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05-10-2012, 03:10 PM   #1
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What are the sharpest (IQ) 28 mm lens made for Pentax?

Hello Everyone,
I like to know which 28 mm lenses are the sharpest (highest IQ or resolution) lenses made for Pentax ?

05-10-2012, 03:41 PM   #2
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Probably a Zeiss. Don't go for sharpness though, try some out and see what feels best. Or, failing that, look at images and see what looks the best to you. You'll pay through the teeth for the Zeiss, but it's going to be insanely sharp.
05-10-2012, 03:44 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mareket Quote
Probably a Zeiss. Don't go for sharpness though, try some out and see what feels best. Or, failing that, look at images and see what looks the best to you. You'll pay through the teeth for the Zeiss, but it's going to be insanely sharp.
I have a Zeiss T*Planar 85/1.4 and I must admit that the resulting images are just so different, in a very good way.
I am not sure if this should be compared to a 28mm lens, possibly not; nonetheless, very great image quality.

Maybe not the "sharpest" but certainly worth it.

JP
05-10-2012, 04:55 PM   #4
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Both of the Pentax f/2 28s (the M and the K versions) are reputed to be sharp. Also the K 30/2.8.

05-10-2012, 05:53 PM   #5
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The FA31? 3mm ain't much....
05-10-2012, 06:54 PM   #6
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I tried a M28/2.8 against a Kiron 28/2 both at f2.8.
The Kiron was sharper, but the M28 had better contrast which made it have pictures that had more apparent sharpness when viewed normally.
I'd have no problems keeping or using either and not worry too much about sharpness.
They both are good enough in their different ways.
05-10-2012, 07:43 PM   #7
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Evening, I would think that you could find several 28s that could fit your needs that are in the Forum's Lens database with a wide range of prices. Here are links to the main databases - Pentax lenses, along with the third party databases. There is lots of information in there. I would walk through them looking for (making a list of) the lenses with ratings of 9+. You might be surprised with what you find.A couple of the posts referred to Zeiss lenses. Here are the reviews of the 28s. One is an older lens - the Contax, and one is the newer Zeiss lens. The Contax lens you will need to switch mounts on - however you will save at least 60% off the new price and I think get a slightly better lens - be it all manual.Also, here is a comparison of the Contax 28 against the 31Ltd.
... hope that helps
05-10-2012, 07:52 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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K28/3.5 is right up there with the f/2's - but the K28/2 is reputed to actually be the Zeiss design - very sharp.

This info is probably 15 years old now, from PDML and Stan's Pentax Photography

Yoshihiko Takinami - K28/3.5 is quite excellent, though there's . . . noticable light fall-off wide open, . . . I think K28/3.5 is best 28mm lens Pentax ever made because of its resolution, aberrations, color rendition, contrast, etc.
[a more complete review from Yoshihiko, 7.16.99 . . .] The . . . K28/3.5 . . . is really excellent in performance, IMHO, and is very comparable in size and weight to M85/2. Yes, it seems a big lens for a usual 28mm lens. Whereas M28/3.5 is also an excellent performer and is comapct in size. Comparing the performances of the two, K28/3.5 is a bit better in point of corner resolution, light fall-off towards the corners, and the correction of spherical aberration and coma, IMHO.
M28/3.5 is very comparable to FA28/2.8AL in my point of view.
The only two defects in K28/3.5, IMO; one is its size and weight, the other is some severe light fall-off towards the coeners, which seems better than M28/3.5 or FA28/2.8AL in comparison, but it does exist.
K28/3.5, IMHO, is the best 28mm lens Pentax ever made in opticalperformance.
Go for K28/3.5 when you concern performance, and go for M28/3.5, or FA28/2.8AL, when you concern size and weight besides performance.
- - - - - -
David Collett - . . . I have an A28/2.8, FA28/2.8 AL and a 28/3.5. The f3.5 is probably the best of the three at f8 or f11 with nice crisp contrast. The A28 is a good all rounder, the FA28 is, I would guess as good as the f3.5 at f8 or f11. The FA has problems with light fall off in the corners when used wider than f5.6 but otherwise it is an excellent lens.
- - - - - -
PAUL STENQUIST - I shot half a dozen rolls with the K 28/3.5 a couple of weeks ago. I love it. Very sharp for that wide a lens and great color and saturation. It seems to be far superior to the SMC tak 28/3.5. I've never tried the M version.



