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SMC Pentax-FA 135mm F2.8 [IF] Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA 135mm F2.8 [IF]

Sharpness 
 9.3
Aberrations 
 8.0
Bokeh 
 9.5
Autofocus 
 9.1
Handling 
 9.1
Value 
 9.3
Reviews Views Date of last review
31 95,000 Mon July 9, 2018
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $331.84 9.03
SMC Pentax-FA 135mm F2.8 [IF]

SMC Pentax-FA 135mm F2.8 [IF]
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SMC Pentax-FA 135mm F2.8 [IF]
supersize

Description:
Like its F-series predecessor this telephoto lens has an internal focusing mechanism and a built-in hood.



SMC Pentax-FA 135mm F2.8 IF
© 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
8 elements, 7 groups
Mount Variant
KAF
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F2.8
Min. Aperture
F32
Focusing
AF (screwdrive)
Quick-shift
No
Min. Focus
70 cm
Max. Magnification
0.25x
Filter Size
52 mm
Internal Focus
Yes
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 12 ° / 10 °
Full frame: 18 ° / 15 °
Hood
Built-in, slide out
Case
S80-120
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
68 x 80 mm (2.7 x 3.2 in.)
Weight
375 g (13.2 oz.)
Production Years
1991 to 2000
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-FA 1:2.8 135mm -IF-
Product Code
23427
Reviews
User reviews
Features:
Screwdrive AutofocusInternal FocusingBuilt-in HoodAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 135mm F2.8 [IF]
Author:
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 31
Forum Member

Registered: December, 2015
Posts: 51

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 9, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, and Accurate AF
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K3-II   

I bought this used lens after the recommendation of a friend. I do not usually write on this type of blog, but I can not resist sharing my experiences with this community. This is probably the best Pentax lens in cost benefit. It has a remarkable sharpness, bocket and has small size and weight, to carry arround..
   
Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2010
Location: Haarlemmermeer
Posts: 12

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 28, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $275.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, contrast, autofocus, built quality, size
Cons: little CA, but normal for a film lens
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-1   

Nice small lens for street photografy, sharp, contrasty and very fast autofocus.



   
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2007
Location: North West UK
Posts: 378

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 7, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, contrasty, great colours, well built, integrated hood. snappy AF
Cons: CA wide open, Not exactly the best looking lens. Small focus ring. a bit slippy to hold.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   

It is a very nice lens that works beautifully on the K-1. Nice and sharp with excellent contrast, even wide open.
AF is snappy and quick, albeit a little noisy in action.

Build quality is also excellent. The housing is metal, the focus ring being rubber and the aperture ring plastic.

It also has that classic feature of 135mm lenses of the era, and that is the slide out hood. Why this no longer happens is beyond me!

Obviously not weather sealed, but we are talking about a 90's lens.

A small number of downsides, but don't let it put you off.

Firstly, the focus ring. it is too small. the size is okay on the FA50 and FA35, but on a bigger lens? hmmm.

Body is smooth metal, which can make it slippy to hold. Just be careful when changing lenses. I can imaging someone dropping it if not careful.

Finally, wide open it has small but harsh CA in contrasty areas. Care is needed in post to get rid of it. But once you have mastered this you will be fine.

They are not common on the second hand market, and I was lucky to pass a classic dealer and had one in stock. I had no option but to snap it up.

One day Pentax will bring out a brand new 135mm prime in HD-DFA(*) spec with silent focus and sealing, along with fixing the wide open CA. But until that day comes, try and find one of these instead and enjoy a very fine lens overall.

Image taken wide open in low light on the K-1
[IMG]Day 2 2018 by Iain, on Flickr[/IMG]
   
Pentaxian

Registered: July, 2013
Location: Oxfordshire
Posts: 837

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 11, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Size/Weight, Speed, Sharpness and Build
Cons: Wide Open Aberrations, thats about it.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-01 / K3II   

I really like this lens. Its very compact and lightweight for the focal length/speed. It also has generally great build with a nice solid body, the built in Metal Hood is great too, its only let down by the usual FA series un-damped focus ring. The body can be a little slippery which is a minor negative.
As a bonus it focuses relatively close, not near macro level although it does work very well with the Raynox adapters.

