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Pentax-D FA 21mm f/2.4 Assessment: A Nice Lens with Poor Digital camera Help

Pentax-D FA 21mm f/2.4 Review

When you have been trying to find an ultra-wide lens for the Pentax system not too long ago, you possible will come throughout the $1,400 Pentax-D FA 21mm f/2.4 lens introduced late final yr. Whether or not or not you can purchase it is determined by how a lot you want Pentax.

The brand new 21mm f/2.4 lens offers Pentax customers a becoming accomplice for the lineup of FA restricted lenses (the 31mm f/1.8 and 43mm f/1.9) and might work effectively throughout a large variety of use instances together with candid pictures of household and pals, architectural work, panorama, astrophotography, and even as a normal walkabout lens for avenue images.

Whereas there are different “sooner” lenses at related focal lengths, few are as small, light-weight, and durable nor do they provide as retro-stylish of a design to point out off. Whereas the lens isn’t low cost, for hardcore Pentax fans, it’s distinctive sufficient to warrant not less than a take a look at drive. Those that find yourself shopping for it, nonetheless, are in all probability going to be solely probably the most discerning of Pentaxians because the lens doesn’t take a look at significantly effectively, regardless of what seems to be excellent efficiency. The corporate’s newest full-frame digital camera is getting lengthy within the tooth and doesn’t appear capable of sustain with the brand new optic.

Construct High quality and Design

The Pentax 21mm f/2.4 lens is a really sleek-looking optic with a sturdy, stable, and weather-sealed aluminum physique. Whereas the lens lacks an aperture management ring, there’s a massive handbook focus ring with an enormous show for the main focus vary/distance scale. It solely weighs 416 grams and is simply 3.5-inches lengthy (2.9-inches in diameter), and it’s a bit heavier on the bottom of the lens making it fairly effectively balanced when mounted onto a physique just like the Ok-1 Mark II. The lens itself is on the market in two variations: both black (which I examined) or a silver “classic” design for these searching for one thing with even stronger retro vibes.

Pentax 21mm Front View

The lens parts consist of 4 extra-low dispersion (ED) parts and one Tremendous ED glass ingredient which the corporate says work collectively to supply absolutely the minimal chromatic aberration and fringing attainable. There’s a built-in lens hood on the lens that’s completely hooked up to the lens physique, and at first look, it seems there isn’t a method to connect a filter system like a round polarizer (CPL) or impartial density (ND). The excellent news is the restricted FA lens really has a small 67mm filter thread simply inside the hood that makes for simple mounting and changes from the left and proper facet of the barrel.

One thing else I significantly loved was the main focus ring which was clean had very little or no focus respiration. It has bodily limits to its most and minimal focus distance which I really feel make transitions fast and exact; the restricted vary of the main focus ring makes it attainable to make fast changes from both excessive with only a single finger.

Efficiency and Usability

Capturing manually, the lens is a breeze to make use of because the focus is extremely straightforward and quick to drag from one excessive to the opposite. I used to be capable of exactly dial within the space of focus I used to be after. Whereas the lens and pictures had been nice when taking pictures manually, the autofocus appeared to battle a bit when the intent was to seize folks or objects in a wider scene.

I examined this lens out throughout a sport of hockey and a few crowded avenue scenes and the autofocus (on the Ok-1 Mark II physique) tended to try to seize on to the “wider scene” relatively than the folks transferring by it. I don’t seem alone right here, and a quick search signifies different customers have had this concern as effectively and a firmware replace for this specific digital camera could deal with the problem. This downside isn’t a “lens” downside, apparently, however value noting for anybody on this lens who’s planning to make use of it with a Ok-1 Mark II physique.

Wide angle hockey player shot with missed focus

Whereas the autofocus was not as snappy on this lens as I might have preferred, it was fairly straightforward to manually dial within the focus utilizing the main focus ring. And whereas I wasn’t at all times a fan of its efficiency, the AF motor on this lens was extremely quiet, making it fairly useable for taking pictures video.

I seen whereas performing some normal testing that when taking pictures open air in daylight and “heart balanced” on the publicity meter, pictures tended to truly be slightly overexposed, and I wanted to dial down the highlights or publicity by just a bit to really have a balanced picture. I really discovered that dialing the publicity compensation dial right down to a -.03 on digital camera appeared to degree issues out slightly higher there.

That is once more in all probability a difficulty with the digital camera and never the lens, however contemplating Pentax doesn’t have a more recent full-frame digital camera and this can be a full-frame lens, these points are unlucky and unavoidable.

