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SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70mm F2.8 AL Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70mm F2.8 AL

Reviews Views Date of last review
16 94,363 Mon November 30, 2015
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
94% of reviewers $945.71 8.81
SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70mm F2.8 AL

SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70mm F2.8 AL
SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70mm F2.8 AL
SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70mm F2.8 AL

This fast yet heavy lens supports Power Zoom. You switch from auto focus and to manual focus by pulling the focusing ring towards the camera, and vice versa. The AF/MF switch on the camera can be left in the AF position at all times.

SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70mm F2.8 AL
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Automatic, 8 blades
14 elements, 11 groups
Mount Variant
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
AF (screwdrive)
Min. Focus
43 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
67 mm
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 55-23 ° / 46-19 °
Full frame: 75-34 ° / 65-29 °
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Weather Sealing
Other Features
Power Zoom,Push-pull AF/MF Focusing Ring
Diam x Length
85 x 104 mm (3.4 x 4.1 in.)
800 g (28.2 oz.)
Production Years
1994 to 2004
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-FA* 1:2.8 28-70mm AL
Product Code
Aspherical elements
Screwdrive AutofocusPowered ZoomingAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos
Price History:

Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70mm F2.8 AL
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Senior Member

Registered: May, 2013
Posts: 100
Lens Review Date: November 30, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: excellent sharpness
Cons: heavy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 8    Camera Used: MZ-S   

Another American South User, now Brazil, was pleased that here on the continent have some legends of Pentax less technical assistance that is not good. One of my favorite lenses, though heavy. excellent sharpness never left me disappointed with one 2.8 Pentax jewelry.
Things that bother me, could be IF and less heavy, but compared to modern plastic lenses makes me realize that this lens will last forever.
And even with the launch of the new lens, I was thoughtful to update or not, then to test here in pentaxforums, definitely not !! The difference is not so great. I recommend this lens to have the opportunity to put his hand in a not hesitate.
Forum Member

Registered: July, 2014
Posts: 59
Lens Review Date: February 18, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Build, Sharpness, Premium Glass
Cons: Soft wide open, Noisy, Heavy
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: K20D   

Im in Colombia (South America) and ther is not representation from Pentax Here, I was using Canon products since 8 years ago, but I found this lens in a second hand photo store, it called me, like telling me: "buy me", and I did it, immediate I found a Brand new K20D for a great price of an importer in the airport, and I made the best decision in my photographic life. This lens is so important to me, because it allowed me to change to a brand that feels just like mine, I dont know if its better than others, it just make sense for me, for my needs and it puts a lot of spicy in my life, I wake up again for my love to photography, and realized that I was so bored about canon .

Well this is a Review of the lens. First I had a problem with autofocus, It was very inaccurate, until I found the AF adjust. Needs -10 and ready to rock, is soft wide open, sometimes more than others, but when is necessary y use it wide open (specially in Weddings). from f:4 is much better, I havent. used more than that. Power zoom helps sometimes but drains out the battery quickly.

Its heavy, After 8 hour of hard work in A wedding, It really feels it, but Im used to it..

I already have 3 Pictures published in Pentax gallery with that lens as Juan Roldan Photography

Some more examples, they are all wide open.

New Member

Registered: September, 2012
Location: Albacity
Posts: 2

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 31, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, color, contrast
Cons: Power zoom (not usable with DSLRs), rotating front element, noisy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K5   

I've been using this lens a few months and it has become my main lens for almost everything. I love the IQ this lens offers in all the apertures. The only bad thing that can be said is that is a bit too soft at 70mm, f2.8 when the subject is at minimum focus distance (about 30cm, not 43), but this only affects if you use it as a pseudo macro lens for plants or flowers (and even in this scenario, is very rare that you use f2.8 instead of 5.6 or even 8).
The Power Zoom function isn't supported by our modern digital SLR cameras, but if you have a film one like the Pentax PZ-1p is a good extra. If you don't, it only adds weight. Edit: I must correct myself, because Power Zoom works since you move the barrel and it moves the zoom like in a compact camera, but not some automatisms based on Power Zoom.
I must say that the rotating front element is not as bad as it sounds, the only effect is that using filters like polarizers or Cokin become a bit difficult.

