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PentaxsmcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black)
 
4.9

(based on 82 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (73)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (7)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

99%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Strong construction (59)
  • Fast / accurate auto-focus (58)
  • Durable (50)
  • Nice bokeh (46)
  • Consistent output (42)

Cons

  • Heavy (15)
  • Slow focus (6)

Best Uses

  • Night photography (45)
  • Low light (44)
  • Landscape/scenery (35)
  • Weddings (30)
  • General purpose (14)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Photo enthusiast (28), Enthusiast (13), Semi-pro photographer (13), Casual photographer (11), Pro photographer (4)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (51)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

On living with a legend

I don't need to tell you how good the optics or build quality on this lens are. There is ample proof on the internet and, as far as I can tell, it's all...Read complete review

I don't need to tell you how good the optics or build quality on this lens are. There is ample proof on the internet and, as far as I can tell, it's all true. So what I will tell you about is what it's like to use this lens.

The first thing to note is that the FA 31 is not light and svelte like the other Pentax limited primes. It is the largest and heaviest of the bunch and takes a different filter size. Size-wise, it's the same as the Pentax 18-55 kit zoom, but a good bit heavier. The upside of its size is that it gives you a good, solid place to hold the camera. But a K-x with this lens won't fit in your coat pocket like the DA 40 will. The thing to keep in mind about this lens is that on an APS-C camera, it is not fulfilling its original design purpose as a wide-angle. Thus the lens is larger than it needs to be for a "normal" angle of view and its hood is rather vestigial as a result.

The fix for the hood is to use a Kalt (or other brand) 49mm short metal hood on a 58-49mm step down ring. This allows the hood to be removed and 49mm filters to be used, a common size for other Pentax limiteds (if you have them). I also leave the opulent, felt-lined cap at home and use a Bower center-pinch cap (58mm fits the hood and can also be used directly on the lens). This combination looks right at home on the FA 31 and provides solid protection as well as effective shade for the front element.

The second thing to note about this lens is that it is not a focusing-speed demon. It's not as slow as some macro lenses or fast primes in other systems (although I have not used it for action yet), but it is marginally slower than other screw-drive lenses I have used and much slower than lenses with built-in motors. It also makes some noise when focusing, but not any more than other screw-drive lenses. One nice aspect related to the focus speed, however, is that the focus ring has a long enough throw to allow accurate manual focusing and has a smooth, well-damped feel as you turn it. That focus ring does rotate when the lens auto-focuses, which some may consider a bit primitive. However, this doesn't bother me and is a small price to pay for the combination of size and aperture.

If you prefer the classic, "normal lens" angle of view, this is the best option in the Pentax system. It's not the most portable or affordable, but its optical quality and build have nothing to apologize for.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

Incredibly well made but...

...super soft at f/1.8. I own a number of fast lens including a few 50mm f/1.2 that blow this away at 1.8-2.0. The Pentax 31 (my copy?) didn't...Read complete review

...super soft at f/1.8. I own a number of fast lens including a few 50mm f/1.2 that blow this away at 1.8-2.0. The Pentax 31 (my copy?) didn't start to sharpen up till about 2.8 and was razor sharp at f4. But thats not why I bought it. Nice dreamy renderings at 2.8 but my 30 year old Takumar is better wide open. I'm sorry but for this much money, and for its reputation, I expected a bit more. I returned for the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and never looked back.

Reviewed by 82 customers

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5.0

A true classic

By zedom

from Montreal

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Strong Construction

Cons

  • Slow Focus

Best Uses

  • Indoors/Low Light
  • Night Photography

Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

i now have all 3 FA Limited lens. began with the 43mm, then the 77mm. i hesitated a long time for this 31mm. was not sure to like the size and the range. i bought it for my 50th birthday to complete my collection. i'm very happy with it. as good image quality as the 2 others, style, design and built quality even better. i use it with my K5II. it's a kit i will always keep. i hope someday Pentax will make a full frame to pair with these fine lens, but i fully enjoy there aps-c for the moment.

  • Was this a gift?:
  • No

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(0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

The Finest AF Lenses

By Christian V.

from Fairfax, VA

About Me Semi-pro Photographer

Pros

  • Consistent Output
  • Durable
  • Easily Interchangeable
  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
  • Lightweight
  • Nice Bokeh
  • Strong Construction

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Indoors/Low Light
    • Landscape/Scenery
    • Night Photography
    • Video
    • Weddings/Events

    Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

    These are film-era lenses with screw-drive autofocus. Pretty quick but make a slight noise.

    The older SMC coating is also prone to fringing wide-open in high contrast situations. Luckily there's a PP adjustment in your Pentax body to help minimize.

