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Thursday, 09 September 2010


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I wish they'd build a digital Spotmatic, with a full-sized sensor and a body you can drive a car over. I already have the lenses.

I'm disappointed that it's not weather-sealed -- that would have been a differentiator. I've already got (and love) the DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited, so the 35mm Macro is sitting somewhere low-ish on my wishlist. (I'd appreciate the slightly wider FOV in some cases, but I'm not sure I'd trade the 40mm's super-zippy focusing for macro.)

But if there were a cheap, weather-sealed normal, I'd probably buy it to take out on my K-7 in nasty weather (which we have in spades in the Boston area).

Hey, where's the focus scale on that thing? How dare any lens manufacturer not put one on? On another note, why would Pentax not simply reproduce the also excellent FA35mm f2AL as a DA lens? I ended up choosing that one over the DA35mm macro since I thought I needed the extra stop of speed and photozone seemed to think it's a hair better.

Anyway, Mike, I'm in full agreement with you on this one. This lens doesn't add anything new. If anything it removes it!



I think the cultural thing is a bit of a non-starter, personally I associate Japanese with wild and wacky - perhaps you missed that these come colour matched (or mismatched, if you preferred) to the coloured K-r as well? - see http://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/showfull.php?product=359&bigimage=DA35Colors.jpg

There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the pentax forums that this is only f2.4, although apparently an f2 would be the saviour of the brand - if it's good wide open I don't see the problem. Personally, I'm intrigued, although I've been waiting for the end of the announcements to see if a wider prime is made around 26-30mm. I'd hope that was a more upmarket limited, and maybe it will come with the rumoured K-7 replacement.

I guess it's the Pentax version of the Canon 50/1.8. Sure, the 50/1.4 is better, but the 50/1.8 is affordable. Hopefully, once you get people hooked on primes, they'll think about getting the DA Limiteds and DA* primes in the future.

My take is that this lens isn't "new" per se, but a replacement for the discontinued DA 35/2, but made cheaper (with cheaper construction) *precisely* because there is the DA Macro and the price difference between it and the 35/2 wasn't enough to differentiate the two.

Now it's quite clear; the noobs and the very budget conscious can think about the 35/2.4 while the quality seekers can go for the macro lens.

Unfortunately, Mike, you speak here to the initiates. Some highschool student looking to get their first DSLR and hearing all over the internet "a cheap fast prime lens is the best thing to buy for your DSLR," and comparing systems based around that statement, previously saw a bunch of fast fifties from Nikon, Canon, and Sony, and now two fast 35s from Nikon and Sony, all under $200, and from Pentax... the good 'ol FA50 f1.4, listing around $300 these days, and a wonderful lineup of primes lining up at even higher price points.

The K-x has been a hit with the beginning crowd. Many of them just aren't planning on dropping more than $200 on a lens anytime soon, and this lens is perfect for them. Give 'em a taste of Pentax Prime goodness, and they WILL want more. ;-) Given that it's nearly identical, optically, to the FA35 f2, I imagine it's no slouch in that department either.

If it eventually appears on sale at around $80, then I can see the point.

Otherwise, it's just $200 towards something I'd actually want.

As a Pentax user, this lens infuriates me. It's like a slap in the face. With this lens, they're saying "you will never get a cheap, fast normal for your APS-C camera from us, because we gave you this not-very-fast APS-C normal for almost cheap".

Nikon has had sucess because the 35/1.8 is very fast and very cheap and includes all the necessary accessories and is very well made for the price. This new Pentax is not fast. It's not as cheap as the faster Nikon. It seems less well made (plastic vs. metal bajonet mount, not that I'd care or that that's important at this weight). It doesn't include a lens hood, nor a pouch. It doesn't focus silently, like the Nikkor does. It doesn't offer manual focus in AF mode like the Nikkor.

I don't know whom Pentax wants to win over with this lens. Those few Japanese who'll buy it with a color-matched K-r?

I do actually own an FA 30/2, so I don't need this lens. It just becomes harder and harder to recommend Pentax to friends inquiring what DSLR to get.

