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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
104 368,572 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
Author:
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Ascending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 104
New Member

Registered: June, 2008
Location: SH
Posts: 9

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 15, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: outstanding size/performance ratio
Cons: slight weakness in edge sharpness
New or Used: New   

For me this lens is an excellent piece of optics. The size/performance ratio is
outstanding - in absolute terms, I consider the performance as very good.

Center sharpness is quite sufficient (my English is not) and even some slight
weakness in edge sharpness doesn't prevent from creating excellent images,
particulary in extreme lighting situations (such as against harsh sunlight). A Zoom
like DA12-24 cannot provide such amazing insensitivity against incoming direct light.

The color rendering is very good - like known from other modern pentax lenses.

The look and feel of this lens is like other Limiteds, the only little disadvantage
I can see (for me) is the screw mount lens cap - but you also can use some
modern standard pentax plastic cap (like the one from DFA100).

2 samples (taken by myself):
(Non working link removed)
(Non working link removed)
   
Senior Member

Registered: July, 2009
Location: Singapore
Posts: 182

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 10, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $569.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Compact and well-built, low distortion and good flare and CA control
Cons: sharpness can be better

A very nice lens to hold and behold - probably the best built among the DA limiteds. For its size, nothing comes close - think DA14, DA12-24 and Sigma10-20. I would have picked the DA12-24 if I want sheer optical quality. Sharpness seems a bit lacking but probably I am nit-picking here since it's so wide, objects are very zoomed-out compared to normals and telephotos. Sharpness just increase slightly as you stop down. Very well controlled distortion - minimal barrel and very rectilinear. I use it mainly for city-scape which means f8 or higher usually:

   
Forum Member

Registered: July, 2009
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Posts: 57

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 10, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build quality, size, IQ when stopped down
Cons: Max aperture and sharpness wide open

This certainly is a very good lens with only a few minor flaws. The max aperture is a bit slow, and the sharpness wide open isn't spectacular. Stopped down, it gets better although never quite as sharp as the best WA zooms. Still, it should be sufficient for most normal users.

Where this lens truly shines is build quality and size. It is really small and light, yet still built like a tank. You simply don't get these lenses anywhere else. The Limited primes was one of the main reasons I switched to Pentax, and every time I use this lens, I'm very happy I did. As an amateur photographer, enjoying using my gear is (almost) as important as getting the results, and while other lenses might offer slightly better sharpness, they most certainly wouldn't be as nice to use.

The price is a different story, of course, and proof of how screwed up the Pentax Europe pricing policy is.
   
Junior Member

Registered: February, 2009
Posts: 46

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 20, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $540.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Compact size, build quality, contrast
Cons: sharpness near the edge isnt the best

I am very happy with this lens. Same Limited build quality as other limited lenses. Very compact size, great for traveling. Lens cover screws on which I like, better then that on my 35mm limited which is prone to falling off.

My only complaint is that its not a 12-24mm, and that the sharpness in the outer sections of the photo isnt the best (but still pretty good!).

3 shots, F/6.7, 1/60 s, ISO 100. 7:50am
   
Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Brazil
Posts: 532
Lens Review Date: December 2, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: razor sharp wide open, no distortion or flare, small and light, metal construction
Cons: none really

A gem of a lens. I have no problem giving it a 10 rating.

Razor sharp. Flare-free. Small and light. Top-notch metal construction wows Canonites and Nikonians.

A small amount of vignetting wide open but it's a physical limitation of all wide angles so can't penalize the lens for it.

Thank you Pentax!
   
Inactive Account

Registered: May, 2009
Location: Germany
Posts: 69
Lens Review Date: December 18, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $786.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Razor sharp,flare-free,small and light,finest optical and mechanical quality
Cons: screw-in lens cap

This is a fantastic little lens.
Razor sharp,flare-free,small and light.
Finest optical and mechanical quality.
A small amount of vignetting wide open,
but it's a physical limitation of all wide angles.
The only annoyance is the screw-in lens cap.
Instead,i use the original Pentax Plastic Snap-In 49mm lens cap.
Sample Shots with the Pentax K-7 and the Pentax DA 15/4 Limited lens.
Lens at maximum aperture for the following photos.
The Pentax Lens DA 15 / 4 Limited, also has a very good
minimum focusing distance of just 18cm.
Shots freehand without a tripod, JPG, only resized.













Regards,
Hartmut from Berlin/Germany
   
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2007
Posts: 8,241

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 13, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $540.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Small, superb center sharpness, fast AF, flare control
Cons: Corners weaker than 12-24

One of the funnest lenses I've shot with in a while. The sharpness in the center at f/4 and across the frame at f/8 make this little beauty something you want to take everywhere. Combined with the typical DA limited contrast pop, and you just spend the day smiling when you're out with this baby.

See this thread for my and other's journey with this lens: ---> It Controls My Mind.






   
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2008
Location: Emeryville, CA
Posts: 1,119
Lens Review Date: January 25, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $540.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Color, contrast, sharpness
Cons: lens cap

I've had this lens for a little over a week. And I'm amazed by the color and contrast. And sharpness of this lens is nicer than my 21. I don't notice the distortion that can happen with an ultrawide. Like the DA 35 it is a wonderful piece of glass. Loving it.
   
