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08-12-2013, 10:30 PM   #1
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DA* 16-50 Broke, getting disillusioned with Pentax :(

A bit long and whining, sorry...

Well, disillusioned not Pentax exactly, but while I've been a huge fan for years, and recently when I got a fairly sizable bonus from work spent it on updating to the K5iis, some accessories, and the Sigma 85/1.4, instead of jumping ship to somewhere else if I had chosen.

Then the DA* 16-50, my favorite lens since I got it second hand a year or so back, which served me well through 10 days in Bangladesh, decided to stop being an autofocus lens anymore It made a slight crunchy noise when the focus ring was moved, and refused to AF *at all*. Occasionally it had stopped autofocusing for me, but had always started just fine after being re-seated or the camera being turned off and on again. I put it up to being a second hand lens with a few miles on it, or a symptom of the "higher tech" SDM system.

So I took it to my local Vancouver repair office (VanCam, if anyone cares) and after a week or so and a few calls, they told me it was ready. Just in time for my 3 week vacation in the UK, yay! Picked it up, tested it, worked fine, took it home. Then shot around with it the following day to make sure it was well broken in and ready to go, and it worked fine. Then took it to my high school grad reunion two days later and...

No autofocus. Rebooting, cleaning the contacts... nothing worked. ARGH!

Luckily I have my 16-45/4 as a backup, and had a family member who took the lens back to VanCam as I was leaving for 3 weeks that morning.

A bit over three weeks later (today) I get back and call VanCam to get a status update.

They called back to say that the part they needed wasn't available from Pentax. So they had two options, they could refund me and return the lens un-fixed, or send it off to Pentax to see if they could fix it. The first option would leave me with a nice, fast, manual focus lens. Since part of my love of the lens is the fast AF and it was perfect as the on-the-go 24-70 equivalent, a non-AF lens wasn't what I was looking for, so I guess it's option #2.

So here's the part where I complain a bit. This is a flagship Pentax lens right? The DA* line is their 24-70 & 70-200 lenses and other than the limited primes, are basically their cream of the crop (pardon the pun) for DSLR lenses. They're also 10 years old now, and with no replacements, *and* are still selling for $1400+ on the pentax site. Yet the parts for local repair shops aren't available?

I really hope this is just some weird thing where pentax canada can't get the parts to VanCam for some odd reason, and not that the lens parts aren't actually available. I didn't actually talk to VanCam today (got a message) so hopefully they can find out if Pentax Canada can fix and get the part needed to fix it before they send it off (they know the part they need, they can call Pentax and talk the same language, so they should be able to find out over the phone right?).

I'm questioning my dedication to Pentax NOT due to the quality of the product. Nor the availability of lenses, full frame, or any of that. I'm starting to get really worried as the lack of (apparent) dedication to the infrastructure of having a DSLR business. C*/N* come out with lens upgrades every couple or few years. Pentax has nothing in 10 years. C*/N* have a professional services system to support pros, Pentax has nothing of the sort (at least that I know of).

Don't get me wrong, I love my K5ii, and the 50-135 changed how I shoot pictures and helped turn me towards a love of portraiture, and the fact I can plug a 30 or 40 year old lens to my 2012 body is awesome; but I keep on getting the feeling that they are more interested in multi-colored SLRs fitted with the kit lenses than the "pro" gear they put out.

I don't think I should start selling my gear off to buy a D600 and 24-70 just yet, but I'm really starting to question if I should be buying more gear when I have some spare money in the bank (needed gear I mean, not gear for the sake of gear, no LBA here).

Talk me down guys, tell me that the 16-50 is perfectly fine and it'll be fixed by Pentax Canada and back in my loving hands in a couple of weeks.

08-12-2013, 10:59 PM   #2
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Try putting electrical tape over the SDM contacts. I accidentally shorted my contacts out on my K20d while mounting a lens, now my 50-135 operates as a screw driven lens. I think if the camera can't detect an SDM lens mounted it reverts to screw drive.
08-12-2013, 11:13 PM   #3
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you can try this: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/208353-how-dea...m-f-2-8-a.html
08-12-2013, 11:25 PM   #4
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+1
I borrowed a mate's K10D and did this to one of my DA*16-50's. It is now a bomb-proof reliable screw drive lens.

08-13-2013, 01:44 AM   #5
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Hello fellow British Columbian.

QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
+1
I borrowed a mate's K10D and did this to one of my DA*16-50's. It is now a bomb-proof reliable screw drive lens.
I'll second this suggestion. If I ever had to get another DA* 16-50, that is what I would do to it. Screwdrive won't fail, and it's noticeably faster than SDM.

However, the reason I do not have this dilemma is because I got a Tamron 17-50, and it is a better lens in a lot of ways. It is screwdrive, so it won't fail. It is smaller and lighter by a huge margin. It is sharper wide open. It is a lot cheaper. Yes, it's not weather sealed, and the build quality is lacking for sure, but it's all about the images right? Perhaps its time to look at offerings from other brands.

As for Pentax and their business direction, I think they are doing what they can to survive in a turbulent industry that is dominated by a few big players. They seem to have found a niche in the techni-color dreamcoat loving crowd. To me this is a better option than trying to slug it out with the giants who cater to the professional ranks, where they face an enormous uphill battle. I know that if I ever go pro, I would seriously give a look at offerings from other brands. Perhaps this is the case with you?

One final thought. My impression of Pentax Canada is that they do not have their stuff together in the way that Pentax USA or Pentax Japan does. It took months before the K5ii/iis was listed as available on the Pentax Canada site, and I have read similar horror stories to yours about the service levels provided by Pentax Canada. If I ever needed servicing for my camera/lenses, I would look to the south first.

