Pentax has a solid and interesting lens lineup. Pentax collection is not as large as Canon or Nikon, but Pentax has many unique lenses with solid image and built quality. All Pentax DSLR cameras has built-in image stabilization (Pentax calls it Shake Reduction technology). So every lenses mounted in Pentax camera will has that benefit.
Pentax has several class of lenses:
- Consumer grade (DA lenses),
- DA* (DA star): weather/waterproof lenses
- DA Limited: high quality small lenses
- FA lens: Pentax lenses from 35mm (full frame) film camera era which is compatible with Pentax digital SLR cameras.
Note: Supersonic Drive Motor = Smooth and quiet auto focus lens. It is reported that SDM is slower than Canon USM (ultrasonic motor).
You may notice not all the lenses are on the table, especially old/legacy lenses. I do it on purpose because many legacy lenses are not available to buy new, and the old one might be pretty hard to find.
In zoom lens category, Pentax has a complete lens line up from fish eye to superzoom lens. Pentax has several great value for money lenses in this category such as Pentax 17-70mm f/4 which is better than Canon 17-85mm and DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 which is high quality waterproof Pentax zoom lens. Compared to Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8, Pentax 16-50mm offers better value for your money. Recently, Pentax also launch consumer lenses with WR (water resistant) along with their flagship camera, Pentax K7.
BQ = Built Quality | IQ = Image Quality| Price: Approximate street price Fall 2009
|Canon Zoom lens||BQ||IQ||Price||Pentax zoom lens||BQ||IQ||Price|
|Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM||7||8||$750||Pentax 12-24mm f/4||8||8||$750|
|Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS||4||5||kit||Pentax 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6||6||5||kit|
|Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS||6||-||$450|
|Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM||7||6||$430||Pentax 17-70mm f/4 AL IF SDM||7||8||$500|
|Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM||7||-||$750||Pentax 16-45mm f/4||7||8||$600|
|Canon EF-S 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM||7||6||$415|
|Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM||7||8||$1025||Pentax DA*16-50mm f/2.8 ED AL IF SDM||9||7||$775|
|Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS||6||7||$250||Pentax 50-200mm f/4-5.6||6||5||$225|
|Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM||7||7||$540||Pentax 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6||5||7||$350|
|Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS||7||7||$575||Pentax 18-250mm f/3.5-5.6||5||6||-|
|Pentax 10-17mm f/2.5-4.5 fisheye||9||8||$550|
|Pentax 18-55mm WR||7||5||K7 kit|
|Pentax 55-200mm WR||7||5||$250|
Pro grade zoom lenses
Pentax has some unique lenses in this category, 50-135mm and 65-250mm. These lens’ focal length is designed to mimic popular focal length in full frame DSLR cameras. 50-135mm is equivalent to 75-200mm while 60-250mm is equivalent to 90-350mm. As we know, Pentax does not have any full frame DSLR cameras, unlike Sony, Canon and Nikon.
In my opinion, Pentax is lagging quite severely in this category. Pentax need more lenses to fill the gap such as fast (f/2.8) telephoto zoom and high quality super zoom lens which is very popular for travelers.
|Canon L Zoom lens||BQ||IQ||Price||Pentax zoom lens||BQ||IQ||Price|
|Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8||9||9||$1500||Pentax DA*16-50mm f/2.8 ED AL IF SDM||9||8||$775|
|Canon EF 17-40mm f/4||9||8||$750|
|Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8||9||9||$1300|
|Canon 24-105mm f/4 L USM||9||8||$1100|
|Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 SDM||9||9||$1000|
|Canon EF 70-200mm f/4||9||9||$650|
|Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 IS||9||10||$1250||Pentax DA* 65-250mm f/4 SDM||9||9||$1500|
|Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM||9||9||$1250|
|Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 USM IS||9||9||$1950|
|Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6 IS USM||8||7||$1650|
Canon vs Pentax prime lenses
Pentax shines in this category with Pentax DA Limited prime lenses. This lens is tiny, lightweight yet their image and built quality are exceptional. Unlike Canon or Nikon brand, Pentax has built-in stabilization in their cameras. So you will get this advantage when using Pentax prime lenses. Last year (2008), Pentax prime lenses are cheaper, but due to global financial crisis and Yen appreciation, the price rises significantly. But still, Pentax prime lenses offer a good value for money.
|Canon prime lens||BQ||IQ||Price||Pentax prime lens||BQ||IQ||Price|
|Canon 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye||7||7||$700||Pentax 15mm f/4||9||8||$550|
|Canon 20mm f/2.8 USM||6||6||$430||Pentax 21mm f/3.2 Limited pancake||9||9||$500|
|Canon 24mm f/2.8||6||6||$325|
|Canon 28mm f/2.8||6||7||$275|
|Canon 35mm f/2||6||7||$320||Pentax 40mm f/2.8 Limited pancake||9||9||$475|
|Canon 50mm f/1.8||3||7||$90|
|Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM||7||8||$400||Pentax 50mm f/1.4||7||7||$350|
|Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM||7||9||$440||Pentax 70mm f/2.4 Limited||9||9||$550|
|Canon 100mm f/2 USM||7||9||$425|
|Canon 135mm f/2.8 SF||7||8||$550|
|Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM||8||9||$600||Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro||8||9||$550|
|Canon 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM||7||9||$400||Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro||8||9||$525|
Pro grade prime lenses
Unlike Canon, Pentax does not have many hi-grade prime lens which has big aperture such as f/1.2 or f/1.4. It might be because Canon camera has a bigger mount. Today, Pentax still relies on FA lenses from the film era: 31, 43 and 77mm. Like telephoto zoom category, Pentax needs to add more collection to compete with other brand. Prime lenses are good for many application such as sports, portraits, wildlife, etc.
|Canon prime lens||BQ||IQ||Price||Pentax prime lens||BQ||IQ||Price|
|Canon 14mm f/2.8 II L||9||8||$2200|
|Canon 24mm f/1.4 L||9||8||$1900|
|Canon 35mm f/1.4 L||9||9||$1950||Pentax FA 31mm f/1.8||9||10||$1000|
|Pentax FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited pancake||9||8||$600|
|Canon 50mm f/1.2 L||9||8||$1600||Pentax DA* 55mm f/1.4||9||8||$700|
|Canon 85mm f/1.2 L||9||10||$2000||Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8||9||10||$650|
|Canon 135mm f/2 L||9||10||$1000|
|Canon 200mm f/2.8 L||9||9||$1000||Pentax DA* 200mm f/2.8 SDM||10||9||$1000|
|Canon 200mm f/2 L IS||10||10||$5300|
|Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS||10||10||$4600|
|Canon 300mm f/4 L IS||9||9||$1300||Pentax DA* 300mm f/4 SDM||10||9||$1250|
|Canon 400mm f/2.8 L IS||10||9||$6750|
|Canon 400mm f/4 DO IS||9||8||$6000|
|Canon 400mm f/5.6||9||8||$1300|
|Canon 500mm f/4 IS||9||8||$6000|
|Canon 600mm f/4 IS||9||8||$8250|
|Canon 800mm f/5.6 IS||9||8||$11500|
|Canon 100mm f/2.8 L hybrid IS macro||-||-||-|
Overall, Pentax lens collection offers good value for money especially because Pentax cameras has built-in image stabilization. Pentax lenses are also interesting, such as the DA Limited pancake lenses which is very small but high quality. The main weaknesses of Pentax lens collection will be in telephoto zoom and prime category. If Pentax works on this category and built lenses that has faster auto focus and big aperture, then, many sports or wildlife photographers will find Pentax an interesting system to look at.