This Old Lens (Medium Format): SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5

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Have not had this Pentax 645 AF variant lens before. But after having such good luck with the 80-160mm f/4.5 I jumped at this lens when it showed up at MPB.com at a price I could not refuse.

SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5

The first time I ever purchased gear from MPB.com. And it will not be my last. Came with caps, a MPB branded box, and a lens hood.

SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5

The lens is missing paint in a few places, but it actually does not look that bad. Took a few quick digital pics and success.

Lens Test - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5

With such a low price I was still in a bit of disbelief. Is this too good to be true? Just to make sure I ran a test roll through. Success. As I said about the 80-160mm, if you have any manner of autofocus Pentax 645 camera body (645N/645D/645Z) this lens is a no-brainer. For the why I will repeat the sentiment expressed in my post about the 645 75mm and 80-160mm lenses. 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

Just like the 80-160mm f/4.5 here is the real kicker about this lens. There is a very wide gap between the lens’s new list price and used price.

New: This lens is listed for $2,396 new at top retailers. 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. With the used prices I can understand why.

Used: As of this writing, these lenses go for around $160-$300 used. This copy? $129.

Value

From over $2,000 down to less than $160? Yes, please.

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

  • Flare
    • None that I have seen even when shooting into the sun. If you do shoot directly into the sun a hood would do the trick. Fortunately, it came with one.
Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5
  • Sharpness
    • Very sharp wide open. As good as nearly any lens I have used.
Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5
  • Colors
    • As with any Pentax lens, I expect to like the colors this lens produces.
  • Bokeh
    • 45-85mm f/4.5 is nothing special aperture wise with 35mm film or on medium format. Works out to a full frame equivalent of 28-53mm f/2.79 (Courtesy mmcalc.com.). I will say that when combined with the larger 645 surface area, this lens can produce bokeh.
Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5
  • 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.

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 45-85mm focal range makes this a great walkabout lens.

Samples

Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5
Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5
Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5
Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5
Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5
Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5
Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5
Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5
Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5
Test Roll - SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm F4.5

Conclusion

Another great Pentax lens.

-ELW

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