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07-09-2017, 08:15 AM   #1
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Pentax DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited lens - differences between old and new version

Besides the nano coating and the color of the ring, are there any other differences between the old SMC (Green ring) and new HD (red ring) versions of the Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited lens?

Reading the reviews here, the new red ring version is praised for its contrast and color rendition while the old green ring version less so. Has this between your experience?

I already have the Pentax DA 12-24mm zoom lens which I love but having such a small wide angle prime lens for travel seems like an attractive option.

Yes, I know that Google is my friend, but I place great value on the views of the people here!

The reviews for the green ring SMC version are here:

SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited Reviews - DA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

The reviews for the red ring HD version are here:

HD Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited Reviews - DA Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Thank you!

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Last edited by Theov39; 07-09-2017 at 04:50 PM.
07-09-2017, 08:23 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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the older version, the non-hd, gives better starburst effect.
07-09-2017, 08:45 AM - 1 Like   #3
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The primary reason I bought this lens was for the starburst / sunburst rays it produces. For that the SMC version is better than the HD version as the HD version has rounded aperture blades which reduce the effect a bit. Other than that I doubt anyone could tell an image from one over the other in real life.
Sadly I sold it to raise cash for the K-1. If Pentax would produce a similar FOV Limited for FF with the same flare resistance and starburst characteristics it would be my next lens purchase.
07-09-2017, 09:27 AM - 1 Like   #4
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The HD version controls flair & halos a bit better than the SMC. The SMC makes amazing starbursts. When I went shopping for a DA15 I only looked at the SMC version for the starbursts. I don't think I'm rare for this sort of thinking about the two versions.

Any other lens that went from SMC to HD, I would go with the HD version, save for the DA15.

07-09-2017, 09:49 AM - 1 Like   #5
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My experience has been very similar. I have the HD 15mm and SMC 21mm. The HD DA15 is a very good lens but it my hands seems to lack the magic of the older SMC DA21 (I am sure both the technique and the taste have something to do with it).
The DA15 is great for outdoors architecture and street shots, a little less so indoors where the f4 is at times limiting.
07-09-2017, 10:18 AM - 2 Likes   #6
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smc (Green ring) has a better starburst effect

PF user mooeep posted a starburst comparision of the HD DA (red) v. smc DA (green ring) some years ago (thread link)
I like the smc starbursts better, AND I think the green ring is pure Pentax cool


HD DA 15 version



smc DA 15 version

07-09-2017, 11:27 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Theov39 Quote
I already have the Pentax DA 12-24mm zoom lens which I love but having such a small wide angle prime lens for travel seems like an attractive option.
Ever since I started using the superb 08 wide zoom on a Q7, my SMC DA 15 Ltd has stayed at home most of the time.
07-09-2017, 11:39 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Both lenses are sharp stopped down a stop. Both are very flare resistant. The points of the green ring lens are going to be sharper while the HD version has a little fuzzier definition to its stars. Otherwise not a whole lot of difference.

07-09-2017, 04:09 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
Both lenses are sharp stopped down a stop.
Or two. Or maybe three. On a good day. At the frame centre ...
07-09-2017, 04:43 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by kh1234567890 Quote
At the frame centre ...
Field curvature in a very compact UWA lens has something to do with this. Plus, as you may have heard, sharpness is a bourgeois concept. If I need flat field sharpness, I have the Tamron 90mm in my bag.
07-09-2017, 04:46 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gray Quote
PF user mooeep posted a starburst comparision of the HD DA (red) v. smc DA (green ring) some years ago (thread link)
I like the smc starbursts better, AND I think the green ring is pure Pentax cool


HD DA 15 version



smc DA 15 version

That clearly shows the difference! Thanks for that.
07-09-2017, 04:48 PM - 1 Like   #12
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As many mentioned about the Starbursts. And that is the biggest point for me to keep the green ring version.
IMO, I think the HD upgrade is a bit cheesy. I would prefer to see them add WR feature to the lens. Whatever they do, don't hurt the Starbursts but only improve it if they can.

Last edited by pakinjapan; 07-09-2017 at 04:53 PM.
07-09-2017, 04:48 PM   #13
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Thanks guys, for all the responses. That has been very helpful as I am trying to decide been these two. Sounds like they are both great lenses but the SMC has got a slight edge and perhaps more 'character'. And yes, the green ring seems more Pentax!
07-09-2017, 05:27 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by RGlasel Quote
Field curvature in a very compact UWA lens has something to do with this. Plus, as you may have heard, sharpness is a bourgeois concept. If I need flat field sharpness, I have the Tamron 90mm in my bag.
I couldn't agree more. This might be a bit off topic but It seems like Original Poster is interesting in get a DA15, so this could be helpful for the OP when use the DA15 (or any Wide-angle lens). Note that Field curvature is common (Read more here) and it is more pronounce on a higher pixel density sensor like K-3.

Mostly on landscape photography; If you want the whole frame sharped using DA15, try focus 1/3 from the far corner of the frame.
here are 2 examples.

Sample 1. I focus in the center. As see, corner sharpness is somewhat terrible on K-3. I used to use DA15 with K-5 and it was not a problem.
Sample2. I focus around above letter "a" top right corner. It sharp on average over the whole frame.

Last edited by pakinjapan; 07-09-2017 at 10:55 PM.
07-09-2017, 06:12 PM   #15
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I recently picked up a new DA 15, and then a friend gave me the SMC 15 to compare the two. I found in many daylight type tests where I shot the same scene from a tripod just switching the lenses between shots, that the newer DA 15 seemed to have a bit more pop and contrast to the color, and therefore those images were a bit more appealing. However, when I did night test shots with the two lenses, there was no comparison. The SMC 15 had really great startbursts with fine points, as you see in the sample photos above. The DA 15 was blah at best and really took stopping down to get any starburst effect, and then it was still somewhat marginal (my DA^16-50 does much nicer starbursts). So, if you think you're oriented towards daylight work, I'd go with the new DA15. If you see yourself pursuing a lot of night photography where you are after starbursts, then go for the SMC 15, and if you're as nutty as I am, you'll end up with both for the different scenarios....
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