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Cosina 19-35mm AF f3.5-4.5

Reviews Views Date of last review
9 96,268 Sat January 12, 2019
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $86.00 8.11
Cosina 19-35mm AF f3.5-4.5

Cosina version of the Phoenix 19-35mm.
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Junior Member

Registered: January, 2018
Posts: 46

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 12, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $65.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: price, small size and weight, image qualify with reservation
Cons: vignetting at 19mm on full frame
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1   

This is again a difficult lens to review because of the price. It is challenging to use the same scale for lenses in different price categories.

My copy is branded Phoenix and it is a nice little UWA for FF. Not the optimum for landscape work because of the heavy vignetting in wide end, as it tends to make sky look rather bad with dark corners. However, stopping it down enough and some PP, this can be overcome in most cases. I picked this lens up as an unobtrusive (small) companion to K-1 and it does do its job nicely. In some situations, a larger lens, say DFA 15-30 just gets too much attention.

Apart from the vignetting, nothing in the images reveals that this was a $65 lens and same goes for the use experience and construction of the lens.

Some of the undervalued film era zooms might give more value for very little money per se, but I think this lens is very high on that chart as well, and with a very useful focal length range at that. Just don't expect this to really compete with a modern $1000 lens.


I am editing my review now that I have six more months of use experience.

This lens has become my go-to lens for travelling and has seen about 15 different countries. The main benefit is the size and the focal distance range. I am also more aware of some of the shortcomings: it sometimes cannot focus in low light situations and even in bright light it can be slow. However, the resolution is good enough for K-1. It lacks some contrast and has a tendency to burn whites so I usually underexpose a little bit (typically bracket -2, -1 and 0 EV) and correct that it PP. It also flares heavily with bright green and purple spots in a nice geometrical pattern (but I do not have a lens hood for it) and it also smears a bit when shooting toward spotlights (as if there was some dirt on lens surfaces, which there might be). The image is typically a bit less contrasty than that of a modern DFA, but this can be remedied in PP. RawTherapee has a lens profile which works very nicely for the optical (curvature) corrections and a bit less so for the vignetting.

For my typical travels, this lens has however replaced the DFA zooms (15-30 and 24-70). I still use the DFAs when weight is not an issue and for landscape photography.

I will not change the overall rating from 8. Just wanted to come back and name a few of the shortcomings I have noticed, and to confirm that this lens really is a gem for the price. It also appears to be easily available from eBay.
Forum Member

Registered: October, 2014
Posts: 85

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 13, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $125.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Good build quality, sharp in the center, low CAs, efficient AF
Cons: Mediocre edges of full frame, soft corners of full frame, vignetting does not disappear at 19 mm with full frame sensor, poor resistance to flares
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Canon 5D   

Cosina AF 19-35mm F/3.5-4.5 MC is a very good fullframe wide-angle zoom lens. It exhibits excellent sharpness at the center of the frame at all focal lengths and very good at the edges of full frame with closing of the aperture by several stops. The corners of full frame are soft at most combinations of focal length and aperture though.

The lens exhibits noticeable distortion at focal length of 19 mm with full frame sensor but this is a typical disadvantage of wide-angle lenses. The distortion reduces with zooming to focal length of 35 mm.

Vignetting is insidious with full frame sensor - it does not disappear at focal length of 19 mm at any given aperture, but at least it remains weak at focal length of 35 mm.

Lateral chromatic aberrations are weak in general, except that at the corners of full frame they can reach moderate values (2-3 pixels with Canon 5D's sensor) and cause the deterioration of the image resolution at this part of the frame.

It seems like the Cosina's proprietary multi-layer coatings of this lens are optimized to provide the best light transmission and the resistance of the lens to flares leaves something to be desired even with the dedicated round lens hood and can be recognized as the main disadvantage of this lens.

There's no problems with efficiency of the autofocus - it's fast with Canon 5D (but of course lags behind the lenses equipped with ultrasonic motor), low noisy and precise. The autofocus hunts only when you start to shoot low contrast scenes but focuses confidently in low light conditions.