    Quirks aside, they quite possibly capture the most stunning and vibrant photos on film or your DSLR sensor, which help explain their continued production and high demand.

    The FA-31 is the biggest and baddest of the trio. When you need the extra degree of coverage for group shots and landscapes. Downside is the extra weight and bulk.

    If you are good at composition, your photos WILL stand out!

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    5.0

    Lovely Lens

    By ML

    from FL

    About Me Pro Photographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Nice Bokeh

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Indoors/Low Light
      • Night Photography

      Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

      I bought this lens as an alternative to the DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 for use in travel photography. It is smaller and lighter, without sacrificing quality. So far, I love it, although I haven't yet used it extensively and I am adjusting to the trade-off of the flexibility of the DA* 16-50mm. Haven't decided yet if I will go back to the DA* 16-50mm as my go-to travel & walk-around lens.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Leica in Disguise

      By BNapa

      from Las Vegas, NV

      About Me Pro Photographer

      Pros

      • A Tank Of A Lens
      • Consistent Output
      • Durable
      • Easily Interchangeable
      • Fast / accurate auto-focus
      • Nice Bokeh
      • Rugged
      • Strong Construction

      Cons

      • Serious Ca At Wide Open

      Best Uses

      • Indoors/Low Light
      • Landscape/Scenery
      • Night Photography
      • Video
      • Weddings/Events

      Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

      This lens is super sharp even wide open. The only drawback in my opinion is serious CA at wide open. The CA goes away by f4.

      I have mixed feelings about the CA issue. I am paying top dollar for a prime lens and I do not want CA. At the same time the lens is perfect in every other respect. If you did not see the Pentax logo on it, it can easily be mistaken for a Leica lens. That in itself is a mjor accomplishment for Pentax.

      All said and done, it is a keeper. Quit complaining and start creating images!!

      I have rediscovered the joy of photography with this lens and my new Pentax K5IIs. What a combo!

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      happy

      By luis

      from PE,CA

      Verified Buyer

      Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

      really like the color

      Share this review

      (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Great deal Pentax

      By Mikhail

      from Ural, Russia

      About Me Photo Enthusiast

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Nice Bokeh
      • Strong Construction

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Indoors/Low Light
        • Landscape/Scenery
        • Sports/Action
        • Video
        • Weddings/Events

        Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

        Benchmark lens. Nice bokeh and razor sharp same time. Exellent built. Price...who care?

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        4.0

        Beautiful Lens

        By Len

        from Richmond, VA

        About Me Casual Photographer

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Consistent Output
        • Nice Bokeh
        • Rugged
        • Strong Construction

        Cons

        • A little pricey

        Best Uses

        • Indoors/Low Light
        • Landscape/Scenery
        • Night Photography

        Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

        I am a novice to photography but had read the reviews on this lens. First, B&H Photo delivered the lens in a timely fashion that required my signature. They wanted to make sure I received it. Second, it was well packaged. Finally, the lens is as advertised. I have taken several pictures with it and the photos are tremendous! I can only imagine how good my pictures will get as I improve in understanding lighting, camera settings, etc. Thanks B&H!

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        (4 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

         
        3.0

        Incredibly well made but...

        By famatta

        from Chicago

        About Me Semi-pro Photographer

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Nice Bokeh
        • Rugged
        • Strong Construction

        Cons

        • Poor in Low Light
        • Slow Focus

        Best Uses

          Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

          ...super soft at f/1.8. I own a number of fast lens including a few 50mm f/1.2 that blow this away at 1.8-2.0. The Pentax 31 (my copy?) didn't start to sharpen up till about 2.8 and was razor sharp at f4. But thats not why I bought it. Nice dreamy renderings at 2.8 but my 30 year old Takumar is better wide open. I'm sorry but for this much money, and for its reputation, I expected a bit more. I returned for the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and never looked back.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

          Share this review

          (0 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

           
          3.0

          I would buy this product again

          By Leaf

          from FL

          About Me Casual Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Fast / accurate auto-focus
          • Strong Construction

          Cons

          • Heavy
          • Weak Casing

          Best Uses

          • Landscape/Scenery

          Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

          Overall, that's great! I recommend

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          (0 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Awesome optics

          By Roy

          from Seattle, WA

          Verified Buyer

          Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

          Will be my walkaround lens. It is just fantastic.

