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01-30-2013, 05:37 AM   #1
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DA* 55 Queries

Hi All,

Doing some research on the DA* 55 and so far I'm liking it. Saw some youtube clips after reading what SDM was about and it seems to be the perfect fit for the shooting I do.

I have also read the SDM failures especially the 16-55 so it got me thinking on a few things which I have so far been unsuccessful in finding an answer to.

1. Since the DA* 55 is only SDM, can I still manually focus if and when the SDM becomes faulty?

2. I've seen the survey of SDM failures on this forum but just want to find out is the DA* 55 SDM very reliable compared to other SDM lenses? Most complaints from what I've read so far has fallen upon the SDM zooms.

3. Do I need to use the DA* 55 on a regular basis so it won't fail? I came across a post that mentioned their SDM zoom stopped working after 1 years of manually focusing.

I did consider going with a wide Sigma or Tamron zoom but really enjoy the weight of a prime and really attracted to the SDM & WR of this lens for the outdoor environments we go to. Not really worried if the SDM fails from the consumer protection we get in Aus but would like to know what it's limits are in regards to SDM.

Cheers muchly!

01-30-2013, 06:52 AM   #2
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1. No problem to focus manually.

2. Not many DA*55 have had problems with SDM.

3. Nothing I've heard of.
01-30-2013, 07:06 AM   #3
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Hello,

I have owned my copy for a little over two years with no issues and I can't think of ever seeing anyone have an SDM failure on a DA* 55. Seems to be more of an issue with a few of the zoom lenses. But to answer your questions: (1) Yes, you can manual focus at anytime (the lens features quick-shift focusing.) There is also an AF/MF switch on the lens. (2) As I stated, my copy has been very reliable. (3) I have not experienced any issues due to non-regular use. I tend to shoot with a couple lenses at a time so I know my DA* 55 has had periods (probably two months at most) of not being used and has always performed fine when mounted back on the camera.

With the DA* 55 you're more likely to find complaints about auto-focus accuracy. Personally, I feel it has more to do with the Pentax AF system then the lens. I do notice I get a few more missed shots than usual on my K-5 (f-stops under 2.8) with Phase Detect auto-focus. However, on my K-01 (using Contrast Detect) it basically never misses.

If you haven't checked it out yet, definitely take a look at the Pentax Forums DA* Lens Club: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-clubs/73997-da-club.html
(I'll add that if you start at the last page (most recent) and work back you'll see more 55mm shots.)

You'll find plenty of photos taken with the DA* 55 and it will give you an idea of what the lens can do.

Good luck!

Last edited by sunny16; 01-30-2013 at 07:28 AM.
01-30-2013, 07:19 AM   #4
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I really wouldn't say that the DA *55 is really prone to failure. Seems like it is significantly lower risk than the 16-50 and 50-135. You definitely can continue to use it manual focus if the SDM would fail. I don't think that you have to use it every day in order to keep it working. I have owned by 55 for 3 years and had no issues with SDM and really there haven't been significant reports on the forum about failure of SDM on this lens.

I personally love this lens, just enjoy using it for everything from landscape to portraiture.




01-30-2013, 07:41 AM   #5
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Like you say SDM never was a real problem with the primes, also since it's SDM only it actually make the AF system simpler so less things to go wrong.

the KAF2 lens mount with 3 ways of focusing was very ambtious of Pentax if you ask me... it's a good thing they will only do one of the AF systems from now on.


As for the lens, i've used it a couplle of times. Love the feel and handling but i aint a fan of the somewhat slowish fosucing and how it renders the background blur. Some love it though but i find it too bussy for my taste.
01-30-2013, 09:21 AM   #6
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This is my favorite AF portrait lens and I wish I had it right now. It is, however, in the shop (since November), waiting for parts to replace the SDM system ($200USD). I bought it used several years ago and while the SDM never failed, it routinely failed to start (it wouldn't AF with camera start up but once it did, it was fine) enough times that I sent it in for repairs. While I don't like to pay for repairs, I really like this lens and it's worth getting if fixed. Can't imagine why it wouldn't manually focus though. That's mechanical and should always work unless the lens is really damaged.
01-30-2013, 09:31 AM   #7
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AF and MF are of course connected somewhere and mechnical parts can fail as well.

The new Canon 70-200 f2.8 for example have a gear in the focusing system that seems to be a weak spot.
And as for the DA*16-50, i've heard that some mailfunctioned due to misalignment of a shaft.
01-30-2013, 04:49 PM   #8
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Thanks for the reply everyone!

Good to see your personal experiences have agreed with the LBA in me to get the DA* 55

The slow AF I can live with after learning a few tips and tricks. Surprisingly addictive to avoid using AF. I still suck at it though hehehe

Love seeing shots taken from this lens which has made me re-think my future lens lineup; especially after being reassured by your responses! Was going the 21 Ltd (currently have), 40 Ltd & 70 Ltd but after playing with the wife's 18-55 kit and checking out my past photos, I'm usually around the 18mm & 55mm focal lengths with my shots. So it's now going to be 21 Ltd, DA* 55 & probably the DA* 200 for the odd distance shot for indoor & out. I know it's a massive gap but call me crazy

The bokeh (so far from what I've come across with this lens) seems to vary depending on the background when used wide open. Some I've seen are creamy smooth (eg smooth wall) but others look nervous (eg branches & leaves). Stopped down the images seem to want to cut my eyeballs from it's sharpness. It's a good thing.

