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HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR Review RSS Feed

HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR

Sharpness 
 9.4
Aberrations 
 8.3
Bokeh 
 7.8
Autofocus 
 9.0
Handling 
 8.0
Value 
 8.1
Reviews Views Date of last review
12 28,823 Tue April 25, 2017
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $1,427.20 9.18
HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR

HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR
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HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR
supersize
HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR
supersize
HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR
supersize

Description:

The HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR zoom lens was announced in February 2016. It complements the D FA 28-70mm F2.8 and the D FA* 70-200mm F2.8 zooms so that Pentax users have access to fast F2.8 pro level zoom lenses covering the entire range from 15 mm to 200 mm.

On a full frame DSLR the field of view covers that from extreme wide angle to moderate wide angle. The lens can also be used on DSLRs with an APS-C size sensor, but the field of view is much reduced. The smc Pentax-DA 12-24 mm F4 is the better (and much lighter) option for APS-C shooters although its field of view at the wide end on APS-C doesn't quite match the 15-30 mm on full frame.

The 15-30 mm zoom features nine rounded diaphragm blades for smooth Bokeh and it has a number of seals making it weather resistant. The front element is SP coated which helps repel water drops and grease. The lens also features Quick Shift. The lens hood is an integral part of the lens barrel and filters cannot be used due to the massive, protruding front element.

The lens has a built-in SDM autofocus motor and no provision for screw drive autofocus. Autofocus is thus available only with the K10D and K100D Super, and all newer cameras. The lens has no aperture ring and is primarily intended for use on DSLR cameras. It can be used, though, on film cameras that have P and Tv automation or where the aperture can be controlled by an e-dial on the camera. On film cameras focusing is manual only.

At 1040 g/36.7 oz. this lens is a bit heavy.


HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
No
Diaphragm
Automatic, 9 blades (rounded)
Optics
18 elements, 13 groups
Mount Variant
KAF3
Max. Aperture
F2.8
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
AF (in-lens motor)
SDM
Quick-shift
Yes
Min. Focus
28 cm
Max. Magnification
0.2x
Filter Size
Internal Focus
Yes
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 86-50 ° / 77-44 °
Full frame: 111-72 ° / 100-62 °
Hood
Built-in
Case
S120-160
Lens Cap
O-LW98A
Coating
HD,SP
Weather Sealing
Yes (WR)
Other Features
Internal Zoom
Diam x Length
98.5 x 143.5 mm (3.9 x 5.6 in.)
Weight
1040 g (36.7 oz.)
Production Years
2016 to Present
Pricing
$1367 USD current price
$1449 USD at launch
Engraved Name
HD Pentax-D FA 1:2.8 15-30mm ED SDM WR
Notes
No filter thread

Features:
Supersonic AutofocusQuick ShiftWeather SealedInternal FocusingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame Support
Purchase: Buy the HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR
In-Depth Review: Read our HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR in-depth review!



Add Review of HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR Buy the HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR
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Pentaxian

Registered: January, 2009
Location: East Bay Area, CA
Posts: 5,579
Lens Review Date: April 25, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,450.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: 1)fast aperture zoom 2)decent distortion correction 3)shifting hood
Cons: 1)expensive 2)heavy 3)filter use is a hassle
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 7    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K3II   

I bought this lens for my event/party/concert/walkaround shooting where changing primes might be a hassle. At that time, I was about to switch to the FF K-1, but for now have decided to stay with my K3II for my non-landscape work(I swear by 645Z for landscapes & product photography). The price was hard to swallow but the reviews show the Tamron branded 15-30 outperforming the Nikon 14-24/2.8 and others, an impressive feat.

The second copy I received was a good one - first was unacceptably soft all around.

I use my lens quite often for event work with few complaints. It would be nice to pop on a filter once in awhile, but I am not interested in investigating some big contraption for mounting square filters, so I'll pass.

