Pentax 18-135mm Performs Exceptionally

Pentax's new walkaround zoom delivers unprecendented AF speed and more

By PF Staff in Hands-On Tests on Nov 24, 2010
Pentax 18-135mm Performs Exceptionally

Pentax's new 18-135mm zoom lens started shipping early last week, and stock sold out quickly!  Both Adorama and B&H have sold their entire stock of the lens; at this time, they are still taking pre-orders for their next shipments.

We were fortunate enough to receive our copy today, and have nothing but good things to say about this lens!  First of all, it seems that Pentax might be moving away from the "SDM" acronym in favor of "DC".  The new autofocus motor in the 18-135mm, advertised as "DC", seems to be much faster than the SDM in previous lenses, and is nearly inaudible. In other words, the AF aspect of this new lens was a very big positive surprise!  Mounted on the K-5, this lens autofocuses just as accurately as the expensive star lenses that we have tested (the accuracy is almost too good to be true).

Physically, the lens was a bit smaller than expected, but it does feel quite dense in your hands.  It features internal focusing, but not internal zooming, and thus extends to about twice its normal length at 135mm. The zoom range is fairly long, and as such there is significant throw when zooming.  The focusing ring doesn't have a distance scale, and has relatively short throw (it also allows for "quick-shift" manual focusing).

Through preliminary image tests, it appears that this lens has fantastic color reproduction.  The sharpness is excellent, though not quite as good as that of star lenses.  Thus, we can conclude (for now) that this lens will be appealing to the serious amateur photographer looking for a flexible walkaround lens with above-par image quality and focusing speed.

Stay tuned for an in-depth professional test along with comparisons with the kit lens and star lenses.

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