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SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8 Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8

Sharpness 
 8.2
Aberrations 
 8.0
Bokeh 
 8.2
Autofocus 
 7.3
Handling 
 8.0
Value 
 9.2
Reviews Views Date of last review
52 210,771 Sat August 22, 2020
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
94% of reviewers $96.77 8.54
SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8

SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8
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SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8
supersize

Description:
This is the slower of the two FA 100-300mm lenses. It is made of plastic and does not feature power zoom.

SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 9 blades
Optics
11 elements, 9 groups
Mount Variant
KAF
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F4.7-5.8
Min. Aperture
F32-38
Focusing
AF (screwdrive)
Quick-shift
No
Min. Focus
150 cm
Max. Magnification
0.26x
Filter Size
58 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 16-5.5 ° / 14-4.6 °
Full frame: 24-8.2 ° / 20-6.9 °
Hood
RH-A58
Case
S80-160
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
70 x 128 mm (2.8 x 5 in.)
Weight
390 g (13.8 oz.)
Production Years
2000 to 2004
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-FA 100-300mm f/4.7-5.8
Product Code
27617
Reviews
User reviews
Features:
Screwdrive AutofocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:



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Forum Member

Registered: July, 2020
Posts: 72
Lens Review Date: August 22, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $84.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: good optics, very useful range, inexpensive, light weight
Cons: looks ugly, with its plastic construction and long, narrow barrel; lack of a lens hood
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 10    Camera Used: K10D, K-3 II   

I bought this recently off eBay after reading the reviews here (and the usefulness of the reviews here for my expanding my Pentax equipment are invaluable to me, and I'm playing my part now in reviewing all my equipment, over time). And, yes, I got the f/4.7 version in black over the f/4.5 version, because the reviews for the former here are much better than the reviews for the latter. (One reader inquired to be sure that my black lens is indeed f/4.7-5.8, and I assured him that it is, because he also has the silver-colored version of this lens, as is depicted atop this review page.) The name on the right side of my lens (at 90 degrees when mounted on the camera) says "smc PENTAX-FA 1:4.7-5.6 100-300mm", so slightly different from what is given in the table above; it is odd that this appears 90 degrees from the larger, redundant wording "PENTAX 100-300" on the top of the lens.

Having an inexpensive zoom with this focal-length range (100-300mm; effective focal length 150-450mm with my K10D camera) and with this light weight is very appealing to me for traveling and hiking. My Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 is a great lens, but it gets left behind too much because of its size and weight. With this 100-300mm lens being so inexpensive, I decided to buy it from a seller in Japan (I've found that eBay sellers in Japan are very trustworthy, and I prefer them despite higher shipping costs), as I saw it as not much of a gamble (the cited $84 includes shipping costs and the state tax that Ebay levies, as I do with all my cited costs in these reviews).

Yeah, it's an ugly lens -- one of my ugliest for sure (I have the standard black lens). The long, narrow barrel looks plasticky/cheap and isn't something to show in public too often... ... But I got this for two reasons -- the ability to have these focal lengths at my disposal when packing light for travel/hiking is important, and hoping it might be useful for my astrophotography. Well, my copy is in mint condition (as was advertised on eBay, with all the many angles of photos so typical of the Japanese sellers there), and my testing has been stellar. So looks don't always indicate what's inside, and I'm amazed that such good optics and practical handling can come from such a plasticky/cheap-looking lens.

