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SMC Pentax 15mm F3.5

Sharpness 
 5.5
Aberrations 
 8.0
Bokeh 
 7.5
Handling 
 5.5
Value 
 5.0
Reviews Views Date of last review
12 55,389 Mon May 30, 2016
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
83% of reviewers $715.00 7.67
SMC Pentax 15mm F3.5

SMC Pentax 15mm F3.5
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SMC Pentax 15mm F3.5

Description:
The SMC Pentax 15mm provides the largest rectilinear, full-frame field-of-view ever delivered by Pentax. Horizontally, 100 degrees can be captured by this heavy yet relatively compact lens. It features 4 built-in filters since no front thread is present.


Initially this lens was produced using a slightly lighter optical formula employing an Aspherical Element (AL). This version was quickly taken out of production by Pentax, probably due to cost of manufacturing, and only few of these lenses exist today.

The spherical version of this lens came in two optically identical variants, but with different engraved names: SMC PENTAX 1:3.5/15 (early variant) or smc PENTAX 1:3.5 15mm (later variant)

SMC Pentax 15mm F3.5
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Yes (no A setting)
Diaphragm
Automatic, 6 blades
Optics
13 elements, 12 groups
Mount Variant
K
Max. Aperture
F3.5
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
Manual
Min. Focus
30 cm
Max. Magnification
0.06x
Filter Size
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 88 ° / 77 °
Full frame: 111 ° / 100 °
Hood
Built-in
Case
Dedicated hard case
Lens Cap
Dedicated metal push-on
Coating
SMC
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Built-in Filters
Diam x Length
80 x 81.5 mm
Weight
600 g
Production Years
1975 to 1984
Engraved Name
SMC PENTAX 1:3.5/15 (early variant) or smc PENTAX 1:3.5 15mm (later variant)
Product Code
22040
Notes
Built-in filters: Skylight, UV, yellow, orange.

Initially this lens was produced using a slightly lighter optical formula employing an Aspherical Element (AL). This version was quickly taken out of production by Pentax, probably due to cost of manufacturing, and only few of these lenses exist today.

The spherical version of this lens came in two optically identical variants, but with different engraved names: SMC PENTAX 1:3.5/15 (early variant) or smc PENTAX 1:3.5 15mm (later variant).
Features:
Manual FocusBuilt-in HoodAperture RingFull-Frame SupportDiscontinued
Price History:



Add Review of SMC Pentax 15mm F3.5
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-12 of 12
New Member

Registered: May, 2016
Posts: 9
Lens Review Date: May 30, 2016 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: N/A | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: incredible FOV in FF
Cons: expensive, heavy, bulky, exposed front element, flare
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 3    Value: 5    Camera Used: K2, MX   

Had this lens back in the 80s... and sold it after 3 weeks
As people said before, this lens is slow to handle and should not be used more open than f8. Otherwise you just get ugly dragged corners at pretty low resolution. Only invest in this lens if you REALLY need the incredible field of view in FF. Take your time for perfect compositions, otherwise pictures will simply look "overdone". And never place people outside the centre, distortions will just kill them...
This lens will mainly add stress to your life. It is hard to carry around and you will be in constant panic of ruining that exposed front lens picking up all the flare in the world. Normally you don't want that
   
New Member

Registered: May, 2012
Posts: 14
Lens Review Date: November 8, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 5 

 
Pros:
Cons:
Sharpness: 5    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 5    Camera Used: K-5   

Very disappointed with this lens. I had the version with the aspherical glass, really nice piece of engineering. Probably a great lens on film cameras, but when tested on a K-5 or K-20 results were disappointing.

Color rendition and contrast was really nice but it was lacking of sharpness. Even at F8 it couldn't match my DA 16-45. Besides, sharpness was acceptable in the center but towards the sides it was already very bad, and in the edges even worse.

At the beginning I thought something was wrong with my lens. After comparing it with some test pictures from another unit I came to the same conclusions.

So forget about it in digital unless you want to have it as a colector.
   
