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SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL

Sharpness 
 7.5
Aberrations 
 7.6
Bokeh 
 7.2
Autofocus 
 8.1
Handling 
 7.7
Value 
 8.5
Reviews Views Date of last review
39 208,937 Mon March 19, 2018
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
90% of reviewers $72.97 8.03
SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL

SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL
supersize

Description:
This is a budget oriented, slower and lighter variant of a 28-70mm range zoom lens. It was designed for film cameras.



SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 8 blades
Optics
9 elements, 7 groups
Mount Variant
KAF
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F4
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
AF (screwdrive)
Quick-shift
No
Min. Focus
40 cm
Max. Magnification
0.23x
Filter Size
52 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 55-23 ° / 46-19 °
Full frame: 75-34 ° / 65-29 °
Hood
RH-RB52
Case
S80-120
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
65.5 x 66 mm (2.6 x 2.6 in.)
Weight
240 g (8.5 oz.)
Production Years
1996 to 2000
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-FA 1:4 28-70mm AL
Product Code
27531
Reviews
User reviews
Notes
Aspherical element
Features:
Screwdrive AutofocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL
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Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2007
Location: North West UK
Posts: 377
Lens Review Date: March 19, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $25.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Small, cheap, low CA
Cons: Soft, very loose focus ring
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: K-1   

This could have been the go-to lens, but it lacks detail.
Think about it, a very small 28-70mm F4, yes F4 thoughout the range and handy for, say, travel.
But, it is soft. Not overtly soft, but with the demands of a 36MP K-1 it is lacking. The detail is not really there.
You say, "well that is not surprising with an old lens". However, I have primes twice as old that provide so much more detail.
Then again, it is a very small lens for something that could provide so much with its specification.

Is it bad? Reality is no. It is - okay.

CA is surprisingly good, as is contrast. It is just that light transmission from the optics that could be better.
Also, the zoom ring is very slick, lacking some sort of smooth friction that we love.

On the upside, it was VERY cheap, at £20. so I can't really complain. But the potential of a similar F4 28-70 is certainly there brand new, weather sealed and silent motor. If Pentax can make such a tiny F4 lens (my mates Canon 24-70 F4 is at least twice the size if not more), then we may be in luck.

If you find one, never pay top dollar, get it for the price of a few beers, and have fun with it. The size and F4 is worth giving it a go just for the fun or it.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2009
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 1,519

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 31, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $90.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Better than similar lenses
Cons: Build quality, soft on long end
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-3, K-01   

To some extent, this lens has been down-rated due to the low quality of plastic, and internal optical failure (separation) on some copies. Purchasing unseen is not advisable unless assured of return at no cost.

As a kit zoom from the film FA era, expectations should be relatively low. Optically, a good copy's sharpness isn't considerably different than the 18-55 - probably this lens is sharper in the corners, but not quite as sharp at center (as would be expected given the image circle difference). If you like the saturated lower contrast film look, this lens has it. Colors are very pleasing. Screw drive AF works fine, and isn't as noisy as some others. The lens is pretty soft at the long end, probably not reaching "good" until f/8. The rest of the range is OK from f/5.6. I had a similar style Sigma that was optically inferior in every way.

It will work fine as a casual portrait lens, and for street photography where normal to portrait length is desired. Keep in mind that this lens is smaller and lighter than a Ltd. 20-40 which is pretty amazing for a constant aperture lens at 2.5:1 zoom ratio designed for FF film.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2016
Posts: 3
Lens Review Date: April 8, 2017 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $35.00 | Rating: 3 

 
Pros: Small and lightweight
Cons: Cheaply made
Sharpness: 4    Aberrations: 4    Bokeh: 3    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 2    Value: 4    Camera Used: K-30   

It's main asset is the handy size and the fast and accurate AF. Everything else just screams "plastic crap". It's probably the most cheaply made lens I've ever used. Compared to another constant f4 zoom, the 16-45, it's ... well there isn't any comparison actually. It's soft soft soft at f4 and I personally I find the colors washed out and dull.

I've used the following overlapping zooms on my K-30 and optically I'd rank them in the following order:

Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5
Pentax-DA 16-45mm F4
Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC Macro
>
>
>
Pentax-FA 28-70 F4

Avoid unless you get it for free. Sold it very soon after getting it. Disclaimer: might've gotten a bad copy since some reviewers seem to be fond of it.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2014
Location: Colorado
Posts: 371

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 27, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharp (assuming a good copy), light weight, aperture, color
Cons: Build quality
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: K5-IIs, NEX-F3, K1   

I have had two copies of this lens. First one had the separation problem that is well recognized in this forum. Second one is a good copy and a keeper.

