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10-18-2010, 09:27 AM - 55 Likes   #1
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DA 35mm/2.4 - A Plastic Wonder! -- DAL35 vs FA35 vs DA35m vs A35 (many photos!)

DAL 35/2.4 - A Plastic Wonder!

I got the new DA35/2.4 lens along with my new K5 camera a few days ago. It is a beautiful looking lens, kinda like a smaller sized FA77. But when held in hand, it feels really light. It's probably the lightest non-pancake lens I've every had. Yeah, it's plastic lens with a plastic mount like all the DAL lenses, and it doesn't come with quickshift feature. Why Pentax called this one as a DA instead of a DAL is beyond me, but I'd call it as DAL35 in this short review simply because it has a plastic mount, it doesn't have quickshift feature, and it's easier to differentiate from the DA35 macro lens.

I got it purely because of its price and curiosity, not because I need another 35mm lens (I already have the FA31 and FA43 Ltd lenses, two of my favorite lenses). Well, after two days play, I really like this little lens, and think its light weight is a selling point instead of a drawback. It is so light and compact, I don't feel much extra weight at all when mounted on the K5 camera. Believe it or not, this has been the only AF lens that I've ever used to actually take photos ever since I got the new K5 camera. Normally I'd try all my lenses on a new camera just to make sure the camera and all my lenses are matching well. But this time I decided to give this lens a really good run.

30mm to 50mm happens to be my favorite focal length on cropped dSLR cameras, and I've had pretty much all Pentax 35mm lenses except that mystery SMC M 35/1.4 which never came to production stage. The results from the K5 and DA35/2.4 have been very satisfactory so far, and I do think I've got some keepers.

Pentax has made quite a few 35mm lenses, other than this new DAL35, there is a DA35 macro which is still under production, and the highly rated FA35/2 might still be in production too. I guess sometimes we are spoiled by so many options offered by Pentax, just don't know which one to buy or keep. A few friends asked me to do a thorough comparison between a few Pentax 35mm lenses, two of them even offered their DA35 macro, FA35/2 and a rare A35/2 to me for the comparison review. To be honest, I'm not really good at reviewing lenses, normally when I got a new lens, I'd just bring it out for a spin instead of shooting some charts at home. But since this is probably the only prime lens under $250usd currently offered by Pentax, I'd like to see how it stands against the other few 35mm lenses too.

Enough said, let's get to the points. Obviously Pentax designed this lens based on the FA35/2. Both lenses have the same 6 elements in 5 group optical design, both feature the AL element to minimize aberrations, and both can focus as close as 30cm. The new DAL35 is much lighter at 124g vs 195g for the FA35 (and 215g for the DA35 macro). To save the cost, this new DAL35 lens doesn't come with bayonet fitting for a matching lens hood, only a 49mm screw on lens hood can be used. But this lens has Pentax Super Protect coating on the first lens element to help minimize dust & water to stay on the lens. AF is very fast, even faster than the FA35/2 which is considered as one of the fasted AF lenses by Pentax. During the test against the other 3 35mm lenses, I felt that DAL35 is actually slightly faster than F2.4. Photos taken at the same settings (iso/aperture/shutter speed) appear to be brighter than those from the other 35mm lenses. It is more or less an F2.2 lens I think.

Anyway, after a couple of days play and some tests, here are my over impressions about this lens:

1. Looks beautiful, compact and light weight
2. Makes sharp photos even at wide open aperture
3. Produces very pleasing bokeh and colors
4. Hard to see any CA in the actual photos
5. SP coating for easy cleaning
6. Can focus down to 30cm for some nice closeups
7. Plastic mount might feel cheap, but it's not the first ever
8. Widest aperture is actually faster than F2.4, It's more like a F2.1 to F2.2 lens

Overall I'd say this is a plastic wonder.


In the following I'd show some testing results between these four lenses: DAL35, FA35, DA35macro and A35/2, with some sample photos taken by the DAL35 and a K5 camera. All chart testing photos were taken indoor under somehow controlled lighting condition with the camera mounted on sturdy tripod, 2 second mirror up was used for all testing photos (but not for the sample photos). Pictures speak for themselves.

Here is the lineup:





The FA35 has slightly bigger rear element:



Shooting the chart
The camera was set to manual white balance and manual exposure, same iso/aperture/shutter speed were set for all lenses in the same set photos. As I said above, from the chart testing results you can see that the results from DAL35 appear to be slightly brighter than the other lenses. But I kept all settings the same anyway.

Here is the chart:



Here I'll only show the 100% crops of the centers and corners.

F2
FA35 center:

A35 center:

FA35 corner:

A35 corner:


F2.4 (F2.5 for FA35 and A35)
DA35 center:

FA35 center:

A35 center:

DA35 corner:

FA35 corner:

A35 corner:


F2.8
DA35 center:

FA35 center:

DA35macro center:

A35 center:

DA35 corner:

FA35 corner:

DA35macro corner:

A35 corner:


F4
DA35 center:

FA35 center:

DA35macro center:

A35 center:

DA35 corner:

FA35 corner:

DA35macro corner:

A35 corner:


F5.6
DA35 center:

FA35 center:

DA35macro center:

A35 center:

DA35 corner:

FA35 corner:

DA35macro corner:

A35 corner:


F8
DA35 center:

FA35 center:

DA35macro center:

A35 center:

DA35 corner:

FA35 corner:

DA35macro corner:

A35 corner:


F11
DA35 center:

FA35 center:

DA35macro center:

A35 center:

DA35 corner:

FA35 corner:

DA35macro corner:

A35 corner:


F16
DA35 center:

FA35 center:

