Pentax HD D FA 70-200/2.8 First Impressions

Pentax HD D FA 70-200/2.8 First Impressions

Kayak Race Pentax HD D FA 70-200 Test

I finally broke down and picked up the Pentax HD D FA 70-200/2.8. I took it out for a quick run today at Chilliwack River where there was a kayak race being held. I thought it would make a really good test of the capabilities of this brand new lens from Pentax. I wanted to share a few quick images and some thoughts from the first few photos before a more extensive real world review is posted.

Kayak Race Pentax HD D FA 70-200 Test

First Thoughts

The first thing I thought when I pulled this lens out of the box to put it in my Everyday Messenger Bag was “dear god what have I done”. This lens is…. “substantial,” to say the least. But that’s something for another time. The more important thing is the first impression I had viewing the photos on the screen for the first time, where my impression was “wow, this lens is nice.”

Kayak Race Pentax HD D FA 70-200 Test

Of the 133 photos I took of the kayaks coming down the river, only a few were out of focus, and the rest were tack sharp. I’m not a sports photographer (my time spent as part of the photo teams for the Abbotsford Summer Games and the Mission Winter Games aside), but I’m pretty impressed. I’m going to have to get a proper subject in front of it in the studio for some real experiments, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be even more in love than I am now.

Kayak Race Pentax HD D FA 70-200 Test

Note in this crop from the above photo just how sharp and well the water drops were captured by this lens.

Kayak Race Pentax HD D FA 70-200 Test

100% (ish) crop

Physical Characteristics and Miscellaneous Impressions

  • High quality build construction
  • Built like a tank
  • Heavy
  • Fast focusing
  • Simple controls (one switch for focus restrictions, one for focus mode)
  • Built in tripod mount
  • Water / dust proof
  • Blah blah blah you can read a better summary of all this on the product page


Like I said I didn’t have a proper portrait test subject to use, but as you can see here, looks good!

Kayak Race Pentax HD D FA 70-200 Test



Paired with the amazing Pentax K-1 (who’s sensor was recently recognized by DXOMark as the third best sensor they’ve tested ever), this lens is fast focusing, sharp as a tack and heavy. I don’t know what it’s like to carry it around all day at a wedding but I’m really looking forward to the images I’m going to get from it!

Here are a few other shots for your viewing pleasure.


There are 8 comments

  1. W Komar

    Make sure you support the lens and camera properly. Never mount the camera to a tripod with this lens on. The plastic that the metal mounting ring is screwed into cannot support the weight of this lens.

  2. Geoff Moore Landscape Photography

    Interesting summary and write up Allan. I was fortunate enough to have a go using this Lens at the UK Photography Show 2018 and to be honest I wasn’t that taken back at all by the image quality. Perhaps its me, but I have read on countless forums and articles including your own on how sharp the images are etc, but I failed to match those claims with my own experience with it for over 20 mins. In fact I was quite disappointed and hard pressed to see any improvement on my Canon 70-200mm F4 IS L when I compared the shots take at home.

    Perhaps I was using a poor sample, but I wouldn’t have thought so as the one being tested was on the RICHO stand and confidently handed to me by one of their sales reps. Alas my Landscapes and Pentak K1 usage still dictate I need a 70-200 and within the current line up, an older Sigma or Tamron wont cut it for the types of landscape photography I undertake (hiking Welsh mountains typically) where the need and confidence in Pentax weather sealing and robustness is so paramount.

    I would be interested in reading a more in-depth review of this lens by yourself, should you have the opportunity.

    Geoff Moore

    • Alan Bailward

      Hey Geoff. I’m definitely no lens testing expert, but the shots *seemed* sharp to me. Maybe it was just the love of a new bit of gear or maybe I was in the throws of the newly joined full frame world though. I recently lent this lens to a friend who does birding and she had a similar experience as you with it being soft, so maybe I need to re-evaluate some of my shots more critically.

  3. John W. Holden

    Thank you for the review of the 70-200 and 24-70 2.8 by Pentax. I appreciate seeing the results for a serious photographer. Your pictures show how capable the lenses are.

    I’m ready to upgrade my ancient Pentax DSLR . I’m torn between the k3 and k1. I’m a hobbyist.

    Is it worth putting the 24-70 on the K3? Your pictures look so sharp.

    My thoughts are to get a lens in the 24-70 range for everyday walk around use to shoot landscapes and nature at the spur of the moment, a 50 mm prime for fun and a 250-300 mm zoom for birds on the feeder.

    The K3 leaves me with more money for lenses. Full frame has limited lens availability from Pentax and they the lenses aren’t cheap.

    Thanks again for the great review.

    • Alan Bailward

      Thanks for your kind words. I agree that lenses are more important than the camera. The K-1 is an amazing camera, but as I’ve learned over the years it’s far better to get good glass than a good camera! One can be replaced in a couple of years, the other you’ll keep for years if it’s good enough. Better to get one good lens for $2500 than pay $250 for a shitty lens you’ll replace 10 times….

      Other than the fact that on a K-3 it’ll be a 35-105 and you’ll miss out on the wide end, the 24-70 should work just fine on your K-3!

  4. John W. Holden

    Thanks Alan. I found photos of the K3 and the Pentax 24-70. The photos left my mouth wide open. If you know how to use a camera, and someday I hope to, you can do some amazing things with that combination.

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