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SMC Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited

Reviews Views Date of last review
93 344,078 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 (Ascending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 93
Inactive Account

Registered: December, 2006
Location: Fairfax, VA, USA
Posts: 9

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 8, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

Pros: Small size, very sharp and very light in weight.
Cons: Sometimes has a bad auto-focus

I think of this lens as having the sharpness of the 50mm F1.4 , but in a FL great for general wide angle picture taking. I use it indoors for family shots and plan on it being one of my travel lens / hiking lens. The only down side I can see is that it doesn't always auto-focus corrently on my K10D, but that is an issue with many wide angle lens at times. I really like this lens! The other down side is now I have to save up for the 40 and 70mm pancake lens as well!
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 1,309

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 8, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: very small, very light, very sharp.
Cons: slight distortion

This is a little gem, very small and very light. no excuse to leave this at home, as its just so small...

Optics are top notch, it does have a little distortion as the FA20 had too, but it is very sharp even wide open and isn't prone to CA/PF or Flare/Ghosting..

Very good metal build quality and great hood that is just tiny.. Quick shift focusing is nice to have too..

I haven't actually had any AF issues with this lens on my K10d, though it did play up on my K100d, or maybe the k100d played up with this lens attached.. But still rarely affected real life pics..
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2006
Location: North Idaho
Posts: 665

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 9, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

Pros: superior optics, quality construction, small and lightweight, it's a Limited
Cons: unconventional lens hood/filter attachment

The SMC Pentax-DA f/1:3.2 21mm AL Limited is one stunning lens. It is very, very small, constructed entirely of metal, and contains superior optics. Without a doubt, it is my best wide-angle lens that I own. Like all DA lenses, it has the clutch focusing mechanism that allows one to manually focus the lens, even when the camera body is set to autofocus.

Unlike the FA Limiteds, the DA Limiteds are only available in black and they lack the aperture ring of the FA Limited series. They are digital only lenses, designed for the smaller image circle of an APS-C sensor.

I have not experienced any focusing issues that others have noted with their sample. That is most likely because I do not use this lens in interior, low-light situations. It is my default landscape/vista lens.

My only complaint with this lens is the unconventional lens hood arrangement and the way filters are attached. True to Pentax, they rarely do everything like everybody else. That is a large part of the charm of the Pentax Corporation.

The hood is a convex shaped snap-on/twist-on metal hood with a rectangular opening for the optics. You position the lens hood onto the lens, in an about 90 degree orientation, and turn 90 degrees clockwise to snap/lock the hood onto the lens. One item that I need to constantly be aware of is that the lens cap is a push-on type that fits very snug. I'm a bit anal and if the logo is a little crooked, I'll turn the cap so that the logo is horizontally level. Dumb, I know, but I like a slight degree of order in my life. Anyway, it is very easy, when turning the cap, to unsnap the hood. I could fall off in such a situation.

The other 'problem' with the snap-on/twist-on hood is the filter arrangement. The lens uses the Pentax traditional standard 49mm filter threads, but if you mount a 49mm filter directly onto the lens, you cannot attach the snap-on/twist-on OEM lens hood. If you desire to use a sun hood with a 49mm filter, you will need a screw-on hood of some type that attaches directly to the filter.

For awhile, this is what I did. I mounted my normal 49mm protective UV filter to to the lens and used a snap-on 49mm cap from the FA or DA non-Limited lenses. That works well, but I lost the hood, which I almost always use with a lens, even indoors (to minimize stray light hitting the front element of the lens).

The other way to go is to use the OEM hood, but mount a 43mm filter INSIDE the lens hood. This works, and there is enough room between the hood and the front element of the lens, but you can only attach one filter at a time. There is hardly ever a call for more than one filter at a time anyway, but it could be possible with special effect filters (like a star filter) in conjunction with a polarizer, for example.

The hood/filter design really isn't a negative aspect of this lens, just a quirky Pentax 'feature'. That's why we love Pentax.
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2007
Location: South Florida, USA
Posts: 413
Lens Review Date: February 5, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: well built, compact
Cons: wish it was faster

Really no complaints, everything advertised and more. A must when traveling.
Senior Member

Registered: September, 2006
Posts: 181

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 7, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $470.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent build and optical quality, Small and Light.
Cons: Lens hood can fall off.
New or Used: New   

I have found no faults with this lens. It is sharp wide open, and very sharp from f/4.5. Color reproduction is great and I have seen no signs of CA, or the focusing problems that some have seen. Even if it was not as good optically as it is, the small size and light weight, build quality, and quick shift focusing make it a must have. This, along with the other DA limiteds, are quickly becoming my favorite lenses. I highly recommend this lens to anyone wanting a high quality wide angle.

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Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2006
Location: Copenhagen
Posts: 924

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 19, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $475.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, build, sharpness, rendering and general IQ
Cons: None.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

This lens is an absolute gem and perhaps the finest rendering landscape lens out there.

Tiny, beautifully crafted and capable of producing amazing pictures.
I adore the "feel of this lens.

It almost instantly took the place as my on camera lens.

I have found no issues what so ever with this lens and would not be without it. In fact I often wonder how I did without it before.
Inactive Account

Registered: January, 2007
Location: UK/Canada/wherever work takes me
Posts: 95

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 23, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: lightweight, beautifully built, sharp
Cons: lens hood turns a bit too easily

This lens is amazing. It is really small and complements my DS perfectly. The close focus distance makes it surprisingly good for close-ups.