AF is very fast, especially with the K3II. It is also quite fast on the MZ-S although not shot any film yet with the FA135.

Its quite sharp wide open & f2.8 (looses a little contrast), more than usable in most situations when you hit the focus, stopped down to f3.5-f4 and above its excellent.

Bokeh is lovely, nice and smooth even when stopped down. Close to the Voigtlander 90mm APO/58mm Nokton and K85.

Aberrations are an issue when used wide open and in high contrast areas, but most if not all times can be fixed in PP. Thats about the only real negative in this excellent lens.

Shot with K3II


Rabbit by Robert Seymour, on Flickr

100% Crop (@f3.5 with default sharpening, little clarity in Lightroom)


Rabbit Crop by Robert Seymour, on Flickr


Two by Robert Seymour, on Flickr


Gaggle by Robert Seymour, on Flickr

With K-01


Viv by Robert Seymour, on Flickr


Untitled by Robert Seymour, on Flickr


Out for a walk by Robert Seymour, on Flickr


Solo by Robert Seymour, on Flickr

With Raynox DCR-250 Adapter


Rice Cake by Robert Seymour, on Flickr

Its also quite a cute little lens


Pentax-FA 135mm f2.8 [IF] by Robert Seymour, on Flickr
   
Forum Member

Registered: January, 2013
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 71

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 1, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Size, weight, sharpness, bokeh
Cons: noisy AF, not the best looking lens
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K5IIs   

Just got this lens few days back... positively surprised by this lens.

This is a sleeper lens in Pentax lineup. All manufactures seem to be phasing out 135mm 2.8 lenses these days. No one makes a brand new 135 2.8. Canon and Nikon still have superfast 135mm but they are large and heavy. Not to mention pricey. Pentax has 100mm macro, and DA 200mm 2.8, but nothing in between. None of them is ideal for me as I think 100 macro focus too slow and is too big (non-internal AF design).

This 135mm fills the gap. The handling is excellent, especially with battery grip. Decent build and light weight. Built in hood is a nice touch. Don't really care of manual focus ring since i would not manually focus on my K5 IIs.

Impressed by sharpness and bokeh. Much better than any other 135mm 2.8 I've used (K 135/2.8, OM 135/2.8, Canon SF 135/2.8). CA is minor and easily corrected. Overall 9/10.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2013
Posts: 791

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 21, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $425.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Color, Compact, Metal Build, Close-focus, Built-in Hood, 9-Blade Aperture, Screw Drive
Cons: Price, Slight fringing wide-open
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-01   

This is a must have lens unless you have the DA* 50-135mm. Even then, nothing can match the close-focus ability that the Pentax-FA 135mm prime has. It is just fun to shoot with and produces photos with great bokeh and outstanding sharpness in a wide range of situations.

Lots of good qualities
Sharp
Fast
Metal Build
Unmatched close-focus ability for a 135mm prime (2 ft or 70cm)
Built-in hood
Screw drive (reliability)

The only downsides are the cost because it's rare, and you get some slight fringing when shooting wide open in certain scenes.

Note: Photos are far better than displayed here in forum view.
   
Junior Member

Registered: November, 2011
Location: Košice, Slovakia
Posts: 46

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 21, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $480.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: size, bokeh, AF speed
Cons: nothing
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K10, K7, K5   

I love this lens, is unobtrusive...