Yeah, the feel of the manual zooming and of the manual focussing on the tube is very cheap compared to more-expensive lenses, but I was very pleasantly surprised with my nighttime images of stars and the planets Jupiter (and its satellites) and Saturn (and its rings) at 300mm -- this lens is excellent in its sharpness. And I was more hampered by my 10-megapixel CCD sensor in my K10D camera (again pushing me toward my forthcoming purchase of the K-1 II -- and reminding me of my reluctance to go to digital in 2007, doubting that a 10-megapixel camera could have better resolution than the film that I was still shooting with my LX, PZ-1, and F4 cameras; indeed, I'm sure that my resolution would have been better with this same lens on my LX and shooting these planets with 100 ASA film -- something I should try sometime). Images taken with my K-3 II are better when blown up. I used a clock drive and stopped the lens down to f/11, for several-second exposures of the planets, but I found that even wide open at f/5.8 at 300mm, the planets and stars are superbly sharp (but blowing up the size on my computer screen shows how badly the large pixel size affects resolution of detail). Still, seeing pinpoint star images and seeing the dark spaces between the rings and the planet of Saturn is a real testament to the solid optical design and components of this FA zoom lens (best seen when not blown up to see individual pixels!). I threw my Pentax 2X converter on this lens to see how it performs at 600mm f/11.6 and also at 400-500mm, out of curiosity, using a crescent moon as my subject; after getting the right focus, the lunar craters are very good both with and without the 2X converter, both wide open and stopped down about halfway at 300mm (meaning at 600mm with the 2X converter). And when a red-tailed hawk suddenly perched on a tree some 80 yards away from my back deck, I went straight for this lens and got some great hand-held shots at 300mm, showing quite a lot of detail in the feathers and open beak. It's definitely a keeper. When photographing a hawk with my hand-held comera, I found that precise manual focus was not easy, but with patience I could get about half my shots in good focus, and when the focus was spot-on; thus, a tripod is recommended for use at the long end of this zoom lens.

I got this lens fully understanding that I'd be doing a lot of work with it on a tripod, so the slowness doesn't particularly bother me; it's lightness might encourage me to use it handheld (or using a rock or car roof to steady it) on trips, for taking photos of distant animals, for example, when I don't have time to set up a tripod.
I did get some very good handheld shots of flowers in our garden in bright sunlight with this lens, which showed nice bokeh in addition to the sharpness. The large focal-length zoom ring is just forward of the aperture ring and turns 90 degrees to the left from 100mm to 300mm. The cheap-feeling plasticky focus ring at the outer-most part of the lens barrel turns the entire end of the barrel (so any polarizing filter will also turn when focusing, but I don't find polarizers all that necessary with long telephoto lenses anyway), and the rotation is about 220 degrees from infinity to closest focus (so more than half of a full turn, which allows for good fine-tuning of the focus manually with patience).

For my purposes, this camera is a definite 9 or 10 in value. I'm mostly a manual focuser, even with modern cameras and lenses, but the autofocus of this lens on my K10D is very good; I mainly tested it at 100mm wide open, but it focused quickly most of the time even in low light. The manual focusing ring toward the end of the tube is rather coarse, but it gets the job done; possibly the worst focusing ring of all my Pentax lenses. I haven't experienced zoom creep despite having the lens pointing skyward on a tripod, so that's good. Verdict: it's ugly appearance belies a really good and useful lens for a really decent price.

photos with the lens on my camera showing the lens at longest and shortest extensions:




photo showing f/4.7 on the aperture scale:

   
Pentaxian

Registered: September, 2017
Location: South Wales
Posts: 1,123
Lens Review Date: March 14, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $36.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Sharp, inexpensive, works fully on modern DSLRs.
Cons: Plasticky, slow aperture, narrow barrel, focussing rotates the front.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 4    Handling: 4    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1   

I got this cheap on Ebay. Although mostly plastic, it seems better than some other reviews suggest - maybe I have a good example. I have no zoom creep (off the camera it stands up fully extended on its nose), but I can feel slight slack in the outer barrel. It hunts slightly when focussing, and the aperture is rather small - but that is not such a problem with the K-1's high ISO capability.

Others have said it is big, but it is not on the K-1. I don't like there being no margin around the lens front (ie I'd like the barrel to have been fatter) because a telephoto style lens hood in its 58mm thread could infringe on the image. Someone said the front rotates when zooming - it doesn't, but it does so when focussing.

I show a photo of an old film-era test chart, taken at f5.6 (max aperture), 180mm focal length, ISO 3200. Some vignetting is evident (the chart was not uniformly lit anyway) but the enlargement of the bottom left corner (marked in mauve) shows that even the smallest lines have been resolved. I see no chromatic aberation.





