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The Pentax lens repertoire seems to have its fair share of prime or single focal length lenses, bucking the trend towards the ubiquitous zoom. Many of these Pentax primes are described as Limited, not in the sense of them having a short production life, but rather in the limited number that can be made of these hand assembled, superior optics. The price is relatively high, so the questions are do these lenses indeed have superior finish and construction and are they of a higher optical standard? We shall now attempt to find the answers.
A special extending lens hood, also in high grade aluminium, at first seems to be part of the lens but can be removed and 49mm screw filters can then be fitted. The lens design harks back to the M series days in that distance scales are viewed through a cut out. Depth of Field markings are also provided. The engraving of all the various markings is absolutely superb. The lens cap, again aluminium, is a generously deep push-on design that is lined with black plush velvet. There is no tendency for this to fall off.
There is no aperture ring on this lens, in common with most of the DSLR lens range. As befits a high end lens, a proper bayonet rear cap is provided rather than the push on transit type that comes with the kit lenses.
Focusing is smooth and fast on the K-5 and the added advantage of Quick Shift is available. After AF has locked on, the focusing ring can be adjusted to tweak the final focus position. In this test, this never proved to be necessary but it can be a very useful feature. Manual focus is nicely damped and although a different feel to the classic manual focus lenses it is functionally perfectly satisfactory.
The 70mm focal length is perfect for portraits and during this test I was able to try this out extensively on a couple of photoshoots. This is always a personal choice, but when using film I preffered to use 100mm lenses, so this is as close to the same thing as it gets.
Short telephoto lenses are also very useful for picking out details in general photography and, coupled with such a compact size, this may well be an outstanding lens for general travel.
Those who enjoy fine engineering will also appreciate this lens, but it takes pictures as well and its handling is spot on.
With such a compact design, I had expected that there would be significant pincushion distortion, but the smaller sensor size does seem to have made lens design easier here. In fact there is indeed pincushion distortion, as with most strong telephoto designs, but it is fairly minimal and in general use not apparent. A better than expected result.
Flare, in common with other Pentax lenses I have tested, is very well controlled and almost impossible to induce. The effective pull out hood helps here as well as the SMC coating.
Of course, in the end, these measurements give us clues as to how a lens will perform, but it is the practical result that is most important. The 70mm delivers a very high standard of performance and produces very clean, sharp and contrasty images with a minimum of distortion, flare or CA.
|A compact, superbly built lens with real optical bite makes an ideal short telephoto for Pentax users.|
SMC Pentax-DA 70mm f/2.4 Limited: ProsHigh quality of construction
High optical quality
SMC Pentax-DA 70mm f/2.4 Limited: ConsPrice
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
|Equivalent to 35mm format||105mm|
|Angle of View||68 degrees|
|Construction||6 elements / 5 groups|
|Focusing Range||0.7m - infinity|
|Dimensions (Length x Diameter)||26 x 63mm|
|Kit Content||Front cap
|Special Features||Quick Shift focusing
Super Protect coating