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SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited

Sharpness 
 9.0
Aberrations 
 9.1
Bokeh 
 7.9
Autofocus 
 9.4
Handling 
 9.6
Value 
 8.8
Reviews Views Date of last review
95 342,655 Mon January 21, 2019
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
98% of reviewers $525.08 9.29
SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited

SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited
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SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited
supersize
SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited
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Description:
The SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited is a prime extreme wide-angle lens only suitable for Pentax APS-C DSLRs. Technical details:

SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
APS-C
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
No
Diaphragm
Automatic, 7 blades
Optics
8 elements, 6 groups
Mount Variant
KAF
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F4
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
AF (screwdrive)
Quick-shift
Yes
Min. Focus
18 cm
Max. Magnification
0.15x
Filter Size
49 mm
Internal Focus
No
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 88 ° / 77 °
Hood
Built-in, slide out
Case
Pouch 37748
Lens Cap
Dedicated metal screw-on
Coating
SMC,SP
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
63 x 39.5 mm (2.5 x 1.58 in.)
Weight
190 g (6.7 oz.)
Production Years
2009 to 2013
Launch Price
$572 USD
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-DA 1:4 15mm ED AL Limited
Product Code
21800 (black)
Reviews
User reviews
In-depth review
Unofficial Full-Frame Compatibility Tests by Pentax Forums
☆☆☆ No coverage at any setting
Show details
Notes
One aspherical element and one ED element.
Variants

Black and silver

Features:
Screwdrive AutofocusQuick ShiftBuilt-in HoodAutomatic ApertureAPS-C Digital OnlyDiscontinued
Purchase: Buy the SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited
In-Depth Review: Read our SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited in-depth review!
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos



Add Review of SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited Buy the SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited
Author:
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 95
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Storrs-Mansfield, Connecticut
Posts: 173
Lens Review Date: January 21, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $550.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Color/contrast, handling, size/weight, quick-shift focusing
Cons: A bit slow
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-01, K-50   

It's my most expensive lens and I have yet to really learn to use it because I've been plowing deep into my collection of old 50's for a while now. Recently I've kept it on my K-50 through the Christmas season and the pix are wonderful. It's not as slow as one would think for F4, perhaps because the colors are so rich, but I was lucky with indoor, night shots without a flash; even with fairly strong ISO boosts it made lovely shots.

Really want to try using it with long exposures. I think that's where this lens goes from wonderful to magic.

Want a push-on lens cap because the screw-on is too slow for me.

More later.
   
New Member

Registered: December, 2013
Posts: 1

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 11, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Punchy colours, lack of flare or distortion, compact handling.
Cons: Field curvature
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K70   

This lens should come with instructions.

All the positive aspects mentioned in previous reviews are absolutely correct. This is about the most fun lens I have ever used. I have a 16-85mm, but the images at 16mm look absolutely nothing like the da15. There is less distortion with the 15mm, and the way it handles contrast really opens your mind to the compositional possibilities in your viewfinder. Itís quite literally an eye opener. I feel like Iím finally learning to shoot wide angle with this lens. The rendering might not suit everything though. It is so punchy and contrasty that it can look a bit Disney.

If you have read many of these reviews, you will know that there can be an issue with softness. Fundamentally, I will never get the resolution with this lens that I get easily with my DFA100 wr, or FA77. Itís sharpness is just not at that level. At least not my copy. However, although less easy to achieve, it probably IS as sharp as the excellent 16-85mm, and the amazing contrast and punchy colour emphasise the impression of sharpness. The overall image quality of this lens, is fantastic.

I must admit that after my fist couple of outings with this lens, I was wondering whether to send it back. There are so many shots where the sides, not just edges or corners, were unacceptable.

However after reading a bit about field curvature, and carefully pixel peeping quite a few different scenes, shot with different focus points, I think I am learning how to get decently sharp results. Itís counterintuitive and quite tricky.

