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05-08-2021, 07:12 AM - 1 Like   #1
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K-3iii with older SDM -- DA* 50-135

Sorry kind of long, but it seemed necessary to give some back story. Also couldn't find a similar K-3iii older SDM related thread, so created a new thread.

A little over a month ago I had an accident with my K-1ii and DFA*70-200. I was getting ready to do senior portraits the camera with lens attached were in my top loader bag and I picked it up and it dropped dead smack front element of lens first on the ground. If you have this setup you know how heavy it is, but for me the photos from that combination are well worth the weight. Anyway, both the camera and lens will now need to go for recalibration and possibly some kind of repair. I always do portraits and events with a 2 body setup 70-200 and 24-70...so now I had to fall back to my 50-135 on the K-3ii. Wow what a dismal focus experience with the 50-135 plus when I first attached/turn it on each day it would take a few minutes to get the SDM going. This was daily maybe some type of capacitor loses charge or something dunno, but for the last couple years it has always taken a few minutes after tuning on the camera to get the SDM to "wake up". I have tried it on K-5iis, K-3ii, K-1 and K-1ii same results with each. Plus dismal focus experience.

As a result of the accident and some other criteria (subject for different post), I ordered the K-3iii. I'm never an early adopter and the accident expedited a decision I probably would not have made until the holiday sales...After ordering the K-3iii I remember watching one of the Ricoh K-3iii videos where the photographer was using the K-3iii and DA*50-135, and seeming to be getting along with it well. So it had me thinking about the combination, while anxiously awaiting its arrival. I received my K-3iii this past Wednesday. Lots to say about this camera, but I'll focus (no pun intended) on the subject.

I knew the 50-135 was going to be the first lens I tried out. I mated them up and turned it on and immediately heard evidence the lens came to life -- no waiting. Keep in mind it had been setting for a week by this time and it would routinely go through the few minute SDM "wake up". Lifted the camera pressed the autofocus bahda-bing-bahda-boom it focused very quickly. I don't think it has ever attained focused on any camera like it does now on the K-3iii. Especially not that soon after power up. To add to it my first test was in lower light condition which I know would have been absolutely dismal on my other rigs where it may not attain focus at all. It still makes its quirky little chirps, but doesn't hunt at all in most cases. When it does hunt it is only back and fourth maybe once. I have always loved the images I get out of this lens and I could not be happier to see the K-3iii bring it to life. I've had the lens since circa 2013 and who knows how long the SDM will last now, but I'm really going to enjoy this.

I also have the DA*200 and DA*300, neither of which I have had focus issues. I still haven't tried them on the K-3iii, but I'm guessing/hoping based on 50-135 experience, there may be some improvement with the K-3iii and if there are also some low light focus improvements it will really shine with the DA*200 & DA* 300 on game day.

I'm curious if any of you have tried your old dismally focusing SDMs with this new rig and what your experience is? Especially the 16-50, my copy was worse than my copy of the 50-135. I would try, but I had a similar accident to the above -- wow I'm seeming quite clumsy now.

05-08-2021, 10:03 AM   #2
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I have something similar with my 2014 DA*200; I'm using it with the K-3iii in the Single in... May Challenge here on the forum.

My SDM has been "sleepy" for some years now, even on the K-1. It's like a new lens atm No hunting at all, locks on and stays there - the weakest link now is me

Some examples:

Pentax K-3iii Testing | Flickr

Single in May 2021 with the SMC Pentax DA*200mm F2.8 | Flickr
05-08-2021, 10:23 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by W412ren Quote
I have something similar with my 2014 DA*200; I'm using it with the K-3iii in the Single in... May Challenge here on the forum.
I'm in the May SIC challenge as well with the HD DA 70 limited. I know I'm not imaging the difference because it is a fairly stark contrast in focus ability. It makes the lens very usable now.
05-08-2021, 11:16 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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The big question is did you use the new battery that came with the K-3iii, or your old ones?
Is that why the SDM may be more responsive?
Just a thought.

05-08-2021, 01:12 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by caliscouser Quote
The big question is did you use the new battery that came with the K-3iii, or your old ones?
Is that why the SDM may be more responsive?
Just a thought.
That's a good point. I did swap out the new battery in the K-3iii with an older NOT freshly charged battery and it still acquired focus better. I then put the lens on the K-3ii and it seemed to acquire focus better. I think I'm going to have to let it set overnight to do the test again. I'll start with the K-3ii tomorrow morning.
05-08-2021, 01:16 PM   #6
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This is great to hear, the AF of the 50-135 has always been its Achilles heal.

