Pentax K-01 Lens Guide

Choose the lenses that fit the K-01 best!

By PF Staff in Gear Guides on Feb 7, 2012

Have you decided to get a Pentax K-01?  If so, then we hope that through this guide, you will be able to pick out a selection of lenses that will not only allow you to get the most out of your camera, but also make it stylish and compact!

Normally, when a new user buys a Pentax DSLR, he or she is at first confused by the Pentax lens lineup.  Current Pentax K-mount lenses fall into many different sub-categories: some are weather-sealed, some support full-frame cameras, some are designated as "Limited", some have plastic mounts, and some have SDM autofocus, yet only a few are "normal" in the sense that they're part of a run-of-the mill consumer lineup.  On top of that, there are gaps left and right, so not only are the sub-series incomplete, but so is the entire lineup as a whole (but as the goal of this post is neither to provide an overview nor to provide a criticism of current Pentax lenses, we'll let the interested reader do his or her research in the lens database).

Now that the K-01 is entering the market, however, everything is different.  It seems that for the K-01, the natural companion is the Pentax Limited lens.  And that means that in addition to the ultra-compact 40mm kit lens that is bundled with the K-01, there are at least 5 other lenses that go along perfectly with the K-01.  In the remainder of this article, we will share with you what be believe will be the ultimate Pentax K-01 kit.

Before we begin, we'd like to touch on what exactly Pentax Limited lenses are.  Normally "Limited" suggests that something is produced in small quantities.  That's not the case with Pentax Limited lenses however (although limited versions of the Limiteds have been produced in the past, featuring different colors).  A Pentax limited lens is simply a lens featuring a high-quality metal finish with a focus placed on image quality and compactness rather than fast aperture.  You won't see any F1.4 limited lens, but they still take fantastic pictures, and most are small enough to fit in your pocket!

It should also be noted that all Pentax and third-party K-mount lenses are compatible with the Pentax K-01.  For a full listing of these lenses, visit our lens databases. Now, without further ado, we will go ahead and list our proposed K-01 kit (click on any lens to read its reviews):

DA 15mm Limited

For the second-widest prime in the entire Pentax lens lineup, the DA 15mm F4 limited sure is quite small!  It also takes very sharp photos with minimal distortion and lets you experiment with perspective and color to the limit!  The DA 15mm is perhaps the most popular Limited lens on our forum, and its lens club thread on our forum has over 3,000 replies.

DA 21mm Limited

At just 140 grams, the 21mm F3.2 limited is your everyday compact wide-angle solution.  It'll keep your K-01 nice and light and easy to carry around, yet you'll still be able to capture those landscape shots with no trouble at all!

FA 31mm Limited

The FA 31mm F1.8 limited is our personal favorite of the bunch.  You need to own this lens in order to experience the unique "3d" effect it introduces into your photographs!  Combine that with a fast F1.8 aperture and excellent color reproduction and you have an ideal multi-purpose lens!

DA 40mm XS

The DA 40mm F2.8 XS (XS probably stands for eXtra Slim) is a new lens which was launched alongside the K-01.  While it's priced at $249 on its own, if you buy it together with the K-01, you'll only end up paying a generous $149 for it.  Pentax claims that this is the thinnest interchangeable lens in the world, with a depth of only 9.2mm (less than a centimeter, abou 1/3rd of an inch).  They accomplished this by taking the optics of the DA 40mm limited and reducing the image circle to APS-C only (the DA 40mm supports full-frame as it is in turn based on an old M-series lens).  In any case, this lens is the ideal companion for the K-01, as it makes an otherwise-large camera suddenly have the perfect size!  Because of its trusted optical formula, we have no doubts that this lens will be just as sharp as the DA Limited version.

FA 77mm Limited

If you enjoy portrait photography or are in need of the sharp short telephoto, then the FA 77 limited F1.8 is for you!  This lens is among the sharpest in the entire Pentax lineup and like the 15mm, has a tremendous following on our forum.  On top of that, it's quite compact, too, and like all Limiteds, it has a fine metal finish.

DA 100mm Macro WR

You're probably asking yourself why a non-Limited lens is listed on this page.  The reason is simple: we believe that Pentax gave it the wrong name. It features the same metal finish as other DA Limited lenses, and is the smallest Pentax 100mm macro lens to date (although it does get quite big when extended to maximum magnification).  At 340 grams, this lens will still keep your K-01 relatively light while making it even easier to hold due to its length.  While this is an amazingly-sharp macro lens delivering 1:1 magnification, it also doubles as an excellent telephoto, meaning we've now covered all the bases, from ultra-wide through telephoto! See also our in-depth review of the 100mm macro.

Conclusion

At this point you probably also want to ask us where all the zoom lenses went.  Well, if you think about it, the K-01 is a camera designed to deliver very high image quality above all else.  Why then would you want to make compromises by mounting a zoom lens?  In all seriousness, though, zoom lenses do come in handy quite often, and they have their place. That's why we can recommend the Pentax 18-135mm as an all-in-one solution: you can't go wrong with its flexible zoom range and lightning-fast second generation autofocus motor. You might also consider a shorter zoom, such as the Tamron 17-50mm F2.8, as an alternative to the Pentax kit lens.

The K-01 isn't an SLR, however, and it doesn't have a viewfinder.  This means that it won't be as easy to hold steadily with heavy or long lenses, and many current Pentax zooms are one or both of these. So, unless you always carry around a tripod, your goal should be to try to keep things small and light.  And, since small and light doesn't mean bad in Pentax land (thanks to Limited lenses!), why would you opt for anything else?

If you are new to Pentax and have just purchased a K-01, then we would like to recommend that you try being unique and start off with a few prime (non-zoom) lenses rather than opting for all zooms.  More often than not, you'll end up getting better photos with primes, because they make you think about the composition rather than shoot everything that pops into sight and can be framed by zooming. All 6 lenses on this page will probably require a budget of around $3000, and since that's a lot of money, why not go with just your two favorites?

If you're planning on buying any of these lenses today, our friends at B&H have prepared a special K-01 lens page for you to visit!  You may also be interested in seeing what the K-01 looks like with some of these lenses mounted on it.

We hope you enjoyed the read, and welcome your comments below!  We know that there are alternatives to the lenses we listed above, but we feel that the lineup we've picked out will allow for the greatest number of applications.  For example, one could opt for the DA 70mm over the FA 77mm, but we've found the FA lens to do a better job at portraits and it is also about one stop faster.  We hope you get a chance to use some of these lenses in the near future!

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