Recommended Pentax Gear 2015
Staff-picked top cameras, lenses, and accessories
By PF Staff in Gear Guides on Mar 25, 2015
Our staff writers have handled every Pentax DSLR ever made as well as virtually every lens and peripheral currently available for Pentax cameras. Each piece of equipment found in this gear guide has been carefully selected as something that delivers an optimal blend of performance and value. Whether you are looking to expand your Pentax kit or simply planning to upgrade to a new camera, we are re confident that you will be very happy with our recommendations!
If you live in the US, shop with confidence at B&H Photo and Adorama: the two largest Pentax retailers that stock the entire Pentax lineup year-round. If you're in the UK, WEX Photographic also carries the full Pentax lens line. If you live elsewhere in the EU, UK-based SRS Microsystems will ship straight to your door. Users in Australia and New Zealand can order directly from CR Kennedy. Orders under $1000 (AUD) can also be imported to Australia from the aforementioned US retailers with no added GST. If you're in Canada, you can order most items from B&H and Adorama with little or no customs fees, or shop at local photo retailers such as Henry's.
Links to learn more or to order are included alongside each item in this guide. Also, don't miss our in-depth reviews, which are linked in the listings below.
The prices quoted in this guide are US retail prices as of March, 2015. Prices may vary in different markets.
- WR: Weather Resistant (weather sealed)
- AF: Autofocus
- SDM / DC: Silent autofocus (Pentax lenses)
- HSM: Silent autofocus (Sigma lenses)
- DA: Pentax digital lenses
- DA*: Professional Pentax lenses
- Limited: Premium compact lenses
- D FA: Pentax lenses compatible with full-frame cameras
- APS-C: 24x16mm digital sensor format
- FPS: Continuous bust framerate
The 2014-15 Pentax camera lineup is more powerful and more affordable than ever. Start with a camera that you can't go wrong with, and then pick your lenses and accessories to create the ultimate kit. Need more advice? Ask on the forum.
The Pentax K-3 is an advanced enthusiast DSLR featuring superb image quality thanks to its 24 megapixel sensor. It continues to be Pentax's most powerful and most durable DSLR. A new updated video mode allows you to record at full HD up to 60 frames per second, and thanks to a new processor, the K-3 has the fastest burst shooting within its market segment. 8.3FPS, ISO 100-51,200, 24 Megapixels. $799 w/free grip
- Large Prints
- Demanding Users
The Pentax K-50 is an attractively-priced outdoor DSLR, perfect for beginners or those stepping up from an older DSLR. In addition to featuring full weather sealing and dual control wheels, it has Full HD video recording as well as live view focus peaking, making it the ideal camera for manual lenses. Since it's an outgoing model, it is very attractively priced. 16.3 megapixels, ISO 100-51,200, 6FPS. AA battery compatible w/ optional adapter. $396 ($426 w/lens)
- Everyday Photos
The Pentax K-S2 is the first Pentax DSLR to feature built-in Wi-Fi and a fully articulating LCD screen. This camera also features a new 20-megapixel sensor that delivers improved image quality compared to the K-50, while retaining the K-50's suite of advanced features. Its autofocus system has been updated to work in extremely low light. 20 megapixels, ISO 100-51,200, 5FPS. $696 ($796 w/lens)
Ricoh Theta m15
The Ricoh Theta revolutionizes the way we approach photography by taking 360-degree spherical photos and videos at the push of a button. Those files can then be viewed and shared wirelessly using a smartphone. Give it a shot: we're confident that you and your friends will fall in love with it. $296
- Real Estate
Many photographers reach for zoom lenses because of the convenience and versatility that they offer in the field. Below are our top zoom lens pics for Pentax DSLRs.
