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SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5 Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5

Reviews Views Date of last review
78 335,813 Thu March 16, 2023
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
97% of reviewers $105.54 8.88
SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5

This lens has faster aperture than that of its autofocus F version. It also delivers a macro mode accessible at all focal lengths.

SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Automatic, 6 blades
15 elements, 13 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
Min. Focus
150 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
67 mm
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 45-16 ° / 38-13 °
Full frame: 63-23 ° / 54-19 °
RH-B 70mm
Hard case HD-143
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Weather Sealing
Other Features
Diam x Length
70 x 98 mm
615 g
Production Years
1984 to 1989
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-A ZOOM 1:3.5 35~105mm
Product Code
User reviews
Manual FocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
In-depth Review: Read our SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5 in-depth review!
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Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2020
Location: Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago
Posts: 37

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: March 16, 2023 Recommended | Price: $39.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Bokeh, Handling, Build Quality, Character, sharpness.
Cons: I suppose it's a bit heavy
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 7    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1   

I'm not a fan of zoom lenses, but multiple reviews, and hearing from other people in the wild led me to this purchase. It's a bit bulky, but it delivers great results for its age. I found this to be more enjoyable to use than the modern Zoom lenses I got to try out last year. I would 100% recommend this over a modern equivalent.

Here's my album for this hunk of glass on flickr:
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2021
Posts: 113

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 10, 2022 Recommended | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Budget friendly, sharp
Cons: Awkward dual barrel focusing and focal length adjustments
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: Pentax K1, Nikon Z7, Olympus EM-5 MkII, MZ-S   

One of the best budget thrift shop finds you can come across, I found my copy in a thrift store in Fairbanks, Alaska, and got it for $15 at a huge bargain. Unbeknownst to me, I didn't realize that this a very good piece of SMC-A glass. I've shot it on a variety of systems & formats and have gotten fantastic results! The biggest con, like a lot of film era zooms, is the awkward focal length adjustment and this lens is very particularly heavy. But with it's constant aperture throughout it's whole focal range, it's really a great stack of primes!
On the Nikon Z7

K1 & MZ-S

Olympus EM5-III IR conversion

New Member

Registered: September, 2016
Posts: 4

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: February 21, 2022 Recommended | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Versatile,sharpness,3D Pop,build like a Tank!
Cons: in some cases heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax LX,Super-A,K3,K1, Sony a7R   

This lens is and would be one of my long time favorites because...
Pentax has a wide reputation among the vintage -gear photographer society for their primes,
not so for zoom lenses, but this one is really an exception !
I get in contact with this lens in 1989, when I bought it for a journey to the Portugal Algave -
Next to A -1,7 50mm with my Pentax Super A I got so many great Diapositives with this lens,
that I keep so much moments with it for so many Years . It shines in every aspect, but it benefits
from a Hood ( seldom to find the original one today ) .
Now you can find it for ridiculous prices, but try to fond the best, because the Macro-shift-Mechanism
should be smooth and exactly to handle as it should .
On APS-C the zoom-range is not exiting, but on FF it delivers ! Along with my K3 I bought an a7R(1),
now a K1(mk1) an the results on both 36,4MP FF-Sensors shows the Quality this Objective can produce.
For City-Trips, Landscapes or Flowers, only this one is needed .
And if I go for a further Italian-trip with my Motorcycle, to shoot some of the most beautiful Angel-Sculptures
on several Cemetery there, I would take it with ma along to my K85 f1,8 .
It is build like a Tank, there might be heaviness, but Quality is spent in its built to - what do you expect ?
There is no way of dusk, fungus etc. inside over so much years of extend use !
Zoom is unlikely working compared to others, despite of the Macro-shift-Function,
but you can choose more options in the Macro-Range ...

If you find a good one for a reasonable Price, go for it !

