Full Frame Coverage of DA Lenses: Comprehensive Test

Which DA lenses cover the full 24x36 mm frame?

By PF Staff in Gear Guides on Jan 7, 2019

In response to the many requests regarding which DA lenses cover the 24x36 mm full frame format ("FF") we have tested almost all DA lenses with a Pentax K-1 under similar circumstances.  We are happy to finally be able to present the full results.

A few DA lenses officially support full frame as stated by Ricoh/Pentax. Those lenses are:

  • DA* 200mm F2.8
  • DA* 300mm F4
  • DA 560mm F5.6

For all the other lenses which we have tested the FF coverage presented in the table below is based on our subjective evaluation of a very large number of test images taken at various apertures, focus settings, and zoom settings, as appropriate. It is highly personal how much vignetting, how much drop in resolution, or how much optical distortion is acceptable, so your mileage may vary. We welcome feedback on our evaluation, but please include photo evidence with any such feedback.

The main flaws generally found with the FF coverage are:

  • black corners, i.e. the lens doesn't cover the FF frame at all
  • heavy vignetting, i.e. the lens covers the FF frame but the vignetting is too heavy to give an acceptable result even when corrected in post processing
  • soft corners, i.e. blurry and/or swirly patterns

Evaluation Criteria

We have evaluated the performance at select F-stop/focal length combinations per the following scale:

  • A: Full coverage
  • B: Full coverage, but with slightly soft corners
  • C: With reservations. Heavy vignetting and/or soft corners
  • D: With reservations. Very soft corners and vignetting
  • F: Fail, no coverage (black corners)

We used these F-stops: WO (wide open), F5.6, and F11.  We also used three focus setting at each focal length and aperture: near, moderate, and far.  The evaluation is thus condensed into a single rating that accounts for all focus settings.

As an example of our evaluation method we got the following FF coverage for the smc Pentax-DA 12-24mm F4 ED AL [IF] zoom lens:

12 14 16 18 24
WO F F C A A
F5.6 F F A A A
F11 F F A A A

Based on our findings with these tables we rated the lenses from zero to three stars according to these criteria:

Full coverage at all tested F-stops and all focal lengths
Full coverage at some F-stop and focal length combinations
The lens can be used with reservations at select F-stop/focal length combinations. The main flaw is typically heavy vignetting and corner softness may also be present
No coverage at all

The DA 12-24mm zoom lens thus gets two stars according to our evaluation criteria.

Again we must to stress that these findings are largely subjective and you may want to do your own tests before deciding to use a DA lens on a full frame camera; in some cases, additional usable image area may be extracted between the FF and APS-C frames.

Results

The lenses are presented in order of increasing minimum focal length. There is no difference between SMC and HD versions of a given lens and likewise no difference between WR and non-WR variants of a lens. 

DA 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 Fish-eye
10 14 15 17
WO F F F F
F5.6 F F F C
F11 F F C C
DA* 11-18mm F2.8
11 14 18
WO F C A
F5.6 F C A
F11 F C A
DA 12-24mm F4
12 14 16 18 24
WO F F C A A
F5.6 F F A A A
F11 F F A A A
DA 14mm F2.8
14
WO F
F5.6 F
F11 F
DA 15mm F4 Limited
15
WO F
F5.6 F
F11 F
DA 16-45mm F4
16 20 24 28 35 45
WO F B A A A A
F5.6 F B A A A A
F11 F C B A A A
DA* 16-50mm F2.8
16 19 24 34 50
WO F F F F F
F5.6 F F F F F
F11 F F F F F
DA 16-85mm F3.5-5.6
16 21 26 35 48 85
WO F F F F F F
F5.6 F F F F F F
F11 F F F F F F
DA 17-70mm F4
17 21 25 36 53 70
WO F F F F F F
F5.6 F F F F F F
F11 F F F F F F
Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4
17 23 34 48 70
WO F F F F F
F5.6 F F F F F
F11 F F F F F
DA 18-50mm F4-5.6
18 26 35 50
WO F C A A
F5.6 F C A A
F11 F C A A
DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6
18 24 35 43 55
WO F F D D B
F5.6 F D D C B
F11 F F C B A
DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6
18 28 53 78 100 135
WO F F F F F F
F5.6 F F F F F F
F11 F F F F F F
DA 18-270mm F3.5-6.3
18 24 58 75 190 270
WO F F F F F F
F5.6 F F F F
F11 F F F F F F
DA 20-40mm F2.8-4 Limited
Unacceptable at close focus at 24mm
20 24 30 40
WO F B B C
F5.6 F B B C
F11 F B B C
DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
21
WO F
F5.6 F
F11 F
DA 35mm F2.4
35
WO C
F5.6 B
F11 A

DA 35mm F2.8 Macro Limited
Better (one grade higher) results at close focus settings

35
WO D
F5.6 C
F11 C
DA 40mm F2.8 Limited
40
WO D
F5.6 C
F11 A
DA 50mm F1.8
50
WO D
F5.6 C
F11 B
DA* 50-135mm F2.8
50 70 135
WO F F D
F5.6 F D C
F11 F C C
DA* 50-135mm F2.8 w/DA 1.4x TC
70 105 190
WO D D C
F5.6 C C B
F11 A A A
DA 50-200mm F4-5.6
50 95 105 200
WO F F F F
F5.6 F F F F
F11 F F F F
DA* 55mm F1.4
55
WO D
F5.6 A
F11 A
DA 55-300mm F4-5.8
Heavy vignetting at close distance in middle of zoom range
55 100 200 300
WO B D C C
F5.6 B D B
F11 B B A A
DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 PLM
55 70 100 200 300
WO D F F C C
F5.6 D F F C
F11 C F F B C
DA 70mm F2.4 Limited
70
WO C
F5.6 C
F11 A
DA* 60-250mm F4
Note: a small physical modification further reduces vignetting
60 140 250
WO A A A
F5.6 A A A
F11 A A A
DA* 60-250mm F4 w/DA 1.4x TC
84 180 350
WO A B F
F8 F F F
F16 F F F
DA* 200mm F2.8
200
WO A
F5.6 A
F11 A
DA* 200mm F2.8 w/DA 1.4x TC
280
WO C
F5.6 C
F11 F
DA* 300mm F4
300
WO A
F5.6 A
F11 A
DA* 300mm F4 w/DA 1.4x TC
420
WO C
F8 F
F16 F
DA 560mm F5.6
560
WO A
F5.6 A
F11 A

Conclusion

Not unsurprisingly, there aren't any DA lenses with perfect full-frame compatibility, with the exception of those offiically designated as such (the 200mm, 300mm, and 560mm), and, as it turns out, also the DA* 60-250mm F4.  Our in-depth test of the DA* 60-250mm can be found here.  Henceforth, we will be referring to the 60-250mm as "unofficially fully full-frame compatible" throughout PF articles and resources.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of DA lenses which can be quite useful on full-frame, such as the 12-24mm F4 or 55mm F1.4, for instance.  We hope the tables are helpful in guiding your lens choices for both FF and APS-C shooting.

All of the above data is now also available in the specification tables throughout our lens databases.

If you would like to contribute test photos for a lens which we have not yet tested, please contact us.

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