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SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited

Sharpness 
 9.5
Aberrations 
 8.8
Bokeh 
 9.1
Autofocus 
 9.0
Handling 
 9.4
Value 
 8.9
Reviews Views Date of last review
96 343,494 Fri November 6, 2020
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
97% of reviewers $517.63 9.39
SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited

SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
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SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
supersize
SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
supersize

Description:
The Pentax FA 43mm limited is a standard prime lens featuring a metal construction and superior optics.

It was for a while also available as a manual focus lens in the Leica M39 rangefinder mount with a matching optical viewfinder. That version was labeled smc Pentax-L 1:1.9 43mm Special.

SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 8 blades
Optics
7 elements, 6 groups
Mount Variant
KAF
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F1.9
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
AF (screwdrive)
Quick-shift
No
Min. Focus
45 cm
Max. Magnification
0.12x
Filter Size
49 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 37 ° / 31 °
Full frame: 53 ° / 45 °
Hood
MH-RA 49 mm
Case
Dedicated pouch
Lens Cap
Dedicated metal push-on
Coating
Ghostless,SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
64 x 27 mm (2.5 x 1.1 in.)
Weight
155 g (5.5 oz.)
w/ Hood: +10g
Production Years
1997 to present (in production)
Pricing
$596 USD current price
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-FA 1:1.9 43mm Limited
Product Code
20170 (silver), 20180 (black)
Reviews
User reviews
In-depth review
Variants

Black and silver


Features:
Screwdrive AutofocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame Support
Purchase: Buy the SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
In-Depth Review: Read our SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited in-depth review!
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos



Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited Buy the SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 96
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 7,195

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 6, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Compact, compatible with film cameras as well as digital, decent performer
Cons: Not that fast, disappointing build quality, disappointing optical quality, MFD
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 6    Value: 3    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3   

I bought this lens to replace the DA 40mm Limited as I wanted an AF standard prime for my film cameras which would also work well on digital. I've shot quite a bit of film on it but not scanned any of the results yet, so at this time this review is based solely on it's performance on my K-3.

I have the silver version because it's what was available used in my city. I would have much preferred black as the silver one looks ugly on my K-3.

Every Pentax fan knows the Limited series, DA and FA, of lenses, and their legendary reputation, and as an owner of all the DA Limited lenses I hankered after the FAs as they are faster and film/FF compatible. The DA 40mm is a nice lens, very handy with great image quality, but only f/2.8, and if you want something faster in that focal length and with AF then this is your only option.

I expected to be enthralled by the 43mm from the start, both in optical and build quality, but I have been disappointed by both. I would say the build quality is slightly poorer than that of the DA Limited lenses, though that's possibly because of the aperture ring, which is light and a little loose when it should be firm. Perhaps the DA Limiteds have an advantage there in not having an aperture ring to let them down. Overall the 43mm feels too light and the metal too thin, leaving a feeling of fragility.

Optically the 43mm is sharp in the very centre wide open, but bear in mind that's on APS-C, so on full-frame the sharp part of the image will be a very small area indeed. It needs to be stopped down to f/2.5 to reliably get images that are decently sharp when focused outside of dead centre, and that leaves it with a paltry 1/3 of a stop advantage over the DA 40mm. Apertures larger than that are useable but be prepared for a little glow and AF mis-focusing. Bokeh and rendering are OK, but nothing really special. I don't value lenses purely on sharpness as some do, I love a lens that adds a je-ne-se-quoi to it's images, and the 43mm disappoints here, where I expected it to excel. For just 7mm difference in focal length it seems much more difficult to get subject isolation out of the 43mm when compared to a good 50mm lens. The much, much cheaper DAL 50mm f/1.8 produces better results in this regard.

Minimum focusing distance is 45cm, which is typically what a 50mm lens has, but this is just 43mm, so magnification is lower and this results in being unable to get in as close as I would like.

All-in-all, it's very much missing the pixie dust that the FA Limited series are reputed to have. That's not to say it's a poor performer, it isn't, but it's only adequate where it should be excellent, and as such comes nowhere near to deserving it's reputation. Will I keep it? Well, that depends on how well it performs on film. If it's good on film then I will probably keep it as the best of the few options available for a fast AF prime compatible across all film and digital cameras. If it were just for it's performance on digital then there's no way I'll keep hold of it - the DA 40mm is smaller, performs at least as well (albeit slower) and is half the price or less.

If it weren't for the price I'd probably rate this as a seven or eight but the price can't be ignored - this is the most expensive lens I own and yet not in the top five (or probably ten) of performers. As such, it deserves nothing more than a lowly six.

