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Old May 12, 2010, 10:30 PM   #1
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Default Pentax DA 35mm Macro Limited

My other half got paid today, and I visited my local camera store (Bel Air Camera). While they no longer stock Pentax cameras (though they are still an authorized dealer and can order) they still have a few Pentax lenses in stock that they haven't sold. One was the DA 35 mm macro Limited, and they had it for sale at the previous price.

I was delighted to buy their last one, though they still have a few different types of lenses (the DA 21 Limited, for one). And of course, I had to try it out with a few snaps.

Some initial thoughts:

The lens can do 1:1 macro. At 35mm you have to be VERY close to your subject, like the built-in lens hood has to just about touch it, clearing it by only a couple of inches at the most. I didn't actually take pictures with that magification - if I want 1:1 I'll use the Viv 105.

On the other hand, it makes an excellent close-up lens. It's 1:2 and 1:3 are practical and I could get a bigger dof using a larger aperture. That will come in very handy for flowers. Also, while 35mm might be a wide angle lens in film days, it seems like a normal lens to me with the crop sensor.

The lens is really sharp, as sharp as it's reputation.

I've read where some people don't think it's very good at infinity focus, being best at close-up. So one of my first pictures was to try a snap that wasn't exactly close, but not too far away.

Full frame picture, taken at f4. Notice that I am both across an alley and above street level, on the 4th level of a parking structure (shot raw, converted with LR, levels adjusted in CS4 because I slightly underexposed it and resized in CS4, but no sharpening added):

100% crop of one rather small part of the picture. Converted with LR, same levels adjustment made, no sharpening or resizing.

So it seems pretty reasonable for distance subjects, though I doubt I'll be cropping this close with this lens, unless it's a macro.

Next thing that some people mention is the busy bokeh. Since this really is a macro lens, I'm not surprised. I can sort-of see what some people mean, but it's not all that bad. Only once did I run across a shot that was so bad I couldn't stand it - most lenses I own would have given me equally lousy shots. This isn't that shot, I thought this one a more fair test of the lens.

Full frame (taken at f4, no added sharpening, a bit of curves adjustment in LR before I converted it):

And the 100% crop:

I also took a series of pictures of a very uninteresting gauge in the parking structure, checking the sharpness at various apertures. I won't post them here, but the lens seemed to be a bit soft at f2.8 (wide open), really sharp at f4 and it stayed that way through f16. It's soft again at f22 (as stopped down as it can go).

While I'm sure the FA 31 has better bokeh, the 35 is going to be very useable for me. It's a great flower lens.
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Old May 12, 2010, 10:45 PM   #2
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congratulations! that should be a very handy walkaround lens that should do quite nice for florals. looks good.
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Old May 12, 2010, 10:46 PM   #3
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today is macro lba day
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Canon Eos 60D, T1i/500D, Eos1, Eos 630, Olympus EPL-1, and a part time Pentax K-X shooter.
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Old May 13, 2010, 2:41 AM   #4
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Hi Harriet,


I'm a bit surprised that you find it a little soft wide open -- perhaps it's better at closer distances -- closer to macro stuff. I was very impressed by EddyinGA's flower shot at f2.8 a while back. I think the shot across the street is pretty impressive. I can almost read the little white and blue signs on the wall in the crop shot, and I wouldn't expect it from that distance with a 35mm at f4.

I look forwad to seeing what you can do with it in some flower shots. . .

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Old May 13, 2010, 2:15 PM   #5
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The pressure gauge, which was close but not macro range, was just a bit softer at f2.8 than the sharpest pictues. The distance pictures at f2.8 were much more so - enough that I wouldn't use it for walk-about stuff unless I had to because I needed a faster shutter speed. That doesn't bother me at all, since at 35 mm the dof is pretty large at longer distances so using a large aperture isn't as useful as f2.8 on a 200 lens is outside. I think the FA 31 is going to take a back seat for quite a while - Dan's iPad comes next, then the DA*16-50. By that time I'll have an idea if I want to add the expensive legendary lens just because I want it. Right now I'm not sure I really do want it.
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