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SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F3.5 Macro Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F3.5 Macro

Reviews Views Date of last review
14 90,875 Fri April 10, 2020
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $153.00 8.79
SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F3.5 Macro

This is the slower of the two FA 100mm macro lenses.

SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F3.5 Macro
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Automatic, 8 blades
5 elements, 4 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
AF (screwdrive)
Min. Focus
45 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
49 mm
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 16 ° / 14 °
Full frame: 24 ° / 20 °
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Weather Sealing
Other Features
Diam x Length
68 x 72 mm (2.7 x 2.8 in.)
220 g (7.8 oz.)
Production Years
1998 (start of production)
Product Code
User reviews
Screwdrive AutofocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:

Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F3.5 Macro
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-14 of 14
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2011
Location: Gotland
Posts: 156
Lens Review Date: April 10, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light weight, sharp
Cons: Plasticky feeling
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K3 II, K 1   

I bought this lens a few years ago after reading the reviews here. It cost very little. A real bargain.

Used for Slow Photography and in reasonably good light it works very well, close up as well as at a distance.

With the K 3 II I have learnt to use a liberal amount of exposure compensation and do the RAW conversion so that it fits this lens. With the K 1 it operates more like other lenses.

The main drawback is the plasticky feeling. And the lifeless manual focusing. Some lenses are a joy to use. Not this one. A third is that the AR treatment is not up to 2020 standards and that the inside is not dead black.

A fourth drawback? Not that I have observed. Compared to the 77 mm Limited lens this one is as sharp, but less forgiving. It needs more care to get the final image right.

Pentax made cost-cutting by using plastic construction and just f/3,5 maximum speed but saw to it that the photograpic results could be fine.
New Member

Registered: November, 2013
Posts: 8
Lens Review Date: July 23, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: excellent macro lens
Cons: non
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New   

very similar to cosina and soligor in housting and lens construction

++ sharpness excellent

++ CA's nearly none

+/++ high contrast, scarecely flare

++ neutral color rendition

++ light weight

very rare !!!
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2015
Posts: 2,966

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 24, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $125.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp, lightweight, inexpensive
Cons: feels less sturdy than it is
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K1   

Works exactly as it should on the K1, with only slow AF in live view and an occasional episode of focus hunting as a hassle, but it's not bad.

The lens is not scathingly quick at f3.5, but it's close to the 'standard' f2.8, and for actual macros, I never shoot wide open anyway.

It is a terrible portrait lens unless you like photos of the detail of peoples' eyeballs, as it is seriously sharp.

It does normally have smooth (though sudden) transition to OOF areas, so the bokeh is appropriate for this kind of shooting.

Don't forget to get the 1:1 matched diopter, otherwise it is a 1:2 lens, though still very nice.

Manual focus works well, with a sufficiently wide grip to make it easy.

An oddity, the focus receptacle in the lens pokes out a bit when there is a rear cap on the lens (and the lens is obviously not on the camera), and if I focus it, it rubs on the cap and feels extremely gritty. It does not do this on the camera. Weird.

A straight OOC Jpeg at f11 with a Metz 48 flash (zoom broken at the widest setting).

Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2014
Posts: 38
Lens Review Date: January 17, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

Pros: light, sharp, great travel lens
Cons: within reason, none
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K100, Kx, 10   

I bought this lens as a travel companion, and it's there with me anytime I go hunting, fishing or on a trip. It's light, small, a 150mm telephoto on the small sensor, is a legit macro, and for the purpose I bought it, about as good as it gets.

It's going to hunt a bit in low light, it's a bit plasticy, but that's about it on the negative side. On the positive side, you have a true telephoto on the DSLR, with no observable linear distortion, it's very sharp, and it's compact enough that you'll not be leaving it at home.

Along with the 35-70mm Pentax F, the 17mm Tamron f3.5, and the Pentax-M 50mm f1.4, I have a great stable of lenses I can cover any subject I'm shooting on any trip, with professional quality results, all fitting in a SMALL gadget bag, at a replacement cost I can live with if something unforseen happens. Can't beat that.

On fishing trips, I take my old Pentax K100 and this lens, and have it ready in the boat. I can get a lot of shots like this because I TAKE the lens with me because it's replacement value is reasonable and I am often in dicey country. While these shots are not tackdrivers like Duh_Vinci's below, these are handheld field shots while hunting or fishing, showing the abilities of the lens in field conditions.

I like this lens. It's a winner and I recommend it.

And it's a very good macro:

Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2010
Location: Somewhere in the Southern US
Posts: 12,285
Lens Review Date: December 6, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $179.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Lightweight, crystal optics, Aperture ring, FF, cost
Cons: Lightweight plastic, longer focus throw, 1:2
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5iis   

I already owned several dedicated Macro lenses but they are all manual focus, which is terrific most of the time. I have several zooms that have a "Macro" feature that aren't bad like the F35-70. I wanted an AF macro for field work but knew I would not be using it a lot, so after looking I decided to give the FA100/3.5 a try.

It's a fairly solid performer when you realize that it's 1:2 and not 1:1 without a filter. AF is a bit slow and it does tend to hunt in low light but it manually focuses well and the AF is fine in reasonable light.

The recessed front element means that the lens effectively has a built in hood, which minimizes flare and other issues over the zooms with a "macro" feature that have front elements at the edge of the lens.

Performancewise its not as sharp as my M100/4 Macro but its not too far off when stopped down a wee bit. It's a bit shorter and more stout than the M100/4. The focus ring is not dampened at all.

Overall, a nice dedicated "macro" for occasional use that is light and sharp.
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2012
Location: Joensuu (Finland)
Posts: 1,761
Lens Review Date: May 25, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $125.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Lightweight, recessed front element, good IQ even wide open, ice out of focus blur
Cons: focus ring, cheap construction
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 4    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5IIs   

I never wrote a review but before buying this lens I tried to find some info on it and it is scarce.
I am really liking this lens. It sells for very little for what you get. Especially if you like small, lightweight lenses (such as the limiteds...)
Also, having an aperture ring it is possible to use common cheap extension tubes to get greater magnifications.

Iīve been using the lens for studio work for product shots and the results are edge to edge sharp with minimal fringe (LoCA).
the focus ring is really bad for manual work. Got to be really carefull not to move the ring as you release it for critical work.

Other than that itīs amazingly good, small and lightweight. Did I say that allready? Very usable wideopen.
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2009
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 2,030
Lens Review Date: December 28, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $117.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: I.Q., Size, Weight, Price
Cons: Noisy AF, Sometimes hunts in macro
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K10 D, K-7   

Overall, I'd say this lens is one of the best values in Macro telephotos. Sure, it would be nice to have focus lock, faster A/F and less "hunting" with macro subjects, but the hunting is really part of any macro shooting and the lens can be manually pre-set before going to A/F.
And the results! Terrific bokeh, pretty sharp wide open and razor-sharp stopped down. Beautiful, realistic colors, clarity, I.Q. and separation, the great 3-D effect.
I like the FA 100 f/3.5 Macro as a short telephoto prime, a useful macro and, in good light/contrast the A/F problems are minimal.
It's become part of my 3-prime lens walk-around kit, along with a 24mm and 50mm. An ideal starter macro, at 1/5 the usual cost!
I've posted 5 images taken with this lens, here;
Senior Member

Registered: December, 2006
Location: Lincoln, UK
Posts: 229

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 17, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $140.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light, good IQ
Cons: Plastic feel, jerky IF 1:2 Macro

A great lens if you need a macro on a tight budget. A fraction of the cost of the F2.8 1:1. Still it is capable of good images and light to carry if you need to take it "just in case"
Senior Member

Registered: November, 2009
Location: manila
Posts: 149

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 24, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $175.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Light, Sharp, Very Good IQ
Cons: Purple fringing, AF hunts in low light

Luckily got it from a former Pentax distributor in the Philippines. It's a display unit and the last one that I know being sold in my country. Amazed by the great IQ. Great for macro and portraits. Bokeh is also great. It's a very under rated lens and some people complain about its plastic construction but most kit lenses now are made also from plastic. Besides, I like the lightness of the lens.