APS-C: When compared side-by-side to DA16-85WR, which is a very good modern lens, the sharpness of this lens is nearly identical from F5.6. The color is more saturated (better to my taste). There is tiny color aberration but definitely better than, for instance, DA16-45. DA16-85WR as a modern lens is totally free of color aberration in 28-70 range, which is amazing. This lens was on par with SMC F28-80 3.5-4.5 and better than SMC FA28-105/4-5.6 Power Zoom in my test.

FF: When tested on NEX-F3 (16MP with Lens Turbo II from Zhongyi), the center sharpness is very good. Corners show some softness however still quite acceptable - better than the corner softness of 18-55s on APS-C. As the test was done through a Lens Turbo II, this is not the true FF performance. I look forward to such information from a K-1. The performance of this lens from my test was about the same as SMC F28-80 3.5-4.5.

When you have a good copy, this is a nice sharp little lens.

FF UPDATE on K1: I tested this lens on K1. Sharpness drops a bit toward the corners but in general is quite uniform across the frame. Best image quality is around F5.6-F8. Very good flare resistance. I consider this lens a little better than SMC F28-80/3.5-4.5 that I tested together in terms of corner and wide open performance and flare resistance.

UPDATE: Two images taken with K-2000 - one at 28mm and another at 70mm. Both F8.



   
New Member

Registered: October, 2016
Location: Porthtowan
Posts: 17
Lens Review Date: December 10, 2016 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Good lens for sightseeing, constant aperture
Cons: Soft compared with manual focus primes
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 8    Camera Used: MZ-5N   

It's a good little lens for days out that aren't primarily for photography because of its useful range and ease of use. If I was going out with the express purpose of taking photos though I always used A-series primes instead for better contrast, colour saturation and sharpness. The constant aperture made it useful for portraits indoors, it worked well with off-camera third-party flash units and the slightly lower optical quality wasn't so much of an issue.

However, I cannot recommend this lens for APS-C cameras because the focal length range makes it much less suitable for this format. There was a tendency for elements to separate slightly as well, which makes it a risk on the used market.
   
New Member

Registered: October, 2014
Posts: 14
Lens Review Date: July 26, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: light , constant aperture , colors
Cons: poor quality of construction , focal doubtful APSC
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: k50, k5,k200   

Lente de buenas cualidades opticas. Buena definicion, muy buenos colores. Contraste mediocre, especialmente cuando esta abierto. En f6.3 mejora, pero pierde la gracia de la apertura constante. La calidad de construccion es la peor que haya visto nunca. La focal 28-70 es extraña en apsc, es muy largo para angular y muy corto para tele. La apertura constante permite velocidad de enfoque y resultados similares mas alla de la focal que se elija. Calidad optica similar al lente de kit.

Translation:

Optical lens good qualities. Definition good , very good colors . mediocre, especially when open contrast. In f6.3 improvement but loses the grace of constant opening . The build quality is the worst I've ever seen . The focal 28-70 in APSC is strange , it is very long for angular and very short for TV. The constant opening allows focus speed and similar results beyond the focal chosen. similar to optical quality lens kit.
   
New Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Brittany, France
Posts: 4
Lens Review Date: January 17, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $32.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Light, cheap, colors, sharpness stopped down
Cons: zoom ring not smooth at all (my copy)
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: K30   

Just bought this lens on the bay for a very low price. Sharpness is good from 6.3 upwards. The zoom ring of my copy is rather difficult to use (not smooth at all!). The colors of the pictures are good (saturated Pentax colors). The longer end is softer. I still have not found how to use a cap and a hood at the same time. A hood is necessary as the lens is prone to flare.

Edit (October 2015)
I have been using this lens for a few months and shooting Raw, I'm beginning to like this ugly duckling a lot ; colors are (IMO) very good and I found it can be quite sharp (BTW, f/4 for general use does not look useless to me, but I'd like some feedback on this)

A few photos to illustrate the quality of the lens.

@28mm, f/4, 1/60 sec, -0,7EV



@28mm, f/8, 1/640 sec.



@28mm, f/8, 1/125 sec, -0,3EV



@28mm, f/4, 1/200 sec, -0,3EV

   
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Nevada, USA
Posts: 3,233
Lens Review Date: January 17, 2015 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Sharp, good colors, nice contrast
Cons: Slow aperture, strange focal range for APS
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 5    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 7    Value: 7    Camera Used: Pentax K-30   

I'm really torn and divided about this lens. It is capable of producing very sharp and crisp images. Colors come out lively and there is good contrast in the images. It reminds me of my FA 43mm in some ways. Aberrations are minimal and I think that comes from the aspherical lens element. When used wide open the images can be soft but that's not necessarily bad if you are making portraits. It works quite well in that regard. Stopping down even to f/6.3 from f/4 makes a huge difference. I think most people would use this lens between f/6.3 and f/8 on the wide end and up to f/11 on the tele end. f/4 for general use is pretty useless. The 28-70mm focal length on APS feels awkward to me. Wide is not wide enough in some cases and tele is not tele enough in almost all cases.