I would like to think that this is the digital avatar of Pentax 35mm f/2.0 FA.

I'd take that advice if I didn't already have the FA 35mm f2. Another fine 35mm prime from Pentax - recently discontinued.

Well, I'm not saying I disagree with you, but I know a lot of people who want a good "standard" lens for their APS-C cameras but can't really justify the price of the 35mm DA Macro. There is definitely a market I would say - a lot of educated and enthusiastic photographers around now for whom photography doesn't get a big slice of the budget. Canon users are worst served I'd say - now.


"You will not be sorry. A camera body is just a camera body, but a great lens is a thing of beauty and a joy forever."

I definitely agree - but Cosina just announced that they're going to discontinue all K-mount SLII primes. There are rumors floating around that Zeiss will follow. If true, Pentax has lost a great segment of lenses. I'm hoping that this new DA 35mm is a sign that Pentax will bring inexpensive, optically impressive primes to the market.

Best Regards,

Hello Mike,

"The DA Macro is expensive. But it's not that expensive."

Panasonic camera owners should be so lucky. The 45mm macro lens retails for $820.

You seem to have a great affection for Pentax lenses, new and old. I've mentioned in posts before that I'm extremely fond of my Super Tak, and you noted that you share that affection. (Even though it seems like a bit of an anachronism on a modern SLR.) I didn't realize that it extended more broadly to their line of lenses.

"I shouldn't say the new lens is crappier. That's irresponsible, and provocative. Pentax won't like it. It's cheaper."

I think that's the point. After all, camera makers have long offered two versions of their 50mm primes: a budget-priced f/1.8 or f/2.0 and a premium-priced f/1.4. Aside from the fact that both Pentax 35mm lenses are 1-2 stops slower than their 50mm reference points, the offer the buyer the same two attractive options: a very good lens at a relatively low price or an even better lens for a much higher price. Personally, I'd rather have a choice than not.

Mike, technicality aside, this new lens looks gorgeous.

I'm with you on primes. In fact owned 3 of them, 1 Nikkor 28mm F2.8 AIS,2 Voightlander (40mm & 58mm)but I suspect convenience will win the game.

Manufacturers will continue making what the market wants not what photography needs.

This is ridiculous. Everybody who has a Pentax dSLR should either own or spend some time with the DA35 Limited. I've moved to a m4/3 body but I still miss that lens terribly.

Mike, although I agree with your sentiment here (I absolutely loved the 35mm macro) but this isn't all that unique when you think about the fact that we have had a dual-line of "normal" lenses with cameras for decades with the 50mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.8 dichotomy among the major manufacturers. This, to me, is Pentax's APS-C answer to _that_ split rather than some brand new bad idea.

Granted, it seems more driven by economic decisions rather than technical, but it seems to make a lot of sense from a business model based on follow-the-leader.

I'll be curious how this lens compares optically to the Macro, which is quite the lens.

Interesting! This seems to be a new Pentax trend: lenses that look like limiteds and surely feel like limiteds are no longer labeled as limiteds. The first such lens was the DA 100/2.8 WR Macro, which (shame on me!) is not yet on the KMP.

APS-C has been around for what, ten years?
Finally we have standard lenses for it - woohoo!

With the money you save vs. the $540 bee's knees,
you can buy a real macro lens,
that doesn't get splattered when the bees sneeze.

When I got the announcement of the new K-R midrange SLR and this lens, I thought for sure they were going to offer them as a kit. That would make some sense. But as far as I can tell they haven't done that.

For a while now I've been wishing for a fast, cropped standard lens (30-35mm) that would be smaller and far less expensive than the FA31 Limited. I thought for sure this would be it - alas, it is not.

Pentax is just crazy, crazy I tell you, for offering two lenses similar to each other. Unlike Canon which currently offers...