After a few weeks trying other similar lenses like Sigma 24-70 2.8, Tamron 28-75 2.8 and Tokina 28-70 2.6, I decided to buy this one and have no regrets of my decision. It's heavy, it's bulky, yes, but it's one of the best zoom lens of all time.
April 2017:

After five years and thousands of shots with this lens, I can say it's perfect. It has a top level IQ, nice handling and a zoom range that suits myself. I rarely need something below 28mm and that's only in some interior, where I trust in my DA 18-55 and Metz 45.
It's heavy and it's big, that's true but it's only a matter of time until you get used and the Power Zoom becomes handy when shooting video.

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Posts: 305

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 30, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Stunning detail and beautiful colours captured
Cons: Slight softness at wide aperture at long end
Sharpness: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 7    Camera Used: K5   

I've waited a long time to get one of these and finally found a good looking copy a few weeks ago. I was quite nervous about spending so much on a lens that has some distinctly negative reviews, but taking a "balanced" view I decided it would be worth the risk. There is little point in dwelling on the negative design points of the lens (heavy, rotating front element, limited zoom range, etc) as these are facts that you know before you buy the lens, it was designed for full frame many years ago - accept it . The key aspects for me are how it actually delivers in terms of sharpness, detail, colour and the overall look of the results.

At the wide end this lens is, IMO, in the same league as its Prime equivalents - 28mm at f2.8 is simply stunning (the first architectural shot I took at 28mm looked to me as though it must have been taken at arounf f5.6 from the detail captured, but the EXIF data showed it was f2.8 - it genuinely surprised me!). The sharpness is retained until you get to about 60mm, then there is a drop off in sharpness (at wider apertures), the overall look is still very good but that edge is gone - this is slightly dissapointing, but stop it down a bit and the sharpness is back.

Some lenses seem particularly good at retaining detail, others less so, to my eye this lens captures very fine detail in a pleasing way - you can keep enlarging an image on screen and it takes a lot before it falls away.

We know it's a heavy lens, but the overall feel and balance (with a K5) is good for me. Power Zooming is loved by some and a waste of time to others, I find it very useful on the longer lenses, but less helpful on a wide zoom - hitting the "stop" point accurately somewhere between 30mm and 40mm doesn't work too well for me - I overshoot too often - but the solution is quite simple, don't use it

I'm not very good at assessing the Bokeh or Out Of Focus effect of a lens, but I do notice if it is distracting or poor - the 28-70 is neither of these, in fact at the long end the backgrounds seem quite pleasing. The overall 'look' of images from this lens are very good, and for me it sits beautifully between the FA* 24 and the FA* 85.

In terms of value it is probably quite poor - there are other high quality zooms out there with better ranges and lower weight (and cost), but for me I am so pleased I took the plunge
New Member

Registered: December, 2012
Posts: 3
Lens Review Date: December 13, 2012 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $925.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: It is a classic, bragging rights, looks cool
Cons: over rated, price, weight, ease of use, quality-vs-range
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 5    Handling: 4    Value: 1    Camera Used: k-5 iis   

I'd been waiting a long time to get my own copy of this lens and couldn't wait to take it out on my k5 iis... I considered it an early Christmas gift to myself.

The good first. The bokeh is better than other zooms (because of the wide aperture mostly); but it also has a very nice softness to it. Color rendition is spot on, but then again so are almost all of the modern mid-price range Pentax lenses. I think this lens was exceptional for this aspect. Today its color and sharpness are on par with all but the kit lens.

