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SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited

Sharpness 
 8.8
Aberrations 
 8.6
Bokeh 
 8.4
Autofocus 
 9.4
Handling 
 9.5
Value 
 8.7
Reviews Views Date of last review
93 343,789 Sun January 3, 2021
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
95% of reviewers $411.47 9.10
SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited

SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
supersize
SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
supersize
SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
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Description:
The SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited is a compact "pancake" lens designed for use on Pentax DSLR's only.

SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
APS-C
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
No
Diaphragm
Automatic, 7 blades
Optics
8 elements, 5 groups
Mount Variant
KAF
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F3.2
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
AF (screwdrive)
Quick-shift
Yes
Min. Focus
20 cm
Max. Magnification
0.17x
Filter Size
49 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 68 ° / 59 °
Hood
MH-RBA 43mm
Case
Dedicated pouch
Lens Cap
Dedicated metal push-on
Coating
SMC,SP
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
63 x 25 mm (2.5 x 1 in.)
Weight
140 g (4.9 oz.)
w/ Hood: +15g
Production Years
2006 to 2013
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-DA 1:3.2 21mm AL Limited
Product Code
21590 (black)
Reviews
User reviews
In-depth review
Unofficial Full-Frame Compatibility Tests by Pentax Forums
☆☆☆ No coverage at any setting
Show details
Notes
The filter thread on the lens is 49 mm. The dedicated hood which screws into the filter thread has a 43 mm filter thread.
One aspherical element.
Variants

Black and silver

Features:
Screwdrive AutofocusQuick ShiftAutomatic ApertureAPS-C Digital OnlyDiscontinued
Purchase: Buy the SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
In-Depth Review: Read our SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited in-depth review!
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos



Add Review of SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited Buy the SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 16-30 of 93
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2015
Posts: 8,043
Lens Review Date: April 6, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Small, rendering, focal length on APS-C
Cons: Not so fast, not very sharp on the borders but acceptable
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5   

The lens is small, has a very useful focal length for street photography and landscapes. Color rendering is great , and corners are not very sharp but get sharper when the lens is stopped down to f8. I used this lens essentially when I used DA kit zoom and DA super zoom where the DA 21 ltd was showing its better IQ. But then I equipment myself with a sharper zoom that is almost as sharp and faster then the DA 21ltd @ 21mm. Color rendering of the DA21 is still better than zoom.

Pros:
- small
- light weight
- rendering

Cons:
- not so fast
- a bit expensive
- compete with zoom regarding sharpness

If I had to buy this lens again , I'd buy the HD version of the 21 Ltd that seems to have a slightly better corner sharpness.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: July, 2011
Posts: 1,761
Lens Review Date: December 26, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Small fixed focal length lens
Cons: mechnical problems, max aperture 3.2
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 3    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5, K3   

This is one of the must have DA fixed focal length lenses. The design is quite nice with metal lens shade and all metal housing. It feels great. Optically it is quite OK for price and size. A maximum opening of 3.2 is slow but owed to the small dimensions. This also means that you have to work at maximum aperture most often, but maximum image quality is reached only at 5.6 -8 and especially performance towards the edges improve significantly.
This design has focussing issues as described here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/121842-prob...nfinity-2.html
I sent mine to Pentax service for readjustment and a couple months later it had the same problem again - I barely used the lens in the meantime. This design flaw makes me want to fix and sell my lens asap. The HD may behave better in this case.
   
Community Manager

Registered: March, 2007
Location: Toowoomba, Queensland
Posts: 23,680
Lens Review Date: December 21, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Compact size and weight, excellent IQ, fast focusing
Cons: f/3.2 max aperture, which if larger would mean a larger lens
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5 IIs   

This is a long awaited lens for me, not having decided to buy it until I had to travel overseas. I already have the DA 12-24, which serves my wide angle purposes perfectly, and I found hard to beat. The size of this lens makes it less amenable to travelling, but the DA 21 (as well as its sibling the DA 15) is perfect for the job. Its excellent build quality matches its IQ and makes me wanting no more in a lens. I would forego a zoom for travelling having this lens on hand.

