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SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited

Sharpness 
 9.6
Aberrations 
 8.9
Bokeh 
 9.2
Autofocus 
 9.0
Handling 
 9.5
Value 
 9.0
Reviews Views Date of last review
92 314,049 Fri November 8, 2019
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
97% of reviewers $526.99 9.47
SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited

SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
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SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
supersize

Description:
The Pentax FA 43mm limited is a standard prime lens featuring a metal construction and superior optics.

It was for a while also available as a manual focus lens in the Leica M39 rangefinder mount with a matching optical viewfinder. That version was labeled smc Pentax-L 1:1.9 43mm Special.

SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
© 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
7 elements, 6 groups
Mount Variant
KAF
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F1.9
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
AF (screwdrive)
Quick-shift
No
Min. Focus
45 cm
Max. Magnification
0.12x
Filter Size
49 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 37 ° / 31 °
Full frame: 53 ° / 45 °
Hood
MH-RA 49 mm
Case
Dedicated pouch
Lens Cap
Dedicated metal push-on
Coating
Ghostless,SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
64 x 27 mm (2.5 x 1.1 in.)
Weight
155 g (5.5 oz.)
w/ Hood: +10g
Production Years
1997 to present (in production)
Pricing
$589 USD current price
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-FA 1:1.9 43mm Limited
Product Code
20170 (silver), 20180 (black)
Reviews
User reviews
In-depth review
Variants

Black and silver


Features:
Screwdrive AutofocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame Support
Purchase: Buy the SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
In-Depth Review: Read our SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited in-depth review!
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos



Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited Buy the SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
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Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2011
Posts: 174
Lens Review Date: November 8, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: small, image quality, character, focal length
Cons: still a little too pricey (I think), hard to manual focus, far minimum focusing distance
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K-1   

I do have some negative things to say about this lens, but the fact that it has remained on my Pentax K-1 for months now as my primary lens really tells you how I feel.

This lens is a fantastic documenting tool on full-frame. I like the 35mm focal length best, but 43mm has grown on me as the pictures come out looking so natural. I know there's some thought and science behind why they picked that focal length for the sensor size, and being a true "standard" lens, and I don't know too much about how all that works but it does feel like a very natural what-you-see-is-what-you-get length.

If the fact that I left it on my K-1 isn't enough to show you how I value this lens, I also have done something I never thought I would do with a $1k+ setup - shoot in JPEG. The pictures come out so predictably good, and I was finding myself performing the exact same edits to the pictures. Mind you, these aren't pictures I'm trying to sell or anything, just documenting family life, so I wasn't worried about being heart broken if anything bad did happen. Just a very small contrast boost, and a little saturation and the pictures are beautiful. That's seriously impressive.

I think it's acceptably sharp for shooting people wide open center frame, and stopping down to even 2.8 seems great to me. I don't really see any sharpness issues.

Now for the cons.

I really do get bummed consistently about the minimum focusing distance. Seems like it might be one of those things that's physically impossible to deliver in their design and keep the other bonuses like size, but it hurts nonetheless. That being said, having to take a step back and reframe gets me to take more of the scene in anyway and that can be good. It's just those times where I wanted to be in closer.

I think it's overpriced. That's me being kinda cheap, because I am, but I think a somewhat close comparison could be made to the FA 50mm 1.4, which has gotten me similarly great images, and is way cheaper used. Maybe one day I would compare the lenses side by side and sell off the 43mm, but I have this illogical love with the 43mm already that probably means I won't. I bought my 43mm for what I consider a pretty good price at $300, and that felt like pushing it for me.

So, it's up to you. You definitely get a great lens that is uniquely different than the FA 50mm 1.4, but are they more aesthetically pleasing to you? Well, it's arguments like that that keep this forum open

Hope this helped somehow, there are already really solid reviews on this lens, but wanted to offer maybe my unique perspective.
   
Seeker of Knowledge

Registered: August, 2016
Location: Topeka, Kansas
Posts: 15,624
Lens Review Date: November 5, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: build quality, reputation is lived up to
Cons: none I found
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: k 3 II   

this is the black model

interesting, the pouch has gold lettering which is something I hadn't seen before

of course this is my first FA limited, my others are the SMC DA Limiteds

made in japan ( don't know if that matters )

purchased used from Adorama
   
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2009
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Posts: 1,820

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 5, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $340.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Wonderful build, small, light, useful focal length on FF
Cons: Corners not as sharp and center wide open
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-1   

Some review sites are pretty harsh about this lens. It think mainly they focus so much on corner sharpness wide open (and also there seems to be a bit of sample variation coming into play too). Corners are not perfect wide open but not that bad either (at least on my copy). Stop down a bit and everything is sharp.

