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SMC Pentax-FA 80-320mm F4.5-5.6 Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA 80-320mm F4.5-5.6

Sharpness 
 8.3
Aberrations 
 7.9
Bokeh 
 8.0
Autofocus 
 7.4
Handling 
 7.9
Value 
 9.3
Reviews Views Date of last review
42 223,260 Wed December 16, 2020
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
93% of reviewers $139.45 8.00
SMC Pentax-FA 80-320mm F4.5-5.6
supersize


Description:
This extreme-telephoto zoom lens has a great aperture range for its focal length. When zoomed to 80mm, it is very compact. Note that a silver-colored version also exists.



SMC Pentax-FA 80-320mm F4.5-5.6
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 8 blades
Optics
13 elements, 10 groups
Mount Variant
KAF
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F4.5-5.6
Min. Aperture
F32-38
Focusing
AF (screwdrive)
Quick-shift
No
Min. Focus
150 cm
Max. Magnification
0.28x
Filter Size
58 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 20-5.2 ° / 17-4.3 °
Full frame: 30-7.7 ° / 25-6.4 °
Hood
RH-A58
Case
S80-160
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
74 x 129 mm (2.9 x 5.1 in.)
Weight
550 g (19.4 oz.)
Production Years
1997 to 2002
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-FA 1:4.5-5.6 80-320mm
Product Code
27607 (black), 27608 (silver/black)
Reviews
User reviews
Variants
Silver and silver/black
Features:
Screwdrive AutofocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 80-320mm F4.5-5.6
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 42
Pentaxian

Registered: May, 2016
Posts: 3,250

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 16, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: range, size, KAF mount
Cons: build
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 5    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1II   

I wanted a longer zoom that was small and had autofocus. This was my choice, and despite the lower points I'm giving it, I like it.
It's less sharp than my other lens in this range (Vivitar S1 70-210), however, it's sharp enough especially under 200mm and around f8-f11. Build quality is ok except that both zoom and focus are loose, but I don't know if that's from use or it is supposed to be like this. The color and overall rendering is nice, there's something pleasant about the images, which is why I like this lens.

320mm


180mm



108mm
   
Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2011
Location: Fareham, Hampshire
Posts: 492

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 4, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Current price, lightweight, image quality
Cons: Noisy if that bothers you

I have just completed the May Single In Challenge with the K-1 and this lens. (Flickr album linked from image below)

SMC Pentax-FA 80-320mm by Warren, on Flickr

I bought the SMC Pentax-FA80-320mm F4.5-5.6 new in 2002 (approx $200 US) to use with my MZ30 for our regular family trips to the local wildlife park and since then it has seen peaks and troughs of use. I bought the 55-300plm in 2016 with a view to replacing the FA but since the arrival of a K-1 at the end of 2017 I’ve been dithering over which to use.
Overall I was pleased with the results from my “Silver Bazooka” at the end of the month. It’s no DA* 200 or 60-250 and it loses out to the 55-300PLM in AF speed; it is, however, light enough on the K-1 not to notice it in the backpack when cycling and that has provided a lot of extra opportunities this month.
Images - they’re good enough for posting online and 6x4 prints but maybe not so much for bigger prints unless you’re using it for landscapes in the 100-200 range.
The bokeh is nice from the 8 blades, OOF areas render smoothly and the one occasion I pointed at the sun (top of frame) it handled the flare pretty well.
* Use this lens between F8-16 in the centre of its range and the results are pleasing and sharp across the frame.
Just to run counter to the norm; the lens is perfectly useable above 240mm and is still good at 320mm - but not away from the centre of the frame if shooting at range.
* Use the longer end for closer work with subject isolation and then you get decent pop with that smooth bokeh.
One other “feature” is the aperture.
* The lens acts as a constant aperture (f4.5) zoom in the range of 80-200mm.
* 220mm (my copy has never registered a focal length between 200-200mm) through to 320mm is f5.6.
Being used for a whole month bought some challenges, especially with current restrictions on visitor attractions; the long MFD of 1.5m made for some frustrations and I rarely got the lens out to infinity focus. For those days when I needed to be closer to the subject I found the Raynox M150 played well with the lens (I imagine a close-up filter would serve equally well too) so it can double as a pseudo-macro if you really needed it to.
With regard to contrast there were no issues with the images; I do use a third party 58mm rubber hood that looks very similar to the recommended Pentax hood.
To conclude; this is a decent lens when used to it’s strengths and I have found it more comfortable to use on the K-1 than the newer APSC-design 55-300PLM (vignettes badly on FF). Also - it’s silver and matches the silver K-1 very nicely thank you 😊

