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02-27-2024, 10:52 AM   #1
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Failed SDM on DA* 55, what to do?

Having been a Pentax digital camera user for now almost 17 years, one would think at this point I should be able to answer my own questions, but for this question, I'm willing to entertain suggestions.

The problem is that my DA* 55, which has been in my kit for many years at this point, has finally given up any hope of even a little AF movement. Clearly, the SDM system has failed. For quite a few years it was in the "sleepy" class, but no longer. It never got a lot of use by me, but when it did, I liked the results. Several years ago, I considered sending it to Precision for SDM motor repair, I gagged a bit on the quoted price, and then...it started to work again, so I passed on that possibility. A few months back I decided to get it fixed regardless of the cost (well, mindful of it anyway) and looked up the current price by Precision to repair it. Basically they said, 'we don't repair that one anymore because blah blah blah.' I could guess why, lack of parts, or the like, but what if I really wanted to get it repaired?

So, I've been wondering if there are any other US based facilities that would tackle this one. KEH perhaps?

I've also been asking myself why bother, I have a lot of lenses (LBA is a sickness, and I'm sick), and the niche that this lens fills (filled?) I have covered in a number of different ways. So, why bother? It works well manually if I really need it, but my upgrading of my old K-3 to that K-3III has caused me to return to the love of APS-c (ok, I still love my K-1II and 645z). The DA* 55 is such a nice size and is very sharp, I just wish it was back to its old AF self.

I know it can't be converted to screw drive (the panacea for my old DA*16-50 and 50-135). My choices seem to be - do nothing, perhaps get it repaired somewhere, sell it for parts, and ?

Any thoughts? I know I'm not unique in issues with the DA* 55.

02-27-2024, 11:03 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I love the lens, but with them regularly available used in the $300 range I would not personally invest in repairing one. FWIW I had one several years ago fail, and I sold it with full disclosure. I then bought another, which, probably due to a lot of shelf sitting, also became sleepy and eventually seemed gone beyond hope. My K3III revived it, but it's now a sleepy little lens instead of completely lost AF.
02-27-2024, 11:05 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew Quote
Any thoughts? I know I'm not unique in issues with the DA* 55.
For what it's worth, I'll mention that I have resisted buying a DA* 55mm for that exact reason. I converted my DA* 50-135 to screwdrive after its SDM was replaced twice, and I really don't want to bother with another SDM failure. As much as I've been enticed by that lens -- its optics are certainly excellent, I've managed well enough with the 50-135, a Pentax-F 50/1.7, and a FA 43mm Limited.

I guess I would ask myself whether I really 'need' the lens.

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02-27-2024, 11:12 AM - 1 Like   #4
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KEH cannot get parts as noted by several previous posters, so it will probably be a waste of time (and money if you send your equipment to them for an estimate) contacting them.

02-27-2024, 11:17 AM - 1 Like   #5
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couple of thoughts...

if the cost of replacement is cheaper than a repair, there's that option...

not repair it and just use it as a MF lens - it's a great lens, whether you are focusing it or not ...
02-27-2024, 11:21 AM - 2 Likes   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
KEH cannot get parts as noted by several previous posters, so it will probably be a waste of time (and money if you send your equipment to them for an estimate) contacting them.
Weirdly they recently repaired a da 16-50 sdm that came to a forum member from them but arrived non-working. Unclear if they sent it out or got the part and repaired in house.
02-27-2024, 11:45 AM - 1 Like   #7
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For whatever itís worth, KEH just repaired a broken 16-50 SDM that I purchased from them, under their 180 day warranty. Not sure how much the repair would cost out of pocket, but they are able to repair them.

I make a habit of turning the camera on and activating the auto focus for a couple minutes each day. If that keeps it fresh, who knows, but it results in a bunch of goofy pictures 🤪.


Last edited by Bourbonieer; 02-27-2024 at 11:55 AM.
02-27-2024, 12:38 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Get it repaired or buy a d-fa 501.4 sdm … it’s heavy but i plan on using it < 50% of the time

Last edited by Andrewgoodwin.photos; 02-27-2024 at 01:41 PM.
02-27-2024, 01:38 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Andrewgoodwin.photos Quote
Get it repaired or buy a d-fa 501.4 Ö itís heavy but i plan on using it < 50% of the time
So, I have a DFA 50 f1.4.

---------- Post added 02-27-24 at 12:40 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Weirdly they recently repaired a da 16-50 sdm that came to a forum member from them but arrived non-working. Unclear if they sent it out or got the part and repaired in house.
Interesting...

A shout out to you Uncle V. for an excellent conversion of my DA*16-50 and 50-135 to screw drive. Still working - of course!
02-27-2024, 01:57 PM   #10
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Interesting that Precision cannot repair it, it's not listed as discontinued on the PF lens review page, but B&H does not list it. so it's probably gone. Had mine repaired last June at Precision for $380 + my shipping.
02-27-2024, 02:09 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadBill Quote
Interesting that Precision cannot repair it, it's not listed as discontinued on the PF lens review page, but B&H does not list it. so it's probably gone. Had mine repaired last June at Precision for $380 + my shipping.
Ricoh Imaging lists it as current: Lens list for Digital single-lens reflex camera / Lens lineup/ Lenses / Products | RICOH IMAGING
02-27-2024, 02:43 PM   #12
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Sad news!!

My understanding that manually running the focus back and forth can have some benefit to waking up the sleepy AF... it could be pure fairy tale though.
02-27-2024, 04:34 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattt Quote
Sad news!!

My understanding that manually running the focus back and forth can have some benefit to waking up the sleepy AF... it could be pure fairy tale though.
That woke my DA* 50-135 up and it never went back to sleep. It was purchased from a seller in Colorado and may have been a refurbishment from the last days of Pentax having a repair center there. The lens was pristine. Rapid movement back and forth of the focus ring for several minutes worked. I tried it because it was rumored that it might be a refurb and that it was just sleepy to wake up. It has never even hesitated since then. I assume it was just recently repaired and had gotten a little stuck. I don't recommend it as a general rule but on the lenses that can not be converted - it may be worth trying.
02-27-2024, 04:42 PM - 1 Like   #14
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My DA* 55 is the same way. I mainly just use it as a manual focus lens now. Every so often the autofocus will wake up again then work for awhile. It is not reliable though. I really like using the DA* 55. I like the images it produces and the size is just right. I have no interest in getting mine repaired. It is weird that Precision cannot repair it. The lens has not been discontinued to my knowledge. I will probably end up selling mine as manual focus lens and see it anyone bites on it. Economically, it does not make sense to have one repaired with the current used market prices. As bringing the focus up, it will only work most likely for a limited time. I have had my DA* 55 mounted on my K3ii for a few weeks now. Tonight when I picked up it took about 3 minutes to get it to start working again. That is no different from when I leave the lens off the body. Once the autofocus does start working it will stop again if you let it sit too long.
02-27-2024, 05:37 PM - 1 Like   #15
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It would be nice of Pentax to reboot the DA* line up with PLM or DC motors where necessary.
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