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SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited

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93 343,820 Sun January 3, 2021
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
SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited

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
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Automatic, 7 blades
8 elements, 5 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
AF (screwdrive)
Min. Focus
20 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
49 mm
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 68 ° / 59 °
MH-RBA 43mm
Dedicated pouch
Lens Cap
Dedicated metal push-on
Weather Sealing
Other Features
Diam x Length
63 x 25 mm (2.5 x 1 in.)
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)
User reviews
In-depth review
Unofficial Full-Frame Compatibility Tests by Pentax Forums
☆☆☆ No coverage at any setting
Show details
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.

Black and silver

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

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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 31-45 of 93
New Member

Registered: January, 2012
Posts: 15
Lens Review Date: December 26, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

Pros: concept design, accuracy & fast autofocus, compact size & weight , build quality, focal length, color, contrast
Cons: sharpness at border @f3.2, CA
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K10D   

Only sharpness at border is not so good, compare with my DA16-45(very good) & FA28(perfect).
But another is pefect such as size, weight, design, good looking, responsible to traveller function.
New Member

Registered: October, 2013
Location: Naples
Posts: 10

6 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 31, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Size, performance/size ratio, colours, construction, st. ph. point of view
Cons: Not fast as it could be and not enought sharp, to be so expensive. It should have been a bit bigger but a bit better.
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 7    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: k5   

This lens was born in a clear project. It's made to be a small, light and non noticeable piece of glass. Optical performance and maximun aperture are sacrified to the size. For some one it should be great, for someonelse it may be a limit. But, anyway, it's only 21mm on apsc, not such a wideangle, and just 3.5 (not even a 2.8)... Soft in the corner until f5.6. At least, it's not a masterpiece of optical engineering. I could say i'ts a bad edition of a street ph. imited, if we consider than it's in the same focal length of the glorious 31mm Limited. And , one last thing, it's not cheap at all... I'd reccomend it only under 500$ / 450€ new, and olny if you really need a small wide lens. It has the same quality of the 40mm limited pancake, in terms of optical rendition. But if you ar a street, this 21 dwarf is a great companion, because all of his defective aspects does not affect your style of photography. It's sharp, fast, small and af capable as much as you need, in the smallest wideangle with K bayonette.

But at the price it's proposed, I would appreciate something more similar to a "31 limited" for apsc... a bit heavier, a bit bigger, but a bit faster, at least 2.8, and sharper all across the frame from the biggest aperture. Even if it should have been a bit more expensive. It's because everyone will use this 21mm on a reflex body, and all that compactness became a non sense... and a bit bigger lens should not change anything, but could allow a better optical performance or a faster aperture, saving some shoot from motion blur or lack of detail. Such a small lens should be paired with a mirrorless compact camera, like fuji x-series or sony nex, but on a k-something reflex (or mirrorless) it simply does not change the game of "street ph. stealth mode", or the size ratio of your gear. So, I have to say, that it has been a non sense sacrifice the lack of sharpness and max. aperture due to such a unbalanced compactness. It's not a pancake anyway. The 40 limited is soo small tha you can put the camera body in a smllare bag, or let you seem to people nearby that you have no glass on it, and you are non shooting... but the 21 is not so "invisible" to let you take stealth shoot, it's not small enought to let you use an "only body" camera bag, and it's not cheap at all.

I didn't exactly desired the APSC version of the 31 limited... but just a more balanced compromise... a bit faster and sharper, and, because of that, a bit heavier, bigger even priced. I can reccomand this to people who put "size" at the first place of their needs, and don't expect the "limited" optical rendition.

Sorry for my low english level.
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2013
Location: Sydney
Posts: 844

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 8, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $439.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great image quality.
Cons: Takes some getting used to. Not so great in low light.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-x   

This lens is a bit of an odd ball. This was my second limited (after the 40mm), and initially I was a little underwhelmed (I'd been spoilt by the 40mm I think!). With the 40mm, almost every shot you take gives you an immediate 'wow' factor, and initially I didn't get that same feeling with this lens. Shots felt a bit flat, and a little bland. As a landscape lens, I actually find it a bit disappointing (although I've not tried it myself, it does sound as though the 15mm would be better for that purpose).

After forcing myself to get to know the lens better, I finally figured out how to get the best from it. It's not an all-rounder like the DA40, but once you discover it's strengths and weaknesses, you'll find that the focal length can add more 'drama' to your shots than is possible with the DA40 (one of the reasons why the 21mm is now my most used lens). At f3.2, it does struggle a little bit in low light (you wouldn't want it for evening shots of friends), although tripod shots at night are fantastic! I find it's best used for 'street shots with a subject'.

