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12-14-2018, 03:56 PM   #1
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DA 50-135mm low light focusing

I am thinking about getting this lens and one of the uses would be inside a church which is not well lighted. I understand the SDM is not the fastest, that's OK for me, but I would want the ability to focus accurately. At the present time, I use either my DA 35, DA 50/1.8, DA 70/2.4 and more recent DA 55/1.4. For all lens the settings were about the same, iso 1100 to 3200, 1/90 to 1/125 at F4.0
If the 50-135 can focus as well as the DA 55 (both have SDM) in the same conditions it would be a keeper.
Here is an example, taken with the DA 55 at iso 1600, 1/90 and F4.0. It has been processed in LR.


12-14-2018, 04:10 PM   #2
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It does. I've used in very, very low light and it focuses well. Is very slow, though.
12-14-2018, 04:15 PM   #3
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Which camera would you be using it on? In my experience, it focuses quite a bit faster and more accurately on the KP than any other model. The K3 being faster and more accurate than the K5. I have not used it on the K-1 as I’ve kept it for my full frame lenses.

I’ve used it and wouldn’t hesitate to use it in poorly lit situations.
12-14-2018, 04:21 PM   #4
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I have had the DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 for numerous years, and through numerous DSLR models. First used on my K200D. Its use has been mainly when I needed the speed, and is still so, yet since getting the KP I have found myself using it more! It is great for low light use. It also makes a fine combo in kit with the DA 20-40mm LTD. I have it along in a separate belt lens case on my left side, while my camera and LTD zoom lens are in a belt loop/cross-shoulder strap holster on my right side. Quite easy carrying for what it is and can do.

It is remarkably compact and not heavy for a premium lens of such zoom range and speed. Its zooming and focusing system is such that nothing of the lens's exterior moves or changes length while zooming and using AF! Excellent balance. AF is not the absolute quickest, but is precise. I find it better for overall handling with the KP's larger grip, but still ok with the smallest.


Last edited by mikesbike; 12-14-2018 at 07:33 PM.
12-14-2018, 04:45 PM   #5
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I have used the 50-135mm on my K-3 II and previously on a K-5 II to take pictures at half a dozen jazz concerts in a university music hall. Typical stage lighting -- various coloured lights, including spotlights, fairly dim against a black background curtain.

I shot at ISO up to 3200, f/2.8-f/4, across the focal length range. The lens focused readily with no issues, either with the original SDM or later converted to screwdrive. No complaints.

I don't have any concerns on the focusing speed -- it's sufficiently fast for what I do and I haven't had any missed pictures because of that.

The 50-135mm is certainly my 'take everywhere' lens. The only other comparable lens is the Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 HSM II, for which the Pentax version is no longer in production. There is one listed currently in the MarketPlace here.


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12-14-2018, 08:21 PM   #6
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My answer is different. With good working sdm or screw drive conversion the low light focus is fine. With sdm that has issues (even undetected) low light focusing can be more challenging.
12-14-2018, 09:05 PM   #7
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I use the 50-135mm on most of my shooting for non profit music organizations. If the image in #1 is the basis for how much light you have in general, I am jealous. Most of the situations I find myself in are lit with spotlights on a dark stage with people dressed in black. My method is to use back button focus, AF-S, center spot with exposure set on manual verified with early performance chimping. You get a feel for what is in focus, after doing this for a while.

I pick, or try to, a point for focus that has a good edge for the AF to latch onto. Once I have that set I take my thumb off of the AF button and wait for the next image to arrive. The best thing to do is practice, don't try to out do the lens. Don't expect it to run outside of it's known behavior. I have enjoyed using the lens for a few years now, bought it used, had it rained on in Scotland, Hungary, WA state and in near darkness in theaters and church's in the US and Europe. It does work in low light but you have to know how it responds. React accordingly.
12-15-2018, 03:23 PM   #8
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by PDL Quote
I use the 50-135mm on most of my shooting for non profit music organizations. If the image in #1 is the basis for how much light you have in general, I am jealous. Most of the situations I find myself in are lit with spotlights on a dark stage with people dressed in black. My method is to use back button focus, AF-S, center spot with exposure set on manual verified with early performance chimping. You get a feel for what is in focus, after doing this for a while.

I pick, or try to, a point for focus that has a good edge for the AF to latch onto. Once I have that set I take my thumb off of the AF button and wait for the next image to arrive. The best thing to do is practice, don't try to out do the lens. Don't expect it to run outside of it's known behavior. I have enjoyed using the lens for a few years now, bought it used, had it rained on in Scotland, Hungary, WA state and in near darkness in theaters and church's in the US and Europe. It does work in low light but you have to know how it responds. React accordingly.
Thank you all for the encouraging replies. PDL, what you described is what I do. Different parts of the stage have different light brightness and colors. Usually, I can correct the white balance for only about half of the stage. My camera is the KP.
Looks like I am going to be spending some money, Merry Christmas to all.


Last edited by Wingincamera; 12-15-2018 at 03:43 PM. Reason: added camera info
12-15-2018, 05:23 PM   #9
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I love my DA*50-35/2.8 since my times with the K200. Now with the K1 I miss it sometimes, but it works fine in Square-Mode ...it will stay in my bag because it never disappointed me.
12-15-2018, 05:25 PM   #10
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to be totally fair, a 2.8 max aperture lens is never going to focus in low light as well as a 1.4 max aperture lens. for obvious reasons.
12-15-2018, 05:52 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wingincamera Quote
Thank you all for the encouraging replies. PDL, what you described is what I do. Different parts of the stage have different light brightness and colors. Usually, I can correct the white balance for only about half of the stage. My camera is the KP.
Looks like I am going to be spending some money, Merry Christmas to all.
Happy holidays! I just looked and was surprised to find B&H has a special going for the DA* 50-135mm lens with $328 off the regular price for a total price of $719 brand new! And this includes free next-day delivery in the USA! What a bargain for such a fine lens!

Can you imagine if using a FF body, getting a Pentax 70-200mm f/2.8 lens of such quality new for $719??

The KP is again on special at $300 off. I think if I just had a K-1 and not yet a mid-long tele zoom, I'd be tempted to buy a KP and this lens to do my tele zoom shooting! Great for carrying in the field.

Last edited by mikesbike; 12-15-2018 at 05:58 PM.
12-19-2018, 05:07 PM   #12
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I use the DA*50-135mm quite a lot for concerts. It is slow to focus but it gets the job done. The only thing I don't like about the SDM lens is that the capacitor looses energy and needs to be recharged with the camera body it left too long without use. I'm seriously thinking about getting the Tamron 70-200mm to replace or augment it.


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