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SMC Pentax-A 15mm F3.5

Sharpness 
 9.0
Aberrations 
 7.3
Bokeh 
 5.5
Handling 
 9.3
Value 
 9.0
Reviews Views Date of last review
9 88,797 Wed October 7, 2020
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $673.80 9.14
SMC Pentax-A 15mm F3.5

SMC Pentax-A 15mm F3.5
supersize
SMC Pentax-A 15mm F3.5

Description:
This lens is optically identical to its K-series predecessor. Its redesigned barrel does not have a silver stripe around the focusing ring, however.



SMC Pentax-A 15mm F3.5
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 5 blades
Optics
13 elements, 12 groups
Mount Variant
KA
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F3.5
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
Manual
Min. Focus
30 cm
Max. Magnification
0.06x
Filter Size
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 88 ° / 77 °
Full frame: 111 ° / 100 °
Hood
Built-in
Case
Hard case HE-120 (initially), Soft case S90-100 (later)
Lens Cap
Dedicated metal push-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Built-in Filters
Diam x Length
80 x 81.5 mm
Weight
595 g
Production Years
1984 to 2004
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-A 1:3.5 15mm
Product Code
22010
Reviews
User reviews
Notes
Built-in filters: Skylight, UV, yellow, orange
Features:
Manual FocusBuilt-in HoodAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax-A 15mm F3.5
Author:
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Forum Member

Registered: July, 2020
Posts: 92
Lens Review Date: October 7, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $489.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Relatively sharp with minimal distortion for such a wide-angle lens (especially with APS-C camera); built-in filters and hood; build quality; aperture priority
Cons: Lots of chromatic aberrations (color fringing in backlit situations and bright astronomy objects); large corner distortion on FF; coma in corners
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 2    Handling: 9    Value: 6    Camera Used: LX, K10D, K-3 II   

I bought my copy of this lens off eBay recently (2020) when there were ten of these K-mount Pentax smc 15-mm f/3.5 lens for sale there (seven A-series lenses and three [K]-series lenses). The posted prices of the other nine lenses ranged from USD $670 to $1572 (including shipping costs but not including taxes, and state taxes levied by eBay on items such as this are considerable for me); the average asking price of the other nine lenses (incl. shipping costs but not taxes) was $961, with the average price of the three [K] lenses being $844 and the average price of the six other A lenses being $1020. Amazing. I got my eBay seller to reduce his price $199 (not incl. shipping or taxes) from his asking price before I bought it from him. So my final price quoted above includes both shipping and taxes that I paid (as I do in all my reviews here at Pentax Forums).

Reading the reviews of other owners of this lens was invaluable to me in deciding to buy this lens to serve as my widest-angle full-frame lens for my Pentax cameras. The lens that I bought was one of only two being sold (of the ten total 15-mm f/3.5 lenses being sold on eBay at once) that had the original felt-lined hard case included in the sale. This was a huge plus to me because of the protruding front lens, to have the added protection of a hard case in addition to the original protective metal objective-lens cap (indeed, one of the copies being sold for $320 more than I paid for mine, not counting taxes, had neither the hard case nor the front lens cap). I am more likely to take this lens on trips with the hard case available. The other thing that I decided from the reviews and considering my own needs was that there was no way that I was going to be paying more than $500 for this lens; I would just ďmake doĒ using my DA 12-24mm zoom lens at minimum usable focal length 18mm on my FF cameras, but my seller accepted my offer to keep the price under $500, and so Iím here writing my review of this lens.

Now to my actual experiences using this lens. The focusing ring is wide enough with good ribbing for easy fingering to move it, but it only rotates about 80 degrees from infinity (counterclockwise as seen from behind the camera) to closest focus. Any super-wide-angle lens like this will create some tricky precise focusing, but this lens benefits from the focus ring stopping pretty close to infinity. The aperture ring is wide enough despite being flush against the camera when mounted, and it can be easily rotated with fingers accessing the ribbed ring throughout most of its 360 degrees; itís nice to have the aperture priority function on this lens (setting the aperture ring to ďAĒ), negating the need to move the aperture ring. My lensí original metal objective-lens cover (with ďASAHI PENTAXĒ in big, relief capital letters) is a nice fit and works superbly (unlike those of other reviewers here, whose lens caps are more loose). The lens case is felt-lined but lacks the support that holds the back end of the lens barrel that other Pentax lens cases of mine has; thus, the lens moves around a fair bit in the case if you turn it on its side or upside down, but as I noted above, Iím happy to have the case with this unusually shaped lens. The filter ring sits between the focusing ring and the larger end of the lens barrel that houses the objective lens and hood; the ring has five click stops: no filter (middle), skylight and yellow filters to the left (as seen from behind the camera), and UV and orange filters to the right. I have not done tests to see what kinds of degradation might occur when using the filters, but they are interesting to have for various effects as options; I keep the ring on unfiltered most of the time.