Inactive Account

Registered: June, 2009
Posts: 35

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 9, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build quality, size, predictable performance
Cons: not extremely sharp for a prime.

All has been said in previous reviews. I'll only add that extreme wide angles need a lot of thinking to get critically sharp results through the whole frame, against what one might think. When you point a lens this wide to the horizon and focus at infinity at the corners of the frame you get stuff that might be a little more than a meter away. And also because of field curvature it's hard to get those areas well focused, even if you don't see it. For landscape shots this lens can produce great results, but at least in my sample there is still huge improvement going from f/8 to f/11. And I wouldn't hesitate to go for f/16, the very small loss in center sharpness is compensated by a much more homogenous sharpness level from center to corners. As I said, with a lens this wide you sometimes get little things in the frame you didn't quite see before. For great results a tripod is mandatory.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2006
Location: Ontario
Posts: 744

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 13, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build quality, manual focusing, size, image quality
Cons: built-in lens hood
New or Used: New   

1) Build Quality:
This is a solid lens. It's fit and finish are top notch and the manual focusing on this lens is reminiscent of the old manual focus lenses, with the right amount of dampening.

2) Optics:
For all the talk of soft images in some of the formal reviews, this lens is very sharp all the way around. I've only used it stopped down, but I have never felt the image quality has been anything other than superb. I should also mention the colour is fantastic on this lens....right up there with the DA* line of lenses, and the contrast is also top notch.

3) My personal wishes....
I had a DA14mm and it was a faster lens, but I never used it at f/2.8. Also, it vignetted horribly with my Cokin 'P' sized filters. Although you need to use a 49mm ring-mount filter before you can add the cokin P set-up, it does work with only the extreme corners vignetting. I wish the built-in hood sat flush with the end of the lens when retracted and haven't ruled out removing some of the lens hood to do this. Having said that, the vignetting can be fixed and it's only at the very extreme corners so it's much better than the results I get even from the DA*16-50 at the wide end.

Of course, if this lens was weather-sealed, it would be that much closer to perfection, but all in all, there's very few reasons to critisize this lens.

Overall, I'd say a 9.5/10 for my uses. Paired up with my 43mm limited, I've got the perfect walk-around kit and for the first time since going digital, I can use my singh-ray filters (including the polarizers) without having to sacrifice a good portion of the original image because of vignetting. It now comes down to whether or not I break out the hack-saw and 'fix' the lens-hood

(Non working link removed)

From yesterday's play-time with the 15mm with a Singh-ray Reverse GND and Hi-Lux 49mm filter. The flare is probably caused by my hand coming in contact with the filter (which was in my pocket) when I was changing lenses.
   
New Member

Registered: October, 2007
Location: Sweden
Posts: 2

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 14, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, small, light weight, built-in lens hood, no distortion
Cons: Expensive, lens cap
New or Used: New   

I find this lens very sharp. Itīs a little bit soft in the corners wide open but otherwise - razor sharp. The contrast and the colors are great. Almost no distortion at all.
Iīm more and more into primes instead of zooms and I especially like the small size, the glass and metal materials and the built-in lens hood.
I donīt like the screw-in lens cap. itīs better to use a traditional one.

(Non working link removed)
   
New Member

Registered: January, 2010
Location: Fresno, Ca
Posts: 13
Lens Review Date: March 12, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $534.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: image quality, size, lens hood, metal barrel
Cons: only f/4, metal screw on lens cap, lens hood

My absolute favorite lens in my bunch. I shoot with this lens probably 75% of the time. Its is a great lens and a rugged performer. I love the all metal design. I listed the lens hood as like and dislike. It's great it is built in. But it sticks up a bit making it hard it get the caps on. I ended up getting a plastic snap cap instead of the metal one. Overall though... I would say it's probably one of the best performers I have worked with. I wish it was a 2.8 but I can have it all. Still love it.
   
Senior Member

Registered: April, 2008
Location: West Coast - USA
Posts: 202

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 21, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build, Size, Contrast, Color, Center Sharpness
Cons: Corner Performance, relative lack of speed

An interesting and small wide-angle dedicated to the APS-C format.

The build quality of the DA15 is equivalent to the other DA Limited lenses - excellent and fast focusing. Do to the super-short throw, this is likely the fastest focusing lens I own - slightly faster than the FA*24 and DA21, for example. The pull-out hood is a high quality design and feels very sound as it is pulled in and out. The color and contrast of this lens are top notch (attributable to both optical design and lens coating) - and this optic is becoming legendary for flare resistance. Center sharpness is quite acceptable wide-open and progressively gets better; probably resolving most of what the K20D and K-7 are capable of.

Extreme corner performance isn't anything too special until f8 or so, but rarely is an actual issue when shooting. The lens is clearly not speedy at f4, but this is part of the trade-off with a smaller design. I have used the camera in low-light and while it is limiting with a max of f4 - the focal length lends itself to easy hand-holding at very extended shutter speeds.