The build quality of the lens is good, the housing is made of polycarbonate and the mount is metallic. At the same time, the manual focusing ring rotates automatically during autofocus which looks pretty anachronistic by today's standards. Moreover the front element and the filter thread also rotate during autofocus which does not allow to conveniently use gradient and/or polarizing filters and petal lens hood instead of supplied round lens hood of small depth.

The lens was designed for landscape, architecture and interiors shooting and it feels like it copes well with this kind of tasks. Moreover the lens can be used for street shooting in case when you work in good lighting conditions and don't try to capture the dynamic subjects.

To the date, the lens is discontinued and can be purchased only in used condition. It should be noted that this is one of the most affordable wide-angle zooms for the full frame cameras.

As for the owners of APS-C digital SLR cameras (whether Canon, Nikon, Pentax or Sony), I really can't recommend to purchase this lens. Your 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 kit lens has more practical range of focal lengths, exhibits acceptable sharpness (especially newer models of kit lenses) and has much better resistance to flares even without the dedicated lens hood.

My review of this lens (well, in NINE parts) with LOTS of samples from my trip to Myanmar in April-May 2015:
New Member

Registered: November, 2013
Posts: 9
Lens Review Date: April 5, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $65.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: very sharp wide angle zoom lens
Cons: few CA's
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: k-x, k2oo   

for this low price highly recommanded,

stop it down to f11 and it will be sharp up to the corners

very good colors, contrast and sharpness
Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Frankfurt am Main
Posts: 1,240
Lens Review Date: January 6, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $42.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharpness, colors, aperture ring
Cons: Flare (compared with Pentax lenses), nearly useless hood, the kind of distortions @<22mm
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

I bought this lens in April 2010 to own an affordable extreme wide angle for my film cameras. Got it new at an eBay sell-out of the German company Foto-Walser for less than € 33.- including shipment. When I compared it with the first version of the kit lens, and found it sharper, it replaced it for some time. Since changing to the WR kit 18-55, I don't use it much anymore. The WR kit is as sharp (on APS-C), is less prone to flare, has a longer reach at the long end, and its distortions at the short end are easier controllable with PP.

And this I see as the main disadvantage, if you buy that lens to use it as a cheap alternative for architecture on FF: the distortions at the wide end are not extremly strong, but kind of oszillating (wave form), making it nearly impossible to correct manually in PP.

But I really cannot complain; I got it new much cheaper than you will get it now used on eBay. At that time the official price had been € 139. Even for that price tag, I could recommend the lens.
Forum Member

Registered: February, 2010
Location: Tartu, Estonia
Posts: 83

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 27, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, fully automatic, quick AF
Cons: Sharpness, wide filter thread
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

This is exactly the same lens as the Vivitar version:

I bought this lens to make awesome wide-angle photos with my film camera and the APS-C equivalent 13mm on the wide end is great. Using this lens on a digital camera wouldn't make any sense. It's a great lens, has all the possible features and the fastest autofocus I've experienced on my Pentax. It's not the sharpest lens, but adeqate in that respect. It's 0,5 stop brighter and better built than the similarly priced Pentax 18-35mm.
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2009
Location: Berlin, DE
Posts: 30

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 11, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $69.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Good image quality; ultra-wide angle on a cheap
Cons: None really (for the price). One can mention rotating front element.

First and foremost, I paid $69 for this lens. For the money, it's an absolute bargain: good colors, nice contrast, sufficient build quality. It was obviously meant to be a cheap entry into the world of UWA on film cameras, but it never gained popularity with users. The reason, I believe, was the then happening switch to digital APS-C format, where this lens becomes a rather dull and bulky replacement of the kit lens.

On a film body, however, this lens shows its full potential. It's sharp in the center of the image from maximum apertures throughout the zoom range. Corners become reasonably sharp by f/5.6 (19mm) or f/8 (35mm). I would usually stop it down one more stop to maximize IQ.

Contrast is about average; lower wide open, higher when stopped down. Not bad, not too great; let's just say it's sufficient and responds nicely to post processing.

