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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
104 368,628 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
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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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Veteran Member

Registered: January, 2010
Location: Seattle
Posts: 1,915

8 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 25, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: center sharpness, flare resistance, size, build quality, built-in hood
Cons: slow speed, field curvature, coma wide open
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 5    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 10    Value: 7    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-7, K-5   

I wrote a review for this lens quite a while back, and now that I've spent another year and a half with it, I'm taking some time to rewrite it.

Let me start with the good: the DA15 is an incredibly FUN lens. It has amazing center sharpness, features very strong microcontrast and vibrant colors, and is the most flare resistant lens I have ever used. Its small size make it eminently portable, and its build quality inspires confidence and an appreciation for the lens as a beautiful object in its own right. Simply put, this is my most used lens by a wide margin, and it has helped me produce a number of great images. If portability matters to you; if you can live without zoom; if you don't typically shoot wide but want something you can always carry with you 'just in case', then the DA15 is your lens. This is a great little lens, and one I can definitely recommend to Pentax shooters.

There are, however, a number of compromises that had to be made to achieve the small size of this lens. These are legitimate drawbacks, and should be carefully considered if you intend to do a lot of wide angle work:

1) Field curvature. The corners of this lens often appear quite weak -- not because they are unable to achieve sharpness, but because the focal plane is curved. There is much discussion on this elsewhere. For many types of shots this isn't an issue, but it can be quite vexing in your classic landscape-type imagery.

2) I notice a lot of coma in this lens below f/8, and not even that far from the center of the frame. To be fair, I am often torturing this lens doing night photography, but it's worth noting that this lens isn't magic, and that you really have to play to its (solid, very real) strengths to get quality results

3) It's slow as molasses. If you do a lot of landscape work stopped down, this may not be as big of a problem for you, because the DA15 truly shines between f/8 and f/13. But... on the instances when you do have to shoot wide open, 1) and 2) above are much more pronounced.

4) It's expensive for what it is, compared to zooms in this range. This could be said of most of Pentax's premier prime lenses, but depending on your budget and intended use, the DA15 is not the best value for your money. I have not compared it directly against WA zooms in Pentax mount, but as I have begun to shoot wide more and more, I sometimes wonder if I'd be better served with a zoom lens, instead. The importance of this point to you will probably reflect your preferred focal range -- to me, if you shoot primarily in this range, you will probably be willing to reserve more space in your bag for this purpose than the DA15 occupies. However, as a take-anywhere-no-matter-what wide angle option, the value equation tilts heavily in the 15's favor, and was why I bought it in the first place.

As a final point that is matter of personal taste and not a strict negative, I also sometimes do not appreciate the DA15's vibrant rendering. This is a subjective statement, and only applies to some types of photography I want to do at wide angle. However, know that the DA15's visual characteristics are like the remainder of the DA Limited series: sharp, vibrant, lots of microcontrast.

For me, with some applications, it looks too contrasty, too digital, and is not something that I've found any way to clean up in post processing. It is easy to produce results that don't look natural to my eye, especially when photographing delicate scenes. In some ways I have been spoiled by the FA Limiteds, which retain contrast without sacrificing a sense of smooth tonal transition. If I could find that in a WA lens, I would probably use the DA15 far less than I do now.

Perhaps this review sounds harsh, but I sometimes think the popular enthusiasm for this lens outstrips its objective merits and needs to be tempered slightly. Having said that, it is definitely a very good lens, with unique selling points that Pentax has used brilliantly to exploit the potential of the APS-C format in a way no other brand has (though perhaps with mirrorless that will change...).

In the end, I will probably purchase another lens in this range to complement the DA15, but for now this puppy spends more time on my camera than any other since I bought it over two years ago. It really is worth of your sincere consideration.

Some samples:


















and many more...
   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2013
Posts: 4,062

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
   
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:
   
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2009
Location: East Bay Area, CA
Posts: 6,267

6 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 26, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $470.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: outstanding IQ, microcontrast, flare resistance
Cons: none discovered
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: Used   

I've been a wide shooter, tending to favor the 10-28mm range of FL's and purchased this lens primarily for the occasional wide landscape shot. Well, the IQ of the lens is superior to my wide zooms, so i now find myself shooting with this lens more than I had ever expected.

