Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
Log in or register to remove ads.

Pentax Lens Review Database » Film Era Pentax K-Mount Lenses » FA J Zoom Lenses
SMC Pentax-FA J 18-35mm F4-5.6 Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-FA J 18-35mm F4-5.6

Reviews Views Date of last review
28 107,633 Tue July 11, 2023
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $118.58 7.96
SMC Pentax-FA J 18-35mm F4-5.6

SMC Pentax-FA J 18-35mm F4-5.6
SMC Pentax-FA J 18-35mm F4-5.6

This wide-angle zoom lens features full-frame coverage.

On digital bodies, the DA 18-55mm kit lens offers a better zoom range and slightly faster speed.

SMC Pentax-FA J 18-35mm F4-5.6 AL
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Automatic, 6 blades
12 elements, 10 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
AF (screwdrive)
Min. Focus
28 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
67 mm
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 77-45 ° / 67-38 °
Full frame: 100-63 ° / 90-54 °
Lens Cap
Plastic clip-on
Weather Sealing
Other Features
Diam x Length
71 x 69 mm (2.8 x 2.7 in.)
203 g (7.2 oz.)
Production Years
2003 to 2006
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-FA J 1:4(22)-5.6(32) 18-35mm AL
Product Code
User reviews
One aspherical element.
Screwdrive AutofocusAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:

Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA J 18-35mm F4-5.6
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 28
New Member

Registered: May, 2023
Posts: 22
Review Date: July 11, 2023 Recommended | Price: $160.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very light and compact,filter can be mounted ,fast focus,sharp,cheap.
Cons: One negative only,the far far extreme corner even at f16 are not sharp.
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K1   

I bought this lens,and i am happy with it...there are many many positive and only 1 negative aspects.

-Filter can be mounted and the size is not that large,so the filter will cost less
-Its very sharp
-Very light and compact,pure joy to use it !
-Fast autofocus
-Very resistant to flare,amazing.

The one only negative:

-The extreme corners even at f16 does not get sharp,but its easy to fix in Post (Photoshop for example).But surprisingly at f18 are pretty ok

All in all,amazing lens for the money and in combination with K1,you have very light system.
New Member

Registered: February, 2014
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 20
Review Date: March 27, 2022 Recommended | Rating: N/A 

Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1 mark II   

My video review
New Member

Registered: December, 2018
Location: Barrie, Ontario
Posts: 4

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: February 19, 2022 Recommended | Price: $149.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very light, focus decent.
Cons: Some might say too slow. I would consider this a "plastic fantastic".
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 3    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-1ii   

If you are looking for a technically superior lens, this isn't the one. On the other hand, if you are looking for something that will take nice photos in good light, this is absolutely good value for money. It's good enough that I lost a copy and was willing to buy another one!

Registered: April, 2007
Location: Toronto/Victoria
Posts: 460

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 28, 2021 Recommended | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Decent sharpness, versatile range, light
Cons: Build quality, CA
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: K1 II   

This is actually not a bad ultrawide zoom on the K1. It is very light, filter diameter is only 67mm, and it supports all automatic functions (but no quickshift).

My copy is somewhat misaligned, but this has happened to me before and for the price paid ($100 CAD), it provides for good quality ultra wide images.

There's also quite a bit of green/purple lateral CA that can be corrected in post processing.

The images produced by the FA 20-35 are certainly more pleasing, but this lens is an inexpensive way to get very wide images that are probably OK for small-medium prints or online viewing.
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2013
Location: Canada
Posts: 198

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: May 23, 2020 Recommended | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: light, sharp, quick focus
Cons: plastic
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Camera Used: K1   

Got as a wide angle zoom for K1 mk II. surprised me on how good it was, overall very pleased but had to hunt down a hood.

Registered: July, 2011
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 1,494

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 31, 2019 Recommended | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Light weight nice wide angle of view in full frame
Cons: slight vignetting

I spent a month taking a photo a day with his lens for the single in challenge. I chose this lens as it has the honour or being the first Pentax lens designed for a digital SLR. Reviews are generally not very positive, I think perhaps some of the later FAJ kit zoom lenses may have lessened the perception of the FAJ lens designation. Coming as the kit lens with the horribly named *ist D camera. Whilst not being a DA lens as such it was optimised for the crop sensor of the APS-C sensor. Being an FA lens it does cover the full image sensor on the full frame K1 as well. Back when this lens was released super wide was considered 15mm and zoom lenses starting around 24-50mm were available, however not very common. The performance of the lens has surprised me in the ease of use and quality of the images. 18mm gives a nice wide view and most full frame film cameras used a 35mm lens as a standard traditionally in the point and shoot era. The sharpness falls off a little on the edges, however you have to go searching the image to find it.
There is slight vignetting that can occasionally show itself however it is easily eliminated in software. The minimum focal distance is close enough to get those close up wide angle shots. I think that for the price it is a bargain and more than adequate as a substitute for the 15-30mm 2.8.