   
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 32
Lens Review Date: January 5, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp at full aperture, min focus of 0.7m,
Cons: manual focusing very lose, not usable
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: MZ-S   

Near-perfect lense: good aperture of 2.8, lightweight, fast AF, telescopic hood, ratio 1:4 (0.7m), very sharp at full aperture.
One big minus though: the manual focusing ring is near the front of the lense and is very loose, practically not usable.
Two small other concerns: the focal is strongly reduced at short distances, which is inconvenient for macro photography of insects, and the sharpness, very good at 2.8 (rare!), doesn't progress at smaller apertures.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2011
Location: Aylesbury, Bucks
Posts: 492

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 12, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Fast, sharp, IF, fast autofocus, portable
Cons: It's fugly!
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 7    Value: 7    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K-r   

Make no mistake, the FA 135 is optically excellent, but is let down by the details.

First the good. The image quality is excellent. F2.8 @ 135mm is a truly cavernous aperture making this lens perfectly suited to capturing action in a darkened theatre or concert hall. On digital it has an equivalent focal length of 200mm which makes it highly suited to a day at the zoo as well. For its focus range (70cm - 5m - infinity) it has a short focus throw which makes autofocus nice and snappy. It's quite small (around the size of the DAL kit lens) which means that it won't weigh you down unnecessarily and will fit easily in your bag or even in a pocket. The fact that it's internal focus also means that it won't suddenly grow enormous when you actually use it. Filter size is 52mm which is both affordable and mainstream.

Next the bad. With its metal barrel, the build is fundamentally solid, but the finish is simply awful. Most reviews of this lens mention the focus ring as a negative. They're not wrong: it's rubbish. It's very flimsy and not dampened at all. Together with the short throw this makes manual focus tricky to say the least. And when you do turn it, the word that springs to mind is "gritty". Not pleasant. There's a pointless pretend DOF scale underneath the distance indicator with markings for F16 and F32. I don't know about you, but I shoot at F32 all the time. The pull out metal hood should be a nice feature but it isn't. It feels flimsy, doesn't extend or retract smoothly and wobbles appallingly.

And the ugly. I'm guessing that the optics are the same as the F 135 and the A 135 before it. However, it's been given a dubious FA makeover. The FAs are universally ugly. That smooth dark charcoal is not an attractive finish and doesn't match current DSLRs at all. I have to say I wouldn't want to own the film camera that it would match. As a reformed record collector, I can draw an analogy with vinyl. Old vinyl is lovely and new vinyl is pretty decent too. But 80s / 90s vinyl? Horrid!

This is a rare piece of glass and high demand makes it quite expensive too. So why would you choose it over, say, the DA* 50-135? I'm a former owner of that lens myself. The main problem with it was that it was simply enormous. I felt very self-conscious using it (particularly with its horrible hood attached) and it was too big to take anywhere. You can only use what you have with you and the portability of the FA 135 means that, for me, the small prime trumps the big zoom. Minimum focusing distance (70cm vs, 1m) actually makes a big difference too.

Would I recommend this lens? Yes, but only because it's the only show in town. Actually, I'd prefer the F 135 because of the nicer aesthetics but that's even harder to track down. I guess that Pentax got the fundamentals right because the optics are great. Everything else, though, is lousy. The 135mm is crying out for a DA* / DA limited treatment. You listening, Pentax?

OK, here's a sample image. This was what I was looking for: the ability to stop motion with a fast shutter speed at reasonable ISO. Shot wide open so not quite razor sharp. FYI, she's my daughter and no, I did not altogether approve of the costume!

   
Inactive Account

Registered: April, 2011
Location: near Berlin
Posts: 9

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 30, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: solid as a rock, very fast AF, very sharp from f/3.5, weight, size
Cons: some CAs wide opened
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used   

This is the most compact pentax lens with such a focal length. Wide open there are some CAs but stopping down a bit solves the problem. It is very sharp until f/3.5 and razor sharp from f/5. What I love most is the 3D-Effect I add in some pictures. Also the close-focusing distance is terrific. The only lens with a fast AF on my K-5 is the older FA 28-80/3.5-5.6, so no SDM-/HSM- oder whatever-AF is faster than this screw-driven one!