There are as many positive aspects as there are negative and that dampens the overall experience of using this lens. I think what kills this lens is its relevancy on an APS format. There are so many other zoom lenses which work better. They may not be ideal in all aspects but they would at least improve some part of it. For example, a FA 28-105mm will offer a much more useful tele range while even the standard DA 18-55mm will give you more breathing room on the wide end. Everything changes when this lens is used on film. It suddenly becomes a WA to mild tele range zoom, just like the DA 18-55mm on APS. I would still favor a prime or the previously mentioned FA 28-105mm instead though.

Oh, and the mechanics of the lens are just fine. There's a healthy mix of plastic and metal. It's not going to match a limited but it will probably feel beefier than an all-plastic DA L. I wouldn't worry about durability. My copy is solid and heavy.

I bought this lens during a phase of LBA. The weird focal range and constant f/4 make it a novelty. It's fun to use this lens every now and then on APS. I'll probably keep my copy just for that but I wouldn't use it as a daily shooter - even on film. Better options for that too. For $40 it was cheap entertainment. If you are looking to move up from a kit lens then look somewhere else.
   
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2009
Location: Finland
Posts: 206

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 28, 2014 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Sharp and contrasty between 28-45mm
Cons: Feels cheaply made, very soft at tele end.
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 7    Camera Used: K-5 IIs   

I have had two of these lenses both have similar pros and cons. From 28-45mm 28-70/4 is actually quite nice. Good contrast and shapness. Unfortunately tele end is unusable soft.

Mechanically 28-70/4 feels cheaply made and plasticy.
   
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2010
Location: Paris, France
Posts: 210
Lens Review Date: September 30, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $45.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: close focus
Cons: a little soft

[ This review comes from my use of the lens in the Single in September 2013 challenge. ]

The FA 28-70 (regular f/4, not FA*) has been one of the lenses I amost always keep at hand for at least a few months, but this is the first time I really use it so much.

It looks quite cheap, even a little wobbly, but it has not let me down yet, and I tend to just keep my body and lens in my bag and take them everywhere with me so I suppose it is tougher then it looks.

I find the focal length fits well with my shooting style. On APS-C 28-70 is a normal-to-short-tele zoom; I sometimes miss something a little wider but most of the time 28 is wide enough for me. I guess a 17-70 would be the perfect everyday zoom for me, but they tend to cost 10 times what I paid for the 28-70 (around 40 euros with a SF7 body IIRC). In any case I wouldn't go with anything shorter than 70 for my everyday zoom; maybe I'll try to get my hands on a 28-105 sometime to see if the extra reach is useful.

At f/4 (constant) the lens is not very fast, but it gives satisfactory bokeh nonetheless. It can focus quite close (the lens database says 40 cm, this is the minimum indication on the distance scale but the actual limit is quite a bit shorter), which helps to get a shallow DoF.

On the negative side, it is quite soft wide open and not so sharp at f/8, even in the center. I may be a bit harsh on the lens with this though, as I tend to use high ISO quite a lot (around 4000-6400 is more or less standard). It is definitely softer than most (all?) primes but I'm not practiced enough with zooms for a real comparison.

All in all, not the best of lenses technically, but more than good enough for everyday use, and it has no real weak points.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2013
Posts: 306
Lens Review Date: September 22, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharp,colors,contrast,size,weight,af sharp
Cons: 0nly 28mm, nolens hood
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    Camera Used: K5   

Good one
   
New Member

Registered: July, 2013
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: July 23, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Constant aperture, value, good construction
Cons: No hood provided
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 5    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

Bought this lens from a retailer clearing inventory, at an excellent price. Turned out to be a good value - decent sharpness, relatively compact and reasonably good materials and construction. It hunts for focus, but I don't use this lens for action photos, so this is a minor drawback. It doesn't get as much use as other lenses in my system, but if conditions are going to be rough, I can relax knowing trashing it won't be a financial disaster.

No hood included, but I found a generic rubber hood that works very well without vignetting.
   
New Member

Registered: April, 2012
Location: Prague
Posts: 18
Lens Review Date: May 18, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $85.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Common FA lens...
Cons: Soft at f4 and f5.6, build quality
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 6    Value: 8    Camera Used: K-5   

I just bought it and test around over hundreds photos with it...and...!?

Pros:
- Light weight (Is this pros or cons ? Someone love light but someone like me love solid lens)
- Fast AF (Sure ! It only has 40-3m and then infinity)
- Colour looks fine.
- Sharpness at f8.

