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12-29-2010, 10:01 AM   #16
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I was recently in your position and came very close to purchasing the 50-135mm to compliment the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 for my K-x. Three things made me hesitate:

1) Numerous accounts of SDM failure

2) The rather relaxed autofocus speed, and

3) The ridiculous 1-year warranty (which is particularly relevant given point 1)

I ended up purchasing the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8, which, as far as I can tell, is the only DIRECT competitor to the 50-135mm f/2.8. It seems strange to me that there are only two fast zoom lenses in this range, since it is such a useful range.

The Sigma is reported to have image quality approximately equal to the Pentax, but the autofocus speed of the HSM motor is supposed to be much quicker. This was important to me since I will be taking a lot of pictures of my daughters dancing and doing sports.

And at $750, the Sigma was slightly cheaper than the Pentax.

Another big advantage of the Sigma, and the one that really swayed me, was the 4-year warranty. I'm sure Pentax could articulate business reasons for their stingy warranty, but it DOES cost them customers. When I'm looking at dropping $800 - $1000 on a lens, I need to have some peace of mind that I will be able to get at least a few years out of it without having to worry about it breaking.

All lenses make tradoffs, and the biggest weakness of the Sigma is that it does not focus well at close distances. I have found that when I'm using it at distances closer than 10 feet to the subject, focus is hit-and-miss, with a tendency to front-focus. But I didn't buy this lens for extremely close work, so it's not a problem. I use the Tamron 28-75mm when I'm working at close distances, and that lens will focus even when it's just a few inches from the subject.

If I had bought the Pentax 50-135mm, I would have used my Visa card since it doubles manufacturers' warranties up to 1-year. My plan would have been to keep the lens for two years and then sell it when I was running out of warranty.

A third party extended warranty, as others have suggested, would also be a good idea. I can personally recommend Mack Camera warranties. I had a Mack Camera extended warranty for my Panasonic projector, and when it failed I sent it in to Mack Camera and they deemed it unrepairable and sent me a check for the full purchase price of $1000. The real kicker is that I bought the projector used on eBay for $300 and had the warranty transferred to me.

I've gotten some great pictures from the Sigma. I may post some later if I get some time. But from all of my research, it seems like you really can't go wrong with either the Pentax 50-135mm or the Sigma 50-150mm.

12-30-2010, 12:02 PM   #17
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As I mentioned previously (in this thread and elsewhere), my DA* 50-135mm lens' SDM motor failed about a month before the end of the warranty, thereby confirming all my worse fears about buying this lens in the first place. It was quickly repaired by CRIS and back in my hands within 2 weeks. I've had it back for about 2 weeks now with a new SDM motor.

Today, on the last day of the original warranty, it failed AGAIN!!! Right in the middle of a shoot!!! One second it was working fine, and the next it wasn't. The focus mechanism was stuck at close focus, and I couldn't even focus manually because the focus motor was jammed.

Luckily, CRIS guaranties their work for 6 months, so it'll be fixed again for free. However, this means at least 2 more weeks of waiting.

To anyone considering buying this lens:
Stay FAR, FAR away! Run away screaming, if you have to. It's NOT worth it. The myth about newer SDM motors being "improved" is just that; a myth. It's all a big joke at our expense.

To all Pentax apologists who continue to pretend there's nothing wrong with this lens based on their own limited experience while ignoring the VAST quantities of complaints all over the web:
[CENSORED]

edit: this opinion applies specifically to the 50-135mm, not any other SDM lenses, as I have no knowledge or experience about those either way

Last edited by Parallax; 12-30-2010 at 01:17 PM. Reason: Removed offending bit at [CENSORED]
12-30-2010, 12:07 PM   #18
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I bought the 16-50 SDM in September 2008 never had a problem. I bought the 300 F4 SDM December 2008 never had a problem. I just got the 60-250 F4 SDM September 2010 and have not had a problem. All great lenses. I've read about the SDM issues on this forum for a while and it does make one hesitate to make a purchase. I got my first 2 SDM lenses before reading any of the discouraging comments about the Pentax SDM lenses on this forum and I'm glad I did.
12-30-2010, 01:35 PM   #19
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The thing that is troubling to me, and what made me buy the Sigma 50-150mm over the Pentax 50-135mm, was not the occasional reports of SDM failure. Afterall, anything will fail at a certain rate. What really troubled me was that I saw several people who reported MULTIPLE failures of their SDM. The odds of such a thing should be EXTREMELY low.

