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

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Pentax 70 210mm F4 On K 1 II With Hood

Value For Money

The HD Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR lens is priced at £1199. The alternative for Pentax users is the HD Pentax-D FA* 70-200mm f/2.8 ED DC AW lens at £1699. This latter price is somewhat lower than the introductory one, so the f/4 lens may, of course, settle in time. For now, it offers a saving in cost of £500.

There being no other Pentax options, to gauge value for money we could look at the costs that other marques pay for similar optics:

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 ED VR, £1349
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM, £1299
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM, £999
Sony FE 70-200mm f/4G OSS, £1149
Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD, £549

Compared to what the cost would be of a similar marque lens with shake reduction, the Pentax does look good value for money.

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For more options have a look at the Top 26 Best Pentax Lenses, Third Party Lenses for Pentax.

 

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

There has been a tendency for many lenses to get bigger and heavier and it is a welcome change to have a smaller, lighter and less costly option. Although we sacrifice one stop with the f/4 maximum aperture, for many applications this is not really a problem. Current cameras have excellent high ISO performance, and this can more than make up for a slightly slower aperture. We do of course lose out on depth of field control and for some, this will mean the f/2.8 lens will be the one of choice, but where this is not an issue the f/4 versions will offer a trimmer product that is less onerous to carry around, provided of course that there is no penalty in terms of performance.

The f/2.8 lens is actually one of Pentax's star range of superior optics, but in fact, this f/4 version is not very far behind. The figures for resolution are very slightly lower, but the difference is not a deal-breaker by any means. It is even possible to make satisfactory images at f/32 where, although diffraction will certainly take the edge off the fine detail, if depth of field is the main requirement then it is a good thing that the smallest aperture is available.

Of course, what we can't measure is that indefinable “something” that makes an image glow and this lens does have some of that quality. It can't be given a quantity, but I can say that the Pentax-D FA 70-210mm f/4 ED SDM WR lens is now on my own shopping list and it comes Highly Recommended.

 

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

  • Very good and even sharpness generally
  • Low CA
  • Modest vignetting
  • Low distortion
  • Reliable AF
  • Weather resistance
  • Smooth bokeh
  • Half the weight of the f/2.8 lens
  • Excellent flare control
  • Well priced

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

  • f/4 aperture may not suit all
  • Edge sharpness drops off at longer focal lengths

Features4.5/5
Handling5/5
Performance4.5/5
Value4.5/5
Overall Verdict

Own this lens? Let us know what you think of it in the EQDB.


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Comments


3 Apr 2020 6:11PM
Hi

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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bWSt5nV6-w) are saying it is not worth the money.

Many thanks
Michele
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!
3 Apr 2020 6:44PM
Thank you very much!
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.
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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