Flare is a weak point of this lens. When the lens is pointed to the sun, the picture starts looking washed out with huge flare artefacts present throughout the image.

AF is buzzing noisy but very fast; there's not much of a path for the focusing ring to travel. Obviously there's no QuickShift, but there's no need for it either. I could never focus the lens better manually compared to the AF results. I found the AF to be very accurate with no AF adjustments set in camera.

Build quality is sufficient. It's all plastic with metal mount. Both zooming and focusing rings are dry and feel plasticky when rotated. Front element rotates when focusing (similarly specced Tamron has a fixed front element). The supplied hood is quite ineffective and very shallow.

CA is reasonably controlled, and can be corrected in the post. Geometric distortion is pronounced, especially at the wide end. Fortunately, there's little to no purple fringing to speak of.


You get what you pay for. On digital, this lens does not make sense: any Pentax kit lens is better in all respects from IQ to size and weight to build quality. On film, it may make more sense if you get it cheap enough; otherwise, I would look into Pentax' own FA-J 18-35mm. Having said that, I sold mine and ordered said FA-J lens (I'll update this review when I receive it). On systems other than Pentax there may not be a similarly priced full-frame alternative available.

I don't own a Pentax FA-J 18-35mm f/4-5.6 AL (yet), so I can only compare the two lenses spec wise. Compared to the Pentax lens, the Cosina is 1/3 of a stop faster and 1mm longer on the wide end (where it really matters). The Cosina has a metal mount, while the Pentax lens is all plastic. As far as I know, Cosina didn't use any aspherical lens elements, while the Pentax has hybrid aspheric.
Senior Member

Registered: September, 2009
Location: Beautiful Bavaria :-)
Posts: 123
Lens Review Date: February 20, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: inexpensive, good IQ, lightweight, has aperture ring
Cons: aperture control only in full stops, 77 mm filters

I got this lens new from a dealer who was cleaning up his stock. Having expected not too much, I was pleasently surprised:

The build quality is very similiar to the Pentax FAJ 18-35, but the Cosina lens has an aperture control ring that makes it usable with pre-A bodies. Nice, but only full stops can be selected. A lighthood was supplied, another nice thing, but it is not the petal-shaped effective type, just a slim plastic ring.

The pictures (taken on film so far only) look absolutely fine, but of course do not match the superb qualities of Pentax primes like the FA 2/35 AL. Manual focussing is not too bad, either, AF works fast and not too noisy. But at 19 mm, DOF is practically unlimited around f8...

I doubt that there's hope to use a polariser (or any filter), because the lens asks for 77 mm whereas the FAJ is happy with 67 mm (but is slower, indeed). Vignetting seems to be unavoidable even if one would invest in a top level polariser that costs much more than the lens... But apart from that it is excellent for hiking and landscape shots, because it does not add to much weight to your bag.

Final verdict: actually 7, but if you get it for a low price like I did, you could say even 8.

Registered: August, 2009
Location: Elko, Nevada
Posts: 1,302

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 29, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $79.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very good image quality, useable on film, price
Cons: flimsy plastic build, strong lens flare

Ok, my version of this lens is actually a Promaster but, as far as I have been able to establish with my internet research, these lenses are made by Cosina and sold as Cosina, Promaster, Quantary and Phoenix brand lenses. I was able to buy this on flea bay for $79. With shipping it was a few cents less then $93.00. First, for the basics.

Promaster Spectrum 7 AF 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 specifications:
  • Lens Construction - 11 Groups/ 13 Elements
  • Angle of view - 97°-63°
  • F stop range - f/3.5-28
  • Closest Focusing Distance - 1.6'
  • Maximum Magnification - 1:12
  • Filter Size - 77mm
  • Dimensions (Length x Diameter) - 2.6" x 0.2"
  • Weight - 10.5 oz. (298g)

In the Box
  • Lens
  • Lens Cap
  • Hood
  • Warranty Card (Limited - to original owner only - Lifetime Warranty)
  • Instruction booklet
The Lens
  • Flimsy Plastic Construction (Is this another plastic fantastic?)
  • Metal lens mount
  • Bayonet hood attachment
This is a very nice autofocus, wide angle zoom lens. This is not a real lens test but I have used this lens in real world situations and have discovered a few things about it.

