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04-24-2014, 10:47 AM   #1
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Just bought a used DA* 50-135...couple questions.

So I bought my wife a used DA* 50-135 for her birthday, I really love the images I see coming from this lens and she's got a few weddings and family portraits coming up so I figure its the perfect time. We currently have a K-5 and K-x, and lots of lenses, but nothing nice above 70mm. Anyways, I got it used from Amazon, which is a gamble, but I have 30 days to return it, seeing as it was only $600, and its from Amazon, not a seller, which means I have their return policy I think its worth a shot. What I'm asking all of you, what should I look out for? How can I tell if there's any SDM issues present? Anything I should specifically look for? I've never used an SDM lens so I'm not sure what I'm looking for.

Also, if the SDM is bad, how do I check warranty status and does anyone know what the repair cost is? Can I use it with the K-5 and K-x without SDM? I've been scared off this lens for so long, and then with the price increase it just seemed like I was never going to buy one, but at $600, its worth a shot. Crossing my fingers!

04-24-2014, 10:58 AM - 1 Like   #2
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When the SDM starts to give trouble sometimes you will hear "squeaking" of the focus motor when zooming. Other times when you turn the camera on and try to focus nothing happens, but after a minute or so the lens begins to start focusing again. My DA* 50-135 was also purchased used and so far knock on wood has been perfect. Repair charges are usually $200 to $250. Well worth the cost if you only paid $600 for it like I did.
04-24-2014, 11:16 AM - 1 Like   #3
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This is a lens that unfortunately has a mixed reputation. Superb IQ on the one hand - 'a bag of primes' - tendency to SDM failure on the other. I personally think (hope) that the SDM issue is over-hyped. We only hear of the failures which just adds to the this lenses bad rep. We don't have any idea how many of these lenses have never had SDM issues!

If the SDM starts to fail you'll most likely get hesitant focussing. Sometimes the lens will just not 'wake up' immediately.

There is a hack that can be used to disable the SDM completely so the lens will only operate via screw-drive, but this must be seen as a last resort.

The 50-135 is a great lens, but the AF is slow. It'll work on both the K5 and Kx, but as I said above, in SDM mode unless disabled.

I've set my electronic diary to remind me to run all my SDM lenses every couple of weeks, as one theory behind the SDM failures is simply that lack of use makes the focussing mechanism stiffen up, and this in turn overloads the motor. I have so far not had any SDM issues. Use it or lose it!

It's a great lens, so enjoy it. Get your wife to lend it to you occasionally
04-24-2014, 11:57 AM   #4
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Not really a last resort. It's louder, but it still works fine. Might even be faster than the SDM version.

04-24-2014, 12:23 PM - 1 Like   #5
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I wouldn't worry about SDM. Just use it regularly. If it goes on the fritz, you have the option either to fix it, or to convert it to screw drive. Just make sure it is sharp and then go with it.
04-24-2014, 12:48 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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Yes, the DA* 50-135 is a brilliant lens and DxO software really helps bring out the details with it's automatic lens corrections.

04-24-2014, 01:54 PM   #7
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Thanks guys, really put my mind at ease. Here's to hoping I get a good, clear copy! OnTheWeb...that shot is magnificent! I've never used DxO's software, is it the same ideas as using the lens correction function in Photoshop CC or CS6?
04-24-2014, 02:12 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by TriCon Quote
I've never used DxO's software, is it the same ideas as using the lens correction function in Photoshop CC or CS6?
Probably similar. Corrects native lens distortions, lens softness, aberrations. I've never used CS6

04-24-2014, 06:06 PM - 1 Like   #9
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Tricon, last week I also bought one of these - second-hand, and it had been dropped. No AF was the result. I was happy to use it as MF, but out of curiosity I did take it to a place for a quote on repair, and it turned out no new motor was required.


All my other lenses are screw-drive, so I do marvel now at how quiet the thing is. It does need to warm up momentarily when first used in the day.


No sign of the dreaded SDM fault yet, but the superb homework by posters on this forum means it can be converted if it does ever fail (I have a KX that can be used for its debug mode).


The optics are great. AFAIK, this and the 16-50 were meant to showcase all that was possible in APS-C: WR, light, quality analogues of the 28-70 and 70-200 f2.8 zooms on FF alternatives.


Shame, then, that the SDM screw is so weak, especially in the larger of the two lenses. The guy who did my repair said that he's worked on some Nikons with the same problem.


On Wednesday I tried it out at a bar gig by the sprightly Larry Graham, who's still having as much fun today with slap bass as he did with 500,000 cheering him at Woodstock.



Last edited by clackers; 04-24-2014 at 11:06 PM.
04-24-2014, 08:25 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Tricon, last week I also bought one of these - second-hand, and it had been dropped. No AF was the result. I was happy to use it as MF, but out of curiosity I took it to a place for a quote on repair, and it turned out no new motor was required.


All my other lenses are screw-drive, so I do marvel now at how quiet the thing is. It does need to warm up momentarily when first used in the day.


No sign of the dreaded SDM fault yet, but the superb homework by posters on this forum means it can be converted if it does ever fail (I have a KX that can be used for its debug mode).


The optics are great. AFAIK, this and the 16-50 were meant to showcase all that was possible in APS-C: WR, light, quality analogues of the 28-70 and 70-200 f2.8 zooms on FF alternatives.


Shame, then, that the SDM screw is so weak, especially in the larger of the two lenses. The guy who did my repair said that he's worked on some Nikons with the same problem.


On Wednesday I tried it out at a performance by the sprightly Larry Graham, who's still having as much fun today with slap bass as he did with 500,000 cheering him at Woodstock.

Superb Shot!!
04-24-2014, 10:47 PM   #11
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That is an awesome shot, I get my lens tomorrow, got my fingers crossed I found a deal and not a dud, you guys have my hopes up
04-25-2014, 04:56 PM   #12
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Just got it in the mail, as I expected the SDM is completely dead. Just downloaded the firmware, modified the necessary hex values, re-flashed it and boom, screw drive with awesome optics for $600! I'm super excited to get out there and use it...which I'm going to do right now.

Thanks for the words of wisdom guys, I still dont have a lens with SDM...and I'm ok with that
04-25-2014, 05:06 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by TriCon Quote
Just downloaded the firmware, modified the necessary hex values, re-flashed it and boom, screw drive with awesome optics for $600!
Yep, that's a win, Tricon.

I do feel sorry for the angry original owners, but it's a bonus for us to be able to take them off their hands for a song.
04-25-2014, 05:25 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by TriCon Quote
Just downloaded the firmware, modified the necessary hex values, re-flashed it and boom, screw drive with awesome optics for $600! I'm super excited to get out there and use it...which I'm going to do right now.
Nice work!
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