Pentax DA* 16-50mm F2.8
The DA* 16-50mm is the only F2.8 walkaround zoom lens for Pentax that has weather sealing. This high-end lens is designed for demanding photographers and professionals seeking a constant aperture and a versatile zoom range for many common applications. We recommend it alongside the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8, which is slightly better optically but lacks weather sealing. $946
- All-In-One Lens
Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 'C'
The Sigma 17-70mm 'Contemporary' is our top recommendation for a standard zoom lens. It truly has it all: excellent image quality, excellent build quality, silent and fast autofocus, and all in a very compact and affordable package! If it were weather sealed, it would have been perfect. If austere environments aren't your typical shooting locale, then this lens is a must-have. $499
- Everyday Photos
Pentax DA 18-135mm
This lens provides a very flexible zoom range along with fast and silent DC (SDM) autofocus and weather-sealing. If you're looking for a mid-range walkaround lens, this is the choice for you! It's also an excellent companion to the weather-sealed K-50, K-5 II, K-S2, and K-3 bodies. It is often bundled with Pentax DSLRs at a reduced price. $429
- All-In-One Lens
- Everyday Photos
HD Pentax DA 55-300mm
This is an affordable supertele zoom with a long reach all the way to 300mm and an ideal companion to the 18-55mm WR kit lens. It is ideal for the beginner or amateur who wants to experiment with longer focal lengths and tight crops as the related smaller field of view provides for. At F4-5.8 it provides sufficient brightness for reliable auto focus and is thus suitable for school sports photography. $369
Pentax DA* 60-250mm F4
Pentax's premium supertele zoom offers a constant F4 aperture throughout its entire zoom range. Coupled with stunning sharpness even from max aperture in a proven surpremely weather sealed build quality, this is one of the most popular lenses among advanced enthusiasts and professionals alike. $1149
- Tripod Photography
Pentax DA 12-24mm F4
The Pentax 12-24mm is a sharp ultra-wide zoom lens. It's an excellent choice if you'd like a wider field of view than what's offered by the kit lens, or if you don't want to carry around multiple primes. $796
Prime lenses are those with fixed focal lengths. Compared to zoom lenses, primes have two key advantages: they deliver better image quality and they can be made more compact. They often also offer faster maximum apertures and therefore nicer bokeh. If you only shoot with zooms, we recommend that you add at least one prime lens to your kit to expand your camera's capabilities and train your photographic eye.
HD Pentax DA 15mm F4 Ltd.
The widest prime lens in the premium DA Limited line of lenses and the second widest prime lens in the entire Pentax lineup. The HD DA 15 is a superlative lens boasting excellent image quality that comes in two colors, silver and black. Featuring an all-metal body, it may fuel an obsession to not only take pictures with it, but of it as well. $496
- Ultra-Wide Angle Photos
Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art
Arguably the sharpest lens currently made for the Pentax K-mount, this 35mm 'standard' prime earns a stellar rating from us. While it is a bit on the larger side, especially compared to Pentax's nearest competitor, the FA 31mm F1.8 Limited, it is sharp at max aperture, produces beautiful bokeh, and suppresses aberrations and distortion! $899
- Low Light
Pentax DA 35mm F2.4
Looking to take low-light photos and don't want to spend more than 200 bucks? This is the lens for you. Featuring a 35mm focal length, images from this lens appear almost as those seen by the human eye on Pentax DSLR's. Recommended for intermediate photographers who have mastered the basics of composition, and that feel comfortable without a zoom range. $149
- Everyday Photos
HD Pentax DA 40mm F2.8 Ltd.