Well done, Pentax!
   
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2011
Posts: 118
Lens Review Date: November 23, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $375.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharp, color rendering, handling, built quality
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used   

I recently purchased this lens out of curiosity. It's a good focal length to have, just about what I personally can handheld at moderately low shutter speeds with SR.

While it's a good lens, it definitely isn't as good as FA 100 2.8 Macro, in just about everything from sharpness, color rendition, bokeh. I believe genenrally 100mm-ish lenses are the best optically in short/medium telephoto range.

AF is not bad after some focus adjustments. It's good to have at events where I can only shoot from a distance.

I also have a K 135 2.5 early version. I think the K135/2.5 produces more contrasty pictures and is sharper wide open than the FA135.

Recommended lens if you need the AF.

(To the guy above: where did you get a 6 blade version? lol)
   
Veteran Member

Registered: June, 2010
Posts: 737

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 17, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Compact body, sharp, creamy bokeh, quick AF,
Cons: Purple fringing, loose MF ring, 6 leaf iris, too expensive
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: Used   

I had this lens for just a two weeks to try, provided by my friend. I compared it with my DA*50-135 and in some ways it compared favourably, in some less. Let's start with the body - lens is beautifully balanced on K-7, body feels very solid and lens has just about a right size for me. Build quality is high with both lenses, FA gets the advantage when it comes to size and balance. On the other hand DA*'s focusing ring is way better then that of FA135.
IQ wise - FA135 is less contrasty than DA lens. Both lenses are moreless equaly sharp. Bokehwise - FA has a more creamy bokeh, but tends to display iris shape in highlight which is sometimes quite unpleasant. DA has more rounded iris. FA 135 also displays purple fringing easily in high contrast situations.
I would say DA*50-135 is a bit better lens, but FA is really strong contender: way cheaper, much more compact and with quicker AF - these are strong points for me to consider.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2009
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 424

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 23, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Can see in the dark, sharp, compact
Cons: Hard to find, none otherwise
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used   

I got this lens for shooting events, in poorly lit auditoriums and halls, and it is working out perfectly. The focal length is perfect from shooting from seats and the wide aperture range allows for all kinds of cool shots.

Some people complain about the focus ring, but I have to say that I found shooting in a dark place, and trying to catch performers jumping, and moving around in general, the otherwise speedy auto focus is not enough and use it on manual mostly. I have had no issues at all with the focus ring. If you were only not getting one of these due to all the folks complaining about the focus ring being hard to use, I say, get it. The ring works well.

Couple shots, one in the dark where it shines (pun intended) and one outside.


Graduation by j@ys0n, on Flickr



Patas Focus by j@ys0n, on Flickr
   
New Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Lyon
Posts: 11
Lens Review Date: December 6, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: very fast AF, lightweight, unexpensive
Cons: no weather sealing and SDM

I think it's the fastest AF Pentax lense.
Even in low light I can focus.
I prefer the FA 135mm than my Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 because it's lightweight and AF is really faster !
   
Veteran Member

Registered: April, 2010
Location: Wiltshire/Hampshire
Posts: 1,760
Lens Review Date: November 9, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $305.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Very sharp at f3.5, robust build quality, fast focus, great colours
Cons: Only moderately sharp at f/2.8, slight PF wide open

A fantastic lens, but I find it a bit long on APSC.

Pros:
Lightning fast focus (fasted Pentax AF I've ever used) on K10D
Great SMC colours
Incredibly sharp at f/3.5+
Close focusing
Build quality (metal barrel)
Compact and light (compared to DA50-135 for example)

Cons:
A touch soft at f/2.8 (understandable)
Slight PF in high contrast situations wide-open
Err... not that great looking?

I'm talking myself into keeping it here! A great lens - the focusing is superb, photos show virtually no softness or distortion. PF not an issue in day to day use.

Very close to a 9 actually.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 135mm F2.8 [IF]



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