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Latest Review Posted SMC Pentax-FA 80-320mm F4.5-5.6
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 near...



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