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SMC Pentax 85-210mm F3.5 Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax 85-210mm F3.5

Sharpness 
 8.7
Aberrations 
 8.5
Bokeh 
 8.0
Handling 
 7.3
Value 
 6.7
Reviews Views Date of last review
7 36,680 Mon June 9, 2014
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
86% of reviewers $440.00 8.43
SMC Pentax 85-210mm F3.5
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Description:
This is the faster version of a 85-210mm Pentax K zoom. This lens came with a close-up lens (ATTACHMENT LENS 1:3.5/85-210mm) that allows for focusing down to 190 cm. The close-up lens is neatly stored in a top compartment in the dedicated lens case.



SMC Pentax 85-210mm F3.5
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (no A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 9 blades
Optics
12 elements, 11 groups
Mount Variant
K
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F3.5
Min. Aperture
F32
Focusing
Manual
Min. Focus
350 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
67 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 19-7.9 ° / 16-6.5 °
Full frame: 29-12 ° / 24-9.8 °
Hood
H-R67
Case
Dedicated hard case
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
One-touch Zoom
Diam x Length
77 x 208 mm
Weight
1050 g
Production Years
1976 to 1976
Engraved Name
SMC PENTAX ZOOM 1:3.5/85~210
Product Code
27580
Reviews
User reviews
Notes
Close focus distance is 190cm with a dedicated close-up lens. The focusing ring has a third distance scale for use with the close-up lens
Features:
Manual FocusAperture RingFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:



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Veteran Member

Registered: January, 2012
Posts: 1,972

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 9, 2014 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Fast, constant f3.5, good range, great built
Cons: HEAVY, HEAVY and HUGE, not balanced well
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 6    Value: 7    Camera Used: K-01   

I got this lens last year for a short time - having bought it for a bargain price of £60 shipped I felt pretty good about it, especially that the lens came in absolutely mint condition - both optics and body were absolutely intact without any mark. It also had the dedicated lens hood and both caps so pretty nice collector's package, right ? The problem is I wanted it for use not for display - so noticed straight that lens was pretty heavy and very hard to handhold - I mean I sometime do handhold with heavy lenses (300-400mm) but this zoom simple didn't balance well - and that holds true for my K-01, K10D and film Z1p cameras . But of course I would get used to it if the IQ was icing this cake. Sadly - my copy turned to have some sort of optical fault and was unable to focus to infinity. And no - it didn't have any close up lens attached - it simple haven't been calibrated properly and infinity was off by tiny fraction - I was able to take a sharp shot of something up to about 200 yards - further than that all was blurred. So I was pretty disappointed with this - where shot was in focus - it was sharp , the IQ was really good - I rate it high 9 ( as for a zoom category this means it's approaching certain primes even ) - but overall , considering the weight, the bulkiness , the handling - I decided to return it rather than trying to get it fixed.

Shortly after that I got SMC Pentax-A 70-210mm F4 and never looked back ! This turned to be at least the same sharp, much lighter and much smaller - and also focusing much closer - AND with greater range (70-210 instead of 85-210) - not to mention the convenience of electric contacts of SMC-A version.

I honestly cannot recommend this lens , and would rather not buy it now.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: August, 2009
Location: Quebec
Posts: 6
Lens Review Date: May 26, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Good color rendering
Cons:
Sharpness: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 7    Value: 5    Camera Used: LX, istD   

For a zoom, I found its sharpness to be OK on Kodachrome. I remember a pic at 210mm f3.5 that showed great color rendering for a subject deep in the shade.

But once I compared it, on a 6Mp Pentax D body, against the best of that time for sharpness, the Tamron SP70-210mm f3.5, and the Pentax lens was behind the Tamron. But the color rendering with the Pentax was better than with the Tamron.

I need to redo the comparison between these 2 lenses after micro-adjusting the focus on a recent D body. The original result for the Pentax lens might have been plagued with a back or front focusing problem with the istD.
   
Senior Member

Registered: January, 2010
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 206
Lens Review Date: May 23, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Solid build, 9 blade aperture, EXTREMELY sharp, constant f/3.5
Cons: a little big, but very well balanced
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 8    Camera Used: K-r   

This lens is quite legendary. One of the very first Pentax zoom lenses

With the close focusing lens attachment and the SMC Pentax Rear Converter K T6-2x, this lens is a major force to be reckoned with. In my opinion, it competes favorably with modern fast zoom lenses in the same range and probably even some primes. It really is that good.

From my research, a very limited number of these lenses were only produced for 1 year before Pentax decided they were too expensive to continue manufacturing. They are extremely are to find in good condition today and should be considered a "once in a lifetime" find.

This website has some more details about it : http://www.bdimitrov.de/kmp/lenses/zooms/long/K85-210f3.5.html

My copy was appraised in 2010 by an authorized Pentax dealer for $800. Truly a unique collector's piece!
   
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 6,300
Lens Review Date: October 30, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Build, speed, constant aperture and one touch zoom design.
Cons: Cost, size and minimum focusing distance.
Camera Used: K Series film bodies (K1000, KM, KX, K2, K2DMD)   

The K85-210/3.5 is a rare faster version of the 85-210mm zoom released in 1976. It was in production only for one year.

Note: A close-up lens attachment was made available for this lens. It reduced the minimum focusing distance from 3.5 to 1.9 meters.