3.17.99 - Valentin observed:
> Now, it's interesting that Yoshihiko is mentioning the "F" in the "keep away from" list.
>What's wrong with it ? Let's say when compared with the "FA" ?
- - - - - -
Yoshihiko Takinami replies:
F28/2.8 is optically identical to M28/2.8 (later model) and A28/2.8, if I remember correctly.
FA28/2.8AL was newly designed when FA lenses were introduced. FA28/2.8AL is a bit soft at wide open, and slightly soft at f/4, while K28/3.5 is very sharp even at wide open.
My personal ranking for Pentax 28m lenses are follows;
K28/3.5, K28/2 >= M28/3.5 >= FA28/2.8AL >>> M28/2.8 (old) >M28/2.8 (later), A28/2.8, F28/2.8
So F28/2.8 is never comparable to FA28/2.8AL in point of optical performance.
Yoshihiko Takinami [again] - I have something to add.
Try Hama rectangular hood (52mm) for this lens. It seems the best hood for K28/3.5 I have ever seen. It also works well with K24/2.8, K28/2, K30/2.8, K35/2, and K35/3.5 in my experiences.
[and in respose to another query . . .]
> I'm out looking for a cheap but good mf (28 or wider) wideangle lens.
> I was thinking maybe one you have a good lens that you are willing to
> give up, or maybe you couldjust give me a tip about what lens I should
> buy.
Go for a used K28/3.5 (SMC PENTAX 28mm f/3.5), a cheap but optically excellent lens, IMO. It is the sharpest 28mm lens that Pentax ever made.
Or go for a used M28/3.5 (smc PENTAX-M 28mm f/3.5), a cheap but good lens, IMHO.
[and in response to yet another query . . .]
First of all, please note that a resolution test is a resolution test. It only shows a part of the optical performance of the lens tested.
As for the K-mount 28mm lenses of Pentax, I have/had experiences with K28/2, K28/3.5, M28/2, M28/2.8, M28/3.5, and FA28/2.8AL. I have resolution test results of K28/3.5, M28/3.5, and FA28/2.8AL among them.
I had been disappointed in the performances of M28/2 and M28/2.8 comparing then to the K lenses and sold them several years ago. So I couldn't test them in the recent resolution test. I actually tested K28/2. But after the test I found it need to be repaired, and deleted the K28/2 result. I will test it [again] . . .
The best among the lenses above, IMHO, is K28/3.5 in point of sharpness, contrast, resolution, and aberrations. The next will be FA28/2.8AL. This is just my opinion.

  • 28 mm f/2.0

Bibi Kwa (From the Web) - Very good lens Very sharp, some distortion. Beautiful colors and bokeh.

  • 28 mm f/2.0 A
JCO - I would chose a 28mm f2.0 vs. a 28 F3.5 everytime as the faster lens allows more accurate focus and composition every time, even in bright light. . . .
- - - - - - - -
[see Gerjan's comment on 20 mm f/4.0 above; he discusses several 20mm and 28mm wide angles.]

G.T.Addison - . . .like most SMC pentax primes, very good in every way.
- - - - - -
SUBHASIS - I find my SMC-M 28mm F2.8 excellent in every respect. It's probably the best lens I have ever used in my limited experience.
- - - - - -
tv - softer and less contrasty than my other Pentax lenses.
- - - - - -
Bob S. - just isn't as sharp as the M 50/1.7 or the M 135/3.5

David Collett - . . . I have an A28/2.8, FA28/2.8 AL and a 28/3.5. The f3.5 is probably the best of the three at f8 or f11 with nice crisp contrast. The A28 is a good all rounder, the FA28 is, I would guess as good as the f3.5 at f8 or f11. The FA has problems with light fall off in the corners when used wider than f5.6 but otherwise it is an excellent lens.
- - - - - -
Collin Brendemuehl (from the Web auto-response) - An underrated value. Excellent resolving power. Best at f8 and f11 -- one could easily use this as a normal lens. Good wide open and still respectable at small apertures of f16 and f22. Easy to handle and focus. Decent flare control, but a short hood would be practical as with any wide angle.
[Collin again . . .] Great color rendition. Excellent contrast. Very sharp, but perhaps a bit "rough" at large apertures. Light fall-off is typical of standard 28mm lenses. All-around, a lens you can't go wrong having.

Sterling Rorden - My understanding is that [ the Pentax F series 28mm lens] is slightly better optically than the FA series lens.

