Monday, May 22, 2006

Pentax DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited Wide Angle Lens Official For July

This lens has been shuffling towards retail for a few months now, and boy am I going to be glad to see it, even though, like most Pentax Limiteds, it's going to one of their more expensive lenses at $549. But why not? It's pancake small and makes for an excellent all-day tourist lens.

Photo Copyright 2006, Pentax Corp.

The DA 21mm F3.2 AL Limited is the first Pentax wide-angle prime lens designed for the 1.5X crop of the APS-C sensor found in the Pentax digital SLRs. This should be the equivalent of a 32mm prime. It's also one of the first such lenses from any manufacturer. It has 8 elements in 5 groups, 7 aperture blades for round bokeh (F3.2 to 22), it can focus to within almost half a foot (0.2m minimum range), and is about the lightest wide-angle prime lens ever designed (4.9oz). That's thanks to the DA line prerogative: automatic aperture control, or no aperture ring, so that your f stops are controlled in-camera, either TTL or manual. It's going to autofocus pretty quickly, too. As for the lens speed, F3.2 may not seem all that fast, but I'll bet that it's sharp as a tack with excellent contrast wide open, and that any wider would have compromised the superb quality for which the Limited lenses are renown.

There's a special floating element that compensates for lens warp and aberration with the 68 degree angle of view, shifting throughout the focusing range to protect the quality. It's also got something Pentax is now referring to as "SP" coating, something they've developed to make dust, oil, and water slide off a layer of fluorine compound (coating the front lens glass) more easily when cleaning. It also comes with a separate lens hood and can take 43mm and 49mm filters.

Want one yet? Get your LBA ready to go this July, when the first lenses ship just in time for the K100D.

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