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Pentax 31mm F/1.8 FA Limited Lens for Pentax and Samsung SLR Cameras

by Pentax
4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
| 3 answered questions

List Price: $1,559.00
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  • The unique PENTAX smc P-FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited lens offers exceptionally high image quality and a wide-angle perspective.
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  • Pentax 31mm F/1.8 FA Limited Lens for Pentax and Samsung SLR Cameras
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Technical Details


Product Description

Pentax FA 31mm F1.8 Limited Black Lens 20290

Product Details

  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 2.6 x 2.7 inches ; 12.2 ounces
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • ASIN: B000H8FIWU
  • Item model number: 20290
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,613 in Camera & Photo (See Top 100 in Camera & Photo)
  • Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here
  • Date first available at Amazon.com: October 2, 2001

Read about our customers' top-rated cameras and lenses on our review pages: Digital SLR Cameras, Lenses

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

This is 'The lens' that every Pentaxian (well, this is what Pentax user called themselves) wants. It is a 'legendary' lens in the Pentax lens line up. Currently, Pentax have 3 FA limited lens: 31mm, 43mm, and 77mm. Their odd focal length number is also unique and add a sense of special to these 3 lenses. Pentax also have DA series limited for crop-sensor/APS-C cameras (current Pentax dSLR are all APS-C camera except, of course the medium format 645D). The FA limited fit full-frame digital camera, and of course can be use in crop-sensor camera as well. The 3 FA limited lenses are long been crowned as 'the three princess' in Asia, and ordered them according to the date they were introduced, the 43mm is the 'eldest princess', and the 31mm is the 'youngest princess'. More recently, (In US) some less-poetic folks called these three 'The three Amigos', which I think, doesn't fit bill to describe the size and beauty of these lenses (FA* lenses might be more suitable for 'Amigos').

There are various versions of this lens. 1. Silver/Black color; 2. Japan/Vietnam made; 3. Brown/Black leather color lens pouch. Nowadays new FA ltd lens are all Vietnam made, come in Black leather lens pouch, either Silver/Black lens color. There are discussion among Pentax user that the older 'made in Japan' version is better (You can find the discussion and clarification from Ned Bunnell's blog, president of Pentax USA, though he concluded that there is no difference). They usually also command higher price in the 2nd hand market. I think it is personal preference. The old FA ltd that also come with brown lens pouch is more difficult to find (they are like the very first batch produced). A rare version of these 3 lenses come with different color lens pouches to match them as well!
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I'm not the first and will not be the last hobbyist or professional to extol the virtues of this impeccable product. But beyond that, there has been so many reviews written about this archival quality photo glass that my comments would be psaltry. So suffice to say, it's everything good that has ever been said about it. Coupled with one of Pentax's fine Digital SLRs with Shake Reduction (or without it) you can count on getting some of the finest, sharpest, most detailed images recordable. So there!
Comment 18 of 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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This is the most incredible lens I have ever used. Razor sharp even wide open, with silky bokeh and beautifully rendered color transitions. There is a luminosity to images that I have never seen with any other lens. The all-metal build makes this lens a joy to have in the hand, and the slightly damped focus ring makes it a terrific manual focus lens. One finger is all that is needed to focus manually, making it feel more like a rangefinder lens than an SLR lens. My favorite lens, both on my K100D (46mm equivalent) and my old MX.

***Note that the product shot above is inaccurate; the attached lens hood is actually oriented about 90 degrees from the position shown.
Comment 20 of 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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My main hobby is photography. I have a pretty large collection of Pentax lenses, including the following which are of similar focal length: 35mm f3.5 Takumar, 31mm Limited FA (this review), 35mm DA Limited Macro, 40mm DA Limited (sold this one a few months ago), 50mm f1.2 SMCA, 50mm f4 Takumar Macro, 50mm f1.4 Takumar early 8 element, 50mm f1.8 Helios in K-Mount. So here's the deal - the best constructed lenses are the old Takumars. They are the smallest and best made. They 50's also have the best photo "look" which is hard to describe but they also have the most flare which is sometimes good and sometimes bad. Across all the lenses, the ones with the most lens elements have the least contrast/richness of color and the ones with the least elements have the most. In order from least elements to most: 50mm f4.0 Tak Macro (4), 35mm f3.5 Tak (5), 40mm DA (5), 50mm f4 Takumar Macro (5), 31mm f1.8 Limited (6), 50mm f1.8 Helios (6), 50mm f1.2 SMCA (7), 35mm f2.8 Macro Limited (8 or 9). So for low contrast subjects the 31mm lens is great. But for direct sunlight, it tends to have washed out highlights and dark dark shadows. You can photo edit it later, but getting the original balanced has worked better for me. In direct sunlight, the 35mm f2.8 Macro is superior. Neither is better all around than the other, they are just different tools. The sharpness of the lenses is similar from f2.8 up. I like the slightly wider angle of field of the 31mm for street shooting, but it is also a less portable and more intimidating lens to the subjects. The wider available aperture of the 31mm @ 1.8 is great to have. The sharpest low light lens is the original 50mm f1.4 Takumar 8 element lens. And the 50mm 1.4 Tak has the most impressionistic bokeh of any lens I own, followed closely by the Helios. The 50mm f1.Read more ›
Comment 18 of 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I have owned the FA 31 limited for about a year, now. I went through a number of lenses in that focal length along the way. I shot for a long time with the Pentax DA 35mm f2.8 Macro Lens for Pentax K Mount Camera]. I really liked it, but it wasn't fast enough for low light situations. So, I sold it and bought a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC Lens for Pentax and Samsung Digital SLR Cameras. Finally, I decided to buy the lens I had really wanted to have the whole time and got the FA 31.

To begin with, the FA 31 has a really nice build. Very sturdy, metal construction. As far as size goes, I would classify it as relatively small. Bigger than most of the DA limiteds, but smaller than most zooms, even the kit lens. The built-in hood is pretty much a waste of space. It probably does something on a full frame camera, but on APS-C it just makes filters harder to get on and off and does little to eliminate lens flare.

With regard to image quality, it is excellent. Moderately sharp wide open, it achieves excellent sharpness by f2. It is quite resistant to flare, has good colors. Manual focusing is very smooth, although it lacks quick shift focusing ability that the DA line of lenses has. Rendering of out of focus areas is excellent. The reason that I sold my Sigma 30mm f1.4 lens was because it had a tendency to render the out of focus portion of scenes quite harshly and its edge sharpness could be quite dismal. The FA 31 is better in both respects.

The biggest problem with the FA 31 limited is that it is expensive. If it was 100 or 150 dollars less, I would feel better about recommending it.
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