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HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited Review RSS Feed

HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited

Reviews Views Date of last review
17 127,473 Sat July 30, 2022
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
88% of reviewers $440.84 9.18
HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited

HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited

The HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited is a compact "pancake" lens designed for use on Pentax DSLRs only.

This lens features Pentax's latest "HD" nano coating and is available in both black and silver for $699.95.

HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Automatic, 7 blades (rounded)
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 case
Lens Cap
Dedicated metal push-on
Weather Sealing
Other Features
Diam x Length
63 x 25 mm (2.5 x 1 in.)
134 g (4.2 oz.)
w/ Hood: +15g
Production Years
2013 to present (in production)
$496 USD current price
Engraved Name
HD PENTAX-DA 1:3.2 21mm AL Limited
Product Code
21410 (black), 21420 (silver)
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 Only
Purchase: Buy the HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
In-Depth Review: Read our HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited in-depth review!
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos
Price History:

Add Review of HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited Buy the HD Pentax-DA 21mm F3.2 Limited
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 17
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2016
Location: Paris
Posts: 121

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: July 30, 2022 Recommended | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, size, hood, AF
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: KP, K1ii   

Pentax Little Gem.
This lens is versatile and amazing for street photography.
Use it with a Pentax KP for city outdoor stuff and even used it on a K1ii in ff mode for a trip where size and weight mattered (corner to corner on FF would say a 22,5mm equivalent). On the K1 don't forget to use it without the hood !

I love the tricky hood it comes with. It avoids fingers to slip on the front lens when manual focusing for example.
If you install like i did a 43mm good protector filter it helps prevent more the typcial optical flaws of every lens.
The hood is also very nice for inserting 43mm ND filters (which, in 43mm, come cheap!).

If you find it unsharp try some in-camera AF micro adjustements or service your camera or return the lens for another copy ?
If you find the 3.2 limiting, buy a bigger, heavier, less discrete and more expensive 2.8 ?
Coming from lots of large & medium format photo, i find this little lens in combination with a Aps-c or FF simply amazing.
Forum Member

Registered: October, 2018
Posts: 58

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 5, 2021 Not Recommended | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Build quality
Cons: Not sharp, purple fringing, weak edges and corners.
Sharpness: 5    Aberrations: 4    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 5    Handling: 8    Value: 6    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K70 KP   

I am really disappointed with this lens. On two cameras I am unable to achieve anything approaching adequate sharpness, even using AF fine tuning. The amount of purple fringing around high contrast areas (such as tree branches) is the worst I have experienced in long time. The edges and corners of images taken with this lens are a blurry mess, even stopped down. My film era FA 28mm lens and my 16-85 zoom at 21mm both produce significantly better results.
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2020
Location: Wrocław
Posts: 28

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 13, 2020 Recommended | Price: $312.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: size, AF speed, image quality, sharpness equality, universal filter size (49mm)
Cons: distortion and vignetting
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K50   

I used to own this lens for a couple of weeks. I have bought this lens because I finally understood what Limiteds really are about - uncompromising image quality in small lens size. This lens defines the whole Limited range - noone who knows this assumption will care about lame 3.2 aperture value. It's not the point.
This is perfect street fotography lens with fast screw-drive AF (I use K50 with very lame AF) and unobtrusive size. Image quality is already superb, beautiful colors and sharpness from edge to edge in maximum aperture. It upgrade to perfect, very sharp edge to edge after stopping down. I've compared it with HD 15/4 limited and that second lens is slightly better in the center, but poor on the edges. It is also to wide for me in street actions.
Because of its focal lenght, I usualy use it in Av mode, constantly on f/8.0 of f9.5 with ISO 100-200 without any worries that the image will be blurred due to long exposure time (at 1/20s is still very good).
I'm happy from the results and sharpness.
The only drawbacks is very rarely noticible abberations (in you look at your images at 1:1 magnifications) and heavy distortion and vignetting, but if you use LR, you can easly fix it.
Below sample image straight from the body.
at f/6.7
at f/8.0
at f/8.0
New Member

Registered: January, 2010
Posts: 23

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: April 26, 2019 Not Recommended | Price: $360.00 | Rating: 4 

