Eric L. Woods

This (not so) Old Lens: HD Pentax-FA 35mm f/2

Scroll down to content

Preface

I really like Pentax lenses. From the most pedestrian, inexpensive but over performing 50mm f/1.7.

Pentax SMC F 50mm f/1.7 (AF)

To the lens deemed the best Pentax lens ever 77mm f/1.8 Limited.

Pentax 77mm Blog Post Shots

Somewhere in between you have the lower priced, over performing, could have been, maybe should have been Limited weather resistant 100mm f/2.8 macro.

Pentax-D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR

No matter the price point Pentax consistently delivers. I really like my chosen mirrorless camera body system, Sony. Their larger, more expensive selections are consistent. But I will admit that I have had a hit and miss history with their less expensive lenses. So much so that I currently own only third party FE glass. Like Pentax regardless of price point I will admit Fujifilm does not have a single stinker that I know of either. But Pentax has a long history of dirt cheap glass so, if you can find them used, they can be very affordable.

Well there is another lens of note. The HD Pentax-FA 35mm f/2.

HD Pentax-FA 35mm f/2
HD Pentax-FA 35mm f/2

It is one of two versions at this focal length and aperture. There is an older, film era non HD version but this post will look at the updated digital era HD variant.

There is another more expensive, slightly wider and faster Limited option, the 31mm f/1.8 Limited.

Photo from bhphotovideo.com

While a solid choice due to its optical performance, faster aperture, and impeccable all metal build it is quite a bit more premium in price as well. The question to answer is if one could get on with the significantly less expensive 35mm f/2.

As with all film era and digital era full frame K mount lenses you can use this lens on near any Pentax camera, including AF film cameras.

HD Pentax-FA 35mm f/2
Pentax SF10

Since the 35mm has an aperture ring you could use it on earlier MF Pentax film cameras also.

On to the categories. As previously stated with these posts there will be no spoilers as I will like all of these lenses.

Asking Price

These HD lenses are still sold new for around $400 and less on sale. Used HD variants go for less than $300. Earlier non-HD versions can be had for less than $200. As a side note older film era MF 35mm f/2 lenses cost more than the AF film era versions.

Value

A reasonable price for a great lens whether full frame or APS-C. If we look at Sony native lenses at or near this spec all cost more even with a slower f/2.8 aperture whether full frame or APS-C. I will also admit this. Granted this is not an apples to apples comparison since mirrorless is all the rage now. But this price compares favorably with Nikon and Canon DSLR lenses also.

Why I Bought It

Pentax makes great lenses. While reasonably priced I had been on the fence for a while about getting one of these new. More because I usually hesitate getting a 35mm lens when I already have a 50mm. But then I found a used copy offered with all the bits at a price I could not refuse.

Image Quality

  • Flare
    • Have not witnessed any flare with this lens. A lens hood came with, but I have not had to use it yet
  • Sharpness
    • Perfectly sharp wide open. Have read that the 31mm Limited and non HD lenses were sharper, but I have yet to see any cause for considering another lens.
  • Colors
    • I really like the colors this lens produces.
  • Bokeh
    • This lens produces surprisingly good bokeh given its focal length and relatively modest aperture.
  • AF
    • As expected it focuses swiftly. Very accurate as well.

Samples

Pentax 35mm f/2
Pentax 35mm f/2
Pentax 35mm f/2
Pentax HD FA 35mm f/2
Pentax HD Pentax-FA 35mm f/2
Pentax HD Pentax-FA 35mm f/2
Pentax HD Pentax-FA 35mm f/2
Pentax HD Pentax-FA 35mm f/2
Pentax HD Pentax-FA 35mm f/2
Pentax 35mm f/2

So back to my earlier question. Could I get on with this significantly less expensive 35mm f/2 compared to the 31mm f/1.8 Limited?

Yes. Yes, I can. This lens will do just fine. While I am sure the 31mm is a superior lens I see nothing lacking with the 35mm that would make me spend many hundreds more for the 31mm.

Conclusion

Another great Pentax lens. While the market has clearly moved towards mirrorless, DSLRs are still a viable option. Especially for stills. You could spend more for modern mirrorless AF lens but if you have a Pentax camera body this lens is a no-brainer. Useful as a 35mm lens on full frame film or digital as well as a 50mm equivalent with APS-C as well.

-ELW

HD Pentax-FA 35mm f/2
%d bloggers like this: