Pentax’s smc DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited is a mid-range standard focal length lens that acts like a 50mm macro on full frame. The lens achieves this through a one-to-one magnification in a normal focal length, making it an ideal everyday lens for photographers who have an affinity for snapping colorful and texturized detail shots, close-up portraits, or medium-sized documentary-style photos.

The lens’ aluminum construction and compact size further makes it an attractive lens for Pentax DSLR users. But do Pentax’s claims of the lens producing pictures with strong image quality, low distortion, and maximum light transmission hold true?

Measurements

Pros of the Pentax smc DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited include:

  • Limited distortion.
  • Well controlled chromatic aberration, which was registered across all apertures.
  • Excellent control of vignetting, especially at apertures f/4 and above.
  • Brigtness is strong, with a transmission score of 3.2 T-stop.

Weak points of the Pentax smc DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited include:

  • Resolution, while acceptable, could be much crisper.
  • Widest aperture of f/2.8 is a bit restricting, especially for a fixed focal length.

Comparisons

Pentax smc DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited vs Pentax smc DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited vs Pentax smc DA 35mm f/2.4 AL mounted on a Pentax K-5

Besides the smc DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited, Pentax offers a number of similar prime lenses for photographers to choose from, including its pancake-like lens called the Pentax smc DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited, and the extra bright smc DA 35mm f/2.4 AL. All three lenses offer image quality with very limited distortion, excellent control of vignetting, and nearly identical resolution.

However, the trio do have their differences.

Benefits of the Pentax smc DA 40mm f/2.8 Limited include:

  • Its sleek, compact, and ultra light-weight body.

Advantages of the Pentax smc DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited include:

  • Its macro function, giving photographers the ability to deliver pictures with very shallow depth of field.

Perks for the Pentax smc DA 35mm f/2.4 AL include:

  • Its value and price. Costing $220 (USD), the smc DA 35mm f/2.4 is more than $120 cheaper than the next most affordable lens – the 40mm f/2.8 Limited.
  • Its brightness, with a transmission score of 2.6 T-stop. This makes the lens a huge asset in lowlight environments.

In many ways, the race for image quality superiority between these three Pentax lenses is a close finish. Those debating purchasing any of these three lenses should more heavily weigh their needs. Do you need a macro? Pick the 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited. Need a light-weight everyday lens? The pancake-like 40mm f/2.8 Limited is your glass of choice. Need a lens that performs well in the dark? The 35mm f/2.4 AL should be at the top of your list.

Pentax smc DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited mounted on the Pentax K-5 vs. Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G mounted on the Nikon D7000 vs. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II mounted on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Photographers deciding between a Pentax, Nikon, or Canon camera body may find the performance of these three lenses – all grouped together because of their similar focal length and angle when mounted on their respective camera body – persuasive to their final decision.

Strengths of the Pentax smc DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited:

  • Significantly less vignetting, especially going head-to-head against Canon’s EF 50mm f/1.8 II.

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II comes out on top for:

  • Having the best resolution of the bunch.
Limiting resolution map in the image field at selected focal length and aperture f/5.6
  • Its brightness brightest, having an effective f-stop of f/2.1.
  • Its compactness and lightweight.

The Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G succeeds at:

  • Limiting distortion, trumping both Pentax’s and Canon’s lenses in this comparison.

Pentax’s 35mm macro lens shares a similar score and image quality to Nikon’s 40mm micro lens. But the two are no competition when going up against Canon’s 50mm f/1.8 II mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The Canon couple is far more superior in resolution sharpness, brightness, and at tapping down chromatic aberration.