Sharpness and image separation are very nice - I occasionally see an image with some nice 3D pop that impresses me. Bokeh is good for a zoom. I only rated it an 8 for bokeh because compared to a good prime, the bokeh is nothing special, but for a zoom, somewhat impressive.

I haven't seriously tried this lens for my wide field astrophotography yet, but looking forward to putting it through its paces soon and may amend my review.

I suspect this lens looks sharper on FF than APS-C, because on the K3II, the DFA 15-30 compares well at 15mm to the DA15 (due to the larger available apertures). Stopped down, the DA15 wins. At 21mm and 30mm, my DA21 and FA31 primes somewhat outperform this lens at all apertures. I would not expect a utility zoom to outperform the Limited primes, but be aware it does not(on K3II). I plan on renting the K-1 to compare them on FF soon. If sheer image quality is your need, be sure you have the FA31 in your bag.

I like that this lens is WR rated and has a mount gasket and ring sealing. That is important to support a total ecosystem of WR bodies.

OK, enough blabber and her are some sample pics, fairly processed.

Laupahoehoe Beach (Explore #55)
K3II & DFA15-30 @18mm

Big Island Blaze
K3II & DFA15-30 @15mm


K3II & DFA15-30 @18mm


K3II & DFA15-30 @ 30mm
   
Forum Member

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Central Plains of North America
Posts: 50

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 15, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,246.95 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: It's wide, sharp, low aberrations, relatively low distortion
Cons: It's ginormous
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   

I love this lens and feel like a fanboi, but I'm not alone--just read the bazillions of reviews of this lens with the Tamron badge. Ricoh did well to pluck this best of breed lens and offer it with Pentax labelling, coatings, and seals.

There's not a lot that I can add to all the other reviews (you can grow old reading them, there's so many), but can concur that the lens is super sharp (possibly better than the DFA 24-70), low in chromatic aberration and purple fringing (the only aberrations I easily recognize), and like the other Pentax D FA f/2.8 zoom offerings, enormous. I hate the size, but the performance makes it easy to overlook that.

So here's a few things I haven't seen emphasized in other reviews:

- Least important, but still fun--it's the only lens with the possible exception of my A* 600mm that anyone has ever commented to me about in public. The bulbous front element can't be ignored.

- It's the only lens I've ever owned that exhibits significant pincushion distortion--this is at the 30mm end, of course. If you favor brick walls as your creative muse, this might be a problem, but it probably would never be an issue for most other subjects. Mentioned as a point of interest, but not as any practical issue.

- Some have described this lens as being configured with internal zoom. If you count the fixed lens hood as part of the external dimensions, this would be 100% true. However, one would be missing the full story, which is quite interesting (to me, at least), and possibly not mentioned in any other review. At 30 mm, the front element is fully retracted, but zooming to 15 mm moves the front element forward. Although the overall length of the lens does not change due to the fixed lens hood, the effective coverage of that lens hood adapts to the focal length of the lens. When the front element is forward with the short focal length, the lens hood is shallow, and when the the front element is further back with the longer focal length, the lens hood is deeper. Ingenious.

These three items probably won't change anyone's purchase decision, but I mention them as things you might not come across in other reviews. The bottom line, though, as said one way or another by many others, if the price tag of this lens fits within your budget, it will not disappoint.
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2014
Location: St Petersburg
Posts: 355

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 15, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Build Quality, zero flare in test, Lenscal at Zero 0
Cons: Weight (no surprise)

Extensively used with LensCal and Yves' calibrators. At both ends of zoom range and using LensCal stand offs and Yves' lengths, all were dead zero +- .2. Incredible. My DA*s were not this good...

Colors, sats, MF in the field also Excellent++

Well Done Pentax!
   
Pentaxian

Registered: August, 2011
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 1,179

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 4, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,475.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharp, great focal range
Cons: size, weight, price, lack of filter threads
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 7    Value: 7    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   

If Pentax had a modern FF 15mm or 20mm f/4 prime, I wouldn't have bothered with this lens. However, I wasn't prepared to wait any longer for something that probably won't come anyway; I needed WIDE now. (The MF 3rd party primes don't appeal, though the Irix got close.)

