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SMC Pentax-FA 28-90mm F3.5-5.6 Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA 28-90mm F3.5-5.6

Sharpness 
 6.4
Aberrations 
 7.0
Bokeh 
 6.8
Autofocus 
 8.2
Handling 
 7.3
Value 
 7.9
Reviews Views Date of last review
15 73,383 Sun March 20, 2016
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
80% of reviewers $38.92 6.87
SMC Pentax-FA 28-90mm F3.5-5.6

SMC Pentax-FA 28-90mm F3.5-5.6
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA 28-90mm F3.5-5.6
supersize

Description:
This inexpensive zoom lens has a plastic bayonet and no distance scale. It was often sold bundled with a camera as a kit lens. The 28-90mm range is very convenient as a walk around lens on a film camera.

SMC Pentax-FA 28-90mm F3.5-5.6
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 6 blades
Optics
10 elements, 8 groups
Mount Variant
KAF
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F3.5-5.6
Min. Aperture
F22-38
Focusing
AF (screwdrive)
Quick-shift
No
Min. Focus
40 cm
Max. Magnification
0.28x
Filter Size
58 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 55-18 ° / 46-15 °
Full frame: 75-27 ° / 65-23 °
Hood
Case
S80-120
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
66.5 x 67.5 mm (2.6 x 2.7 in.)
Weight
195 g (6.9 oz.)
Production Years
2001 to 2004
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-FA 1:3.5-5.6 28-90mm
Product Code
27697
Reviews
User reviews
Notes
Plastic bayonet
Features:
Screwdrive AutofocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 28-90mm F3.5-5.6
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 15
New Member

Registered: March, 2016
Posts: 11

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 20, 2016 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $25.00 | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Cheap, autofocus, a little more reach than typical 18-55 kit lens
Cons: Bad IQ, flare, not sharp, Af tends to hunt on K-x
Sharpness: 4    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 5    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 7    Value: 3    Camera Used: Pentax K-x   

I have to say that I rather do not like this lens. I bought it from ebay about 3 or 4 years back when looking for something with a little extra reach over the 18-55 kit lens and to be frank, one is better off using the kit lens at 55 mm and cropping down to the desired size than to use this lens in my opinion. Took about 100 images with it when I got it and it has been sitting in the box since then.

Out of these about 100 shots under different lighting conditions and ranges I would say that about 3 to 5 were as good as the default kit lens offers. Colors under most light conditions tend to be washed out, as soon as little light hits the front lens at angle there is some flare. In the similar range I have Tamron 28-200 mm zoom which is a lot better between 35 and 90mm than this one as far as I can tell.

I would suggest avoiding this lens if possible and going on with the 18-55mm kit lens (which is not very good either in my opinion) if this one is the alternative. It has nothing to offer over the 18-55mm kit lens.

Edit: Adding some sample images from the test directory from the time when I last used this lens. I do not remember the details anymore, however, the focal legth and aperture should be still in the metadata fields of the images as reported by the Pentax K-x when using these lens.






   
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2008
Location: Oslo
Posts: 309

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 5, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $12.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Light, small, cheap, AF
Cons: Build quality, contrast/flare resistance
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 6    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-5 II, MZ-6   

First off, it's plastic, and obviously a kit lens. Thus, it is meant to perform as such. I find it's surprisingly decent, however, at least up to 70mm.
The big surprise is the autofocus, which is very quick and tends to lock on "instantly", even if the mechanism wobbles the lens barrel enough to be visible in the viewfinder. Manual focus should be forgotten, the throw is ~90 degrees and the focus ring is on the end of the lens barrel with no distance scale.