Optics/Bokeh:
The F3.5 version has a different and slightly better optical design than the K85-210/4.5 and is equal to the K135/3.5, K150/4 & K200/4 primes. Still not as good as the faster K series primes like the K85/1.8, K105/2.8, K120/2.8, K135/2.5 & K200/2.5. Like the F4.5 version the minimum focusing distance is only 3.5 meters, so the close-up attachment helps narrow it down to 1.9 meters. Still it would be much better if you did not have to use one at all, like with the newer zooms.

Focal length:
On film 85mm-210mm is perfect and covers the portrait to medium telephoto range. On digital you loose the lower end of the close portrait range.

Build/Mechanics:
Superb K Series build and a slightly shorter physical length than the F4.5 version. However this is a much heavier lens and weighs 300 grams more than the K85-210/4.5! This is another non “camera bag friendly” lens. The zoom is also a one touch design like the F4.5 version. The filter thread is 67mm and the metal screw-on hood is dedicated to the K85-210/3.5.

Speed:
Pentax got the speed right with this zoom, but as a result you get a much heavier lens. (Similar to what happened with the FA* 80-200/2.8.) The K85-210/3.5 is getting pretty hard to hand hold, even with the faster maximum aperture, when I’m using 100 ISO film.

Summary:
Pentax discontinued the K85-210/3.5 after only being in production for one year, most likely due to its cost & size and also due to the release of the much smaller K80-200/4.5 in 1977. This makes the K85-210/3.5 a rare & expensive lens and more of a collector’s item.

Sample shots taken with the K85-210/3.5. Photos are low resolution scans from original slides.

Camera: KM Film: Fuji Sensia ISO: 100




Camera: KM Film: Fuji Sensia ISO: 100

   
Senior Member

Registered: August, 2010
Location: Alaska
Posts: 135
Lens Review Date: December 25, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: 9 Blade Aperature, Pro Level Glass (for the time)
Cons: Heavy, Bulky, CA/PF

This one-touch manual zoom is one of the more unusual lenses that Pentax created. It's huge, bulky, and heavy. The f/3.5 max aperture probably indicated that it was very expensive to create and to purchase. It was produced only in 1976 and rumors say only around 3000 copies were ever produced. Nine blades on the aperture ensure smooth bokeh even when stopped down (and cool stars as well). Pentax usually reserves 9 bladed aperture for more "limited" or "*" lenses. I'm assuming Pentax probably marketed this originally as professional level glass. For my needs, 85-210 is a perfect range of coverage.

Originally it was sold with a custom diopter to reduce it's minimum focus distance from it's original 3.5m to 1.9 meters. My copy, sadly, only included the custom lens hood. The screw-on lens hood is handier than the Takumar versions- instead of attaching to the lens via felt (when not in use) it has another thread. Very handy. The hood also has a 67mm thread at the distant end for attaching filters. Also very handy. There is another, more prolific version of this lens with a maximum aperture of f/4.5 (in both K-mount and M42 Takumar variations). I can't verify, but I've heard that a custom case and tele-converter were also originally sold with this lens.

It's a very fun lens to use, but all metal construction leads to problems out in the wilderness... both extreme cold and heat make it uncomfortable to hand-hold. The lens almost needs to be hand-held. The plastic housing on my *ist DL feels strained supporting such a lens by itself. The magnesium alloy bodies of Pentax's semi-pro cameras should be able to handle the weight.

The image quality of this lens is great. I found my copy to be acceptable sharp throughout the zoom range. Contrast is moderate, but good (and improves stopping down). Chromatic aberration is moderate in high contrast situation as well as purple fringing (common in older telephotos and zooms). Stopping down improves this as well (as usual). Bokeh is super creamy, and smooth. It reminds me of my other Takumar lenses in terms of rendering, but combined into a single usable zoom lens. Awesome.

I'd recommend this lens to users comfortable with their camera's manual mode. I've heard that this sells high among collectors, but I found my copy on e-bay for a very reasonable price. The lens is a must buy if you come across it, but it's difficult to seek out because of its rarity.
   
Senior Member

Registered: March, 2008
Location: Antwerp, Belgium, Europe
Posts: 125
Lens Review Date: June 19, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, sharp, sharp! Well balanced, great "K"-redering
Cons: Can't think of anything

This is a great lens, in every sense!
Big & tall and a great performer in sharpness, bokeh & redering!

I've just found it a few weeks ago, so my experience with this lens is limited.
But I can definitely confirm the exceptional sharpness of this lens! The single focus/zoom ring works very fast and easy! F3.5 gives a nice bright viewfinder, which allows accurate focusing and playing with DOF. Some barely noticeable CA at wide open (typical for fast zooms).

I've put some pics here!

If I HAVE to point out a little weakness, it would be the quite large minimal focus distance of 3.5 meters; but the "Dedicated Close Focus Attachment Lens" reduces that to about 1.9 meters. Be sure to ask for this attachment lens when you are offered this 85-210/3.5, because is also fits all other lenses with a 67mm-filtersize (incl. my Fa*24/2, 85/1.4, 28-70/2.8 and even 300/4.5!!
   
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2008
Location: B.C Canada
Posts: 121
Lens Review Date: September 11, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sturdy build. Nine apeture bades.Sharp lens.
Cons: none

A geat lens if you can find one,for not many made.Also comes with a special attachment filter for portraiture.Produces ver sharp pics.Pics of this lens is on my personal gallery.
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