"Roberto Burgos S.". . . I do not have the FA28/2.8 but I know is one of the best 28's ever made. Front element does not rotate and it is optically superb.
- - - - - - - -
Bruce Rubenstein - I have the FA 28/2.8. The front element doesn't rotate. The plastic outer skin looks tacky and the focus ring is narrow: typical AF lens stuff. Manual focusing is OK: not much feel, but silky smooth. AF is reasonably fast on a ZX-5. Optical performance is classic Pentax: a little soft wide open, but super sharp a couple of stops down. Compared to my FA 28-105, the FA 28/2.8 at around f8 is a little sharper in the center and distinctly sharper in the corners. . . .
- - - - -
Michael Webber - Fri, 3 Oct 1997 - A little known oddity of the FA 28mm 2.8 (which has tested very sharp indeed) is that it is much more of a 30mm lens than a 28 according to Pop Photog's focal length test information (29.5mm? 29.8?). . . .most 28-? zoom lenses, for example, are more like 29 or 30mm at the wide end, it is common for lenses to vary from their stated focal length. And most "50" mm lenses are more like 52mm (Konica used to actually label their normal lens as a 52. . . ).
- - - - - -
ZX5Lx@aol.com - Having had the opportunity to use the FA 24/2.0 as well as the FA 28/2.8, I can say they are both fine lenses. In terms of absolute sharpness the 28 is definitly sharper, but its a little like comparing apples and oranges. . . .but in optical performance [ the FA 28] was excellent and left little desire for better performance. . . .
- - - - - - - -
John Tollefsrud - 1 Dec 1997. . . I love the sharpnessof the FA28mm as well as it's size and light weight.For the price, it's a great lens. I believe it is an improvement over their previous 28m designs, given the AL lens design.
- - - - - -
Ralf Engelmann - . . .The SMC-F 2.8/28mm is not identical to the SMC-FA 2.8/28mm AL, which has fewer elements, but additionally an aspherical surface. The price increased around 50% when the FA version was introduced. . .SMC-FA always got excellent results. Wide open it is even better than the FA* 2.0/24mm AL (IF), which has the "handicap" of the very fast speed here. Stopped down at f=8 or so, both lenses should be excellent performers.
- - - - - -
Marc Polman - Just got a mint, used FA 28mm f2.8 AL from a local shop. It looks very well built, better than my FA 50mm f1.7 .Feels good too, nice & light, focussing is just tight enough and fortunately no rattling or loose elements here! It has the same flat front element as my FA 28~70 f4 AL. Must be the AL element..
- - - - - -
Pascal De Pauw - Very sharp lens and almoust no distortion.
- - - - - -
Bruce Rubenstein - I got one of these about 6 months ago. I don't use it too much, but only because I tend to use my 24mm more. I find the build quality very high with very good AF and MF. Like most Pentax lenses, it's not great wide open. In more normal wide angle usage (f5.6 and smaller) it's excellent. Sharper in the corners than either the Pentax or Tamron 28-105 with less distortion. It's probably sharper in the center also, but just by a little. Perfect for landscape work where there's lots of detail and you want everything sharp.
- - - - - -
Bruce Dayton - I can tell you that the FA 28 f:2.8 really shows the light falloff at wider apertures. It looks as if you put a filter on and it vignettes. You really need to stop it down to about f:8 to get rid of that problem. It is not one of my favorite lenses.
Yoshihiko Takinami - There's very noticable light fall-off at f/2.8-5.6 though FA28/2.8AL is very good, or even excellent, at f/8-11, IMHO, with very well corrected aberrations and excellent contrast.
- - - - - -
David Collett - . . . I have an A28/2.8, FA28/2.8 AL and a 28/3.5. The f3.5 is probably the best of the three at f8 or f11 with nice crisp contrast. The A28 is a good all rounder, the FA28 is, I would guess as good as the f3.5 at f8 or f11. The FA has problems with light fall off in the corners when used wider than f5.6 but otherwise it is an excellent lens. [later addition . . .] the only thing that I don't like is the level of light fall off at f5.6 & wider. At f8 to f16 it works very well, no technical tests, just a critical eye on my slides!
> Yoshishiko: Did you notice this with your sample? I can't remember if
> you mentioned it.
Yoshihiko Takinami - Yes, FA28/2.8AL has light fall-off at corners wide open. It is also quite soft wide open, and a bit soft even at f/4.
But wait, this lens is not a fast lens, and is even compact and light weight. It performs really excellent at f/8 and f/11. Aberrations are well corrected even wide open. Contrast and color rendition are quite excellent.
I think FA28/2.8AL is a very excellent performer next to K28/3.5 for general use. Just my opinion.