Favourites from the month

Benches and Bokeh by Warren, on Flickr

One Month Later by Warren, on Flickr

Breakwater by Warren, on Flickr

Upon Reflection....... by Warren, on Flickr

Evolution by Warren, on Flickr
   
Pentaxian

Registered: February, 2010
Location: Northern Michigan
Posts: 4,970

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 30, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $115.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Superb in its sweet spot
Cons: Not so good out of its sweet spot
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-1   

This is a difficult lens to rate, because the optical quality varies so widely. In the optical sweet spot (f8 to f15, 80mm to 150mm), it is little short of stunning. But it's only moderately sharp wide open (and then only at the wide end), and performance worsens as one zooms toward the long-end until, at 320mm, it never really gets sharp at all, even stopped down.

When the FA 80-320 was released back in 1997, it would not have been considered a consumer grade lens. According to the patent for the lens, the objective of the design was "to provide a small telephoto zoom lens having a zoom ratio around 4 and exhibiting a high performance over the entire zoom range." This is obviously a more ambitious lens than the other FA (and FA-J) variable aperture telephoto zooms Pentax introduced between 1991 and 2003. Build quality, despite the largely plastic exterior, is tight and solid—definitely a step up from the FA 100-300 f4.7-5.8 and the FA-J 75-300. The lens, despite the patent's claim to being a "small telephoto" does have some heft to it. But it's not nearly as large and heavy as pro-level zooms like the FA* 80-200 or more recent full frame telephoto zooms like the DFA 70-210. Although this is a variable aperture zoom, it's rather odd in that the camera recognizes it as an f4.5 zoom all the way to about 250mm. The aperture diminishes, as does the quality, at the long end of the lens.

In the late nineties, expectations of lens performance was not nearly as high as it is today, so the FA 80-320 could pass for mid-range lens twenty years ago — but today not so much. Which is a pity, because if you are willing to stop the lens down and avoid the long end, you will be treated with a lens that is not merely equal, but in some respects superior to, modern mid-range lenses (such as the aforementioned DFA 70-210). While I had expected the lens to perform reasonably well toward the wide-end stopped down, what I was surprised to discover is how well the FA 80-320 renders objects against backgrounds. It hardly matters whether those backgrounds are in or out of focus. Objects are rendered with a sense of dimension, of tactility, of presence and depth that is rare to find in any zoom lens, let alone a variable aperture zoom. Since acquiring the FA 80-320, I have lost all interest in the DFA 70-210 or any other modern telephoto zooms. The modern glass is better for wide-open shooting, but as a landscape shooter, even f5.6 is useless to me. Hence for landscape photography, this really is a superb option in the 80mm to 135mm range. Even at 200mm, it's still pretty good, although you'll give up some corner and far edge sharpness. The long end can be used for sunsets, where resolution usually doesn't matter much.

The problem, I suspect, with the FA 80-320 is many people buy it to photograph critters and other objects at a distance. This means shooting wide open toward the long end. But that's precisely where the lens does not perform well! This is just not a critter lens. It's a lens for landscapes and scenics. For that sort of photography, you may find, among modern options, lenses that are sharper wide-open or have a bit more contrast (because of advanced coatings) and better CA control (because of ED glass). But you won't find a lens that produces more beautifully rendered landscapes and scenics.

