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SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM

Reviews Views Date of last review
120 362,794 Sat October 8, 2016
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
84% of reviewers $767.08 8.44
SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM

SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM
SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM

Like all other DA lenses, the SMC Pentax DA* 16-50mm is designed exclusively for Pentax APS-C format DSLR cameras. It was announced in late February, 2007. It auto-focuses with an SDM ultrasonic motor on the K10D (firmware 1.30) and newer cameras. On older cameras the lens will auto-focus with the 'screw drive' mechanism.

SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF]
Image Format
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Automatic, 9 blades
15 elements, 12 groups
Mount Variant
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
AF (in-lens motor or screwdrive)
Min. Focus
30 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
77 mm
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 83-31.5 ° / 74-27 °
PH-RBJ 77 mm
Lens Cap
Weather Sealing
Yes (AW)
Other Features
AF/MF Switch
Diam x Length
84 x 98.5 mm (3.3 x 3.9 in.)
565 g (19.9 oz.)
Production Years
2007 to Present
$843 USD current price
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-DA* 1:2.8 16-50mm ED AL [IF] SDM
Product Code
Internal zoom.
Three aspherical elements and two ED elements.

Screwdrive AutofocusSupersonic AutofocusQuick ShiftWeather SealedInternal FocusingAutomatic ApertureAPS-C Digital Only
Purchase: Buy the SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM
In-Depth Review: Read our SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM in-depth review!
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos

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Senior Member

Registered: August, 2012
Posts: 118
Lens Review Date: October 8, 2016 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $750.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: Good image quality above f5.6, 20-50mm
Cons: Poor image quality below f8 on the wide end, fringing, SDM
Sharpness: 5    Aberrations: 4    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 1    Handling: 8    Value: 2    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-20D, K-30, K-01   

Poor IQ under f8 on the wide end, fringing, the SDM broke a month out of warranty. I get better wide angle images from my Q-7 and the kit lens! If you want a Pentax Zoom, get the 16-45 or 16-85, either one is cheaper and will work better, with no SDM issues.

The worst Pentax lens I have ever owned (and I've owned dozens of them over 50 years.)
Eager To Learn

Registered: March, 2015
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 3,625

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 23, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $535.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build quality, f2.8, weather sealing, zoom range
Cons: None for me.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3   

I find the DA* 16-50 to be a fantastic lens ( now ). When I first got this lens I thought that I had got a " bad " copy. The only thing that was " bad " was my technique in using it. Very fast lenses and lots of megapixels highlight flaws in hand held camera technique very quickly. I found some of my images were tack sharp and others with some blur. It would have been too easy to blame the lens. Once I got my head around the large drop in depth of field from 50mm to 16mm at f2.8 from the same shooting distance, my keeper rate of photographs improved. Practicing good shutter release technique improved my keeper rate more again. The SDM problems that this lens has had in the past was not a deterrent for me getting it. If my SDM stops working, I will get it repaired. The fear of it breaking down did not prevent me from getting it. I would have missed out on some valuable to me photographs if I had l had let the prospect of SDM failure cloud my thoughts. All the DA* lenses are quality items. I can highly recommend the 16-50.
New Member

Registered: December, 2014
Posts: 4
Lens Review Date: March 19, 2016 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $380.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Range, Wide angle low end (16mm)
Cons: sharpness (2 samples), construction (hard spot),
Sharpness: 4    Aberrations: 4    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 6    Value: 7    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K5   

I was really waiting for getting this lens, because of the aperture and range...and was really disappointed it, as I could not get a sharp shot even when stopped down, at F/5.6 or even F/8 (then such a lens become useless...).

On top of this, I could notice a hard spot at 24mm approx, while zooming...
I kept it 1 month and finally sold it.

I could try a second sample, and the story was basically the same.

I finally got a 20-40 Ltd that became one of my favorite lens,awesome construction, sharp, usable wide open, much lighter and smaller (due to not constant aperture), even if the wider range...

Each time I see awesome shots taken with the DA*16-50 I cannot figure out they could have been taken with it...Its probably due to bad luck but anyway, I do not recommend this lens
Senior Member

Registered: July, 2013
Location: Alice Springs
Posts: 211
Lens Review Date: October 24, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $899.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Weather Sealing, Optical Quality, Character
Cons: SDM Failure, Chromatic Abberations, Flare Resistance
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 6    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5, K3, K3ii   


The 'SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM' is a lens which I have grown very fond of over the last two years of ownership. Despite an autofocus (SDM) failure and several optical flaws, this lens always finds a way to keep itself within my lens collection.
Build Quality:

The first thing you'll notice upon seeing the lens, is its small dimensions for a lens of it's speed and class. The lenses from rivals Canon and Nikon are considerably larger that of the Pentax, even though the Pentax has a wider zoom range than either lenses. This is likely due to the IBIS of Pentax bodies, allowing Pentax to design lenses free of OS dependability.

