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01-27-2015, 01:48 PM   #1
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SDM issues

I have a 2 questions:

1) I have a friend that is switching from Nikon to Pentax (I gave her a little nudge). She just bought the K-3. She is interested in the DA* 60-250. I told her to stay away from the SDM lenses due to failure. I have had 1 fail (DA*50-135mm), and one work sometimes (DA* 16-50mm). The other one that I have has been fine (DA* 300mm), but I have only had it for about 1 year. I would like to hear from people with the DA* 60-250. Have you had any issues with the SDM?

2) As mentioned previously, my DA 50-135 stopped working, I am sure its the SDM failure. There is a local guy that works on cameras and lenses. He is very reasonable, so I feel like maybe I should give him a chance to fix it, instead of shipping it east (I live in Seattle, Wa) to the recommended Pentax repair place. What do you guys think?

Thanks a bunch,
Deb

01-27-2015, 01:58 PM   #2
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1) It is believed (but not proven) that the 60-250 and 300 use a different motor than the 16-50 and 50-135. There have been relatively few issues with those lenses. My 16-50 failed and was repaired, now working fine. My 60-250 has never had any issues. YMMV

2) I think the only place to get SDM repaired is at Precision Camera, the official Pentax repair center. You can ask your local guy but I think Pentax stopped selling parts to anyone awhile back. If he can get parts you might be fine but if not then you will have to send it east anyway. Precision was a bit of a nightmare this past fall as they tried to ramp up, but recent reports indicate they are turning things in a reasonable amount of time. SDM repair for me was (I think) $175.
01-27-2015, 02:00 PM   #3
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The 60-250 doesn't seem to fail nearly as often as the 16-50 and 50-135 (although there have been a couple of failures reported on the forum).

Would you consider switching your 50-135 to screw drive? Mine was hesitating quite a bit and that's what I did and it works well in that mode. There is a thread here that talks about it: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/208353-how-...m-f-2-8-a.html
01-27-2015, 02:33 PM   #4
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I have both the 16-50 and 50-135 since they were first introduced. My 50-135 SDM did fail after quite a number of years, but was repaired and worked fine since. The 16-50, which probably gets the most use, has never failed. My 300 also has had no problem.

01-27-2015, 02:36 PM   #5
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I have 2 60-250 (my husband and I each) and knock on wood no issues with either
01-27-2015, 02:49 PM   #6
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Unfortunately, I can report an SDM failure on the 60-250. And it isn't able to be successfully converted to screw drive as far as I know, unlike other SDM lenses.
01-27-2015, 02:51 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by aggie89 Quote
unfortunately, i can report an sdm failure on the 60-250. And it isn't able to be successfully converted to screw drive as far as i know, unlike other sdm lenses.
gig' em ags!!
01-27-2015, 02:57 PM   #8
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I just bought a 50-135 in November 2014. Did Pentax upgrade anything by then or is the lens prone to failure with current models? So far no issues, love the lens. I just wonder why Pentax would design such a problem child.

Thanks

01-27-2015, 03:08 PM   #9
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You know your friend better than we do, so good on you for asking the community. I wouldn't want your friend to get stuck with a bum SDM lens right after leaving Nikon for Pentax (or any other time for that matter). Though we don't have an accurate method for determining how likely a lens is to fail, it might be better to steer away from used SDM lenses.

My DA*50-135 is one from the early batch, potentially susceptible to SDM failure. When I purchased it used, I payed accordingly. If the SDM ever does fail, I will make the adjustment to use its internal screw-drive system instead. I don't shoot weddings, so I really don't care if the lens makes noise while auto-focusing or not. Screw-drive is faster too. Honestly, I'd be satisfied with it as manual focus only. Its that good.

