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SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited

Sharpness 
 9.0
Aberrations 
 9.1
Bokeh 
 8.0
Autofocus 
 9.4
Handling 
 9.6
Value 
 8.9
Reviews Views Date of last review
104 367,280 Sat June 13, 2020
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
98% of reviewers $505.42 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
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 104
Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2014
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 1,588
Lens Review Date: June 13, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fun Factor, Perspective, Lack of distortion, Sharp
Cons: so far none...
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K5 IIs   

This is not one of these lenses where you pixel-peep, shoot charts and boast about the CA you found on certain images. This is a lens you take out the house and have some fun with ! The perspective this lens gives you on a cropped camera is amazing ! You could be standing a few feet away from an object and you are still able to get the entire object in the frame. With most lenses you have to back up to get the entire scene in the frame, but with this lens you actually have to move forward and closer to the subject ? Of course you still have to have to take into consideration things such as white balance, ISO, aperture and shutter speed, but once that is settled, you will be amazed at the pictures you can take with this lens. The distortions are minimal ! The Pentax colors are there, if not the occasional pixie-dust magic. Can't wait to take this lens out at night with my tripod and check out the star-burst !
   
New Member

Registered: November, 2018
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 10
Lens Review Date: June 13, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $230.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Small
Cons: Front cap, f4
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: KP   

Contrast is good but not as good as the 31mm Limited by the latter is on a different level. The front cap really takes time to open.
   
New Member

Registered: August, 2019
Posts: 18
Lens Review Date: April 16, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros:
Cons:
New or Used: New   

K3
1.







2.






3.







4.








5.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2019
Location: Hengelo
Posts: 17

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 30, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $138.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: small, build quality, starburst, field of view
Cons: none
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K5   

This lens comes with a story. After studying all the reviews on this page, I decided to look for the lens on digital marketplaces.
Why? I do like the starburst and the field of view.
After a while a Dutch pentaxian decided to sell his lenses and I did take the opertunity to buy this gem for a good price.
Last sunday, in the corona lock-down period, it was time to explore the lens. And wow, how cool it is.
Come as close as 20 cm to a flower and take a shot where both the flower and the surroundings is in the frame. The same with our kids, the chickens and so on. By the end of the day, we decided to head for the train station. Yes lock-down in the Netherlands is never a total lock-down. We are to strong to keep inside our houses. And yes we keep the social distance of 1.5 meter to any other human being.
At the end the sun-set was clear and the starburst was there.
I love this lens!


Come as close as 20 cm to a flower


The same with our kids


At the end the sun-set was clear and the starburst was there.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: September, 2013
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 1,000
Lens Review Date: March 5, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $225.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Wide! Small and leightweight, build quality great, starbursts, nice retractable hood
Cons: Could be a little sharper and have a larger aperture?
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3   

This is a nice small lens that can go wider than the 18-55mm kit I had. I bought it for a trip to Japan and it was able to fit a lot in the viewfinder. I also took it to Yellowstone and it didn't disappoint there either. Lots of contrast and plenty sharp stopped down. You do have to be careful how you focus at wider apertures or it can appear soft on the edges if they are out of focus. I also wanted this lens for the starbursts, and you can shoot right into the sun with this one. I've also had a limited lens before and like the build quality of them. I also like how the built in metal pedal hood retracts easily. Mine came with a plastic Pentax pinch cap so I've never used it with the original metal one so can't comment on that. I have no issues with focusing it, but when taking close photos at max aperture the bokeh can appear a little "busy" as they say, but you can get decent subject isolation if you are close. This is a lens that will teach you a lot about composition. Just changing where you stand by a few steps can change what you see in the photo dramatically, and a poorly composed shot can appear quite boring, so keep your shots creative! Below is a link to an album of some high resolution samples I've gotten with this lens:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshhphotography/albums/72157713363148671
   
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2014
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 1,561

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 9, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $350.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Field of view; quality of rendition
Cons: Quality control; slow aperture;

I recommend this lens with reservations. It has fantastic color and rendering, great sharpness (while I like to put objects on the edges of the frame in my compositions, corners don't bother me terribly on such a wide lens), and solid build quality. When I first put this lens on my camera and began taking pictures, the quality was quite notable compared to my previous best wide-angle lens, the Tamron 17-50 2.8 (which may be sharper on the edges?)


