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The "Pancake" Pentax DA f2.8/40mm Limited lens

We had the opportunity to try out the new Pentax DA f2.8/40mm Limited lens, which - with an equivalent of 61mm - offers a perspective similar to the naked eye. With an ultra-thin "Pancake" design, this lens makes the *istDS look more like a "supersized" compact than a full grown SLR.. The lens cap has a very clever design, simply unscrewing the centre from the lenscap transforms it into a lenshood to protect the lens from stray light causing flare...
See all currently available Pentax lenses

Here you'll find our full Pentax *istDS review inluding sample photos of the DA 40mm lens

SUMMARY

We had the opportunity to try out the new Pentax DA f2.8/40mm Limited lens, which - with an equivalent of 61mm - offers a perspective similar to the naked eye. Designed specifically for digital photography, it is not backwards compatible and therefore cannot be used on conventional 35mm Pentax cameras. With an ultra-thin design and a closest focusing distance of 40 cm, this lens makes the *istDS look more like a "supersized" compact than a full grown SLR. A nine-blade diaphragm assures true to life reproduction of out of focus areas and you can use regular 49mm filters on the lens or 30,5mm filters on the combined lens cap/hood. The lens cap on the 40mm Limited lens combines both in a very clever design. Simply unscrewing the centre from the lenscap transforms it into a lenshood to protect the lens from stray light causing flare. Build quality is excellent with no play in the focusing ring and a nice smooth feel when using it. Just like the zoom lens supplied with the *istDS, this new 40mm lens has the Quick Shift Focusing system which makes it easy to override the auto focus by simply turning the focusing ring by hand.

Of course the main advantage of a f2.8 prime lens is that you can take handheld shots in available light at faster shutter speeds than with a "slow" zoom lens of say f3.5 or f4.5. Another characteristic is that when using maximum aperture, the main subject will stand out from the background - as it is the only part of the image in focus - while everything else will be rendered unsharp and fade away into the distance. A nice side effect is that a prime lens keeps you fitter than a zoom lens as you have to use your feet to compose an image instead of zooming in or out.

But joking aside, all test shots we took with this Pentax f2.8/40mm lens were extremely detailed and showed a nice, natural rendition of colours. Contrast was superb and what little softness there was in the extreme corners of the image disappeared when stopping down a bit. There is some very slight barrel distortion, but it is so minimal that you will barely notice it in day to day photography. Vignetting and chromatic aberration are kept well under control and we have to conclude that this Pentax f2.8/40mm Limited is a welcome addition to the digital range of Pentax lenses already on the market.

Additional information: See all currently available Pentax lenses
February 27, 2005
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