Here are a few of my favourite images from the month

old yella by Gary Wakeling, on Flickr

selfie early by Gary Wakeling, on Flickr

bows by Gary Wakeling, on Flickr

old man tree close by Gary Wakeling, on Flickr
Forum Member

Registered: June, 2014
Posts: 58

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: October 18, 2019 Recommended | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: small, light, affordable
Cons: soft on the edges
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Z-1P, K-S1   

I bought this lens to use exclusively on film. It's the only Pentax wide zoom capable of working with film cameras. There are a couple of wider options from Sigma, but they are rare and expensive.

This lens isn't good enough for full frame digital. On K-1, the centre is pretty sharp, but the edges are terribly soft with strong vignetting. Film is much more forgiving. Still the lens must be stopped down to F11-13 to get acceptable corner sharpness. Not a huge problem usually, on wide angle shots, there is nothing significant in the corners anyway.

On APSC digital, this lens beats the 18-55mm kit zoom at wide angles. However, it isn't a very good walkaround lens due to its short range.

The autofocus works properly on K-S1 and occasionally misses focus on Z-1P. CA are strong but correctable. There is some geometric distortion, not too terrible.

The lens is surprisingly small and light, just like the kit zoom. For such a lightweight lens the plastic mount is not a problem. However, the small size comes with a drawback. It's a dim lens the viewfinder image looks dark as if the lens is constantly stopped down.

Overall not a great lens, but nice affordable wide angle option for film shooters.

Here are a couple of samples shot on Kodak ColorPlus 200 film.

Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2018
Location: Quebec City, Quebec
Posts: 5,855

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 6, 2019 Recommended | Price: $170.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Quite good at middle apertures on an APSC sensor.
Cons: Made entirely of plastic (even the bayonet mount).
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    Camera Used: Pentax K10, K20, K5   

This little FA J zoom has always performed well above its "so-so" reputation. Sharpness and contrast are very good at middle apertures.
The only thing I don't like is its "all plastic" construction, down to the bayonet mount. In spite of this, it seems to hold up quite well.


Registered: October, 2011
Location: British Columbia
Posts: 374

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 3, 2018 Recommended | Price: $125.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Weight, can take filters, has AF
Cons: Wide open performance
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-1, K-5   

This lens is more or less an optical shoulder shrug. It likely won't knock your socks off when you pixel peep, but it is still fairly good for landscapes and architecture around f/8-11. I appreciate its lightness when I go hiking and the fact that I can mount ND filters directly to the lens without any extra paraphernalia to lug around (I'm looking at you Samyang / Irix / Pentax D-FA 15-30MM). Perhaps an obvious point to make is that it will open up creative opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach if you can't afford the modern Pentax gear.

Wide open on the K-1 the lens is somewhat soft all over when cropped to 100%. Around f/8 it is a decent performer.

This lens really has no purpose on APS-c, given that the newer weather sealed 18-55mm kit lenses are smaller, have marginally better IQ, are weather sealed, and generally can be found more easily and cheaply second-hand relative to this lens. So, I will only comment on its performance on fullframe.

Distortion remains apparent throughout the zoom range and likely reduces apparent sharpness of this lens; however, the distortion is more or less "pin-cushion" distortion and is mostly correctable in post. As a comparison, the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 is much more difficult to correct due to its "mustache" distortion but sharper wide open up to f/8. I have copies of both lenses.

Flare, in my experience is more of the veiling type rather than the ghosting type. Overall it is about par for the course in the ultra-wide category.

If you're curious about getting into Ultrawide photography without breaking the bank, you'll not find a better deal than the FA-J 18-35mm. If price is no consideration the 15-30mm f/2.8 is by far the better option.
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 5,079

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: October 18, 2017 Recommended | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Ultra-wide focal length, good sharpness, great value.
Cons: Build quality and distortion.
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 5    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Z-1p and MZ-L   

I bought this lens in 2010, primarily for use with 35mm film. I now feel that I have used the lens enough to give a fairly objective review of the lens.