01-06-2011, 11:39 AM   #20
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Greg,
You may have missed the point of most of the reported SDM failures. Most of us that had bought SDM lenses "recently" were as happy as can be (unless you are talking about 16-50 decentering.) Most of us that had SDM failures had them happen after some time. Many times after the Pentax warranty expired.

Too bad that Pentax seems to have a nice new K-5 which is competitive in several ways in terms of performance, but lens focus speed and QC concerns in thier "pro" line lenses are still holding them back. I used to buy Pentax because of the lenses, now I havent bought new Pentax gear in some time because of the lenses.
01-08-2011, 09:54 PM   #21
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I bought my 50-135 in November of last year. The SDM died on it last week. 13 months from purchase - i.e. 1 month out of the 1 year warranty. Lens is in transit to the repair center now.

I really hope they cover it under warranty, and if not provide a deep discount on repair. Absolutely fantastic lens - but I'm going to be looking at something like a tamron 70-200 soon I think...
01-08-2011, 10:08 PM   #22
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SDM Failure

QuoteOriginally posted by awolfe98 Quote
I bought my 50-135 in November of last year. The SDM died on it last week. 13 months from purchase - i.e. 1 month out of the 1 year warranty... I'm going to be looking at something like a tamron 70-200 soon I think...
Sorry to hear about that, but then again SDM failures come as no surprise. It' such a shame Pentax can't fix the problem stand behind their lenses with a warranty on par with the competition. Maybe they should get out of the lens making business and leave it up to those who know how and are willing to stand behind their lenses, i.e. Sigma & Tamron!

That Tamron 70-200 looks like a fine lens. I think I'll be picking one up in the next few weeks too.
01-08-2011, 10:28 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by awolfe98 Quote
I bought my 50-135 in November of last year. The SDM died on it last week. 13 months from purchase - i.e. 1 month out of the 1 year warranty. Lens is in transit to the repair center now.
Did you purchase it using a credit card? If so, it may have an extended warranty from your credit card company. My Visa card doubles manufacturer warranties up to one year (so a 90 day warranty would be covered for 180 days, and a 1 year warranty would be covered for 2 years).

This is the only way I would buy an SDM lens, and I would sell it prior to the 2-year coverage period ending.

01-08-2011, 10:37 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Edgar_in_Indy Quote
Did you purchase it using a credit card? If so, it may have an extended warranty from your credit card company. My Visa card doubles manufacturer warranties up to one year (so a 90 day warranty would be covered for 180 days, and a 1 year warranty would be covered for 2 years).

This is the only way I would buy an SDM lens, and I would sell it prior to the 2-year coverage period ending.
Good point. My wife asked the very same question. Yes I did - and I will be calling the credit card company Monday to see what they have to say. I'm still hoping for a zero hassle/under warranty resolution, but I guess I'll find out next week some time.

I'm going on a photo trip to the Sante Fe area first week of Feb, and I think I'll be talking to cameralensrentals.com about a 70-200 rental for that...
01-08-2011, 10:39 PM   #25
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Do all credit cards have this or is it something you pay extra for? I just purchased a 16-50 from Abe's of Maine with my debit card.....wonder if this was a mistake (I assume a visa debit card wouldn't extend the warranty?)
01-08-2011, 11:57 PM   #26
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The REALLY troubling thing about the SDM mess is Pentax completely ignoring the issue. Pentax should have acknowledged the problem and offered free repairs. It cost the company a sale as I passed on the new 18-135 and purchased a Sigma 18-125.
01-09-2011, 07:47 AM - 1 Like   #27
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Again, in an effort to bring a little balance to this thread, I again say that my SDM lenses have been workhorses for me and deliver great performance and IQ.