If the focal length is right for you, and you're willing to invest some time getting to know it, then it is a great lens. I think it's a fantastic lens, but I would perfectly understand someone who said it's not for them. My advice would be to try before you buy!
Forum Member

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 99

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 8, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: compact size, nice focal length for APS-C, metal build
Cons: a bit slow (f/3.2)
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-01   

I believe that very few, if any, of the reviews of this lens (as of the date of my review) involve the DA 21mm paired with the Pentax K-01. So I'll add my take since this lens is quickly becoming stuck on my K-01. I favor using it over the DA 15, DA 40, and DA 70, for the sheer convenient focal length alone-- awesome for street shooting, group shots, even some indoor pictures (because of the K-01's great high-ISO capability). I find I use it about 70% of the time, with my other DA limiteds taking up the other 30%. It's such a compact lens even with the hood on, just a bit bigger than the DA 40, that I find the K-01 plus DA 21mm makes for an excellent all-day combination when out traveling or exploring my home surroundings and on family vacations. I find that images I take using this lens have colors that just pop off the screen, with great contrast and flare resistance. And the square hood is uber-cool. Looks beautiful paired with my Yellow K-01. The metal build quality is the icing on the cake.

Senior Member

Registered: September, 2012
Location: Vancouver Island
Posts: 108

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 15, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $550.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: size, weight, pretty much everything
Cons: It's a little on the small size, I find myself gripping the filter(s) or hood instead of the focus ring, and even once there my fingers and easily slip and obscure part of the image.., also seems to feed off natural light
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-30   

This lil' beaut is meant to be shot wide open, super sharp and the bokeh is marvelous. Some don't like it, some simply find it odd and carry on, I love it.
Yes, the field of view is a little odd, takes some time to get used to it especially when your only other lenses are the DA 18-55 WR and D FA 100mm WR macro...but when you think about it, it's your fault if you don't like the focal length, that's a defining feature of the lens along with the aperture, you knew what you were getting into when you got a 21mm lens for APS-C sensors. Stop complaining.

This first one made my inbox explode with emails from 500px about people commenting on it, highest rating of mine. That made up for a kinda unpleasant weekend.

Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2009
Location: Georgia, VT
Posts: 1,654

6 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 15, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $395.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, Metal Construction, Sharpness, Colour Rendering
Cons: Finicky Hood, Small Max Aperture
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5, K-x   

A very bizarre little gem, this is by far my most-used lens. Everyone else has already covered the aspects of this lens to death (weird hood, small size, etc), so there's no reason for me to re-hash that here.

I also won't rave or complain about the focal length or field of view. It's a 21mm lens. It has the field of view of a 21mm lens on an APS-C sensor. That's not one of its qualities or faults, that's just what it is. If you don't like the field of view provided by a 21mm lens, then you shouldn't buy one. End of story.

One of the cons I listed is the small-ish max aperture. There's no denying that F3.2 can seem a little disappointing in a prime lens. But it turns out that this limitation isn't nearly as restrictive as I thought it would be. That's because most large-aperture wide-angle lenses need to be stopped down a fair bit before they become acceptably sharp. For example, the Pentax FA* 24mm F2 doesn't really get sharp across the frame until you stop down to F2.8 or F3.2. Meanwhile, the DA 21mm Limited is surprisingly clear across the frame right from F3.2, and it gets marginally better until it peaks around F5.6 or so. That's exactly the range where this type of lens tends to get used anyways. So while the F3.2 max aperture may turn some people off, it turns out Pentax actually tuned the optical performance of this lens to be exactly where it needs to be.

While out shooting with this lens in Montreal last summer, I accidentally dropped it from 4 feet high onto concrete. It landed on its side and rolled away from me for about 6 feet before coming to a stop. The incident didn't leave a single mark on the lens anywhere, which is a testament to its build quality. But from that point on, the left side of every picture was always noticeably soft. The problem was bad enough that I had the lens repaired by C.R.I.S. Camera in Arizona at a cost of $160.

Did I think it was sharp before?!? When I got the lens back from repairs, it was even MORE impressive than ever before! It's amazing what a test bench-assisted assembly can do to a lens. I think this is more a reflection of the poor assembly done by Pentax line workers than anything else. C.R.I.S. didn't replace any elements, they just re-seated the lens elements and re-adjusted the groups to achieve the Pentax-defined sharpness benchmark.