They say that this version is better than the Cosina, Vivitar, Phoenix and Promaster brands because of the SMC coating. Umm...I still know a place where I can get my hands on a brand new Cosina model in my country. Maybe someday I'll compare the two if there are any differences in IQ.
Junior Member

Registered: November, 2008
Location: Lyon, France
Posts: 31
Lens Review Date: November 17, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, small, lightweight, good IQ
Cons: Built quality, AF noisy. Need adapter to 1:1 macro

I am reviewing the Cosina AF 100mm f3.5

This is very good lens. I bought a version for Canon then after passing to Pentax, I bought it again but branded as Promaster.

Pros: IQ is very good, cheap, lightweight.

Inc: Built quality (yes it made from plastic), AF very useless because it is very noisy, hunting in dark lighting.
It needs an adapter for 1:1 macro.
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2008
Location: Israel
Posts: 932
Lens Review Date: October 13, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Image quality, light weight
Cons: Clumsy plastic build

I tried a number of solutions for casual macro shooting. Lenses such as FA 100/2.8 macro albeit excellent were too heavy on my budget and too heavy in my bag. Eventually I ended up buying this one from a fellow Pentaxian (also a PDMLer).

Later on I added to it matched macro adapter, which is a solid filter than can in fact be successfully used on any lens with 49 mm filter thread. In particular, using this filter with DA 21/3.2 Limited is rather interesting exercise.

Image quality is good and stopped down a bit this lens easily rivals its faster and more expensive siblings. The problem however is that it is slightly slow (a.k.a. dark in the viewfinder) and slightly jerky when focusing manually in macro range. Though this is something one can get used to.

With added macro adapter it becomes 1:1 macro lens and there is no visible image quality deterioration.

Beyond the portrait range it becomes less interesting i.q. wise though some pretty good images can be obtained as well.

If you shoot macro only occasionally, I'd still recommend this lens over various macro adapters and filters.
Senior Member

Registered: July, 2009
Location: Boise, Idaho
Posts: 197
Lens Review Date: July 26, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $199.95 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Lightweight, pretty quick AF, Great lens for the $$$
Cons: Takes patience, seems a bit soft wide open.

Overall I would have to say im pretty impressed with this little lens. Sure its plastic, and feels a little cheap in your hand but it really does take some pretty nice photos. This is my first Macro lens and I must say it took some getting used to and a bit of patience getting shots set up and getting them right but the results are worth it. Being that its 100mm you dont have to get immediately on top of the subject to get a shot. The magnification I believe is 1:2 so it does pretty well for close ups, but leaves me wishing for a little more. I dont have any extension tubes to try on it but I imagine with the IQ I get out of it alone stopped down a bit that you should still get some really nice pictures. Mine didnt come with a lens hood but I dont really believe that you need one. The front element is inset into the lens really far focused all the way out and when you focus way in, it still stays recessed quite a bit in the front "housing". All in all a lens worth about $200. I wouldnt pay more for it but it beats spending $850-1200 on a bigger/better one when you are only beginning and your budget is almost nil (like mine).
Lens Review Date: July 25, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: light, sharp and handy
Cons: a bit plasticky

For what it is, this is a dandy lens. When I'm fishing or hunting, picking berries or just walking, I take my K100, the Pentax-A 28mm f2.8, and the 100mm f3.5 macro, and that's it.

I can cover 99% of what I shoot with this combo, and need only take a belt pouch to carry the lens not in use.

Remember, this gem acts like a 150mm lens on a 35mm camera. And as you can see from the enclosed macros of our colleague above, there are no flies on it's performance!!
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2006
Location: Virginia, USA
Posts: 1,301

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 20, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $149.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp, low cost, light weight, quick AF
Cons: Built quality/feel - plastic, 1:2 macro

Got it as a gift from my younger brother (he paid $149 from Lester Dine)

IMO its a great starter lens... Very sharp, very quick autofocus (though manual focus ring is fairly useful too). Very light weight - great for traveling.

Lens is 1:2 magnification ratio out of the box, so when you ready to spend some money on true 1:1 macro lens, this one would make a great lens for portraits... Add +2 quality closeup (in the mean time) and you have 1:1 (or about) ratio for macro photos.

My only true "negative" aspect for this lens (though very livable with) is the plastic/inexpensive built, then again, at this price segment, I'll deal with it and concentrate on the benefits of this sharp, versatile glass that deserves "9" IMO


EDIT: Few macros with this lens:

Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 100mm F3.5 Macro

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