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10-23-2011, 07:58 PM   #1
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Reliability of the DA* lenses's SDM system

I've been thinking to add to my lens collection some DA* lenses, like the 16-50, 50-135, 60-250 and 55, I currently have the K-5. My only concern is that I've read multiple articles about reliability issues with the SDM system, and I do not have the option to buy an extended warranty for the lenses, as I did with the K-5, which is now protected for 3 years (1 + 2 years of extended warranty). What are your thoughts ?, It's really hard for me to believe that such expensive lenses are still unreliable (the SDM system) after so many years of production, I would have expected that Pentax would have solved all the problems already, thanks

10-23-2011, 08:06 PM   #2
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With the odds of your particular copy breaking are quite low, SDM failures do happen more often than they should, and the overall speed of the SDM system is a little bit sub-par (if you compare the FA 50 with the DA* 55 it's a trainwreck) compared to other brands and even Pentax's own shaft-driven system. If you'd like to stay on the safe side, you could try some of Sigma's higher-end lenses:
Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM Zoom Lens for Pentax 583109 B&H
Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM for Pentax 589109 B&H
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens For Pentax Digital SLR 320109
Sigma Normal 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Autofocus Lens 310-109 B&H

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10-23-2011, 08:16 PM   #3
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Rather amusing claim on the B&H site for the Sigma 70-200:

"Optimized for Pentax Full-Frame DSLRs"
10-23-2011, 08:19 PM   #4
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Thank you, the problem with the Sigma lenses is that they are not Weather Resistant, that's one of the main reasons why I like the DA* lenses

10-24-2011, 12:23 AM   #5
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Before the avalanche of SDM haters rolls down the slopes into this forum, I will tell you that I have had a DA*300/4 since September of 2009 and I have never had a single problem with its SDM. Yes, SDM may be a tad slow compared to screw drive but if you are stalking wildlife, the silent motors are worth their weight in gold.

Jack
10-24-2011, 12:41 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I am not sure what's the point of asking the same question again here since you are aware of the issue and have already read many user experiences. Surely the answers will be no more valid than any known posts in the past. IMHO if the same problem has been experienced by many people over the years even till now, the design is simply poor. I'd say go ahead if you really want to but know the risk and prepare for the worst. How you spend your money is not my business but those assured you SDM issue was addressed should give you money back if yours failed after warranty. My usual advice is, "Buy Pentax for their non-SDM primes. If you want pro zooms, there are Canon & Nikon." Good luck.
10-24-2011, 02:13 AM - 1 Like   #7
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SDM, it's like playing roulette, nothing has changed. Play the game.... or don't.
10-24-2011, 03:03 AM   #8
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Who knows? I could tell you that my lenses all have worked fine, but that wouldn't tell you anything more than another guy who has had three motors burn out on one of his lenses.

To Adam's comment: the issue with the DA *55 is the length of the focus throw, not the SDM drive. The same with the DA *50-135. The DA *16-50 is actually a pretty fast focusing lens, just because they kept the focus throw small (tends to make manual focusing harder though).

10-24-2011, 08:35 AM   #9
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Buy them new and with an extended warrenty and you should be good for the coming 5 years.
10-24-2011, 10:21 AM   #10
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Thanks, are the Extended Warranties that B&H sells good and reliable option ?, unfortunately Pentax USA does not sell extended warranty for the lenses, are other options out there ?, it seems the B&H warranty is generic not specific for digital cameras and lenses, any feedback ?, thanks
10-24-2011, 10:44 AM   #11
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Most aftermarket warranties will be pretty generic. Although I've never had any problems with my DA* 16-50mm and 50-135mm (knock on wood), I did buy them with a 3 year warranty from Square Trade. So far so good as I have close to 3 years on each of the lenses, but seeing my poor luck, they'll probably crap out once the warranty's expired.
10-24-2011, 11:29 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
I am not sure what's the point of asking the same question again here since you are aware of the issue and have already read many user experiences. Surely the answers will be no more valid than any known posts in the past. IMHO if the same problem has been experienced by many people over the years even till now, the design is simply poor. I'd say go ahead if you really want to but know the risk and prepare for the worst. How you spend your money is not my business but those assured you SDM issue was addressed should give you money back if yours failed after warranty. My usual advice is, "Buy Pentax for their non-SDM primes. If you want pro zooms, there are Canon & Nikon." Good luck.
Totally agree, especially since Brosen has posted exactly the same question (exactly same wording) on DPR. The lenses generally are great, some do have an issue. get one from a reputable dealer and claim on the warrenty if it goes wrong.
10-24-2011, 12:30 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
To Adam's comment: the issue with the DA *55 is the length of the focus throw, not the SDM drive. The same with the DA *50-135. The DA *16-50 is actually a pretty fast focusing lens, just because they kept the focus throw small (tends to make manual focusing harder though).
I think you are on to something there. I've had a DA17-70 since shortly after it came out, and it is both speedy and reliable (knock on wood). I've noticed that the focus throw is very short and undamped on this lens. Manual focus is not easy, but the SDM has worked well.
10-24-2011, 02:13 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
SDM, it's like playing roulette, nothing has changed. Play the game.... or don't.
I think the same about the K5.

The one plus about the K5 is that it's issues seem to crop up well within the warranty period. At least what we've seen so far. Whereas the SDM failures seem to happen just outside of warranty for many.

(now that I think about it the K5 hasn't been out longer than it's warranty period has it, or maybe only slightly longer if it has.)
10-24-2011, 06:31 PM   #15
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I've had SDM issues with some of my lenses, but you know, I love those darn DA* lenses. I've tried out the Sigma's and I keep going back to the DA*'s. To me, the IQ of those lenses outweigh the occasional repair job that may be necessary.
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