Pentax DA Star-series gets a new wide-angle zoom, and there’s an updated 35mm f/2 full-frame prime, too
posted Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 9:59 AM EDT
Heads-up, Pentaxians! Ricoh has just launched two new lenses for the Pentax K-mount. One's an update of an existing full-frame lens, and the other is a long-awaited wide-angle zoom addition to the high-performance Star series line.
HD PENTAX-FA35mmF2 full-frame prime
The HD PENTAX-FA35mmF2 lens is an update of the existing smc PENTAX-FA 35mmF2AL, which first launched almost exactly two decades ago, back in mid-1999. Most obviously, the body of the lens has been restyled to match that of other recent Pentax lenses. The name has also changed, both to reflect the company's current conventions and the presence of updated lens coatings. Ricoh has added Pentax's High Definition lens coating, which is more durable and yet also brings improved color balance and flare-resistance. (We were particularly impressed with the latter aspect when we first tried the coating on the Limited lens lineup a few years back.)
The new body is about two grams lighter than before, but in other respects the lens' specifications and capabilities are identical to those of its predecessor, save for the improvements allowed by the new lens coatings. It's still a KAF-mount optic, meaning that there's no autofocus motor in the lens, and you must instead rely on your K-mount body's screw-drive AF motor. With a focal length of 35mm, the lens yields a 53.5mm-equivalent focal length when mounted on an APS-C body or used in crop mode on a full-frame body.
Apertures range from f/2 to f/22, and the FA35mmF2 can focus to as close as 0.98 feet (0.3m) for a 0.17x maximum magnification. As before, there's a six-element, five-group optical formula with one aspherical element at the very rear. The lens iris also retains its existing six-bladed design, and there are still 49mm threads afront the lens, with which to mount optional filters.
Dimensions are 2.5 inches (6.4cm) in diameter, and a compact 1.8 inches (4.45cm) in length, with a weight of just 6.8 ounces (193g) lens-only, or 7.5 ounces (213g) with the lens hood mounted.
Available for preorder from January 31, 2019 for US$400, the HD Pentax-FA35mmF2 lists for some $110 more than the current street price for the 20-year old smc PENTAX-FA 35mmF2AL. That price includes a PH-RBG49 lens hood, O-LC49 lens cap and S80-80 lens case.
HD PENTAX-DA★11-18mmF2.8ED DC AW sub-frame zoom
Unlike the full-frame 35mm prime, the sub-frame HD PENTAX-DA★11-18mmF2.8ED DC AW zoom lens is an entirely new model, although not quite an entirely new announcement. Development of this optic was first revealed at Photo Plus Expo way back in late 2017, and the lens was originally expected to ship last summer. That date may have slipped a little, but you can now preorder immediately for around US$1,400.
So what do you get for your money? Well, the KAF3-mount 11-18mmf2.8ED is a pretty interesting sub-frame optic, with 35mm-equivalent focal lengths ranging from 17-27.5mm, and a fixed maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a minimum of f/22 across that zoom range. There's also a quiet, swift DC autofocus motor that can focus to as close as 0.98 feet (0.3m) for a maximum magnification of 0.10x.
The zoom has a much more complex 16-element, 11-group optical formula, and there's a 9-element aperture iris which is rounded from f2.8 to f/4.5 at the 11mm position, or to f/5.0 at the 18mm position. Up front you'll find 82mm filter threads, and of course Pentax's HD coatings are applied here too.
One rather unusual feature of the 11-18mmF2.8ED lens is that there's support for an optional dew-heating strip that warms the lens through its metal chassis to help prevent condensation, all without blocking the focus ring. There's also a focus clamp and, as you'd expect for a Star-series lens, comprehensive dust and weather-sealing.
Dimensions are 3.5 inches (9cm) in diameter and 3.9 inches (10cm) in length, with a weight of 24.8 ounces (704g) lens-only, or 26.1 ounces (739g) with bundled PH-RBF82 lens hood. An O-LC82 lens cap and S120-150 lens case are also included in the product bundle.