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SMC Pentax-FA 20-35mm F4 AL Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA 20-35mm F4 AL

Reviews Views Date of last review
40 182,723 Wed September 14, 2022
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $385.03 9.18
SMC Pentax-FA 20-35mm F4 AL

SMC Pentax-FA 20-35mm F4 AL
SMC Pentax-FA 20-35mm F4 AL

The Pentax FA 20-35mm is a prosumer-quality full-frame wide-angle zoom lens with a constant aperture of F4.

SMC Pentax-FA 20-35mm F4 AL
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (A setting)
Automatic, 8 blades
10 elements, 8 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
AF (screwdrive)
Min. Focus
33 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
58 mm
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 72-45 ° / 62-38 °
Full frame: 94-63 ° / 84-54 °
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Weather Sealing
Other Features
Diam x Length
68 x 70 mm (2.7 x 2.8 in.)
245 g (8.6 oz.)
Production Years
1998 to 2004
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-FA 1:4 20- 35mm AL
Product Code
User reviews
Two aspherical elements
Screwdrive AutofocusAperture RingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Purchase: Buy the SMC Pentax-FA 20-35mm F4 AL
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos
Price History:

Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA 20-35mm F4 AL Buy the SMC Pentax-FA 20-35mm F4 AL
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Junior Member

Registered: July, 2022
Posts: 41

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: September 14, 2022 Recommended | Price: $380.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Versatile focal range, light, great IQ
Cons: Distortion, edge softness
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: K-1   

My overall score for this lens is 9, but please note that this is highly subjective. If I couldn't live with some of the shortcomings of this lens, I would probably rate it between 5 and 7.

This lens resolves plenty of detail. If you've shot the 28-105mm on the K-1, that's about as sharp as it gets, except that this lens will be plenty sharp wide-open unlike the other lens. Edges and corners will be soft at any usable setting, however, so please keep this in mind. As someone else mentioned, I don't recommend this as a landscape lens. Having said that, I don't really notice it that much for other scenarios.

Other than the edge softness, I love the images I get from this lens overall. Especially the funky distorted look typical of UWAs combined with it's ability to readily 3D pop.

At the widest setting the lens suffers from wavy distortion that cannot be fully corrected. Nor would I, even if it could. Part of the charm of this lens is the distortion, and I very much love it the way it is. Having said that, I wouldn't use it for pictures like this one:

The build is a bit better than the 28-105mm. That is to say, there's no excessive movement when force is applied to the barrel. It's still a plastic lens, though. On the plus side, it's very light. I was very surprised by the lightness when I first received it.

Handling is ok. The zoom ring has no resistance at all, and it's very easy to knock it about by accident. Zooming and focusing is not internal, but for most intents and purposes it is as good as internal zooming. There is very little movement of the front element, and there's virtually none with the lens hood attached. When zooming or focusing, the filter thread does not rotate, so this little lens is polarizer-friendly. The zoom range is rather versatile, but not more so than similar lenses. I would like it a lot better if it went a bit longer on the long end (e.g., 40~45mm) and/or a smidge wider. But if it's between that and light weight, I prefer the light weight...

Autofocus is... well, typical of screwdrive lenses on Pentax bodies: nothing to write home about. It's reasonably accurate but slow. It's not that big of a deal on a UWA zoom though.

This is overall a very enjoyable lens to use. It's currently the most used lens in my collection.
New Member

Registered: September, 2020
Location: Derbyshire
Posts: 3
Review Date: August 21, 2021 Recommended | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, nicely built, great focal range, wonderful colours, well controlled distortion, a go anywhere lens
Cons: I sold it too cheaply, I miss it, f4 is a bit slow even then.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: MZ5n   

I used this lens with film NOT digital.

This was my most favourite lens in my time with Pentax and the excellent MZ5n.

I used it at all focal lengths usually in the f8-f11 aperture range for people at 35mm and landscape and environmental at 28/24/20mm.

This was the best zoom I have ever used. I have a much vaunted Nikkor 25-50mm AIS which has a wonderful look and is manual focus. But this little Pentax was as good as and tiny in comparison. I got rich colours, very well controlled distortion and great detail plus little or no colour aberration. Like the 25-50, this little Pentax also laughed in the face of highlights and the sun. I still have the slides to prove it.

BTW, despite the wonderful 24-50mm A zoom that I once lent, the 20-35 FA was the best Pentax 24mm I've used.

If you were in a tight spot, you could get it all in. I became addicted to this lens and it never really left the MZ5n. I only let my Pentax stuff go from 2008 because of the financial crash hurt my income through no fault of my own and I had to make cuts to expenditure etc. (like I suspect many other people around the world) It was done so reluctantly. If I am honest I still miss this lens - an equal to anything produced by Nikon and definitely anything by Canon - I've seen published shots from the EOS 20-35mm 2.8 and the Canon is not as sharp or pleasing to look at as this little Pentax (the Canon looks degraded by diffraction).

