper technique. Sharpness is great. Aberrations are very well controlled and the small amount is easily correctable. A word on technique though, fast shutter speeds or demanding technique are required. I use a Gitzo series 4 tripod and now wish for a wooden tripod. A Manfroto long lens support tying the body to a tripod leg is highly recomended for slow shutter speeds (less than 250th). Mirror up is critical for these speeds also. Any breeze and you will get side to side movement still. Shooting from a vehicle is incredibly difficult unless you have the light to shoot greater than 500th. Stopping down to a minimum of f8 is critical to insure you have the DOF to have an entire animals head in focus. The sensor/film size combined with the resolution of medium format makes controlling sharpness critical if you want to print large. Using a focus magnifier is very important in nailing focus. As far as contrast goes; here in Africa's bright light the contrast can often be lacking. Using a polarizer in the filter drawer really helps control this. A word on polarizers though; the special rotatable drop in polarizer is 10 times harder to find than the lens itself. The next best option is a standard 49mm polarizer. I found that the only one that fits with ease is the B+W slim polarizer. The polarizers with threads on the front to attach another filter are a tight fit and can really give you a good scare when you think the whole assembly is stuck in the lens.

General Comments:
This is a highly specialized lens when used on medium format. It is not something to take lightly. Often there is not enough light to use the lens properly, stopped down, fast shutter speed, etc. When there is enough light it is mostly likely very harsh. Animals don't often sit still while you stabilize the lens for your conditions, focus, get the settings accordingly. Using from a vehicle in Africa is very near a must making use very difficult. This lens is no substitute for a long lens on a 35mm body. If you treat it that way you will loose shots. I pair it with a 300mm 2.8 on a K5. This gives me two options for when I can deal with what this lens requires and when I must work fast or in low light. However, when all the stars line up and you look at your image your smile is wider than the earth is round. I often also find it easier to use a FA 300mm 5.6 of FA* 300mm 4.0 and capture more of the environment when conditions don't allow the use of this lens.

I will be testing a 67 M* 400mm 4.0 with and without a 1.4x later this year to see how the two compare from a usability stance. From this I will have a better idea of how to proceed forward.

In Summary:
A spectacular lens. However, the difficulty in field use raises the question of is it worth it to you. I have decided yes it is but with the stipulation that I have a combo to give me the same image when the conditions aren't right. By the end of the year I will have an idea if the 67 M* 400mm with and without the matched 1.4x is a more user friendly substitute. One must also consider if the high res FF 35mm offerings from Nikon and Canon (Nikon in particular) is a better option for printing telephoto images large. Future will tell if I go this route.
Junior Member

Registered: November, 2009
Posts: 29

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 8, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $3,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp
Cons: Large and heavy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

Simply put, there is no other lens like this for a Pentax 645D. These lenses are custom built and rarely found waiting on a shelf. I expect prices for this lens will have gone up since the 645D came out. However, even before the 645D, photographers using smaller format cameras like Pentax, Canon and Nikon have bought this lens to use with adapters. Even Hasselblad owners have adapted this lens for their V-bodies as it has a reputation of being as sharp as the 350 Superachromat, but much less expensive on the used market.

This lens is very, very sharp. However, due to it's weight and the positioning of the tripod mount, the 645D, demanding great precision from it's lenses, shows movement artifacts. This is most likely due to the 645D body oscillating on the lens mount, which behaves as a fulcrum, stationary at the tripod mount.

This led me to try to make the whole system more rigid. I posted the results of on this forum at The support system parts as described easily fit into the original metal case provided with the lens. I use the Really Right Stuff (RRS) TVC-24 carbon fiber tripod with a BH-40 head.

Once the 645D body is locked-in with tripod mount of the 600/5.6 lens, the sharpness of the 600/5.6 can be fully appreciated. The focus of the lens is butter smooth and easily used on the 645D body. It is a great lens. Stopping down to f8 does improve the contrast and sharpness, but only slightly. This lens is certainly in the same class as the large Nikon and Canon 600mm lenses (which also improve ever so slightly stopping down one stop).

(BTW, I tested the 2x on this lens with this set-up; but the quality is degraded and so I would not recommend the 2x converter on the 600/5.6 with the 645D body.)
Add Review of SMC Pentax-A* 645 600mm F5.6 ED [IF]

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