Pros: Almost none
Cons: Slow, not sharp and soft corner even stopping down, CA
Sharpness: 5    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 6    Value: 3    New or Used: New    Camera Used: k30   

First of all, the design concept of this lens is wrong. How would a company design and manufacture a prime lens almost as slow as a standard zoom kit lens. F3.2. Are you kidding? If this lens has the razor sharpness, it will be a different story. However, its center is dull. The edge and corner are soft, even stopping down. The CA is unbelievably severe. Bokeh is busy. The tiny focus ring in the front makes it difficult to turn for a person with large thumbs/figures. The focus ring, when turning, is having wheezing noise, making it fairly annoying for videotaping. With these "unique" characteristics, the price should have gone down to $50 instead of $360, and even with the reduced price, I would still prefer the 18-55 kit lens.

I do not rule out the possibility of this being a bad copy but chance is slim imo simply because Pentax is not notorious for poor quality control like others. If this is not a bad copy, I am not sure how the rest of gangs give such a high remark. Perfect 10 in sharpness? The pictures shown here are not even good. The opticalLimits rates this lens as a 3-star lens (out of 5) and I think is overrated too. It should have been 2 stars. Anyway, the bottom line is that it is a completely wrong concept to design and manufacture a modern prime lens as slow as the kit lens. The closely price matched competitor such as Sigma 30mm f1.4 C is a best example that a modern prime should be. It is fast and sharp from wide open. Shameful for what has been done by a reputable lens/camera company. Shameful too for what the lens has been highly rated by many royal pentaxian. Users are likely misguided / misled by the rating published here.
Junior Member

Registered: March, 2017
Location: Vienna
Posts: 27

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: February 18, 2019 Recommended | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: very sharp, size,rendering
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K3   

this is my first limited lens and i am very impressed from the build Quality. It´s so small an light so this lens is perfect for street photography and also for architecture. Very good sharpness when stopped down @ 5.6 - 8.0.The moderate wide angle of 31,5 mm is perfect for quite all purpose.
New Member

Registered: July, 2008
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 3

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: September 21, 2018 Recommended | Price: $429.95 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Wide Angle Rendering
Cons: N/A
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-50 K-3II   

Pentax HD PENTAX-DA 21mm f/3.2 AL (black)
A high quality Limited build, lightweight pancake, moderate wide angle, has useful 35mm equivalent of 31.5mm.
Excellent sharpness when stopped down @ f/5.6 - f/8.
Manual focus has smooth, accurate, extremely short rotation. The fast auto focus, is with slight audible noise, but has desirable quick shift manual.
Uses 49mm filters without hood, but the efficient & ingenious Voigtländer style lens shade which accommodates 43mm filters keeps the profile small.
Appears to have very good resistance to flare. The lens has some illumination fall off, but not noticeable at about f/5.6. This may be partially a result of fairly high barrel distortion.
Dedicated to close focus magnification the lens is only adequate for some subjects.
Bokeh obtained at wide aperture has attractive soft focus quality.
The design of the 8 elements contribute seamlessly to stopped down scene overall sharpness to infinity as desired.
Color accuracy is superb. 3d rendering is charming & character is unique.

Registered: May, 2016
Posts: 3,712

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 25, 2018 Recommended | Rating: 10 

Pros: size, rendering, lens hood
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K3ii   

I had the smc version, sold it only to realize after just how much I was using it, then go the hd version a long while after. I don't buy and sell that many lenses, but this is the only one I bought again.

The lens is as sharp as I'll ever need, with beautiful rendering, close focus, and it's a very useful focal length.

The hood makes it easy to walk around with it without worrying about the front element getting damaged or dirty, but it's also compact and not a clumsy add-on (similar to the other limited lenses).
Forum Member

Registered: June, 2016
Location: Gislev
Posts: 87
Review Date: August 22, 2018 Recommended | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, Build Quality, Ergonomics, Weight and Size
Cons: None in normal use

Another of my go to-lenses in the Pentax system.

I got it, despite having bought the wonderful HD Pentax-DA 20-40mm F2.8-4.0 Limited, and I haven't regretted it:

It's so small and light, that it makes for a perfect street photography lens on the K-3 II.