This is quickly becoming my most used lens - pushing both the FA*24 and FA31 out of wide-angle duty.

You can find my slowly updating gallery with the DA15 here: http://photobucket.com/PentaxDA15

DA15 @ f6.3


DA15 @f6.3


DA15 @f6.3


DA15 @ f6.3


DA15 @ f8
   
Inactive Account

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Michigan, USA
Posts: 7,484

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 17, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $499.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Build, speed, handling, of course image quality
Cons: Lens cap

What can I add that hasn't already been said. The only thing I Don't like about the lens is the screw on lens cap. I would have preferred a slip on type like that on my other Limited lenses.

The color rendering from this lens is absolutely gorgeous. It is fast to focus on the K7. Lens flare is very well controlled but as with any lens, care should be taken when including a very bright sun in the photo. I haven't noticed any distortion on the edges, and it's plenty sharp across the board. It might have been nice if it went to f2.8 but they already have the DA14mm for that.

Overall it's a fun lens to use and will let you get up close and personal on those Wide subjects.







In case the photos above disappear for some reason, here is my flickr page for the DA15mm Limited.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/13300089@N08/sets/72157623887190114/detail/

Simply a pleasure to use. It's my go to lens when I cannot decide on what lens to take with me (I have too many of them )

   
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 10,686

7 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 1, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $525.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: amazing IQ, incredibly small even with hood, a really useful focal length
Cons: awkward screw-in cap (easily replaced by a standard 49mm pinch version)

This has become my most used lens, and by a pretty large margin - surprising from someone who does shoots a ton of concert photography and generally leans toward telephoto. It's hard to put into words how much fun this lens is. Being so much smaller and not quite so unnaturally wide as the DA14, but noticeably wider than the DA18-55, it's really a perfect focal length for a wide prime in my opinion. Someone who is totally into wide angle photography would probably prefer a zoom that starts wider and ends longer, but such lenses are much larger than I would want to be carrying around on a regular basis. And make no mistake - I do have a prime basis, largely for this reason. Someone with an overall zoom basis would be well served getting the DA12-24, Sigma 10-20, Sigma 8-16. But someone looking for a way of getting wide angle capability without needing to buy a whole new bag just for the new lens - this is the lens, period.

Some specifics worth mentioning:

- As someone who shoots in low light quite a lot, I would *not* be concerned over a max aperture of f/4. It's not like you often need fast shutter speeds in low light when at 15mm. With that wide an FOV, neither camera shake nor subject motion are big issues except at point blank range. Also, at close range, DOF is already surprisingly thin. I'd rate the DA15 as being at least as generally use in low light as any of the other DA Limiteds.

- The lens is practically free of linear distortions, but that doesn't mean it violates the laws of physics and eliminates *perspective* distortion. Shoot a person from very close range and their nose *will* look big, because it is significantly closer to you. Nor do you want your subject in the corners. Taking a large field of view that almost wraps around to your sides and shrinking it into an image you look at directly in front of you rather than wrapped around to the sides like the original scene will *always* result in things looking "stretched".

- Center sharpness is absolutely incredible - almost off the chart even wide open, as verified by Photozone and my sample below. Corners are the really the part people debate, and then, only at relatively large apertures. I'd note that the corners are almost *never* in focus at f/4 or f/5.6 when shooting ultra-wide - the large FOV and the DOF and field curvature issues make that very difficult to achieve. And the perspective distortion means details in the corners seldom reproduce as you'd want them anyhow. But FWIW, when you do manage to get the corners in focus at larger apertures, there is really nothing to complain about in the sharpness department, as I will try to demonstrate below.

- The lens is *so* sharp throughout most of the image that cropping it to resemble the 21mm FOV is really quite doable. A 12MP image taken at 15mm but cropped to the 21mm FOV yields, um, something like a 6MP image - still more than enough for large prints with good resolution. So if, like me, you're debating the 15 or 21, I say, get the 15 and have it both ways.

- Flare resistance is admirable, and you often see people post shots with the sun in them that demonstrate this (see below). I would just caution that the lens does not have the magic ability to fix the dynamic range problems in inherent in such shots. Expose to show any detail in the sky, and your foreground will still be silhouetted; expose to show foreground detail and the sky will still be blown out. But if you catch the sun being filtered by a cloud or through trees, or in a cloudless sky where there is no detail worry about, or if you simply brighten the shadows in a silhouetted image, you can certainly get the kind of results you see in samples. My sample below had the foreground brightened in PP.

So here are my shots to demonstrate what I think are the salient points the lens:

Legendary flare resistance, wide-but-not-unnaturally-so FOV:


The fun factor cannot be overstated:


Perfectly usable in "low light" situations:


Good close focus capabilities, and fairly shallow DOF possible even at f/4:


There's probably no better lens for the "hold-the-camera-and-point-back-at-yourself-to-prove-you-were-there" shot - wide enough to take in some of the scene along with a couple of people, light enough to actually hold this way:


And for the pixel peepers, some 100% crops (from a 10MP K200D):

100% crop from center at f/8:


100% crop from center at f/4:


100% crop from extreme border at f/4:


100% crop from extreme corner at f/5.6:
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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