New Member

Registered: September, 2020
Posts: 7

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: November 15, 2021 Recommended | Rating: N/A 


I've only recently acquired this lens and it is quickly becoming my fav. I own a few quality vintage lenses and this one has constantly been impressing me. This is one the finest shots ive taken in all my years learning this craft
Forum Member

Registered: June, 2014
Posts: 58

5 users found this helpful
Review Date: July 7, 2021 Recommended | Price: $64.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: great for flowers and portraits
Cons: heavy, awkward macro switch
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 6    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-S1, KP, Z-1P   

This lens is wickedly sharp in the centre even at F3.5 but soft on the edges. Not very good for landscapes but great for flowers and portraits. Colour rendition and clarity are superb. Flower photos look fantastic, very life-like and almost 3-dimensional. I call it my Botanical Lens. Portraits are very nice with good balance of sharpness and softness. Bokeh is pleasing if slightly stopped down to about F4.5.

Build quality is excellent, although the lens is very heavy and feels unbalanced on a small camera like the K-S1. The small zoom ring and the macro switch are a bit awkward to use.

I compared this lens to the 35mm F2.8 Macro Limited. Of course, the Ltd. beats it in terms of magnification and corner sharpness, but flower photos taken with both lenses are remarkably similar, and the zoom is more versatile.

Highly recommended.

New Member

Registered: May, 2020
Location: Evansville, IN
Posts: 17
Review Date: May 7, 2021 Recommended | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: relatively sharp at f3.5 - actually useable indoors
Cons: focus ring feel and long MFD
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1   

The K1 was able to create satisfyingly sharp images with this zoom lens, indoors, with usual indoor room lighting for the kids' HS prom pics, at f3.5, without a flash, ISO 3200. Definitely the sharpest-wide-open and, therefore, most useful vintage zoom lens I have. I didn't care to examine borders / corners, but center area is nice enough that images of people / faces / portraits indoors came out great - all keepers. My basis for comparison with zoom lenses are DA* 16-50 (which is fairly sharp but marred by infuriating chromatic aberrations wide open and the F 35-135, FA 28-200, both of which are softer wide open, and the FA 28-105 which just doesn't compete with the A35-105 at any aperture. Main frustrations with the A 35-105 were the long MFD and some clumsy handling, as others have mentioned below re: the position of the zoom ring (fingers often ended up at the aperture ring some how), and it takes time to master the clumsy push/pull focus ring macro mechanism - especially hard to do while photographing impatient or moving subjects. Overall, it's surprisingly good.
Forum Member

Registered: July, 2019
Location: Kamloops B.C
Posts: 83

7 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 30, 2019 Recommended | Price: $125.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image quality, build
Cons: Heavy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: MX, Super Program,K-7, K-5, KP   

Instead of repeating what has been said already about this lens in regards to technical details, I will instead share some thoughts I have about this lens as I have owned and used it now for nearly 20 years.

First off, this is an excellent lens,one of my favorites. I used this lens extensively from around 2000-2009 on film bodies. However, when I made the switch to digital it spent a few years shelved because of the awkward focal length on APS-C ... It just didn't seem to pair up well with the offered focal lengths, plus I was enjoying AF.

Then a few years back I started doing my own, completely unscientific but very informative lens tests of all my lenses. It was a pretty big project for I have acquired many lenses over the years but I figured it would be worth it as a way to really get to know my lenses. I had a good idea going in which were the best and worst lenses that I owned, but the 35-105 was the big surprise of the bunch. What a sleeper! I was shocked with how well it stood up to (and sometimes surpassed) my most modern lenses when compared at the same aperture and focal length ... some 7x more expensive and highly regarded.

For an event like a wedding or sports I'll always reach for my trio of large aperture zooms with silent and quick auto-focus (Sigma EX 10-20, Pentax DA* 16-50 or Sigma 17-50, and Sigma EX 70-200 f2.8). I like to sometimes shoot rodeos and Native Pow-wows and there really is no substitute for big fast zooms, but for everything else its the 20-40mm Limited with the A 35-105.

With the introduction of the 20-40mm Limited zoom in 2013 the 35-105 has come off the shelf and once again put back into regular rotation. What a great combo. The focal lengths perfectly compliment each other. Even though both of these lenses are nearly 30 years apart they go together like peaches and cream. Like two long lost brothers finally reunited ... ok, you get the idea. They both share a similar high quality tactile feel, smooth zoom and focus, and most importantly the images are rendered in a similar way. Although the metal build and constant f3.5 aperture means it's heavy, its actually quite compact, much smaller dimensions then other lenses of this ilk. Its actually pretty amazing that I can shoot this lens from 1984 right next to my Limited zoom and I don't feel that I'm giving anything up outside of AF and weather sealing.

