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Lens review

2011-10-14
 

Pentax smc FA 31 mm f/1.8 AL

1. Introduction

The Pentax company hasn’t decided yet to launch digital cameras with a full frame detector and it is quite consequential in offering bodies with APS-C/DX format sensors. What’s more, their policy is professional and well thought out. The bodies are rather small and solid, often offering such possibilities which are non-existent in rival cameras offered at the same price point. If we add a series of limited lenses – small but solidly build – we get a system which differs noticeably from others, currently available on the market.

If you have a system based on a detector smaller than full frame you can offer lenses which are not so big but remain fast and very good optically. It is perhaps not easy but certainly possible as it was proven by testing say, Olympus lenses. Pentax has chosen a different way, giving its users lenses which are small but not exactly fast. If you develop a system based on “primes” it would be difficult to run away constantly from the necessity of offering a good standard lens as well which, in the case of Pentax, should have a focal length in the range of 30-35 mm.

At first glance we are spoilt for choice. You can start the list by the Pentax smc DA 35 mm f/2.4 AL, the youngest device on the market but offered for a good price and providing good image quality as well. It would be difficult to call it solidly build and fast, though. The build quality of the Pentax smc DA 35 mm f/2.8 Macro Limited is much better but that lens is even slower and certainly not cheap. Even several years ago you could buy the full frame Pentax smc FA 35 mm f/2 AL and the price tag was quite reasonable. After the launch of the Pentax smc DA 35 mm f/2.4 AL, though, these lenses started to disappear from the shelves and the price of new and second-hand specimens of that model raised very sharply.

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The fastest lens which can be considered a standard is the Pentax smc FA 31 MM F/1.8 AL. It is quite an elderly construction, designed during the era when analogue photography reigned supreme. Still that lens is considered one of the best among system devices, being respected for its very good optical properties and a splendid build quality. We decided to check out whether such an opinion is truly deserved and the lens – as good as its users claim.

The lens for testing purposes was lent by the Fotozakupy.pl shop.

You are also invited to get acquainted with our test procedure, described in the article "How do we test lenses?" If you feel it’s still not enough, please go to our FAQ section where you can find some further explanation.

Pentax smc FA 31 mm f/1.8 AL - Introduction

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