I have used it on my DS wide open, in dark situations and I never have a problem with autofocus (although I don't have many autofocus lenses so maybe I have different expectations). Meters perfectly too, as you'd expect from a DA lens.

The only cons are

a) the lens hood. I don't normally use hoods but this one is so small and cute it stays on my lens the whole time. Only problem is it turns too easily and I have taken the odd shot where it has been knocked out of place taking the lens cap off. I've also twisted it off by accident when I was trying to manually focus on a tripod in the dark. I was being a prat but can attest the hood is well made; it fell about 6 foot onto the pavement and there is not even a dent. I'm not sure the actual lens would stand that but it is _very_ well made. Better made than even my old M series lenses. Such build quality is rare these days.

b) the ridiculous cost in the UK. This isn't the lenses fault. To be fair, all lenses are expensive in the UK, but the pricing seems a bit random compared with UK and Europe. Some lenses are very well priced compared with elsewhere and some lenses can be double the price.
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Toronto
Posts: 960

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 26, 2007 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: versatile focal length, size/weight, autofocus
Cons: hood and cap design; colours not great
New or Used: New   

I was reluctant to write anything about this lens because it's the only auto-focus lens I've used extensively. As a mostly-manual shooter, I miss the aperture ring and tactile feeling of manual-focus gear.

That said, the ~31mm focal length equivalent on the 35mm frame is very versatile, suiting urban, landscape and indoor settings. It is a sharp lens with little distortion, making the entire frame useful.

I've made some of my favorite photos with this lens, but notice that these tend towards subtle colors in discreet lighting. This lens has disappointed me with weird color rending in bright light.

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The second sample shows the resolving power of this lens. At ISO 200 and f/8, in the RAW file you can make out facial features details of the fellow standing on the far side of the street, partially visible through the speeding bus.

Some "cons"
I've found this lens gives me curious color cast, with reds and violets becoming too livid or pronounced. I've even had photos of the sea turn out purple. I've never had this problem with my other Pentax lenses.

I don't find the rendering of shapes to be particularly engaging. My SMC 28mm f/3.5 and Zenitar 16mm do a much better job.

The design of the hood and cap puts form before function. The cap does not fasten to the lens for some reason. Mine fell to the street during the first week that I had the lens. The fall dented the hood rendering it useless but I didn't notice that it was dented until I'd tried putting it back on the lens, scratching the lens in the process. The clip-on hood makes the accessory thread unusable, so I shelved it in favor of using filters and a hood that can attach to the lens.

[edit: 2010.07.02 -- downgraded my rating on this lens, as I've essentially stopped using it. It is a good lens but not excellent. ]
Lens Review Date: May 25, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: small, very good resolution, contrast, colors
Cons: a bit of barrel distortion, quite pricey

Even with the slight barrel distortion I use it for interior photos. You can easily work around that. It's size and wide angle make it perfect for street shots.
New Member

Registered: June, 2007
Posts: 5

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 5, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

Pros: Small. Light. Sharp.
Cons: Barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration.

Slight chromatic aberration in very high contrast situations (1-2px). Barrel distortion is greater than it should be in a quality wide-angle. On the plus side, it's quite sharp, even wide open.
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2007
Location: Phoenix
Posts: 1,056
Lens Review Date: March 28, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $380.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: small and sharp
Cons: not compatible with film cameras :(

Very sharp for a lens this wide, even wide open. A tiny little thing that weighs almost nothing and is gorgeously constructed entirely of metal. I just wish I could use it on film!
Inactive Account

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Spokane,WA
Posts: 25
Lens Review Date: May 26, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small,Sharp,Wonderful Color
Cons: Hood is a little weird, but whatever...

A very cool little lens with a field of view that is great in a lot of situations, kinda has 3D look to the images
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2007
Location: Toronto (for now)
Posts: 1,746

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 2, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $380.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Crazy small, ltd rendering, micro contrast
Cons: Distortion for the price

As the "Pancake" moniker suggests this lens is very small and sits almost flat on the camera. Invaluable as my quality WA option when hiking as the large wildlife lens takes up a lot of room in my bag and this tiny lens sits in my pocket. Build quality is as the 'Limited' name suggest, outstanding in every respect.

IQ is strong all around,though for the rather steep price it's not a stunning optical performer but it's all about portability. Excellent micro contrast and focuses surprisingly closely.
Veteran Member

Registered: May, 2008
Location: Philippines
Posts: 1,343
Lens Review Date: January 15, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, light, superb build, fast AF, MF override
Cons: "only" f/3.2
New or Used: New   

This is my favorite lens at the moment. I love the focal length. Amazingly good optics, it's sharp, great rendering, focuses fast and is just well-built. All metal and well-designed.

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Inactive Account

Registered: September, 2008
Location: Tri-Cities, British Columbia
Posts: 1,784

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 23, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $270.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small size, quality build, great IQ
Cons: Odd hood design

I picked up my DA 21mm for a really nice price from a local forum member and was immediately pleased with the FOV. It gives you a film "wide" angle of 31mm which is sufficient for most of my needs.

Tack sharp, fast focus (although it does sometimes focus off but that's more of a camera issue than the lens itself), and very nice contrasty, saturated output makes this one a keeper for me.

My only concern is that hood is a special design am not quite sure if you can fit a filter under the hood; also, it has the same velvet lined metal lens cap as the FA Limiteds. Beautiful pieces of work but I'm deathly afraid of dropping one and damaging it!
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