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08-14-2019, 05:34 PM   #1
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If you have the DA 21 and the DA 20-40 Limiteds . .

I have wanted the DA 21 (either version) for quite a while, but also like the DA 20-40. The 20-40 has the advantage of being weather sealed, which means a lot, but the 21 is of course a prime. The only Limited that I have now is the 15, which is one of my favorites. Since getting the 15 about five years ago, my Tamron 10-24 doesn't get much use. I would look for similar performance from the 21 and the 20-40.

Which comes to the question, if you have or have had both the 21 and 20-40, are they redundant? Is it worth it to have both, how do they compare? Obviously the 20-40 is sealed and covers a range of focal lengths, but is the 21 so much better, or maybe it's not better. I've read a lot of the reviews and looked at samples, but I'd like to hear what those who have used both say. Thanks in advance for your replies!

08-14-2019, 06:00 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I do not have the DA20-40 Limited; I do have the 21, the 40, and the 70 Limiteds, however, and when I was thinking about the DA20-40, I tried the DA35 Macro Limited...

I've stopped looking at the DA20-40 Limited - the 35Ltd is that good...
08-14-2019, 06:04 PM   #3
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I have them both. I do not consider them redundant. The 21 is great when I travel internationally. About 80% of my pics were taken with the DA 21 during my recent trip. The K01 and Da 21 is a pretty compact set up. I do enjoy the 20-40 when the weather sealing is needed. The IQ is fantastic with either lens. I have not compared performance by pixel peeping. So, I do not know if the 21 comes ahead of the zoom in IQ.
08-14-2019, 06:42 PM   #4
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I have them both. I wouldn't use the word redundant but the 20-40 gets the most use by far. They are both excellent lenses. I also enjoy that the 20-40 is light in the hand for a zoom, and it pairs really well with the KP.

08-14-2019, 06:48 PM   #5
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I have had both as well. Sold off the DA 21 a long time ago though, just never found it really useful. The DA 20-40 is more useful but it too has it's limits IMHO. It's not wide enough and not long enough most of the time. I will also say that there is a bigger difference between the DA 15 and the DA 21.
08-14-2019, 06:58 PM   #6
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The DA 21 is my default lens when travelling and only mount the DA15 if I wanted a wider shot. You would be amaze on how versatile the DA21 and how convenient it is on any Pentax body. The only thing that attracts me for getting the DA 20-40 is the weather sealing, but that does not prevent me from getting both lenses on snow or the beach as long as I take care of it very well.
08-14-2019, 07:34 PM - 3 Likes   #7
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I have both lenses. I acquired the prime several years ago and the zoom in April 2019.

When the zoom appeared in the market, it was selling in Canada for CAD $1,000, which was too expensive for me. I was looking for a zoom in the 18-50mm range, and ended up getting a DA 18-135mm instead (treating its 'softer' 60-135mm range as a bonus). Recently, a new 20-40 is selling for around CAD $725, which represents very good value for money from my perspective.

Although I haven't done an extensive shoot-off to compare the 21 and 20-40 rigorously, I have used both lenses on my K-3 II in similar settings, such as classic car shows and 'urban-scapes'. I think that I've used them enough to conclude that I'm very pleased with both. Here are some observations:

  • I'm tending to use my 20-40 and DA* 50-135 as a versatile travel and walk-about kit, favouring this pair over the single 18-135, albeit with a bulk and weight penalty. On general photo outings when I might have carried the 21 and 35mm Limiteds, now I'd probably take the 20-40 instead.
  • The WR feature is a big plus for the zoom.
  • I'm happy with the optical aspects of both lenses. From my detailed research before I bought it, I gathered that the 20-40 could be slightly soft in the corners at certain settings, but I haven't really noticed any issues, and have been happy with its edge and corner performance.
  • To my eyes, I think that my HD 20-40 yields nicer images than the 18-135 across the common focal length range.
  • I haven't observed any significant difference in image quality between the 21 and the 20-40. I'd say that images are comparable; I've made good pictures with both.
  • On a few shots with the 20-40, I would have appreciated a wider aperture at its long end. While f/4 is ok, f/2.8 would have worked a bit better, suggesting that the trio of 21/35/40 Limited primes does have its place. This is the only (minor) weakness I can think of, and points to the complementarity of the primes and zoom.
  • On a summer vacation trip in 2018, I used the HD 21 a lot, and was really happy with the results -- it's a sweet little lens. Based on this experience, I think I'll keep the prime, even though I'll likely use the zoom more often.
  • While the HD 21 is significantly smaller and lighter than the 20-40, I find that the zoom is not cumbersome at all, and can be carried with ease, either in the bag or on the camera.
  • I needed to buy a new 55mm CPL filter for the zoom (Hoya Fusion CPL, CAD $125), so this was an extra cost. Otherwise, my 49mm filter fits a number of my lenses, including the DA 21. Commonality is a good thing!
Edit. At the risk of making this post even longer, I thought I'd add a couple of things. The designers of the HD Pentax-DA 20-40mm Limited spoke to my heart. To me, the lens is a thing of beauty. Reflecting some design notes of the venerable Takumars, the 20-40 has a certain flair and style that complements the Limited primes, yet it's in a class by itself. It's easy on the eyes, and it handles easily. The zoom ring has just the right resistance without being annoyingly stiff, while the manual focus action is one of the best I've experienced amongst my modern AF lenses. If the DA 21 Limited could be called a little jewel, the 20-40 is a cool, smooth, polished gem of a lens. I enjoy using it.


I see that the HD 21 is available new in the United States for USD $425 and the 20-40 is $500. If budget is limited, I'd recommend the HD 20-40 over the 21.

Hope this helps.

- Craig

Last edited by c.a.m; 08-15-2019 at 05:08 PM.
08-14-2019, 09:01 PM   #8
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I'd sure like a 21 to supplement my 18-50re..

08-14-2019, 09:29 PM   #9
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I have the PK-M 20mm f/4 (similar in size to the DA 21) and the 20-40 ltd. To put my comments in context I am comparing these only in theatre photography where they are normally open to 1 stop closed. (I have not used either of them outside the theatre!)

I found the 20-40 ltd. optically was much better (exceptional!), but issues like field curvature and performance at smaller aperture were not present. For smaller aperture (as typical outdoors) the differences may be less about image and more about convenience/size/WR/etc. But yes size wise the 20-40 ltd is much larger.
08-15-2019, 01:09 AM - 1 Like   #10
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I have the DA21 (not the HD) and the 20-40. I have found the WR on the 20-40 really useful. I have carted both around the world over the past few years, but used the 20-40 far more extensively than the 21. I still like the 21, particularly when photographing water, but the 20-40 gives the zoom versatility, not having to swap lenses with dust etc. risk, and the image quality is certainly good enough for my purposes. I think both have a role, but the 20-40 lives on my camera far more.
08-15-2019, 01:49 AM   #11
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consider renting the lenses and do your own trials?

Information on Businesses that offer cameras and lenses for rent - PentaxForums.com

limited offer 20 % off rental from LensRental - PentaxForums.com

Last edited by aslyfox; 08-15-2019 at 02:05 AM.
08-15-2019, 05:18 AM   #12
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I have DA15, DA21, DA35, DA70, FA50 (which is the same leage considering size) and 16-85.

To a recent trip I went with DA15, DA21 and DA70 - because it all fit in a smallish bag and the K3-II with any of these lenses doesn't become bulky.
I'd like to have the 20-40 but it could be tough to decide which one to bring to trip.
Advantage of 21Ltd is the size - it gives me feeling of lightness.
08-15-2019, 08:41 AM - 1 Like   #13
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The only advantages of the 21 are form factor and sun stars (SMC version).
I do plan to keep both the 21 and the 20-40.

But if I had to seriously limit my kit I would trim down to the 15 / 20-40 / 70 as I don't like swapping lenses around the normal focal range all the time.
08-15-2019, 09:00 AM   #14
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To my mind the 20-40 just seems a very strange and narrow range for a zoom.
08-15-2019, 09:04 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by timb64 Quote
To my mind the 20-40 just seems a very strange and narrow range for a zoom.
2x is what a lot of the best lenses have. DFA 15-30, DA*11-18, Sigma 18-35 f1.8 ...

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