Here's how it looks on my K-3:


K-3 and FA 43mm Limited
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr

Some sample images:


Flowers
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


Watch your step
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


Through the daisies
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


Colours
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


Pipo
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr
   
New Member

Registered: September, 2020
Location: Derbyshire
Posts: 3
Lens Review Date: October 17, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: Build quality, flare resistance, very sharp when well stopped down
Cons: Unacceptable distortion, inflexible, poor bokeh, so-so wider aperture performance
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 4    Bokeh: 4    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 6    Value: 6    New or Used: New    Camera Used: MZ5n/MX   

OK - let's be honest. What this is, is your Dad's Pentax M 50mm 1.7 carcass with updated optics and autofocus

A agree with Camera Quest who were amazed that Pentax had the temerity to build a lens out of metal when poly carbonate was all the rage - it was a bold move. I read Amateur Photographer's review of the lens by Dr Stewart Bell, who was very impressed and I got one second hand.

Off I went to make use of it.

What I found was a lens that had some really interesting characteristics: it could deal with contra-jour light extremely well - highlights? No problem. Street lights at night? So what! This to me was the landscape photographer's lens - stopped down to F8-11 - wow! - the picture quality could not be argued with. It IS sharp across the frame.

But when I started using wider apertures - it just looked plain ordinary and lacked the punch and drawing of the faster Pentax 50's.

There was another problem - distortion. Those using this lens on digital may have images pre-processed and the distortion ironed out. On E6 the distortion was plain disappointing - I mean REALLY, REALLY bad. Any of the Pentax 50-55mm could knock this blue-blood into a cocked hat regarding distortion.

Another problem area was bokeh. It was hard to get separation at closer distances and the bokeh was very busy - distracting. I honestly think that any 50mm is frankly more useful performance wise.. I don't think that the 43 Limited is a good light gatherer either.

It's series name 'Limited' is quite apt given that to me it has a limited application - photographing nature where there is not a straight line in sight. I would not use it for architectural photography. It excels at landscapes - but then so could most of the Pentax 50's - including the f2 versions.

So, you are paying a lot of money for a lens that to me at least has a limited use. When I sold it I was left scratching my head in puzzlement 'What was that all about?' I asked.

I felt that I'd been had. This is not a lens for all seasons in my view. It has a niche application I think. Think hard before you buy is my advice.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2014
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 1,616

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 9, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $375.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: 3d-pop rendition; bright aperture; focal lenth; sharpness
Cons: CA; weak corners

This was the last lens I ever thought I'd get. It didn't really seem to fit a purpose for me, as I didn't particularly do portraiture, the focal length seemed a bit odd on aps-c, etc etc.

But then suddenly it made perfect send. I'd got the DA21 and then the DA15 limited, and rounding it out with the 43 1.9 would be a perfect solution to have a three-lens, small and compact kit would cover all bases. Low-light was covered, medium-telephoto was covered - perfect!

It really does have the 3-d pop that people describe. It's subtle at times, but other times it's fantastic. It makes photographs with large depths of field (f/5.6-f/11) have more pop to them. And that's how I like to shoot! The first thing that I found disappointing is I tried a vertical portrait wide open, and the subjects' heads were relatively close to the edge of the frame and looked out of focus. CA is more visible than in my other limiteds but it's never been a significant problem for me.

Great lens, very versatile. I end up using it far more than I'd expect! Wonderful for landscapes too, as it helps to simplify the subject and cut out extraneous features I might not want in the field of view. I would recommend it - it might surprise you!
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2013
Location: Canada
Posts: 40
Lens Review Date: January 3, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: size, build quality, image quality
Cons: none

Had a HD DA40 LTD, and wavered on buying this. Found a store with old stock clearing out and picked it up.
MIJ version so really old.
That said compared to the DA 40 which was very good the pictures now just have more life to them.
Nothing wrong with image quality after fine tuning the focus.
Highly recommend if someone is thinking of getting this for the K1.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2011
Posts: 417

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 8, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: small, image quality, character, focal length
Cons: still a little too pricey (I think), hard to manual focus, far minimum focusing distance
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K-1   

I do have some negative things to say about this lens, but the fact that it has remained on my Pentax K-1 for months now as my primary lens really tells you how I feel.

This lens is a fantastic documenting tool on full-frame. I like the 35mm focal length best, but 43mm has grown on me as the pictures come out looking so natural. I know there's some thought and science behind why they picked that focal length for the sensor size, and being a true "standard" lens, and I don't know too much about how all that works but it does feel like a very natural what-you-see-is-what-you-get length.