70-200 L f/2.8
70-200 L f/2.8 IS
70-200 L f/4
70-200 L f/4 IS

70-300 f/4.5-5.6 DO IS
70-300 L f/4-5.6 IS
70-300 f/4-5.6 IS USM
75-300 f/4-5.6 III USM
75-300 f/4-5.6 III


What's interesting is that Pentax call this lens 'fast'. It's certainly no Nokton.

Where did all the really fast lenses go? The FA Limiteds (all f/1.x) were replaced with slower pancakes and now this new 'standard lens' is f/2.4, when in the old days you could choose between fifties of f/1.2, f/1.4, f/1.7 and the really cheap 'body cap' f/2!

Have decades of cheap zooms reduced user expectations that much?

Still, really looking forward to see how this performs against the FA Limited 31mm.

...until the 120-megapixel sensors arrive.

While on the topic of "normal"/standard lenses: Let's pray that someone bright at Nikon, Sony, Pentax will finally think it a good idea to have a reasonably fast, not incredibly expensive 24mm DX/APS-C lens (35mm-e). Now THAT would be something new...

I'm always fascinated by comments comparing any given lens to the Pentax DA pancakes as if a pancake lens design is truly interchangeable with a more traditional lens design. I find the DA pancakes to be interesting but I've never had the desire to buy them for my K200D - there are subtle characteristics about the resulting image quality which I don't find that pleasing when compared to the results I can get with older Pentax primes I've purchased for $10 each at camera shows. Oh well.

Back on topic, a K-x with this new 35 would be a great little combo. Fast-shmast, turn up the ISO one notch and go.

Pentax never ceases to amaze me.

I hope Pentax remake all their lenses with slower apertures and use plastic mounts instead of metal. And drop that silly quick shift feature too. The 11 Colored plastic 35mm lenses are so cool.

Who cares if it works well, I love the color choices !

I guess they are shooting for small with the idea that high ISO of today's cameras should help the speed and hopefully IQ will be excellent, but... but... but... it feels redundant, and as an owner of DA35mm Ltd - I am surely not the target market. A 28mm prime of similar charachteristics would appear more appropriate.

On the other news in this thread - I hope that Zeiss and Cosina will not discontinue their K mount lines.

"It's cheaper."

I believe the proper advertising-speak term is "less expensive."

It's a gateway drug to Pentaxes DA and FA Limiteds. Simple as that.

Gijs Langelaan wrote:
"On another note, why would Pentax not simply reproduce the also excellent FA35mm f2AL as a DA lens? I ended up choosing that one over the DA35mm macro since I thought I needed the extra stop of speed and photozone seemed to think it's a hair better."

I think you've just answered your own question: an inexpensive DA35/2 would probably "steal" too many sales of the DA35/2.8Limited.

FWIW, I bought my FA35 before the DA35 was introduce (and before its price rocketed off into the stratoshpere), but I too would have chosen it over the DA35 anyway (sorry Mike ;)


Slower than the 35mm/1.8 lenses of the competition, so no good to win new converts...

Larger and not much cheaper or faster than the 40mm pancake, so no good for some current users...

Too close to the 35 macro without being appreciably better in any way, so no good for the other current users...

I suppose if you own a Pentax DSLR, like primes, and haven't already invested in either the 35 macro or the 40 pancake and you value neither size nor performance as much as you value marginally better cost and less than a stop of light, then Pentax has finally heard you out?

I hope all seven such people buy one.

It's no different than Olympus selling their normal lens at f/2.8. It's image stabilized 2.4. It's a tradeoff in price and size which is probably a pentax thing to do. If they were copying nikon and Sony they would've made 35 f/1.8.

Just think of all the urban hipsters that will buy a K-X or K-R in some wild color with a contrasting color 35mm because it is just so cute!

They will carry the camera all the time to establish their hipster cred, and take lots of pictures because they just love to pull it out and show it off.

Then one day they will realize they are............photographers.

Worst things could happen.


I really hate seeing the lens speed erosion. In "normal" focal lengths, f/2 used to be "normal". F/1.4 was "fast".

F/2.8 and slower was so slow it basically didn't exist (in roughly "normal" length primes) (except in special cases like the older 55mm Micro Nikkor, which I believe was f/3.5 for a while and then f/2.8).