The bad... has to be the disappointment you get when you do a side-by-side with less expensive lenses. I read all the reviews here before buying mine and I have to think there just isn't enough of this lens around to get a fair rating so far. It's Not as sharp as my 16-50 (another pricy lens), not as sharp as the 10-17 either. Secondly is that it is heavy and not easy to use. I find to equal my other lenses I have to close the aperture two stops; kind of defeats the purpose of the F/2.8

Over-all I can say that I love to show off with this thing and the picture quality is not so much worse than my other zooms, I may keep it for the conversation it creates. It's nice to have a lens as big as a nikon just to fit in...
Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2009
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 3,487

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 20, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,245.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build Quality, sharp, IQ - don't make them like this anymore
Cons: Can't buy new, maybe a bit heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 4    Camera Used: K5   

I managed to pick up a good copy from a Japan eBay seller. In hand, this lens is truly awesome. It's heavy, big and of course in the silver FA that loves to get scuffed so easily. I must say, this is a spectacular lens in terms of the build quality along with the IQ and other technical factors. The power zoom function works well on the K5 and so does the quick shift. The two rings can both quick shift into alternate modes, so this lens is really a technical marvel. I can't imagine Pentax ever making something like this again, so it's a real treat to own. I highly recommend this lens - if you can get a good copy for a reasonable amount of money.

**Edit 12/2012 - I don't understand the severely negative reviews above. I have almost all the Pentax zooms in and around this range. I'm NEVER going to sell my copy and I surely don't brag about what lenses or pieces of Pentax gear I own. I won't try to discredit the negativity above as I can't discredit something I don't understand. If you believe the negative reviews above - good, because it took me a few years to find a copy for myself and they are few and far between.
Inactive Account

Registered: March, 2007
Location: Nove Zamky, Slovakia
Posts: 7,181

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 17, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $870.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: IQ, PZ,
Cons: weight, silver colour easy to scratch, not 24-70

First off, don't be mislead by me rating this "only" as 8.
I'm comparing to to primes, which were my main lenses for a while (FA*24, 3x FA ltd, DA*55, K50/1.2, FA100/2.8 etc)
next to those lenses the FA*28-70 can't score more than that but, it's still the best zoom I've used up to date (replacing DA*50-135 in that spot).

First of all, the lens is big, I mean, I'm sorry, it's HUGE!. 800g and fat body. My wife nicknames it bazooka.
I have large hands with long fingers so I'm in love with the size of it, it feels comfortable to hold and very well balanced on gripped K-7. But the weight does get tiring after few hours walking with it.

The lens is very well finished with minimal wobbles and tight tolerances. My only niggle here is that the silver finish marks very easily.

The AF on K-7 is fast, but not always 100% accurate. Especially indooors. But I guess this has as much to do with Safox AF and "only" f2.8 worth of light getting to AF sensor as with the lens itself.

Now the good points.
Below 60mm this lens is superb! Sharp right from f2.8 and only improves as you go towards smaller apertures. By f5.6 you'd have hard time telling it apart from many primes in that range. Between 60 and 70mm there is noticeable drop in sharpness wide open, but the lens remains usable and if focus is spot on you'll be able to coax some great portraits out of it. One of the best lenses in terms of colour rendition I've used ever. It delivers beautiful warm tones. Favouring yellow and cyans (I'm beginning to think this is typical of FA series as such and personally I love it), as opposed to magentas and blues of DA optics. Also the contrast is high, very reminiscent that of FA*24 but just notch below perhaps. Contrary to some reviewers above I'll go on record saying this lens has exceptional out of focus rendering. Especially for zoom. Better (smoother, less nervous) than FA*24, FA43ltd and I'd say it even out does DA*55. Of course it won't have the "pop" of the faster prime but the OOF areas are rendered beautifully.

Power Zoom? The down side is that while it makes the lens very heavy, the digital bodies don't fully support it. Lower end bodies K-m/x/r don't support it at all, while upper end K?0D or K-"digit" support only auto retract on power off (partial only though as the lens zooms to it's shortest physical length but it doesn't perform focus adjustment to gain shortest overall length ) and power zooming. Having said that, the power zooming is fast and it performs AF on selected AF point while zooming. Blessing in disguise IMO!

All in all, Pentax at it's best in terms of engineering and optical design. Simply stunning lens well worth the money it's going for these days. If this was 24-70/2.8 It would be absolute killer for APSC, with 28mm widest you are still getting walkaround/portrait zoom that is very hard to beat.

