Pentax-D FA 21mm F/2.4 has arrived

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Abbazz Senior Member • Posts: 1,219
Pentax-D FA 21mm F/2.4 has arrived

The lens arrived from Japan a few days ago. Without contest, it's a beautiful lens with a really nice finish. The lens is a little big for my taste but I guess it's the price to pay for this level of performance. It has a nice heft in the hand without being overly ponderous. I was surprised as the serial number indicates my copy is part of the first batches produced:

Number 212

I hope Pentax has now produced more than a couple hundreds lenses!

Image quality is, as expected, superb. Sharpness is great from wide open and there is no visible chromatic aberrations (Lateral or longitudinal). Images are very pleasant to the eye with beautiful color and soft transitions. Kudos to Pentax engineers for producing such a great superwide!

Autofocus works great in good light but hunts a lot on my K-1ii as soon as the sun sets. Here for example, I should have focused manually:

After Sunset

Speaking of manual focus, here is my first rant: the lens has a real focus ring (it's not "focus by wire") but it turns way past infinity. Therefore, you cannot turn the ring to the right until it stops when you use the lens in the dark for infinity landscape photography or astrophotography.

While I am at it, I also find quite disappointing for a Limited lens sold at a premium price that it doesn't have an aperture ring, which makes it incompatible with many of my Pentax cameras, including all the film cameras (in fact, it will fit on a film body but it will only allow shooting at f/2.4 and won't autofocus). As this lens has a very limited use on APS-C crop cameras, it means that it is only really usable on one Pentax model: the K-1. If you don't have a K-1 or a K-1ii, look elsewhere.

Of course, I have made comparisons with a few other 20ish lenses. Believe me, the D FA 21mm f/2.4 is the best 20/21mm lens you can put on your Pentax camera (including some exotic options, like the Zeiss or Contax adapted lenses).

How does it stack?

Here are two pictures taken from the same spot at the same time with the 21mm f/2.4 and with the 15-30mm f/2.8 on a tripod at infinity with careful manual focusing (live view with max magnification). Both pictures were taken at f/2.8 and focus was on the tall buildings in the background in the middle of the frame:

21mm f/2.4 infinity at f/2.8

15-30mm at infinity at f/2.8

Both are good (don't forget these are utlrawide lenses at f/2.8) but the 15-30mm exhibits more field curvature. If we look at the 15-30mm picture at the edge of the frame, the leaves in the foreground are in sharp focus, while the building in the background looks out of focus:

Left is 15-30mm, right is 21mm

As stated by other users of this great lens, it delivers superb images, not only from a technical point of view but also from a subjective image quality point of view. For example, the Sigma 20mm f/1.8 also allows close focus (less than 20cm), but it exhibits lots of chromatic aberrations at wider apertures (especially the longitudinal kind which is very difficult to get rid of). The Pentax 21mm f/2.4 is capable of really nice results, even in difficult conditions.

One of the great pluses of this lens is of course that it allows to take pictures a few inches from your subject. Combined with its f/2.4 aperture and nice smooth bokeh, this feature allows for some beautiful striking images:


The lens was so close it was blocking most of the light so the orchid is mainly lit from behind.

The weather is quite dull here, with lots of rain and no sun available. I will post more pictures when the weather becomes more cooperative.



Pentax FA 21mm F2.4 Limited Pentax K-1
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