I've no idea how it performs on digital but all I can say is give it a go if you get a decent copy. You might find that it is worth it.

We bang on in photography don't we about sharpness but there is a lot more going on with some lenses and this is one of them. There's the artistic side of pictorial rendition to consider too, and there is a depth to the pictures this lens produces that other wide angles zooms just don't have. You feel that you could step into the picture; the picture has gone beyond being a picture if you see what I mean. The 25-50 Nikkor does that and so does this little Pentax.

I 'd recommend this lens to you and hope that you find what I found.
New Member

Registered: September, 2016
Posts: 2

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: May 3, 2021 Recommended | Price: $494.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: small, lightweight, APS-C senzor size performance
Cons: soft extreme corners on fullframe, plasticky, aberrations
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: Pentax K-1   

This lens is very good on APS-C cameras, but on full-frame it has some major drawbacks. The image is very sharp from the centre to the edges, but the corners are totally blurry, regardless of the used focal length or aperture. Checked on 2 samples.

For some applications, it doesn't matter but do not use it for landscapes where you need sharpness corner to corner.

Fullres image here:

EDIT 08/2021: I have to raise the rating, because the corners are acceptable most of the time and it is good walkaround lens if you do not want to carry 3 primes.
New Member

Registered: January, 2018
Location: Paris
Posts: 8
Review Date: December 12, 2020 Recommended | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Bonne optique, rendu, lťger , plage 20-35 avec k1
Cons: Construction en plastique mais propre et assez robuste
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K1   

This is really a nice and versatile lens with k1.
Very good optics, so light and handy.
My most used lens for landscape (I have 12-24 da, dfa 24-70. 2.8, k17 F4. , dfa 28-105., F17-28mm , hd fa 35mmf2 íetc)

The zoom range is perfect , with my zoom F 70-210mm I have a good easy to carry allround kit for bright days. Shooting almost always between F5,6 to f11
The COLOR rendering is nice (ghostless coat as limited lens) and special. Itís maybe the only lens I donít use post processing colors because I feel to lost a kind of special native rendering I like. Warm and a kind of small 3D pop ( nothing to compare with the 3D blue rendering of my fa77mm but really noticeable special rendering)

So remember, maybe not a pro star lens but a very good lens is a lens you use and always bring with you. And k1 is heavy...

I bought the new dfa 15-30.....maybe better but it mostly stays at home and will end by resale this heavy tank...

Really a nice little zoom. A prosumer zoom as Pentax used to say about it

Registered: March, 2008
Location: Quebec city, Canada
Posts: 9,125
Review Date: January 7, 2020 Recommended | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light and compact, nice range on FF, fast enough
Cons: PF, not as good as Limited lenses

I got this as a landscape-cityscape equivalent to the DA21 on full frame. It's a good lens, but a mixed bag.

It's capable of very good sharpness. Distortion is low. It creates superb starbursts when used properly (not as good as the DA21).

However, it suffers from some PF, and most of all it does not have the magical pop of the images created by other Limited lenses. I have a hard time warming up to it. No real flaws, but no magic either.
Forum Member

Registered: November, 2013
Location: Queensland, Australia
Posts: 84

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 25, 2019 Recommended | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light, IQ, Cheap(ish)
Cons: Plasticky, F4, if that bothers you as wide open
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K1   

Picked this up along with an Fa 50mm Macro for a very reasonable price, here in Australia. It's showing its age a little, both in terms of slow aperture and rather cheap, plastic body. However, it performs well and punches well above it's weight. I'm sure the 15-30mm beats it on every aspect, but it's 3 times as big and probably 3 times the price.
For a casual photographer like me, it does the job. Very nicely
These shots were taken handheld, with a CPL filter, but I suspect that it would perform better on a tripod, with some ND filters. Certainly, for landscape.
Shots taken at Sunshine Coast, Queensland, on a K1, F8-F11

Addit- Had a go with some ND filters for the first time and reasonably pleased with the results. I'll definitely keeps this lens.
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2018
Location: Quebec City, Quebec
Posts: 5,543

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: March 3, 2019 Recommended | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent lens on APSC, just O.K. on Full-Frame. Can be found used for peanuts but an excellent value overall.
Cons: Corners a little soft @ 20 mm on FF.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K5, K3, K1   

Picture taken on a K5 @ 20 mm.

Picture taken on a K3 @ 35 mm.

Picture taken @ 35 mm on a K1 with a CPL.

Picture taken @ 24 mm on a K3.

