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03-09-2017, 04:52 AM   #1
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Pentax HD DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited: how really bad is the AF?

Hello, I have the chance to buy at a good price a HD Pentax DA 35mm f / 2.8 Macro Limited (it is used, but I know the person who sells it, and in any case, the objective would still have two years guarantee).

I'm attracted by its proclaimed sharpness but what worries me is the bad things i've read about its AF.
Due to its focal I would use the lens for everyday and street photography.

Does anyone have direct experience that can help me? Thank you

03-09-2017, 05:18 AM   #2
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All "macro" lenses have slower AF than "normal" primes. But it is still useable. And the lens has amazing optics, allows macro magnification, it is very compact, and it has QuickShift (This helps a LOT, because if you practice your manual focus can be as fast as normal AF).
If you get it "for a good price" and don't already have other 35mm lenses, then I think its a good choice.
03-09-2017, 06:04 AM   #3
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QuoteQuote:
If you get it "for a good price" and don't already have other 35mm lenses, then I think its a good choice.
I would get it for 350 euros, it seems to me a quite good price. What do you think?
03-09-2017, 08:53 AM   #4
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The only Pentax AF lens I've ever had real AF problems with is the D-FA 100 WR Macro; that one hunts focus like nothing on earth. The DA 35 Macro I found was a lot better, except occasionally when moving between focus extremes.

That being said, I always caution users that it's not for everyone. I bought it for medical photography where I need a wide field of view and ultra-close minimum focal distance at the same time, to properly photograph larger surgical specimens and for autopsy work; actual 1:1 reproduction is in itself not as important to me. I bought it because I was having to stand on chairs or put specimens on the floor to get enough of them into the picture with the 100, and because I didn't want to go to the D-FA 50/2.8 only to find that wasn't wide enough either.

If you...

a) Do not already have a DA autofocus lens in 35mm for your Pentax APS-C body, and...
b) You want macro/ultra close focus capability, and...
c) Can easily afford the price,

...then the DA 35/2.8 is for you. The image quality is superb, but it is not one of those Pentax lenses that has its own special legendary quality. Edge to edge sharpness is the design feature here, but that's what macro lenses were built to do. That being said, I did the single-in challenge with it last year, and here are the results. Being able to get in so very close makes for shallow depth of field and interesting bokeh opportunities even at very narrow aperture settings!!!

Also: unlike the other two current Pentax digital-era macros, this is definitely NOT a full-frame lens. If the K-1 is in your future or is your only body, you will have to be in crop mode to avoid vignetting, or crop it out in post. I have a K-5 now so this is not an issue for me; those moving from bodies with higher MP counts would have more compromises to make.


Last edited by pathdoc; 03-09-2017 at 08:59 AM.
03-09-2017, 10:57 AM   #5
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My da 100 doesn't hunt. It does miss focus and have to reset but hunting implies continued missed focus multiple passes failing to lock. That's not what I experience. I also never saw that with my F 100. At lease not with my k-3.

The only da 35 focus issues I have heard of are similar to my da 100 experiences. Slow, occasionally misses and has to rack the entire length of focus throw.
03-09-2017, 01:32 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Exhale Quote
Hello, I have the chance to buy at a good price a HD Pentax DA 35mm f / 2.8 Macro Limited (it is used, but I know the person who sells it, and in any case, the objective would still have two years guarantee).

I'm attracted by its proclaimed sharpness but what worries me is the bad things i've read about its AF.
Due to its focal I would use the lens for everyday and street photography.

Does anyone have direct experience that can help me? Thank you
I have it, bought it from my son to help him fund the FA 31.
It is a very good lens, with excellent contrast and it delivers very sharp images, but if sharpness is your only quest, the cheap DA 35 f2.4 is as sharp as the DA 35 2.8 macro, and it is 0.5 stop brighter, which is valuable.

Yet, IMO, if you can afford it, the DA 35 macro is a better lens which a very nice rendering at any kind of scene, like all limited lenses. And the built-in retractable hood is very convenient.

I didnt experience AF issues at normal shooting distances.
What I experienced is that true macro needs some special training, it is very difficult to steady the camera unless you use a tripod. But that will be the same with any macro lens.

When using it for general purpose photography, the DA 35 macro also allows you some unexpected close ups of flowers or details without worrying of the minimum focus distance.
03-09-2017, 06:06 PM   #7
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Really not bad focusing speed for a screw drive based Macro. Rending is beautiful as others mentioned, great street focal length too about a classic 50mm and the Macro is a bonus. Two lenses in one, also the focusing throw is a little long but the focusing speed and performance is fine. Would sure miss mine, if you took it out of my bag!
03-09-2017, 06:38 PM   #8
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In crop mode on K-1 DA35/2.8 retains its colorful character and rendering quite close to as on the K-5.

03-09-2017, 06:53 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
In crop mode on K-1 DA35/2.8 retains its colorful character and rendering quite close to as on the K-5.
How does it perform in FF mode on your K-1? Does it vignette? Soft edges?
03-09-2017, 08:33 PM   #10
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One of the cool things with DA limiteds as opposed to FA limiteds is the DAs have quick shift. So you can "cheat" a little and get focus close manually then finish it off with autofocus.
03-09-2017, 08:53 PM   #11
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Like my D FA 100/2.8 macro AFSLOW during low light. Best DAYLIGHT ARE BEST AF FAST. My understand about it.
03-09-2017, 08:58 PM - 2 Likes   #12
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On my K-01 - infamous for its "poor" AF performance - the DA35 Ltd does pretty well for a macro lens, even in low light.




And thanks to Quick Shift, stubbornly difficult AF situations can sometimes be resolved with minimal effort.




I should use mine far more often than I do.
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