---------- Post added 05-08-21 at 01:19 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by W412ren Quote
I have something similar with my 2014 DA*200; I'm using it with the K-3iii in the Single in... May Challenge here on the forum.

My SDM has been "sleepy" for some years now, even on the K-1. It's like a new lens atm No hunting at all, locks on and stays there - the weakest link now is me

Some examples:

Pentax K-3iii Testing | Flickr

Single in May 2021 with the SMC Pentax DA*200mm F2.8 | Flickr
Good examples of the K3-III AF ability, I've found the DA* 200 to have the best af of the old school sdms, and Ive used a lot of them.
05-08-2021, 02:14 PM   #7
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This sounds encouraging as I have the 60-250 and wondered if its performance might improve K-3iii mounted.

05-08-2021, 02:29 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Belnan Quote
This is great to hear, the AF of the 50-135 has always been its Achilles heal.
QuoteOriginally posted by Nakedgun Quote
This sounds encouraging as I have the 60-250 and wondered if its performance might improve K-3iii mounted.
I wouldn't bank on it yet as my 50-135 tests were hardly scientific, but as I was saying before it is noticeably better. I did an event with the 50-135 on the K-3ii a couple weeks ago and it really struggled with it acquiring focus, I was really wanting my K-1ii and DFA*70-200 that night.

Will be good to hear from more that may experience the same.
05-08-2021, 03:20 PM   #9
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I have a DA* 50-135, 16-50 and 300. I must say I have noticed a considerable improvement on speed and accuracy of focusing and yet to try any calibrations on them. I hope it lasts!
05-08-2021, 06:09 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I love my DA* 50-135 and up until a week ago, it was often on my K-5. Never noticed a start-up issue but AF was often a challenge for anything that was moving. Got my K-3iii this week and was a bit nervous as to how the lens would stand up since it wasn't a PLM. Very happy so far.
I grabbed this shot this morning and forgot to change my autofocus zone so it was still on spot. Even so, it is still far better than I could have ever hoped for with my K-5 in a similar situation. The K-5 would have been searching and missed the shot entirely. I just wish I'd had the AF set to Auto, or better yet Live View with tracking. That would have been a good test. Overall, I'm very pleased with how well the SDM lens works with this camera.

(and yes, I did scare the crap out of that bird...)

05-09-2021, 03:22 AM   #11
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I wonder how mine will do. I've converted it to screw drive after its second SDM failure. Anyone tested screw drive converted DA* lenses yet?

05-09-2021, 06:44 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by SimplyCreativePhotography Quote
I grabbed this shot this morning
Nice shot.
QuoteOriginally posted by SimplyCreativePhotography Quote
(and yes, I did scare the crap out of that bird...)
you definitely did.

I forgot to swap my lens last night, it still seems to be better now even on the K-3ii. Starting to wonder about the battery concept and maybe giving a nice capacitor load in the lens.

I'm going to keep it on the K-3ii and try again in a couple days.


I

---------- Post added 05-09-21 at 08:45 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by snappyhoffy Quote
I have a DA* 50-135, 16-50 and 300. I must say I have noticed a considerable improvement on speed and accuracy of focusing and yet to try any calibrations on them. I hope it lasts!
That's good to hear.
05-09-2021, 09:58 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by caliscouser Quote
The big question is did you use the new battery that came with the K-3iii, or your old ones?
Is that why the SDM may be more responsive?
Just a thought.
Initially I was using the new battery but have since swapped it out for one of the batteries that came with my second hand K-3 - no difference to me with the DA*200 (which is my only SDM lens).
05-09-2021, 02:42 PM   #14
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Just another observation from another user of a couple older SDM lenses.

My DA*200 and 300 have been working well on the K-3III. Both were exhibiting "sleepiness" with my K-1, both hunted for focus lock, both would occasionally not find focus, and both had stopped AF when it turned cold in December. I noticed both began to wake up after I checked them in warmer weather (on the K-1) last month.

Since trying them on the K-3III, as others have mentioned, it kinda breathed some new life into the lenses. They feel quicker, but I think that may be the more noticeable decisiveness of the AF compared to the K-1?

I have used them with the new battery in the K-3III as well as an older one that I've been using with the K-1 for years. No noticeable difference IMHO.

The new AF may not be "the best" in APS-C world, but in my personal experience it certainly is a big improvement from my K-1.
05-09-2021, 03:45 PM   #15
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IIRC, when the Japanese press reviewed the K-3 III weeks ago, they used the DA* 50-135 and found the AF performance to be quite decent - perhaps even surprisingly so.
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