It is a shame that SDM is relatively unreliable in the zooms compared to the primes. Would've loved to grab the 16-50 otherwise.

01-30-2013, 06:36 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by DNT Quote
Thanks for the reply everyone!

Good to see your personal experiences have agreed with the LBA in me to get the DA* 55

The slow AF I can live with after learning a few tips and tricks. Surprisingly addictive to avoid using AF. I still suck at it though hehehe

Love seeing shots taken from this lens which has made me re-think my future lens lineup; especially after being reassured by your responses! Was going the 21 Ltd (currently have), 40 Ltd & 70 Ltd but after playing with the wife's 18-55 kit and checking out my past photos, I'm usually around the 18mm & 55mm focal lengths with my shots. So it's now going to be 21 Ltd, DA* 55 & probably the DA* 200 for the odd distance shot for indoor & out. I know it's a massive gap but call me crazy

The bokeh (so far from what I've come across with this lens) seems to vary depending on the background when used wide open. Some I've seen are creamy smooth (eg smooth wall) but others look nervous (eg branches & leaves). Stopped down the images seem to want to cut my eyeballs from it's sharpness. It's a good thing.

It is a shame that SDM is relatively unreliable in the zooms compared to the primes. Would've loved to grab the 16-50 otherwise.
Ok, so also keep in mind that a possible reason why you are always at 18 or 55 is because the kit lens does not go wide enough or it does not zoom enough. I also found that I have a peak at 55 on my 18-55, but that might be artificially inflated because of the zoom limits of the lens. However, you may truly have maximum peaks at those two focal lengths. With that said, I have the 40 and I think I will probably get the DA*55 next because I want an indoor portrait lens. I think the 70 might be too long and the 55 has the wide aperture of 1.4. Don't discount the 55-300 that is a great lens and you have a whole bunch of focal lengths covered.
01-30-2013, 08:35 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by trevorgrout Quote
Ok, so also keep in mind that a possible reason why you are always at 18 or 55 is because the kit lens does not go wide enough or it does not zoom enough. I also found that I have a peak at 55 on my 18-55, but that might be artificially inflated because of the zoom limits of the lens. However, you may truly have maximum peaks at those two focal lengths. With that said, I have the 40 and I think I will probably get the DA*55 next because I want an indoor portrait lens. I think the 70 might be too long and the 55 has the wide aperture of 1.4. Don't discount the 55-300 that is a great lens and you have a whole bunch of focal lengths covered.
I should mention I've shot with an 85mm and 100mm when I was starting out with canon (300D) and most of my images fell around the 18mm & 55mm about 90% of the time and never really had the urge for something wider or longer. About 5% fell between 30 - 45mm and the remaining was split with the 100 & 85. Also tried the 15mm Ltd on a buddy's K5 and wow that's wide but haven't had that urge to need it yet.

At the moment the 55-300mm isn't on the cards simply because I haven't encountered too many situations where I need that range on a consistent basis. The 200 is still in the air and it's main attraction is the 2.8 which I do use.

Oh the fun with equipment
01-31-2013, 04:19 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by trevorgrout Quote
Ok, so also keep in mind that a possible reason why you are always at 18 or 55 is because the kit lens does not go wide enough or it does not zoom enough. I also found that I have a peak at 55 on my 18-55, but that might be artificially inflated because of the zoom limits of the lens. However, you may truly have maximum peaks at those two focal lengths. With that said, I have the 40 and I think I will probably get the DA*55 next because I want an indoor portrait lens. I think the 70 might be too long and the 55 has the wide aperture of 1.4. Don't discount the 55-300 that is a great lens and you have a whole bunch of focal lengths covered.
I think 55mm is a perfect focal length on APS-C. I own the DA 15, FA 31, DA *55, FA 77, D FA 100, and DA 200 and if I were to pick two lenses to go out shooting with, it would be the 15 and the 55. Anything longer than 55 is too long and the 15 covers the wide end. The other lenses are nice and I do shoot with them, but I miss the 15 and 55 when they aren't with me...
02-20-2013, 07:54 PM   #12
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Ok I've received the DA* 55 today (yay!) and I'm going through the motions to make sure all is well with it but just want to know if the focus ring is meant to keep on turning even though I've passed either end of the distance scale? I'm just so used to the limited where it stops turning when I've reached either end.
02-20-2013, 08:24 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by DNT Quote
Ok I've received the DA* 55 today (yay!) and I'm going through the motions to make sure all is well with it but just want to know if the focus ring is meant to keep on turning even though I've passed either end of the distance scale? I'm just so used to the limited where it stops turning when I've reached either end.
Yes, I'm pretty sure this is a feature on all DA* lenses.
02-21-2013, 02:51 AM   #14
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Cool thanks NitroDC!
10-28-2013, 11:23 AM   #15
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My DA* 55's SDM failed today. Really bummed.
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