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01-31-2019, 04:26 PM   #1
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Pentax FA 35mm f/2 flare resistance and performance on full frame?

Pentax recently announced a refreshed FA 35mm f/2 lens, and from what I can tell, it's optically and mechanically identical to the old FA 35mm it replaces save for new lens coatings and an updated industrial design.

A lack of detailed reviews of this lens on the K-1 made me wonder about a couple of things: how well does it perform (sharpness, aberrations, etc) on a full-frame sensor, particularly in the edge and corners of the frame; and how did the lens behave when shooting against bright light? Because pretty much everything except flare resistance has remained the same, though we know that the HD coatings were a significant improvement over the (already competitive) SMC.

Is the lens's optical performance good enough for a modern, high-resolution full-frame digital SLR camera, and how much would it benefit from updated coatings?

Draco

01-31-2019, 05:04 PM - 3 Likes   #2
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I have one, and it's fine, I just use my FA31 more often because it's the FA31!

Have you read all the forum member reviews?

KiwiJono updated his from 2013 to take into account the K-1:

"UPDATE - FF:
Now I have spent time with this lens on the K-1, my opinion of the FA35 and has only improved further! Its a great match with the K-1, light, small, sharp, fully usable wide open, and bokeh sees a surprising improvement (possibly due to closer focusing distance for same field of view). Also stopped down to f16 I'm seeing nice star flares (like DA15) - see f16 example below!
Its my most used lens on the K-1 and I have increased my ratings to reflect the performance on the K-1. Tempted to give it a 10 overall but build is not quite there.

Samples FF:
At f2: Old cash register | Jonathan Wilson | Flickr
At f2: Ford V8 | Jonathan Wilson | Flickr
At f5.6: Curio Bay beach surf | Jonathan Wilson | Flickr
At f16: Motorway fun | Not ideal conditions last night as there was ? | Flickr

APS-C:
Its a great lens and is particularly useful on a crop DSLR (field of view on crop is close to 50mm full frame).
Definitely had to spend some time fine tuning the auto focus (on the K-5) because it was out quite a bit. Once I dialed it in though it is returningg very sharp photos.
Its pretty sharp in the centre of the frame at f2 (a bit soft in the corners) and I find it very usable. Even better the contrast wide open is surprisingly good. Sweet spot seems to be f5.6 where it is very sharp across the frame. f4 is nearly as good as f5.6.

I have noticed a little CA at times but its pretty minimal.

The supplied hood is good and can be fitted in reverse over the lens body when not in used - protecting the lens.

So far I am happy with bokeh and have not seen anything I would call ugly but then when I am looking for bokeh I shoot mostly wide open. The lens can focus relatively closely too - which helps.

I have scored this lens 9. On one hand this seems a bit high given that there are better lenses around (costing more) on the other its a great all round lens and good value. The DA 35 f2.4 may well be the value king but I find f2 useful.

The more I use this lens, the more I'm liking it. I'm seeing a lot of good results even at f2. For example take a look at the second f2 image taken in bright contrasty light - there is a little CA (have not attempted to remove) on right side of the dragon head but otherwise its impressive with good contrast. Very comfortable with the 9 rating now and f2 really is handy.

Samples APS-C:
At f2: Of the rails | Shot with a Pentax FA35 f2. Enjoying this len? | Jonathan Wilson | Flickr
At f2: dragon glasses | Christchurch Santas Christmas Parade 2013 | Jonathan Wilson | Flickr
At f2: Larnach Griffin | Jonathan Wilson | Flickr
At f4: Sunset over the house | Jonathan Wilson | Flickr
At f5.6: Anantha | Christchurch Santa Parade 2013 | Jonathan Wilson | Flickr

Read more at: https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/SMC-Pentax-FA-35mm-F2-Lens.html#ixzz5eEWDaj7S"

Get some popcorn for this guy finding it the best of the selection on his Sony A7:

01-31-2019, 05:23 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
KiwiJono updated his from 2013 to take into account the K-1
I actually missed that, thanks for pointing that to me.

Given the age of the lens design, I'm honestly a bit surprised that there hasn't been more attention given to it, though these reviews do look promising. I'm actually more concerned about whether there's much to gain from the HD coatings FWIW...

Draco
01-31-2019, 05:32 PM   #4
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If it ďainít brokeĒ there is no reason to fix it... itís a fine lens.

01-31-2019, 05:34 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
I actually missed that, thanks for pointing that to me.

Given the age of the lens design, I'm honestly a bit surprised that there hasn't been more attention given to it, though these reviews do look promising. I'm actually more concerned about whether there's much to gain from the HD coatings FWIW...

Draco
Obviously the magnificent FA31 is the natural fit for the K-1, but not everyone can afford it.

Someone short of cash can make do with the FA35 or even DA35 f2.4. Buy secondhand, they can get a couple of years' use until they sell for not much more than they paid, and buy the DFA*35 f1.4 complete with monstrous performance and pricetag if they want.
01-31-2019, 05:52 PM   #6
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I have a smc PENTAX-A 1:2.8 24mm on the K-1, would a (new/old) FA35 offer a noticeable better IQ? I am not exactly the pixel peeping kind, but a real crisp wide angle would be nice.
01-31-2019, 05:59 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
Pentax FA 35mm f/2 flare resistance and performance on full frame?
The coatings on my copy of the FA 35/2 are the equal of those on any of my more modern lenses in terms of resistance to veiling flare and internal reflection artifact. Such is readily apparent on even cursory visual examination. Quite simply, the lens offers very little reflection when viewed from the front or back.