Forum Member

Registered: March, 2010
Posts: 72

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 5, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $675.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Excellent IQ
Cons: Heavy

In terms of pedigree, it should be taken into account that the K15/3.5 came out of a collaboration with Zeiss that also produced the famous K28/2.0. Except for variations in the use of aspherical elements (see http://www.marcocavina.com/articoli_fotografici/15mm_Zeiss_Pentax/00_pag.htm) the optical formula of K15/3.5 is identical to that of Zeiss Distagon 15mm f/3.5, and hence also to that of Leica Super-Elmar-R 15mm f/3.5, which uses the Zeiss design. In other words, K15/3.5 is playing in premier league.

I have been able to compare K15 directly with Sigma 10-20, and indirectly with DA 12-24 (indirectly in the sense that I no longer own it, but can compare pictures of the same subject). My impressions are as follows.

1) K15 has the highest resolution, specifically also off-center. This holds true both with regard to Sigma 10-20 and with regard to DA 12-24.
2) Distortion is better controlled on K15 than on Sigma 10-20. (For DA 12-24, I cannot say on the basis of my pictures.)
3) Flare control is more difficult on K15 than on the younger lenses.
4) Metering on K15 is accurate on lower f-values but may need to be adjusted on higher f-values. (I am not sure whether this might have something to do with my Katz' Eye focusing screen.)
5) Colour reproduction on K15 is excellent, but like with most K series lenses, white balance will often need to be manually adjusted. Like with most older lenses, CA occurs, but I would say less so than e.g. on K20/4.0.

Overall, K15 is an outstanding lens for Slow Photography: if you don't mind carrying a tripod and a weighty lens, and spending some time to choose the optimal settings and compose your images, then K15 will reward you with top-tier image quality. But if you want to pack light and shoot fast, DA 15 or Sigma 10-20 might be more appropriate.

PS The price mentioned is a euro-dollar conversion as of early 2010.
   
New Member

Registered: January, 2011
Location: Salon de Provence

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 30, 2011 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $900.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Metal construction, beautyful colors and contrast
Cons: Poor resolution up to F8, prompt to flaire

Hello !
This optics is irreplaceable on a argentic camera. On a DSLR,it is different:
In the first place, the necessary resolution (80 CL/mm) is reached only at F8.
Secondly, this objective is very prompt to flaire, and the new Pentax DA wide angles make much better (but they are also expensive) !
Colors and contrast are magnificent, as almost all Pentax primes. Nevertheless, I recommend it only for a fascinated collector!
   
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 5,124
Lens Review Date: December 18, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Angle of view on a film camera. Looks and build. Built-in filters.
Cons: Size, exposed front lens element.
Camera Used: K Series film bodies (K1000, KM, KX, K2, K2DMD)   

The K15/3.5 came out of a joint collaboration between Pentax and Carl Zeiss. (The K28/2 was the other lens they created.) The original version the "K15/3.5 AL" had aspherical elements which helped reduce aberrations. The aspherical design was replaced with the more common spherical "K15/3.5" in late 1975 and this design carried on into the A series version "A15/3.5". There was also a screw mount Takumar version of this lens.

The K15/3.5 is also a rectilinear lens, so it has no distortion like a fish-eye. The angle of view of this lens on a film camera is a whopping, 111 degrees!! You can get amazing landscape shots or stand across the street from a wide object and get it all in your shot. I donít recommend this lens for taking vertical pictures of skyscrapers, as you get too much street in the shot and the building will look like it is falling over. The K28/3.5 Shift is much better for architectural shots.

The K15/3.5 is quite sharp and is fine for daylight shooting situations. The built-in lens hood is not very good protection for the protruding front lens element and neither is the metal slip-on lens cap. (It falls off a lot) This lens has built-in filters for colour and B&W film and no filter thread. The look of this lens is second to none and the build is excellent.

A head to head comparison of the various versions of this lens would be interesting. I used to own the A15/3.5 and now have the K15/3.5AL, they are very similar so I canít say which is better. I do prefer the K series version, as I had no use for the ďAĒ contacts of the A15/3.5. (I only use K series film bodies)

I like this lens very much, but if I had to choose between the K15/3.5 and the K18/3.5, I would pick the K18/3.5 It is equally sharp, has built in filters and it has a proper clip-on lens hood. The K18/3.5 is also much smaller and half the weight.

