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What do the various Pentax lens designations mean?

Robert Goldstein , Nov 22, 2006; 10:02 a.m.

What do FA, DFA, DA etc. mean? I realize that any designation with a D must be related to digital. Do FA lenses perform well on digital cameras?


Jerry Thirsty , Nov 22, 2006; 01:38 p.m.

Pentax-FA lenses was the last pre-digital generation, designed to cover 35mm film. D-FA will also cover 35mm film, but are also updated to work better with APS-C sensors. DA lenses are not intended to be used with film, but only with APS-C sensors (although some of the mid- to tele- focal lengths have been reported to still cover film anyway, but are not really optimized for it). Some -FA lenses work just fine on digital, others don't. For example, the 24/2 has an excellent reputation as a film lens, but exhibits a lot of purple fringing on digital. The best way to find out is to ask on the forums about a particular lens.

Godfrey DiGiorgi , Nov 23, 2006; 07:55 a.m.

There is an excellent website that explains and shows virtually all the Pentax K-mount history and designations at http://www.bdimitrov.de/kmp/.


  • "SMC Pentax-DA" and "SMC Pentax-D-FA" -
    Current series AF lenses that support every DSLR feature. DA series are optimized for the 16x24 sensor format, D-FA series also include image circle for the 35mm film SLR format. DA series lense do not have aperture rings (aperture control is through the body exclusively).

  • "SMC Pentax-FA" and "SMC Pentax-FA-J" -
    Current series AF lenses designed for 35mm film SLR cameras. They support all body features but do not have the latest QuickShift focus feature of the DA/D-FA series. Most, if not all, work extremely well on the DSLR bodies. FA-J series are like the DA series with respect to the aperture ring.

  • "SMC Pentax-F" -
    Original Pentax AF lenses for 35mm film bodies. Much like the FA series but lacking the MTF data available from the FA and later lenses. Again, most work very well on DSLR bodies.

  • "SMC Pentax-A" -
    Manual focus lenses with "Automatic" position on aperture ring. Work with all DSLR metering options, no autofocus of course. No focal length or MTF data is supplied to the body so some options of the body are disabled or have to be set manually. Optically, most work very well with the DSLRs.

  • "SMC Pentax-M" and "SMC Pentax" bayonet mount lenses -
    Manual focus lenses without any electronic couplings. Used with the DSLRs, metering pattern is restricted to CW Averaging and Spot, and exposure modes available are Av (at wide-open lens opening only) or Manual (with semi-automatic aperture priority stop- down function metering). Again, optically, most work very well with the DSLRs.

Robert Goldstein , Nov 24, 2006; 06:31 p.m.

Godfrey, thanks. As usual, you are a veritable fountain of useful information. I am leaning heavily in the direction of the K10D. I just need to get one in my hands to see if it feels right.


Godfrey DiGiorgi , Nov 24, 2006; 07:19 p.m.

glad to help. I expect to receive mine just about when I get back home in a week or two. :-)


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