First, I am amazed at the IQ. I can't say how it compares with the Pentax 12-24, since I don't own one. But I can say that the photos from this lens are better in my eye then those that I get from my first generation 18-55 kit lens, which I do own. At the price this lens is absolutely amazing!

I have looked for vignetting at 19mm and 35mm and I haven't noticed anything of significance in the photos I have taken. I have also taken a couple of photos where I would have expected some chromatic aberration or purple fringing, but didn't see it. It may show up, but nothing yet. However, if you are shooting towards the sun, even if it is not directly in the picture, you will certainly experience lens flare. And the hood is only minimally effective in reducing or eliminating it. It is actually more effective to use your hand to block the flare but, if you are shooting at 19mm you will need to be very careful to keep your hand out of the picture.

Autofocus and zoom work very well. Autofocus is quick to lock on and the zoom works very nicely and does not exhibit any creep. If I could say anything negative about the zoom it is that it is easier to move then some of my older manual lenses so I have occasionally bumped it off the setting without realizing it. The autofocus uses the camera drive so it is as noisy as the DA 18-55.

So far I have used this lens for landscape shots and a couple of group family photos. In fact, group photographs is the primary reason I picked this lens up, but on film, not digital. With four children, three in-laws, and 11 grandkids so far, my immediate family is pretty large and getting everyone in the picture around the Holidays requires a wide angle lens. The Pentax DA 18-55 can just barely get us all in the frame but I had nothing for the KX that was the equivalent. This 19-35mm was usable with film as well as digital, and the price was definitely right, so I bought it.

Even though I do like the Pentax kit zoom, this lens is quickly replacing that lens as my primary travel lens. The pictures are very clear and the color is quite nice. In fact, to my eye the results are very close to those that I get from my SMC 200mm f/2.5.

One of the negatives is lens flare but this is probably common to most lenses of this type. The other negative is build quality. Although I have had no problems at all with this lens the flimsy feeling plastic construction does not inspire great confidence. Although the kit zoom is also built of plastic it feels much more solid than this lens does. However, based on image quality, it doesn't seem that they scrimped on the glass.

If you are an enthusiast who needs a wide angle lens, but does not have a lot to spend, I strongly recommend this lens. However, if you are making a living with your lenses you probably will want to pass on this one because it may not hold up for you over the long run.

A couple of shots to demonstrate the lens. Both of these pictures were taken with a 77mm B+W Circular Polarizer. The camera was a Pentax K200d. They were shot in RAW, converted through Adobe RAW and processed with Photoshop Elements. Everything was done through the guided editing mode (still learning Photoshop). Each shot got one pass of sharpening with the auto mode, one pass of brightening and contrast through auto, and that was it. The log in the stream was cropped a bit to eliminate a large white rock in one corner that was a bit distracting.

This picture was shot at 35mm, f/4.5 and 1/60s shutter speed. The focus on the log is not quite as good as I wanted but the rocks in the stream bed are clear and sharp. In addition, the skin of ice over the stream is visible behind the log.

This one was shot at 23mm, f/16 and 1/50s shutter speed. It clearly shows the lens flare in the upper right corner. Even with that in the picture it actually turned out quite well.
Veteran Member

Registered: May, 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 1,971

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 8, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $149.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Handling; sharpness for it's price.
Cons: Thin outer materials.

For the money and the zoom range, versatility of it being a wide zoom on a film SLR and a wide to standard zoom on a DSLR, this is an excellent buy. I've been very impressed with the sharpness I've seen on film, and using it on the K20D, the pics look great there as well. While there are certainly sharper wide zooms out there, none can compare to this lens' sharpness to cost ratio.

The Pentax version came in silver, as opposed to black versions made for Canon and other brands.

Outer build quality is pretty flimsy, but expected in this price range. No cost cutting on the glass though. Takes 77mm filters. Comes with a small lens hood. Phoenix made this exact same autofocus lens.
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