The size and fast AF means it's not a bad choice for complimenting my 10-20/3.5 or 18-35/1.8 if I only want to take the small sling bag.
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2015
Posts: 6,279
Lens Review Date: August 17, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Compact, lightweight, adequate IQ for casual shots
Cons: Sloppy build, very poor MF.
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 4    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 5    Value: 8    Camera Used: K-5   

First, the negatives. This lens does not compare in quality to any of the other Pentax lenses I own, and even the Sigma 18-50mm kit lens I got with my *ist-DL feels a little better built. It rattles and the plastic feels almost toy-like, especially around the mount. When shifting focus over a wide range (infinity to near-macro) I can almost feel the lens trying to shake itself off the camera. If plastic-mount lenses have a bad name, it's because of examples like this - the DA 50mm f/1.8 feels almost like a Limited in comparison. Optically, a brick-wall photo at 28mm at close range shows noticeable barrel distortion and shooting near the sun produces prominent polygonal flare shapes.

HOWEVER, against this must be weighed the positives: the lens is more than tolerably sharp for casual photography, which given its status as a kit lens is possibly 90% of all that was expected or demanded from it. It feels feather-light in my hand and gives no balance problems on the K-5, while giving the user a very useful focal range. The AF might be trying to rip itself to pieces, but it's more than accurate enough to nail a seagull in flight. In bright light and/or at high ISO, I would have no problem shooting one-handed if I had to. Off the camera it's compact enough to fit in a large jacket pocket, and the light weight means it doesn't drag that side of the jacket down to an uncomfortable degree.

If we accept that the design purpose of this lens is casual photography by the amateur user, it performs its function admirably at an acceptable price, with no great weight or size penalty. I am perhaps biased as my only other AF zoom is the DA 18-250, which definitely offers weight and balance issues fully extended, but this one is so light that I was able to put it on a pocket-sized tabletop tripod and take exposures at 90mm, ISO 80, f/38 and ten seconds that are reasonably sharp in camera. While this isn't to be recommended as a regular thing, it indicates what's possible with a lightweight lens of this type. It might make a very good casual travel lens for that reason, though I would almost always back it up with a lightweight compact prime (DA 50/1.8 or DA 40/2.8 Limited).

Scoring handling was a problem - on weight and balance criteria, both on and off the camera, the light weight and compactness make it a dream - score eight or nine. On the other hand, the jarring as the AF goes from infinity to short is disconcerting.

Taken together, I have scored the lens very high for (secondhand) value despite many of the other indices being not quite there. I have recommended it for others on this basis. It may not always come with me, but it has a definite place in my collection.

ETA: I am uncertain as to whether the camera or the lens is to blame, but I have noticed a tendency to underexpose by a stop or so on my DSLR (K-5). Manual focus is not at all pleasant, and for this reason I haven't attempted to mount this lens on either of my film cameras.
   
New Member

Registered: March, 2015
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 15

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 12, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $19.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Price, full frame, color saturation, contrast,
Cons: plastic mount, sharpness at wide aperture, barrel distortion
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-500   












Light weight, wide to tele focal lengths, pleasing results make this a keeper in my book. And I will be able to use it on the new full frame digitals, in case someone decides to donate one to further my photographic pursuits! Buy now before the crowd decides it is undervalued. It also focuses to near macro and sharp at 90mm. In fact, when this lens is stopped down to f11 at 50mm, it rivals my smc Pentax-M 50mm f1.4 at same f11. Not as sharp as my Macro Takumar f4, or my smc Takumar 55mm f1.8, though. Most lenses aren't. But these Pentax 28-90 samples look good to me.
   
Forum Member

Registered: January, 2008
Location: Vancouver, WA, 98682
Posts: 53
Lens Review Date: December 10, 2014 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: inexpensive
Cons: not the sharpest lens in my bag
Sharpness: 4    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 7    Value: 6    Camera Used: Pentax K10D   

Just a quick data-point... Picked this up for $10 at Goodwill.
   
New Member

Registered: June, 2012
Posts: 3

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 30, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Useful range, lightweight, good value for money.
Cons: Silver finish is a little dated!
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-m   

This poor little lens does seem to be one of the 'whipping boys' of the range. It is, even so, an SMC Pentax lens, with a very useful range, efficient auto focus, great contrast and colour saturation, and can be picked up pretty cheaply. What's not to like?

