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05-24-2013, 11:15 AM - 1 Like   #1
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DA 35mm f2.4 Mini Review

I recently bought the DA 35mm f2.4 lens because I wanted a lens to supplement my K28mm f2.0, which I have been using as my primary normal lens.
As most of you know, the K28/f2.0 is a legendary lens that deserves its status. But, it is manual focus and it is not small. Sometimes, I just dont feel like manual focusing and the DA 35mm, while not tiny like a pancake has no problems fitting in my pocket.
This is 100% subjective, but to me, 28-35mm is the most versatile focal length on APS-C. It isnt too wide where you would have to crop 75% of the time (which is what i run into with my Fuji X100), and it isnt too tight where i have to step way back to get everything I want into the shot.

For the lens itself, I got a really nice deal from KEH, as part of the real big lot of Pentax gear that they got. I paid 165 for a like new condition lens...and i think that is what the price point should be. Right now it is ~$215 new which is on the high side in my opinion because: doesnt come with a hood, and if you do want a hood you need to get a screw on hood; plastic mount; no quick shift.
The lack of quick shift is what really hurts this lens. You really want to be able to fine tune focus with a K-5 because of it's large center focus point.

For the positives, the IQ is really great from wide open on If you want to really count pixels, you might notice something, but I sure have not seen anything bad.
Bokeh looks nice and smooth, not distracting.
Here are some test shots from my hairy model
Bentley 04May2013 - a set on Flickr

I used to have the DA 35mm limited. From an IQ standpoint this one holds its own. From a build quality angle, of course the limited wins, also it is a true 1:1 macro, quick shit and a built in hood.
Sooooooo, which one to choose? Only you can make that choice. But here would be my rationale:
Price - No brainer, this one
Build quailty - Limited....but, not in a landslide. Neither are WR. Yes, this one has a plastic mount, but it is a very short, light lens, therefore it is not going to just start cracking unless you do something dumb.
Handling - Limited - Built in hood, quickshift put it over the top. But the AF of the limited brings it down a notch. Like any macro, if it misses focus, it just racks in and out which can get annoying. My suggestion would be to just grab the focus ring and take control at that point...which kinda defeats the purpose of AF, right?
Image Quality - This one I feel is a wash, unless you are really really trying to justify the higher cost of the limited. I used DxO which has a real robust lens correction feature, and I cannot tell the difference between the two.
In all honesty, I don't think the cost differential is justified. You can literally buy a Sigma 90mm Macro and this lens DA35mm f2.4 brand new for the price of a new 35mm limited. I think that 35mm is not the best focal length for macro, the 90-100mm (and longer if you can afford it) range is much more appropriate.

So in summation, if you have an APS-C camera, this lens is just what the doctor ordered. It is light, not too expensive, delivers when it comes to IQ and is just the right focal length.


Last edited by cali92rs; 05-24-2013 at 11:20 AM.
05-24-2013, 11:23 AM   #2
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Cool review. A lot of people ask about this, I hope they find this thread. Btw, did you try taking a landscape photo with both lenses? I find I can't get the most IQ out of my DA 35mm f2.4 for landscapes. Just isn't as sharp as it is for near subjects. But maybe its just me.
05-24-2013, 11:35 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Cool review. A lot of people ask about this, I hope they find this thread. Btw, did you try taking a landscape photo with both lenses? I find I can't get the most IQ out of my DA 35mm f2.4 for landscapes. Just isn't as sharp as it is for near subjects. But maybe its just me.
I have not had a chance to do any landscapes with this lens.
The limited really was sharp for some of the landscapes that I have taken with it, but they were taken at optimal apertures, where you would expect any modern quality lens to be sharp.
Like I said in my write-up, I use DxO which really does cover up some of the weaknesses of the lens.
Next time i get an opportunity, I will give my 2.4 a shot
05-24-2013, 11:36 AM   #4
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Thanks for your review. I have the DA 35/2.4 and love it for what it is ... I'd like to try the Limited, maybe someday.

05-24-2013, 12:19 PM   #5
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Nice objective review - thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I also bought this lens recently from KEH for the same price and condition. I think it really earns its status as "plastic fantastic".

The build quality and plastic mount don't bother me at all either. I also run my images through DxO which really makes it shine. I added a screw on hood and appropriate size lens cap for the hood - good to go!
05-25-2013, 11:04 AM   #6
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I picked one up for a little over $100 used, but indistinguishable from new. I bought a plastic clip-on reproduction of the old square metal hoods. I don't know if something about being square makes it work differently than a round hood, but I like it. I'll say that I didn't expect much from this lens and don't love this focal length, but was having to stand in doorways and things to some times get subject in frame with the 50/55s that I prefer. So, I chose something cheap.

My big surprise is how much I like it, I'm really getting nice color and focus. AF is fast and seems accurate. I've actually listed my F50/1.7 for sale because this cheap plastic 35mm lens is working out so well for me (and I have a K55/1.8 that wins in that focal length).

It looks great on my camera and the build quality doesn't bother me when mounted, but whenever I take it out of my bag, I scowl a little. It so light and flimsy feeling. It's probably an engineering wonder. Making something that light that I've never seen or read of anyone saying wasn't stable. No one has posted and said that theirs fell apart or cracked or anything. As far as we know, it's every bit as high of quality as more substantial metal lenses, it just doesn't feel like what we're used to a good lens feeling like.

Anyway, the glass seems to be good and I'm happy. I didn't really buy it for landscapes and haven't tried that yet.
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