As for normal use, utilizing the lens on numerous topics from huge landscapes to close-ups and even photographs of my canine, it felt as if it’s best fitted to close-up topics due to the unimaginable fall off when utilizing it huge open. The vignetting was a tad excessive at f/2.4 however the bokeh and separation from foreground and background had been simply completely attractive, even in what many would think about to be boring settings.

pentax 21mm f/2.4 Close Up Dog Portrait - Bokeh Test 1

pentax 21mm f/2.4 Close Up Dog Portrait - Bokeh Test 1

Picture High quality

Pentax says the FA 21mm f/2.4 lens is the primary of its variety that has been optimized for digital images with a complicated optical design that gives edge-to-edge sharpness. Actually, for a 21mm lens, I used to be stunned at how little distortion there was across the excessive edges. Granted, there was some excessive vignetting within the corners when taking pictures huge open at f/2.4 that slowly tapers off till about f/5.6. However realistically, that’s solely a possible downside and is fairly simply fastened in put up with most enhancing software program and a few tweaking to the lens profile settings.

As talked about above, the bokeh and separation when taking pictures shallow are very good with a really quick and visually pleasing falloff between the topic and the background. Whatever the aperture, the topics within the body are constantly sharp with little or no distortion (barely noticeable except searching for it particularly). In actual fact, no lens profiles have been utilized and no distortion changes have been made to any of the photographs included on this assessment.


Capturing at f/8 and better you are inclined to lose a few of the “character” the 21mm FA lens presents, however when utilized in the fitting settings just like the city, avenue, and panorama, the outcomes converse for themselves. Customers are left with clear and sharp photographs with extremely vibrant colours and minimal flaring or fringing.

Freeway long exposure with pentax 21mm lens

Pentax 21mm f/2.4 Sunset Landscape

Beneath are some extra pattern photographs taken with the lens.

A Fabulous Lens with Poor Digital camera Help

The Pentax-D FA 21mm f/2.4 lens is designed to supply a definite signature at each distant and shut topics and it does supply that. Whereas it might not take a look at effectively, it did depart me with extremely pleasing photographs and it matches in fairly properly with the remainder of the Restricted FA lens line up offering customers of this sequence of lenses with a really versatile set of primes.

Over the course of my testing with this method, it grew to become clear why and the way Pentax shooters would fall in love with it and the remainder of the FA lineup. The brand new 21mm lens is a part of the revered restricted sequence of lenses for the Pentax system that has been known as “Jewels” by their customers, and for good cause. It supplies customers with a barely wider than regular focal size that’s huge, however not too huge, leaving it appropriate for a wide range of conditions in addition to an on a regular basis normal use lens and has a definite visible aptitude when taking pictures huge open that may be very enjoyable and pleasing to the attention.

I feel what places this lens in a bizarre in-between, fanatic place is that Pentax doesn’t have a very nice full-frame DSLR, not less than not in my view. The issues that held this lens again may be blamed squarely on the getting older Ok-1 Mark II. I might have a lot most popular to check this lens on Pentax’s superb Ok-3 Mark III, however that’s not a full-frame digital camera and thus wouldn’t give this lens its finest displaying.

It’s a complicated scenario meaning even amongst Pentax shooters — of which there aren’t that many when in comparison with the likes of Nikon, Canon, and Sony — this lens is made for and can attraction to only a small portion. That’s a distinct segment inside a distinct segment, and places the 21mm f/1.4 in a type of “collector’s” area to me till Pentax can rectify the digital camera facet of this equation.

pentax 21mm f/2.4 Top view

Are There Options?

Fortunately there are a number of lenses out there for these looking for one thing rather less costly in an analogous focal vary, together with the Pentax 21mm f/3.2 AL for $496, the Pentax DA 35mm f/2.4 AL lens for $146, or the nearer priced Pentax D FA 15-30mm f/2.8 ED SDM WR lens for $1,347 which is greater and heavier however presents a wider focal vary so that you can select from must you not wish to be restricted by a major lens.

Moreover, customers can look into third-party lenses for the Pentax with lenses just like the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM Artwork for $499.

Ought to You Purchase It?

Perhaps. For Pentax full-frame shooters who have already got the opposite lenses within the FA Restricted line-up, including the $1,400 Pentax-D FA 21mm f/2.4 can be welcome, as it’s a nice lens that they may certainly love. However, objectively, it doesn’t carry out at a degree that matches its asking worth as a result of Pentax’s older Ok-1 Mark II appears ill-equipped to deal with its wonderful optics.

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