And in DX, Micro 4/3, etc. you get extra depth of field anyway. So for selective focus, we're losing it from both ends. (Hence some of the interest in "abusing" tilt-shift lenses to reduce DOF, no doubt.)

"someone bright at Nikon, ... will finally think it a good idea to have a reasonably fast, not incredibly expensive 24mm DX/APS-C lens"

What's wrong with the 24 2.8D? It's smaller than the 35 1.8DX and it's available used for ~$200.

The lack of the "reasonably fast 24 mm DX" is the main reason I haven't been more anxious to "upgrade" from an E-P1 to a DSLR. I have become addicted to the 40 mm-e focal length, and it would take a 35 mm-e lens to get me to switch. (As 80 mm-e is my second favorite focal length, and the dread 50 mm prime hits close enough to that for my taste, the switch would be fairly painless.)

I already have the FA 35 so this lens does not interest me, but I heartily second Alex H's motion that Pentax make a top quality DA 24mm. I would buy it without hesitation as a moderate wide angle prime for my K10D.

B&H's prices for Pentax lenses are consistently 20-30% under the list price. I think when it first comes out, it may stay at list for a little bit (maybe until after Christmas), but I'll be very surprised if it stays over $165.

"Pentax is just crazy, crazy I tell you, for offering two lenses similar to each other. Unlike Canon which currently offers...

70-200 L f/2.8
70-200 L f/2.8 IS
70-200 L f/4
70-200 L f/4 IS"


70-200 L f/2.8 II

Let's not be too negative here. This is a cheap, small lens that's intended to give SLR users a cheap way to go small without having to resort to mirrorless. It's not designed to replace a bigger, faster, more expensive lens nor compete with the higher spec 35/2.8 macro.

I do think that making it f/2.4 was erring on the slow side. Yeah, it seems silly, but making it f/2 or f/2.1 really would have made all the difference, at least from a consumer perception standpoint. Even if they would have had to raise the price or cut somewhere else.

It reminds me of Sony's 85/2.8. People wonder why not a 85/1.8? Again, an f/2-2.2 would have been welcomed much more warmly.

Speaking of Sony, on the positive side of the ledger, they not only have a small and inexpensive 35/1.8 if you need speed, but also a 30/2.8 macro that i personally love.

People ask: why such a short macro, given the small working distance? My answer is that it is not meant to be a macro lens for anything but copy stand work. I think of it as tiny walkaround normal with no MFD [minimum focusing distance --Ed.] to worry about.

It's optically excellent -- better than it has any right to be at $200, great focal length, tiny, inexpensive, and no MFD to worry abut. Being a macro design, the sharpness, contrast, and field flatness at close range are outstanding and better than the other lenses in its class.

And what of the "slow" f/2.8 max aperture? Can't isolate subjects / backgrounds? If you get nice and close to your subject, yes you can. With their much longer MFD's, you can't do this with a faster non-macro design (at least with the same level of IQ), so it balances out somewhat.

If i need something faster, i'll pick up the 35/1.8 (or maybe the old Minolta 28/2 if i can bring myself to pay the significant premium).

With Pentax, you have good choices as well. You can go with the small and cheap 35/2.4, the high performance 35/2.8 macro, or a bigger, faster, more expensive 31/1.8. Take your pick; it's not that you don't have a choice.

Sure, you'd rather have a 28/2 that's small and light with superb IQ for $300, but so does everyone else. Good luck with that.

I think the most troubling comparison here is not with the 35mm DA Macro*, but with the Sony an Nikon offerings, which are almost a stop faster and look likely to be priced comparably. It's true that the Pentax version is lighter and more compact, but I doubt it's enough lighter and more compact to really feel very different. If they could get it down to more legitimately pancake-ish proportions, then it would at least be clear what we were getting in exchange for the relative slowness, but, as it is, all they're doing is inviting unfavorable comparisons.