At 80mm, f11:



At 80mm, f16:



At 90mm, f8:



At 140mm, f11:



At 320mm, f16:

   
Junior Member

Registered: May, 2020
Location: Cabo San Lucas
Posts: 47
Lens Review Date: May 12, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $115.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: zoom range, weight, sharp, good focus, construction
Cons: no dedicated hood, no WR
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-3 II   

I bought this lens for wildlife and astrophotography, i had it for two years and still like it, i know there are better zoom lenses than this, but for what i paid for it and what i used for i think is a good value. Mine is a second hand lens the silver version, everything on the lens works really good and the condition of the lens overall is great, the focus is good although a bit noisy, sometimes gets purple aberrations but really not to noticeable. Overall i´m happy with the lens, for the price i would recommend it, but if you have the budget to get a more expensive one then go ahead.









   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2018
Location: Quebec City, Quebec
Posts: 3,282

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 4, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $115.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very good on the Pentax K5. Sharp between 80 and 240 mm. Very good contrast.
Cons: Performance weakens somewhat at longer focal lengths.
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K5   










P.S. My FA 80-320 mm just died on me. When the lens is set on "A" so the camera body governs the diaphragm setting, the body can no longer read and adjust the f-stop. When I permit diaphragm activation in the Menu, it works only @ f/4.5 whichever manual f/stop I try to use. I replaced it with a demo DA 55-300 mm HD I found cheap on eBay. It's the first time I have to say "adios" to any lens I ever purchased (SNIFF !).
   
Pentaxian

Registered: January, 2011
Location: zagreb
Posts: 399

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 12, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $101.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Nice range, lightweight size, good value, overall IQ and fantastic range (320mm) for money
Cons: The dispute, there is no original hood, crawling with zoom-autofocus, rotating front element
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: K1   

The silver version, not black,bought used on ebay , later purchased a metal hood from ebay because there was no original 58mm and 62mm was added on her later , it was necessary to calibrate, done in house work, I found a description of the action and succeeded from the first.
The lens is lightweight and it looks quite firmly and surprisingly large optical IQ as it is a lens kit with such a low price. After calibration satisfyingly sharp across the full range and nominal apertures, the hey f5.6 to 320mm is super. With the replacement hood contrast throughout the range is super, neglected with vignettes, it also suffers from creaking / pulling the lens when it is facing down, focusing is fairly quick and decisive in good light but loud, at low / poor light the focus is pretty bad because a lot of it goes first to the maximum and then returns to the minimum and then searches for the focus - that's the only bad thing (very noticeable and sometimes frustrating) high-capacity lens with low price.
Successfully focuses on good light and via a Pentax AF x1.7 adapter (at maximum nominal aperture f5.6), * sometimes you need to zoom in / pre-focus on the lens itself to make the focus fast and reliable via the adapter (satisfactory quality in FF on Pentax FA lens with 550mm and maximum aperture f8 -We have to be aware of the compromise for the autofocus for that mm and such a price )


Before I used K-x / r / 3/30 with Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED or Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO DG Macro now FA 80-320mm F4.5-5.6 on K1 I look sharper and with a better focus in good light

I would like Ricoh to have / make a Pentax DFA 70-320 / 4,5-5,6 ED PLM WR RE with quiet / fast and determined autofocus (equivalent to approx. 550 ~ 600 euro in Europe) .
Then there would be a telephoto zoom lens sequence for FF = beginner / advanced / professional series (70-320 / f4,5-5,6 + 70-210 / f4 + 70-200 / f2,8)

My recommendation to use at K1 if you need a long / optically decent / cheap lens.