True to Pentax form, the lens hood is incredibly well designed with a removable port near the filter ring of the lens, allowing the user to remove the segment of the hood in order to rotate polarising filters attached to the lens without removing the hood. Another nice design touch to the lens is the wide diameter of the hood itself. Whilst on first glance, it looks much too large compared to the diameter of the lens, in the field in wet conditions, the hood does in fact shield the lens better from the elements compared to some of it's competitors.

Onto the topic of bad weather, this lens does feature an incredible level of weather resistance. Though some internet commentators are keen to mention the flaws in the Pentax K system, they always seem to disregard what is possibly the most important selling point to the system, Weather Resistance. Now, not to just shout manufactures claims, I have indeed taken this lens through hell and back, and it has, on numerous occasions, performed flawlessly. The following scenarios have befallen the lens, to no apparent harm to the lens.
Monsoon season in Indonesia for 4 hours, no rain cover or bagging.
High temperatures, +40C(+100F) in direct sunlight, multiple hours a day for weeks at a time
8 meter fall down a 45 degree rock face into a dry river bed
Many sprays with salt water onto both the front element and the interior lens barrel, wiped with damp cloth.
Whilst the 'SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM' finds itself within the upper echelon of Pentax lens options, with a generally outstanding build quality, there are a few minor errors Pentax has made in designing this lens. Firstly, the 'dual cam' zoom mechanism, while not horrible, does contribute to the intake of dust and moisture into the lens. Fortunately, the lens does feature a level of weather sealing that far exceeds the quality of most rival manufactures lenses, and help minimise the vulnerability of the lens to the elements. Nonetheless, I do find myself wishing that they had gone the extra mile and designed the lens with a single cam, or even with internal zooming, in order to improve on the lens' ultimate survivability.

Also worth mentioning is the extensive use of plastics in the construction of the lens. While it is hard to fault the finish of the lens, it would be nice if Pentax would utilize more metal for the barrel of the lens upon succeeding this model with a new lens.


Optical Quality:
Focus Quality:
Miscellaneous Comments:
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2011
Location: Hanoi
Posts: 191

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 27, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: WR, sharpness
Cons: autofocus, wide angle
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K5 IIs   

In such a good weather, the powerfull of DA* 16-50 f2.8 is clear, so there is no need for further argument.

San Agustin Church, Intramuros, Manila, on Flickr

San Agustin Church, Intramuros, Manila, on Flickr

Intramuros, Manila, on Flickr

Underground river, on Flickr
Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2015
Posts: 32

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 19, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $900.00 | Rating: N/A 

Pros: weather sealing, picture quality, fast focusing
Cons: wobbly lens extension
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 7    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K 3   

Purchased a year ago. Supposed to be an upgrade from my DA 16-45 f 4 lens, since discontinued. Had no issues with this older lens whatsoever, just wanted the f 2.8 and supposedly better optics. Takes great photos with beautiful colour but inconsistent results. Sometime a purple ring around the edges appears, even though the previous or next photo had no issues ( of the same subject from the same position ). This only happens very occasionally.

Took lens in for repair a couple of months ago due to wobbly lens when barrel extended. SDM motor was replaced and a seal. Did not know there was a SDM issue. Seemed better but not perfect afterwards.

Have had excellent focusing results the whole time, no issues whatsoever. Balance with BG-5 grip is excellent and I always keep this on the camera body, just seems to make it complete.

Still concerned when walking around and can sense lens barrel trying to move. Sometimes get the feeling that it is easier to extend the barrel than retract it. Just a slight difference. Did not notice this prior to repair. Lens creep?

Other than this concern, I really like this lens and it is my usual one on this body. I also have a K5 and usually keep a Sigma 10-20 lens on it. Obviously I like to take wider shots but the 16-50 is a much more practical choice for everyday use. If only taking one camera, I take the K 3/ DA* 16-50 combo.

I would still recommend this lens since it does take beautiful pictures. Just thought the quality would be better, being a DA* lens. Some reviews state that the quality is great and others mention perceived issues. Recommend you check out the unit you wish to purchase prior to doing so. I adjusted the focusing when purchasing this, easy to do and now know that it is spot on.