Or, at least, that's my reaction until we learn more about the actual performance of the optics. Comparing it with other lenses before we have much in the way of user reports, sample pictures, or test results seems premature. If it justifies itself by setting out to do something unambitious in terms of specs, but doing that unambitious thing mind-blowingly well (or at least mind-blowingly well relative to its price point), then we ought to forgive the boringness of the unambitious specs. I'm not holding my breath, but it seems fairer to wait and see.

*I adored my DA Macro before it was stolen, but it is pricey, and I remember it being less than friendly for manual focus. If this new lens has a longer focus throw over its range than the DA Macro does over the equivalent part of its range, then it could find a moderately coherent place for itself in the Pentax system.

"I really hate seeing the lens speed erosion. In "normal" focal lengths, f/2 used to be "normal". F/1.4 was "fast"." D.D-B.

And it used to be that your Spotmatic viewfinder was much bigger, brighter, and had a split-prism, so that 1.4 (or 2) allowed you to "manually focus" with more precision! But then you didn't shoot wide open if you wanted it sharp. Well, this is a prime designed and priced for people who only grab their lenses to "zoom," and will never switch AF off.

I'm guessing the f2.4 max aperture is as much as cost-cutting decision as a safeguard against all the new K-x (and K-r) "point-n-shoot upgraders" who will soon discover that AF won't always focus where you want it... and "fast" lenses expose this very quickly! Pentax has (knowingly?) limited the lens speed to avoid the "it doesn't focus right" complaints and bad "first prime" experiences.

"If cameras were still sold with fastish prime normals as standard kit, lots of people would still use zooms—but the percentage of people who use primes would be higher than it is, I think." --Mike Johnston

Assuming Pentax is releasing all of those color coordinated variants then it seems like a foregone conclusion that they will be offered as a kit. The 35mm limited is almost certainly a better lens, but it's way too pricey to have the broad appeal that this lens could. I could even see this helping Pentax to regain their standing as the de facto standard for photo students.

Since when has it been odd for manufacturers to offer a cheap and less cheap version of their "standard" lens.

A lot of times the cheaper, slower version has been the better overall optic.

However, where is the 35 F1.4 lens? In this sense Pentax is not in any way comparable to its peers. They no longer make any fast primes except a few venerable old timers. Instead they make super-sharp macros and super-cool pancakes.

Canikon Nikanon maybe, but not Pentanon or Niktax. Pentax is definitely out on its own.

I think this is (primarily) a lens for photographers buying their first DSLR ... those for whom f/2.4 *is* fast because their other lens is an 18-55/3.5-5.6 and before that it was that crummy old point & shoot. People who don't know that normal lenses used to be f/1.4 (or f/1.8 or at least f/2) *and* cover full frame. (Granted a full frame 35mm that's faster than f/2 would be expensive nowadays).

On the topic of copycats, what about micro 4/3 ... do either Panasonic or Olympus make a m43 lens that the other one hasn't felt the need to duplicate (or put in their road map ?)

They both have their wide/normal pancakes, their kit zooms (multiple kit zooms), the macro (Oly's is in the roadmap), the ultrawide zooms, the tele zooms, the super zooms ... I guess Oly is going to have to get a fisheye and WA prime in plan to keep up with Panasonic. You'd think in all of that, one or the other could bother with a compact, fast (non macro) portrait length lens. I bet there are more m43 owners with Voigtlaender primes than there will be with 8mm fisheyes. We'll see if Sony follows suit.

At least Samsung is thinking a little outside the box. Which is to say, thinking like *photographers*. One pancake available, another on the way plus a 20-50/4 pancake zoom. But who wants to put small lenses on a small camera ?

I don't know, I think offering an inexpensive prime lens is a great way to get typical zoom consumers interested in the wonderful world of traditional photography.

And, I wouldn't be surprised if this lens performs amazingly well. I recently received a gift card to Best Buy for what was suppose to go towards the purchase of a flat screen TV. I walked out of the store with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens. for my personal work I use a Minolta CLE with the 40mm f/2, but for work-work I use a D700 and 70-200 2.8 VR bla bla bla. I thought it would be fun to give the cheap Nikkor a spin and lo and behold, I love it and have been pleasantly surprised with the results.