I have found this lens to be very sharp for all my purposes - I rarely have to shoot wider than f/4.5 with it and recognise that it is hard to have a lens exhibit perfect IQ at or near wide open.

I have long tossed up the idea of replacing the 12-24 with the 15/21 combination, but the IQ of the 12-24 is so good itself at the wide end that the DA 21 fills in the 12-24 shortcomings at the long end quite nicely. However way this is rationalised, the DA 21 is a remarkable little wide angle lens that is second to none throughout all systems. Highly recommended +++
   
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2010
Location: California
Posts: 2,223
Lens Review Date: December 21, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Small, compact, Pentax colors, no noticeable distortion, walk lens
Cons: not so fast, but who cares
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3   

Excellent lens, no distortion, great colors and compact enough to walk with it around.

Pentax DA 21mm f3.2 - Palmeras en la Playa-1 by Palenquero, on Flickr

Pentax DA 21mm f3.2 by Palenquero, on Flickr


x21mmf3.2-Laguna-8-1 by Palenquero, on Flickr

x21mmf3.2-Laguna-7-1 by Palenquero, on Flickr


x21mmf3.2-Laguna-4-1 by Palenquero, on Flickr
   
Pentaxian

Registered: November, 2013
Posts: 4,854

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 17, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: great colors, small, light, perfect walkaround lens
Cons: soft on corners
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3   

Hi !

I own this lens for some time now and feel ready to review it.

It is not the perfect lens, mainly because it is quite soft on borders, even stopped down. My understanding is that this is not softness but field curvature. The result is the same: border tend to lack sharpness even stopped down... At least when you put focus to infinite.

This is really the only drawback. What to say? This lens just give great colors, crisp images that just look fantastic in practice. It is small, very small, the build in hood system mean you'll never remove it, getting rid of flare and removing completely the need for a protective filter.

The focal lens is near perfect for landscape and as a walkaround lens. You can take maybe half of your shoots with it ! From time to time you'll find it is not wide enough, for some buildings or maybe indoors. For thoses occasions, the DA15 might be a better fit.

It is also does nice close-ups, photos of flowers, and make the subject pop.

The f/3.2 apperture? Not really a problem you'll use f/8 most of the time for landscape anyway. For closup, f/3.2 is more than enough, you might want to stop down for more deph of field. For the night shoot, well just shoot f/3.2 for fast shutter speed handled.

Here a few examples that show the nice colors, rendering and close-up capabilities:


IMGP2049original
by Nicolas Bousquet, on Flickr


IMGP1985original
by Nicolas Bousquet, on Flickr


IMGP1036
by Nicolas Bousquet, on Flickr


IMGP1425
by Nicolas Bousquet, on Flickr

Edit: another picture

IMGP4821 by Nicolas, sur Flickr

Overall, you don't buy this lens for ultimate sharpness. This lens is not sharp. You buy it for the universal focal lens, the crip micro contrast, the color rendering, it small size...
   
Inactive Account

Registered: June, 2009
Location: Berlin
Posts: 103
Lens Review Date: July 28, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fast focus, small, great built, great optics
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5   

Great lens: easy handling, solid built, picture quality is excellent, even wide open.

I have to admit, though, that I use it quite rarely, it is just not my focal length ;-)
But if it should be yours then get this lens.
   
Senior Member

Registered: December, 2013
Posts: 109
Lens Review Date: June 1, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $360.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fast (and very quiet) AF, Sharp open, small, light
Cons: f3.2 but its okay
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-30   

My favorite prime. Great for street photography. Light, sharp and everything you can ask for.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2013
Location: Hampshire, UK
Posts: 1,120
Lens Review Date: May 28, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Size, quality feel, balance
Cons:
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: k-5   

One aspect that amazes me with this lens is the possibility of using it hand-held at very low shutter speeds. At 1/10 the images are still crisp at 100% viewing. I put this down to the balance/weight of the lens.

