HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.6 (APS-C)
The HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm has proven to be nothing short of a top-shelf lens boasting professional features and delivering superb image quality on APS-C bodies. It is capable of producing sharp, clear, and aberration-free images— the dream of any telephoto lens owner. We are quite impressed with it so far and are eager to continue testing it on full frame.
Update as of July, 2017: read our newer review of this lens on full-frame here.
Since this lens will call for relatively fast shutter speeds in many scenarios, full frame cameras could potentially have an edge thanks to better high-ISO capabilities. On the other hand, corner performance on the larger format is expected to be more problematic, as we've observed with competing lenses such as the Nikon 80-400mm.
- Long reach
- Exceptional image quality on APS-C
- Full frame compatible
- All-metal barrel
- Latest lens technologies
- Silent focusing
- Weather sealed
- Poor ergonomics, heavy
- Soft corners and low contrast wide-open (450mm)
- Slower to focus than competing systems
- 1-year warranty (US / Australia)
At $2499 MSRP, the D FA 150-450mm is considerably more expensive than most other Pentax lenses. But it's also in a higher (professional) product category and ready to take on full frame sensors. The Pentax lens is fairly priced if we look at other lenses in its class, and it does offer more reach than direct competitors such as the Canon 100-400mm ($2199) and Nikon 80-400mm ($2699). The reach justifies the higher price of the Pentax compared to the Canon, while the inclusion of a 5-year warranty as standard justifies the price of the Nikon. The Pentax 150-450mm's solid construction offers reassurance for users who might otherwise be hesitant to make such a large investment; we find it curious that it does not bear the Pentax "star" designation which it certainly deserves.
As we had nothing but praise about the 150-450mm's impressive build quality, it received full marks it this category. Its heavy weight and relatively poor ergonomics for hand-holding cost it several points in the handling rating, but it makes up for this with nearly-perfect optical performance across the board on APS-C. We award the lens itself a 9 for autofocus as it has everything needed for professional-grade speeds and is held back only by the capabilities of existing camera bodies (which reduce practical performance for action photography to a 6 or 7, in our opinion). Our value rating of 7 considers the 150-450mm's price against its performance and the capabilities of competing systems.
Who is it For
If you have been held back by the reach of shorter telephoto zoom lenses, or if you want to replace a super telephoto prime with a zoom, the 150-450mm could be right for you. We recommend it for birding, wildlife, sports, and event applications that allow the use of a tripod or monopod. The 150-450mm is also suitable for users who are looking for a premium super telephoto zoom that will be compatible with Pentax full-frame DSLRs.
Have Your Say
What do you think of the 150-450mm? Let us know in the comments section below.
The Bottom Line
We would have no absolutely reservations about this lens had it not been for its heavy weight and ergonomics, which make hand-holding cumbersome. Regardless, we recommend the 150-450mm for its impressive aberration control, prime-like sharpness, durability, and advanced focusing features.
Stay tuned for our in-depth review of this lens on the Pentax full frame in early 2016, as well as our upcoming first impressions review of the D FA* 70-200mm F2.8.
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