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SMC Pentax-FA* 200mm F4 Macro ED [IF] Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA* 200mm F4 Macro ED [IF]

Sharpness 
 10.0
Aberrations 
 10.0
Bokeh 
 10.0
Autofocus 
 9.7
Handling 
 9.7
Value 
 9.7
Reviews Views Date of last review
7 72,195 Mon March 7, 2016
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $2,407.00 10.00
SMC Pentax-FA* 200mm F4 Macro ED [IF]

SMC Pentax-FA* 200mm F4 Macro ED [IF]
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SMC Pentax-FA* 200mm F4 Macro ED [IF]
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA* 200mm F4 Macro ED [IF]
supersize

Description:
The SMC Pentax-FA* 200mm F4 is the autofocus successor to the original Pentax A* 200mm macro lens. The FA* version was upgraded over the A* with more lens elements and internal focusing.

You switch between autofocus and manual focus by pushing the focusing forwards (autofocus) or pulling it towards the camera (manual focus).


SMC Pentax-FA* 200mm F4 Macro ED[IF]
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 9 blades
Optics
12 elements, 9 groups
Mount Variant
KAF
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F4
Min. Aperture
F32
Focusing
AF (screwdrive)
Quick-shift
No
Min. Focus
51 cm
Max. Magnification
1x
Filter Size
67 mm
Internal Focus
Yes
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 8.1 ° / 6.9 °
Full frame: 12 ° / 10 °
Hood
PH-RBG67
Case
S110-210
Lens Cap
Coating
Ghostless,SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Focus Range Limiter,Push-pull AF/MF Focusing Ring,Tripod Mount
Diam x Length
80 x 192 mm (3.2 x 7.6 in.)
Weight
1080 g (38.1 oz.)
Production Years
2000 to 2004
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-FA* 1:4 200mm MACRO -IF & ED-
Product Code
27630
Reviews
User reviews
Features:
Screwdrive AutofocusInternal FocusingAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA* 200mm F4 Macro ED [IF]
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-7 of 7
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2011
Location: Hanoi
Posts: 199

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 7, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $4,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: best excellent rendering color
Cons: colar ring is not convinient
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K20D   

Nothing to say about this monster.



#1

dew, on Flickr


#2

Rose, on Flickr


#3

Rose, on Flickr


#4

Lantana camara, on Flickr


#5

Wild, on Flickr

   
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2006
Location: Norway
Posts: 385
Lens Review Date: April 16, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,250.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp
Cons: Big
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5   

This lens is optically perfect. It is sharp and with high contrast even wide open. It is a little bit large and heavy and not particularly suitable together with the Pentax ring flash. The FA* style silver paint is easily scratched. Autofocus is on the slow end, but it has a focus limiter which helps a lot.

   
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 830

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 4, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, color rendition, ease of use/great ergonomics, rarity
Cons: Could use a slightly larger tripod collar, I'd prefer a slideout hood
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

Back story
It's interesting how I ended up with this lens. I scooped this lens when an fleabay seller had 4 copies for sale. I just happened to look at what they were selling for Pentax one evening and this lens popped up literally at that very second. It came with a reasonable BIN price which I immediately hit without even thinking twice.

The seller put up 3 more of this lens subsequently without BIN prices and each one sold for more and more money. In hindsight all 4 lenses sold cheaply because this lens now fetches north of $3,000 on fleabay.

A Pentax rep told me a year later that particular seller had purchased all the salesmen's samples in the country as well as a bunch of other high quality Pentax samples for resale.

Ergonomics
This is a fairly hefty lens and a tripod is required to get the best out of it. The push-pull design for manual/autofocus is a very handy feature, most of the time I am in manual focus mode when doing macros.

In low lighting situations I can use a macro flash bracket and with great working distance. However the tripod mount is a tad on the small side; having said this, the mount is perfectly useable, I just wish it were a touch larger.

There is a large area for grabbing the lens barrel for focusing, a very handy and useful feature.

The front of the lens does not rotate when focusing. This lens is internal focus -- a very, very nice feature. There is no racking in/out when focusing. Thank you Pentax!

The manual focus ring has a very long throw for critical focus.

It comes with a hefty hood, but a slideout hood would be handy, especially when packing the lens in a lens bag.


Performance
This is THE finest lens in the entire Pentax lineup. Trust me on this because I own a lot of nice Pentax glass. You can have my FA*200/4 macro when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Sharpness & resolution, contrasty, color rendering, smooth buttery bokeh. Everything is absolutely perfect. I find the FA* lenses have a particular look that I find unique and pleasing. The FA*200 F4 macro has this unique combination as well.

Colors are bold and... happy. In fact, I would describe the best FA, FA Ltd, and FA* glass as giving "happy" colors. I think the proper technical photography term is the lenses are warm (in this case, they're really warm). Having said this, colors and contrast are perfectly balanced.

Sharpness and resolving power is incredible, especially when used with a tripod and MLU. I have stuck a 1.7x teleconverter on this when doing macros to make small objects really, really large in the frame and my eyes don't spot any noticeable image degredation. Your mileage will vary. I took a photo of a ladybug this way with my MZ-S and when I looked at the print from the photo lab at first I thought there was dust on the print as there were some minute (very tiny) white lines on the ladybug. Upon closer examination these white lines were scars/injuries on the outer shell received throughout this little insect's life. Wow. Holy glass cutters, Batman, that's stunning resolution.

