Couples in Indonesia riding the horse cark tuk-tuk!

11 Best Pentax APS-C Lens for Travel in 2021

Pentax is one of the major contributor to the modern SLRs and photography. If you want to capture images, not videos, Pentax is still king when it comes to color science. Also, Pentax DSLRs capture the RAW files in DNG; straightforward to edit in any image editing software. I tried my best to do just with these Pentax lenses, and I ranked them according to the ease of use for traveling propose. If you are a budget traveler and need an affordable camera with a lens, Pentax had the cheapest lens. You can lookout for a used Pentax lens on eBay to save some extra cash.

Is DSLR Dead?

Yes, DSLR cameras are dead thanks to the rise of mirrorless cameras. One thing mirrorless cameras failed is to provide the joy of using OVF except for Fujifilm X-Pro and X-100 series. There is something magical about using OVF over the EVF. Personally, I wouldn’t say I like the EVF, which disconnects me from the moment where OVF connects with the zeal of capturing an image. DSLRs are not suitable for shooting videos, except Pentax K3 III and Canon 90D, which both have good 4K video quality. For travel photography, OVF is the best way to absorb the moment. Pentax used the K-mount; most of the lens are budget-friendly.

Are All Pentax Lens Weather-Sealed?

indonesian girl in the tall grass

No, But most of the Pentax lenses are weather-sealed except few primes. I had listed the WR as Weather Resistance to help you in the column chart below for each lens. Even with Pentax primes lens with no weather sealing can take light rain. Pentax is legendary for its robust DSLR bodies and lenses. If you are traveling to East Asia during the rainy seasons, Pentax is the best suited for you.

Is the Pentax K-Mount lens Good for Video?

Historically Pentax never took video seriously, and DSLRs had their limitations when it comes to video. The only best Pentax camera for video is the K3 III, which amazing uncropped 4K video with a bunch of videography-centric features. If you are planning to use a K mount lens for video, then be wary of the focus breathing on some lenses. If you don’t know what focus breathing is; which it hunts to keep focus and change the focal length due to focusing. Focus breathing even occurs on Pentax prime lens. I will advise if you are looking for a DSLR with 4K video for travel purposes and then get the Pentax K3 Mark 3 if the weight and size are not an issue.

Super Cheap Pentax Telephoto Lens

 11. Pentax DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR

If you are looking for a budget telephoto lens option, you can’t go wrong with the classic Pentax DA 50-20mm for the APS-C camera. There is no OIS on the lens, but most Pentax DSLRs had the IBIS. One good thing about the 50-200mm for traveling is the lightweight under 300g. If you are going on a Safari where you can get close to the animals, then the Pentax DA 50-200mm is the best suit for you. You don’t have to worry about the rain thanks to the weather sealing it had.

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Best K-Mount Lens on Budget

10. Pentax 35mm DA L F2.4 AL Lens

Personally, I had used the Pentax 35mm F2.4 a lot in Hong Kong. It’s affordable, prime, and weighs nothing. Sadly, there is no weather sealing on this lens, but most of the time, I used it in sunny weather with an ND filter. The Pentax 35mm F2.4 produces delightful images, but not razor sharp. For portraits, I won’t recommend this lens.

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The Smallest Pancake Lens in the World

9. Pentax DA 40mm F2.8 Pancake

Now, this is the best Pentax travel lens due to one simple reason; the size. The Pentax DA 40mm F2.8 is a pancake lens; even by pancake standard, it’s considered tiny. If you put the Pentax 40mm F2.8 pancake lens on your DSLR, it will appear as a lens cap. Every Pentax buyer needs to grab this cute tiny lens. Shooting with Pentax 40mm F2.8 is a joy. I can hang my DSLR around my neck with a 40mm F2.8 pancake without feeling any pain or burden on my neck thanks to its weight.

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Compact Travel Pentax Zoom Lens

8. Pentax DA 18-50mm F4.0-5.6 DC WR

If you are looking for a compact zoom lens, you can’t go wrong with the Pentax DA 18-50mm. Do you know any super-compact zoom lens which is also weather-sealed? Pentax lenses are so fun to use, and it makes photography worm alive in me. This lens covers well wide to mid-telephoto focal length. Also, it weighs nothing, which is a huge plus point when shopping lenses for traveling.

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Best Pentax Safari Lens

7. Pentax DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR

Now I want to talk about a serious Pentax lens for wildlife photography. It’s lightweight, less than 500g in contrast to the focal length you are getting. The Pentax DA 55-300mm is the solid long focal length for Safari and birds photography. The good thing about the Pentax DA 55-300mm is the compact size and weather sealing. You can’t find a better weight to focal length ratio lens for any APS-C body.

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Cheapest Pentax Lens

6. Pentax DA 50mm F1.8

If you are looking cheap K mount lens that produces stunning bokeh, here is the Pentax 50mm F1.8 lens. This is a tiny near pancake 50mm F1.8, and it does wonders on the latest Pentax bodies such as K3 Mark 3. I love the low price of DA 50mm F1.8 with a good color rendering for portraits. There is no weather resistance on this lens, but it’s mostly suited for budget traveler photographers.

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Best Pentax Wildlife Lens

5. Pentax HD DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR

This lens makes a solid argument for the Pentax DSLRs for wildlife shooting. You can’t find a better telephoto lens on any other mount when comparing the weight to focal length ratio. The Pentax 55-300mm is a compact travel telephoto lens that gives you the 84.5mm to 460mm range in full-frame equivalent. I also cherish the fact it’s weather-sealed, the perfect combination for a budget wildlife photographer. The Pentax 55-300mm is also the best telephoto lens for Safari trips.

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 Pentax Sharpest Travel Lens

4. Pentax DA 15mm F4 ED AL

One of the lightweight sharpest lens for Pentax K mount. I bet you can’t find a more sharper wide lens for Pentax DSLR than this! I like its start at F4, and I don’t have to stop for more sharpness to F6 or F8. If you are looking for the best sharpest wide lens for landscape, you can get the Pentax 15mm F4 lens. Overall, the weight and size are perfect for hiking.

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Best Pentax Pancake lens

3. Pentax HD DA 21mm F3.2 AL

One of the best pancake lenses ever produced, this Pentax 21mm F3.2 is tiny and sharp at the same time. Pentax pancakes lens is the reason I love the K mount a lot. The 21mm F3.2 is a lightweight lens for traveling, and you can take good street portraits with it. Every Pentax DSLR user must have the 21mm F3.2 with them all-time because so good.

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Best Pentax Portrait Lens

2. Pentax DA 70mm F2.4

Developing a telephoto pancake is hard, if not impossible. Pentax 70mm F2.4 is an engineering marvel which only Pentax had accomplished up to now. No other camera manufacturers even dare to develop a pancake telephoto lens. If you want to travel light, grab 70mm F2.4 with you for breathtaking portraits. Also, the 70mm F2.4 compress background nicely.

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Best Pentax Lens of All-Time

1. Pentax HD DA 20-40mm F2.8-4 WR

This is the newest Pentax lens, but it works flawlessly with autofocus, even on the old Pentax DSLRs. I love the unique color rendition of the Pentax 20-40mm F2.8 to F4. If you are looking for the best Pentax lens for travel, you can’t go wrong with the Pentax 20-40mm. This lens gives a vibe of a retro lens because of its design, and the built quality is outstanding thanks to the weather sealing. I have no problem with Pentax 20-40mm not being a constant aperture lens.

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