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03-01-2020, 12:16 PM   #1
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SMCP-DA 21mm f3.2 vs HD DA 21mm F3.2

Adorama still advertises the older version of the 21mm F3.2 lens. I was out and about last night with my K3 and the 15mm Ltd and the 70mm ltd. Today I decided that I could use the 21mm f3.2. When I started shopping I ran across the SMCP version being sold by Adorama and the HD DA version sold by B&H. Which should I get?

03-01-2020, 12:38 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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The SMC version produces better "stars" from light sources (think streetlights at night). The HD version is a little more flare-resistant. So, obviously, you should buy one of each.
03-01-2020, 01:50 PM   #3
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I've owned both, kept the HD 21. In addition to what @THoog said, the SMC 21 sometimes produces a "green blob" in photos when the sun is in the frame. The HD 21 is less prone to this.

Also - and this is just an impression on my part without any critical comparison - the HD 21 seems to render fine detail a little more robustly than its SMC predecessor. Tree bark and rock textures seem to pop a little more. Again, though, this is just an impression I get, I didn't carefully test the lenses back-to-back.

I did shoot the SMC 40 and HD 40 back-to-back at a cloudy sky, and found the HD version produced color that was cooler.

HD Ltd's will have slightly smoother bokeh, due to the curved aperture blades.
03-01-2020, 02:18 PM   #4
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Ricoh said that some of the DA Limiteds had slight optical tweaks in addition to the HD coatings. My money would be on the 21mm Limited being one of them - tests I've seen seem to suggest that the new HD version is slightly sharper in the corners, in addition to what was mentioned before.
But I'm sure they're both great lenses. I do like the pictures I've seen from the HD a bit more, it seems to resolve color detail better (microcontrast?)

03-01-2020, 02:22 PM   #5
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I've only used the HD version - but no complaints.

Don't hesitate on getting this stellar lens, it's by far my favourite

03-01-2020, 02:23 PM   #6
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Oh, and while probably not as nice as ones from the SMC version, starbursts are still somewhat attainable.

03-01-2020, 02:43 PM   #7
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I bought the SMC version for a bargain price last October for an upcoming trip. Absolutely superb lens. I've no idea if the HD is better but I doubt you'd be disappointed with the smc version.
03-01-2020, 03:18 PM   #8
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I just purchased a DA21. I owned a HD DA 21 for a few years.... prior to moving to the K1 (yes.... best not to sell lenses). I used the HD 21 as a everyday lens when travelling etc.... I loved it. Anyway, when repurchasing recently (I now have a KP for travel) I again went for the HD version for the reasons some have explained above. Personally... I prefer to have the clarity, flare resistance, bokeh etc working on my side all the time.... star bursts are more a adhoc novelty as far as I'm concerned. Plus there is the silver thing.....

But... the SMC can be had cheapish second hand.... so there is a case for having both..... get a silver HD and black SMC and nobody will know you have 2 of the same lens.... so your loved ones won't have you committed.


Last edited by noelpolar; 03-01-2020 at 03:37 PM.
03-01-2020, 03:29 PM   #9
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Get the HD. You already have the 15 for starburst. The 21 HD is my default travel lens.
03-01-2020, 03:45 PM   #10
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I ordered the HD DA 21. Thank you all for your input!
03-01-2020, 04:05 PM   #11
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Apparently the OP has made the choice for the HD one

so I will just add this

in the future for those members who live in the US and wish to see how a lens might work for them

consider a rental before buying:

Information on Businesses that offer cameras and lenses for rent

Read more at: Information on Businesses that offer cameras and lenses for rent - Page 2 - PentaxForums.com
03-01-2020, 08:50 PM   #12
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My 20-40 Ltd. zoom is sharper at f.2.8 than two samples each of the DA and HD 21mm 3.2's
03-01-2020, 09:20 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bestwun Quote
Adorama still advertises the older version of the 21mm F3.2 lens. I was out and about last night with my K3 and the 15mm Ltd and the 70mm ltd. Today I decided that I could use the 21mm f3.2. When I started shopping I ran across the SMCP version being sold by Adorama and the HD DA version sold by B&H. Which should I get?
I really doubt that any of them sell the SMC version, as it has not been manufactured in several years.
It is prabably just an error in the description from Adorama, or that they still use the image of the SMC version with green ring.
03-05-2020, 10:29 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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I just started playing with the HD DA 21 mm f3.2. Thanks again for all the input.
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03-06-2020, 01:54 AM - 1 Like   #15
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Congrats on getting your fine new Pentax Limited lens- a great choice for a versatile, high-quality walk around compact prime.
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