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SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited

Reviews Views Date of last review
104 368,525 Sat June 13, 2020
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
SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited
SMC Pentax-DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited

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
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Automatic, 7 blades
8 elements, 6 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
AF (screwdrive)
Min. Focus
18 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
49 mm
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 88 ° / 77 °
Built-in, slide out
Pouch 37748
Lens Cap
Dedicated metal screw-on
Weather Sealing
Other Features
Diam x Length
63 x 39.5 mm (2.5 x 1.58 in.)
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)
User reviews
In-depth review
Unofficial Full-Frame Compatibility Tests by Pentax Forums
☆☆☆ No coverage at any setting
Show details
One aspherical element and one ED element.

Black and silver

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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Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2014
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 1,625
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 !

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Vermont
Posts: 908
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

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.

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.

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: 200

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.

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.
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.
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
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:
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2013
Location: Weddington, NC
Posts: 468
Lens Review Date: August 15, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp & compact
Cons: wish it were a bit faster
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5, K-7, K20D, K220D   

I wasn't sure that I needed this lens as I already own the DA12-24 however once I put it on the camera I realized how much different it handled than the 12-24. It is small, light and easy to carry. I have taken some of my best images with this lens. I find it excellent for street shooting and general use in a closed setting. It's also great for architecture.
The only drawback is that it's f4. I wish that it were a stop or two faster but that would change the size and handling of the lens.
I consider it to be a core lens that compliments my collection of FA's and is equally as sharp.

taken with the DA15 / K-5

floating_ducks_DxO by peterjcb, on Flickr

IMGP2725_DxO by peterjcb, on Flickr

under_the_heros_Photoshop CS6 / Topaz plug-in by peterjcb, on Flickr
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2011
Posts: 4,873
Lens Review Date: August 4, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $600.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Vibrant images, joy of use, small, light, no flare.
Cons: No WR, corner sharpness wide open, small aperture
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K-5   

Giving this one a 10.

It's better, IMO, than the HD 15mm. The sunbursts are beautiful, the bokeh is great for a 15mm. No flare, which is a big concern (for me at least) at this aperture.

There's a tradeoff between aperture and weight, and Pentax built this for weight. No flare.

Only downside that really bothers me is the lack of WR.

That said I don't think I'm ever going to sell mine.
Inactive Account

Registered: June, 2009
Location: Berlin
Posts: 103
Lens Review Date: July 25, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: Built, quality, integrated retractable hood
Cons: none
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5   

One of my favourites. Great for travel. Small, great build, great optical quality and thank you Pentax for the retractable hood. This is VERY convenient.

Registered: November, 2009
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 3,717
Lens Review Date: May 25, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IQ, Sturdy, Compact, AF
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-7   

I bought the DA15mm Ltd to use on my K-7. Since I used it with my K-01 and K-3 also and my comments apply to all these usages. I was 'conned' to get the lens after reading

The IQ of the DA15mm Ltd is breathtaking. I have both the DA10-17mm and DA15mm Ltd now. They are different and the DA15mm Ltd has more use.

A major feature of the DA15mm is its pancake design: a very solid and sturdy lens, with a very compact size. Together its IQ (did I mention IQ?), this is a winner.

After reading, I can fully adhere to the thread: the DA15mm Ltd is a 'mind blowing' WA lens.

Very highly recommended.
Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2007
Location: Arnold, Md.
Posts: 762
Lens Review Date: November 1, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $499.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, color, flare resistance
Cons: none so far
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5   

Bought this on closeout sale because I don't think the new coating on the new models will be worth the extra bucks. I can see why it has such a following. I'm sure it will become one of my favorite lens. Cannot understand why some are complaining about the lens cap unless they are suffering from excessively chubby fingers.
New Member

Registered: June, 2012
Location: Beijing, China
Posts: 7
Lens Review Date: July 12, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $480.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small, Super rich color, contrast
Cons: hood is filmsy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5   

This lens is the one that I used less often but the one that gave me the best results!

The color rendition is super, rich, vivid and fascinating in all the shot that I took with it. I am not going to talk about bokeh because as being a wide angle lens I believe we cannot everything.

The hood is a bit filmsy so it does not constitue a sufficient protection for your lens when you let your camera hanging from your shoulder: special care is necessary.

The light are easily repruduce with the star effect if stopped down, the resistance to flare is astonishing: even shoting into the sun during the day or sunset sunrise is very hard to have flare.

The lens is a bit expensive considering that is not gonna be glued to your camera all the time due to the field of view..but in the end what it matters is how many good picture worth printing you take and this lens just have the best results from this point of view!

A must have
Senior Member

Registered: July, 2009
Location: South Florida
Posts: 206
Lens Review Date: February 20, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $539.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Beautiful colors, very sharp. Awesome sun shots!
Cons: Screw in lens cover
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5   

Beautiful for landscapes, especially for shots into the sun. The sun bursts are incredible! Nice size and well built.
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