Here are my reservations. I ran into quality control issues and had to return two copies because of de-centering before getting a good copy. Granted, I bought all of these copies used and that might sway the chance of getting a bad copy. But be warned - it's not always easy to spot the de-centering, especially when the lens is softer in the corners to begin with. So take lots of sample pictures with many different perspectives!
Second, the relative speed of the aperture bugs me, and that is not something you can particularly argue with but I've certainly run up against its limitations many times. HOWEVER this is because of my particular situation, which is that I shoot video with a panasonic GH3 and adapt my K-mount lenses to it. My DA15 becomes a go-to lens because it translates to a 21/22mm lens on m43, and because I don't like to go above ISO800 on the GH3 I often run up against the limited aperture. For the purpose the lens is made, though, this should be no limitation for most photographers. If you use it as a more multi-purpose lens, you might have some difficulties with it as I do.

Great lens! If you do landscapes, stop down, and want a small lens, it's perfect (except maybe for the lack of weather sealing).
   
Pentaxian

Registered: September, 2018
Location: Poland
Posts: 655
Lens Review Date: December 23, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: build quality, IQ
Cons: price
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used   

Beautiful lens, excellent for all sorts of themes, from landscapes to street photography. Pretty sharp from the widest aperture. Excellent build quality; the built-in hood is a nice advantage. SMC-version is famous for its starbursts, especially when stopped-down.*


   
Pentaxian

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Vermont
Posts: 902
Lens Review Date: November 30, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Starbursts, micro-contrast, Pentax colors
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3   

This is a keeper when it comes to all the lenses I've owned. This is one very versatile lens that is my go-to when shooting APS-C and landscape. And the starburst characteristic is very special, which is missing to some degree with the newer HD version of this lens. Not sure if the HD is worth losing the starburst effect that this lens is known for.

Selected-4935 by David Carman, on Flickr
   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2013
Posts: 3,976

7 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 7, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $499.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Flare resistance, build, size, colors, microcontrast
Cons: Soft wide open, slow
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5IIs   

Shortly after starting out with photography from scratch and getting my first camera (K5), I ditched the kit lens and used only this lens and a 35mm only for like two years, so I thought I might as well write a review. I don't think I'm a great reviewer, when I get a new lens I don't test it or anything, instead I just put it on my camera, go outside and take some pictures. So take it with a grain of salt.

This lens I think it's a great example of how the numbers can be deceiving. If you look at the DxOMark review for the new HD version of this lens, it tends to score quite low. In practice however I think this lens is a small gem (if used correctly). I like to stay organized so I'll break down the review into sections.

Build quality and handling
This lens is so small and light (about 200 grams) that you can take it just about anywhere. It can literally fit in your pocket if need be. Make no mistake however - this little sucker is quite tough. It has an extremely solid metal build and it looks like it can take a lot of abuse, although I like to take good care of my lenses so I've never put that to test. The extendable built-in hood means you don't have to fumble with mounting or reversing an external hood, one thing that used to annoy me with the DA 35mm. The focusing ring works smoothly and there is a distance scale that I used quite a lot when shooting this lens. The screw-on cap is a little bit awkward to put on and off because you have to retract the hood, but that's just a minor inconvenience. Mounted on K5IIs, you don't have to worry about the tripod falling over if you're using one. Overall the lens is a joy to use especially if you're into hiking and you appreciate the small size and weight.