   
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2014
Location: Colorado
Posts: 476
Lens Review Date: August 2, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharp (for its price), color and contrast, light weight
Cons: Plastic, (no) hood
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-S1   

I've compared this lens to DA55-300/4-5.8. Surprisingly my copy of this lens beats my copy of DA55-300/4-5.8 in 100-200mm range in terms of uniformity of resolution. At 300mm DA55-300/4-5.8 becomes slightly better. This may come from the fact that this lens was made for full frame, and thus has better edge/corner performance on APS-C.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: January, 2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 514
Lens Review Date: March 6, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, light, cheap
Cons: Plastic mount, rattly, slow glass
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Camera Used: Pentax K200, K-30   

Busted this old lens out of my closet with the intent to sell it. Got the listing all ready to go and decided to grab a few shots outside to add to the listing. WOW! I'm not gonna sell it now.
This lens needs to be used more often, for sure. I'll let the result speak for itself. A bit of saturation added because the lens does wash colors to some degree, but easily adjusted in post-processing.
300mm f/16
   
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Bologna, Amsterdam, Chiang Mai
Posts: 1,092

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 24, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: cheap, light, great value
Cons: none, considering the price
Sharpness: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1   

Like its "silver" little brother (35-80mm), this lens is one of the best vintage full frame zooms, if we consider the price/performance ratio.
Of course it's wobbly, plasticky, has plastic mount, it's not fast, doesn't do close-up, and works well only at central diaphragms, better if avoiding the two extremes of the focal range... but i paid it 75 USD shipment (from Japan) included.
At this price, i'm quite happy with what it gives. AF is average, for a screwdrive type zoom, and image quality is better than the "gray" Pentax-F/FA 100-300mm and probably also better than a rather dated Sigma Apo Macro 70-300mm. The Sigma seems to do better at close range, and has a very good "macro" mode (that is his forte).
All in all, this Pentax is preferable, because it has good color, good contrast, and good resolution, if used stopped down.
The Pentax K-1 has very good high-ISO performance, so it's not difficult to use this zoom at its sweet spot. Usually i choose an aperture between f/8 and f/11, a shutter speed that gives no motion blur, and let the camera do its job in TAV mode.
Even at minimum focal distance the lens performs more than OK.
See this shot. Clicking on the picture shows the original. It's resized at 40%, but it's still enough to show how the texture of the subject is rendered. Not bad for such a cheap zoom, isn't it?

Pottery garden by spaulein, on Flickr

The overall vote is a good 8.
If you like to shoot with good primes, MF or AF, a cheap zoom is a convenient solution just in case you need it, or if you are afraid the lens could get damaged.
I have better zooms, but this is the smallest and lightest that can reach 300mm, and still gives more than decent image quality if used stopped down.
   
New Member

Registered: April, 2017
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 12

6 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 11, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $82.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Lightweight (very!), shockingly sharp at >f8, Huge value to $ ratio
Cons: CA, feels "flimsy" (other side of the "lightweight" benefit coin!), plastic mount durability (?)
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1   

I bought this lens from a Japan Ebay seller for $82 so that I'd have "something" (recently sold all my Canon gear and switched to Pentax K-1) extending beyond the 28-105mm range of my kit zoom. Accordingly, my expectations were quite low, but the lens has given me dozens of images that I would have completely missed, had I not had it in my bag (and the lightweight and inexpensive nature of this lens is the REASON it made it into my travel bag!). My prior experience with "entry level" zoom in this range was the Sigma APO DG 70-300 on my Canon (which I sold after acquiring the K-1). In my opinion, the Pentax 100-300 f4.7 just blows the doors off anything I was getting with the Sigma on my T3i.
I haven't shot with it much wide-open, yet, always leaning for f8 or higher, but the image stabilization in K-1 makes that "fine", even hand-held.

Here are just a couple examples from among dozens of similar quality:
Drake mallard, light by setting sun. Some processing, sharpening, etc., but the base image was terrific.


Another shot lit by setting sun. I uploaded this a bit larger size - click it twice to see the amazingly good sharpness of the very far away people, well-resolved. I was flabbergasted when I opened this image up at full res from my K-1.
   