The look of the old used about 19 years with ebay lenses with a replacement hood:





Some examples of photos with Pentax FA 80-320 / 4,5-5,6 + Pentax K1



PENTAX K-1
ISO : 100
Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec.
Aperture: 1: 6.3
glass/length: 128 mm
in 35 mm: 128 mm



PENTAX K-1
ISO : 1250
Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec.
Aperture: 1:8
glass/length: 170 mm
in 35 mm: 170 mm



PENTAX K-1
ISO: 500
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec.
Aperture: 1: 8
glass/length: 180 mm
in 35 mm: 180 mm




PENTAX K-1
ISO : 800
Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec.
Aperture: : 1:6.3
glass/length: 200 mm
in 35 mm: 200 mm




*PENTAX K-1
ISO: 100
Shutter Speed: 1/160 sec.
Aperture: 1: 5.6
glass/length: 260 mm
in 35 mm: 260 mm



PENTAX K-1
ISO: 100
Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec.
Aperture: 1: 5.6
glass/length: 320 mm
in 35 mm: 320 mm



PENTAX K-1
ISO: 6400
Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec.
Aperture: 1:11
glass/length 320mm + af x1,7 adapter
in 35 mm: 550 mm
   
New Member

Registered: March, 2016
Posts: 2

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 20, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Zoom range, IQ, size, weight
Cons: rotating front element, no dedicated hood
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K3II   

This lens (gray version) is better by far than my 55-300 that will be sold. Maybe the focal range with APS-C is worst but but that depends on the use:

-Is a bit longer.
-Is a bit faster, aperture and focus.
-Has a bit better IQ.
-Has less vigneting.
-Has less distorsion.
-Has 8 blades so bokeh is better.
-Cormatic aberrations are similar.
-Is more solid, like the most old stuff.
-If someday you upgrade to K1 you will can use.


I have to microadjust the AF to -5 to get a perfect focus.



Mine has a problem, cant focus to infinity but that is so easy to fix.

1-Take off the bubber front ring
2-Take off the 3 screws
3-Take off the plastic ring
4-Zoom at 320 and rotate focus ring to infinity
5-Now you can see 3 more screws with something like rails.
6-Loose this 3 screws then rotate a bit the front barrel to left.
7-Try if now can focus to infinity
8-YES? Mount it again NO? Rotate a bit more to left the front barrel.

Now you have a good telezoom!!

9-Buy a hood

Now you have a GREAT telezoom!!
   
New Member

Registered: July, 2016
Posts: 1

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 4, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Acceptable price for the received quality
Cons: IQ, sharpness and built qualtiy
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 6    Value: 8    Camera Used: K1   

For the paid price it's okay but it's not a great lens. You can take good pictures with it but at full extend the IQ is getting worse and can't be denied.
The AF isn't to my satisfaction either, it's to slow and sometimes not reliable. I know that's a good deal of focal length but it's just to slow for any kind of fast moving objects.
Sharpness is good at center but decrease a good deal to the corners.
The Bokeh isn't bad but not really impressive either.
Zoom creep is a thing and the built quality is plastic. It feel still robust and like a good lens to handle mistreating but I dislike this rattling construction.
The colours didn't look beautiful as with some other lenses, it's a bit dull.

The good point of this lens is a good deal of focal length for a fair price. When you can avoid to shoot high contrasts it's a good lens even at 320mm.
What I can't recommend shoot with it are birds. 1. Sky = high contrast, 2. fast moving objects.
It's probably a lot more robust than it feel but I'm upgrading to a used DA*300mm f4 which impressed me in all matters.
   
Junior Member

Registered: September, 2015
Location: Hampshire
Posts: 48

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 11, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $140.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Good zoom range with long focal length on APS-C camera
Cons: Large and heavy(ish)
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-S2   

I have the silver version, made in Taiwan bought secondhand from SRS Microsystems with a one year guarantee.

I'm really enjoying using the lens when out in the countryside. Using the TAv setting on my K-S2 it's possible to get some cracking long distance shots fully zoomed out, obviously DoF can be quite shallow then.

I'm still experimenting with settings but find for animals/birds anything around F9-F16 and 1/320-1/500 give good results. You can also get pretty good close-ups (flowers etc.) using similar F settings and slower speeds around 1/160.

The focusing is quite noisy, but very fast, usually locking on without hunting when using the viewfinder - I've not tried LV with it.

Overall I'm very happy with the lens and probably won't need anything longer (APS-C = 480 35mm equivalent focal length).
   