On the K-1 its a very useful focal length and now my default initial lens when I go walk about. Handling wise its a joy to use while also being very small, light and unobtrusive.

There is a bit of pixie dust in there too, but perhaps not as much as in the FA31.

Some sample images (I will add some more later):
1. At f4

2. At f2.8
   
amateur dirt farmer

Registered: December, 2014
Location: probably out in a field somewhere...
Posts: 16,532

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 2, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: color, clarity, sharpness, rendering, quality-feel
Cons: MFD, no quick-shift, occasional CA
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3   

I finally bought a copy (used from the Marketplace) of the venerated FA 43mm f1.9 Limited - slightly intimidating, given its status as one of the Three Princesses (or Amigos, or whatever you call this trinity), but here we go:

of course, there's the build quality of the FA Limited - all metal, tight tolerances, engraved markings, all the things we've come to know and love about these lenses - she's a beauty...

two shortcomings for me are immediately apparent from the get-go: MFD of just under 18" and no quick-shift, but this lens was designed in a different time, to a different spec so I'll just adjust...

beyond those two issues, however, all is a land of sweet bokeh, beautiful colors, and rendering that is just delectable...

witness:

daisies by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

spring storm by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

chainmail by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

snake in the box by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

there is one quirk I learned about the FA 43 Ltd during my month with her: do not force the lens; what I mean is, this lens has a definite, distinct style of shooting that gives you the opportunity to see why it's a legend....

I tried to force the lens into MFD, wide-open shots as I would any other close-focusing or macro lens I own and the results were not pleasing to the eye at all - flat, busy bokeh, uninspiring shots were the result...

but give the lens the chance to flow, to allow the Art to happen, and it's sooo rewarding...

my flickr album for the FA43 Limited:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pepperberryfarm/albums/72157678017630147/page1
   
Junior Member

Registered: December, 2018
Location: Telemark
Posts: 36
Lens Review Date: April 7, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $372.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Unbelievable lens
Cons: None
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K1   

One of the best lenses I've used on any camera system.

It's so unique.

Not only the focal length and aperture capabilites, but the build quality, the sharpness, the 3d effect, the bokeh. I just love this lens.

My only downside, which isn't really fair to blame the lens is that I don't use this focal lenght enough. Still, I have 2743 shots with this lens, and it's more of a pro grade lens than the last lens I reviewed here, the 28-105. Kind of surprised that they both have around the same rating at this forum
   
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Bedfordshire, UK
Posts: 143

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 1, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Ideal focal lenght, personality
Cons: none for me
New or Used: Used    Camera Used: LX, K-1   

I do not praise this lens for its sharpness or lab test results, as I do not share the obsession for these characteristics. From a user point of view this lens is where I should have started my search for my personal taste of lenses.
During the yeas I went through different lenses, mostly 50mm and 35mm ones, shooting them extensively, but none of them really satisfied me.

Then a few years ago I bought this lens with my K-7. Then the K-7 went and this lens stayed. And I found the focal lenght I prefer. Since then I have one 40ish mm lens in every system (SLR, rangefinder and equvivalent medium format) I own.

But this lens by far is my favourite. It is always paired with my LX and taken mostly to trips. Nothing else. And it works brilliantly. Wide enough, yet one can separate subject. Bright enough if you need light, and light enough not to make you tired and sick of carrying your gear. Also makes my K-1 a charming and powerful asset.

All in all, give it a try, and forget about testing it. It is good without needing to prove it again and again.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: December, 2013
Posts: 614

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 14, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Small, light, fast, sharp
Cons: Easy to loose lens cap, screw mount hoos, no quick shift
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: KP, K-30, PZ-1p   

The lens is very compact and well built. Comfortable to use. I use it wide open regurarly and I see it sharp. (On APS-C)

I like the renderation and bokeh of it, but to be honest the DA*55 is even better. Altough the 43mm focal length is much better then the 55mm indoors. Compared to the other FA limiteds it has a similar character, but I use more the other too. When I got it I was totally blown by the image quality so I got the FA77 and then the FA31 too. Now in my library I have 344 shot with the FA31 336 with the FA77 and only 177 with the FA43 from the date I have them all.
For studio portraits or indoor events I really like this lens. On my (full frame) PZ-1p it bacomes a true normal lens, and according to it this is my most used one.

Only the lens cap which I don't like, it falls down some times. Oh, yes and the hood goes to the filter screw mount, so occupies it.