The weaknesses of this lens are solely due to it being a product of its own time: No auto-focus, no weather sealing, flares easier than the new HD coatings, front element turns when focused, minor aberrations, funky switch to macro. ... hardly anything to balk about. In fact, this was quite the piece of equipment in its day.

So is it as good as a prime? well, no. You're not going crush backgrounds into a blurred mass like a fast prime, and the macro mode will never keep up with the sharpness of a dedicated macro lens, but what it does, it does really well.

I think it is fair to say that this is one of Pentax's very best manual focus zooms and I'm sure the argument could be made that is best. For its ability to share company with modern zoom lenses while most other zoom lenses from 80's are collecting dust in the bargain bin is a good reason to rate this lens highly - the fact that it does this for about $120ish bucks is reason to give it 10/10.

...did I mention that it's handsome too?

*I have not used this lens on a full frame digital camera.
New Member

Registered: June, 2017
Posts: 6

8 users found this helpful
Review Date: February 18, 2019 Recommended | Price: $125.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great colors, sharp in all corners
Cons: Quite heavy, also in zooming
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-1   

This is my first review. I've been following the reviews here for more than a few times a week over the past two years while working on my steadily growing collection of (mainly) Pentax lenses. The information has proved to be very important deciding whether to buy another (old) lens or not.

For the first time I have experience with a lens that has been seriously way better than I ever expected, while the reviews here are less enthusiastic. Not saying they should be - to each his own - but I'd like to add my own experience to this valuable database.

Indeed, it's called the "stack of primes" so it's supposed to be perfect at about all ranges. Did I check them all? Well, a lot anyway. Most important is I worked with it on the Pentax K-1 and I believe that working with this lens on the fullframe body might just be what reveals its quality. Just to test the hell out of it I took it to Amsterdam on a sunny afternoon and the results were simply way better than I ever hoped for.

Colors are beautiful, sharpness is great corner to corner. Of course you have to "nail focus" yourself with a manual lens, but when you do the result is fantastic in my opinion.
It's not hard to focus, but it can be a bit hard to zoom in or out - it's not really as smooth as other zoom lenses I know. And it's somewhat heavy, but not uncomfortable.

So now, let me share a large selection of the shots I captured with my Pentax K-1 and 35-105mm "stack of primes" on that sunny saturday afternoon and let the results speak for themselves from here.

Senior Member

Registered: May, 2011
Location: Malmö, Sweden
Posts: 126
Review Date: July 29, 2018 Recommended | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Versatile, fun, (often) sharp, colours
Cons: Hard to master
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: K-5   

A curates egg this one. Can be really sharp, though less so at the long end I think. Anyhow it's a bit tricky to master, you need to spend much time learning it. But results can be great! The focus ring is a bit rattly, I think because it works as a switch for macro position.
Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2017
Location: Cinco de Mayo
Posts: 739

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: January 26, 2018 Recommended | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp
Cons: heavy and focus very "sensitive"
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Kx   

As an amateur, I find this lens very versatile. Although for street photography, you can not go unnoticed by its size.

At first I found it hard to get used to focusing, a little weird. Surely because the focus ring is already slightly loose.

Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2013
Posts: 63

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: October 16, 2017 Recommended | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharpness, colors, macro function
Cons: focus ring takes getting used to
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 7    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-3   

I haven't used this lens too much but have now used it enough to want to add a review. Mostly I'd just second the other reviews. As one said, when you get it right with this lens, it's something special. The focus ring does take some getting used to, but otherwise I have nothing negative to say. The colors are gorgeous, it's razor sharp even at the corners - this photo of holly berries is uncropped, I think around f/8.

I find the focal length range and the macro function very useful, making this a wonderful (if somewhat heavy) all-purpose walk around lens. And for an old lens, there's no purple fringing when shooting into light -- I was curious how the photos of the magnolia bud would turn out, but the lens handled it beautifully. A true gem.