Also, there's something to be said about a kit that weighs in under $1000. Taking camera gear that's worth more than my car on vacation, hiking or skiing seems silly. However, I can potentially build a kick-ass Pentax system that I'd be willing to toss in my bag and not stress if it gets scuffed, rained on or god-forbid stolen. There's the old saying that you should bring the biggest camera you're willing to tote around. For me, it's more like "carry the most expensive camera you can afford to lose".

I think we may be kind of missing the point. This lens isn't aimed at us, but at DSLR beginners who have never used a prime and who who don't "get" any lens that doesn't zoom. They're not going to spend $500 on a prime when they can get a 28-200 for the same price.

The Pentax website says: "A perfect choice for digital SLR beginners to familiarize themselves with the basics of using interchangeable lenses."

For that market, the lens has to be small, light, noticeably sharper than a kit zoom, and as fast as it can be, consistant with reliable focusing and a really low price.

As John said above, it's a gateway drug.

...whereas the Japanese place a higher cultural value on co-operation, conformity, and imitation as a virtue.

I am also not to say, whether this is true, but to enforce the point: Can you please name me just ONE manufacturer, whose cheap kit lens is not an 18-55/3.5-5.6 ??

Haven't anyone heard of USP's ?? :-)

I wish Canon would update the focusing on their 35mm/2.0 (a lens I love) - but they won't, because they would lose sales for their 35/1.4L (an incredible quality lens, but so big and heavy).

Sales and marketing drive everything nowdays.

Someone posted the optical design of both the old FA 35mm f/2 and the new DA 35mm f/2.4. They were identical. I'll let you guess why Pentax choose to deliberately cripple the new lens.

This lens looks like the same formula as the FA 35mm/2, which was known for longitudinal chromatic aberration and harsh bokeh. If you shoot black and white, the CA does not bother you much. Super-fast primes suit black and white, more than they suit colour, and as another poster said, they suit manual focus more than auto. If the downsides of the 35mm/2 were tweaked away at the cost of half a stop, that might have been a smart decision.

Plenty of "slow" lenses are well-regarded and have been used to great effect. I've seen tons of great photography using the 20-35mm/4 for instance.

Shallow DOF is more consistently expensive than any other camera feature, and therefore generates lust, but IMHO, access to extremely shallow DOF or lots of DOF flexibility is not as much a priority to the average photographer as the community of camera collectors/enthusiasts make it out to be. Yes, I can think of plenty of great photographs with razor-thin focus, but they tend to be confined to certain genres and styles. My two cents.

>>Sure, you'd rather have a 28/2 that's small and light with superb IQ for $300<<

Apart from being a fraction too long, the Samsung 30mm f2 meets all those criteria. And it's not small - it's tiny.

"Someone posted the optical design of both the old FA 35mm f/2 and the new DA 35mm f/2.4"


Are you sure the source is accurate? I haven't seen anything like that anywhere.

In any event, you really can't draw any conclusions about lenses from similar cross sections. Visually very slight differences can be meaningful, and things like coatings, glass types, and physical construction aren't shown in the cross section.


>>Sure, you'd rather have a 28/2 that's small and light with superb IQ for $300<<

... to which Nigel replied:

"Apart from being a fraction too long, the Samsung 30mm f2 meets all those criteria. And it's not small - it's tiny"

Nigel, that's a great point. When i saw that Samsung introduced such a lens, i thought two things:

1. Finally! somebody gets it and produced a lens with the "right" focal length, speed, and size.

2. Too bad it's part of the Samsung system

Oh, wow, the colors! Makes the "can I use a chrome lens on my black Leica?" discussions seem kind of quaint. I actually like the white, green and coral colors the best. Time to trade in the black Leica, I guess...

Give me a 35mm f1.4 or 1.2 and then I'm interested. All these darn slow lenses are a waste of time if you want DOF control. I guess we have to go to Sigma for their 30 f1.4.....at least they listened!

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