Head Over Heels For The Plastic Fantastic – Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4

My go to DSLR lens for when I want to go back to basics is the Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4.

It’s compact, very light, simple (no aperture ring, basic focus ring with no distance markings), auto focuses quickly, and delivers fabulous images, especially considering its low cost.

The focal length of 35mm equates to a field of view of 52.5mm on my Pentax APS-C DSLRs, right in the middle of the 50 and 55mm lenses I’ve used most extensively on film, so very comfortable and familiar.

At f/2.4 it’s fast for a 35mm, and wide open is sharp enough, with smooth bokeh for a lens this wide.

The minimum focus is not as good as the Pentax-F 35-70mm, but close enough most of the time, and it’s just the ideal lens to stick on a DSLR and shoot without thinking much about anything but composition.

Plus of course it’s a prime, so need to make any decisions about zooming.

There’s a reason it’s nicknamed the “Plastic Fantastic”.

Here are a few photographs from my most recent outing with it, paired with the ever faithful Pentax K-m.

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Which lens do you reach for when you want simple, no-frills pleasures?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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11 thoughts on “Head Over Heels For The Plastic Fantastic – Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4”

  1. Beautiful captures, Dan! I wanted a “regular” prime for my K-5 and the DA 35mm f2.4 was high on my list based on its PentaxForums rating of 9.7 (9.1 for sharpness!). I ultimately went with the DA 35mm f2.8 Limited because of its macro and close focus capabilities and the fact that I was able to find a used one at one of my local shops for 20% which brought the cost down to just barely more than the 35mm f2.4.

    I was using my Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 the most until I bought the 35, which has hardly left my camera in the last month.

    Of course, the Pentax F 35-70mm is easily one of the best zooms Pentax has ever produced, in my opinion. I love mine and won’t be getting rid of it anytime soon!

    1. Rob, yes possible the only shortcoming of the 35/2.4 is that it doesn’t focus all that close – fine most of the time, but sometimes I’d like closer. I could just get a close up filter if I wanted, an easy fix. My Pentax Q has a wonderful little 47/1.9 prime, which has a disappointing close focus. I bought a set of close up filters and leave the 2x on it nearly all the time.

      And yes the F 35-70mm is probably the best Pentax zoom I’ve used, and an absolute bargain.

  2. Nice photos Dan! I bought this lens some months ago but haven’t used it yet. Your post has given me a prod to put it onto the Km and get going. Thanks!

    1. You won’t be disappointed Paul, once you get over the fact it’s plastic and flimsy compared with a classic M or A series, it will deliver fantastic results I’m sure.

  3. Plastic fantastic? Youngnuo 35mm f2 (Nikon) , lo uso en digital y analògico, hermoso y barato…

  4. Went out today ( a sunny Winter’s day) with the new lens, and you’re quite right Dan, it does perform well – perfect for close-ups around the garden. With its 49mm filter thread I will be able to use the close-up set and other filters I’ve used with my old Olympus OM1. I will enjoy giving it further outings!

    1. Paul, glad you enjoyed the Plastic Fantastic! I used to have close up filters in 49 and 52mm but can’t find them, I think they went in a purge in the past!

  5. People should stop saying the DA 35 2.4 is a great lens “for the price”. It’s a great lens. Period.
    A few months ago, I bought the DA 35mm Limited f/2.8 Macro. Other than the fact that it focuses down to 1:1, I’m not yet convinced that it’s a better lens. More contrast, deeper colors, yes. Yet the f2.4 seems to have slightly better microcontrast and might be a tad sharper. Both are phenomenal lenses.
    I’m spoiled for choice… I also have the Sigma 30 1.4 Art in the same focal range (I love the normal field of view), which is actually my go-to lens when I just want a lens that will deliver great results with no great effort. But it could also be any of the 35mm lenses, and sometimes it is…
    Due to the very low price I was able to find, I have a DA*16-50mm f/2.8 on the way here… described as being in excellent condition. So who knows, I might have a new “grab and go” lens?
    Ah, before I forget: get a Raynox close-up filter. I want to get one, the results I’ve seen from those are great. It sure would beat my Sigma APO Close-Up filter, which I stopped using because it’s not that great…

    1. I agree about the 35/2.4, the more I use it, the more I enjoy it. I tried out the DA 50/1.8 again the other day and there’s just nothing exciting about it, so I think I’m going to sell it. The 35/2.4 beats it in every way, and for 50mm I’d much rather use my A series with reliable manual focus instead of the twitchy AF of the DA!

      I have used close up filters quite a bit (on other lenses) with great results. My Q’s 47/1.9 has a close up filter permanently attached as it’s nowhere near close enough without one.

      I”m still thinking about the DA 16-45, but I’m not really a wide angle guy most of the time. I’d rather invest in something around 85-100mm.

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