I can't imagine my lens collection without the DA 21mm Limited. It's almost always on my camera, and when it was away being repaired, I felt like I had a missing limb. A few of my favourite shots taken with this lens:


Registered: May, 2012
Posts: 2,917

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 27, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $540.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: FOV, color rendition, sharpness, small, light
Cons: slow
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5   

I gave the lens a 10 because I feel the overall rating of the lens in the database is skewed. Its given lower marks than it deserves. If I was offering a my true opinion it would be about a 9.6 (if it were cheaper though it would be better).

I love the focal length. It is absolutely perfect for walking around. I shoot on full resolution RAW so my crops are still good. The color rendition with this lens is awesome and it has something special about it. I won't use the "3D" word but something good is there with this lens.

The FOV is great. Its not as wide as the 15mm but for walking around its amazing. On the street in natural light this thing is awesome. I found that if I stop down some and shoot in daylight it helps produce some great images.

Keep in mind the focal length dictates that this is technically a wide angle lens so physically the characteristics are going to be as such.

Downside is its slow. Shooting indoors is not its forte unless you use a flash or some other better lighting. Give this lens light and its absolutely fantastic.

The DOF is what I find different and tricky about this lens. At wide open and 1 meter from the subject the calculations are that the DOF is .29 meters... or almost 1 foot. The farther out you go from the subject the wider your DOF is and when you stop down its even more. This lens is equivalent to between 30-35mm on a FF camera as to FOV but because its designed for crop sensors you have a shorter focal length and because of its pancake design you don't get the sub f2 apertures.

You are trading off DOF so there is less bokeh but its the physical traits of the lens. To me though shooting outside or in natural lighting this lens is fantastic. In that scenario I would rate it higher than 9.6.

And the colors are just great. There is a learning curve to using this lens. If you try to use it the same way you do as a 50mm lens its going to be different. If on the other hand you learn and get the technicals down you can produce stellar images with this lens. Compare the calculations for a 35mm on a FF at f2 and your DOF is tiny. At 1 meter from the subject its less than 4 inches vs 1 foot for this lens.

Its a mixed breed between that type of FOV and a wide angle lens.

You can get about 8 inches up to your subject with this lens and with it being a pancake design that feels a bit weird, like you are doing macro on someone's face... but it works!

Registered: September, 2010
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 2,617

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 5, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $640.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, sharpness, build quality
Cons: Lens cap, price maybe
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-7, K-5ii   

I've got the DA35 macro but often I would end up using the kit 18-55 at its wide end instead. The DA21 seemed like the ideal answer.

The DA21 is small and the clever lens hood hardly adds to its length. On a K-7 it looks positively diminutive. As with all the limiteds, the design and build exude that certain satisfying precision feel. The lens hood design is unconventional but effective. The lens cap is a solid piece of felt lined aluminium, in keeping with the look and feel of the lens, but a bit impracticable and probably expensive to replace. Fortunately a standard old Pentax slip-on 51mm plastic lens cap fits perfectly.

The 21mm focal length is just right on an APS sensor camera, such as my K-7. It is just wide enough to make a difference but not too wide to give that somewhat boring stretched effect of ultra-wides. Autofocus is accurate, quiet and quick - there isn't a great deal of mass to spin around with this lens.

Optically, this lens is sharp enough to allow some cropping without a great loss of quality. It is quite sharp even wide open and gets better stopped down. The sweet spot seems to be somewhere between f/4 and f/5.6. There is a fair amount of barrel distortion and some CA, both easily correctable in post-processing. Contrast and colour rendering are excellent. Flare resistance is good, although when shooting into the sun at a certain orientation it is possible to provoke a 'green blob' flare, probably a sensor reflection. Stopped down it gives nice highlight 'starbursts'.

The DA21 is inconspicuous enough for street photography and sharp and wide enough for landscapes and architectural shots.

More here

Registered: January, 2011
Location: Skåne, Sweden
Posts: 474

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 20, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $355.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Focal length, AF-speed, handling, build quality
Cons: Distortion, corners wide open
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5, K-01   

This review is for a mint condition DA21 bought second-hand locally in Sweden, serial nr is in the 0018xxx-range.

  • Very small size and low weight
  • Build quality
  • AF-speed
  • Conversation piece

  • Distortion
  • A bit slow

Build and parameters
At first glance the DA21 might not seem that interesting. The focal length is covered by many zooms, including the kit lenses. The speed is right there between kit lenses at f/3.5 and more expensive zooms at f/2.8. However, when using the lens it speaks to a different crowd. It is unrivaled in size among wide-angle lenses for DSLRs, build quality and handling on the small Pentax DSLRs is great. It also looks very good with the cool square hood!