20 mm FL on K3

24 mm FL on K3

28 mm FL on K3

35 mm FL on K3

24 mm FL on K5

20 mm FL on K5

20 mm FL on K5
Forum Member

Registered: August, 2018
Posts: 72
Review Date: August 28, 2018 Recommended | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: lightweight, platic wonder but very good quality.
Cons: nothing !
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-x   

My main lense, alway on my camera. Very goog, no probleme with digital camera... My favorite.
New Member

Registered: October, 2017
Posts: 1
Review Date: January 3, 2018 Recommended | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp, colors rending, light
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K3   

A terrific standard zoom lens for landscape photography!
I sold my very loved FA 20mm 2.8 to get this lens.
It was a good choice, for sure !
Junior Member

Registered: November, 2016
Location: Vungtau
Posts: 36
Review Date: December 28, 2017 Recommended | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp from f/8, lightweight, price, fast AF.
Cons: "Plastic" build, CA.
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1   

Good wide angle lens for K-1, except heavily CA at 20mm, but you can easily remove in LR.
Her sample:
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2012
Location: Paris
Posts: 813

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 31, 2017 Recommended | Price: $460.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, Focal length on FF, lightweight, color, micro contrast
Cons: build quality, feels "plastic", flare, No WR
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: K1-K3   

The main quality of this lens for Pentax FF camera is the focal length, great for landscapes, cityscapes and architecture.
This was the reason I bought this one used, in great conditions, instead of the more expensive Pentax 15-40mm /F2.8

I was nicely surprised by the sharpness of the lens, where is shines from F5.6 to F13, sweet spot is /F9 to /F11 on my copy.
I've been using this lens at F22 from time to time, useful for some nice "STAR" type bokeh on sun of nightlights, and it's perfectly usable despite the loss of sharpness.
The flare is sometimes very prominent and disgraceful, so you have to think about it when shooting toward sun or on some nightlight cityscape for example.

One point to be of interrest is that this lens is pretty compact and lightweight, a perfect companion to the Pentax K1 when hiking for example. The missing WR is to be noted if you wanna use this lens for landscapes shooting.

Some example shots, mainly taken at this lens sweet spot of F8 to F13 :

"Star" effect on the sun :

I would definitly recommend this lens for landscape shooting, especially on the Pentax FF K1 Camera. The ability to add a ND or Polarised filter is also worth noting.
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2012
Location: Southeastern Connecticut
Posts: 816

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 29, 2015 Recommended | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Painterly rendering, beautiful color
Cons: A little on the soft side of sharp
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: K3   

I purchased this in anticipation of wanting a short zoom in advance of the FF and because I find that I like the rendering of some of the FA lenses. Plus I tend to shoot landscapes and water scapes, so this is a pretty good width for me.

I haven't used this a lot but I took it out the other evening. It was a great sky, and I thought this lens did it more than justice.

Here's one of the resulting photos....
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2006
Location: Jakarta
Posts: 660

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: February 16, 2015 Recommended | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: A full-frame lens that is compact, light, sharp, beautiful colors and superb microcontrast.
Cons: A bit of lateral chromatic aberration (easy to correct)
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-X, Sony A7, Pentax Z1-P   

I have never used this lens a lot on APS-C because of the unappealing focus range and also because I have crop format lenses that cover a broader range with good image quality (like the DA 16-45/4).

Itís on full-frame that this lens really shines: it offers a very useful range, from super-wide to normal-wide, in a compact package with superb image quality. There is no other compact full-frame wide-zoom with constant aperture that can rival the FA 20-35 when it comes to consistently delivering gorgeous pictures with great micro-contrast and fantastic colors.

The FA 20-35/4 AL is really a small lens that takes very little space in the bag and is quite light (245g), yet it is very useful by replacing both a 20mm super-wide and a 35mm normal-wide, as well as all the focal lengths in between. It is really usable throughout the zoom range at any aperture.

At the 20mm end, the corners are a bit soft wide open, but the whole frame sharpens up nicely at F/8-F/11 Ėof course, people usually don't shoot landscape wide open anyway. For interior scenes or night shots where the corners are not really important, the lens is perfectly usable at F/4. I have made some comparisons with my Pentax FA 20/2.8 on full-frame and I consistently prefer the results from the FA 20-35: pure resolution is equivalent (maybe a tad better on the 20/2.8 when stopped down) but micro-contrast and colors are so much better on the zoom. Surprisingly, the zoom is also much more resistant to flare. This might be caused by the zoom having the superior "ghostless" coatings.

At the 35mm end, image quality is already very good over the whole frame at F/4 and it rivals prime lenses at F/8.

Some people seem to regret this lensí F/4 max aperture. To me, itís not really a limitation given the high ISO capability of modern cameras and I would even say this is rather a big advantage because it allows the lens to be very compact. As a bonus, the lens extends only a tiny bit when zoomed in and focused close. With the lens shade on, you will not even notice the length variation.

Lateral chromatic aberration is a bit strong at 20mm, especially wide open, but it cleans up easily without leaving any residue. There is no visible LCA at 35mm.