And the macro function worked great for tiny flowers and a spider.

New Member

Registered: January, 2017
Posts: 2
Review Date: January 22, 2017 Recommended | Price: $150.00 | Rating: N/A 

Pros: Sharpness
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Ks02   

I collect all the pentax manual zooms, (M and A series and a few spotmatic lenses as well)..... and it it is true what they say, For some reason, when you get the focus right, it is simply head and shoulders above anything else. A freak.
New Member

Registered: February, 2016
Location: lake constance
Posts: 1

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: October 14, 2016 Recommended | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: extremely sharp lens, very good use in full format
Cons: a little bit heavy, bad klick-mechanism into macro
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 4    Value: 10   


This is a great lens!
I didn`t see often this optical quality of a zoom like this. One stop down, you can enjoy the same quality like from a prime lens. And this over the whole zoom area.
I recommend this lens on Sony A7, because you can keep your equipment small on a trip.
Not as good as the optics is the mechanic quality. I am a M-series fan and this is an A-series.
A-series lenses are not as light as the former lenses and they are poorer in focusing.
I used this lens on short trips and I can recommend this lens! Optics is even better, sharper than from my Nikkor 35-105mm 3,5-4,5, and this is really good. Macro optics quality is best for a zoom lens.
My tip for city trips.
New Member

Registered: September, 2016
Posts: 3

6 users found this helpful
Review Date: September 19, 2016 Recommended | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality, image quality
Cons: Clumsy macro clutch mechanism
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-30   

I'll refrain from grading the lens yet since I've only had it for a couple of days, these are first impressions. Amazing build quality, never seen anything like it in a zoom (though I have to admit I've never handled a star lens for comparison). It's heavy but I like the feeling on camera. At f3.5-f4 there is some glow/fuzziness around edges at brightly lit objects (see pic 1 and 2). This glow might actually enhance the appearance of ie flowers but looks out of place on inorganic subjects like buildings or cars. At f4.5 the effect is gone. Bokeh is nice. It handles difficult light situations with large dynamic range with flying colors and metering on my K-30 is spot on (see for example boy at door pic, that's out of camera without adjustments). Glass is great, it behaves like modern glass with good contrast without washout and it's flare resistant: It rendered the backlit flowers in pic 5 better than my Pentax 55-300mm HD. No hood on! From f4.5 and up it's as sharp as you'll ever need, see 100% crop in pic 6. Semi macro mode gives a 1:3 magnification ratio. Think I'll use this mostly as a very versatile portrait lens, with the zoom range of 52.5-157.5 FF equivalent. Focus throw is long and with some resistance, you won't be catching fast moving objects with this one. Beautiful lens.

Update: grading lens now, first impressions pretty much hold up. Bokeh at the tele end at f3.5 is wonderful, se first two examples below. Any smaller f-stops and you get hexagons (which may be to your liking). I'll iterate that this lens is a champion in harsh lighting. Last pic below, straight backlighting, no hood, sun just above top of frame: no veiling, no flares - astounding. Great lens for outdoor use. Balances very well on modern dslr's with their more substantial grips.

Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2014
Location: Nagoya
Posts: 577

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 9, 2016 Recommended | Price: $130.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image quality, handling, mechanical quality
Cons: Heavy

There's not much more to be said about this lens, so I'll just concur that it's brilliant. It's heavy but that's the price you pay for constant aperture, good zoom range and tasty metal construction - it handles much better on beefier cameras that balance it out nicely. I find the handling of the lens itself to be uniformly good and I actually like the slide up into macro/close focus feature - it's much nicer than having to shove through a bump stop at the end of the zoom range on many other Pentax zooms. It's also available at all focal lengths.

The image quality that this lens puts out is simply stunning, particularly the 3D 'pop' of the photos. Contrast and sharpness is uniform and good wide open, bitingly crisp from f5.6 onwards on both digital and film.. No particularly unpleasant fringing or distortion.

Although it's relatively expensive for an old zoom lens, what this lens gives you makes it the bargain of the A series range. I can't think of anything that would make me advise against buying it. I wavered for ages, but as soon as I took the first few shots with it I knew I had something special in my hands.
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