Junior Member

Registered: March, 2012
Posts: 31

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 30, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Weight, very sharp at f/11 and f/8, beautiful colors and nice bokeh. A lens hood is necessarely ( mine is rubber...Perfect )
Cons: Relative noisy and a certain impression of fragility.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax Kx and K50   

I'm very happy with this lens bought at a very low price. Now it is always on my Kx ( the match is perfect ), waiting for the good opportunity and I find, each time, the results very interesting, much hightest than it could be excepted.

1.


2.


3.


4.


5.


6.
   
Senior Member

Registered: March, 2013
Posts: 137
Lens Review Date: September 7, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: bokeh, range light-weight, price
Cons: autofocus, sharpness
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-x   

My only telephoto lens. It has its strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths:
  • Bokeh. I love it.
  • Range. 100-300 is quite versatile.
  • Weight: It's huge but doesn't weight much.
  • Design. I like how it looks
Weaknesses:
  • Sharpness. Maybe it's just my copy, but it's not as sharp as my other lenses.
  • Autofocus. Quite slow and hunts a lot.
  • Noise. It scares animals off.
  • Lens speed. High ISO sensitivity is usually required.
I use it mainly for taking photos of:
  • Portraits.
  • Sitting animals.
  • Flowers.
   
Junior Member

Registered: June, 2015
Location: Százhalombatta, Hungary
Posts: 37
Lens Review Date: June 17, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $54.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Nice reach and very good value.
Cons: Feels cheap, doesn't come with a hood. Zoom creep.
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: Pentax K10D   

This is a very good lens for the money! I got it for 15000 HUF, which is around $54. Mine is in quite good condition. This lans has some zoom creep, which can be annoying. It is also quite long, especially when extended. That is to be expected of a 300mm lens though. The mount is plastic, which makes you want to protect it. Well, actually the whole lens is of plastic, save for the lenses themselves. Autofocus can hunt and is quite slow, but it's mostly reliable. The front element rotates when zooming. However, for this price, this lens is capable of some very good shots! It's definitely worth it's money! Very good for beginners or those on a budget, like me. Grab a screw-in lens hood for it, and you're good to go!

Some sample shots:










I have to update my experience: It not only feels cheap, it is BAD build quality. Mine didn't last even one month! The zoom ring started clicking, getting stuck around 200mm, then the focusing ring too. I've been handling it like a baby, but it still wasn't enough. I'm not buying another one of these cheap pentax lenses from the late film era again... ever. I'll go for the Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 APO DG Macro lens instead. It appears, I just threw my money out..."
   
New Member

Registered: February, 2016
Location: Montreal
Posts: 4
Lens Review Date: February 19, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: inexpensive, excellent quality
Cons: slow autofocus
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K100D Super   

For the price (under 100$ in used), it's a top lens! Very good quality, light, but a little bit slow and noisy.

I currently use the DA 55-300 (250-300$), but before that, my first tele was the Tamron Di LD 70-300 (120-150$). The Pentax seems (for me) a little bit better. It's a perfect lens to learn and begin.
   
Senior Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Sfantu Gheorghe, Romania
Posts: 258
Lens Review Date: February 10, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $70.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Color, bokeh, sharp
Cons: Chromatic aberations
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: Pentax K-x   

This is a good tele lens. It's sharp from 100mm to 250mm and beyond you have to use a fast shutter speed to have good results. It has a very warm color rendition and can be used as a macro tool or even as a portrait lens. As a tele lens, will not disapoint, but i will not recommend it for birds...
   
New Member

Registered: May, 2015
Posts: 7
Lens Review Date: May 17, 2015 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: quality price
Cons: plastic
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

Hello my name is George and I am proud new owner of a Pentax K10D. I'm new to the DSLR world and I have much to learn thanks to you. I just bought this goal and even though I have not, my opinion is based on the product that I have discovered. I think that makes some pictures of ten, which only a few objectives, price much higher than this, get over it. I suppose you know her, but for those who do not, I hope will serve to weigh. And by the way, sorry for my English.
http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/photos/gallery/query?camera=&lens=1240#/carousel
   
Pentaxian

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Nevada, USA
Posts: 3,348

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 23, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $77.03 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Range, sharpness, light weight, AF speed
Cons: Light weight, construction, exposure, WB
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 5    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-30   

I bought this lens a while ago when I was exploring >100mm focal lengths. It takes a special skill and talent to wield one of these photon busting canons. My initial results with any long focal length lens were poor until I started following some simple guidelines like minimum shutter speeds, mirror lock up, etc. I also had to experiment to figure out the ideal aperture settings at different focal lengths. It has taken me a while to get the hang of this lens and I still have a ways to go. Anyways, with that background in mind, here is my review of this lens.

