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Keywords: Pentax Wide Prime APS-C DA Limited Tested


Registered: January 2014
Posts: 6
Pentax 21mm f/3.2 Limited SMC P-DA review by kh1234567890
Review Date: 1/30/2014 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $600.00| Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, build, handling
Cons: None

The DA21 is small and the clever lens hood hardly adds to its length. On a K-7 it looks positively diminutive. As with all the limiteds, the design and build exude that certain satisfying precision feel. The lens hood design is unconventional but effective. The lens cap is a solid piece of felt lined aluminium, in keeping with the look and feel of the lens, but a bit impracticable and probably expensive to replace. Fortunately a standard old Pentax slip-on 51mm plastic lens cap fits perfectly.

The 21mm focal length is just right on an APS sensor camera, such as my K-7. It is just wide enough to make a difference but not too wide to give that somewhat boring stretched effect of ultra-wides. Autofocus is accurate, quiet and quick - there isn't a great deal of mass to spin around with this lens.

Optically, this lens is sharp enough to allow some cropping without a great loss of quality. It is quite sharp even wide open and gets better stopped down. The sweet spot seems to be somewhere between f/4 and f/5.6. There is a fair amount of barrel distortion and some CA, both easily correctable in post-processing. Contrast and colour rendering are excellent. Flare resistance is good, although when shooting into the sun at a certain orientation it is possible to provoke a 'green blob' flare, probably a sensor reflection. Stopped down it gives nice highlight 'starbursts'.

The DA21 is inconspicuous enough for street photography and sharp and wide enough for landscapes and architectural shots.

Some of my shots taken with this lens :

Registered: September 2010
Posts: 23
Pentax 21mm f/3.2 Limited SMC P-DA review by Tord
Review Date: 9/5/2010 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 10 

Pros: A lovely little lens, superb in every way!
Cons: Could be cheaper, I guess :-)!

This is one of the lenses that has made a lot of pros keep their Pentax gear, as it is superbly made, sharp as a needle, and very small. Can't fault it in any way!

Registered: January 2007
Posts: 6
Pentax 21mm f/3.2 Limited SMC P-DA review by bdery
Review Date: 4/30/2010 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $340.00| Rating: 10 

Pros: Small, wonderful built, extremely sharp, amazing 3D effect, close focus
Cons: None

This lens is the latest addition to my lineup. I purchased it to have a wide option for low light.

It will serve MANY more roles than just a low light lens! There's something amazing about this lens (and all limiteds? Maybe, this is my first). It creates a 3D effect on pictures that's hard to describe, but amazing to behold. Playing with DOF can enhance that effect. Colours, saturation and contrast are among the best I've seen, at least as good as the FA 50 macro.

The build quality is near perfect, the lens is light, small, but sturdy and reliable. It's fully made of metal, with a nice, small hood, an elegant cap, and the typical quick shift MF function common to all DA lenses.

Pentax again impressed me with this lens!

Registered: January 2010
Posts: 2
Pentax 21mm f/3.2 Limited SMC P-DA review by ddekadt
Review Date: 1/19/2010 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $420.00| Rating: 10 

Pros: Tiny size, beautiful design, great optics, sharp sharp sharp, close focussing, af speed
Cons: Speed, getting used to the focal length

This is a beautiful lens. Everything about it is fantastic: it AFs like a charm, it's brilliantly sharp, the closest focusing distance lets you get up close and personal with your subject, its rendering of colour is great... My only problem with this lens is that the fl just doesn't work for me that well. I've been forcing myself to use it more lately, and have already started to warm up to it.

I've had my DA 21 for 2 and a half years, and I've not used it enough. Have thought about letting it go a few times, but in the end it always surprises me and it stays in my bag.

Aside from the optics, the lens is tremendously well made, aesthetically pleasing in and of itself. I always laugh at my friends who shoot Nikon/Canon, because the limiteds are just so much more aesthetically appealing than their lenses. .

The compact size is also brilliant, on my old K100D I had a light, portable combo.

Some examples:

Registered: October 2007
Posts: 2
Pentax 21mm f/3.2 Limited SMC P-DA review by radical
Review Date: 10/17/2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $400.00| Rating: 8 

Pros: very small and light, well-built
Cons: noticeable barrel distortion, f3.2 max aperture

Very good all around prime lens. A pleasure to carry and useful in many situations.

Although it is pretty sharp, especially stopped down a bit, the 21mm does not have a super fast maximum aperture. That can be a factor for low light shooting or when trying to get limited depth of field effects.

The 21mm also has definite barrel distortion. This can be corrected in Photoshop, but that is not ideal.

So there are compromises. Still, this is the lens I leave on my K10D 90% of the time, because of its useful angle of view, its good overall image quality, and its amazing portability and toughness.

I can easily shoot holding this combination one-handed at my waist, like a Leica. Or, on the other hand, I can compose carefully through the viewfinder, and correct the lens' barrel distortion in Photoshop (making good use of the extra 5% of image area not visible in the K10D's finder!).

Registered: September 2007
Posts: 3
Pentax 21mm f/3.2 Limited SMC P-DA review by Dagzz
Review Date: 9/19/2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 9 

Pros: good build/hood/small/ sharpness
Cons: some AF accuracy lack, but o nly at wide open!

The fact this lens “huge centre sharpness at wide open” falls back really quickly towards the edges and corners, makes it my favourite artistic lens!
Since it is a wide angle it opens some artistic doors
The contrast though, is already very good at wide open
One stop down and everything is there you need!
So it’s discrete, the best hood ever and very good build
It’s a must have on travel and street, or candid photography!



Registered: November 2006
Posts: 7
Pentax 21mm f/3.2 Limited SMC P-DA review by dreamlogic
Review Date: 1/4/2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $500.00| Rating: 8 

Pros: small, light, very useful focal length, very sharp slightly stopped down
Cons: expensive, soft at f/3.2, may back/front focus on some cameras

Because of the focal length, this lens is on my camera more than any other.

The lens is really well built, as are all Pentax limiteds. I'm not aware of any other lenses of this focal length that are even close to as small and light as this lens. It makes for a very compact SLR. The lens has quick shift so you can readjust the focal point after autofocus.

The lens is somewhat soft at f/3.2, but one stop down (f/4.5) it is perfectly sharp. There are a lot of reports of focusing problems with this lens in combination with K100D/K110Ds, but is seems fine with my K10D.

The lens hood is very small, only adding a few mm to thickness of the lens, not that lens flare is a problem with this lens. I never saw any lens flare until I tried to produce it by shooting into the sun. Even then it was barely visible.

This is a great lens, but at times I did wish for a faster lens.


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