It's not technique that's influencing these low speeds in particular, as with my DA*16-50, I could never rely on 1/10 being acceptable at 21mm.

This balance makes this lens a superb lens for traveling - it's light, unobtrusive and sharp. Others have commented on its nice IQ etc.

It may just be a little softer than the 40mm and 70mm primes, but this is marginally.

All round an excellent lens.
   
Senior Member

Registered: December, 2012
Posts: 135
Lens Review Date: May 26, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $470.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Small, light, built quality
Cons: Average IQ, soft corners, some CA, pronounced geometric distortion, noisy AF, "slow" max aperture, focus ring turns on AF
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 6    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax k-5II   

This lens is light, small and very well built.

In my view it would make a very good street/travel photography lens if it weren't for the overly wide field of view.

Image quality was a bit of a disapointment (soft corners, some chromatic aberration, pronounced geometric distortion, vignetting wide open).
Focus ring shouldn't turn on AF modeÖand they could perfectly have made it wider for easier handling when focusing manually, or added a finger tab ŗ la Leica.

Expensive.
   
New Member

Registered: July, 2011
Posts: 8

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 10, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $320.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Color, size
Cons: working with filters and the lens hood combined
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K5   

Quite simply an excellent lens for street photography, but also for landscapes (although there I might prefer the 15mm). The quality is up to the limited standard, and this lens is very compact and light. It's size makes it an excellent compagnon in the town or on a hike.
The screw drive autofocus is slower than some SDM systems, but reliable and the quick shift is ideal. 3.2 is not very fast, but who needs speed (or a very wide bokeh) from a 21 mm lens.

I will not comment on the field of view: 21mm is 21mm. How does Pentax gets the limited to get so color-rich images - I almost get suspicious that they have a hidden setting somewhere in the camera...

Edit/addtition. I lived for two month in another place and obviously took my K5, but in the plane the gear was limited. I brought my DA 18-250, DA 35 2.4 and M 50 1.7. Of the number of other lenses I own, here was one lens I missed: my 21 limited....
   
New Member

Registered: March, 2014
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posts: 13

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 7, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: close focus distance, sharpness, colour rendition
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K-5 II   

This is among my very favourite of the Pentax Limited lenses. It is small, light, discrete and versatile--a perfect walk around lens. It is a handsome looking lens and the lens hood does a great job of protecting the lens itself. Because it stays firmly in place the hood really eliminates the need to use a protective UV filter. The sharpness and colour rendition are spot on. Photos look great straight out of the camera.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/jengel-aiello/10469614523/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jengel-aiello/8803323049/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jengel-aiello/8442410229/
   
Forum Member

Registered: September, 2013
Posts: 62
Lens Review Date: April 4, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: compact and lightweight, sharp, fast AF.
Cons: not detected yet
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-30   

Yes - it has fast AF, as usual at DA Lim lens
Yes - it is very compact lens with also compact shade.
Yes - it is enough wide for usual indoor-tide room-landscape shooting. enough - it is mean that 15mm I do not need.
Yes - it is has a good colors ets...

Yes, it is sharp - but even it is wide angle lens, distant and near objects are not to easy to fall into DOF, if lens are wide open.


at close-up, (f/4) child face at 3/4 from 0.3m distance and focusing on the eye, near ear and distant eye are also out-of-focus!

I mean - it is sharp (!) wide-angle-lens, and focusing are critical.

UPD - after some time of use this lens I need to NOTE:
the lens are very sensitive to focusing. if focusing are perfect - image very sharp and has nigh resolution. even at f/3.2
I did calibrate auto-focusing on the body (K-30) and after most that shots are near perfect.
also - remember about DOF. for 16MP bodies DOF are very narrow.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: January, 2012
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 1,758

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 5, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: contrast, flare resistance, build quality, centre sharpness
Cons: lower sharpness at the edges
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-01   

I went through a few stages after buying this lens. The first shot I took was amazing, catching the early evening light in a way that none of my other lenses could do. Then I fell into the trap of pixel peeping and started wonder whether it was worth the money. I noticed softness at the edges of the frame wide open. Then I took it on holiday to Paris and really liked the way it captured scenes around the city.