If the fact that I left it on my K-1 isn't enough to show you how I value this lens, I also have done something I never thought I would do with a $1k+ setup - shoot in JPEG. The pictures come out so predictably good, and I was finding myself performing the exact same edits to the pictures. Mind you, these aren't pictures I'm trying to sell or anything, just documenting family life, so I wasn't worried about being heart broken if anything bad did happen. Just a very small contrast boost, and a little saturation and the pictures are beautiful. That's seriously impressive.

I think it's acceptably sharp for shooting people wide open center frame, and stopping down to even 2.8 seems great to me. I don't really see any sharpness issues.

Now for the cons.

I really do get bummed consistently about the minimum focusing distance. Seems like it might be one of those things that's physically impossible to deliver in their design and keep the other bonuses like size, but it hurts nonetheless. That being said, having to take a step back and reframe gets me to take more of the scene in anyway and that can be good. It's just those times where I wanted to be in closer.

I think it's overpriced. That's me being kinda cheap, because I am, but I think a somewhat close comparison could be made to the FA 50mm 1.4, which has gotten me similarly great images, and is way cheaper used. Maybe one day I would compare the lenses side by side and sell off the 43mm, but I have this illogical love with the 43mm already that probably means I won't. I bought my 43mm for what I consider a pretty good price at $300, and that felt like pushing it for me.

So, it's up to you. You definitely get a great lens that is uniquely different than the FA 50mm 1.4, but are they more aesthetically pleasing to you? Well, it's arguments like that that keep this forum open

Hope this helped somehow, there are already really solid reviews on this lens, but wanted to offer maybe my unique perspective.
   
Seeker of Knowledge

Registered: August, 2016
Location: Topeka, Kansas
Posts: 20,593
Lens Review Date: November 5, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: build quality, reputation is lived up to
Cons: none I found
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: k 3 II   

this is the black model

interesting, the pouch has gold lettering which is something I hadn't seen before

of course this is my first FA limited, my others are the SMC DA Limiteds

made in japan ( don't know if that matters )

purchased used from Adorama
   
Pentaxian

Registered: December, 2009
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Posts: 2,025

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 5, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $340.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Wonderful build, small, light, useful focal length on FF
Cons: Corners not as sharp and center wide open
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-1   

Some review sites are pretty harsh about this lens. It think mainly they focus so much on corner sharpness wide open (and also there seems to be a bit of sample variation coming into play too). Corners are not perfect wide open but not that bad either (at least on my copy). Stop down a bit and everything is sharp.

On the K-1 its a very useful focal length and now my default initial lens when I go walk about. Handling wise its a joy to use while also being very small, light and unobtrusive.

There is a bit of pixie dust in there too, but perhaps not as much as in the FA31.

Some sample images (I will add some more later):
1. At f4

2. At f2.8
   
amateur dirt farmer

Registered: December, 2014
Location: probably out in a field somewhere...
Posts: 23,282

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 2, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: color, clarity, sharpness, rendering, quality-feel
Cons: MFD, no quick-shift, occasional CA
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3   

I finally bought a copy (used from the Marketplace) of the venerated FA 43mm f1.9 Limited - slightly intimidating, given its status as one of the Three Princesses (or Amigos, or whatever you call this trinity), but here we go:

of course, there's the build quality of the FA Limited - all metal, tight tolerances, engraved markings, all the things we've come to know and love about these lenses - she's a beauty...

two shortcomings for me are immediately apparent from the get-go: MFD of just under 18" and no quick-shift, but this lens was designed in a different time, to a different spec so I'll just adjust...

beyond those two issues, however, all is a land of sweet bokeh, beautiful colors, and rendering that is just delectable...

witness:

daisies by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

spring storm by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

chainmail by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

snake in the box by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

there is one quirk I learned about the FA 43 Ltd during my month with her: do not force the lens; what I mean is, this lens has a definite, distinct style of shooting that gives you the opportunity to see why it's a legend....

I tried to force the lens into MFD, wide-open shots as I would any other close-focusing or macro lens I own and the results were not pleasing to the eye at all - flat, busy bokeh, uninspiring shots were the result...

but give the lens the chance to flow, to allow the Art to happen, and it's sooo rewarding...

my flickr album for the FA43 Limited:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pepperberryfarm/albums/72157678017630147/page1
   
Forum Member

Registered: December, 2018
Location: Telemark
Posts: 61
Lens Review Date: April 7, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $372.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Unbelievable lens
Cons: None
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K1   

One of the best lenses I've used on any camera system.

It's so unique.

Not only the focal length and aperture capabilites, but the build quality, the sharpness, the 3d effect, the bokeh. I just love this lens.

