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12-03-2008, 03:54 AM   #1
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Pentax Lens Codes

Hi folks! Could really use help in deciphering the symbols that go with the lenses. DA, FA, K Mount, etc. etc. Just got a K20D with a couple of DA Stars but I would like to start getting other lenses to complete my set-up.

Thanks so much!

12-24-2008, 09:20 PM   #2
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See the third link in the Pentax Resources Thread Sticky

I didn't see it there until tonight, and I have been asking myself the same question
12-25-2008, 02:37 AM   #3
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here's little clarification as I know it

M42 - pre K bayonet lenses (such as the venerable Takumars, Super Takumars)
K - first generation of K mount lenses (basicaly taken off M42 screw and slapped K bayonet on the lenses) being manufactured sometimes between 75-84 +/- mostly though 75-80 (note that the letter "K" is not official part of the name of the lens! f.e.: lens known as K400/5.6 is officialy SMC 400/5.6!)
M - 2nd generation of K mount, many were opticaly redesigned compared to Ks. As result they are smaller. I believe ED elements were introduced at this stage too. Lenses are still fully manual. years 79-84 +/- (from this point onwards the letters become official part of the name, f.e.: Pentax SMC-M 50/1.4)
A - A indicates A setting on apperture ring. So the lenses can be used in other than M mode (depends on the body). Opticaly I believe they are the same (most of them) as Ms. years 84-89 +/-
F - first generation of auto focus lenses (other functions as A), different looks too. (K,M,A are all metal and similarly looking). F series looks VERY 80ish. But contains some excellent glass nontheless! years 87-91 +/-
FA - development of Fs. Opticaly the same (I believe). Used more plastics. Some featured power zoom function. years 91-2004 (only few vere manufactured until 04)
FA-J - first generation of lenses without apperture ring! Control of the lens totaly depends on the camera. (f.e.: lenses can't be used with some old bodies which don't have apperture control function! they remain stopped down all the times) only 3 zooms in this group! years 03-reportedly still in production
D-FA - only 50 & 100 macro lenses, added some coatings to make them more digital friendly, maybe slight redesign, but opticaly they are the same as FAs. Years 2004 - still in protuction
DA - current lens generation designed for the "crippled K mount". They don't have apperture ring. Opticaly they are mostly new designs with only APS-C coverage! years 04- still in production.

except these you'll commonly find two another things:
ltd - limited lenses. Top quality, all metal built. Regarded as some of the Pentax's finest. (there are 3 FA ltds, and 3 DA ltds)
* - going through most generations (certainly from M onwards). They are again some of the best lenses Pentax has made. they have exeptional optical qualities, perfect mechanical built, etc... current DA* have weather sealing too (older *lenses DON'T)

OK, this is as much as I know. Please if I made mistake anywhere, anybody feel free to correct me.



Last edited by axl; 12-26-2008 at 01:28 AM.
12-25-2008, 03:03 AM   #4
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Can't add much to that excellent post by Axl other than to check the following data base when trying to determine if it's the lens you want.

Pentax Lens Review Database - Main Index

03-06-2012, 10:50 AM   #5
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I did a search and found this thread! 8-O
"This thread is over one year old. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion or is outdated, and thus bumping it serves no purpose. If you still feel it is necessary to make a new reply, you may do so, however I am aware that this thread is rather old but I still want to make a reply."

Ok, OLD but extremely helpful thread! Thanks, Axl, for the clarification!

1. Price aside, any/everyone with first hand experience please share which types (older vs newer/features) are better and why? I have an idea but need some tips.
I take pictures of anything and suppose the standard SMC DAL 18-55mm that came with my Kx is already ideal.

2. I know want another lens such as a prime 50mm f 1.4/2; I researched that it is a great portrait-type/action capturing lens (am I right??). Which series/code 50mm f 1.4/2 would best suit a want to balance cost, flexibility and quality?

Sorry was in a hurry to post this... so I hope it make sense
03-06-2012, 11:51 AM   #6
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First decide if you need autofocus or not. If not, the manual focus (M42 through A lenses) offer excellent performance at lower prices, and in general the mechanical quality is better. The M42 (screw mount) Takumars are wonderful metal marvels, with optics very good for the times. The K mounts continue sound mechanics, with some updated optics. M series are similar construction, often with newer optical designs to reduce the size to better match the smaller ME-MX-LX bodies. While many say these smaller lenses don't perform as well as the older ones, I have no complaints.
The A series are more convenient for use on today's dSLRs, as the aperture reports for Av mode, but mechanically there was progressive cost cutting, moving to plastic aperture rings, etc. However, some excellent optical designs were made in that series too.
I skipped the entire autofocus era until I got a K-5, so I can't comment on those lenses.
03-06-2012, 12:23 PM   #7
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As with all lens series from all makers, some are gems and some are turds and many are in-between. We can't usefully generalize about the quality of lens lines as a whole, except that screwmount Takumars and bayonet mount K-series feel nice and hefty. For any specific lens, see the review database here.

Last edited by RioRico; 03-06-2012 at 05:57 PM.
03-06-2012, 12:28 PM   #8
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Only thing I can add to the above is there are actually 4 DA ltd primes Axl not 3 (the DA15,DA21,DA40,DA70 are all limited)

03-06-2012, 12:35 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
Only thing I can add to the above is there are actually 4 DA ltd primes Axl not 3 (the DA15,DA21,DA40,DA70 are all limited)
5. The DA 35 Macro is a Limited too.
03-06-2012, 12:38 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
5. The DA 35 Macro is a Limited too.
missed that one - and i knew there was a 35 LTD

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