I also have the DA* 60-250 and have no issues with this whatsoever. This is a true professional grade lens.
Senior Member

Registered: December, 2007
Location: Finland
Posts: 183
Lens Review Date: June 30, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Silent operation, weather sealing, nice build, 16mm wide
Cons: Size and price

The only thing that bothers me when thinking about this lens is that I didn't get it earlier. Looking at the tests, even the comparative one done for this forum, you could not understand why Pentax kept this lens in production. Well, after getting one you realize that they keep making it because they know it's good.
In real life and even doing some testing with a high-resolving body like the K-3 you will not find any significant optical advantage with the Tammy 17-50 over this lens. The advantages are obvious silent and adjustable focus, weather sealing. In daily use you may also note the accuracy of focus (using phase-detect) which is an achilles heel of the Tammy (which I've been using for six years).
The mere one-two mm of wider angle also seems to make a difference comparing to the alternatives.
This lens has become a centerpiece of my equipment when on work. If I have to do an assignment with only one lens, mostly it would be this one.
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2009
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 2,479

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 30, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $670.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Tough, weather resistant
Cons: Somewhat heavy
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3, K-5, K-5ii, K-01   

I have had this lens for almost 3 years and have used it extensively hiking in the deserts of Arizona and Utah. So it has been exposed to extreme temperatures and rough use. It has performed flawlessly for me. I am aware of the SDM concerns but (knock on wood) I have not had problems. It is not the fastest focusing but it is silent and smooth. The IQ is very good for a zoom. Changing primes in the desert is not a pleasant prospect. I purchsed mine from Amazon Warehouse Deals listed as Very Good. It appeared unused when I received it. It has gotten hard, frequent use since but can be cleaned up to look almost as good as new. I am fond of everything about the lens except the weight.
New Member

Registered: July, 2011
Posts: 8

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 25, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: WR, 2.8, quick focussing if SDM works, 16mm wide end
Cons: SDM failure (changed to screw drive), heavy, not razor-sharp
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: k5   

This is a lens for which I have mixed feelings. When I first got it, the speed of AF was increadible, just like the silence. Indeed, as one reviewer mentioned here, I almost set the beep to confirm the focus point has been found. The images are not razor sharp, but it is no prime... For longer focal length, it gets better. The 2 extra mm compared to a kit lens do make a large difference. Overall rating: 8/5/10.

Then, I was strongly disappointed since also my copy after 3 years got a SDM failure. First, it would only auto focus to distances closer by (so first you had to manually put it to infinity, and it would be OK), then it failed completely. Needless to say: I was heavily disappointed! I was ready to get it repaired, but in the shop they refused to give me a quote for repair. Overall rating: 3/10.
I considered repairing it myself (there are some manuals on the internet), untill I found a way to change it to screw drive AF. Much more reliable, less risks of losing screws, that was the way to go for me.

Now, with the lens repaired, I am quite happy again. The WR feature is also useful!
Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2008
Location: Mahone Bay, NS, Canada
Posts: 264

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 15, 2015 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $930.00 | Rating: 2 

Pros: Fast, versatile when AF works.
Cons: SDM, internal hardware, poor quality control
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 1    Handling: 9    Value: 2    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5 and K5IIs   

Bought new in Dec. 2008. I just had my 4th incident (2 SDMs) with this lens causing me to spend more than the cost new if I decide to have this last one fixed (I did get 1 deal on 1 SDM incident). I can't deactivate the SDM because I have a mac (PKTether is for PC only) but I may have found some help. Otherwise I will use it in MF because its worth nothing now and I spent too much...! It is a dud and Pentax Canada has still not offered a decent deal such as total replacement...Granted, it still is a great all around lens with good glass but the hardware is poor given that there are 30+ SDM incidents listed out of the 188 lenses in the lens data base - not counting those that people are not willing to declare for resale purposes...?
That will make 3 SDM incidents counting my 50-135mm - which I hardly used - that just occurred as well...
In conclusion: car manufacturers recall their models for less than that. Maybe there are enough users out there that are not speaking out and there may be enough there to have a class action launched...!

Registered: December, 2014
Location: Wrong Side of Heaven
Posts: 756
Lens Review Date: April 23, 2015 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $585.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Fast focus
Cons: Not sharp, Heavy
Sharpness: 5    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 5    Value: 3    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-30 & K-50   

I purchased this lens used with intention of using it to shoot pictures of my grand daughter. The lens is much to heavy to roll around taking pictures of a 1 year old. My daughter and i used it to take some portrait pictures out doors of the grand daughter and no mater how hard we tried could not get sharp pictures. I plan to sell it soon before anything goes wrong!
New Member

Registered: October, 2014
Posts: 7

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 23, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $480.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: WEATHERSEALING for those travelers or outback hikers, great optics, great IQ, so much potential (needs firmware update to easily switch to screwdrive af)
Cons: 1. Shadow Casting while using built in flash o.O 2. Nit picking - color fringing 3. Again nit picking - zoom ring tough to turn
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 6    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K3   

What I shoot most of are indoor and outdoor portraits, occasional landscapes.

