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SMC Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 AL Lens Review

The SMC Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 AL Lens is reviewed by John Riley.

Posted: 05/07/2011 - 14:15

Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Pentax 35mm f/2.4 AL Lens

Traditionally, the standard lens for 35mm film cameras was the 50mm. With the advent of the APS-C sensor, the same field of view is now obtained with a lens of 35mm or thereabouts, and here we have such a lens from Pentax. The ubiquitous standard zoom covers most requirements for the beginner photographer, but clearly Pentax feel that the time is right to offer a traditional standard lens option for the digital SLR range.

Is this the lens to lift our vision from the seductive trap of the zoom lens? Does it offer an improvement in terms of quality, or some other advantage with its simplistic approach? Let us now tread the path of discovery.

SMC Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 AL Features

Constructed of 6 elements in 5 groups, including an aspherical hybrid, with 6 aperture blades and a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 53.5mm, this is a modern version of a traditional standard lens. It is very well made using plastics that even extend to the mount. As this lens is very light, weighing just 124g, it is certain that the plastic mount is absolutely up to the job.

A maximum magnification of 0.17x and closest focus of 0.3m is closer than the 50mm lens of the days of film, but nowhere near a close focusing or macro lens. There is no aperture ring, which in one way is a pity as it is evident that this lens is actually a full frame design and could be used with Pentax film cameras. The f/2.4 maximum aperture is moderately fast and should enable low light shots to be taken, especially as the current Pentax DSLRs have such a good performance at higher ISO values.

There is no weather sealing and no Quick Shift manual focusing, but there is an extremely modest price tag. This may well tempt photographers who have never tried a fixed focal length lens to have a go with this one, possibly leading them onwards towards the very fine Limited lenses. This was always the logic, that a high quality standard lens would whet the appetite for more Pentax lenses.

SMC Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 AL Handling

Pentax have the handling properties of all their range very well sorted out. This lens is compact, bayonets firmly onto the camera body and behaves impeccably in every respect. In manual focus the action is just firm enough and there is little else to comment on with such a simple lens. It takes 49mm filters and the same lens hood as the 50mm lenses. It's unfortunate that a lens hood is not supplied and that the standard clip-on hood costs an eye-watering £59.95. A lens hood is always a good idea, so a second hand one on eBay or a less expensive alternative can easily be found. It's equally unfortunate that the best hood for the job is the original Pentax one, which clips quickly and firmly into place.

The other omission is the Quick Shift feature, so there is no manual tweaking of the focusing when in AF mode. This can perhaps be forgiven in exchange for a very attractive price.

SMC Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 AL Performance

In common with standard lenses in general, this 35mm optic shows modest barrel distortion, but nothing that will really show in most photography.

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution and sharpness as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-5 using Imatest.

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-5 using Imatest.

Verdict

There is little to criticise and this is certainly borne out in the real world pictures. These reveal a punchy, colourful lens that reproduces the scene with a quiet and polished confidence. This is true of both high and low contrast subjects, a distinction which is not often made in lens tests.

All in all, a high quality, classy lens indeed.

SMC Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 AL Pros

  • Very high quality optics
  • Highly cost effective
  • Helps disciplined approach
  • Well made
  • No weather sealing
  • No Quick Shift

SMC Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 AL Cons

  • No weather sealing
  • No lens hood provided

Features: 4/5
Handling: 4.5/5
Performance: 4.5/5
Value: 5/5
Overall Verdict: 4.5/5


Pentax DA 35mm f/2.4 AL Specifications

Manufacturer Pentax
General
Lens Mounts Pentax K SMC-DA
Lens
Focal Length 35mm
Angle of View 45
Max Aperture f/2.4
Min Aperture f/22
Filter Size 49mm
Stabilised No
35mm equivalent No Data
Internal focusing No Data
Maximum magnification No Data
Focusing
Min Focus 30cm
Construction
Blades 6
Elements 6
Groups 5
Box Contents
Box Contents No Data
Dimensions
Weight 124g
Height 63mm

Members gallery photos using: smc PENTAX-DA 35mm f2.4 AL

Hardgravity
Posted 30/06/2012 - 23:02 Link
OK,so the lens advertised is the FA35mm f2.0,and non of the images above on my system) are taken with the lens reviewed.

What I will say is that the DA35 f2.4 is a fantastic lens at a good price and Pentax should be proud of it.

Let's see more value lenses at this price and with this IQ.
Cheers, HG

K110+DA40, K200+DA35, K3 and a bag of lenses, bodies and other bits.

Mustn't forget the Zenits, or folders, or...

PPG entries.
Edited by Hardgravity: 30/06/2012 - 23:03
ronniemac
Posted 05/02/2014 - 21:42 Link
As John indicates, a good lens and excellent value for money. I agree that the price of the Pentax lens hood is not in keeping with the budget price of the lens, however I did find a clip on alternative which is remarkably similar to Pentax's own hood but cost less than 10.

This, and it's sibling 50mm 1.8 ,are a fantastic intro to prime lens photography. The clarity of image is delightful after experience kit zoom lenses (good as these are).
Posted 24/12/2023 - 23:42 Link
At the price to performance ratio, I don't know why every Pentax user wouldn't own one, unless they're using it in hard conditions and the plastic mount is a concern.

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