          Share this review

          (8 of 15 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          B&H Shipping Needs Improvement

          By Chuck

          from Pacific Northwest

          Verified Reviewer

          Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

          First a critique of B&H shipping. It's a [$] lens, please pack the lens carefully. The box arrives semi-crunched. The one single bag of air that was put in the box is deflated. The lens box has a small rip in it. Surprisingly the lens works. This is not the first time B&H has used such skimpy packing or where the bag is deflated, but the first time the product box appeared to suffer as a result. The rest of the world uses packing peanuts, you should look into it so that my lens didn't play pinball from NY to WA.Now the lens...it is bigger than it looks in the picture. I see what people say when they say it's a bit heavy. After using the 43mm I expected the same sort of magic. Didn't see it. Hoping that its not because I have a bad copy or because the lens doesn't quite work the way it should due to the way it was shipped. But I'm not willing to eat the shipping to send it back since the lens seems to work.

          Share this review

          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Incredible, performance and Construction

          By b2promo

          from Hermitage, PA

          About Me Semi-pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Consistent Output
          • Durable
          • Easily Interchangeable
          • Fast / accurate auto-focus
          • Nice Bokeh
          • Rugged
          • Strong Construction

          Cons

            Best Uses

              Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

              What a lens! I have it attached to a Pentax K5 and the pictures are absolutely wonderful. The quality of the build make you feel like you purchased a excellent quality lens and don't feel you payed too much. Low light performance is outstanding.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (3 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              great but...

              By Choupina

              from Montpellier, France

              About Me Semi-pro Photographer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Consistent Output
              • Durable
              • Easily Interchangeable
              • Fast / accurate auto-focus
              • Nice Bokeh
              • Strong Construction

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Indoors/Low Light
                • Landscape/Scenery
                • Night Photography
                • Weddings/Events

                Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

                Very good lens as you can read every where, a little less for chromatic aberrations.
                I have a 77mm limted made in Japan, I was disappointed to discover when I opened the box that this 31mm is made in Vietnam, for this very high price item I would have expected a Made in Japan stamp.... ( about rate on the second hand market I imagine the Japanese will be higher in the future)

                • Was this a gift?:
                • No

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                (0 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                very good lens

                By nico34

                from Montpellier, France

                About Me Photo Enthusiast

                Verified Reviewer

                Pros

                • Durable
                • Nice Bokeh
                • Strong Construction

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Indoors/Low Light
                  • Landscape/Scenery
                  • Night Photography
                  • Weddings/Events

                  Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

                  Very happy with this lens for all the qualities describe everywhere on the web.
                  Juste one thing where I'm disappointed, I have a limited 77mm pentax bought second hand and he is made in Japan. When I open the box of the 31mm I realize it was not made anymore in Japan but assembled in Vietnam.

                  I would have expect a lower price for a vietnamese lens...
                  I would be not surprised that in the second hand market the price will be different depending where it was made...

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Sharper than a Samurai sword!

                  By vanillarice

                  from Perth, Australia

                  About Me Photo Enthusiast

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Consistent Output
                  • Durable
                  • Easily Interchangeable
                  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                  • Nice Bokeh
                  • Strong Construction

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Indoors/Low Light
                    • Landscape/Scenery
                    • Night Photography
                    • Video
                    • Weddings/Events

                    Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

                    I think I am in love with this lens! It is built like a fine Swiss watch, has a great weight to it and has the mechanical quality of a prestige German car... a Porsche.

                    Optically, it is stunning! It has the razor sharpness and smooth creamy bokeh that is found in similar wide angle Ziess/Leica lens designs but at a fraction of the price. Focusing is generally excellent.

                    Images show amazing life-like definition and contrast. For a wide angle lens it has very low distortion, great edge to edge sharpness and performs well (even wide open). Stopped down to F4 and beyond it is equal to better than some of the best lenses that I have used.

                    It looks and feels like it was meant for business and will be useful for all times that you need a bright standard lens on the Pentax APS-C format. I'm positive it will be my main lens for most situations and when I die you will have to pry it from my cold hands.

                    My only gripe is that you cannot fit a polarizing filter. Luckily I can use my 12-24 F4 for any landscape shots that require the optical benefits of that filter, so all is not lost.

                    I use it for both indoor and outdoor shots, and for most purposes I can think that a standard lens should cover. In fact, it hasn't left my camera since I first attached it. I am convinced that I will buy another body just so I can use it all the time with as little fuss as possible. It's THAT good!

                    Highly recommended. If you are a Pentax user then this lens should definitely be in your kit.

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No

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                    (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Mottai

                    By Mottai thr resarcher

                    from Nagoya, Japan

                    About Me Casual Photographer

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                          Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

                          This is a wonderful lens.