Image quality
The DA21 produces typical DA Limited sharp and contrasty pictures, already wide open. Corners will benefit of stopping down, but that is expected. Being relatively slow for a prime it is important that it usable on the maximum aperture – and it very much is! Bokeh is not a major aspect of a slow-ish wide angle lens, but it is generally fine, but sometimes a bit busy. Aberrations are low and easily (automatically) corrected in software. Distortion is high for a prime lens, about the same as many zoom lenses, and worse than the DA15. As with vignetting, though it might be present it is easily corrected in software if needed to be corrected, unfortunately it “eats” a bit of the image when you need to correct more. Flares might appear from time to time, a little bit more than most modern primes I have used. Flares and ghosting are more difficult to get rid of in post and could possibly be an issue under critical situations. For general snapshots I don't mind a flare or burst from time to time, but it must still be seen as a negative. I haven't noticed any major difference in flare resistance and ghosting if the hood is used or not.

Use and handling
Like mentioned before, the lens fits perfectly on Pentax DSLRs, and it also works very well on the K-01 which really needs small primes to show its best side. The auto-focus is very fast on both the K-5 and K-01, and the short focus throw and low mass of the glass is key factors. Focus is accurate on my K-5 (and the K-01 of course as it uses all-time contrast detection). The perfect areas of use for the DA21 is too me indoors at parties, where the DA15 might be to wide (perspectives at edges might be weird looking), but flash might be needed because of the f/3.2 maximum aperture. It would also be good as a general walk-around or street lens. It might not be wide enough for interiors or architecture though. If only one lens can be brought, I like to think that a classic wide-angle is a great choice, and the DA21 sits right in between the classic 28 and 35 mm focal lengths. It actually gives me a preview of what the FA31 might be like on a full-frame DSLR...
Much like the DA15, you don't really have many alternatives that can match the size at this focal length. Maybe a FA20, or some manual Voightländer, but they are either larger or only manual focus. Price is usually relatively low (second-hand) as many users might go for the DA15, which makes the value proposition of the DA21 a bit more interesting.

Overall impression
The DA21 is yet another pretty unique Pentax-offering. At first glance it might not seem as special as the other DA lenses, with pretty standard focal length and aperture. But when size, build and handling are weighted in, it comes together in a unique offer. The DA21 is a great general wide-angle lens, right between the 28 and 35mm classic focal lengths. It is great for general use and especially indoors shooting people. If I had to choose between the DA15 and the DA21, it would be the DA15, but the DA21 stills holds a good value for the money and might be more suitable depending on your shooting style.

My pictures on flickr with this lens
New Member

Registered: May, 2011
Location: Toronto, ON
Posts: 15

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 27, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $600.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Optics, Size
Cons: Distortion
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-01   

Solid wide-angle lens - I picked it up as a companion to my 40 XS and DA 70 Limteds and it has served its role very well. Others have complained that the lens is a little slow, but I've never found that to be an issue, especially on newer bodies with higher ISO capabilities.

I do, however find the distortion to be a little much at times, and it does take a little getting used to.

That said, this is a great walk around lens, and it definitely has its uses. It is a very useful focal length, especially on APS-C sensors, and Pentax's implementation is quite good.
New Member

Registered: July, 2010
Location: St. Petersburg
Posts: 22

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 30, 2012 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $510.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: size, build quality
Cons: sharpness
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 7    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K20D, K-5iis   

Among all Pentax lenses I have this one provides shots with the lowest sharpness. Even when I focus on the infinity, I got an image that is not so sharp as I can expect from a prime lens. I admit that I may have a bad sample though. The hood fastening doesn't allow you to use 49mm filter while the it's on the lens, while 43mm is something hard to find.
Senior Member

Registered: August, 2011
Location: Toronto
Posts: 151
Lens Review Date: August 26, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, small, fun to use, great focal length, great build quality
Cons: not full frame, no aperture ring (doesnt really matter since it isn't full frame lol), have to "get used to using it", could be faster
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K7   

I learned to really love this lens. I bought it when I was still very noobish and initially found I had a hard time wrapping my head around using its focal length to my advantage. I did not sell it cause I knew at the time that I needed a wider angle and forced myself to get used to it. Its really not as bad as I'm making it sound but where some lenses you get and instantly love, this one wasn't one of those. But now when I'm planning a day of shooting rarely does this one get left behind and if I don't want alot of gear with me I will easily dump something else in this lens' favour.

I think that it's a great street lens. I love its build and definitely deserves the LTD branding.

