The Pentax HD DA 35mm F2.8 Macro Limited ($749.95 direct) is the lone macro entry in the company’s lineup of compact Limited lenses. It’s one of the rare standard-angle macro lenses that supports 1:1 magnification, and its sharpness does not disappoint. It’s priced on the high side compared to similar macro lenses for other camera systems, and it doesn’t feature the weather-sealed design to match Pentax’s camera lineup. If you’re a fan of the perspective that a standard-angle macro lens brings, it won’t disappoint. It’s one of the best macro lenses of this focal length that I’ve shot with, and as such earns our Editors’ Choice award. It’s a very different beast from another macro that earned the same award, the Sigma APO Macro 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM, a telephoto lens that provides 1:1 magnficiation with a longer working distance from a subject, and is compatible with full-frame cameras. Unfortunately, Sigma doesn’t offer that lens for Pentax cameras at this time.
The 35mm Macro measures just 1.8 by 2.5 inches (HD), uses relatively small 49mm front filters, features a built-in telescoping lens hood, and weighs 7.5 ounces. It’s heavy for its size due to a metal barrel and the glass that’s contained within. It focuses as close as 5.5 inches (measured from the camera sensor); when you’re working that close the projection of your subject onto the camera’s sensor is equal to life size. Because Pentax SLRs use APS-C image sensors, its field of view is roughly equal to a 50mm on a full-frame or 35mm camera. The Pentax Quick Shift focus system is supported, which is quite useful for a macro—it allows you to override autofocus lock by manually adjusting the focus ring, without having to change any settings on the camera.
I used Imatest to check the sharpness of the lens when paired with the K-3 D-SLR. As you’d expect from a macro, there’s no noticeable distortion, and the sharpness rating exceeds 1,800 lines per picture height at every tested aperture. At f/2.8 it scores 1,922 lines, although there is some softness towards the edges of the frame. Stopping down to f/4 improves performance all around, bringing the average score up to 2,160 lines, and it scores 2,300 lines at f/5.6 and 2,350 lines at f/8.
The Pentax HD DA 35mm F2.8 Macro Limited is more expensive than a regular standard-angle lens. If you’re not a close-focus fanatic you can opt for the $220 Pentax SMC DA 35mm F2.4 AL. But for those who like to capture the small details of the world, there’s no substitute for close focus. You’ll have to get up close and personal to your subjects with this one; if you prefer a bit of distance you’ll want to take a look at the Pentax D FA Macro 100mm F2.8 WR—it’s the same price, but it’s larger and adds weather sealing. But if you’re a standard-angle Pentax shooter and don’t mind a short working distance, this lens is superb, and earns our Editors’ Choice award.
|Dimensions||1.8 x 2.5 inches|
|35-mm Equivalent (Wide)||52.5 mm|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc