16 December 2007

Pentax and telephoto

Got to start with a disclaimer this time: Serious wildlife photography is still not my cup of tea. I stand by my previous post on this matter.

Still, the subject lingered on my mind for a while after the night in company of Brutus Östling and the rest of the Furs & Feathers gang. So much, in fact, that I looked into whether any of the old super-tele lenses from Pentax are still in store somewhere. Globally.

The lenses I looked for were:

  • FA* 600mm f/4

  • FA* 250-600mm f/5.6

  • FA* 300mm f/2.8

According to Boz Dimitrov's K-mount page, the last of the large beasts (dinosaurs?) were discontinued in 2004. It's probably no surprise to anyone that they are now gone from the shops worldwide. Possibly except in Japan, if Pentax runs a different policy for their domestic market. I don't know.

What I do know is that the 300mm f/2.8 is still listed on the webpages of Pentax Japan. The 600mm f/4 also features there, on a "by order" status. Pentax Europe, however, has told me by email (Dec. 2007) it cannot be ordered anymore, and that the japanese webpage is out of date.

So Pentax is no longer a player in the field of wildlife photography, eh?

Take a look at the Pentax Gallery, then.

Here's some numbers as of 16. December 2007:

  • FA* 600mm f/4: 20 photos

  • FA* 250-600mm f/5.6: 4 photos

  • FA* 300mm f/2.8: 23 photos

  • Sum: 47 photos

  • Wildlife photos total: 446

  • Other lenses: 385

Pentax shooters seem to be quite capable of taking good wildlife shots without those prestigious, large-aperture dinosaurs.

Another long-lens contender is of course the FA* 300mm f/4.5 and its F* sibling. Together they contribute 110 images to the gallery, and most of them are wildlife shots. So if gallery representation is any indication at all, the most urgent gap to fill in the lens range seems to be the 300/4.5. Pentax seem to think so too, having a DA* 300/4 in the pipelines, but nothing larger or longer.

Update 2007.12.17:
After good help from Boris (Pentax-ways), I can confirm availability of FA* 600/4 from Japan. The "by order" status at the Japanese website is accurate, but apparently only applies to vendors on the domestic market. Two dealers have independently confirmed to me by email that they can still order this lens from Pentax.

If anyone care to buy me one and send it here, feel free. It's only 8300 USD. :-) :-)


Anonymous said...

Very interesting that it is still possible to get a FA*600/4. Around half a year ago, another Pentax shooter was considering such a lens, but went Canon instead, as he didn't find it possible.
Congrats on the lens

Alunfoto said...

Thanks for commenting, Sune!

The new-price for the FA*600/4 is indeed prohibiting. I bought mine second hand.

It is my understanding that this lens will be available new in Japan only as long as Pentax' store of parts remains. It is not obtainable new in Europe, due to certain plastic components that were outlawed by the EU materials legislation a couple of years back. Bromine flame retardants, iirc.