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Pentax HD D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Review - Performance


HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Performance

First the resolution figures, and at 70mm central sharpness is very good from f/4 all the way through to f/22, only becoming really affected by diffraction at f/32 which is just fair. The edges are very good from f/4 to f/16, good at f/22 and fair at f/32.

At 100mm, sharpness centrally is very good from f/4 to f/22 and good at f/32. The edges are very good from f/4 to f/16, good at f/22 and fair at f/32.

135mm sees the sharpness centrally as very good from f/4 to f/16, good at f/22 and fair at f/32. The edges are good at f/4 and f/5.6, very good at f/8 and f/11, good at f/16 and f/22 and fair at f/32.

At 210mm, central sharpness is good at f/4, very good from f/8 to f/16, good at f/22 and fair at f/32. The edges are fair at f/4, good at f/5.6 and f/8, very good at f/11, good at f/16 and fair at f/22 and f/32.


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Performance is actually very similar to the f/2.8 version, perhaps just a whisker below in terms of sharpness, but still notable for its evenness from centre to edge and its character. The resolution isn't the highest ever recorded, but it is very good and it retains the indefinable quality that Pentax lenses show in general. That is where the balance of lens properties lies and is part of the lens maker's art, going beyond having just the ability to separate black and white lines on a photographic chart. Very few of us spend our lives shooting test charts.


Pentax HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR MTF Charts

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution and sharpness as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-1 II using Imatest. Want to know more about how we review lenses?

CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very well handled, even with the in-camera corrections switched off. Central CA is extremely low, and although there is some edge fringing it is far less than many other zoom lenses and can be corrected in software if desired.


Pentax HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Chromatic Aberration Charts

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-1 II using Imatest.


Distortion is also very low for a zoom lens, showing -1.18% barrel at 70mm, +0.38% Pincushion at 100mm, +1.11% pincushion at 135mm and +1.57% pincushion at 210mm.

Bokeh, the quality of the out of focus areas, is very smooth and ideal for portraiture or any other application where smooth gradation is wanted in the out of focus areas.

The new Pentax HD coating does its job well and there is virtually no sign of flare even in quite difficult conditions such as strong backlighting.


Aperture 70mm 100mm 135mm 210mm
f/4 -1.4 -0.9 -1.3 -1.3
f/5.6 -1.2 -0.7 -1.1 -1.1
f/8 -1.1 -0.6 -1 -1
f/11 -1 -0.6 -0.9 -0.9
f/16 -1 -0.6 -0.9 -0.9
f/22 -1 -0.5 -0.9 -0.9
f/32 -0.9 -0.5 -0.9 -0.9

Vignetting is modest and is not particularly obvious in most images.


Pentax HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Sample Photos


Pentax HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR Aperture range

You can view additional images in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

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michele83 Avatar
3 Apr 2020 6:11PM

Thank you for doing this very informative review. Can you tell us a little bit more on how this lens compare with the original Tamron one? I would like to purchase the Pentax but some ( are saying it is not worth the money.

Many thanks
johnriley1uk Avatar
3 Apr 2020 6:36PM
I'm not sure we can compare the two at all. The Tamron is for Nikon and Canon cameras and the Pentax is for Pentax ones. So it's academic really.

Is it worth the money? It weighs half the weight of the f/2.8 version, costs £500 less and is within a whisker of being just as good. It produces lovely images. It also is priced very favourably compared with what other systems would pay for their own marque lenses.

As always, each photographer will weigh up their own requirements. Hope that helps!
michele83 Avatar
3 Apr 2020 6:44PM
Thank you very much!
Gregl564 Avatar
11 Apr 2020 2:19PM
I understand that this Pentax lens and the Tamron version were tested on two different cameras, but is there no significance to the fact that the Tamron version tested out at much higher LW/PH than this Pentax version? The Tamron achieves north of 3500 center resolution at 200 MM for two apertures, while the Pentax barely hits 3000. And while these are two different cameras, they are both the same resolution sensor (36MP).
This relative deficit in resolution seems to appear across other comparisons of resolution of Pentax re-brands of Tamrons versus the Tamron originals.
johnriley1uk Avatar
11 Apr 2020 3:22PM
What you say is certainly observable. The different lens/camera combinations seem to have been set with slightly different objectives. The Pentax resolution seems to be slightly lower but it's pretty even and has very smooth bokeh. It actually also has good contrast and as a consequence looks nice and sharp. Resolution and sharpness are really two different things, although on the web there seems to have been an increasing tendency to refer to "sharpness". The traditional example is the difference between post-WWII German lenses (high resolution, lower contrast) and the then newly discovered Nikon lenses (high contrast, lower resolution). Western photographers discovered this around the time of the Korean war and they loved those Nikon lenses. I do try and include some feel for a lens in the reviews and I suppose it's not a bad thing that they can still have some "character".

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