                          • Was this a gift?:
                          • No

                          Share this review

                           
                          5.0

                          Best limited lens from Pentax

                          By Arthur

                          from San Jose, CA

                          About Me Photo Enthusiast

                          Verified Buyer

                          Pros

                          • Consistent Output
                          • Durable
                          • Easily Interchangeable
                          • Nice Bokeh
                          • Rugged
                          • Strong Construction

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                            • Indoors/Low Light
                            • Landscape/Scenery
                            • Night Photography
                            • Weddings/Events

                            Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

                            Great lens. Piece of gem. Great fun to use. The best bokeh in Pentax limited lenses.
                            The only thing I don't like is, the flare and ghost seems to be severe/obvious for FA 31, which wasn't expected by me due to the so called "ghostless" coating.

                            • Was this a gift?:
                            • No

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                            5.0

                            Amazing Lens!

                            By Brently

                            from Union, OR

                            About Me Photo Enthusiast

                            Verified Buyer

                            Pros

                            • Consistent Output
                            • Durable
                            • Easily Interchangeable
                            • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                            • Nice Bokeh
                            • Strong Construction

                            Cons

                            • Pricey but worth it

                            Best Uses

                            • Indoors/Low Light
                            • Landscape/Scenery
                            • Night Photography
                            • Sports/Action
                            • Weddings/Events
                            • Wildlife Photos

                            Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

                            I recently purchased a Pentax K-5 body. I wanted to choose a specific lens to fulfill my photography needs. I shoot mostly landscapes, so I wanted a fairly wide angle lens. This lens is perfect for what I do. This lens is extremely smooth and fast. I am really in love with the 1.8 f/stop capability! Pictures are very crisp and have amazing colors. Very true to life. The design of the lens is very appealing. I really like that the lens hood and lens are one piece. Very good build quality. Other reviewers say that this lens is heavy, but in my opinion, I love the weight of this lens. It has a nice feel to it when I shoot. I am very pleased with my purchase.

                            • Was this a gift?:
                            • No

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                            (11 of 11 customers found this review helpful)

                             
                            5.0

                            FA31 after using it for 1 year

                            By Paulukas

                            from Vermont & NYC

                            About Me Photo Enthusiast

                            Verified Buyer

                            Pros

                            • Consistent Output
                            • Durable
                            • Nice Bokeh
                            • Rugged
                            • Strong Construction

                            Cons

                              Best Uses

                                Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

                                I bought the Pentax K5 and this lens at the very end of 2010. This is the only lens I have for the K5.The FA31 is the most impressive lens I've used in 45 years, and that includes Nikon F lenses and Zeiss lenses for the Contax SLRs.My favorite attribute of this lens is its bokeh (i.e. how it renders out-of-focus images, especially highlights). I really wanted the Pentax FA43 lens, due to its size/weight and focal length perspective. I prefer a moderate telephoto to a normal. However, when I tried out the FA31 and the FA43 head-to-head on the K5, the bokeh convinced me. It was that apparent, even though the FA43 has very good bokeh. Background highlights were rendered considerably better with the FA31.One thing I will say, on my K5 I've had to use the AutoFocus Adjustment at +4 to correct for backfocus on the FA31. But that's OK - I'm glad the K5 offers that. That being said, it is still very important to nail the focus with this lens.When your subject is between 2-5 feet away, this lens (like the FA43) gives an almost 3-dimensional rendering. Not always, but often enough. Hard to describe. (A picture is definitely worth 1000 words here!) On this attribute, the FA43 is slightly better, IMHO.Even though the FA31 is not weather-resistant, I've had no problems in moderate rain, though I am careful. And I put a wide (1/2") rubber band around the base of the lens where it joins the body to keep moisture out, as that is the weakest link. The rubber band covers both the camera lens mount and the rear of the lens. The lens itself is extremely well-sealed due to its high quality construction in general.All the other positive attributes you see in other reviews are also true for my FA31 (micro-contrast, color rendition, tonal transitions, etc.), but others have said them already!

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                                • No

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                                (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                                 
                                5.0

                                A luxorious wonder

                                By Tord

                                from Gothenburg, Sweden

                                About Me Photography Student

                                See all my reviews

                                Verified Buyer

                                Pros

                                • Durable
                                • Nice Bokeh
                                • Rugged
                                • Strong Construction
                                • Superbly sharp

                                Cons

                                • Hard to focus at times
                                • Heavy

                                Best Uses

                                • Landscape/Scenery
                                • Night Photography
                                • Video

                                Comments about Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (Black):

                                I'll start with the cons:

                                Not too good in back-light conditions.

                                Pros: Superbly sharp at any aperature, feels very much as a pro lens (which it naturally is, considering its price, what it is)!

                                A delight to use, bar in backlight conditions, when it, among other things, can be difficult to focus correctly. been using it on my K-5 and on my Sony NEX-5N (with a suitable adapter)!

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                                • No

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