This Old Lens (Medium Format): SMC Pentax-FA 645 80-160mm F4.5

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Have had this AF variant lens before.

Pentax 645N

It is a great lens. If you have any manner of autofocus Pentax 645 camera body (645N/645D/645Z) this lens is a no-brainer. Why? More on that below. First I will repeat the sentiment expressed in my post about the 645 75mm that applies to the 80-160mm also. While not a prestige acquisition it more than makes up for it with practicality and performance.

Prestige

While respected and quite capable, Pentax…

Pentax 645D

…does not carry the same name-brand cache as other cameras. The ginormous Pentax 67, especially when sporting a wooden grip, and its lenses may be the only aspirational Pentax line up. The 645 lineup clearly sits in the shadow of that camera. But what the 645 lacks in cache it more than makes up for in…

Practicality

I believe many may discount this camera due to its level of automation. Some may point to film backs that do not allow you to switch film mid-roll, but I do not think that is the real reason. My personal opinion is that this camera is essentially a point and shoot with everything set to green. Manual focus vintage lenses regularly sell for more than autofocus lenses. Another practical aspect of this lens is its compact size, with it being barely larger than a 35mm lens. In addition to practicality, this lens also delivers…

Performance

Will touch on this in more detail below, but this lens is a very strong performer. Across the board, it holds its own against more expensive lenses from more prestigious name brands.

On to the categories.

Asking Price

Here is the real kicker about this lens. I have never seen a wider gap between a lens’s new list price and used price.

New: This lens is listed for $2,096 new at top retailers. While this is a lot of money it is not out of line when compared to other medium format zoom lenses. Some with more prestigious names, but more humble specs cost significantly more. I will say that while listed for sale new, I do not see it in stock at the two main retailers. Why when other 645 lenses show in stock at those same stores? I suspect it has to do with the used price.

Used: As of this writing, there is a used, refurbished model for sale for $1,599. Some have this lens for sale on eBay for a similar amount. Under normal circumstances, nearly 25% off the new asking price would seem like a great deal. But not here. For reasons I cannot work out this lens is available for far, far less used. Not nearly $1,600, but more in the area of $160… $160.

Value

From $2,000 down to $160? That works out to 92% depreciation. You cannot put it down to the mount either. Plenty of AF 645 lenses are in stock and available new. Plenty are holding their used prices just fine as well. I do not get it. But it is too good of a lens to pass up at this price. A $160 medium format AF zoom lens is a no-brainer.

Image Quality <Cheated. Cut, pasted, and edited the list from 35mm Pentax lens posts as a starting point.>

  • Flare
    • None that I have seen yet. I imagine if you do shoot into the sun a hood would do the trick.
  • Sharpness
    • Very sharp wide open. As good as nearly any lens I have used.
CInestill Df96
  • Colors
    • I really like the colors this lens produces.
Pentax smc FA 645 80-160mm f/4.5
  • Bokeh
    • 80-160mm f/4.5 is nothing special aperture wise with 35mm film, but it is pretty special on medium format. Works out to a full frame equivalent of 49.6mm-99.2mm f/2.79 (Courtesy mmcalc.com.). As a result, when combined with the larger 645 surface area, this is a lens that can produce pleasing bokeh with ease.
Pentax smc FA 645 80-160mm f/4.5
  • AF
    • As swift and accurate as any SLR lens. Nowhere near sports lens speeds, but quite swift within the realm of medium format systems. Even in modest light. And as an added bonus instead of an AF/MF focus switch it employs a well implemented Autofocus clutch.
Pentax 645N
AF
Pentax 645N
MF

Versatility

  • Owing to Pentaxs’s long standing tradition of start to finish compatibility this is a very versatile lens. This is a lens that works every bit as well with film Pentax 645 cameras as it does with digital ones.
  • Additionally the 80-160mm focal range makes this a great walkabout lens.

Samples

Pentax smc FA 645 80-160mm f/4.5
Pentax smc FA 645 80-160mm f/4.5
Pentax smc FA 645 80-160mm f/4.5
CInestill Df96
CInestill Df96
Pentax 645N/80-160mm w/ Kodak Ektar 100
Pentax 645N/80-160mm w/ Kodak Ektar 100
Pentax 645N/80-160mm w/ Kodak Ektar 100

Conclusion

Another great Pentax lens.

-ELW

Pentax 645N
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