SDM and screw-drive both exist in the lens, but on newer cameras that allow for SDM lenses, the camera doesn't utilize the screw-drive function. Recently produced SDM lenses are likely not susceptible to the problem (re-engineered with different parts), but I'm sure they thought the original production wasn't going to have any problems. Plus, when you buy it new from an authorized retailer, you get the full warranty.
01-27-2015, 03:23 PM   #10
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I have heard of exactly one DA*60-250 SDM failure. If you're worried about electric motors failure, there is no other lens you can buy that it is going to be better. All electric motors have failures, sooner or later, so yes you are buying a lens that will eventually fail. Same with Nikon and Canon electric motors. If there is a an electric motor in a lens, it will have a failure rate, that will go up over time. But the Tamron 70-200 is 2.8, bigger and heavier , and is still screw drive. So, if that's your defining issue, get the screw drive. The motor situation was rectified in early 2013, so it's very unlikely even a DA*16-50 or DA* 50-135 would be a problem now. After all, if they can get it to work in the DA* 60-250 and DA*300, both of which have industry standard failure rates, they can get it to work in the DA*16-50 and DA*50-135. But no lens with an internal electric motor can guarantee you there will be no failures. Especially since any bit of resistance, a bit of sand getting into the works, or whatever, that increases the difficulty of focusing is going to stress the motor. That's what is going to fail first, regardless of what the problem is.

So, no, we can't promise you won't experience SDM failure, anymore than Sony or Nikon or anyone else can promise their electric motors won't fail. But anyone telling you to avoid the SDM on a DA*60-250 because of the possibility of failure should know better, unless they are also warning you to avoid the internal electric motors on every other system. Over all, Pentax, according to lens rentals.com has the best frequency of repair in the business. If you're recommending against Pentax because of SDM, you're telling your friend to avoid the best, to buy something worse.

What kind of friend would do that?

If you're that paranoid, be fair, recommend against all internal electric focusing motors. Pentax don't have any particular distinction in that regard, despite what the nervous nellies will tell you.

The advantage to Pentax is, there are still so many screw drive mounts available, if that is something that would make you worry.

Last edited by normhead; 01-27-2015 at 04:11 PM.
01-27-2015, 03:53 PM   #11
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I have 3 SDM lenses, so far no issues (knocking on wood...).


As far as I know the SDM vulnerability to troubles was fixed around middle of 2012. Since that time they mount a stronger motor into 16-50 and 50-135. I believe that 60-250 and 300 (probably 200, too; not sure about 55...) use a different motor type from the beginning, therefore there are less issues.


As explained by normhead above, there's always a certain risk of motor failure, but that's the price we must pay... Like when you buy a car with lot of extra sensors and other electronic... the more you have inside, the higher risk that something could possibly go wrong...


But on one hand I think the SDM troubles are something demonized. The repair is possible and not that terribly expensive...
01-27-2015, 04:30 PM   #12
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The SDM apologists will always cite stories but the data says that SDM is not as reliable as DC or screw drive and the zooms are more prone to fail.

Last edited by Docrwm; 01-27-2015 at 06:17 PM.
01-27-2015, 06:13 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
The SDM spologists will always cite stories but the data says that SDM is not as reliable as DC or screw drive and the zooms are more prone to fail.
SDM nervous nellies will always cry the sky is falling, but current SDM is as good as any internal electric drive out there.
Data isn't "I say so". Data is a little more than that, I think you might be confusing data with anecdotal evidence.
01-27-2015, 06:55 PM   #14
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FWIW, the poll that was done in this forum on the topic guessed that 20 percent was the failure rate on certain lenses, and that post 2012 there hadn't been much change.

I picked up a 50-135 with broken AF for a good price and then converted it to screwdrive.

Glad I did - the rendering makes it for me a superb WR portrait and events lens, the one I'd shoot beside a Canikon guy with a 70-200 f2.8.
01-27-2015, 06:57 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
FWIW, the poll that was done in this forum on the topic guessed that 20 percent was the failure rate on certain lenses, and that post 2012 there hadn't been much change.

I picked up a 50-135 with broken AF for a good price and then converted it to screwdrive.

Glad I did - the rendering makes it for me a superb WR portrait and events lens.
Glad you are happy and knew what you were getting. From what I understand the 60-250 can not be converted. When you charge a premium for a supposed premium lens it ought not to have a fundamental design fault and if it does you should acknowledge it and offer free repairs - Pentax dropped the ball on SDM.
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