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SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL

Sharpness 
 7.3
Aberrations 
 7.3
Bokeh 
 7.3
Autofocus 
 8.1
Handling 
 7.9
Value 
 8.2
Reviews Views Date of last review
48 271,013 Mon November 7, 2022
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
90% of reviewers $68.03 7.88
SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL

SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL
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SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL
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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
Author:
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 48
New Member

Registered: November, 2013
Posts: 12
Lens Review Date: November 7, 2022 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $30.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: sharp lens
Cons: strong CAs in the edges
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 4    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 6    Camera Used: pentax k-5 k-x k200 k-s1 Fuji x-t100 x-e1   

Why so many quite different test results and judgements about this lens? Hm?

+ Mines was sharp -

O/- but had a problem with strong CAs, unfortunately !

So it was a disappointment for me. I'd sold it immediately.


But some test photos here are really beautifull and without CAs. Why for ??? Were there different manufacturers of it ???
   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 9,391
Lens Review Date: April 1, 2022 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 2 

 
Pros: None
Cons: Flimsy build and terrible image quality
Sharpness: 1    Aberrations: 1    Bokeh: 5    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 3    Value: 2    Camera Used: K-3   

I bought this lens to use as a lightweight general purpose zoom to combine with a fast fifty for travelling when I take film gear as well as digital. Having read reviews that suggest it's a step up from a kit 28-80mm kit zoom I thought this would be a good option.

I was wrong. I've tried a few 28-80ish film era kit zooms and in terms of image quality this is worse than all of them. All those kit zooms are at least capable of sharp results when stopped down to f/8 but this isn't. It starts off very poor at f/4 and improves to moderately poor at f/8. An absolutely useless lens, incapable of taking a sharp photo at any focal length or aperture setting.
   
New Member

Registered: September, 2020
Location: Derbyshire
Posts: 3

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 21, 2021 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharp in the centre wide open, sharp across the frame from F11-13, decent design, great kit lens
Cons: Inconsistent build quality, not a true 28mm at the wide end
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Camera Used: MZ5n   

I had two of these on an MZ5n. I used it with film and NOT digital.

It was my first autofocus camera and first autofocus lens. I have nothing but good things to say about the lens with some caveats.

I had two versions. The first was made in Japan and it took a photo in Norway that got printed in the UK's Amateur Photographer magazine in the 1990's. The second - bought because I thought it would be a good idea to have a back up - was made in Vietnam. It was different. It's colour rendition was cooler and it also exhibited vignetting. I sent it back.

So, my first piece of advice is to get the Japanese version. I got the 28-70mm because Dr Stewart Bell of Amateur Photographer magazine tested it and expounded on its remarkable centre sharpness wide open and its relative consistency when stopped down and through the focal range. I used it for landscape and environmental photography.

If you worked around where performance was best, used it within its limitations - you were rewarded with decent, sharp and nicely coloured pictures (one of the best films for this lens was Fuji NPS 160 - the detail rendered as well as colour still takes my breath away today). Slides were rendered just as well, with more contrast.

This was a perfect enthusiasts lens. Just the sort of thing Pentax was good at - getting you off to a good start with your photography hobby. OK - the distortion was self evident but not that bad and at mid focal lengths (35mm - 50mm) you could make it just about disappear. You had to stop down a bit to use the tele end. Yes, the front of the lens wobbled a lot - it was not built as well as say the FA 35mm f2 AL.

But goodness me, it was bargain and a bit of triumph design and cost wise.

I've no idea how these have stood the test of time. I've no idea how they might behave on digital but until I graduated up to the primes and then the formidable 20-35mm zoom, this lens kept me going through the late 90's, early 2000s.

If you get a good one, not too badly used, made in Japan and you're on a budget then check it out.
   
Forum Member

Registered: June, 2014
Posts: 56

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 17, 2021 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $16.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: small, light, cheap
Cons: soft, poor build quality
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: K-S1, KP   

I bought this lens together with a broken camera and a bag (actually, I was interested mostly in the bag). As a consumer kit zoom of the film era, it looks and feels very cheap. My copy was made in Vietnam and is supposed to be optically inferior to the Japanese-made version.


I tried it on the K-S1 first and almost threw it in the garbage – not a single sharp photo! However, when I mounted it on my KP and did some AF adjustment, it was a different story. On the KP, this lens performs similarly to the 18-55mm kit zoom. It's very soft on the edges at the wide end but decent in the 40-70mm range if stopped down to F8 or higher. Not good for landscapes but OK for indoor shooting.