Considering all the potential this lens may have, it does have flaws. I was very optimistic about the lens which I recently purchased and got in yesterday. I wasn't so nit picky about the SDM motor acting up for the price I paid, which is still a lumpsome amount at $480 w/shipping but I can always hack into screwdrive mode. IMO I believe it is best valued at around $300 right now with all its issue with quality control. My hiccup that I noticed was the shadow cast from using built in flash between 16-28mm without lens hood on the lens (low key casual shooting is a no go to at key distances). I shouldn't be surprised with it's long build protruding out at a wide angle shots, lesson learned. I guess the only work around is using my external flash, small but important to mention for those who don't want to travel around with there external flash everywhere.

I am still considering if I should have gone with the DA* 50-135mm 2.8 since it would make sense to avoid that shadow cast with more telephoto.

Overall, I do recommend this lens but it will take some time to work around it's flaws. SEriously though Pentax need to drop the value price for this product.

Performs great to an extent!
Senior Member

Registered: December, 2012
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Posts: 212
Lens Review Date: March 12, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $235.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great walkaround lens
Cons: none that I have found
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5   

So this is a lens I picked up off Ebay from someone who was reselling a bunch of equipment which seem to be leftovers from Pentax warranty issues. It was as-is, where-is and noted as having defective focus.
I was expecting to have to over-ride the SDM and get the screwdrive working... but so far the focus seems to be fine. Focus seems pretty sharp in fact.
Overall, for what I spent I think this lens was a steal. Just have to buy a hood and lens cap for it (which will add another $50 or so to the final price.
Not sure I'd spend $1000 on this lens, but it is definitely a keeper.
updated fall 2015 - ended up buying a 2nd copy of this lens (also used, also with note of having defective focus) and it too is working great. ended up getting the second copy for even less ($225US) which is an unbelievable deal on a really fine lens.
At the price I paid I'd rate this lens an 11 if I could.
Forum Member

Registered: January, 2011
Location: Sao Paulo
Posts: 54
Lens Review Date: January 19, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Sharpness, Focal range (16mm), AF speed (SDM and screwdrive)
Cons: SDM failure (miss the quietness), Heavy, big and plasticy feel.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 5    Handling: 8    Value: 7    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K10D, K-5, K-5 II   

I bought mine in april, 2013, hoping not to get an SDM death, but in the end it fail.

I have It for allmost two years now, and in the first one, I used it heavily, but I get two problems in that time: the zoom ring broke and the SDM failed.

First, the goods. I have to say that when I get it, I like it a lot. Nice build, but a little on the heavy side. Fast AF. Ad the 16mm at wide end and WR make it stand apart the competition, in my opinion.

But after a couple of months, the zoom ring started to became stiff and ended broke. I done a DIY repair, because in Brazil, Pentax service is pratically non-existent, so I manage to repair it. Now it works fine.

Second, the AF was good for almost a year of heavy use. Fast and accurate, but at july 2014, it became erratic and finally refuse to lock focus at all. I did the screwdrive hack, and now it works flawlessly.

For my ratings, I gave it a 9 for sharpness, because the lens is really good, opticaly, despite some CA and a noticeable barrel distortion at 16mm

For my cons, I didn't like the size, and think that they could made it a little bit smaller. But the 16mm settings is off the mark, so maybe it is the smallest it can be done. It have a little whobling on the duo-cam zoom system but i don't see any issue on the pictures I take. The extensive use of plastic in body construction is a bit off let dow to, but metal would make it heavier, so it's not that bad. But to be honest, most of my cons list is nitpick and the major problem with it is the AF issue.
The SDM is fast on 16-50. It's quiet and I get used to it. It's really nice. But the reliability is what make it a problematic lens. If the major feature of a modern lens can't be trusted, it become useless. Fortunately, the fact of the lens being backward compatible with screwdrive make it future proof, but that's a shame.That's why give it a 5 for autofocus, even if it can be hacked.

It's a nice lens that deserve a good upgrade and a better AF system.

Registered: December, 2012
Location: IOWA Where the Tall Corn Grows
Posts: 2,903
Lens Review Date: December 21, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $600.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, Color reproduction,contrasty
Cons: Wish it was 2.0 but that would make it even larger
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5   

This lens is my go to family event lens. Great indoors at F2.8 and outstanding at F5.6 outside. For those that knock off points because of SDM failure is simply not fair to this lens. I say get over it. Get it fixed and move on with taking great pictures. These lenses are a bargain at used prices.
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