My only downside, which isn't really fair to blame the lens is that I don't use this focal lenght enough. Still, I have 2743 shots with this lens, and it's more of a pro grade lens than the last lens I reviewed here, the 28-105. Kind of surprised that they both have around the same rating at this forum
   
Senior Member

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Bedfordshire, UK
Posts: 182

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 1, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Ideal focal lenght, personality
Cons: none for me
New or Used: Used    Camera Used: LX, K-1   

I do not praise this lens for its sharpness or lab test results, as I do not share the obsession for these characteristics. From a user point of view this lens is where I should have started my search for my personal taste of lenses.
During the yeas I went through different lenses, mostly 50mm and 35mm ones, shooting them extensively, but none of them really satisfied me.

Then a few years ago I bought this lens with my K-7. Then the K-7 went and this lens stayed. And I found the focal lenght I prefer. Since then I have one 40ish mm lens in every system (SLR, rangefinder and equvivalent medium format) I own.

But this lens by far is my favourite. It is always paired with my LX and taken mostly to trips. Nothing else. And it works brilliantly. Wide enough, yet one can separate subject. Bright enough if you need light, and light enough not to make you tired and sick of carrying your gear. Also makes my K-1 a charming and powerful asset.

All in all, give it a try, and forget about testing it. It is good without needing to prove it again and again.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: December, 2013
Posts: 795

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 14, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Small, light, fast, sharp
Cons: Easy to loose lens cap, screw mount hoos, no quick shift
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: KP, K-30, PZ-1p   

The lens is very compact and well built. Comfortable to use. I use it wide open regurarly and I see it sharp. (On APS-C)

I like the renderation and bokeh of it, but to be honest the DA*55 is even better. Altough the 43mm focal length is much better then the 55mm indoors. Compared to the other FA limiteds it has a similar character, but I use more the other too. When I got it I was totally blown by the image quality so I got the FA77 and then the FA31 too. Now in my library I have 344 shot with the FA31 336 with the FA77 and only 177 with the FA43 from the date I have them all.
For studio portraits or indoor events I really like this lens. On my (full frame) PZ-1p it bacomes a true normal lens, and according to it this is my most used one.

Only the lens cap which I don't like, it falls down some times. Oh, yes and the hood goes to the filter screw mount, so occupies it.

Here are some shots taken with it:
IMG171015_0045 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG171015_0036 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG171015_0067 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG171009_0003 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG171105_0004 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG171231_0003 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG180505_0059 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr
   
New Member

Registered: May, 2017
Location: Kiev
Posts: 12

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 26, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Iron and strong. Very beautiful! High-speed. Makes beautiful photos. Sharp, starting at a diaphragm of 2.0. The lens has a small size and it is convenient to take it with you for a walk or a trip.
Cons: Lenses of silver color are made in Japan and have better quality of photos than black lenses. The cost of the new lens, in my opinion, is quite high. It could be cheaper.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 7    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K5   

I can not say anything bad about this lens. He is perfect! Unless, the price for it is not the lowest.
The lens removes very sharp and contrast photos on the diaphragm 4,0. At a diaphragm of 2.0 or more, the sharpness is no longer around the entire frame, but only in the middle of the photo. But anyway, it turns out to make interesting pictures. Beautiful bokeh. Plastic and contrast image.
ISO 800
* F/2.2
* 1/180



Postscript: I advise this lens to be acquired by anyone who wants to have a beautiful, small-sized, easy-to-use lens on their camera. Which takes pictures of beautiful photos. In the comments I indicated "yes" (I advise you to purchase). But when I save the message, it says "no." It is not true! I recommend everyone to have this excellent photo lens!

   
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 32
Lens Review Date: April 28, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $600.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Built quality, I.Q., light weight
Cons: No quickshift
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K10, K30, K70   

Very light, small and gorgeously built.
Image Quality is outstanding. Not so much the sharpness, similar to many 50mm lenses, but color rendition, resistance to flare, '3D' effect.
Quickshift is missing.

I love it.
   
Junior Member

Registered: October, 2010
Location: Dundas, Ontario
Posts: 26
Lens Review Date: April 2, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Amazing light transmission
Cons: Maybe some PF in rare cases, really can't see much
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax   

Excellent lens. Beautiful rendering, contrast is amazing. Need to have this lens fully open and gather all the nice light around you, don't stop it down I have the MIJ version, not sure it matters but it's extremely well put together with high quality materials. Here are some samples

https://www.flickr.com/gp/pentax-takumar/249720

This lens is a full 10/10 for sure!
   
Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2015
Location: Lower Saxony
Posts: 181

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 31, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: sice, 3D pop, colours, contrast, sharpness
Cons: back light sensitive
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-1   

There is an ant queen attacking Dobi Koma aka amok from the left...K-1, @f/1.9...
...linked to original out of camera jpg

Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited Buy the SMC Pentax-FA 43mm F1.9 Limited



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