DA35macro center:

A35 center:

DA35 corner:

FA35 corner:

DA35macro corner:

A35 corner:



CA (or whatever it's called) in high contrast area

Wide open aperture (F2 to A and FA35, F2.4 for DAL35, F2.8 for DA35 macro)
DA35 center:

FA35 center:

DA35macro center:

A35 center:

DA35 edge:

FA35 edge:

DA35macro edge:

A35 edge:


F4
DA35 center:

FA35 center:

DA35macro center:

A35 center:

DA35 edge:

FA35 edge:

DA35macro edge:

A35 edge:


F8
DA35 center:

FA35 center:

DA35macro center:

A35 center:

DA35 edge:

FA35 edge:

DA35macro edge:

A35 edge:



Bokeh

Wide open aperture (F2 to A and FA35, F2.4 for DAL35, F2.8 for DA35 macro)
DA35:

FA35:

DA35macro:

A35:


F4
DA35:

FA35:

DA35macro:

A35:


F8
DA35:

FA35:

DA35macro:

A35:



Here are some sample photos I took w/ K5 and DAL35/2.4. All photos taken in RAW (PEF), then converted by Pentax Photo Utility v4.3.


For more samples, please take a look at here:


https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-dslr-discussion/118504-k-5-da-35mm...ny-photos.html


































100% crops of a few photos (all taken w/ DAL35 at wide open aperture)














Last edited by frank; 10-19-2010 at 08:04 AM.
10-18-2010, 09:44 AM   #2
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Wow, thanks Frank! Once again you've done a stellar job of introducing us to a new lens!

I really appreciate your thoroughness here, and have to say that I'm really impressed with the lens and what you've done with it.

The bokeh is really nice, and once again Pentax delivers a nice rounded aperture. I wonder if the aperture was slightly restricted to avoid the outlining on out-of-focus highlights. Really surprising how well it stacks up!

Good to see that Pentax has a great offering in this price range, but also agree it should be labeled DA L since it lacks features found on DA lenses.
10-18-2010, 09:49 AM   #3
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Thanks Frank for all that work. I for one, greatly appreciate it. It's obvious to me that the inexpensive DAL 35 holds its own against some very highly touted Pentax glass. I would say that you've answered all the nay-sayers who said "how good could a cheap plastic lens be?" The answer is "much more than 'good enough' ".

NaCl(now can I borrow $215 to get the lens? )H2O
10-18-2010, 10:30 AM   #4
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Thanks for taking the time to do this great review.

10-18-2010, 10:47 AM - 5 Likes   #5
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This image alone sells this lens! Now to figure out how much is the K-5 and how much is the lens.

QuoteQuote:
10-18-2010, 10:47 AM   #6
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You've done a great job here, esp for someone that says that they're not very good at reviewing lenses!

Thanks!
10-18-2010, 10:53 AM   #7
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Thanks the amazingly detailed post -- you truly are putting in overtime in running down the new Pentax products! I'm very pleased to hear such good reports about this inexpensive lens. After the drastic price increases, I felt Pentax needed to introduce a good, cheap, fast normal prime (like the Nikon DX 35, only better). Looks like they did!
10-18-2010, 10:57 AM   #8
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FA35 and DA35 Macro definitely look a liiiittle bit sharper, but not very much. Nice!

10-18-2010, 11:24 AM   #9
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I'm liking this lens more and more. Though LBA is growing, I'm going to hold out and see what prices will be like in a few months.

Maybe it's apples to oranges, but when the 100mm WR was released, MSRP was $849.95(USD). It's now selling at B&H for $619.95 or about 27% cheaper than what Pentax has listed.

Adorama currently has the new DA 35mm f/2.4 at $219 for pre-order, which I'm going to guess is MSRP. Hmmm...don't know if I can hold out for any discounts. Must resist LBA...
10-18-2010, 12:15 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by einstrigger Quote
I'm liking this lens more and more. Though LBA is growing, I'm going to hold out and see what prices will be like in a few months.

Maybe it's apples to oranges, but when the 100mm WR was released, MSRP was $849.95(USD). It's now selling at B&H for $619.95 or about 27% cheaper than what Pentax has listed.

Adorama currently has the new DA 35mm f/2.4 at $219 for pre-order, which I'm going to guess is MSRP. Hmmm...don't know if I can hold out for any discounts. Must resist LBA...
Yeah, I'm betting on a $150-160 eventual street price, but we'll see.
10-18-2010, 12:19 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by deadwolfbones Quote
Yeah, I'm betting on a $150-160 eventual street price, but we'll see.
At that price I'd have a hard time resisting it. However, I have the F28/2.8 and DA 35/2.8 ltd, the latter which is my main digital lens.
10-18-2010, 12:30 PM   #12
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FIRST RATE review and pictures. You certainly get the best out of the lens in your portraits. Thanks for taking the time, I think I'll buy this one!
10-18-2010, 12:31 PM   #13
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thanks for the tests frank. I dunno but it seems like the light transmission for the DAL is much better or exposes/meters better for about a 1/3 or 1/2 stop. although the sharpness is less compared to the other two 35mm lenses. the A 35, is the worst.
10-18-2010, 12:43 PM   #14
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my only wish is that the f stop is faster (f1.7 or f1.8).

otherwise this is a 9/10 lens!
10-18-2010, 01:07 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eagle_Friends Quote
my only wish is that the f stop is faster (f1.7 or f1.8).

otherwise this is a 9/10 lens!
if Pentax does that, prepare to say bye bye to the FA31, FA43, DA35, DA40.

surely Pentax doesn't want one lens to cannibalize the market of it's other lens.
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