Very highly recommended!
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2009
Location: East Bay Area, CA
Posts: 5,715

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 24, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp, power zoom is nice, full frame ready
Cons: large & a little heavy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    Camera Used: K5   

I've been shooting with this lens since 2011 and it remains my favorite zoom of all time, even vs. the very nice DFA15-30/2.8.

I love it. I am a mostly prime shooter but for quick grab shots, events, kids parties, this hits the spot.

Well, the list of cons looks like this:

bulky, rotating front element, expensive.

that said, when i looked through the pics I had taken, the IQ alone was enough for me to forget the negatives. This is the sharpest zoom i've tried. I was mainly shooting indoor club setting concerts with poor lighting so had to crank the ISO and go with slow shutter 1/3 sec at times, so I was managing the blur most of the time, but when i had an opportunity to stop down a couple clicks and get a faster shutter, the lens produced beautifully. I still bring a fast prime for bokeh portraits, but found out in a pinch this lens can pop a good wide open portrait(see below) if needed.

The color and contrast are beautiful too...i will quit yammering and show a pic or two:

Street Party

Jazz at the Winery

This is wide open...
Ben Tucker

Just Another Day
at 39mm, f/4

Registered: December, 2007
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 872

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 8, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Too numerous to list...
Cons: Big, heavy, expensive, short zoom range, but so what...(see below)
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

Just keep reminding yourself that this is a zoom:

...and, in 2013, this lens still rocks:

...and in 2015:

Senior Member

Registered: January, 2009
Location: Perth, Australia
Posts: 180

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 11, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: Color rendition, sharp, IQ, fast focusing speed
Cons: rare, expensive, not IF, wish it were 24-75mm

This is the zoom lens for me.
On crop sensor, it is the portrait zoom lens.

Color rendition and sharpness are excellent: 10 out of 10 for a zoom lens.

The perfect companion for this lens is the FA* 85mm.

Power zoom is an added bonus.
I like how it retracts when the camera is turned off.

People using other brands have heard of famous Pentax prime lenses but not many, if any, have heard good things about Pentax zoom lenses.
This is one of the best zoom lenses Pentax has ever made.

This was meant to be a pro lens so it is rather surprising why it is not IF.
I wish it were 24-75mm, sometimes 28mm is not wide enough on crop sensor.

I'd like to give 9.5 if possible because of the rotating front element but optically it is a 10.

If you can find it, buy it
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2009
Location: South AFrica
Posts: 298

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 27, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp,great color,
Cons: rotating front element, weight


Also got this second hand as a bargen but Im missing my lens hood. If anyone can get me one please please let me know. I have looked high and low for one.

But this is a great lens. Its very sharp from F2.8 already at all focal lengths. I like the power zoom function and the fact that it retracts when you switch off. I use this lens for all my landscape work and have made brilliant 10 photo stitches with it. This lens has some negatives like the rotating front element when you want to use a polarizer but I manage to use a polarizer as it does not rotate that much when focusing on a landscape. Overall one of pentax`s all time great zooms.

Cheers JK
Forum Member

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Wroclaw
Posts: 52

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 25, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: SHARP (especially from 4.5 up), very well built, relatively good to focus manually
Cons: Heavy, not weather sealed, rotating front element, a bit noisy, starts at 28mm

This is probably the best zoom lens I ever had. f/2.8 constant aperture really helps AF in K20D in low light situations. It's a bit soft at full aperture, but closed to f/4.5, considering sharpness, it's rather in primes league.
It's a shame that few useful features of Power Zoom don't work with K20D (focal length recall, constant zoom and zoom during exposure).
Yes, it's a bit heavy but that's mostly metal and I like it
Even that it starts with 28mm doesn't convince me to take it off. This is my standard lens (always on body) because of supreme image quality it delivers.