Having said that, the D FA 15-30 is definitely a very good lens. Very sharp anywhere near frame centre, even at its supposed weak end (30mm). There is certainly nothing to complain about there.

For close-up work the background bokeh is surprisingly "dreamy", very unlike the DA15.

15mm, f/6.3


Generally, IQ across the frame is quite good, though placing a person at the edges at 15mm is asking for trouble; they look distorted, but that's par for the FL.

15mm, f/13


Once again, I find the long end perfectly satisfactory, even wide open.

30mm, f/2.8, iso3200


All in all, this is a very fine lens. It produces a certain look that is very different from the DA 15 on APS-C (my only other UWA lens). It will take me a little while to get used to it, and use this look to best advantage. But I am generally happy.

The elephant in the room though (an apt analogy) is its size, in particular its width. It is a genuine pain to fit in a camera bag, and so it may often be left at home. A lens that you don't have with you is a useless lens. The weight doesn't worry me as much.

Optically, this lens is a 10. However, I have taken off one point for size and cost.

The supplied soft bag is a bit disappointing for a lens in this price range. It's just a floppy soft bag with no attached belt loop or shoulder strap, making it inconvenient to carry.

UPDATE: ... but check out the rainbow (and other) flare on this, despite the sun being well out of shot! Bottom left but also top right, with an octagon in between. I guess the bulbous front element can catch them from anywhere, despite the (necessarily shallow) hood.

15mm, f/11
   
Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2016
Posts: 20

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 15, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, F2.8
Cons: size
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   

This is a very sharp lens even in low light and at the edges. It is large. When compared to the price, Fstop, speed to others on the market it is a great deal at the price I paid. I shot pictures in a lava tube with only headlamp lighting and got usable pictures in spite of the cold, damp, and dripping water. This speaks as well for the K-1 on which I used it. It is very sharp even wide open and has gotten some "Wows" on pictures I have posted and put on my website.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2007
Location: Yucaipa, CA
Posts: 10

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 7, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,450.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Color, rendering, AF, good flare resistance
Cons: Weight, size
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K-1   

I think that this being the wide angle offering Pentax came up with for the K-1 - a Tamron lens with HD coatings that people have not focused enough on how great this really is. I've always loved the Nikon 14-24mm and to have a lens for the first FF Pentax that would even come close would have been, in my mind just awesome. However the Pentax 15-30mm exceeds it! (There are numerous reviews that detail the comparison between the Nikkor and the Tamron - and that is without the excellent HD coatings.)

The price seems high - but not when you compare it with a Nikkor 14-24mm or a Canon 16-35mm, the Pentax really does compare and resulting images are excellent.

It is heavy, but not unruly on the K-1, though most of the time for me it sits on a tripod. Corners could be better wide open, but having said that, they still are superior to the Nikkor or the Canon.

If there was a way to install the 14-24mm Nikkor on the K-1 I would have done it in a heartbeat. For Pentax to supply a lens one step up the ladder is amazing.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2012
Location: Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Posts: 5,374

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 29, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Width, versatility, build quality, weather resistance
Cons: Size and weight
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   

It's big, heavy, and expensive, but as a one-stop wide shop in all conditions nothing else comes close. It just gets the job done.

Some photos (111 in fact) can be found in my flickr page HERE.
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2009
Location: Southern Indiana
Posts: 15,327

8 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 31, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Center Sharpness, Excellent Build
Cons: Large Size, Doesn't Accept Screw On Filters
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K1, Pentax K3   

The Pentax DFA 15-30 f2.8 lens is a Pentax version of a Tamron lens, the same as the DFA 24-70 f2.8. It is hard to say how much these lenses share, as the Tamron versions of this lens have optical image stabilization. In addition, it seems likely that this uses Pentax coatings rather than Tamron's coatings. This also means that the auto focus motor, while labeled as "SDM" is Tamron made and therefore (likely) more dependable.