The important point is that the field curvature here is pretty extreme. I read people saying with frustration that even at f9 the edges are soft. But depth of field is not the problem. Even at f5.6 the depth of field is quite large with a 15mm. The plane of focus seems to me to be shaped like a fairly deep sided bowl. If you are shooting a scene with a tunnel-like composition, itís quite easy to get it in focus. However, if you want to get a distant flat scene in focus edge to edge, you need to focus past (?) infinity. The auto focus naturally doesnít want to do that, but I find that the infinity stop on this lens allows for manual adjustment beyond the AF infinity. It seems that this is not just on my copy, and may be an intended design quirk.

Many landscape photographers will focus just beyond the foreground for maximum depth of field, but that will leave the far distance soft at the edges with this lens. An option if you want a stunning large print vista is focus stacking, if you can be bothered to do it. A good trick I read somewhere is to use live view and manually focus to the corners. Especially for things like group photos.

To sum up, as long as you have an ok copy, you can get good sharpness with this lens, once you have learned where the sharpness is. For scenes where you need to shoot fast, maybe indoors or street photography, distant edges are less likely to be a problem anyway, and the results look so dynamic you wonít be concerned. I can shoot interiors at f4 sharp edge to edge if the scene matches the field, which it usually does. Like I said depth of field is not the problem.

Anyway itís great fun. I think Iím keeping it, and I suspect it will get a lot of use.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2013
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 407
Lens Review Date: August 28, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sunstars
Cons: Decentering, border softness
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5II   

It's a fun little crop sensor lens. I owned two of them just to help ensure that none of my issues had to do with the lens itself being flawed. I had to give it a 7 for sharpness just because the corners weren't sharp enough for the scenes I used it for... this lens really isn't meant to have corner to corner sharpness I guess. Bokeh is kinda harsh on this one, but that isn't an issue for 99% of what I used it on anyhow. AF is quick and accurate - no issues there. Handling got a 8 just because of the difficulty of attaching a filter to the lens. Value was more of a reflection of the high amounts that I paid for it back in 2014.

It is a 10 if you need to shoot bright lights/sun shining at you... this thing makes some awesome sun stars and laughs at the idea of flaring. Due to its center sharpness, I used it as a portrait lens on a few occasions just to get a different look.

Here's some of my favorite photos that I took with it:

Caspian - Pittsburgh by James Baron, on Flickr

JAB_2218a by James Baron, on Flickr





Brandywine Falls 2 Black and White by James Baron, on Flickr





   
New Member

Registered: April, 2015
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: August 27, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Excellent color, contrast and built quality
Cons: difficult to add lens filter
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: k-50   

This is now the widest lens I own. It has been simply wonderful to use.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: October, 2006
Location: Belgium
Posts: 464

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 8, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $275.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light and compact; very useful focal length for street and architecture
Cons: Moderate flare
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5   

Until this one I had no wider fl than 20mm, so when I found it cheap I didn't hesitate for a moment and bought it. In very short time it has become one of my favourite lenses as the focal length is very useful and because of it compactness you can have it always with you.

Optical quality is very good: sharp from corner to corner and very well controlled distortion. There is some CA and some flare, but considering everything not too annoying (I think the HD version of this lens will do better in that regard.

Really love the lens; highly recommended!
   
New Member

Registered: September, 2007
Location: Yucaipa, CA
Posts: 16

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 13, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $399.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Exceptional center sharpness wide open, great contrast and color
Cons: soft corners wide open, field curvature takes getting used to
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K3ii   

This is really a remarkable lens for its size. The color and contrast are what set this lens apart. If all you care about is sharpness you may be disappointed, but likewise you will be with most Zeiss lenses. You have to factor color and contrast into the lens equation, when you do you will understand why the limiteds (and Zeiss wides) are so highly regarded.

It is soft wide open in the corners, but so are many other wide angle lenses, still better than the Sigma 10-20mm I had. It is however remarkably sharp in the center wide open. F/5.6 is passable across the frame, it shines at f/8 - f/11 for landscapes
   
New Member

Registered: September, 2016
Location: Vilnius
Posts: 1

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 22, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Built qualitiy, size, starburst, low distortion, pictures makes you to screw up the eyes from pleasure
Cons: Could be sharper, works only in crop mode on FF
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5   

As soon as i bought my first DSLR (K5 with a kit lens) back in 2012 i wanted to have a good wide/super wide angle lens for landscapes, as it is my main interest in photography.
At first i had a possibility to buy few quite rare soviet MF m42 lenses (MIR 20 M 3.5/20 and MC Zenitar 2,8/16) and i've used them about half of the year. The pictures they produced didn't met my expectations (soft, lots of unwanted artefacts, aberations) so i sold them without a hesitation.
Then i started to read reviews in this forum about SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited. One by one. Checked the pictures here and on Flickr. At that time i was always checking local second hand lens market, and luckily for me there was one copy of my wish listed lens.
Currently, i'm using it more than 4 years and from my point of view all the good things that has been said about it here is truth. A true gem!