The sharpness is excellent, particularly when I stop down for landscapes, though now that I am also using it for indoor shooting, I wonder what shallow DOF opportunities I could get with an f/2 version of this lens, though i am sure the price would be out of my range.

This lens produces very little barrel distortion compared to the 16mm FL of my 16-45 and the rendering is definitely nicer. Also, the flare resistance is surprisingly good, i mean surprisingly good! This is possibly why we all want to compose shots with the sun and other bright lights, because we can without getting a mess of flares everywhere. When you stop it down past f/8 the pleasing starburst becomes evident; this 14-pt burst is nicer than any other lens i've seen so far.

The lens is tiny, so you can conceivably fill your pockets with little primes and walk around with an entire kit in your pants; hey why not? I have giant lenses too and they need to fit in the bag too, so it is just nice to have some compact options to balance the rig. The retractable hood is very convenient and I wish more of my lenses had this feature.

overall an excellent lens and highly recommended for wide shooting.






3-exposure blended image

   
New Member

Registered: September, 2016
Location: Vilnius
Posts: 1

5 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/
   
Pentaxian

Registered: September, 2010
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 2,605

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 1, 2014 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Small, light
Cons: AF problems, not sharp unless stopped down
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 2    Autofocus: 3    Handling: 5    Value: 4    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5ii   

Somewhat over-rated. It does all that a rectilinear 15mm lens should do. You can get some spectacular ultra-wide shots, although if you don't watch out you'll end up with lots of sky in your photos.

There is plenty of CA and bokeh is terrible. Flare resistance is good. My copy is reasonably well centered. With the SMC version you can get the pretty (or naff, depending on your point of view) starbursts. The lens cap is clever but impracticable.

The corner performance is annoyingly bad. Unless you really stop it down (to f/11-16) you'll invariably end up with soft out-of-focus frame corners. This can often be simply due to the foreground in the bottom frame corners being nearer to you than you think, but it appears to be a 'feature' of this lens, usually blamed on its field curvature. You can compromise to some extent and focus nearer, but the choice is then between a razor sharp center with fuzzy corners or not so sharp everywhere. Many of the spectacular DA15 shots you see on the web were taken with this lens either stopped right down or have had the fuzzy corners cropped out.

It is also important to realise that the rectilinear projection makes objects at the corners appear nearly twice as big than if they are at the centre of the frame, which doesn't help ...

On my K-5ii the autofocus (not that you really need it) at infinity is a hit-and-miss affair. It is a miss much of the time. You can help it by pre focusing at the far end stop but usually the AF decides to stop its spin short of the best focus setting.

Overall a bit of a disappointment. You can get the same ultra-wide view by stitching together two portrait orientation shots taken with the DA21. Or just use the cheap DA16-45, which is nearly as wide but much better at f4.







More here
   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 6,754

4 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
   
Administrator
Site Webmaster

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Arizona
Posts: 49,673

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 3, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $499.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Compact, sharp, great colors, stunning close-ups
Cons: Screw-in cap is tedious to use, lens hard to hold
New or Used: New   

B&H Photo was generous enough to loan us this lens for an official PentaxForums.com review! It is currently offered for $499 - click here to buy!

After spending a couple of weeks with this lens, we were quite impressed, especially when comparing it with the SMC-A 15mm F3.5 full-frame lens. The DA 15mm seemed sharper at F4 and F5.6, and frequently produced better-exposed images in P mode.

We found that this lens is very sharp in the center, and therefore an amazing choice for close-up shots. There was no loss in resolution when text was photographed from a distance of 3 to 6 feet. At a distance, and to the naked eye, there was no noticeable difference in overall sharpness between this lens, the A 15mm, and the DA 12-24mm zoom. 15mm is a pretty wide focal length, and therefore something like this is to be expected.