The lens itself is an internal zoom lens with a very solid build. The lens is larger than the DFA 24-70 f2.8, both in length and in diameter. It has a (somewhat small) built in lens hood that may help a little bit, but not very much in real world situations. The biggest thing that the hood does is prevent the curved front element from being to easily scratched or bumped, as the front element is recessed inside a little bit. Pretty handy, since you can't put a screw on UV filter on the front of this lens if you are a paranoid sort of person.

Autofocus is silent and quite fast. Others have reported some issues with auto focus, but I have had no issues with it. In general, I have found that ultra-wide angle lenses, like this one, are much more prone to grabbing focus on a little different part of the scene from where the photographer intends. I haven't tried tracking anything with this lens and can't imagine the situation where I would want to do that. The focus throw is pretty short and manual focus is just average for modern auto focus lenses -- pretty similar to the other DA * and DFA lenses I have used, a significant step below the FA limiteds.

Of note, is that the zoom ring is more distant from the camera body while the focus ring is closer to the camera body, the same as the DFA 24-70 and DFA* 70-200, but different from past Pentax zoom lenses.

The lens is very sharp in the center from f2.8 on. Borders sharpen up around f5.6. Honestly, I wouldn't shoot many landscapes at f2.8 anyway, so this is not an issue. The lens does perform better at 15mm than at 30mm.

There is some veiling flare noted -- more at 30mm than at 15mm. This is no DA 15 limited. The lens is more likely to flare if a strong light source is just out of the frame -- more so than if you are shooting right into the sun.

Contrast is good and colors seem pretty consistent with other DA * lenses that I have used. Distortion at 15mm is present, but seems decent. There is almost no purple fringing with this lens and chromatic aberration in general is well controlled.

Overall, I am very pleased with this lens. The biggest negative for my style of shooting (mostly landscapes) is that the lens is really large and doesn't easily take filters. That said, there aren't many other options -- particularly not full frame from a Pentax perspective. On APS-C, there is the Sigma 8-16mm and Pentax DA 12-24, both of which are slower lenses. On full frame, there is the Samyang 14mm and soon to come out Irix 15mm f2.4. Sharpness is adequate stopped down and flare resistance is quite good, considering the size of the lens.

Here are some different shots with the DFA 15-30 on the K-1. Down the road, I will try to add some comparison shots with it and the DFA 24-70 and DFA * 70-200 to see size comparisons.

Salt Fork Lake by Vincent1825, on Flickr

Sunrise and Lily Pads by Vincent1825, on Flickr

Gazebo at Sunrise by Vincent1825, on Flickr

Sunrise by Vincent1825, on Flickr

Sunrise Salt Fork Lake by Vincent1825, on Flickr


Cabin Window by Vincent1825, on Flickr

Sunset by Vincent1825, on Flickr

30mm and f6.3

Gatlinburg Before Dawn by Vincent1825, on Flickr

As promised, here are a few shots comparing this lens to other lenses (for size comparison)

Against the FA 31 and DA 15 limited.

Pentax 15-30 by Vincent1825, on Flickr

Versus the other DFA zooms (15-30 is on the left).

Holy Trinity? by Vincent1825, on Flickr

Holy Trinity? by Vincent1825, on Flickr
   
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Antelope Valley, SoCal
Posts: 662

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 15, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,450.00 | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros: one of the very few full-frame wide angle zooms available
Cons: heavy, unbalanced, inability to easily use filters
Sharpness: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 4    Value: 7    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   

This is just a stub to give my immediate impressions as I have only had this less less than 24-hours. A more detailed personal review to follow as soon as I have had a chance to use it in the situations for which I purchased it.

My immediate impressions: This thing is HUGE! And HEAVY! Those of you familiar with the Tokina 28-80/2.8 . . . this thing is physically larger and heavier. The weight reminds me of my SIgma 70-200 and Sigma 100-300 lenses, but those are well balanced on the camera and are long enough to provide a 'hand hold' underneath to support them. This lens is so short, physically, that it does not feel natural to hold. It is also of a weight that it really should have a tripod mount. I can't imagine the tripod mount of any camera supporting the weight of this lens.

