Pentax 100-300mm f/4.7-5.8 SMC P-FA
(From Pentax lens literature) The Pentax SMC P-FA 100-300mm f/4.7-5.8 features a wide 3X zoom range covering a 100mm medium-telephoto to a 300mm super-telephoto range. Versatile and flexible, this lens is ideal for a variety of subjects, from casual snapshots and portraits to sports and wildlife photography. Like all Pentax lenses, this lens features SMC coating to maximize light transmission and produce sharp, high-contrast images while minimizing flare and ghost imaging.
Pentax 100-300mm f/4.7-5.8 SMC P-FA User Reviews
9 out of 10 points and recommended by joe88 (37 reviews)very sharp and few CA'sfor telephoto converter resolution not so good
normally, telephoto zooms are not so sharp on 300mm, but not this Pentax lens.reviewed January 31st, 2014 (purchased for $100)
f8-11 and 800 ISO on K-X very sharp and nice colored shootings
I'a very content with it. highly recommended
8 out of 10 points and recommended by cali4nia (9 reviews)good resolution and contrast, very lightfeels flimsy, somewhat slow
The lens is made of plastic, including mount, so it feels flimsy, but so far held well.reviewed May 20th, 2013 (purchased for $100)
Optically this lens is excellent at all FLs and apertures. It has some corner softness on full frame, but APS-C crop is quite good. Though it's not a fast lens, unlike many other lenses it doesn't need to be closed a stop or two to get good quality, I often use it fully open and resolution, contrast, and 'happy' SMC colors are there.
There are bad copies out there. I had two used copies of this lens, one was very soft (got it from KEH), the other one was very good (got it from ebay).
7 out of 10 points and recommended by mjbamigo (4 reviews)Light weight, compact design for a 300mm lens, solid feel, and contrast and colorAll-plastic construction, including even the lens mount, long minimum focus distance, soft at its closest zoom, and a slow autofocus
Pentax has a tempting offer in the smc P-FA 100-300 F4.7-5.8. It's a powerful 3x zoom lense covering a very useful telephoto range and stated on Pentax's Web site as "ideal... for sports and wildlife photography." It is, once locked in place, a joy to use, and almost as "ideal" as promised.reviewed November 14th, 2006 (purchased for $275)
On first touch, the lens feels sturdy, but just a bit toy-like. It doesn't hide its impressive zoom range. Turn the wide, rubbery zoom ring and thin focus ring to send the front element extending an impressive 6.5cm on a wobbly barrel. Its exterior is completely plastic-made, right down to its bayonette mount but has an attractive, gold-tint to its silver finish. Teamed with any of Pentax's camera bodies, this lens certainly has a sideline-sportsphotographer-pro look to it, although in miniture scale.
In use, the lense is easy to operate. The zoom ring is very comfortable and responsive. The whole 3x range can be explored by just rolling its grippy barrel back and forth between thumb and middle finger. The focus ring is smaller and far forward on the body of the lens, but provides a smooth rubber ring for traction and works well to focus fine-tuning with light touches from your index finger.
Both rings, and particularly the zoom ring, have a nice amount of resistence and will never allow the long barrel to creep out while the camera is slung on your back.
To add three quibbles about this lens's focus ring, though, let me add my frustration that: first, the lense can not be manually focused unless the MF/AF switch on any of Pentax's camera bodies is in the manual focus mode. It has no clutch action like many other Pentax lenses; and second, the ring is small, smooth, and very far forward on the barrel. Occationally, I find myself squinting through the view-finder and running-a finger up and down the lens, searching for the manual focus. Finally, when it comes time to accesorize, my polarizing filter will stay in place when zooming, which does not rotate the front element, but will rotate off-axis with the focus ring which does turn the front of the lens.
I have been been using this lense for two years and have enjoyed it. Especially when I have had the chance to take it along waterskiing. Perched on the back of the boat with a sporty subject dragging behind, there is no better lens for the price. It combines very well with the sport setting on my *ist DS, holding focus and grabbing nice sharp, colorful shots of aquatic acrobatics. When this zoom range (100-300mm or about 150-450mm on my *ist DS) is combined with a subject held with a rope, literally, at a specific distance on a sunny afternoon, very nice results are sure to follow. This is THE Pentax lense for water skiers or wakeboarders.
Also, for the occational bird or flower shot , this lens will deliver nice color and contrast, especially, I find, pleasing blues and greens. My shots come out a little too soft at the extreme zoom end. Thoughout the zoom range, they need more "smart sharpen" in Photoshop CS2 than pictures from the 18-55mm ubiquitous kit lens and especially from my favorite Pentax lens, a classic smc P-F 50mm F1.7. If shooting JPEGS, I would humbly suggest increasing your Pentax camera's on-board sharpening at least a notch when this lense is fitted.
In bright light, it transmits lots of color, and keeps lens flare to a minimum (which is nice, because there is no hood). During long exposures, lights in a scene will turn to highlights on the sensor without turning into excessive little star shapes. (Which is a bummer for shooting a pretty tree decked with Christmas lights).
What this lense is absolutely not is a macro lens. Pentax says its minimum focus distance is 4.9feet, and I will verify that nothing within arms reach is within focus range.
It is also not the lense for fading light. If you do not already have a tripod, this would be the lens to encourage you to get one. I regret, however, not having had the opportunity to test this lense with a "Shake Reduction" equipped camera body like the K10D, K100D, or K110D.
One last complaint, but a serious one, the smc P-FA 100-300 F4.7-5.8 is not spectacularly fast at focussing. I find the little rubber ring frequently, and noisily, spinning back and forth throughout its whole travel, hunting for a subect. I hope that newer bodies from Pentax (besides my *ist DS) perform better in this respect.
To sum it up, this is a solid-feeling zoom that will give your Pentax camera a little "pro-ness" at sporting events and out on the trail without being a huge investment. It can often deliver very nice results, though is limited in its flexibility by a long minimus focus distance and slow auto focus. Especially if, in addition to your love of photography, you happen to be a water skier or wakeboarder, I highly recommend this lens.