Working distance and angle of view (AOV). Obviously the working distance is fantastic and you still get a 1:1 macro. But the real reason the 200mm macro category is so good is, in my opinion, the AOV. With shorter focal length macros like the 50mm/2.8 class, you can have a lot of the background in a macro shot. Sometimes this is good, but often it isn't because it distracts from the main subject of the picture. But with a narrow AOV from a telephoto macro, you can easily achieve subject isolation and draw the viewer's eyes to the subject without any clutter in the background. And because telephoto lenses have limited depth of field, an in-focus macro subject pretty much jumps out at you and the image almost looks 3-dimensional. This combination of a telephoto for limited DOF + 1:1 macro + narrow AOV + working distance is what makes the 200mm macro class so desireable. And the FA*200mm f4 is first among equals here.

I have read a few internet posters who claim this lens is not as good for inifinity distance because it is designed as a macro. You people are kidding, right? This lens can handily outperform practically all other lenses at any distance, whether it is a macro or aimed at the moon.


Summary
I read on the internet that very few copies were made, less than 1,000? So more people on this fair Earth have claimed to have seen sea monsters than have actually seen this legendary lens in person. Low supply + high demand = high prices. And worth it as far as I'm concerned. These lenses will hold their value for years, if not decades, to come. You will not be disappointed if you ever lay your hands on one.

Update #1. Pentaxforums asked me to update my subtotal scores, which I have. For value I gave a 10 but this value-for-money score is quite subjective in my opinion. It means something different to each person. I also gave autofocus a 10 because AF is fast relative to what I expect from a macro lens -- macro lenses have long focus throws, so autofocus may not be as fast as (non-macro) lenses which have short focus throws. The accuracy of AF is also quite good. Your mileage can and will vary.
   
Administrator
Site Webmaster

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Arizona
Posts: 48,350

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 31, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $3,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: IQ
Cons: None!

The FA* 200mm Macro is hands-down the sharpest lens I own, followed by the 300/2.8 and 85/1.4.

Anything put in front of this lens will end up razor-sharp and crystal clear, with some of the smoothest bokeh you'll ever see from a lens. Colors are also rendered very accurately.

This is not a fantastic shot by any means, but clearly illustrates what I'm talking about: http://www.mosphotos.com/Adam/main.php?cmd=imageview&var1=2010+Galleries%2FS...2FIMGP2813.JPG

This lens is rarely listed in our marketplace (where I acquired mine) or on online auction sites, but it you do see one, take advantage of the opportunity immediately!
   
Forum Member

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Victoria, BC
Posts: 92

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 16, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $2,300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Everything
Cons: No longer in production, extremely rare to find used

- Everything about this lens is incredible! I can't give it enough credit.
- Sharp at every aperture.
- Solid build quality.
- AF/MF clutch allows you to push/pull the focus ring to toggle focus mode. This feature is very convenient, feels very solid and is actually quite "fun" to use!
- Makes a whirring noise when manually focusing, but it doesn't bother me.

Sharpness: 11
Colour: 10
Contrast: 10
Build: 10
Bokeh: 10
Design: 10
   
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2007
Location: Norway
Posts: 3,377

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 20, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Optical quality
Cons: Soft silver paint finish
New or Used: New   

A Modern classic. You wont find sharper lenses. That is all that needs to be said. Built quality is great.
Negative aspect are the scratch prone FA* silver paint job.
Mine has an annoying whining sound when manual focusing.

[K-7 cropped about 40% at 1000ISO]

   
Pentaxian

Registered: December, 2006
Location: NW Arkansas, USA
Posts: 4,702

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 4, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,485.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Color rendition, bokeh, clarity; light for it's size; focus limiter; tripod collar; stunning clarity that exceeds my other FA* lenses
Cons: if you use AF, it's slow (common with almost all macro lenses); no longer in production... 8-(

Price paid was for the last one, a demo unit at Pentax Canada. This lens is no longer in production...

It's a typical FA* lens with full metal construction, including the plastic twist lock hood. A nice feature of all the FA* series lenses is the AF/MF clutch focusing ring.

Pentax made approximately 900 - 1100 copies of this lens, if the information I have is correct. It's status is legendary amongst macro aficionados. There are reports that the lens mount or an adapter was used to allow it to be mounted to either Canon or Nikon bodies. Dates of manufacture were 2000-2004, which is unusual, compared to other FA* lens manufacture dates.

Length without hood: ~ 7.5 inches or ~ 19cm
Length with hood: ~ 10.6 inches or ~ 26.9cm

Sharpness: 10 (even wide open)
Bokeh: 10
Colour rendition: 10
Handling: 10

I am not kidding when I say "stunning clarity". This lens is nothing short of phenomenal in it's ability to render images with true colors and clarity that's unprecedented or unmatched by possibly any other macro lens (except it's MF predecessor, the A* version). The FA* 200/4 macro is quite possibly the pinnacle of Pentax optical engineering in the FA* line of pro film lenses.

I've seen time and time again that the lens exceeds my camera sensor (shooting RAW), and come spring I can test it with my K10D.

One notable feature of this lens: the minimum working distance (MWD) is probably the shortest in existence amongst the 90-200mm range. ONLY 11 inches or 28cm from the front element! All the more amazing, given it's focal length.

The tripod collar is a definite must in low light conditions. Hand holding is possible, but bright subjects/lighting is needed, or using an external flash to compensate. The lens/hood combination is too long to use the pop-up flash when the subject is close - you'll get bad vignetting on the bottom of the image. Most of my macro work is on a tripod and sometimes remote trigger cable, depending on the shutter speeds.

If you can find one and afford it - BUY IT if the seller is reputable. Do not hesitate if you love macro photography. Otherwise, get the Sigma 180/3.5 - evidently it's a good performer.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA* 200mm F4 Macro ED [IF]



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