Pros:
Sharpness : The lens is sharper at the wide end than at the tele end. It's noticeable when pixel peeping not when filling your 2-3 megapixel monitor. You'll definitely not notice anything in prints until you get big. But who views large prints up close, like 6" away, anyways? I'm finding that the lens is very sharp starting at around f/6.3 in the wide range and from f/8 at the tele end. Noticeable diffraction kicks in at f/11 and beyond at all focal lengths.

Aberrations : I don't notice any massive fringing, color shifts, or barrel distortion. Maybe I should shoot some more shots of bricks walls?

Colors and Contrast : I can get some wonderful colors and proper contrast from this lens. Improper white balance throws things off at at times (see below).

Bokeh : It can be smooth, wonderful, and creamy but it takes some work with proper settings and composition.

Range : Going from 100mm to 300mm feels like warping through time and space! It's massive when it's at those magnitudes!

Focusing : AF is fast and usually accurate. Your DoF at those long focal lengths is very thin. Even minimal camera shake can make my K-30 hunt for focus. That's more to do with technique than functionality.

Light Weight : The lens is made of plastic which is both good and bad. In this sense it's good because the lens is light and easy to handle.

Aperture Ring : DSLR bodies make the aperture ring obsolete since you can control the aperture with the body now. My film cameras, a ZX-60 and a PZ-20, have an Av mode which allows to do the same. Aperture rings are kind of a neutral for me but I know that users of older film bodies will appreciate it.

Handling : Standard fare here. Nothing feels hard to reach.

Full Frame : Never a bad thing! On APS you get extended telephoto capabilities. Soft corners are cropped out too.

Neutral:
Construction : The lens mount is plastic and I'm OK with that. I know some people prefer metal.

Cons:
Construction : I'm not against plastic lenses but this lens does feel flimsy. The zoom and focusing rings are not dampened so they feel like they're about to break off with the slightest force. Nothing wobbles and shakes in my copy but nothing feels solid like a DA 18-135mm.

Exposure : I've noticed that this lens tends to force my K-30's exposure meter to under expose in some cases. That throws the white balance off and my shots look warm. Since I shoot in RAW it's easy enough to fix. With the right setting the colors and contrast comes out perfectly though (see above).

Optically Slow : The lens is sharpest starting at f/6.3 at the wide end and at around f/8 in the tele end. Shutter speeds will be slow in low light unless you crank up the ISO. Perceived sharpness can be low if fine details get lost in the image sensor's noise.

Conclusion:
I have been wondering if I should keep this lens or move to a DA 55-300mm. Today I have decided to keep this lens. It's plenty sharp when properly used and it's full frame capable. I can use this lens on my DSLR with APS sized sensors and on my film bodies. If/when Ricoh releases a FF DSLR then I'll be ready for that too. There are higher end lenses that are optically faster and are no doubt sharper ... but they also cost a whole lot more than than the $77 I paid for this lens. I'm sure that there are several modern consumer grade zooms from Sigma and Tamron that are better than this lens but, again, they also cost more too. This lens is a great value for the money that I paid and for the use I will get out of it. I don't shoot enough telephoto to warrant a high end long range zoom and I would probably opt for a prime before I go to a zoom anyways.

This lens paired up nicely with my 16 MP K-30. Lower MP cameras will love this lens. I don't know if the 20 MP and higher sensors like what is found in the K-S1 and K-3 will "break" this lens. FF performance probably be different too. Corners that may be soft were cut out by the smaller sensor.