If you find one, don't think too much, just buy it.
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2008
Location: MT
Posts: 1,080

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 9, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: stunning image quality, explosive color rendition, very solid build, heavy is a plus for me
Cons: rotating front element

Every time I try to hate this lens because of the rotating front element, I sell another shot made with it and it "jumps" back into my travel kit. The sharpness of this lens is downright frightening. Pretty much every article I've ever submitted to a magazine with accompanying images from this lens gets published including a few cover photos. Yeah, it's bulky and heavy, but the purpose of a pro grade lens is to produce pro quality images and this baby delivers in spades! It really excells at portrait distances. Humans doing activities at 5 to 20 foot range is this lens' strength. It's pretty darn fine at landscape work too. Turns sunsets into explosions! Combines very nicely with external flash for the "human" shots.
This lens is quite rugged. I carried it as my primary lens on a two winter photo documentation of a trapper running a trapline in the bitter cold of Montana winters. Probably made 60 day trips following this trapper in sub-zero conditions, boat trips breaking ice, trudging through snow for miles, etc. Hey, no politics here, just documenting a disappearing "old school" lifestyle and this lens gave me hundreds of publishable images of something very few modern photographers have documented with any detail. Also made the trip 500 miles North of the Arctic Circle to document an Inuvialuit Whaling Camp--tents not cabins. Yeah, I shoot politically charged stuff and when I do, I carry this lens because I know I'll get the documentation I'm after with quality beyond belief.
I bought this lens when it was first released and so paid the "first release" high price. It was worth it then, and it's worth the market rate today as well. If you find one buy it. You won't regret the decision!
Site Webmaster

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Arizona
Posts: 43,656

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 4, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,800.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Beautiful build, fast-focusing, razor-sharp, fantastic bokeh and color reproduction, quiet power zoom
Cons: Size, weight, and price
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 6    Camera Used: Pentax K10D   

This lens impressed me after just two sample shots, and I can now easily say that it's the best zoom I've ever used.

The first thing I noticed was its extremely accurate color reproduction, as well as its AF speed: it snaps from infinity to close-up in fractions of a second. The sharpness and bokeh is also top-notch, as you can see in the sample photos.

For me, one of its most useful features, in addition to the fast aperture, is power zoom support. Although the only DSLR that can make use of it is the K10D (update: any newer high-end pentax DSLR also supports power zoom), power zoom is well worth it. Instead of using energy to zoom with the same hand that's supporting the lens, you can focus on holding it steady while taking the shot. Power zoom also allows for fine incrementing as well as advanced features, such as zoom clipping, on PZ series bodies. When you turn your camera off, the zoom is automatically reset to bring the lens as far in as possible (around 60mm). I'll also add that the power zoom on this FA* is much quieter than that of the regular FA lenses.

This is the only FA* lens that doesn't have [IF] (internal focusing), but at the same time it boasts an extremely useful zoom range. The front element rotates on the inside of the lens hood, so in reality, the lack of [IF] won't bother you unless you use circular polarizing filters.

This lens weighs 800g and features a very sturdy and elegant build. Its size is cumbersome, but it's well worth it for the pictures that come out of your camera. It can also come down to 1:4 magnification, which is very useful for close-ups. Like all FA* lenses, it also has an AF/MF clutch that makes focusing quick and easy.

Overall, this is a truly spectacular lens. Its speed and useful zoom range makes in invaluable in many situations, and it look marvelous when mounted on a camera: It takes amazing photos, so I'd recommend this "big gun" to anyone who can get an eye on it.

More sample photos:

I can't help but give it a high rating, despite its size and price.
Inactive Account

Registered: December, 2006
Location: Washington, D.C., USA
Posts: 417

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 16, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: great images; natural color; nice bokeh
Cons: weight; front element rotates;

A beautiful lens. It consistently returned beautiful pictures with natural colors and nice bokeh in out of focus areas.
It is heavy compared to newer zooms; the power zoom function probably contributes most of the weight. I never used the powerzoom feature. A very well built lens. It held its value well as I sold it for more than I paid for it.
I finally sold it in 2006 after getting sharper pictures and less weight on my Ds from the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 DI.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70mm F2.8 AL

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