Distortion at 20mm is noticeable on straight lines running next to the edges (though not bad at all for a wide-zoom) and vignetting is visible wide open, but both are quite easy to correct if necessary (distortion is the common spherical type). Distorsion and vignetting are negligible at 35mm.

I give this lens a rating of 10 not because it is perfect but because it has many unique qualities that largely overcome its few drawbacks. It has been my most used lens for the last year on a full-frame Sony A7, constantly delivering outstanding results. Together with a Voigtlšnder Nokton 58/1.4 and a C/Y Sonnar 100/3.5, it makes a very light and portable full-frame kit that I carry everywhere. I guess the FA 20-35 will also perform superbly on the forthcoming Pentax full-frame DSLR.


Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 7,810

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: February 6, 2015 Recommended | Price: $398.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Great focal range on film. Good optics.
Cons: Plastic, too slow and poor handling. Expensive.
Camera Used: K Series film bodies (K1000, KM, KX, K2, K2DMD)   

The FA20-35/4 zoom is a relatively new lens and could be considered an update to the 1980ís Pentax M24-35/3.5 zoom. The FA20-35/4 was released in 1998 and remained in production until a couple years ago.

For a zoom lens the FA20-35/4 has good optics, however itís not better than a prime lens with a focal length in its zoom range. My K20/4, K24/2.8, K24/3.5, K28/2, K28/3.5, K30/2.8, K35/2 & K35/3.5 all have better optics and less distortion. Used on a FF film body the FA20-35/4 does have noticeable corner distortion, a cropped DSLR will hide some of these issues.

Focal Range:
The best thing about the FA20-35/4 is its focal range on film, as it covers the end of the ultra wide range and the entire regular wide angle range. This makes the FA20-35/4 a great traveling option for me if I only want to take one wide angle lens on a trip. On APS-C this lens looses some of it usefulness and is just another wide to normal zoom.

While itís nice that the FA20-35/4 only weighs 245 grams and is camera bag friendly, there is a resulting trade-off. Everything on this lens is made of plastic except the metal lens mount. At least the finish is not that easily scratched silver one that was used on many FA zooms and it should hold up over the years.

Manually focusing the FA20-35/4 is a bit awkward, as the focusing ring is smooth, narrow and is right under the filter thread. Your fingers naturally gravitate towards the zoom ring which is much wider and has a more bumpy texture. I donít have a camera body that supports auto focusing, so I canít comment on that feature. I prefer a push/pull zoom design, which would have made things much simpler than using this two touch lens. The FA20-35/4 has a 58mm filter thread,

One weird thing about the FA20-35/4 is that there is no half stop aperture (F/13.5) between F/11 and F/16. This is the first Pentax lens that I have seen where you only have F11, F16 then F22, strange and annoying!

The FA20-35/4 has a modern tulip style bayonet lens hood (PH-RBA 58mm), which fits around the end of the lens and does not touch the filter thread. The hood also has a removable window so you can turn a mounted polarizer filter. The FA20-35/4 comes with the S90-100 soft lens case, which has enough room to also hold the hood.

F4 is too slow for me and the FA20-35 should have been at least an F3.5, like the M24-35. Pentax really should have turned this into an F* 20-35/2.8 zoom, with better optics and build. Then we might have a classic zoom lens on our hands. At least the FA20-35 is a constant aperture zoom, which I like much better than the variable ones.

The FA20-35/4 vs the M24-35/3.5:
I also own the older M24-35/3.5 zoom and this is how I rate the winner in various categories:

- Optics: Tie
- Focal Range: FA20-35/4
- Build: M24-35/3.5
- Usage/Handling: Tie
- Speed: M24-35/3.5

Iím a bit disappointed with the FA20-35/4, as I though it would be much better than the older M24-35/3.5. In reality the FA20-35/4 is only better in the focal range and I prefer the M24-35/3.5 overall.

As a film only shooter, Iíll use this zoom as my wide angle lens when I want to travel light. Itís not as good optically as my K series primes in this focal range, but good enough when you want the convenience of only one lens. I would have given the FA20-35 a 9 if its handling was better and it was faster.

Overall I rate the FA20-35/4 an 8.5, the same as what I gave my M24-35/3.5

Sample shots taken with the FA20-35/4. Photos are medium resolution scans from original slides or negatives

Camera: K2 Film: Fuji Sensia 100 ISO: 100

Camera: KM Film: Adox Silvermax ISO: 100

Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2008
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Posts: 11,588

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: January 25, 2015 Recommended | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Compact, sharp, great rendering
Cons: ummmmm... not built like a tank?

I can't add much to the previous reviews--it's just a wonderful little lens. I was unaware of its existence until quite recently but quickly decided I had to get me one. I was right: it's going to get a lot of use--because it's so easy to carry and because it delivers the shots.

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