Pentax's modern coatings as well as the built-in hood do a pretty good job with flare control, so that impressed us as well. AF speed was very fast, and throw and stiffness were both above average for this kind of lens. Like all DA limited lenses, the DA 15mm features a very elegant all-metal finish.

The only negatives we could identify were that the screw-in cap was a pain to use, and that the lens was somewhat hard to hold on to when mounted. An extra stop of light would also sometimes come in handy, but we can't complain about considering the lens's tiny size and weight. For those needing a faster lens, there's always the SMC Pentax-DA 14mm F2.8, which is considerably larger.

If I were more of a wide-angle shooter, I would have held onto this lens in a heartbeat! I strongly recommend it for anyone who enjoys taking landscapes, panoramas, or wide close-ups!
   
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
   
Veteran Member

Registered: April, 2013
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 458

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: 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
   
Pentaxian

Registered: February, 2010
Location: Eureka, CA
Posts: 4,353

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 28, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $520.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Lives up to hype
Cons: Built-in hood
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New   

Looking through the images posted from this lens on this site, it's hard not to suspect that Pentaxians are doing some of their best work with the DA 15; and while the photographer bears the ultimate responsibility for the final product, a superb lens can inspire a talented photographer. And I believe that's what we see in spades with the DA 15.

The DA 15 provides as good image quality as you're going to get at this focal range with a Pentax DSLR. It's as sharp as my K 50 f1.2 and DFA 100 f2.8 WR, two of Pentax's sharpest lenses. It produces the rich, distinctive, eye-catching colors that the best Pentax lenses are known for. The microcontrast of the DA 15, combined with the resolution, gives images a degree of clarity and vividness that appears only considerably more expensive lenses. And this is all provided in a compact, exquisitely engineered package. The built-in hood can be a nice additional feature, provided you don't need to use square filters. Then it becomes a bit of a nuisance.

Some complaints have arisen over the corner resolution of this lens. In the more than half a year use of the lens, I haven't run into any serious problems with corner resolution. Are the corners less sharp than the center, even when stopped down? Yes. But it must be kept in mind that the center is so sharp that a loss of resolution toward the corners is not terribly significant. The corners have plenty of resolution for all but the most uptight photographers, as can be noted in the following 100% crop:



The DA 15, thanks to its excellent flare control, has developed a reputation as a great lens for "sun" photography:





It also acquits itself very well in images that don't include the sun:



   
Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2011
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,846

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 22, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $525.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, contrasty, colorful, wide angle
Cons: soft in corners
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New   

I love this lens. I believe I've taken some of my better photos with it. It's very sharp, and I am sometimes amazed at the detail I can see when pixel-peeping. Straight out of the camera, colors are very bright and vibrant, and the lens seems to have a polarizing effect on blue skies, which I like very much.

The bokeh can be a little nervous, but typically, you're not buying a wide angle lens for the bokeh. I have attached a photo below that illustrates that the bokeh can actually be very nice. It depends, I think, on what sort of background you are dealing with.

Sunbursts! Some love 'em, some hate 'em. But few lenses are better at them. Regardless of whether you like sunbursts or not, this lens almost dares you to shoot into the light. It really handles flare exceptionally well!

I have noticed no chromatic aberration at all with the DA 15 Ltd. The distortion isn't bad and can be corrected with software. I usually leave it alone as I tend to like the effect it gives in certain circumstances.

My copy is a bit soft in the corners at all apertures, but improves significantly as you stop down. Center sharpness at all apertures is excellent.

It's so light and compact that I find I tend to leave it on the camera more than any other lens. It's capable of focusing pretty close, so it's versatile for a wide angle. Really, the lens is an absolute joy to use, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who is looking for a WA lens!

Some samples follow...


hay field stone fence by loco's photos, on Flickr


sunrise at the lake by loco's photos, on Flickr


Lincoln Memorial front b&w by loco's photos, on Flickr


Monticello tuberose - Explored by loco's photos, on Flickr
   
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.
   
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.
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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