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HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR Lens Review

John Riley puts the new HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR lens to the test on the full frame Pentax K-1.


|  Pentax FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
 

Pentax 28 105mm With Hood On K1

The new 35mm-format or “full frame” Pentax K-1 is now with us, and here we have the HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR standard zoom to go with it. This is the least expensive of the kit options and also the lightest and most compact of the initial batch of full frame zoom lenses. Is it good enough to make the most of the potential of the format? Let's have a look and find out just what it is capable of.

HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR Handling and Features

Pentax FA 28 105mm (8)

The 28-105mm is very similar in build to many of the APS-C format zooms from Pentax, using high-quality plastics and being finished to a high standard. The zooming ring is wide, with a good grip and a smooth action. The manual focusing ring is much narrower, close to the camera body, and well placed. The action is again smooth, with just the right amount of resistance so that it will not be accidentally turned. There is a well made and solid metal mount. There is a built-in DC motor powering the AF mechanism and it operates very quietly and very quickly.

A clip on lens cap is provided and also an effective bayonet fit petal lens hood. Even with modern lens coatings, it is a good idea to always use a lens hood. It reduces flare and increases image contrast. The lens has the latest HD (High Definition) multi-coating, plus an SP (Super-Protect) coating on the front element to repel water, grease and dirt.

Pentax FA 28 105mm (6)

There are eight seals within this WR (Weather Resistant) lens to prevent the ingress of water and dust, so we can continue to shoot in rain and mist, or anywhere where water splashes are likely. There is also the Quick Shift feature that enables a manual tweak of the focus after the AF system has locked on, without the need to operate any switch. This can be particularly useful for macro subjects.

Optical construction is 15 elements in 11 groups. There are two Aspherical elements, one ED (Extra Low Dispersion) and one Anomalous Dispersion glass element. The diaphragm has nine blades, which helps to improve bokeh, the smoothness of the out of focus areas.

Closest focusing distance is a useful 0.5m, a magnification of 0.22x. There is a 62mm filter thread. Finally, the lens weighs 440g, or 463g with the lens hood.

28-105mm on 35mm-format equates to 43-161mm on APS-C, and this lens can, of course, be used on all the previous crop sensor Pentax DSLRs. For older cameras, the AF system needs a K10D (with firmware 1.3) or later, otherwise it will be manual focus only. This means that all Pentax bodies from the last few years will be fully compatible.

Pentax lenses are always very simple in use, there generally being no special switches or mechanisms that have to be considered. This lens is no exception and is basically hassle-free. It focuses snappily, zooming and focusing actions are smooth and even and the lens hood clips cleanly into place without having to fiddle with it. Balance on the K-1 is excellent and the combination is easily manageable in terms of weight and bulk. There are no handling issues.

Pentax 28 105mm Rear Oblique View
 

HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR Performance

Looking at how the lens performs is very interesting, and very encouraging for potential K-1 purchasers. The idea that a “kit lens” is in some way inferior is absolutely not so in this instance. The reduction in cost reflects the use of plastics and the variable aperture design. This makes for a lower cost, lighter and more compact design but the performance reflects the same rationale as all the other new lenses tested alongside.

As an overall generalisation, the ethos of the design seems to be a high standard of sharpness, very evenly spread across all the apertures and focal lengths. Zoom lenses tend to be much sharper in the centre of the field than the edges, and a higher standard at the wider focal lengths. This 28-105mm is a much more balanced performer.


 

 
Pentax 28 105mm MTF@28mm
MTF @ 28mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. 

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. 

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-1 using Imatest

At 28mm we see -3.26% barrel distortion, fairly typical for a lens of this type. CA (Chromatic aberration) is very well controlled at the centre, and less so at the edges. This can, of course, be dealt with in software.

 
Pentax 28 105mm CA@28mm
CA @ 28mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimise the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-1 using Imatest

 

Sharpness at 28mm is very good, centre and edge, falling to good at f/22 centrally and at f/3.5 and f/16 at the edges. The edges at f/22 are softer and this aperture is best avoided unless depth of field is the major requirement.

Pentax 28 105mm MTF@35mm
Pentax 28 105mm CA@35mm
MTF @ 35mm CA @ 35mm

 

At 35mm distortion is -0.941% barrel, which is very satisfactory for a standard zoom lens. The CA figures are commendably low and not a problem in images. In any event, CA can be tacked in software.

