The Ultra Cool Pentax-F 35-70mm Zoom

I've tested plenty of Pentax lenses recently, and one of my favorites is the Pentax-F 35-70mm zoom with macro. This compact 8.3 ounce workhorse is about the size of a standard 50mm optic, but it provides a handy zooming range, maximum f/3.5 aperture, and close focusing capability. And the best part is that you can get one for $45-$75.

"Blue VW Bus, Oakland" - Captured with a Pentax ZX-5n and Pentax-F 35-70mm zoom on Kodak 400 film. Photo by Derrick Story.

The Pentax-F 35-70mm was originally produced in 1987, ending in 1991. It uses eight elements in eight groups, has SMC optical coating, a 6-blade aperture, automatic capability (KAF mount), screwdrive autofocus, and a maximum magnification of 0.25X with minimum focus at 32cm.

In terms of performance, it scores a 9/10 sharpness, 8/10 aberrations, 8/10 bokeh, 9/10 autofocus, and a 8/10 for handling.

This is the optic that I leave mounted on my Pentax ZX-5n. The only time I switch it out is for the Pentax-F 50mm f/1.7 for low light environments. (BTW: that 50mm is another primo prime.)

Even though this F series 35-70mm will work on older Pentax bodies, I recommend it only for the AF models because its manual focus ring isn't as tactically satisfying as the older Pentax-A zooms. If you shoot with the manual focusing bodies, try the Pentax-A 35-70mm. It's the older brother of this zoom, and just as wonderful in its own right.

If you're working with an autofocus Pentax body, treat yourself to the F series 35-70mm. You won't be disappointed.

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