Sample shots taken with the K15/3.5. Photos are medium resolution scans from original slides.

Camera: KM Film: Fuji Velvia 100 ISO: 100





Camera: KX Film: Fuji Velvia 100 ISO: 100

   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2009
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Posts: 3,295

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 15, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build, clarity,
Cons: Heavy, finicky

One of the greats. I'm lucky enough to have the aspherical. With it's range and bowed front element....you will usually have to watch for flare.....but I shield it with my hand and seems to work...

I regret selling my copy after looking back at the pictures it took, so I just picked up a replacement. It might be an oddity, but it is worth it.
   
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 235
Lens Review Date: September 22, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Speed, built-in filters, weirdness
Cons: Weight, enormous exposed front element

If this lens were more ordinary, I would give it an 8. But it gets an extra point for its dramatic appearance, incredibly sturdy construction, built-in filters, and my general astonishment that it even exists.

The lens is fairly soft at the corners and is extremely prone to flare, but it offers better detail and contrast at the center than, say, the Sigma 10-20mm. I'm lucky to have found the aspherical version, at a price that, if I told you what it was, you would come to my house and stab me out of spite. There is some barrel distortion, but if you're shooting digital, it's a cinch to remove it in Photoshop, if it bothers you. On a small camera (like my ME Super), it feels a bit unbalanced, but if feels great on the K20D, and works well on that camera in manual/green button mode. I find it overexposes on the K20D and have been setting the EV to -1.

Mine didn't come with a front cap, and since a deep enough 80mm press-on one is a hard thing to find, let me give you some advice: if you take a cat food tin, clean it thoroughly, and line it with adhesive felt, it fits perfectly.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2008
Location: London
Posts: 418
Lens Review Date: August 4, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: excellent build, beautiful lens
Cons: mine doesn't work

This is a beautiful lens. Rare, excellent build quality, with convenient black and white filters built in.

Mine has experienced some problems though. Firstly its getting continually misty to the point where it is now unuseable. Not a moisture problem, i reckon a piece of glass is out of place, theres dust or something is growing in it. Also the rubber from the focus ring isnt well fixed, once the glue degrades it slips around all over the place.

Amazing lens, its a shame mine isnt in the best quality. If you can find one in good condition i really really envy you. It would be perfect for digital
   
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2007
Location: SouthWest "Regio"
Posts: 3,303
Lens Review Date: January 18, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: superb built, integrated filter wheel, sharp and contrasty
Cons: very prone to flring

This was a lens I dreamed about for years - then I finally I found a used one at KEH, which I could afford. Built is great, as with all K-lenses. It is on the heavy side, compared even to the 15-30 mm Sigma zoom. But image quality is superb: sharp and contrasty, even wide open. What I did not expect is the heavy flaring, because I somehow thought, the smc coating would do better. In this one respect even the Sigma zoom outdoes the old Pentax lens (may be the newer A-version is better in this respect?)

Nevertheless I carry the Pentax 15 mm with me most of the time and the Sigma stays at home usually. I can only recommend it, but avoid shooting into the sun.
   
Inactive Account

Registered: October, 2007
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 24
Lens Review Date: October 30, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Tack sharp. Excellent low-light use
Cons: Heavy. Hard to protect lens

This is the A version of this lens. Extremely rare. Less than 100 were made.
   
New Member

Registered: February, 2007
Location: Oslo, Norway
Posts: 10
Lens Review Date: April 17, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Image quality is great, good flare control
Cons: big, easy to get scratches on front lens element

I read some where that this lens is not good for digital -That is not true, at least it is clearly a better performer than the kit lens at 18mm. It also performs better on digital than my other superwide the 20/4

You will get hexagonal shapes in the picture if you have the sun near the field of view.
   
Administrator
Site Webmaster

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Arizona
Posts: 40,979
Lens Review Date: January 7, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $600.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Stunning FOV, Interesting look
Cons: A bit heavy

This lens is rare, but it surfaces on eBay from time to time. It is invaluable on film bodies, but not so useful on crop DSLR's because Pentax produced the DA 12-24 and DA 14 lenses, both of which are better optically.

I still know one thing: I'll never part with it.
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