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SMC Pentax-F* 250-600mm F5.6 ED [IF] Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-F* 250-600mm F5.6 ED [IF]

Reviews Views Date of last review
2 44,961 Mon July 15, 2013
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $3,500.00 9.50
SMC Pentax-F* 250-600mm F5.6 ED [IF]

SMC Pentax-F* 250-600mm F5.6 ED [IF]
SMC Pentax-F* 250-600mm F5.6 ED [IF]
SMC Pentax-F* 250-600mm F5.6 ED [IF]

The Pentax F* is a professional zoom lens delivering superb image quality and handling. This lens is lighter than its FA* version and uses a single ring for focusing and zoom. It features internal zooming, a large built-in hood, and a tripod mount, and comes in a trunk case complete with a large leather cap and 6 drop-in filters. No power zoom.

SMC Pentax-F* 250-600mm F5.6 ED[IF]
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Automatic, 8 blades
18 elements, 16 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
AF (screwdrive)
Min. Focus
350 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
43 mm
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 6.6-2.8 ° / 5.5-2.3 °
Full frame: 9.9-4.1 ° / 8.2-3.4 °
Built-in, slide out
Dedicated trunk case
Lens Cap
Leather cap
Weather Sealing
Other Features
AF/MF Switch,Drop-in Filter Holder,Focus Range Limiter,Internal Zoom,Tripod Mount
Diam x Length
149 x 435 mm (5.6 x 17.1 in.)
4900 g (173 oz.)
Production Years
1988 to 1998
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-F* ZOOM 1: 5.6 250-600mm ED[IF]
Product Code
User reviews
A filter (can be clear glass) must always be inserted in the rear filter holder. It forms a part of the optical system.
The only Pentax lens with a push-pull Combined Zoom/Focusing Ring.
Four ED elements and one high refraction low dispersion element.
Screwdrive AutofocusInternal FocusingInternal ZoomingBuilt-in HoodAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:

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Registered: November, 2006
Location: Norway
Posts: 574

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 15, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $4,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp
Cons: Slow focus
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-5 IIs   

This lens is exceptionally sharp on all focal lengths and wide open. At 300mm it is sharper than DA*300/4 stopped down to f/5.6. And at 400mm it is sharper than FA*400/5.6. It does have som green and red CA, but not much and easy to remove. The weakest point with it is itís slow and noisy autofocus. But it has a good focus limiter which helps. An expensive lens, but worth it if you need it.

Site Webmaster

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Arizona
Posts: 50,667

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 11, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $3,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Superb image quality, flexibility of a zoom, fast af
Cons: Poor handling (af/mf), heavy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 6    Value: 7    Camera Used: Pentax K-5   

First off I'd like to mention that I believe I got a pretty good deal on this lens back in the day- seeing that the FA* 250-600mm (which has the same optical construction as this lens) now goes for $6-7k, I would expect the typical price range for this to be about the same, and thus I am only giving the lens a 7 for value.

The F* 250-600mm lens is extremely sharp and is a pleasure to use. At over 12 pounds, however, it is quite heavy and cannot be hand-held even if you try, due to its size. You'll need an appropriately-sized monopod/tripod for it, and you will need to exercise caution while mounting it, as the lens is front-heavy.

It uses a single ring to control both the zoom and the focus. You can slide the ring back to convert into into a focusing ring, and forward to make it control the zoom. The lens also features a focus limiter which can be configured to a number of settings covering just about every distance range, but interestingly, it also has a "manual focus" setting. Thus, in order to disengage the AF shaft, it is not only necessary to slide the ring back, but also to set the limiter to manual focus, making it very inconvenient to manually override the lens's focus in the field. This is one feature upon which the FA* version of the lens improved - on that one, sliding the (dedicated) focusing ring back disengages the AF shaft and allows you to control the focus right away.

As long as you stick to AF, however, this isn't a problem, and that's when the limiter itself really comes in handy. On top of that, the AF is quite fast thanks to the lens's internal focusing technology.

One thing I really like about this lens is how short the zoom throw is. You barely need to turn the zoom ring in order to go from 250 to 600mm (thanks to the internal zoom construction)! While power zoom would be nice, my primary complaint is it doesn't have separate rings for focusing and zooming.

The image quality, as would be expected of any professional telephoto zoom lens this long, is superb. Aberrations are minimal on digital and sharpness is top-notch. The price you have to pay with this lens is the loss of one stop of light compared to the 600mm F4, though I usually find myself shooting closer to 250mm than 600mm when on ASP-C cameras, meaning that if it were a prime, it would be borderline useless most of the time as I wouldn't get the shot I wanted. So, in other words, it's much better to have the F5.6 zoom than an F4 prime. If I had the chance to swap lenses for free, I wouldn't- the zoom is just too convenient!
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