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

SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5

Sharpness 
 8.9
Aberrations 
 8.5
Bokeh 
 8.5
Handling 
 8.3
Value 
 9.6
Reviews Views Date of last review
72 240,764 Sat August 11, 2018
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
97% of reviewers $107.51 8.89
SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5
supersize


Description:
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
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 6 blades
Optics
15 elements, 13 groups
Mount Variant
KA
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F3.5
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
Manual
Min. Focus
150 cm
Max. Magnification
0.25x
Filter Size
67 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 45-16 ° / 38-13 °
Full frame: 63-23 ° / 54-19 °
Hood
RH-B 70mm
Case
Hard case HD-143
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
70 x 98 mm
Weight
615 g
Production Years
1984 to 1989
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-A ZOOM 1:3.5 35~105mm
Product Code
27097
Reviews
User reviews
Features:
Manual FocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
In-depth Review: Read our SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5 in-depth review!
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 72
Junior Member

Registered: June, 2014
Posts: 26

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 11, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $99.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Best for flowers! Excellent colour reproduction and clarity, great build quality
Cons: Heavy! Awkwardly positioned zoom ring and macro switch
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 5    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-S1   

Some people call it the Stack of Primes. I think it's a bit exaggerated. I call it my Botanical Lens. It produces amazing flower photos – colourful, sharp, 3-dimensional and very life-like! This lens has excellent colours and clarity, on par with Limited lenses.

Sharpness is great in the centre stopped down, not so much on the edges. On my copy, the left 20-25% of the frame is unsharp. It is the worst at 35mm and gradually improves to 105mm. For a botanical lens it's not a problem.

Bokeh can be busy wide open and improves stopped down to F4.5 and higher. Portraits turn out good as well with nice smooth bokeh and good balance of sharpness and softness. Chromatic aberrations can be easily corrected.

The build quality is excellent, it is a beautifully made lens, though very heavy. Handling on a small camera like the K-S1 isn't very good – it feels unbalanced and front heavy. The focusing ring is smooth and easy to work with, the zoom ring is much smaller and tighter. I quickly got used to the macro switch, however it can be annoying when focused on something at 1.5 m (5ft), the edge between normal and macro focusing distances. You may have to move back or forth slightly.

Overall it is a nice lens, well worth the price if you like to photograph flowers and don't mind manual focus. You can see some of my photos taken with this lens here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alex_virt/albums/72157699614530184
   
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2011
Location: Malmö, Sweden
Posts: 124
Lens Review Date: July 29, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | 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: March, 2018
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: March 14, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros: zoom 35-105 , macro
Cons: weight,
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Sony a7 42MP   

Lens tested on the Sony a7 42MP
35 mm focal length
sharpness in the center of the frame - f3,5 - 5 ,f5,6 - 8 ,f8 - 7
sharpness at the edge of the frame - f3,5 - 2 , f5,6 - 4 , f8 - 5
chromatic aberration - 7

50mm focal length
sharpness in the center of the frame - f3,5 - 5 , f5,6 - 8 , f8 - 7
sharpness at the edge of the frame - f3,5 - 2 , f5,6 - 4 ,f f8 - 5
chromatic aberration - 8

105mm focal length
sharpness in the center of the frame - f3,5 - 5 , f5,6 - 8 , f8 - 7
sharpness at the edge of the frame - f3,5 - 3 , f5,6 - 4 , f8 - 5
chromatic aberration - 6
   
Forum Member

Registered: July, 2017
Location: Cinco de Mayo
Posts: 63
Lens Review Date: January 26, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | 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: 47
Lens Review Date: October 16, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | 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
Lens Review Date: January 22, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | 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
Lens Review Date: October 14, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | 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   

Optics:

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

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 19, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | 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
Lens Review Date: August 9, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | 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.
   
New Member

Registered: November, 2014
Posts: 3

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 12, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $90.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: really good at what it is - an SMC-A 35-105 zoom.
Cons: none really, unless you compare it to different lenses
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-30   

Just acquired this lens, and it does not disappoint.

This shot was taken in pseudo macro mode, hand-held at 125th f/5.6 ISO 100.



This one is my standard quick-and-dirty lens test.
Can I resolve the wing-nut under the neighbor's antenna? Zoom in to find out if this lens makes the grade! The Magpie is a bonus.
Hand-held at 1000th, f/10, ISO 200. Focal length 105mm.



This view is about 80mm focal length, 640th, f/5, ISO 160.

   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2015
Location: Hampshire
Posts: 796

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 28, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $30.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, constant F3.5, cheap? with a "macro?" close focus ability
Cons: Not a lot.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-5   

There is a lot to like about this lens, it is not as heavy as my (Tokina made?) Vivitar 35-105mm F3.5 ( by about 200 grams) and has a 5mm smaller filter size (67mm vs 72mm) and is sharper.
I rather liked the Viv, it may have been a direct competitor to this Pentax in the day but it is not quite as sharp to my mind.

Is it as good as carrying around a selection of primes?