Central sharpness at 35mm is very good from open aperture through to f/22, just weakening at f/29 but still being good. Edge sharpness is very good from wide open to f/16, good at f/22 and just fair at f/29. What is remarkable is that centre and edge give almost identical measurements from f/4 to f/16. The high sharpness is evident all across the image area and clearly Pentax have been determined that their lenses will give a good account of the full frame format.

 

Pentax 28 105mm MTF@50mm Pentax 28 105mm CA@50mm
MTF @ 50mm CA @ 50mm

 

At 50mm we find +1.09% pincushion distortion, which is very acceptable. Image sharpness is very good and incredibly even across the frame from f/4.5 to f/16. Only f/32 drops to only a fair standard, which is not unexpected in most lenses. CA is very tightly controlled and any residual fringing can be attended to in software or by the camera.

Pentax 28 105mm MTF@70mm Pentax 28 105mm CA@70mm
MTF @ 70mm CA @ 70mm

 

At 70mm pincushion distortion rises to +1.55%, still a reasonable value. CA becomes even better controlled and is not a problem. The figures recorded are excellent, and all the more so for being from a standard zoom lens. Image sharpness shows the same remarkable evenness from f/4.5 to f/22, with f/32 dropping away to only fair. It is also worth noting that, unlike many zooms, sharpness has been maintained at the same level right from 28mm up to the telephoto lengths, without any weakening.

Pentax 28 105mm MTF@105mm Pentax 28 105mm CA@105mm
MTF @ 105mm CA @ 105mm

 

105mm gives +1.6% pincushion distortion, again very good. This is the point at which CA at the edges worsens slightly, although the actual effect in the images is not that apparent with most subjects. Sharpness is maintained at very good levels at the centre from wide open to f/22, dropping to fair at f/32 and f/40. At the edges we seem to have reached some limitation in the design, sharpness starting off fair at f/5.6, being very good at f/8 and f/11, good at f/16 and dropping to fair beyond that.

 

In summary, the lens design is very appealing, offering the opportunity to really take advantage of the larger format. Centre and edge sharpness is very high throughout, but more than that it is very evenly matched across the frame, regardless of focal length. It is only at full stretch that it falls way at the edges. However, to be fair that means apertures of f/22 to f/40, where diffraction is bound to have any real effect.

 

Bokeh, the quality of the out of focus areas in an image, is very attractive. It is smooth and subtle. Flare is not a problem, being very difficult to induce at all. The new HD coating is clearly doing its job and with so many elements in current lenses it needs to be able to.

 

Pentax FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR Sample Photos

Value For Money

As the least expensive option to start off with the new K-1 body, this has to be seen as great value compared to the more expensive alternatives. The opening price of the HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm f/3/5-5.6 ED DC WR is £549 if purchased separately, but of course the way forwards is to buy with the K-1 as a package. Then the figures change dramatically and the lens might cost as little as £419.

Looking at what users of other marques have available, there are no real exact equivalents. However, Sigma do offer for Canon and Nikon the Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM (£599). Canon have the EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM (£375) and Nikon the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 G AF-S ED VR (£849).

 

HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR Verdict

This is the lowest cost standard zoom for the new Pentax K-1, but it seems that there have been no compromises on performance. There is a more limited aperture range than some of the alternatives, but this also gives us a more compact and lighter optic. The lens performs very well, with an incredible evenness across its range, with centre and edge matching each other in sharpness over most of the apertures and focal lengths. CA values are low, distortion well within acceptable limits, and to that, we add Weather Resistance as well.

An excellent choice of lens to go with the K-1 body.

HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR Pros

High and very even sharpness 
Smooth bokeh
Fast silent AF
Weather resistance 
Well controlled CA 
Excellent flare resistance
 

HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR Cons

Limited aperture range
Lower edge performance at 105mm

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Highly recommended – An excellent choice as a standard zoom lens for the K-1 full frame body

 

Pentax FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR Specifications

ManufacturerPentax
General
Lens Mounts
  • Pentax K
Lens
Focal Length28mm - 105mm
Angle of View23.5 - 75
Max Aperturef/3.5 - f/5.6
Min Aperturef/22 - f/28
Filter Size62mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalent43mm - 161mm
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus50cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements15
Groups11
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight440g
Height86.5mm

View Full Product Details


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Comments


1 Jan 2018 8:09PM
This is a rather wonderful so called "kit" lens. Not fast by any means, but the general performance and excellent. Oh so sharp all the way through, and quick AF (Finally) with a quietness that equals the big two.
If you don't need a constant F2.8 or F4 throughout the focal range, then this is not to be overlooked.
A cracking lens.

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