I'm using it also during weddings and other shoots. I had couple of accidents because of clumsiness, dropped it on the pavement from like one meter high.. Thanks for pentax limited lenses built quality it is working perfectly.

The lens is the best companion while traveling, add gorilla pod focus tripod and you have the most light weighted, super quality set for landscapes. I prefer long exposure (for this i use B+W ND 110 filter + Carl Zeiss T* circular polarizer + pentax remote control F) and you need only to set focus to infinity in MF mode, find a right composition -> stunning pictures.

It is a must have lens if you are interested in landscapes. It also very useful for group photos in various celebration shoots and for fun pictures.
Here are some of my examples:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/138534864@N05/25406358124/in/album-72157666184250592/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/138534864@N05/25944515831/in/album-72157666184250592/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/138534864@N05/25918743372/in/album-72157666184250592/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/138534864@N05/27383220875/in/album-72157666184250592/
   
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2011
Location: North Rhine-Westphalia
Posts: 475

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 13, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $720.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Strong wide-angle without major deformations, Limited build, sharp and contrasty (stopped down a little), beautiful colours, effective slide-out hood, flare resistance second to none, legendary starbursts, remarkably distortion-free, tiny for angle.
Cons: Sharpness fall-off towards edges (esp. wide open, but hey, it's a compact ultra-wideangle), some decentred copies out there (not mine), wouldn't mind if it was faster than F4 (but that would require more bulk), why did it take me so long to get one?
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3, K-7   

Even without resorting to the effusive DA15-controls-my-mind adulation of some , I can safely say that this lens has been my most capable ultra-wideangle to date.

It offers a field of view similar to the old 24mm lenses that I came to love in the analogue days, and does so in an unobtrusive, travel-friendly, and beautifully-crafted package. My go-to lens for city trips and architecture, which means that it sees a lot of use. Despite the slow aperture, it focuses fairly fast and has given me a respectable number of "photojournalistic" close-to-the-action keepers at weddings and events.

Some of the whining about soft corners and atrocious field-curvature strikes me as somewhat exaggerated, given that my copy at least happens to deliver clearly-defined images with generous detail, as long as I do my part and select my aperture and area of focus wisely.

The machined-aluminium build and optical performance has its price. This must be my most expensive lens so far, and it took me a while to pay it off, but I have absolutely no regrets about getting this little gem.

To whet your appetite, here are some DA15 shots from the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam:

https://500px.com/marc_synwoldt/galleries/het-scheepvaartmuseum
   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 5,577

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 22, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Small, light, great DA limited build quality and feel
Cons: Slow, lacks a bit of contrast, soft corners
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 6    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K200D, K3   

Edit: I see a lot of people commenting on this so I thought I'd add it here, at the top and in caps: DO NOT BUY THIS LENS WITHOUT CHECKING IT FOR DE-CENTRING!

A lot of people rave about this lens but, while it is a good lens and useful to have, I don't believe it to be as good as many people say.

It has the typical great DA limited build quality, handling and overall feel. Autofocus is fast and accurate on the K3. The wide angle of view is useful but not hugely so over my next widest lens, the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, which is almost as wide and is sharper than the DA 15mm.

Optically this lens is a bit of a mixed bag. The contrast is a bit low regardless of the aperture - all the other DA limiteds are better in this regard. The corners are always soft to some degree - wide open only the centre of the image is sharp and the corners sharpen up progressively to f/11 but never reach a level where they're really sharp. The corners are also prone to chromatic aberrations, even stopped down.

One thing to be careful of in this lens is de-centring. Many people complain that one side of the image is softer than the other and this is due to de-centring and sub-standard quality control. Make sure you fully test a copy of this lens before buying.