Cons:
- Soft at f4 (nearly unusable) and f5.6 (usable)
- Soft at 70mm
- 40cm-3m is very short distance of focus, therefore, we cannot expected any good bokeh here expected the subject within 3m.
- Build quality is normal as it is AL lens.

I hope I will find another goods of this lens because I spend 85$ for it and I really do not want to feel regret ! This is my first FA lens and...not too impress even I know it is AL lens !
   
Inactive Account

Registered: October, 2010
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 2,542

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 11, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $55.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Constant f4, 70mm, lightweight, relatively sharp
Cons: Not really wide enough
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9   

This is a nice little lens and is at least equal to the Kit Lens 18-55 in IQ, value and handling. For me, it's biggest drawback is the wide end, not really wide enough and close focus distance but the longer end to 70mm is a very very usable focal length!

It is a faster lens than the Kit, and stopped down to f5.6 sharper throughout it's range. In fact, I've found that stopping down to f5.6 produces quite acceptable images, while wide open at f4 produces slightly "soft" images but nothing horrendous and portraits at this setting work.

What I miss about the Kit Lens when comparing the 2, close focusing and the wider end to 18mm but other than that, the FA 28-70 is a better more usable lens! Well worth the small investment and can highly recommend...

Wide Open


F5.6
   
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2010
Location: Manila
Posts: 2,198

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 31, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $57.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: light, inexpensive, fairly sharp
Cons: seemingly weak build, focus throw too short
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 5    Handling: 7    Value: 9   

FA 28-70 Review

Overview/overall rating: 8

The FA 28-70 f/4 is probably one of Pentax's most underrated lenses. It features a constant aperture in an ultralight package, coupled with an very good optical formula. I've owned it for close to a year now and been using it most of the time so I hope I do justice for this lens with the following review. Unfortunately for this lens I just acquired the FA 28-105 f/4-5.6 PZ so it will now sit in the box more often. I also wish I had a hood for it too.

I've never had the pleasure to use this on film so the following review is all based on digital, on my Pentax K-x. By the way it is in no means NOT a scientific review but only based also on how I used the lens (portraits).

Sharpness: 7.5 (8)

The first time I tested this lens it did just as well as the K-x's kit lens - which is already a very good lens. Where it shines though, is the advantage of having a step faster as a constant-aperture lens. Stopping down to f/6.3 or f/7.1 greatly improves the center performance. It's best at f/7.1~8, where it does the same, if not a bit better, rendering than the modern DA L kit lens.

It's soft at f/4 all throughout the zoom range, but it's not that significant at 28mm unless it's a chest-to-head portrait.

Color

With good lighting (bright daylight or flash-assisted) this lens is a good performer. It renders colors with good levels of saturation. Skin tones look great, as well as sky hues and greens (though much is also based on body/sensor performance). In low light though, it suffers just as any f/4 and up lens does. Haven't tried it on extreme differences in color in a single scene though.

Aberrations: 7

No noticeable aberrations unless you bathe it in an ultra-high contrast environment, which it still handles OK when stopped down. Most common (at least on my K-x) is a green or purple fringe wideopen. For my purposes (portraits) it does nicely enough for me to grant it a good score in this area.

Bokeh: 7.5 (7)

At a focal length of 70mm while still at f/4 it manages to produce good bokeh, but sacrifices sharpness. Thanks to its 8 diaphragm blades the shape is not as harsh as the K-x kit lens which has only 6. The bokeh is only useful for me around 50-70mm though, and there are times the bokeh looks nervous and distracting from 28-35/40mm.

Autofocus: 5

Little can be said about the AF, since most of the time it's based on the body it's mounted on. It's good, AF is fast because of the very little turn the screw has to do to change focus (not even a full hand-turn I think). HOWEVER when it comes to going manual for low-light situations, controlling the focus is very difficult. I'm giving it only a 5 because it gives you little space for adjustments in focusing.

Handling: 8

The lens is somewhat a double-edged sword when it comes to handling; on its weight, it is excellent, being only 240g. However, that advantage is counteracted by its build quality, which I believe Pentax did quite a lot of cutbacks to bring the price down. Even by just looking at it you'll thing it's a rather flimsy/fragile lens, which looks like it may shatter when dropped.

I purchased this lens in 2010 - way long after its 4-year production from 1996-2000. I was lucky my copy didn't have the dreaded rear-element separation problem.

Value: 9

In terms of price versus performance, it's a bargain... TODAY. I'm not sure how I would score its value when it was first released though. I higly recommend this lens for beginners, students, and those who want a 28-70 that's inexpensive and easy to carry.

P.S.: Will update later to add sample images according to area/aspect being graded.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL



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