Yoshihiko Takinami - K28/3.5 is quite excellent, though there's . . . noticable light fall-off wide open, . . . I think K28/3.5 is best 28mm lens Pentax ever made because of its resolution, aberrations, color rendition, contrast, etc.
[a more complete review from Yoshihiko, 7.16.99 . . .] The . . . K28/3.5 . . . is really excellent in performance, IMHO, and is very comparable in size and weight to M85/2. Yes, it seems a big lens for a usual 28mm lens. Whereas M28/3.5 is also an excellent performer and is comapct in size. Comparing the performances of the two, K28/3.5 is a bit better in point of corner resolution, light fall-off towards the corners, and the correction of spherical aberration and coma, IMHO.
M28/3.5 is very comparable to FA28/2.8AL in my point of view.
The only two defects in K28/3.5, IMO; one is its size and weight, the other is some severe light fall-off towards the coeners, which seems better than M28/3.5 or FA28/2.8AL in comparison, but it does exist.
K28/3.5, IMHO, is the best 28mm lens Pentax ever made in opticalperformance.
Go for K28/3.5 when you concern performance, and go for M28/3.5, or FA28/2.8AL, when you concern size and weight besides performance.
- - - - - -
David Collett - . . . I have an A28/2.8, FA28/2.8 AL and a 28/3.5. The f3.5 is probably the best of the three at f8 or f11 with nice crisp contrast. The A28 is a good all rounder, the FA28 is, I would guess as good as the f3.5 at f8 or f11. The FA has problems with light fall off in the corners when used wider than f5.6 but otherwise it is an excellent lens.
- - - - - -
PAUL STENQUIST - I shot half a dozen rolls with the K 28/3.5 a couple of weeks ago. I love it. Very sharp for that wide a lens and great color and saturation. It seems to be far superior to the SMC tak 28/3.5. I've never tried the M version.
J Vanderaalst - absolutely the sharpest lens that I ever owned
- - - - -
fritz polesny (from input on this website)- an excelent optic, even for close ups. i like this optic. i get best results using it with extension tubes or a retro ring for close ups of insects, spiders and mites

05-11-2012, 05:03 AM   #9
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I have several MF 28s that work well when I'm feeling fiddly. For AF, I really like the somewhat hard to find and frequently passed over ugly duckling, F 28/2.8 w/hood, paired to a K-5.

Cheers...

Last edited by Michaelina2; 05-11-2012 at 09:00 AM.
05-11-2012, 05:19 AM   #10
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Sharpest in what aperture?
Sharpest in close range, long range or infinity?
05-11-2012, 05:36 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Valentin observed:
> Now, it's interesting that Yoshihiko is mentioning the "F" in the "keep away from" list.
I suspect that Yoshihiko never tested/used the F (or A) version. He assumed they were inferior based on his test of the second version of the M 28/2.8. But according to his own tests, there's not much difference between any of the 28s he tested. The 28/2's seem to be the sharpest in the center, the K 35/3.5 sharpest toward the edges. But the biggest difference between the 28s is contrast and color rendition. The M 28/2.8s have the least contrast, and the least distinctive color rendition. That's the main reason they tend not to be rated as high as the other 28s. It's not because they are "softer."
05-11-2012, 05:38 AM   #12
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All the concerns about light falloff in the Stan's excerpt wouldn't have much relevance on a 1.5 crop sensor.

Odd that they are so high on the FA 28 2.8 and it doesn't get much love around here. If you mention it, most will say get the F 28, which is opposite to the advice above. I had an F 28 but it was backfocussing so badly it was unusable. Not even +10 on the K20D corrected it. I didn't keep it long enough to form an opinion on IQ.

I have an Image A 28 2.8 that has lovely bokeh and beautiful colours, but soft wide open. It is extremely sharp at f8. I have a Kalimar A 28 2.8 that is identical in every way. I even interchanged parts to make one good lens.

Image A 28 2.8 wide open:



I have a Kiron 28mm f2 that is sharp, even wide open. I believe it would be in the running for sharpest 28mm. I don't use it much because I prefer auto exposure lenses. Kiron colours are distinctly cooler than any of my Pentax lenses, which is an advantage in Tungsten light but sometimes too blue in daylight. Bokeh can be quite wild, which some people like and others, not so much. Fortunately, I like it.

Kiron 28mm @ f2


Last edited by audiobomber; 07-27-2012 at 10:12 PM.
05-11-2012, 05:54 AM   #13
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Sharpest 28 mm lens

The aperture that the 28 mm lens was the sharpest didn't matter as long as it was by f/8, f11 the smallest. I wanted something that was sharp close and also far, a lens that on average was the best at both distances .
05-11-2012, 05:57 AM   #14
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The above post was an answer to hoanpham's post.
05-11-2012, 05:59 AM   #15
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Try the M28/3.5.
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