Looking for a compact yet exceptionally sharp lens? Look no further than the Pentax 40mm pancake! Just over a centimeter tall, this is one of the smallest DSLR lenses out there today from any brand. It's also one of the most popular and highest-rated Pentax lenses: its smc predecessor has withstood the test of time with a score of 9.8 in our lens review section. It promises better bokeh and less ghosting with the new HD variant that features rounded aperture blades. Also, it is available in both black or silver all-metal finishes. $446
- Street Photos
Pentax DA 50mm F1.8
Looking to take portraits with that 3D look and beautiful bokeh and don't want to spend more than 200 bucks? This is the lens for you. Featuring a 50mm focal length, this lens is a mild telephoto on Pentax DSLRs. $149
Pentax DA* 55mm F1.4
This is Pentax's premium portrait objective, as well as its fastest aperture lens making shooting in extremely low light a breeze. One of the most popular and highly rated lenses of a the already premium-grade DA* line of lenses, it is extremely sharp and features Pentax's silent SDM autofocus in-lens motor. Also, because of the very fast aperture, and coupled with its proven environmental sealing, no matter the circumstances or weather, nothing will get in the way of your photos having that distinctive 3D pop! $599
Rokinon 85mm F1.4
This manual focus, auto aperture portrait lens is an amazing value. With optics almost as good as those of competing premium lenses, you really can't go wrong with this one. This lens is often re-branded under the Samyang, Falcon, Bower, Vivitar, and Pro Optic brands. $269
Tamron 90mm F2.8 Macro
This affordable 1:1 macro lens is a great alternative to the Pentax 100mm macro for those who do not require weather sealing or if you're on a budget. We even have a comparative review featuring the two lenses! $499
Pentax DFA 100mm F2.8
This lens is a 'Macro' lens because it allows for extreme magnifications - 1:1, or lifesize. Razor sharp, this lens is unanimously accepted as being a 'mistake'. The mistake being that 'Limited' is omitted from its official name because of its 'Limited-esque' all-metal build quality that is akin to the DA and FA Limited line of premium Pentax lenses. One of the sharpest lenses in the entire Pentax arsenal, it doubles as a great telephoto lens too! $696
Pentax DA* 300mm F4
This telephoto prime lens delivers exceptional image quality without the added weight that a F2.8 lens would entail. The Pentax 300mm includes a rotating tripod collar for easy tripod shooting and is therefore perfect for a variety of applications such as sports and wildlife. Like other pro-grade DA* lenses, the 300mm features silent autofocus and dust/moisture sealing. $1096
- Tripod Photography
Not everything in photography can be boiled down to just your camera and lens. Here are our recommendations for how to best accessorize your kit.
3-year Ext. Warranty (US Only)
US customers can extend the standard 1-year Pentax camera warranty by 2 years for a total of 3 years of coverage at a very low price. This extended warranty also includes one complementary cleaning at the US Pentax repair center. Highly recommended! $19
- New DSLR purchases
SanDisk Extreme SD Cards
Just like film was needed to capture the image, memory cards are the venerable 'film' of the digital photography world. We recommend SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro cards and capacities of 16-32Gb for the Pentax K-50 and 32-64Gb for the Pentax K-3 and K-S2. These cards have proven to be reliable and perform at high speeds to ensure optimal burst shooting speed and file downloading. Most SanDisk cards have 10-year or lifetime limited warranties. $15 - $75
- All Users!
Giotto's Rocket Blower
The 'Rocket Blower' accessory is used to remove dust from your sensor, mirror box, and lenses. If there's dust on your sensor that the automatic dust removal system just can't seem to shake, this handy little tool ought to do the trick. We recommend it for everyone, and suggest you take it with you on every outing! The large model is the most effective. $10
- Sensor Cleaning
- Lens Dusting
Remote Control F
This infrared remote control is useful from anything from group photos where the photographer wants to be in the shot, over mirror-up macro shooting to night photography in B exposure mode. In B exposure mode the camera can be set so that the first push of the remote's button opens the shutter and the second push closes the shutter. Works with every Pentax DSLR. $29
- Family Photos
DA 1.4x Teleconverter
The HD Pentax-DA 1.4x Rear Converter is the best teleconverter for Pentax that money can buy. It's ideal for squeezing out extra reach from telephoto lenses such as the DA* 60-250mm, DA* 300mm, and DA 55-300mm, among others. $496
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5
Adobe Lightroom is one of the leading photographic tools to enhance your photography by harnessing the RAW power of your camera. As as import, apply contrast, tone, exposure, saturation, and many other changes, and then simply export your photos in the manner you choose to maximize the potential for your image quality. We highly recommend Lightroom if you want to maximize the potential of your and your camera's image quality capabilities. Available boxed or via Adobe CC for a monthly fee. $139
- Photo Organization
- Advanced Editing
It is of course impossible to anticipate every scenario and need when putting together a guide such as this one. Therefore, if you have questions about any of the items on this page, we suggest that you ask for further advice on the forum!