Good luck

E
08-13-2013, 05:50 AM   #6
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My DA* 16-50 is on parts hold with C.R.I.S. here in the US. Sent it in for a cleaning and checkup since I had to send my K-5 in anyway for a loose lense release button. They suggested replacing the SDM for $237. ("ESTIMATE TO REPLACE SDM UNIT REPLACE MAIN PCB ASSEMBLY ADJUST TO MANUFACTURERS SPECIFICATIONS"). Since it worked fine I asked to talk to the technician. Technician indicated the AF was slow starting up, and suggested replacing it while they had it.

He then indicated they are replacing the SDM with stronger/higher-volt motors, and he has not seen any of these new repairs come back

I should have asked for how long they have been doing these new motors, but did not think of it. He, btw, forgot to mention parts apparently are on backorder, but since I was planning to sell it anyway (now using limiteds and a 18-135) I can wait. I am speculating here, but the new parts may be the cause of the delay - maybe more 16-50's to repair than they had anticipated
08-13-2013, 06:02 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by HenrikDK Quote
My DA* 16-50 is on parts hold with C.R.I.S. here in the US. Sent it in for a cleaning and checkup since I had to send my K-5 in anyway for a loose lense release button. They suggested replacing the SDM for $237. ("ESTIMATE TO REPLACE SDM UNIT REPLACE MAIN PCB ASSEMBLY ADJUST TO MANUFACTURERS SPECIFICATIONS"). Since it worked fine I asked to talk to the technician. Technician indicated the AF was slow starting up, and suggested replacing it while they had it.

He then indicated they are replacing the SDM with stronger/higher-volt motors, and he has not seen any of these new repairs come back

I should have asked for how long they have been doing these new motors, but did not think of it. He, btw, forgot to mention parts apparently are on backorder, but since I was planning to sell it anyway (now using limiteds and a 18-135) I can wait. I am speculating here, but the new parts may be the cause of the delay - maybe more 16-50's to repair than they had anticipated
Every year Pentax has said that, regarding new motors and seeding all forums with that info, but never any proof comes back about new, redesigned parts. I'd tell Pentax to replace it for free, since it's their defect. Wouldn't surprise me if a memo went around Pentax suggesting they tell their techs to "suggest repair and indicate slow start up".

The French and German forums have indicated that brand new lenses in later production runs are still failing, so beware.
08-13-2013, 06:30 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by maxfield_photo Quote
Try putting electrical tape over the SDM contacts. I accidentally shorted my contacts out on my K20d while mounting a lens, now my 50-135 operates as a screw driven lens. I think if the camera can't detect an SDM lens mounted it reverts to screw drive.
I'd give this a shot if I had the lens, but it's right now in downtown vancouver. I'll send them the link though and ask them to see if that works, and if it does I'll get it back from them and use it as a normal non-SDM (assuming that was the issue of course).

08-13-2013, 07:10 AM   #9
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This is slightly off subject, but how are you liking that Sigma 85? I'm on the fence between it and the 77mm Limited.
08-13-2013, 07:11 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by HenrikDK Quote
My DA* 16-50 is on parts hold with C.R.I.S. here in the US. Sent it in for a cleaning and checkup since I had to send my K-5 in anyway for a loose lense release button. They suggested replacing the SDM for $237. ("ESTIMATE TO REPLACE SDM UNIT REPLACE MAIN PCB ASSEMBLY ADJUST TO MANUFACTURERS SPECIFICATIONS"). Since it worked fine I asked to talk to the technician. Technician indicated the AF was slow starting up, and suggested replacing it while they had it.

He then indicated they are replacing the SDM with stronger/higher-volt motors, and he has not seen any of these new repairs come back

I should have asked for how long they have been doing these new motors, but did not think of it. He, btw, forgot to mention parts apparently are on backorder, but since I was planning to sell it anyway (now using limiteds and a 18-135) I can wait. I am speculating here, but the new parts may be the cause of the delay - maybe more 16-50's to repair than they had anticipated
My 16-50 had been with CRIS on parts hold back order for 6 weeks now. They are hoping to have it repaired by the end of August.....
08-13-2013, 09:32 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Drake Avenue Quote
This is slightly off subject, but how are you liking that Sigma 85? I'm on the fence between it and the 77mm Limited.
Not sure if you're talking to me, but I love it. Given the choice again, I may go with the 77 simply because the 85 turns into a 130mm, and that puts you a *long* way away for "intimate" headshots, and in the next country for full body. It's still a gorgeous and creamy lens and a huge chunk of glass. All the shots in the blog post here are done with it.
08-13-2013, 09:37 AM   #12
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Does anyone have a link to a picture for which contacts are the SDM ones? I'm going to send it to the tech at VanCam and to make sure I'm completely understood, having a link with pictures would be great. TIA.
08-13-2013, 10:17 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by arcterex Quote
Does anyone have a link to a picture for which contacts are the SDM ones? I'm going to send it to the tech at VanCam and to make sure I'm completely understood, having a link with pictures would be great. TIA.
It is the two inset gold pins that are within the lens mount, not on the lens mount (no pic to provide, sorry!)
08-13-2013, 01:36 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
+1
I borrowed a mate's K10D and did this to one of my DA*16-50's. It is now a bomb-proof reliable screw drive lens.
Using a k100 is dead simple. All you need to do is put it in debug mode, download the file to your computer, change the suggested numbers with the software notepad + + , and reload it in the camera.

Good luck

Randy
08-13-2013, 01:37 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by pxpaulx Quote
It is the two inset gold pins that are within the lens mount, not on the lens mount (no pic to provide, sorry!)
Thanks Paul. Have you actually done it and have it work? I have found a lot of people talking about the 'tape over pins' fix, but not a lot who have reported doing it with a dead lens and having it work.
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