The focal range on APSC is inconvenient, neither wide nor tele. This lens is definitely not good enough for the K-1. I can recommend it only for those who shoot film and scan no larger than 6 megapixels.


Cat portrait at F4


45mm at F10 – sharp corner to corner


Impressionistic shot wide open
   
New Member

Registered: February, 2016
Location: West coast
Posts: 25

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 10, 2021 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $25.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Light
Cons: Average quality output
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 7    Camera Used: k-50   




Just a quick one about that lens; It so happens that I almost contemporaneously got hold of 2 of them.
My tests might explain the discrepancy I noted between lovers and 'haters' of that lens. One is made in Japan and the other reads Vietnam.
I hold no prejudice against Vietnam, quite the contrary and I hope I'll be able to visit this fine country sooner or later.
Anyhow the one made in Vietnam is not usable at 70 whereas the other is. Might be pure chance though but I hope it provides guidance to those wishing to acquire that particular piece of glass. In the meanwhile, I'll continue using my SMC FA 28-70 2.8 AL On the K-1 at least.
   


2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 3, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light, nice 2,5 zoom
Cons: Not so good on early digitals like k10d
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: MZ5 and Samsung GX10   

Lovely light lens, one of the last Pentax lenses made in Japan and the first kit zoom in the Netherlands, Pentax described it as the first standard zoom at the time (meaning that it was the first zoom to be sold as a kit lens instead of the famous SMC 50mm 1,7). Some people say that is made of plastic, but actually it is made of metal and has a grey plastic looking finish. It is a better lens than the ones from the SF-series, which also had a plastic look due to the finish used. It is still like new although much used on the MZ-5. On the Samsung GX-10 it was dull, but on the Pentax K3II it works great with natural colors. Its autofocus is very fast bearing in mind that it is a screw AF. And I own the early version of this lens released at the same time as the MZ-5. The metal used is quite thin compared to the old lenses like Pentax F3.5 35-105. I had to rediscover this lens as it did not work well with my early digitals, but is does with my K3II. But in all those years never had problems with it, it has still the same smooth zooming and although the manual focus ring seems small, just like on the AF lenses from the SF period, it works great. And of course Pentax engineers anticipated that you would use AF most of the time and only in emergencies turn to manual. But I never used it, neither will I use the manual override of the digital era lenses. Although I will use it now, because it has such a nice macro capability, that can only be used with manual focusing. It did not work well with a film camera, but it does with a digital, because you are able to instantly the result and can adjust if needed. Highly recommended this lens, I would say.
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2018
Location: Quebec City, Quebec
Posts: 4,945

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 5, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very sharp, inexpensive, useful focal range.
Cons: Feels too plasticky, despite having proven reliable.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K5   









This lens is much underrated. It looks flimsy but has proven to be quite durable over the years
   
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2018
Posts: 47

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 18, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: small size, sharpness
Cons: focusing
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-1   

I think this is a pretty nice lens for the money. I do have the DFA 24-70 which is superb in IQ and I am used to how it handles and focuses, so clearly this old $50 lens does not perform equally.

I have shot video, landscapes and some portraits with this lens and this is very much acceptable in all this. For video, you can still control DOF and f/4 does not make it too narrow either. (Of course there are limitation with K-1 autofocus and an old lens like this, so f/4 allows for some target movement). The portraits i.e. close focusing distance at large apertures, are good without any major issues. Again, this is not a $1000 pro lens. For landscape shots, stopped down to f/8, I cannot really see the lack of detail some earlier reviewers are seeing in their lenses.

The only actual drawback is that it is sometimes a bit challenging to make the AF lock in low-light situations (especially when focusing close). For daylight use, there is no issue.

Summarizing, this lens is a good budget walk-around lens when you do not want to attract a lot of attention (like you do with a DFA 24-70).

   
Senior Member

Registered: April, 2012
Location: Endeavour Hills, Victoria, Australia
Posts: 210

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 22, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Nice balance of contrast, good colour
Cons: Speed
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1   


I used this in Japan for a short while, just interested to see how it would go. I liked it a lot. It is quite sharp, without being stunningly so. Worked fine with the K-1. The attached photo was taken in Tokyo. I was interested in the lines of the scene and was trying to get some elements in focus, but not all.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/5WUq4W7q3AqyJy6c7
   
Pentaxian

Registered: July, 2007
Location: North West UK
Posts: 389

2 users found this helpful
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

3 users 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.
   
New Member

Registered: September, 2016
Posts: 3

1 user found this helpful
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: 497

4 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.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 28-70mm F4 AL



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