So now the DA21 has become my most used and appreciated lens. I have it on my K-01 by default. The focal length is great, especially in cities, where it is not always easy to step back from the subject. It feels natural because itís similar to my field of vision.

I like the design of the hood, because it works effectively and it is very discreet, making the K-01 look almost like a compact. Iím convinced that looking into a big, open lens puts some people on edge, so this is a benefit when you want to catch people going about their normal business without your presence affecting the scene too much.

As a prime, it may not be the sharpest, but my copy is still sharper than any zoom I have at this focal length. Given itís aperture and focal length, the DA21 does not blur out of focus areas very strongly. Having said that, what bokeh there is is very pleasant looking. Contrast and flare resistance are fantastic. It can also produce start bursts at smaller apertures.

I think a lot of Pentax users avoid this lens, or buy the other limiteds first, because of its average test scores. Iím not going to argue with the tests themselves, but for me this is the most essential lens I have.



   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 7,042

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 17, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Small, light, very good image quality
Cons: Distortion, a little slow, not the sharpest wide open, horrendous green blob flare
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K200D   

This lens is very nice. It's small and light, AF is fast and overall IQ is good. It's nice to finally have a small, wide prime for use on digital, so I don't have to use a zoom for wide-angle.

This lens is good as a walk-about wide lens and for indoor use for groups. It's wide but not too wide. It's a very useful focal length in a small package. Colour and contrast are very good. It's perfect for night shots, the stars from lights render extremely well.

The first problem with the image quality are that it's not that sharp wide open (though perfectly useable). It's nice and sharp by f/4.5. Secondly, it has barrel distortion that is noticeable in many shots, something which is hard to understand considering the lens isn't really that wide, though this is easy to fix in post. Thirdly, and most importantly, when the sun is in the frame this lens can produce large and extremely ugly green blobs of lens flare. The hood is not the ideal size/shape to block this even when the sun is slightly outside of the frame. I've seen stunningly beautiful, sunny landscapes and come away without a single useable wide photo due to the green blobs. It's a blight on what should be a very good lens for landscapes and both points I've taken off the score are for this problem.

Aside from that, the only down-side to this lens is that for the price it really should be at least f/2.8. It's barely faster than the kit lens at that focal length.

As I've said, this lens is useful in many situations, so I wouldn't get rid of it, but if Pentax could make one without the green blob problem (and if it were f/2.8 too), I'd certainly swap.

[
British Musuem stitch (sml)
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


IMGP5518a por Jonathan_in_Madrid, en Flickr


IMGP9444a por Jonathan_in_Madrid, en Flickr


IMGP6491a DA 21mm
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


IMGP5387a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


IMGP9921b 21ltd
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


Stride
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


IMGP7458a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


Garden panorama
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr
   
Pentaxian

Registered: November, 2012
Location: Newark, Delaware
Posts: 978

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 23, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $429.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: compact size, build quality, sharpness, versatility, autofocus speed
Cons: Nothing significant
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K5 and K10D   

Already having the DA 15, DA 35 and DA 70 Limiteds, I bought a used version of this lens admittedly on impulse despite knowing that this has the lowest general ratings of the limiteds. This was definitely a pleasant surprise. Despite it being used, the lens is indistinguishable from a new lens, a tight solid constructed metal gem. I have taken many outdoor shots as well as indoor shots and am impressed with the sharpness and color accuracy. This is my first choice for indoor photography. I have read this lens is prone to barrel distortion but have not noticed it in my pictures. I give it a 9 only because it is not quite the equal of my level 10 lenses, the DA 35 Macro and the DFA 100 WR Macro. But it is close and one of my favorites. I would consider it a 9.5 if it were possible.
Update: after another month with this lens. I am liking it even more. Sharpness better than I expected, great walk around lens, compact size and exceptional build quality. I even like the hood/cap combo, so I up my rating to a 10.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited Buy the SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited



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