Focus and Autofocus
This was never a concern for me when using this lens since I mostly shoot landscapes from a tripod. I have used several methods: manual focusing while zooming in with live view, contrast AF in live view on some distant object or some object one-third from the frame bottom or just setting it at hyperfocal. All seem to work well although I did not pixelpeep to check the details. When I'm not using a tripod, I just set the camera to manual focus, then line up the center of the infinity symbol with the far-distance f/8 mark on the lens (if I'm shooting at f/8). It seems to work quite well. When using this lens for portraits (yes I did that), the AF produced sharp results without any calibration of the lens so I did not bother with that. Also, it should be noted that this lens has a minimum focusing distance of just 18 cm. Because objects close to the camera will appear much larger with such a wide angle, this gives you some really interesting options if you want to get creative. Just try to get really close and see what you get!

Image quality and sharpness
Center sharpness is very good even wide open, but you need to stop down to about f/8-f/11 to get decent sharpness in corners. When shooting landscapes you will probably want to do that anyway. For portraits, I don't really care if the corners are not sharp. Overall I would say sharpness is not amazing and the zoom that I'm using at the moment for wide angles (DFA 24-70mm) is quite sharper, but that's not the real strength of this lens. Colors are very nice and so is the micro contrast, although rendering seems to be a little bit less warm than the FA Limiteds.

Bokeh
I guess one does not get a 15mm lens to be used specifically for its bokeh, however I was pleasantly surprised by the bokeh of the lens when used wide open. Bokeh can be quite subjective and it depends on the photographer's taste, but in my opinion the bokeh of this lens is surprisingly smooth, especially considering the lens only has 7 aperture blades which are not rounded (at least for the SMC version).

Vignetting, distortion and fringing
Probably there is some vignetting wide-open, but I didn't shoot so much wide-open with this lens so I didn't notice. Beyond f/5.6 I have never noticed any vignetting. Barrel distortion is virtually non-existent. There is some purple fringing in high-contrast situations but it's very easy to correct in post, never had any problems with that.

Filters
I was able to fit a B+W 49mm 3.0 (1000x) 10 stops ND filter on this lens with no problems. It's the only filter I have used on this lens. Never used any polarizer because I don't think this lens needs one. The skies appear to have a nice blue shade (in good light condition), it's almost like the lens has a built-in polarizer.

Other thoughts
This lens has amazing flare resistance (by amazing I mean otherworldly). Stopped down to f/8-f/11, it produces a nice starburst pattern that has become its signature. You can even shoot straight into the sun and still get a nice image with some minimal post-processing work.

Using a wide angle such as this one requires one to be careful with composition. It makes distant object appear smaller and close objects bigger and sometimes things that shouldn't be there get into the frame. Sometimes you can fix that by zooming in with your feet (don't be afraid to get really close) or sometimes you can just crop in post.

After I switched to full frame, I sold all my crop lenses except for this one. I just didn't have the heart to sell it. Used it on the K-1 a little bit (in crop mode) and the results seem quite similar as with the K5IIs.

Below I have added some samples, but if you really want to see what this lens can do I would suggest visiting the famous "15mm controls my mind" thread on this forum (it's the reason I have bought this lens). It's one of my favorite lenses and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a wide angle for APS-C. Just keep in mind that the starburst effect is not that pronounced with the new HD version of this lens (because of the rounded aperture blades).

Lysefjord by Hattifnattar, on Flickr

Mountains at Sunset by Hattifnattar, on Flickr

Pietrele Lake by Hattifnattar, on Flickr

Sunset Through the Mist by Hattifnattar, on Flickr

Tree at Sunset by Hattifnattar, on Flickr

Charles Bridge, Prague by Hattifnattar, on Flickr

Under the Bridge by Hattifnattar, on Flickr

Anca by Hattifnattar, on Flickr

Forest Bokeh by Hattifnattar, on Flickr
   
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Storrs-Mansfield, Connecticut
Posts: 190

1 user found this helpful
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: 2

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 11, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Punchy colours, lack of flare or distortion, compact handling.
Cons: Field curvature
Sharpness: 9    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.

Update:
I bought another copy having misplaced my first one. I have now upgraded the sharpness by a point, and overall mark from 9 to 10. Although I felt I could live with the sharpness of the first one my 2nd copy is noticeably sharper, which makes it a really compelling option in my bag.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: April, 2013
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 454

3 users found this helpful
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: 473

2 users 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

3 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
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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