Lens review

Pentax smc FA 43 mm f/1.9 Limited

8 May 2011
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

As we mentioned in the introduction, Pentax, the master of untypical parameters, didn’t let us down this time either – it would be difficult to compare the tested lens directly with anything at all. Full frame 43 mm focal length is close to a standard lens and more or less in that segment you should look for the immediate rivals of the Pentax 1.9/43. We managed to find several potential candidates and we presented them in the following chart. The Zeiss and the Nikon are rather cousins several times removed because their aperture is much slower. The biggest similarity can be observed between the Pentax and the Voigtlander, because their focal lengths as well as their apertures are roughly the same. The Pentax is a bit bigger but also physically lighter, even though it is a tad faster and features more elements. The Voigtlander has as many as 9 diaphragm blades for a change and its minimum focus is 0.38 of a meter whereas that of the Pentax is 0.45 of a meter.

The Pentax smc FA 43 mm f/1.9, being quite fast in terms of aperture, is so small at the same time that it might be counted among „pancakes”. Its physical dimensions can be assessed well if you look at the photo below, where it is positioned between a new 100 mm Macro device, from Pentax as well, and the Sigma 1.4/30.

Pentax smc FA 43 mm f/1.9 Limited - Build quality

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The Limited Series, produced by the Pentax company consists of top-of the-range lenses, representing the highest quality in the whole line-up; that’s why I don’t quite grasp why their production line was moved to Vietnam. If Sigma can still manufacture even its cheapest lenses in Japan, Pentax could have produced at least the most expensive devices there. Unfortunately it is not the case.

Pentax smc FA 43 mm f/1.9 Limited - Build quality

The tested lens starts with a metal mount which surrounds the real element of the lens, 26 mm in diameter. The element moves along with the whole optical system and when we pass to the minimum focus it hides about 0.5 cm deep inside the casing.

On the black, metal barrel of the lens, right behind the mount and contacts, we can find an aperture ring. It allows us to set the values every 0.5 EV stop in the range from f/1.9 to f/22. Next to the f/22 aperture we’ve got an “A” mark – when you choose this setting you can control the aperture from the cameral level; it is much more convenient as then you can change the aperture every 0.3 EV stop.

On the following part of the barrel there is a depth of field scale for f/22, f/16, f/8 and f/4 apertures. We also have marks for f/11 and f/5.6 but there is not a legend provided. Next we see a manual focus ring with a distance scale in feet and meters. The ring’s ribbing is only 4 mm wide and its work is relatively loose – don’t count on very precise settings. Running through the distance scale takes a 130-degree turn.

The lens’s front element is 23 mm in diameter and surrounded by an inscription with the name and the parameters of the lens and a non-rotating filter thread, with a diameter of 49 mm. The same thread might be used for attaching a small, metal hood, included in the box. What’s more, it also serves as a cap adapter. The cap itself is made of metal and padded with green velour inside.

Pentax smc FA 43 mm f/1.9 Limited - Build quality

When it comes to the optical construction we deal here with 7 elements positioned in 6 groups (although the British Pentax site states the lens has even 9 elements). Inside the lens there is an aperture with 8 diaphragm blades.

Pentax smc FA 43 mm f/1.9 Limited - Build quality