A persons feelings about any lens will almost always be somewhat affected by their perceived value of the lens. If I pay $600 for a lens, I will have much higher expectations from that lens than I would from a $100 lens. That being said, the SMC Pentax-FAJ 18-35mm represents (to me) both tremendous value, and actually a very good lens that will continually deliver good results.
It also falls very much into the "you get what you pay for" category. For the $100 or so it will cost you, you can't really expect things like FA limited build quality and a f/2.8 aperture.
What you get is a plastic-fantastic, fullframe capable ultra-wide angle zoom, that is decently sharp, has manageable distortion at 18mm, and has great colors and contrast.

This photo was shot at 18mm and f/5.6, using my Pentax Z-1p and Kodak Elitechrome 100 slide film. The slide was scanned at 4000dpi with a Nikon Coolscan V ED. 100% crop from the original scan below.
Untitled by Colton Allen, on Flickr

Here's a Flickr album with more of my photos taken with the lens. All on 35mm film.
Loyal Site Supportaxian

Registered: September, 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 503

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: October 11, 2016 Recommended | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Featherweight, Inexpensive, Full-Frame, Ultrawide
Cons: Moderate IQ, Scarce, FA-J

This review is written with Full-frame in mind. There are far better kit lenses for aps-c and I would not recommend this for aps-c.

This is not a high-performing lens, but that's OK, you wouldn't expect a lens this inexpensive, lightweight, and small(ish) to be. It's unique, that's for sure. An ultra-wide zoom at a dirt cheap price.

Fairly Good color rendering... Reds are bold and blues are slighly odd, but not too bad. reasonable center sharpness. Bad corner sharpness and corner CA. Moderate Contrast/Accutance.

Did I mention how light it is? It's what won me over: it's a great ultrawide walkaround. It's soooo convenient to throw in the bag compared to the heavier high-performers. It's a great vacation utility companion to the D FA 28-105. and you won't shed too many tears if something unfortunate happens to it on vacation... well, until you go to find another one, they're scarce!
Senior Member

Registered: November, 2006
Location: Germany
Posts: 127

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: May 31, 2016 Recommended | Price: $160.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Leight weight, cheap
Cons: Corner softness
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-1   

Considered its price a nice enough FF lens, if one knows how to deal with it. Corner softness is quite awful up to f8, slightly better starting with f11. Distortion is quite hilarious if uncorrected, but corrected no problem. Same goes for vignetting, especially wide open. CA is there, but can be eliminated in RAW processing.

Sharpness (not in the corners ...), contrast and color rendering is surprisingly good IMO.

Here a nice trick: take a pic at 18mm, crop it to a view of 20mm - and you get a 30MP file on the K-1 with good corner-to-corner sharpness, even wide open.

Got my copy without FF-compatible hood - beware! - but to my delight the hood supplied with my DA16-45 is also sold by Pentax for the FA J 18-35 - fits like a glove, not vignetting at WA.

Here for illustration purposes a brickwall shot without correction profile:

The same with a self made profile applied - renders the lens quite useful:

If you're interested in the LR/ACR profiles (both JPG and RAW) you can download a zip here:
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2007
Location: Prague
Posts: 1,199

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: May 30, 2016 Recommended | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: cheap, small, light
Cons: edge and corner IQ
Sharpness: 5    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1   

One must not expect miracles with this cheapo wideangle.
If you care about sharp image across the frame of the K-1 sensor, you won't ever really get it. Even stopped down to f16, where the diffraction takes its toll, the corner sharpness is not easily achieved. The performance improves as you zoom in, but pass 24mm you get to the region where this lens meets tough competition of other zooms and primes, usually better ones.
You can get some usable shots with focus stacking and carefull manual focusing in live view. But that means a tripod is necessary and that defeats the advantage of light weight wide angle in the first place.
The aberations are there, but easily removed in computer. Not an issue in the end. Also the bokeh is almost decent, provided you can bare the hexagonal aperture shape.
At least the lens is cheap and lightweight, so if you decide to get it, there is good chance you will actually take it with you and shoot it, for example as a complement to the not too wide DFA28-105 kit lens.
I can recommend this lens if the new 15-30/2.8 is either too large or too expensive. But I hope more wide angle offerings will appear for the K-1 soon.
Junior Member

Registered: July, 2012
Location: Perth, Australia
Posts: 30

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: May 29, 2016 Recommended | Price: $160.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Super lightweight, wideangle for FF, good centre performance
Cons: bad out wide on FF, slow aperture, cheap manufacture
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 4    Bokeh: 5    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 6    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K1   

Found a new in box lens on the shelf of the store I purchased my K1 from.

