HD Pentax-D FA 24-70mm F2.8 ED SDM WR
The 24-70mm F2.8 lens is more or less a de facto product, available from any manufacturer offering a full frame DSLR. Along with a 70-200mm F2.8 (and perhaps an ultra-wide lens like the D FA 15-30mm), it forms the basic workhorse of any "pro" line-up. These lenses are expected to deliver superb performances and be reliable in any shooting scenario.
Viewed in this light, the Pentax 24-70mm delivers, with some reservations.
Its center sharpness is superb. The out of focus rendering and bokeh benefit from the nine curved aperture blades. Chromatic aberration, flare and ghosting and kept well under control. The lens handles well, and its results are generally pleasing. Even though the lens is, at its roots, a Tamron, design, we found that it renders according to the "Pentax look", with vibrant colors and good subject isolation. Autofocus is up to modern standards. As can be seen in our samples gallery, the lens can provide stunning results.
On the other hand, sharpness at the edges and corners is below expectations. Vignetting is discernible, as is distortion at the wide end. The lens is large and heavy, and even though it handles well, its size means that it cannot simply be thrown in a bag "just in case" (we prefer the D FA 28-105mm for this purpose).
The biggest letdown during our tests has got to be the disappointing resolution figures in the edges and corners. Edges near the middle of the focal range are actually perfectly usable, but the results get worse at both ends of the range. Corners are never really impressive. For a lens that is likely to be used for landscapes as much as for portraits, we would have expected better.
Based on these results, we can better understand why Pentax refrained from labeling the 24-70mm a star lens. It is certainly better than average, but not quite up there with the best of the best.
- Very good build quality, near star level
- Fast, accurate and decisive AF
- Almost exempt of chromatic aberrations
- Good control over flare and ghosting
- High resolution at all focal lengths in the center of the frame (see con)
- Pleasing bokeh
- Fast aperture
- Good value
- Large and heavy (uses 82mm filters)
- Strong vignetting (can be corrected in-camera or via software)
- Visible distortion at 24mm
- Edges and corners sharpness underwhelming
Who is it For
The HD Pentax-D FA 24-70mm F2.8 is a versatile lens. Its fast aperture and convenient focal range means that it can be used for a wide variety of applications, from landscapes and cityscapes, to portraits and events. It is a good companion to the superb HD Pentax-D FA* 70-200mm F2.8. With a good understanding of its few limitations, it will perform to the satisfaction of professionals and amateurs alike.
Since its launch in late 2015, this lens has maintained a constant price of approximately $1296.95 in the US. Outside of a very brief sale in November 2016 and K-1 bundle deals, its price has not fluctuated, and it is thus a good buy at any time.
This pricing policy is typical of Pentax full-frame lenses and ultimately lets users buy with more confidence.
The Bottom Line
The HD D FA 24-70mm F2.8 is an expensive lens, something that is unavoidable considering all the glass that must into it to preserve F2.8 across the range (for the record, the Tamron version offered for Canon and Nikon is priced similarly). It generally performs very well, focuses extremely fast, and delivers on most expectations. As can be seen from our samples gallery, once we stop looking at lab tests, it is easy to see why the lens is as popular among our users.
The lens can be purchased at authorized dealers worldwide, including B&H Photo— the largest Pentax dealer in the US. Also, be sure to check the user reviews or post your own if you already own this lens.
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