Pentax vs Canon lenses 2009

by Enche Tjin on September 28, 2009

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.

I recommend to get Canon and Nikon lenses at or BH Photo Video. They have stellar services and very competitive price.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason Collin Photography September 29, 2009 at 10:36 am

The Pentax lens lengths are sometimes just hard to get used to, like 50mm-135mm for example. Not wide, not that long.

Pentax user October 29, 2009 at 6:38 am

Jason, 50-135 is the exact field of view as 70-200 on film but weights half of it.
Current pentax lenses are optimised for crop, while canon doesn’t bother releasing such lenses.

Bakin Rabbi April 3, 2010 at 1:41 am

I would like to buy a Pentax Zoom lens 35~300 approximaetly. Please let me know where to search. Thanks.
Bakin Rabbi

Enche Tjin April 3, 2010 at 1:46 am

The closest to the spec might be Sigma 18-250mm OS.

Peppo June 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I would like to watch the comparsion table without the intrusion of the right banner (wich not allow compare anything at all!)

Brian Ormerod November 20, 2010 at 4:30 am

Apologies…am I missing something? you appear to repeat entries for the Pentax 16-50mm f2.8 in consumer zoom and pro zoom lists but with different scores for IQ. Can you please clarify


Brian Ormerod

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