The distance scale and manual focus are 'backward' from what I am used to. Normally, on Pentax glass, the infinity stop is on the left. Not so this lens. That will take some getting used to.

Here is one quick shot I took a few minutes ago. The museum/room was pretty dim with only indirect lighting. Even though I shoot DNG and JPEG at the same time, this is the JPEG right out of the box. Absolutely nothing was done to the image other than sizing down from full resolution for web display. Shot mounted on a K-1 with lens set at 22mm focal length, Av, f/2.8, +1/2 EV. 1/10 of a second, hand held, center weighted average metering, and at ISO 3200. In the full resolution image, there is a very minor amount of noise, which could be easily cleaned up in post.

I'm happy with the initial results of this lens.

   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2016
Location: Saffron Walden, UK
Posts: 12

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 5, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros:
Cons:
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New   

Be careful with this lens. I thought my copy was soft at the edges until I realised it needed fine focus adjustment (C4, number 25 in the firmware menu of the K1), or alternatively use live view or manual focus. Once adjusted, it gives a fine account of itself, but if other copies of this lens are the same as this, it may account for reports of corner or edge softness.

Given this is a Tokina lens with the VR removed, the price for a Pentax brand stamp and weather resistant sealing is steep. Nonetheless, a good lens, worth buying - but beware those focus issues.
   
New Member

Registered: January, 2015
Posts: 4

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 16, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,800.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: very sharp
Cons: size
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 7    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   

In the center the lens is sharp wide open at all focal lengths. The extreme corners are a litte bit soft wide open, but very good when stopped down to 5,6.
Despite the big size of the front element, flare control is very good (there are some flares when the sun is at the side of the frame but other comparable lenses (e.g. the Pentax 12-24) are worser).

The size of the lens is "very impressive", but the handling at the K-1 is still ok.
Build quality is ok but not stellar.

If I could choose I would prefer for landscape work a much smaller ultra wide angle (f4, 14-24 mm).
Price in Europe ist too high compared to the Tamron Versions for Canon and Nikon.
Overall Rating ist between 9 and 10.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2010
Location: Missouri
Posts: 104

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 12, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,500.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: razer sharp center
Cons: soft edges, especially wide opened, size
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 7    Value: 7    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax k5, k1   

Most who purchase this lens will do so with the intention of using it at the 15mm end more so than the 30mm end. As such, the best direct competitor is the Samyang 14mm to which I will compare it to.

Sharpness in the center of the frame is spectacular. It easily bests my copy of the Samyang at all F stops.

The edges of the frame are a different story to which the prime takes the cakes. The Pentax is blown away in corner sharpness wide opened. Stopped down the difference is still there but less noticeable. It may be my copy is not centered properly but the difference between the center and edge sharpness is definitely more noticeable than with the Samyang.

Minimum focus distance is respectable, flare seems to be well controlled, and aberrations are similar to that of the Samyang.

It may not be fair to compare this to a prime but for at FF K mount there aren't too many other options on the ultra wide end. The lens is seriously great but in all honesty the only reason I would purchase it is if you have the budget to do so and will actually use it throughout the zoom range and/or need AF. On the wide end it does not offer any significant benefit over the Samyang from my initial testing. Further, it is over 3x the price, twice the weight, and MUCH larger. I plan on keeping it only for the the two reasons I mentioned above.

Of note, as with many similar UWA lenses there is no filter ring and specialty adapters must be purchased to use filters. This can be a deal breaker for some.

I do not have or know anyone who shoots Nikon but from the Tamron branded version of this lens most reviews say it is on par with Nikon's 14-24. If this is true of the Pentax version as well then this is certainly a lens to consider. It would be interesting to see a side by side comparison between the two.
Add Review of HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR Buy the HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8 ED SDM WR



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