Photos taken with my K-3 II camera show very slight light drop-off in the corners, and thereís slight barrel distortion from center to edges. The overall image aberrations are admirably minimal for a lens of this short focal length and wide angle in my APS-C cameras (effective focal length 22.5 mm with respect to FF). In shooting brightly-backlit features, there is strong chromatic aberration in the form of color fringing, noticeable when you blow the photos up on a computer screen. I have found that, when shooting landscapes with the sun about 100 degrees away from my direction of shooting (behind me), the protruding lens picks up the sunís disk and causes multiple reflections of it within the optics. The lens seems to be pretty close to infinity at the furthest rotation of the focus ring. There is also very little light drop-off in the corners of my LX viewfinder, which makes sense given the round, protruding exterior glass; however, the distortion in the corners is very pronounced in the full-frame image ó something masked much more in the APS-C frame. Thereís a lot of comatic aberration (coma) visible in stellar images near the corners/edges (in photos taken with the K-3 II on a tripod), as well. Can you use this lens for good shots of the Milky Way? Sure, because youíre probably not going to blow them up to huge wall-size posters, and small-ish photos of the Milky Way as you might online on web pages will look plenty fine. At the opposite end of the spectrum, this is a really good lens for flower shots, close-up, but there's no real bokeh to speak of with such a wide-angle lens; it does render a lot of color, and you can get photograph full of fairly-in-focus flowers.

Because this lens covers such a wide field, the pixels in my K-3 II (APS-C) camera cannot resolve distant landscape features well, but the images appear very sharp at infinity up to a size of about 30 inches x 20 inches on my large, high-resolution iMac computer screen (so blowing up prints to this size should be excellent), but once you get much larger than this size, you start to lose resolution at the pixel level in my 24-Mpx sensor (though you can possibly soften the sharp edges of features with processing software). But this is a good overall lens for the wide field that you get, aberrations aside. My advice is to get this lens only if you're going to use it on a full-frame camera; for this focal length on my APS-C cameras (effectively 22.5mm, not the wider 15mm that you get on FF), my DA 12-24mm zoom lens is better at 12mm (which isn't that far off at effective f.l. 18mm from 15mm in FF). Comparing shots of detail from about 15 meters away, the DA 12-24mm lens at 15mm is noticeably sharper than is the A15-mm f/3.5 in photos taken with the same exposure details with my K-3 II camera. A good modern zoom lens covering these wide angles gives more versatility than a single prime lens, and you don't gain a whole lot in optical benefit from an old prime like this one.

iPhone SE photos showing this lens on my cameras:


   
Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2015
Location: Central Ontario
Posts: 120
Lens Review Date: June 20, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: beautifully built, great photos
Cons: be careful with the exposed curved front lens
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K1 II   

I purchased this lens new to go with my Super Program film body year ago. It worked flawlessly then and does so again with my new K1 II body. While I pre-purchased the DFA 150-450 lens, the DFA* 70-200 lens and the DFA 24-70 lens to go with the Pentax FF I knew I would eventually get, I see no real need to get the DFA 15-30 lens as I would be mainly using this at 15 mm. for landscape photography so the A 15 is a prefect substitute. Others have mentioned that the lens cap is prone to falling off but I have never had any issues. I really have nothing negative to say about this lens and am extremely happy that I kept it all these years. However, I am very careful about the front lens as it protrudes a lot and there is no way to add any protective filter. The occasional use of the built in filters is a fun diversion also.
   
New Member

Registered: July, 2013
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: July 23, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Good construction, great rectilinear coverage
Cons: Limited application
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I've owned this lens since the mid-80's. Got it through a "Dutch" auction for about 1/2 retail. It's exceptionally well built and finished, about as good as Pentax ever made. As another poster said, it's unique looking - invariably, people respond with a "whoa, what's that?" on the rare occasions I use it.

The large, curved outer surface of the glass creates some fairly interesting flare effects when pointed into the sun, that I never cared for. Other than that, this lens has no other weakness I can think of. Recommended, if you can find one. Mine's not for sale.
   