OK, it's silver, and it's a bit plasticky (you're never going to get an AF lens built like and 'M', or an old Tak are you? The components would just be too heavy for the motor!)

Yes it is a little soft wide open, but that can be used creatively, and I find the bokeh on mine really nice, especially at the longer end. For best IQ you need to get to f8 and beyond, but I find at that level it's not far behind the F35-80 and even gives the DA18-55 a good run for its money at comparable focal lengths and apertures.

Sometimes you just don't want to risk your more expensive lenses, for fear of them getting wet/muddy/sandy etc - but if I dropped this in a puddle, or over the edge of my canoe I wouldn't shed too many tears, knowing I could probably pick up another for less than the price of a decent lunch.

Here are a couple of examples, 55mm, shot at f5.6, and f11, straight off the card, no PP

   
New Member

Registered: September, 2010
Location: Osijek
Posts: 2
Lens Review Date: December 12, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $30.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Cheap, fast, light
Cons: Little softy, plastic mount
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

Just to say..good value for money. I use it on K-x in some scenes instead of 18-55 and that's it.
I wish it was black.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2010
Location: Manila
Posts: 2,185

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 22, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $51.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: range, price, light
Cons: soft all the way, built, harsh contrast

Little can be said abut this lens. It's a good kit for starters, because of its price and zoom range. IQ is so-so, but not for prints. Bokeh is also good when the shots are made outdoors, and it doesn't render points of light very well, also masses of leaves.

However, it's got quite a big share of flak too. Very soft wide open, and even at f/8 the 18-55 DAL kit lens does better. Contrast is harsh, colors not that vivid, and images need to be pumped either in-cam or in PP to make the photos look decent in terms of sharpness.

That said, I can only recommend this lens if you don't plan on making big prints, or even just 6-inch wide prints for that matter. Perhaps best if the shots are (resized) for online viewing only, like on Facebook.

Here are some samples.





   
Pentaxian

Registered: February, 2011
Location: Maine
Posts: 2,949

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 23, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $29.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Lightweight, inexpensive, speedy with decent quality images
Cons: Feels cheap, has a bad rep
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 6    Value: 10   

I've seen a lot of people trashing on this lens, but for the cost I can live with plastic.

Its replaced my DA 18-55 as my 'kit' lens due to its longer reach. At 90mm its equivalent to an old-school 135mm on my K-x, which is a nice length to have available.

The lens is pretty basic, but it definitely gets the job done. If I actually paid any kind of money for it, it would rate a lot lower but for $29, I can't complain.

Giving it a 9 since its obviously not top tier, but for the cost is leaps and bounds above most of what else is out there.

Here is a shot that has been properly post processed to show how the colors can really pop from this under appreciated lens.


Main Street Under Clouds; Waterville, Maine by Jody Roberts, on Flickr

Here are some sample shots, taken on a gloomy gray day and unprocessed.


IMGP4356 by Jody Roberts, on Flickr


IMGP4321 by Jody Roberts, on Flickr


IMGP4299 by Jody Roberts, on Flickr

And one with some level and curve tweaks.


Freedom Sunset; Freedom, Maine by Jody Roberts, on Flickr
   
New Member

Registered: February, 2009
Posts: 15
Lens Review Date: February 3, 2009 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Cheap.
Cons: Construction quality. Quite soft wide open.

I'm new to the group. Pentax people are the best.

I haven't used this on any of my film cameras (two K1000, P30t, SFXn and two MX), only the *ist DL. Not bad but not great. Needs to be stopped down a bit for decent quality. Construction quality leaves a lot to be desired. At least I didn't pay very much for it.

This is my only Pentax zoom. I have a number of M-series primes (28 f/2.8, 50 f/1.4, 135 f/3.5, 150 f/3.5 and 200 f/4) so I'm spoiled.