Here are some shots taken with it:
IMG171015_0045 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG171015_0036 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG171015_0067 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG171009_0003 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG171105_0004 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG171231_0003 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG180505_0059 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr
   
New Member

Registered: May, 2017
Location: Kiev
Posts: 12

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 26, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Iron and strong. Very beautiful! High-speed. Makes beautiful photos. Sharp, starting at a diaphragm of 2.0. The lens has a small size and it is convenient to take it with you for a walk or a trip.
Cons: Lenses of silver color are made in Japan and have better quality of photos than black lenses. The cost of the new lens, in my opinion, is quite high. It could be cheaper.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 7    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5   

I can not say anything bad about this lens. He is perfect! Unless, the price for it is not the lowest.
The lens removes very sharp and contrast photos on the diaphragm 4,0. At a diaphragm of 2.0 or more, the sharpness is no longer around the entire frame, but only in the middle of the photo. But anyway, it turns out to make interesting pictures. Beautiful bokeh. Plastic and contrast image.
ISO 100
* F 2.0
* 1 / 320sec.



Postscript: I advise this lens to be acquired by anyone who wants to have a beautiful, small-sized, easy-to-use lens on their camera. Which takes pictures of beautiful photos. In the comments I indicated "yes" (I advise you to purchase). But when I save the message, it says "no." It is not true! I recommend everyone to have this excellent photo lens!

   
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 32
Lens Review Date: April 28, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $600.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Built quality, I.Q., light weight
Cons: No quickshift
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K10, K30, K70   

Very light, small and gorgeously built.
Image Quality is outstanding. Not so much the sharpness, similar to many 50mm lenses, but color rendition, resistance to flare, '3D' effect.
Quickshift is missing.

I love it.
   
Junior Member

Registered: October, 2010
Location: Dundas, Ontario
Posts: 26
Lens Review Date: April 2, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Amazing light transmission
Cons: Maybe some PF in rare cases, really can't see much
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax   

Excellent lens. Beautiful rendering, contrast is amazing. Need to have this lens fully open and gather all the nice light around you, don't stop it down I have the MIJ version, not sure it matters but it's extremely well put together with high quality materials. Here are some samples

https://www.flickr.com/gp/pentax-takumar/249720

This lens is a full 10/10 for sure!
   
Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2015
Location: Lower Saxony
Posts: 151

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 31, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: sice, 3D pop, colours, contrast, sharpness
Cons: back light sensitive
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-1   

There is an ant queen attacking Dobi Koma aka amok from the left...K-1, @f/1.9...
...linked to original out of camera jpg

   
Forum Member

Registered: June, 2016
Location: Paris
Posts: 80
Lens Review Date: October 25, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $630.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: everything
Cons: way too light ? :)
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1 , M8   

Ok so this tiny lens is a huge performer.
bought two. 1st was black, sold back when bought a silver one with a low serial as i wanted better optical performance.
almost always manual focus it. it's a great focal and a perfectly sized lens for manual focus.
only tried AF on K-1. works perfectly when center AF.
IQ is stellar starting 1.9
if you plan on buying it and hesitate because of the good priced fa 50 1.4/1.7 , but you have the $ for it, don't hesitate anymore.
focal length from 50mm to 43mm is a big difference.
highly recommended lens
   
Forum Member

Registered: September, 2013
Posts: 62
Lens Review Date: July 25, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: fast enough, compact, solid, sharp from 1.9, bokeh is smooth
Cons: no Q-shift (obvious),
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3, K-30   

PROS:
1- after AF adjustment it is sharp wide open (f/1.9-2) and very sharp from f/2.8. at f/1.9 it is sharper than my DA 40/2.8 stopped down to f/4.
2- fast enough, I can use it wide open at f/1.9 instead at the past I was needed to stop-down my DA 40 to the f/3.2-f/4 to get SO sharp image. Almost 2 full stops faster (in terms of IQ, not the exposition)
3- very nice and smooth bokeh. previous bokeh from DA 40/2.8 was not always good enough.
4- front cover attached on the very compact hood.

CONS:
1- no Q-shift (it is known, but this option is very useful at DA lens), it is not really issue.
2- not to fast AF, but fast enough. Yes, it is slower than DA 40, but only in comparison.


this lens will replace my DA 40/2.8 and DA 50/1.8.
1 lens instead of 2.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2013
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 1,717

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 26, 2016 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: N/A | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Compact, aesthetics, really nice at f/8 - f/11
Cons: K-1 image quality, erratic focus
Sharpness: 5    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 1    Handling: 10    Value: 3    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-1   

Let me begin by saying that I *really* wanted to like this lens. I was excited to acquire it and use it on my K-1, having had such a great experience with my FA31 on the K-5IIs.

