This will be a short one. How we got here was captured in an Instagram post.
@kehcamera got me again. I will never learn. I’ll just kill a few minutes on their website I says. What could happen… “Psst. I got an offer on a bargain grade #pentax645fa200mmf4 you need like hole in the head that you cannot refuse.”
Is the lens good?
Of course, it is. I have yet to come across a bad Pentax 645 FA lens. While I have not had this long at all and I have not used it often yet, I am calling it. More on this below, but I have tried this lens with film and digital.
The lens is missing a bit of paint around the hood thread, but other than that it looks great. Like the 45-85mm and 80-160mm f/4.5 lenses before it, the lens is an exceptional value also. This copy was just under $160. By this point I already knew that it would be a great performer despite its low price. As I have said about the 45-85mm and 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, 80-160mm, and 45-85mm lenses. While not a prestige acquisition it more than makes up for it with practicality and performance.
While respected and quite capable, Pentax…
…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…
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…
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.
New: This lens is listed for $896 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 mentioned this copy used came in at a little less than $160.
From almost $900 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.>
- 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.
- Very sharp wide open. As good as nearly any lens I have used.
- As with any Pentax lens, I expect to like the colors this lens produces.
- Here is this lens’ party piece. I hesitated picking up this lens because I already had the 80-160mm f/4.5. Surely f/4.5 at 160mm would do just fine. But this lens was so inexpensive I figured I would go ahead and get it. And I am glad I did. While not as flexible as the 80-160mm f/4.5 it does produce an impressive amount of subject isolation and bokeh. 200mm f/4 with film works out to a full frame equivalent of 124mm f/2.48 and with digital 158mm f/3.16 (Courtesy mmcalc.com.).
- 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.
- Owing to Pentax’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. Sure it is meant for portraits, but I had a good time with it out and about as well.
Another great Pentax lens. Now I just need to go and find some folks willing to take some portraits.