Best of all: It makes beautiful photos - and it really shines in back lit scenes - and does one hell of job retaining micro details and micro contrasts.

The floating element design is an asset when making close ups, while still making it a razor sharp performer at all focusing distances.

It is perhaps not as sharp at the corners as the HD Pentax-DA 20-40mm F2.8-4.0 Limited ... it's not something I usually notice in my prints - I print A3+

Another stellar Pentax Lens.

Highly recommended!
Senior Member

Registered: January, 2012
Posts: 216
Review Date: October 24, 2017 Recommended | Price: $230.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp bokeh autofocus
Cons: ----------------------------------------
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: pentax k5ii   

i am happy
fantastic all around lens
sharp with best bokeh
in my camera i can see focal 21mm ( and it mark focal 31mm on 35mm film --- maybe it is same 31mm limited lens on SRL body)
i love this lens
i have super copy of fa 28mm f2.8 lens but this hd da 21mm better in all situation
especially i can see more detail in image - this is HD coating effect -- i find it is same like coating on all star lens
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2015
Posts: 6,381
Review Date: March 28, 2016 Recommended | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, subjective image quality
Cons: Not all that fast if low light conditions prevail
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5   

It's not as wide as the wide end of the kit lens and it's not that much faster enough to matter, but where this lens wins is on size. It is TINY, not that much bigger than the legendarily small DA40 Pancake, and that let me take all four non-macro limited primes around the world in an over-shoulder camera bag. And in the setting of a big city with architecture dating back into the 19th Century, it shines. Effortless wielding, fast focus, great image quality (it's nobody's flat-field copy-stand lens, but then it was never meant to be) - this lens has it all. Like its 15mm and 40mm brethren, this makes an art form of small-is-beautiful.

Only occasionally found lacking for architecture shots close to very tall buildings and in very narrow confines, which is where the DA15 took over, but this is probably the shortest Pentax prime I've handled which will render groups of people as individuals in the context of their surroundings rather than incorporating them into it. From this perspective, perhaps the ideal busy social function or party lens, due to its small size and unobtrusiveness (for adults and teenagers, anyway; for younger kids, you will want a superzoom).

There were times I wished it could be faster, but I suspect that's what tripods were meant for, and there were valid reasons why I wasn't carrying one of those. If the DA35/2.4 isn't doing it for you in terms of wide field of view, this is the go-to for those who love their primes and have the money.

Manual focus is pretty reasonable, I never had an AF problem, and overall I'm glad I bought it. The only thing it doesn't have that it could do with is WR. I have taken a point off here and there because no lens is perfect, but for the uses I had in mind for it, it never really let me down and I gave it an overall ten for that reason.
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2010
Location: Northern Michigan
Posts: 5,777

9 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 28, 2016 Recommended | Price: $370.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great color and contrast, produces images that look great to human perception
Cons: none of any significance
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 5    Handling: 8    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K-5iis   

While I wouldn't necessarily consider this my best lens, it is one of my favorites. Admittedly, this has as much to do with the focal length as with the quality of the lens. I find that 21mm on APS-C provides a very comfortable FOV. It's how I see the world, at least when it comes to photography.

Oddly enough, on my K-5iis, I have trouble getting this lens to focus accurately at long distances. But that's not a major issue, as I use the lens primarily for landscapes and I have plenty o ftime. I just manual focus the lens like I used to back in the day when I was shooting on my K1000. Manual focus works pretty well on the DA 21, especially considering it's an AF lens.

The DA 21 is sometimes seen as the least impressive of all the Limited primes. Perhaps that's true, perhaps it isn't; but it should be kept in mid how good the other limiteds are, and how high a standard they represent. The main criticism of the DA 21 is the f3.2 aperture. There are other 20mm lenses from other brands that have faster apertures, may be sharper wide open, and may even be sharper in the corners stopped down. Such criticism, however, misses the point. The 21 Limited was not designed merely to do well on numerical lens tests -- although it does quite well, as far as that is concerned. It's reasonably sharp wide open; by f4 it's quite sharp; and by f8 it's pretty sharp across most of the frame, with only the corners and maybe the far edges missing out by just a bit. But the DA 21 was designed to do more than just resolve data. It's a color and contrast lens, and in this regard, it will out perform most of those slightly sharper lenses from other brands that are held up as the DA 21's main competition. Images from this lens have great clarity, "pop", and beauty -- in short, a lens designed to produce images that look great to human perception.