Also be aware that a lens this wide is not for everybody. The focal length makes this lens a specialist one and not for general use as a general wide angle, it's too wide for that. It takes some time to get the knack of using it to take shots that don't look like they would have been better at a slightly longer focal length.

Having said all that, image quality overall is good and a lens this wide is not going to be shot very often at less than f/8. I'm happy I bought it but for small, wide primes I find the DA 21mm much more useful and unless you really need a super-wide I'd recommend that lens over the 15mm as a wide prime.

Sample images:


Barcelona
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


IMGP6041a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


Crossing the Manzanares
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


IMGP5729a
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


Hakone
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


Playa de las catedrales, Galicia
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


Goodnight, Stockholm
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr


Pulpit rock (B&W version)
by Jonathan MacDonald, on Flickr
   
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2013
Location: Texas
Posts: 32
Lens Review Date: June 21, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Build quality, size and weight
Cons: I.Q. at full aperture
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K30   

Cute, small, light, well build lens. Very nice focusing ring. Telescopic hood.
What I don't like is that the 'full' aperture, pretty small already (f4.0), is barely usable.
At f/4.0, vignetting is strong, sharpness is good in the center but so-so in the corners.
It improves markedly at f5.6. Good resistance to flare.
Another disappointment: the way the telescopic hood is build-in precludes the use of accessories larger than the lens (step-up rings, add-on lens).
   
New Member

Registered: April, 2015
Posts: 2
Lens Review Date: December 26, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharpness
Cons: lens cap
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: k3   

I also love this lens and hate the screw on lens cap.

Keep in mind you can buy a pentax brand plastic non screw on lens cap that fits on top. I have this on my lens, and have no issues.

Pentax 49mm O-LC49 Lens Cap 31526

I kind guesstimated the amount of space between the front of the lens and the inside of the lens cap. I figure there are a couple of millimeters between the front of the lens and the back of the lens cap. And that's only when you squeeze it together. I have been using it for months and i haven't ever had it scratch the lens. The plastic cap looks like it was made for the lens.
   
New Member

Registered: August, 2015
Location: Stockholm
Posts: 15
Lens Review Date: November 2, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, small, built in hood
Cons: Slow
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K5 IIs   

Nice little quality lens with great IQ and nice colours.
At f4 it has good center sharpness but is a bit soft towards the corners. Stopped down to f8-f13 it really shines. Haven't experienced any CA worth mentioning. I do find it a bit slow since I need to keep it at around f8 to get corner sharpness. If it where a 2.8 it would be 3 times larger and heavier so why complain, it's a practical little wide angle!

@ f6,3:
   
Forum Member

Registered: July, 2015
Posts: 53
Lens Review Date: September 28, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $520.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Size, build quality, flare resistance
Cons: corner sharpness, purple fringing
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 7    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K 3 II   

Either my copy was really bad or people don't care about corner sharpness and purple fringing.
Corners on my copy were atrocious, worse than Sigma 10-20 I used to have. Visible even at screen size, not 100%. Purple fringing all over high contrast areas as well.
On plus size: great build quality, really loved the size. AF quick and accurate, great colors and starbursts.

Overall: I've sold it as I couldn't accept those corners. Check the photos, these are resized and corner softness is easily visible.



   
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2011
Location: Hanoi
Posts: 199
Lens Review Date: August 27, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: close up, well-control distortation
Cons: easy to drop the shade
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K200D   

The size of this lens is quite small but the quality is really valuable. When I travelled around Europe, I used only 15ltd to pose.

Spree river, on Flickr
   
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2012
Posts: 960

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 6, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $480.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Tiny, Unique colors
Cons:
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K30   

Everything that has been said nice about this lens is true and I can very well attest to.

One thing that has never been mentioned (or I have not seen written) is that the images rendered by this lens is obviously "digital", for lack of a better adjective. Nothing wrong with being "digital" but it lacks the FA Limited's charm. Still, it's a lens worth having.

Lastly, I think that between the DA and the HD version, the DA is the better one. I have a gnawing feeling that given 3 to 5 years from now, the prices of this DA!5 will start climbing as supply dries up.
Add Review of SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited Buy the SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited



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