The max aperture could be faster but (my copy anyway) is sharp wide open and I am very ok with it as it is cause its size is a huge plus.

The price I got for it I consider a steal but after getting to know it I would have paid more.
Senior Member

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Southern New Mexico
Posts: 120
Lens Review Date: May 28, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $410.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: good all around lens
Cons: none
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-7   

(I still shoot film so I think in 35 mm terms)

I always wanted something a little wider than 35mm but not a 28mm. Leave it to Pentax to design a lens that is equivalent to a 32mm lens. What is even better is the size with the lens hood on. Makes it very portable and similar to the old rangefinder in size. What matters is the picture quality. I can point, shoot and crop. It is so good, I am thinking about selling my other lenses. However, I need that 35 macro limited for close work.
Senior Member

Registered: January, 2011
Posts: 293

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 10, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

Pros: size, build, hood, quality, colour, focal length
Cons: slow aperture
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K5   

This lens is so alluring because it creates such a compact setup with the small Pentax cameras. That's what drew me to this system from a full-frame Sony camera. Sure this lens could have been made faster or a little sharper in the corners or whatever.

But people, it's the size of an Oreo cookie. This comes with some trade-offs. It's sharp. It's got great colour and contrast and resistance to aberrations. It renders things in a lovely way.

I'm being very subjective. There are enough technical reviews. I like this lens for the shooting experience it provides and the look of the images it delivers.

The DA21 is unique among lenses out there. You can get some nice 20mm 2.8s but they are full-frame, large things. This lens takes advantage of apsc compact format and nobody else has anything like it but Pentax. It's like a rangefinder, perfect street lens. You can take it with you all by itself and get a sort of "stand back and look at things" perspective due to the somewhat wide focal length. You could call it boring. But I call it just right.

You could also say, but even my basic zoom lens is f3.5 at 21mm. OK, but it's bigger than an Oreo and it's likely not as smooth as this little baby. And you have that unique prime shooting experience that trains you to see things in a certain way. So I get a 35mm equivalent lens in a tiny package.

I love the hood. It's just there and I forget about it. The best thing is you hide a filter underneath it and never look back. Build quality has been noted and all that. The close focusing distance is also a charm of this lens. You really can get right up to a subject.

This is an often understated and overlooked cousin, but it really has a special place in my collection as a simple, excellent – and unique – wide angle.

New Member

Registered: January, 2012
Posts: 19

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 3, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $595.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build, versatility, sharpness, colour
Cons: Expensive
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 7    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K-5   

I seem to be one of the few reviewers who actually likes both the design and functionality of the lens hood, because I consider that it provides the front glass element with valuable and superior protection from glare, knocks and finger marks that I’d otherwise need to reinforce with the purchase of yet another filter. I can’t really see what all the fuss is about, because alternative hoods are widely available and inexpensive to buy if this one doesn’t suit. For me, the whole styling and build quality of the lens and its attachments are exceptional and high class. There is more than enough mediocrity and similarity out there in the world of photography. If you’re looking for that, you’ve probably come to the wrong place.

My photos mostly tend to be of landscapes, coastal scenes or buildings. Conventional wisdom would have it that an ultra-wide lens is most suited to two out of these three and a more ‘normal’ focal length advisable for the other. I beg to differ slightly on those arguments as well. For me, many an attractive outdoor scene is turned into a boring composition by an expanse of dead space. And it’s not always possible to stand a long way away from a nice building in order to get the whole of it inside the frame. I will take other lenses with me in my camera bag, but expect this one to be fitted to the K-5 more often than not.

If you are considering a purchase of this lens, I can confirm that the focal length is suitable for a large range of subjects including those referred to above and elsewhere in other reviews. If in doubt, look at the focal lengths you are choosing for your own better images. I’m pretty sure you’ve done that already to be honest. In my own case, I expect at least 80% of my photos with the lens to be taken at aperture settings somewhere between f5.6 and f8. Based on a small sample test, I’m already satisfied that the lens will provide excellent image quality from corner to corner in terms of sharpness, colour and contrast. I can’t comment on out of focus qualities because they don’t especially interest me. Focus accuracy looks spot-on as far as I can tell and I usually look at the end product very carefully.

I think when something looks and feels right, it usually is. This lens is one of the very best I’ve used and despite my misgivings about the cost in relation to the standard of my own photography, I do believe it has been a very good acquisition. I think we ought to value items both in terms of the amount of financial outlay and the frequency of use. I expect the 21mm f3.2 will become one of my most used lenses over many years to come. If I can’t get good photos out of it then I’m simply not much of a photographer.
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