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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
20 135,038 Sat January 16, 2021
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
95% of reviewers $899.44 8.85
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
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
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Automatic, 8 blades
14 elements, 11 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
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,Metal Build,Rotating Front Element
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
User reviews
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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Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2014
Location: WA
Posts: 223

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 16, 2021 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: FA* color rendition
Cons: size, AF isn't very consistent
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: k-1, k-3ii   

I wanted a cheaper alternative to the current 24-70 2.8.

This lens is definitely not perfect, but it delivers where I need most.
For comparison I have Tokina AT-X 28-70 2.8. Three times less expensive. Way better value, sharper than FA* at f/4+, 200g lighter, AF has a better keeper rate.


FA* beats Tokina it in terms of colors and wide-open performance. Those two are decision makers for me, so personally - FA* is my choice. True Pentaxian choice, haha

Rating it at 8 for some noticeable imperfections: size, moving front element, AF

I see the price was around $900+ for long time. Now you can find it for half of that and it makes it a way better deal.
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2018
Location: Quebec City, Quebec
Posts: 4,727

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 3, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp starting around f/4 at all focal lengths. A perfect landscape companion for the Pentax K1.
Cons: Exterior finish scratches easily.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K1   

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Rim of the World, San Bernardino, California

Lone Pine, California

Along U.S. Route 395, California

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

Half Dome, Yosemite, California

Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City

Levis, Quebec

Saint Lawrence River near Quebec City

Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2011
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 1,134

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 1, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: FA* colour rendition
Cons: rotating front element

I have had this lens since new back in the 90's, I used it with the LX and Z1 cameras back then and it was my normal walk around lens, once digital hit the focal length didn't fit with my shooting style and I forgot about this wonderful lens. Now with the K1 released it makes more sense once again. The wide aperture compared to the kit lenses is more useful and the lens has the ability to focus quickly, if a little on the noisy side due to using the screw drive mechanism.
Low light works well
back alley by Gary Wakeling, on Flickr
Dreamy bokeh can be easily obtained
top fence by Gary Wakeling, on Flickr
and sharpness is there too
daisy bug 1 by Gary Wakeling, on Flickr

An old friend welcomed back into my photo world, if you come across one, don't hesitate, grab it and enjoy.
New Member

Registered: June, 2016
Location: Ho Chi Minh City
Posts: 17

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 16, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: 3D, color motor, zoom
Cons: heavy and bulky, easy to scratch
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: K1, K50   

When I bought it, I was using the K50. I need a versatile lens for walking, and traveling. I did not care about its weight, maybe it was wrong because it was out of balance on the K50. But now, it's great on K1.
I will talk about using it on K1:
_Color is very good. I always like the color of the FA *
_Full sharpness with a high-end zoom lens
_ Excellent motor zoom function
The 28-70 zoom range is a bit lacking in wide angle, if it's FA * 24-70 it's great. I'm looking to buy a wide-angle lens
_Use with care, because the paint is easy to scratch
_My copy sharp at f 2.8 from 28-60. From 60-70 sharp from f4
_K1 + FA * 28-70 is quite bulky and heavy. A small camera bag just to fit them, can not carry more flash or a wide angle lens, or a portrait lens.
_A rare and ancient lens. Finding a good product is difficult..
_If cost does not matter to you, I really want people to try it once
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2013
Posts: 122
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: 616

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: 3,671

3 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

4 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!

Registered: January, 2009
Location: East Bay Area, CA
Posts: 6,449

6 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 24, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharp, power zoom is nice, full frame ready
Cons: large & a little heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    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
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2007
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 1,013

3 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
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