A few samples, all shot at f8:


Registered: July, 2007
Location: North West UK
Posts: 389
Review Date: June 19, 2015 Recommended | Rating: 10 

Pros: Wonderful rendition, great colours, sharp!
Cons: ever so slight CA
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3   

This is the replacement to my much loved SMC version. Why? Well it was stolen amongst other camera gear recently and the insurance company replaced it with the updated HD version.

How does it compare?
Well, pretty well really. So far I have only used it on my new K-3, but the colour rendition is excellent. Bokeh? smooth. Sharpness? a tad sharper at all apertures.

Downside? although the slight CA of the older version is improved, it is still there, as is the slight pincushion. However put it through cameraRAW and all is well.

A great lens!
New Member

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Pune
Posts: 2

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 29, 2014 Recommended | Price: $599.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Compact, FL, Sharp, Close Focus, Usefullnes
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-01, K10D   

I am Pentax user since last 8 years, and have collection of many old manual and new AF lenses from various brands. I have many zoom lenses (including Tamron 17-50 f2.8) that cover 21mm focal length, so I was bit reluctant to buy this lens; though after buying I am delighted with the decision. Since purchase (last 3 months) I can proudly say this is the most used lens.

If I need to take only one lens, then 21mm Limited is the one that caters all my needs and goes on my camera as it is fast, light, sharp, macro’ish and best FL.

Shooting landscapes using this lens is joy fantastic colour and sharpness. I have more than 30 lenses still I can easily figure out the photos taken using this 21mm without even seeing EXIF. Due to small size and metal built still light this is best fit for hiking / trekking purpose. I have taken many close-up / macro using this lens; not true macro but sufficient for the purpose and you can blur the background due to close focus on f3.2.

This is the best walk-around & street photography lens Pentax have .

Very useful even in indoor functions. Sharp wide-open aperture, f/3.2 is faster than F3.5 & F4 so works for my purpose even in lowlight w/o flash and with flash.

The all I can say - the most useful lens I have presently with me. You might not convince based on specs however you will never regret after you have this jewel.
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2014
Location: Newfoundland
Posts: 501

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 6, 2014 Recommended | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Image quality, build quality, colour rendering, flare resistance, size, lens hood
Cons: None at all
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5II   

I have been shooting Pentax for a long time and over the years have shot with SMC A lenses, FA lenses and DA zoom lenses. I have always lusted after the Limiteds for their stellar image quality and superior hand-made metal and glass construction. Indoors this lens is amazing, wide enough to offer a very natural perspective and fast enough on a K-5II to deliver solid available light results. While f/3.2 isn't very fast, it's fast enough if you bump up the ISO a little. At f/3.2 the centre is tack sharp however the edge of the frame is a little soft. For outdoor shots anything shot between f/5.6 and f/8 is tack sharp across the entire frame. The lens hood is superb. This is the first lens that I have felt is well protected enough not to add a UV 0 filter to. The cold metal touch and exceptionally smooth but adequate manual focus both feel amazing. The K-5II is very compact with this lens. I have been shooting with this lens for a week now and it's versatility never ceases to amaze me. I have just ordered the HD DA 40 to go with it. Once you shoot with a Pentax Limited Prime everything else seems "ordinary" by comparison. While I have always loved the warm rendering the FA primes deliver, the HD DA 21 provides true-to-life rendering while capturing subtle details in shadow and highlights that my FA 35 can not match.

Forum Member

Registered: June, 2014
Posts: 62
Review Date: August 27, 2014 Recommended | Price: $549.95 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp pictures, great contrast, Good handling, Light weight, built in hood.
Cons: None to date.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-30   

I have used the lens for several months and it has yet to disappoint. I am well pleased with all aspects of the photos achieved. The size and weight make it easy to store in a pocket and make it very easy to handle when installed on the camera. It goes with me whenever I am out for a shoot. Focus speed is impressive. Of the five wide angle lenses I own, this is the most impressive.
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