Samples:
Here are three sample images I made. They were shot in the golden hour of the later afternoon one day after the shortest day of the year. The first shot came with good light, low ISO, and damn near perfect focus. This is the shot that convinced me this lens is capable of great IQ.


IMGP5012
by Never Off, on Flickr

Once the sun starting setting and going down my ISO started climbing. Finer details in the shot started to blend in with the sensor's noise.


IMGP5022
by Never Off, on Flickr

The bokeh isn't too bad either. You got a taste of it in the first shot. Here's some more.


IMGP5023
by Never Off, on Flickr
   
New Member

Registered: February, 2012
Posts: 15

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 6, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light, sharp, good colour and contrast, across the full zoom range
Cons: Lightweight build doesn't inspire confidence
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Samsung GX-20   

I had no need to buy this, but when an eBay auction came up offering the FA 35-80mm f4-5.6, the FA 80-200 f4.7-5.6, and this lens together, curiosity got the better of me, and Ł43 including postage later I was the proud owner of all three. I apportioned this total to give the indicated price.

These lenses can have seen little use. They look optically perfect, their bodies are almost unmarked, their zoom mechanisms are astonishingly smooth, and there is none of the looseness that characterises the other silver FA lenses I have owned and used. They are plastic, with plastic mounts, and look flimsy, but the benefit is lightness. Whereas the Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 DG Macro weighs over 600 gm, this only weighs 400 gm.

I spent a couple of afternoons playing with this, the Sigma, the Pentax F 70-210 mm, the Pentax FA 80-200mm f4.7-5.6, and some Tamron Adaptalls with the Pentax 1.7x AF in the back garden, once on a sunny day, and once on a miserable grey day when I had to shoot hand held at 1/50 s or less at all focal lengths. My conclusions were:
  • The Adaptall/Pentax 1.7x AF combination lacks contrast compared with the AF zooms, and there was no reason to prefer any of the Adaptalls (the 03B 135mm f2.5, the 04B 200mm f3.5 and the 19AH 70-210mm f3.5) plus the Pentax 1.7x AF over any of these, except the F 70-210mm at 200mm.
  • At 70 mm the order was 1 Sigma 70-300, 2 Pentax F 70-210, and they are close
  • At 100mm the order was 1 Sigma 70-300, 2 Pentax F 70-210, 3 FA 100-300, 4 FA 80-200. The Sigma is a bit ahead, and the other three are very similar.
  • At 200mm, the order was 1 FA 100-300, 2 FA 80-200, 3 Sigma 70-300, 4 F 70-210. The FA 100-300 is a bit ahead, the Sigma 70-300 and the FA 80-200 are similar, and the F 70-210 is just awful.
  • At 300mm, the order was 1 FA 100-300, 2 Sigma 70-300, and by a clear margin if you pixel peep.
I used a hood on all of them.


This lens doesn't play well with the Teleplus 2x Pz-AF DG MC4. My results with the Sigma 70-300mm and, especially, the FA 80-200 are better at all the focal lengths they have in common.


However, in every other respect I am very pleased with it. Colours, contrast and sharpness all excellent in the centre of the frame. A bit of blue fringing on high contrast transitions near the edges of the frame beyond the plane of focus, and purple in front of the focus frame, but otherwise no aberrations.

So I give it 9.
   
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Registered: August, 2011
Location: South Florida
Posts: 31

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 6, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $110.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very sharp and great colors
Cons: Flimsy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 5    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-5, K-3   

I bought this lens on impulse because I had nothing that went to 300 mm. For the price ($110) I felt I could discard it if it was horrible. I did not take the lens very seriously for a while, using my 70-210 zoom instead since I was used to it and it takes superb pictures (rated here as a 8.20). The pictures I did take looked good but I never bothered to do a critical test. Well, I am doing that with all my lenses now after I used this lens in the Florida Keys for sunset shots and came out with some super pictures. In critical back to back tests this 100-300 zoom performed about equal with the respected 70-210. There was a slight difference in the corners but that was it. Of course, the lens is flimsy (don't drop it !!!) but I only paid $110, brand new. I am using this lens now as my standard long zoom, and of course I get weird looks from Nikon-Canon owners.....!!!
Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8



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