New Member

Registered: December, 2010
Posts: 2

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 1, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros:
Cons:

Link below is to PBase.com gallery for samples using this lens by several different photographers.

http://www.pbase.com/cameras/pentax/smc_pa_15_35
   
PEG Moderator

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Hielands o' Scootlund
Posts: 52,036

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 2, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $780.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very wide
Cons: Heavy ish
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

As others have said, the lens itself has great build quality, very wide on FF cameras, not so much on DSLR's. Good for preset focus shots, F11 seems to be the sweet spot on mine.

Front metal lens cap falls off when you just look at it, lol, apart from that nothing but praise for this precision piece of Pentax engineering.

Just noticed after all these years that mine has a different engraved lettering from the smc PENTAX-A 1:3.5 15mm... mines SMC PENTAX-A 1:3.5 15mm which suggests perhaps an earlier variant if the same as other Pentax lenses of this ilk.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 925
Lens Review Date: April 3, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Excellent contrast, distortions easy to correct, still sharp on the K-7
Cons: Heavy. focusing is not easy (requires tripod and liveview for precise work)

This is not a lens for every occasion.

I have it since my K100Ds and it is still sharp stepped down when I use it on the K-7.

The color rendition is excellent and flares can be managed easily or used for the photo.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 7,121

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 23, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $900.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Built in filters, angle of view, looks & build.
Cons: Cost, weight, size and exposed front lens element.
Camera Used: K Series film bodies (K1000, KM, KX, K2, K2DMD)   

The 15/3.5 has an amazing angle of view of 111 degrees! I can get most of downtown Vancouver in one shot, without any distortion that you would get with a fish-eye lens. You do have to take time to compose your shot, as you can get a lot of water or cement in the pictures foreground. For land/cityscapes itís best to shoot down from a slightly higher elevation. For architecture photography of a single building, itís better to use the 28/3.5 shift, as the 15/3.5 will tilt the building too much and you will get half a picture of the street.

The lenses built in filters are perfect for colour or b&w film photography and f3.5 is fast enough for most shooting situations. I use this lens exclusively on a KX or K2 film camera, so I canít speak for its usefulness on digital.

The build and look of this lens is a work of art, I would rate it as the best looking lens that Pentax has ever made. On the downside it is heavy and large, so it's not the best lens to carry around for everyday purposes. Itís more of a specialty lens and I find my 18/3.5 & 17/4 fish-eye work better as a traveling combo. (These two lenses take up the same space as the 15/3.5.)

The front lens element of the 15/3.5 sticks out like a sore thumb, so be careful as the built in metal hood doesnít protect it very much. The metal slip on cap also does not stay on very well.

I would rate this lens as an 8 for usage purposes and a 10 for build & looks. So overall it gets a 9. If you require a super wide angle lens then the 15/3.5 is perfect, as long as you donít mind that you probably won't use it very much. You can always store it in a display cabinet in your living room when itís not in use!!

September 2009 Update:
I sold my A15/3.5 and bought a K15/3.5AL in its place. No noticeable difference in optics between the two versions.


Sample shots taken with the A15/3.5. Photos are medium resolution scans from original negatives.

Camera: KX Film: Kodak Portra 160NC ISO: 160





Camera: KX Film: Kodak Portra 160NC ISO: 160

   
Inactive Account

Registered: October, 2007
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 24
Lens Review Date: October 30, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Tack sharp. Excellent light gathering.
Cons: Heavy!! Difficult to protect glass.

I've been fortunate to get a rare 1st version Pentax SMC 15/3.5 with ONE aspherical element,only about 100 made.

It's a very capable tool.

I've posted several pictures.

Regards,

OMBRE

   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: August, 2007
Location: Apiary, Oregon
Posts: 1,181
Lens Review Date: August 30, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros: Wide and rectilinear
Cons: Built in filters are of little use

This is a 15mm rectlinear lens. when complete it comes with a metal lens cover. It comes with the Y2, skylite, UV and )2 filters built in, and no way to use other filters.

with an F/3.5 to 22 aperture range has been a reliable stable where extreme wide angle photography is needed. It isn't usable with the built in flash at least of the istD.

It's too wide for general use with a film camera, but I have used it satisfactorily when special occasions called for a super wide angle. I've often resorted to it when photographing receptions in cramped quarters, and have dealt with the flash issue by using a bounce flash off the ceiling.

This lens seems to be back in vogue now. It's drawing far higher prices on Ebay than it did a few years ago.

I have lately acquired a DA* 15-50 and one of the things on my to do list is to figure out if there is anything this lens will do better than the DA* (other than work on my SuperProgram which I don't use anymore.)
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