As I had crop lenses, this wouldn't have made sense but suddenly became important.....

Extremely good sharpness in the center 70% when focus is nailed, before it starts going pear shaped at the edges at 18mm. However another attempt at f11 the other day and focusing in the first third in pixel shift mode improved things a lot. Now i found mushiness in the far extremes. As has been said above, take image, crop and you'll have a sharp image edge to edge.

When I tried pixel shift (K1) at night, provided excellent results on a tripod.

If your struggling for a FF wide angle, its a cheeky little lens that performs way above it's asking price. Centre,

I found a few struggles nailing absolute sharpness, but when it hit, centre was very good for an old plastic.

Typical Pentax flare resistance and nice light point stars wile night shooting.

Needed a little nudge on the sharpening in Lightroom but responded well.

Let's put it this way ..... $AUD2000 for a new HD FA 15-30 or $AUD200 for a new FA J 18-35 and less for a good used version. WELL WORTH EVERY CENT.

Veteran Member

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Nevada, USA
Posts: 3,348

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: October 19, 2015 Recommended | Price: $70.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Small, lightweight, sharp center, quick focus
Cons: Lightweight, softer corners, plastic mount
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-3 and various film bodies   

I bought this lens to use on both film and digital bodies. Film requires a large image circle projected from the lens and none of the DA lenses can do this. This lens is fully compatible with APS digital bodies like the K-30 and K-3.

  • This lens is light and will not weigh you down.
  • Being a f/4 lens means the front element is not ginormous.
  • The depth of field wide open is enormous when focusing at moderate to distant objects. Shoot at f/8 and it's near infinite at wide angles.
  • It is possible to focus much closer than what is marked on the focusing ring.
  • The center is very sharp if proper focus is achieved.
  • Generally very resistant to flare when shooting straight into the sun. Requires a boost in contrast though.
  • Great colors and contrast. This is typical of Pentax lenses.

  • Some may not care for the plastic mount.
  • There is no aperture ring so forget about using this on "vintage" cameras. You will need a more modern film camera that has Av, Tv, or Auto mode available. When using Tv mode adjust the shutter speed to get the aperture you want. Think backwards and it makes sense. Consider a PZ-20, a ZX-50, PZ-1, etc since these have Av mode.
  • If you don't have the OEM hood then finding a suitable replacement may not be easy.
  • Image is a little soft at 35mm but still usable.

  • Corners can be soft depending on what you photographing. Bending all those extreme light angles into focus is never easy.
  • f/4 is kind of slow and offers a huge depth of field. Autofocus may not be triggered when it ought to be. You may need to defocus the lens purposefully and retriever autofocus. Or, use manual focus if you can.
  • This is lens to use in good light.

This lens was never designed to be a premier tube of glass. It was a "kit lens" during the days of the *ist D. Larger, shaper, and faster alternatives from Sigma, Tamrom, and Tokina exist but they come with a hefty price tag. When I looked at online image samples from these other brand I did not feel the difference in the corners was worth paying 2 - 3 times what I could get this FA-J for. There ought to be more alternatives as the Pentax FF gains traction. Hopefully this will lower prices of other lenses if competition is good, right?

The real joy of this lens comes when it is used on film and FF offerings in this focal length are slim. The field of view is enormous as the lens swallows approximately 90 degrees of the view around you! Yes, the corners suffer from a lot of rectilinear distortion and they are a little soft when pixel peeping scanned film. That is to be expected. Again, modern equivalents in APS are available like the Tamron 10-20 and the like ... but get ready to pay for those millimeters.

Consider also what your target image is. Are you posting online for people to go pixel-peeping? Social media? 8"x12" prints? A proper 8"x12" print may only need 1600x2400, and even that's plenty for a great print. You can get a taste of the print by looking at an example in full screen mode on a 21" display. The 2 megapixel images will look great! What all this means is that you should be weary of cropping too much.

When used properly this lens is a joy to use and can challenge your creativity.

APS Samples:

by Boris, on Flickr

and ...

by Boris, on Flickr

Film Sample:

Shot on Kodak Ektar 100 loaded into a PZ-20

by Boris, on Flickr
Add Review of SMC Pentax-FA J 18-35mm F4-5.6

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:39 AM. | See also:, part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]