Wow, have I ever been disappointed. Let's go through the categories.

Sharpness:
I gave this a 5 because when it focuses, it's pretty good, especially at screen size. But a pixel peep reveals that the lens lacks the resolution of its FA31 and FA77 sisters. Perhaps the biggest problem with this lens is its poor contrast, even stopped down until you hit f/5.6 or so. Using flash helps a bit but compared to what other lenses can do on the K-1, the FA43 is a huge disappointment.

I'm not even commenting on wide open performance. I'm trying to shoot this at f/3.2 to f/4 and not seeing acceptable results. Flash helps a bit but the off-center performance is quite poor even stopped down a bit. A normal lens like this should really be accomplishing a lot more.

If you're a few feet away, then this lens does pretty well, but it's not capable of resolving fine details from afar. But given the short-ish focal length, perspective distortion begins to become a concern at short distances, so you have to choose between reality and acceptable resolution/sharpness.

Aberrations:
Purple fringing is more controlled with this lens than its FA sisters, at least from what I can tell. However, the lens displays a significant amount of field curvature, perhaps due to its focal length. The electronic levels in the K-1 show that I should be in-plane with flat objects yet there's still noticeable distortion. And if you're off by a slight amount, it's pretty rough.

Bokeh:
Bokeh is for the most part acceptable and pleasing, although the low number of straight aperture blades leads to hexagonal highlights. The trouble here is that the focal length requires you to focus closely to achieve the bokeh (where in distortion becomes a concern) and if you're moderately far away, you don't get strong blur unless you're at wide apertures and then...

Autofocus:
As bad as the Sigma 18-35 I had. Let me say that: every bit as poor, perhaps worse. At screen size, the images are ok, but even at 50% view, it's clear the focus is frequently lost. The Sigma generally worked well in Live View, but the FA43's performance in Live View is abysmal. In fact, it seems to miss almost all the time in live view. I attribute this to the lens's poor contrast below f/2.8, where it's not really all that usable. PDAF performance is...erratic but generally better. But I'm using this for wide-perspective portraits of people, when I want some environment in the photo and/or the FA77 is too long. For this purpose, it's utterly deplorable. I don't feel I can depend on this lens to focus below f/8.

It's possible I'm not focusing in a manner this lens needs. I use off-center focus points because I'm trying to nail focus on the eyes. It's possible that the lens is capable of reliable focus beyond its center points, simply because of poor resolution, poor contrast, or perhaps (mostly likely) field curvature and off-axis aberration. In any case, this doesn't help me much. My subjects have better things to do than wait around while I precisely focus and then do a perfect recompose because that's what the lens requires.

What I observe is that it tends to front focus from a distance but work well at short distances; if there were a consistent front focus, it would be obvious at the shallow DoF of close focus and I could calibrate it out. And then every now and then it will just miss entirely and on occasion back focus. Most troubling, however, is the failure in live view. Since Live View is an exhaustive search for maximum contrast, the lens properties really don't play much of a role. It indicates something is really crossed between the lens and the body. I'm not sure what. As I say in my review, I'm not sure whether it's the lens' poor contrast wide open (where focusing is done) or just the mediocre off-center sharpness or other distortion effects that make focus poor when non-center points are used. Still, if the latter, I would expect to see that spot in focus and the rest of the image messed up, but that's not what I see. Frequently, the subject's face is not in focus, despite my putting the focus point right over her eyes!

Handling:
Well, it's small and very light. That's a plus, right?

Value:
For significantly less money, you can have the less stylish F50, FA50, or DFA50, the first two of which can be had in f/1.4 or f/1.7 variants. The only appeal of this lens is its look. It gorgeous, simply put, but it's not worth what they're charging for it.


I guess I can say something good about the lens here: it looks really nice at f/8 to f/11. For shooting "stuff," it's ok in that regard and fills a gap between the FA31 and FA77 nicely. But any human subject you want in focus? Forget it.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2007
Location: Prague
Posts: 1,199

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 28, 2016 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: N/A | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: compact size, the build quality
Cons: not really sharp until stopped down
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 8    Value: 4    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   

I really liked this lens on the K10D and the film cameras. It was not so good on the K-5, but I was eager to try it on full frame, expecting the lens to improve the impression. It did not.
It is still small and beautifully crafted, but the sharpness is lacking. Especially in comparison to the excellent DFA50/2,8 macro the difference is striking. With the DFA wide open you can count the distinct hairs on the subject, while the FA43 stopped down to same aperture won't render even larger features sharp enough.
The K-1 left me not wanting to use the FA43 anymore. I will always go with either FA35 or DFA50, both being superior in my opinion.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited Buy the SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited



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