New Member

Registered: October, 2014
Posts: 14

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 26, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $90.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: colores, contraste, tamaño contenido
Cons: velocidad de enfoque, construccion
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: k50, k5, k200   

Muy buen lente. Teleobjetivo largo, con definición destacable, colores vivos y contraste suficiente. Si bien a mas de 250mm decae un poco el rendimiento, sigue siendo usable hasta en la focal mas larga. El enfoque es algo lento, pero nada preocupante. La version color gris, tiene rendimiento optico y mecanico superior (inexplicablemente porque en teoria son identicos) El peso es contenido y el tamaño tambien. Combinado con los altos isos que permite el sensor sony de 16mpx permite olvidarse de aperturas de 2.8, del 70-200 y poder trabajar en interiores sin problemas, incluso en focales mucho mas largas.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: January, 2015
Location: mid nth coast,nsw
Posts: 5,612

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 25, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: nice images
Cons: AF lets it down
Sharpness: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: k50 and Q7   

Only had this a few days now but apart from AF hunting is a great value bit of glass, I have the silver version

Edit.After owning it for a while now its a KEEPer, perfect for the Q7.Used on a dslr its frustrating 80/200mm its fine,above 200mm the hunting and noise of the motor is a pain.Consequently it lives in the Q kit.
   
Forum Member

Registered: November, 2013
Location: Queensland, Australia
Posts: 80
Lens Review Date: December 16, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Focal length, lightweight, cheap
Cons: AF not the best
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: Kr   

For a $100 this is quite a decent lens to have in your bag. Much of the earlier reviews say this lens is much underrated and I am inclined to agree with this. It's noisy as hell, but if you can cope with that, then it's also a fun lens to have a crack at some long telephoto work.

Again, stopping down to F8 seems to improve things somewhat. I have the groovy silver version and although I've just got this lens recently, the resuits I get I am more than happy with

   
Pentaxian

Registered: November, 2014
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 1,690

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 11, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $140.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: lightweight, good value,
Cons: autofocus, zoom creep
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 7    Value: 8    Camera Used: K30   

Purchased the lens for more reach to shoot birds, animals.

It is very compact at 80mm, which is nice for storage. However, that mean it extends a lot at 320mm. It experiences lens creep especially when pointed straight down, which might be a negative for some people. Autofocus takes some time to go from one end of the ring to the other end, rather noisy. But that is to be expected of screw drives motors!

For good results, I usually stop down to around f/8. Sometimes the smaller aperture can make a significant impact on haze in adverse lighting.

For it's price, it is an excellent lens. Here are some example pictures!
https://500px.com/photo/107454153/landing-snow-goose-by-ncarr
https://500px.com/photo/100567237/wading-blue-by-ncarr
https://500px.com/photo/100571333/skimming-skimmer-by-ncarr (Heavily Cropped)

Also, I have the silver version, so no build quality problems or whatever else that is experienced by the black versions.

EDIT: lowered the value from 10 to 8 because of the ridiculously low price of the HD DA 55-300 f/4-5.8!
   
Senior Member

Registered: July, 2013
Posts: 171
Lens Review Date: September 11, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros:
Cons:
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Canon 60D   

I bought this plstic-body lens last October on ebay for 14.--$ and I simply love it. It's a lightweight lens with adequate focus and zoom action-range, and it is a very cooperative fully manual all-around companion.

Just to be on the spite side, Took it off my Pentax camera (I have two), and I bought a PK to EOS adapter, to see how it would register on my Canon, and here are three results:


.

.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2010
Location: New Berlin, WI
Posts: 520
Lens Review Date: May 17, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: inexpensive, flexible, fast AF
Cons: Not great IQ
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: K-x   

Well, this lens works. It offers "okay" image quality. I did buy this lens when I started photography. If you are on a very tight budget, buy it and have some fun with it outside on a bright day. If you can throw an extra $100 definitely buy a F70-210 instead, it offers much better IQ, much better.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 80-320mm F4.5-5.6



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