I don't have any striking examples of of torture chamber flare testing with the lens, but I do have a few examples that would challenge most other lenses in my bag. While don't have a K-1, I do use the FA 35/2 on 35mm film and I really don't see what difference there might be with digital. Probably the best assessment I can give of the lens is that I have not found it a challenging lens to shoot with in regards to flare, sharpness, or contrast or any other measure with the possible exception of bokeh, and even then, much depends on subject and distances.

Here are a few examples taken under conditions that might challenge coatings.

FF on Rollei Retro 100 (aka APX 100)...




APS-C digital (K10D), fringes on clouds are at the point of clipping...




Not full sun, but still a challenge to most lenses. Note the lack of internal reflections.




Steve

(Yes, I am a fan...)
01-31-2019, 06:06 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
Given the age of the lens design, I'm honestly a bit surprised that there hasn't been more attention given to it...
The FA 35/2 was a late entry into the FA series (1999, eight years after the FA 50/1.4) and only predated Pentax digital by a couple of years. Its design was sophisticated for the time and was positioned as a premium product in the Pentax lineup. In short, it was not a cheap consumer prime. It also has the distinction of being one of the few lenses in the current lineup to have "died" and been brought back to market, presumably by popular demand. Mine basically lived on my K10D and is still quite comfortable on the K-3.


Steve

01-31-2019, 06:24 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by K1N8 Quote
I have a smc PENTAX-A 1:2.8 24mm on the K-1, would a (new/old) FA35 offer a noticeable better IQ? I am not exactly the pixel peeping kind, but a real crisp wide angle would be nice.
Yeah, unlike your 24mm, it has an aspherical element, and it's totally glass, not a plastic/glass hybrid.
01-31-2019, 06:28 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
It also has the distinction of being one of the few lenses in the current lineup to have "died" and been brought back to market, presumably by popular demand.
It's the lens so nice, they made it twice! (And then again, another second time!)

I haven't read all the threads, but has no one been pleased by the addition of a green ring? Remember the torches and pitchforks when the HD Ltds had *red* rings?
01-31-2019, 06:55 PM   #11
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Well, given the responses here, it's now abundantly clear that the performance of the old FA 35mm is more than good enough to justify the higher ($400) price tag, especially now that it has new coatings and refreshed aesthetics. As dated as the screwdrive AF and aperture ring may seem these days, it's pretty obvious that Ricoh saw no reason to change the mechanical design on the updated lens, and I have no objections to this decision. Noisy as it may be, screwdrive AF is generally fast and reliable on modern Pentax bodies (I have never heard of an in-body AF motor failure on a Pentax camera).

I will definitely be looking into getting this lens at some point in the coming months.

Draco

Last edited by bwDraco; 01-31-2019 at 07:05 PM.
01-31-2019, 07:03 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
Well, given the responses here, it's now abundantly clear that the performance of the old FA 35mm is more than good enough to justify the higher ($400) price tag, especially now that it has new coatings and an updated design. As dated as the screwdrive AF and aperture ring may seem these days, it's pretty obvious that Ricoh saw no reason to change the mechanical design on the updated lens, and I have no objections to this decision. Noisy as it may be, screwdrive AF is generally fast and reliable on modern Pentax bodies.

I will definitely be looking into getting this lens at some point in the coming months.

Draco
Yes, I think this should be thought of as an updated production run of a still sought after lens, not a new product, no matter how advertised.

Like the K-1 II.

01-31-2019, 07:55 PM   #13
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They (apparently) improved the build quality on the new FA 35mm

Well... on closer examination of product images, this is not merely a reskinning. In addition to the new grip on the focus ring, the material used for the lens casing appears to have changed.

The old FA 35mm lens used a smooth plastic which IME does not feel particularly durable (don't have the 35mm proper but the D FA 50mm macro uses the same, older, plastic material). The updated version has rough patterning consistent with the more rigid fiber-reinforced plastic used on newer Pentax lenses. This is very likely to be a plus for build quality.

Draco


On another look, the plastic mold lines on the new lens are exactly where they were on the old lens. Is this merely a difference in the paint they're using, or have they really changed the plastic material? In either case, the rigidity of the plastic in most newer lens designs is generally superior in my experience to the plastic used in older lenses (and in the DA 50mm f/1.8, a lens built to a price point).

Switching to a modern FRP would itself be a convincing justification for the increased price over the old lens.

Last edited by bwDraco; 01-31-2019 at 08:23 PM.
01-31-2019, 08:32 PM   #14
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Hard to say one way or the other about the body construction.

In case you haven't seen this. HD PENTAX-FA35mmF2
01-31-2019, 08:42 PM   #15
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Have you seen this page on the Ricoh Japan site?

About HD Coating / Lenses / Products | RICOH IMAGING
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