In contrast, here's my story: My 16-50 sometimes wakes up a little groggy every couple of months and needs to have it's zoom manually turned once or twice, but that's the only mechanical issue in 3 years of ownership. I wish it focused better in low light, but that's the camera more than the lens. My 50-135 continues to be flawless in the short time I've owned it.

Clearly there has been issues with SDM motors and it seems here in this thread that new issues continue to crop up ... but in spite of some who wish to vent about their own equipment failures with bold font and name calling, the DA* series of lenses are amazing and render images that I believe are second to none.

The Sigma and Tamron lenses are excellent, excellent choices and will also deliver great IQ, so heading that direction is a smart choice that delivers great value. But if you choose one of those lenses, do so because THAT's the lens you want, not because you were frightened by tales of DA*s bursting into flames as soon as the warranty runs out. Look at sample photos, and if Tamron or Sigma out perform the Pentax, buy it and be happy that you found the best lens for you.

Maybe it's just me, but I want the best possible gear to shoot my photos. And I love what the Pentax does in respect to color rendering and image. I don't want to look at an image and say "It's not as good as I wanted, but hey ... that lens had a 4 year warranty!"

And don't forget folks, for every rant you read in this forum, there's a hundred shooters who are out there with this same gear ... and we never hear from them because they have nothing to complain about.

No apologies bout that.
01-09-2011, 08:16 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Loren E Quote
Do all credit cards have this or is it something you pay extra for? I just purchased a 16-50 from Abe's of Maine with my debit card.....wonder if this was a mistake (I assume a visa debit card wouldn't extend the warranty?)
Not all credit cards offer the extended warranty. And of those that do, some offer more, some offer less. You can usually search online for credit card benefits for your particular card. The card I use that doubles warranties up to a year is a Visa Platinum Disney Rewards credit card.

If you used a debit card, then you probably won't have such a benefit. But it's still worth looking into, just in case.
01-09-2011, 08:39 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by germar Quote
Maybe it's just me, but I want the best possible gear to shoot my photos. And I love what the Pentax does in respect to color rendering and image. I don't want to look at an image and say "It's not as good as I wanted, but hey ... that lens had a 4 year warranty!"
Maybe it's just me, but I don't want to drop almost $1000 on a lens when I'm not guaranteed to get more than one good year out of it. Why is Pentax only willing to stand behind their lenses for one year?

I bought the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 over the Pentax 50-135mm f/2.8. The Sigma has comparable image quality to the 50-135mm, but it beats it hands down in focusing speed. So I did NOT settle for an inferior product. But what really tipped the scales in the Sigma's favor was the 4-year warranty.

Photography is a hobby for me. I'm raising a family on one salary, so any money I spend on photography comes from money I'm able to raise on the side by working extra or buying and reselling things. So when I spend $800 or $900 on a lens, I need to have some confidence that the lens is still going to be working more than a year later. With a Sigma, I KNOW that I will get at least four years out of it. And with Tamron, you're guaranteed six years. But Pentax will only stand by their product for ONE year.

So Pentax charges more for their lenses, but gives you MUCH less warranty.

And I'm just not seeing reports of people experiencing MULTIPLE failures on the Sigma HSM lenses. Same thing for the Canon and Nikon lenses. So I don't completely believe that the SDM issues are just a lot of belly aching by a few dissatisfied customers.

As others have pointed out, the one-year warranty IS costing Pentax customers. I gave my $800 to Sigma rather than Pentax. But despite this, Pentax has made a business decision to only stand by their lenses for one year. One can only assume that it would cost them too much to warranty their lenses for four years or six years.

Pentax doesn't need people apologizing for them. They need to step up and address the issue. And then I'll start buying their lenses.
01-09-2011, 09:52 AM   #30
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Why anyone would pay a premium for a high performance lens with questionable quality is beyond me. Pentax will never address the SDM issue if we remain quiet. If we're content with third rate quality, then they won't be motivated to do better. But we DESERVE better and it's up to us to DEMAND better. If we the consumers don't expect better, Pentax will never deliver. If enough people HOLLER and vote with their dollars, Pentax will do the right thing.
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