Standard Lens Shootout for APS-C

Standard Lens Shootout for APS-C

A standard lens is one with a focal length roughly equal to the diagonal of the film or sensor used in the camera. This provides a fairly natural looking field of view with little magnification over what you are used to seeing with your eyes. The question is, which standard lens do you get?

On APS-C, the sensor diagonal is about 28mm, and pretty much anything from 28-35mm is considered a “standard” lens on APS-C. Wide angle lenses of 28 to 35mm were common from 135 (35mm) film cameras, which conveniently enough work as standard lenses on an APS-C sensor.

Here is the list of the contenders. I will update this as I acquire more 28-35mm lenses.

This comparison is only for the optical performance of the lenses as tested on a chart and using Imatest software to analyze the results. It doesn’t include sample pictures or bokeh analysis. Lens test charts follow the short write-ups for each of the lenses.

A quick warning is that I average the center and partway performance numbers for this test, so this really hurts lenses like the Sigma 30mm f/1.4, Kiron 28mm f/2, and SMCT 28/3.5 that have much higher central sharpness numbers than they do partway (the sharpness drops off quickly from the center). I feel the averaged number is more representative of how the lens does over all, but there are applications when central sharpness is more important.

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  1. Joe Kashi says:

    The only point to dislike about the FA 35/2 is that Pentax stopped making it. Most FA lenses were withdrawn from the market quite suddenly even though most of these lenses were very good and very reasonably priced. At the same time, Pentax substantially raised the prices for their remaining primes. As a result, Pentax lost its luster as a brand offering both high quality and high value, which is a shame.

    Recently, I’ve been hoarding my better FA lenses to use on a K-20d and K-5 combination and, instead, buying Olympus and Panasonic lenses for Micro 4/3. These two companies still make excellent, super sharp, prime lenses that are reasonably priced for what you get.

  2. Arno says:

    Nice review, thx for sharing.
    It confirms what i was thinking about my DA35, it rocks !

  3. stanic says:

    @Joe Kashi
    I have to agree, the FA 35/2 sells for 650 € in my country (Slovakia), while DA 35/2,8 ltd for 405 €, I really wanted the FA but…it was a clear choice for me 🙂
    and I must say that I am very happy with the IQ of DA 35/2,8 ltd on my K-x

  4. adonishong says:

    expect comparison with fa 31mm

  5. Zhou Yu says:

    Should try K28 f2 and K35 f2 some day. K28 is pretty rare and, without any technical measures, I found them to have better corner performance and contrast than the M version at f2.

  6. Zhou Yu says:

    I though SCMT28 has the same optical formula as K28 f3.5. If that is the case, they should have similar performance. M40 seems to have fared worse than what I would have imagined. Good stuff!

  7. Please,
    correct the typing error over the “Partway Resolution (MTF20)” picture chart indicated as:

    Partway Resolution (MTF50)

    Thank you for your good work,
    Claudio Costerni

  8. Scintilla says:

    @Joe Kashi
    It’s still available for sale and on their latest lens roadmap, which is even more significant considering it had previously been removed from the map (the only FA lenses on it at one point were the Limiteds).