Photography News Issue 24 absolutephoto.com
Pentax HDD FA* 70-200mm f/2.8 ED DCAW £1849
Format Full-frame, APS-C Mount Pentax K Construction
Launched at the start of this year, the HD Pentax-D FA* 70-200mm f/2.8 ED DC AW is designed for use with all current K mount Pentax DSLRs, giving an equivalent focal length of 107-307mm (due to the crop factor of those cameras’s 23.5x15.6mm APS-C format sensors). The lens features the company’s new High Definition (HD) coating designed to cut out flare and ghosting, four super-low dispersion glass elements, two Extra- low Dispersion (ED) elements, and a pair of new Super ED glass elements – the benefit of which should be to counter fringing and improve image sharpness. There’s no image stabilisation of course as that’s in- body with Pentax’s excellent Shake Reduction system. Thanks to its large maximum aperture of f/2.8, which is constant throughout the zoom range, the lens provides lots of light, so you can use faster shutter speeds in more gloomy sporting situations, such as under floodlights, and of course you also get a pleasingly shallow depth-of- field, making it just as suitable for portraits or wildlife applications. With a very high-grade, professional feel, a reassuringly solid build and an all-metal barrel, the 70- 200mm f/2.8 is also part of Pentax’s All Weather (AW) range, featuring extensive sealing to protect it against moisture and dust. And it has an Super Protect coating on the front element to repel water, oil and dust and make cleaning easier. All this build quality and the fast aperture does come at a cost however – the lens is heavy at 1.755kg, and pretty hulking in its size too, with a consistent width of 91.5mm right up to just before the mount, leaving only a few millimetres between its girth and the pentaprism’s forward
projection. The heaviness – it’s 600g more than the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 – makes it rather cumbersome to carry and swing around to follow subjects, and by the end of the air show I was using it at, it felt like I was carrying a wet Spitfire. But at least I got a workout. Using the lens, handheld, on a Pentax K-3 II (785g fully loaded), it didn’t feel completely balanced either, but like all big heavy lenses, that weight can be born by a monopod or a gimbal head on a tripod, so it’s not necessarily a big deal. The zoom and focus rings are very nicely weighted and have a non-slip texture that complements the AW specification. AF performance was rapid and very quiet, and the lens locked on with precision. To speed focusing further and prevent hunting, it features a focus limiter switch on the barrel, allowing you to restrict the range to 1.2-4m (useful for close- up portraits), and 4m to infinity (for sports or action). Optical performance was overwhelmingly good. Shooting Raws and applying only default sharpening in Lightroom, at 70mm and at a middling 135mm, optimum centre and edge sharpness was between f/5.6 and f/8, while at 200mm results weren’t quite as crisp, but still very good, with the most clarity between f/8 and f/11. There is minor vignetting at f/2.8, occurring mainly at the long end, but it’s negligible, easily correctable and disappears at between f/4 and f/5.6. Contrast remained excellent in most circumstances, even when shooting against the light thanks to the HD coatings and while distortion was invisible to the naked eye, automatic correction was applied by Lightroom’s own presets. KS
19 elements in 16 groups Special lens elements
Four super-low dispersion ele- ments, two (ED) elements, two Super ED glass elements Coatings HD coating, Super Protect coating, Aero Bright coating Filter size 77mm Aperture range f/2.8-22 Diaphragm 9 blades, rounded Internal focus Yes Manual focus Yes, constant AF override Minimum focus 1.2m Focus limiter Yes Maximummagnification 0.13x Distance scale Yes Depth-of-field scale No Image stabiliser No (in body) Tripod collar Supplied Lens hood Supplied Weather-sealed Yes Dimensions (lxd) 203x91.5mm Weight 1755g Contact ricoh-imaging.co.uk
The images Shooting against a flat subject, like this window frame, allowed us to test the Pentax 70- 200mm f/2.8’s sharpness both at the centre of the frame, and the edges, throughout its aperture range. Images are shown at a 200% enlargement.
How it rates Verdict
This lens is a great performer optically and its build quality suggests it could survive a direct hit from an H-bomb. Its toughness comes at a cost though, as the size and weight will begin to drag after a few hours shooting unless you’re using support. Autofocus is fast and accurate, but overall it’s an expensive offering.
Features Great build, weather sealing, an integrated collar and a fast constant aperture 24/25
Performance Very good image quality and speedy autofocus
Handling Top-notch zoom and focus rings, but heaviness takes its toll in carrying and use 24/25
Value for money Great quality throughout, but the Tamron alternative is a quarter of the price 19/25
Overall Top quality, and tank-like build, with a price and weight to match Pros Image quality, build, AF Cons Heavy and pricey
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