Well if you are out and about it would save opening up the camera if one needed to change the lens for another focal length.
If the subject was up a tree and skittish, one might get an image with this before the subject disappeared or one climbed up a bit to get closer rather than change the lens.
Though it is always possible that the right FL lens is already on the camera and the wider aperture is needed.

Not wishing to prolong any debate but in the following circumstance, I took an image, F5.6, AWB, centre weighted, ISO 400 from approximately the same distance away.
The exposures we re both at 1/200th but as you will see, the exposures of the image are not identical when viewing.

Is one sharper or better than the oth er? Well I actually prefer the zoom image this time, I rate it just as sharp.

The brighter image and crop are from the zoom.




I have tried editing the text but it comes back all over the place again!
   
amateur dirt farmer...

Registered: December, 2014
Location: probably out in a field somewhere...
Posts: 11,626

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 1, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $33.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: color rendition, handling, sharpness, general feel of quality
Cons: weight, odd macro/shift function
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-3, K-50   

I'll state the obvious up front: I love this lens...

I ignore the clunky focus-shift into and out of 'macro'...

I ignore the weight and length of a zoom that only goes to 105mm....

all of this for several reasons - it's well-built and all that weight gives it a seriousness to it's handling... and it looks good on your camera...

oh - and don't forget the pictures:

Stormy Grace by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr bridal wreath spirea by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr Spud & Chloe colors... by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

sunset tonight... by Pepperberry Farm, on Flickr

they call this lens the Stack of Primes for its abilities and I know that has been debated in the forums time and time again, but I tend to agree that when you nail a shot with TSOP, there's not going to be much difference between that shot and a prime at the same FL...

if you find one of these lenses that is in decent shape for a decent price - add it to your kit, just do it...
   
New Member

Registered: March, 2016
Posts: 1

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 22, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: smooth zoom and focus, image quality, cheap for it´s performance
Cons: lens cap doesn´t hold very good
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K5   

I own a few manual lenses, cause I do not need autofocus for my photos - and I love the feeling and control of manual focussing.

my lenses are:
SMC Pentax A 50 mm 1.7
SMC Pentax M 35-70 2.8-3.5
SMC Pentax A 35-105 3.5
Vivitar Series 1 70-210 3.5
Pentax DA 16-45 4.0
SMC Pentax DA 18-135 3.5-5.6

Most of these lenses have some macro abilities, but I like the 35-105 the most. Why? It gives a well balanced combination with my K5 plus battery grip. The smooth zoom ring feels very good. You can go very fast from normal zoom in macro mode per pulling the ring away from you. The extension of the tube from 35 to 105 is very short and the rather heavy handed zoom prevents of zoom creep.
Now a few words to the image performance: f3.5 is rather fast compared to other cheap zooms available now. The sharpness is very good. I think in most situations you do not need excellent sharpness until corners, so you can use it also full open. Bokeh is very pleasant for me. Here´s an example of a macro shot. It´s besides the A50 my favourite lens I use.

   
Junior Member

Registered: March, 2016
Posts: 41
Lens Review Date: March 19, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Form & function
Cons:
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I love this lens for it's positive handling and images, great value.
Very useful with fill flash around the city.
I put a 67mm metal hood on mine.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: December, 2012
Location: Seattle, WA USA
Posts: 1,117
Lens Review Date: March 12, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Rendering, consistency, constant aperture
Cons: ...haven't quite found the best hood solution...
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K5ii, MX   

I've had this lens for a few years and honestly, don't think to use it as much as I could and should. It is an astonishingly good lens, though. I use it on both dSLR and film with great results.

I don't think it's too big or heavy. It's not plastic or a pancake, but it's not supposed to be. It feels like a fine piece of perfect equipment. I really appreciate the 2-touch zoom. I set the focal length and then treat it is a prime of that length. I mostly use it in TAv mode, so I set the aperture and shutter speed and let my K5 adjust ISO to consistently get the correct exposure.

The quasi-macro mode is nice and creates some opportunities that I enjoy. Rendering is beautiful and colors and clarity are great through the range.

What prompted my review today is that I was testing a modern zoom from a tripod, through range at various apertures and found it to be very inconsistent. Exposure was frequently off. Sometimes stopping down helped and sometimes it seemed to hurt. I get some good photos with that lens too, but I don't use it much, because I miss so many. Bench testing it like this, I see why.

So, for fun, I repeated the test with my A 35-105/3.5 and did 100% crops on my focal point. There is very little difference in sharpness with this lens between f3.5 and f8 or even f11. It's just so consistent. It's a marvel. I'm baffled as to why this design hasn't persisted into more modern Pentax lenses. That said, with Catch in Focus, I've more or less got a fast, constant aperture 35-105 zoom for the cost of a bag of chips. I may very well, make this my only zoom in this range.

There should be better more modern, reasonable choices for a zoom in this range, but...I honestly don't know of any within 3x the price range for a good copy.

Add Review of SMC Pentax-A 35-105mm F3.5



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