Mar 5, 2023
HD Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 ED AW Macro
Pentax has a strong history of producing high-quality macro lenses. Until 2022, their latest entry, and the only one designed specifically for digital full frame cameras, was the SMC D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro WR. This lens was also the company's first, and only, weather resistant macro lens. The SMC lens, released in 2009, is well regarded by users, who praise its resolution, bokeh, build quality, and weather resistance.
The old lens was not without problems, however. Chief among those was a tendency to generate purple fringing, an effect made more obvious with newer, higher-resolution camera sensors. Autofocus is also sluggish, and prone to hunt when using live view. This was less of an issue 14 years ago than it is today, where fast and accurate focus is an expectation.
Fast forward to 2022, when Pentax decided to release an updated version of their 100mm macro lens. The new lens is, in many ways, similar to its predecessor. Called the HD Pentax-D FA 100mm F2.8 ED AW Macro, it still carries a few improvements which prove noteworthy:
- New HD coatings
- Improved optical design
- ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements to improve chromatic aberration and purple fringing
- AW (all Weather) protection, theoretically superior to WR (Weather Resistant) by adding dust protection
- Available in black or silver (the silver version is limited 300 units worldwide)
Blatantly missing from that list is an autofocus motor: the new lens still relies on screw-drive, as did its predecessor. This might not be a problem for macro photography, where many prefer manual focus anyway, but to serve as a short tele, and to operate better with live view, improvements in AF would have been welcome. Pentax mitigates this issue to an extent with an electronic focus limiter added through a firmware update for recent Pentax models.
Does the new version of this classic live up to modern expectations? Read on to find out!
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