Some day I'll figure out how to use a non "A" lens on the digital and watch my Vivitar Series 1 28-90 blow this one out of the water.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2007
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 613
Lens Review Date: January 10, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Affordable, light, SMC, image quality OK.
Cons: Feels cheap, looks cheap.
Sharpness: 5    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 5   

Ok, so the image quality has been pretty good. It's not fantastic, but neither is it expensive. It was good while it lasted, but the move to digital with the 18-55mm lens means this one is now out of use.

All in all, a good starting platform, but upgrade ASAP.

13/12/11 Edit: I will give this lens a 6/10 instead of 5/10 because in retrospect the performance for value ($60) is there.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: August, 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 745
Lens Review Date: January 8, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Great colour, very sharp in the centre, light weight, excellent price/performance.
Cons: No distance scale, front element rotates, flimsy manual focus ring.

The proof is in the pudding -- pictures taken with this lens look great. If you pixel peep, it is softer in the corners. But overall the resolution is good, contrast is crisp and the colours are great. I am always knocked out by how saturated the colours are -- using a polarizer, the colours are almost TOO saturated!

Autofocus is not as quick as other consumer zooms I have had -- the 18-35 FAJ, the 35-80 F, and the Nikon 28-80 G have all been faster.

Manual focus is the poorest aspect, with sloppy focus ring and no scale. Pity, because this lens is the perfect accompaniment to the MZ-M -- in weight, size, focal lengths and silver colour. Still, the IQ is good so I keep using it.
   
New Member

Registered: June, 2007
Location: Halifax, Canada
Posts: 22

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 21, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: CHEAP! Good AF speed, Aperture Ring
Cons: Plastic build, filter size is a bit big, no DOF scale

I've had this lens for a while. I originally used it on a k1000, but found there to be minor issues with the old body and new lens. I had to have the aperture lever repaired once because the k1000 was a bit hard on it. On my PZ-1 it's been nothing but creamy goodness. I've shot 2 weddings with it and have nothing but good things to say about it in that regard. Solid color reproduction, acceptable contrast, and is very light. The PZ-1 is a dream to use light lenses on especially when using a big flash thanks to it's hot shoe over the left side hand grip. Very easy to hold through a long shoot.

Now if it only had a DOF scale...
   
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2007
Location: Phoenix
Posts: 1,056
Lens Review Date: March 5, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: inexpensive, quick AF, surprisingly good IQ
Cons: build quality, plastic mount, MF capability

I found this when looking for an inexpensive autofocus zoom lens to supplement the assortment of old primes I normally use. Although my expectations were pretty low, this lens has surprisingly good image quality, especially at intermediate apertures. The autofocus is fast and accurate, but with a short depth of field it can have a hard time focusing on the correct subject. The focus ring is very sloppy, so the focus is hard to tweak manually. Not surprisingly the housing is made of cheap plastic, but I was surprised that even the bayonet mount is plastic, which makes me question its durability. However, since it was only US$20 I don't lose a lot of sleep over it.

Overall a surprisingly good, inexpensive, lightweight AF zoom lens. It's the one I reach for when I go from Photographer composing Photographs to just a dad taking quick snapshots of his kid.
   
Administrator

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Posts: 4,117
Lens Review Date: January 7, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Value for money. Very light. Pictures crisp and sharp.
Cons: Plastic bayonet. Build quality so-so.

The smc Pentax-FA 28-90mm f/3.5-5.6 is an inexpensive zoom lens and it often came bundled with a Pentax film SLR. It performs rather well considering that it was priced below $100. It is an auto-focus zoom and can be focused manually despite the lack of a distance scale. The lens barrel and lens mount are made of plastic and build quality is below average - even the bayonet is made of plastic. In return it weighs only 195 grams. It comes with no lens hood and you must take care to avoid flare when shooting backlit objects.

I prefer the FA 24-90 over the FA 28-90. The 24-90 is better built and goes down to 24mm, which is significant in particular on a digital body.

I would rate it 5 or 6 for build quality, but it takes sharp and contrasty pictures, so the rating for optical quality is at least an 8 giving an overall rating of 7.

Sample photos:
http://themotec.com/Ole/WEB_Gallery20/
Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 28-90mm F3.5-5.6



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