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Lenses For Pentax

Updated on February 13, 2012

Extra Lenses For Your Pentax

Pentax digital SLR are great cameras. Most people over look the Pentax brand because the 2 major brand of cameras are Nikon and Canon. In the 60s and 70s, Pentax was a camera brand to be reckoned with. As with many companies, the kind of missed the digital age and currently playing catch up with Canon and Nikon.

This does not mean that Pentax lenses are inferior to Canon or Nikon. In fact there are several lenses in the Pentax lineup that beat the big two. One great thing about Pentax DSLR camera bodies and the lenses are that old lenses can be use in present camera bodies. If you own Canon or Nikon cameras, you'll know that some better quality lenses do not work with the lower range of beginner camera bodies.

One of the reason is for this is camera manufacturers know that the beginner photographer market is one of the biggest. Many beginner photographer do not think further about their hobby and get caught up on the megapixel race that camera makers throw up. The first question almost all beginners ask a photographer is how many megapixels?

So what camera makers like Canon like to do to out gun the competition with the highest megapixel they can market and beginners fall for it. Camera makers know that once you bought a camera, it is quite hard to change systems or to change to another brand.

One advantage of lenses for Pentax is that shake or vibration reduction is built into the camera rather than the lenses. So, cost is reduced for each lens that you buy. Pentax has long been famous for making some of the best prime lenses money can buy, and doing so at a reasonable cost. The "Limited" series of FA and DA primes lenses are consistently found on lists of the best lenses for serious photographers.

Now that the explanation is out of the way, let's dig in into Pentax lenses

Pentax 55mm f/1.4 DA* lens

DA 55mm f/1.4 SDM front
DA 55mm f/1.4 SDM front
DA 55mm f/1.4 SDM top
DA 55mm f/1.4 SDM top

Current Lenses

The range of Pentax lens today is as follow:-

DA range - best combination of price and performance.

DA L range - light weight kit lenses with plastic mount

DA* or DA star - quiet SDM focus system, weather-resistant and dust-resistant sealed construction

DA Limited - range of prime i.e. fixed focal length lenses of high-grade aluminum construction, provides durability design. Top performance in an ultra-compact package

All the above lenses are auto focus lens.


Pentax also have a range of lenses that is designated as D FA which is compatible with PENTAX 35mm film cameras, but built specifically for digital SLRs. It utilizes lens coatings, curvature and positioning of optical elements to virtually eliminate flare and ghosting for high-quality images with digital SLR cameras.

D FA lenses have been optimized optically for digital sensors but work equally well on a 35 mm film camera. Their image circle covers the full 24 by 36mm negative format. feature the Quick Shift focusing system that allows the focus to be fine tuned with the focusing ring on the lens without setting the camera focus selector to "MF".

The present range of DA range of lenses (DA, DA L, DA* and DA Limited) are for the current generation of APS-C Digital SLRs. They do not have an aperture ring and the image circle covers only the 18 x 24mm format of APS C sized sensors. If the lens is used on a 24 x 36mm film camera, the corners of the image will come out dark.

The most recent Pentax including the K-X, K-7 and slightly older K100D, K200D, K-m, K2000, K10D and K20D will work with all the above lenses. For other types of camera and lens combination, check out this comprehensive chart here.

Other designation on Pentax lens include

  • AL - aspheric lens element. The optics include at least 1 aspherical lens element. Improve the optical quality and allows for the lens designer to use less elements resulting in lighter more compact lens
  • ED - extra low dispersion
  • SDM - built-in autofocus motor
  • WR- weather resistant for dusty and wet condition

Best Zoom Lenses For Pentax


Most people look down on kit lenses but the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Pentax kit lens is one of the best kit lenses from any manufacturer, period. This one takes all the features from the latest 18-55mm, and adds a water resistant seal. You can pair it with the weather resistant K-7 for a great all weather setup. It is lightweight and well made. One of the best value Pentax zoom lenses available.

If you want a zoom lens with a longer reach, consider the DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED The flexible zoom range allows you to shoot in a variety of situation. Although not the fastest lens, it still manages a respectable f5.8 aperture at its longest focal length. It comes with a quick focus ring to let you to manually fine tune your focus while the shutter is pressed half way and already autofocussing. While it is not the top quality zoom, for the price of around $300, the combination of price, capability and usefulness is hard to beat.

If you are willing to spend more for quality and not for reach, then the DA* Series 50-135mm f/2.8 ED IF SDM would be the lens to go for. The focal distance makes it a good mid-range zoom. The constant f2.8 aperture means that you can use it indoors and in low light conditions. I suspect this lens will be popular for weddings and portraits. It is weather seal and usable in light rain and dusty condition.

Recently Pentax released an 18-135mm DA WR lens. This lens can replace the kit lens since it has a longer reach. Early feedback from users show that it is quick to focus with a new motor, quiet and the photo's a amazing. It has weather sealing as well so if you put in on a K-7 or a K-5 or the older K20D, you have a weather sealed camera set.

Pic Credits

Pentax Pancake Lenses

One of the key things that draw people to Pentax DSLR is the small prime pancake lenses. Pancake lenses are called as such because they are designed to be small and short. While the Pentax brand are not as well known today as compared to the 2 giants Nikon and Canon, Pentax pancake lenses have drawn many people who wanted a small camera and lens package.

Some photographers don't have large hands and prefer the smaller camera and lens setup. Others want a small and light setup for hiking and travelling when every extra ounce makes a difference. Still others feel that large cameras, while may make you look like a professional, actually makes your subject feel intimidated when a large camera is pointed in their direction.

Here is the Pentax pancake lenses line up.

  1. Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
  2. Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited
  3. Pentax-DA 70mm F2.4 Limited

As you can see, all the pancake lenses are Limited lenses, which means there are built to higher quality. Once you pick up a pancake lens, you'll be surprised by the large size of zoom lenses and wondered why you bother with a large zoom. However, zoom lenses are very flexible for a variety of shooting situations.

With prime lenses, you have to zoom with your feet, which means you have to move forward or backward to frame your subject. Sometimes, that is not possible for instance, if you are in a small room or there is water that prevents you from getting further or closer.

Another small lens is the 15mm DA F4 Limited. This lens is an ultra wide angle for APS-C size sensors. Although not a pancake sense, it is still very small.

One downside to Pentax pancake lenses is because they are so small and don't really have competitors so to say, the prices are rather high for a single fixed focal lens but they are great if you want a small discrete setup that can take nice photographs.

Pentax launched an even thinner lighter lens a few days ago to be fitted to their new launched mirror less camera, the K-01. The lens is the Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 XS. It weighs 51g and has a thickness of 9.2mm. That is not a typo error.

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      John L 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for the info. I was thinking of getting a Canon or a Nikon. Now, I might want to widen my search to include Pentax. Didn't know that they make such good lenses

    • profile image

      Sam 

      8 years ago

      Good article. Now it makes understanding all the different Pentax lenses so much simpler.

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