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

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121 372,014 Thu April 6, 2017
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84% of reviewers $761.68 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
$829 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

Add Review of SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM Buy the SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM
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Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2013
Location: San Luis Obispo
Posts: 125

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 22, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great Sharpness, Great Color.
Cons: Poor CA, heavy, price
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5   

This lens is very sharp when you actually use it.

It's sharpness at border sucks at border /17mm, but it's very good when you stopped down to 8.0. It's also super sharp at center at 50mm in larger aperture.
Since as a photographer, you only need to use smaller aperture at wide angle, larger aperture at 50mm for bokeh, I don't see any reason this lens is "poor at sharpness"

Color of this lens is very very good, it is as good as my A50/1.7

Take a look at photozone and DxO's MTF chart, it is consistent with this.

You should consider what you gonna do with the lens, not how sharp this lens is at largest aperture.

It's sharper than Sigma 17-50/2.8 in the the center at 50mm and overall at 17mm/F8.0. Yes, I have both lens.
Problem is the CA, you need really good software (like lightroom) to get rid of it.

Autofocus might be an issue, but I disabled SDM on this lens allowing me to use screw driver AF, which is super fast and accurate. When it is at SDM, it is very very slow...

I feel so sorry that I have to put my copy of lens on sale because I need money.
New Member

Registered: October, 2013
Location: Naples
Posts: 10

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 1, 2013 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Built, tropicalized, colors, 2.8, some optical "sweet spots".
Cons: expensive, inconstant optical quality, SDM issue risk
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 7    Value: 6    New or Used: New   

If we can say that STAR means "Professional"... let me say this...

Thi good zoom is NAMED "STAR" and PRICED as it...

... but, for me, it's JUST because it's a TROPICALIZED and TOP LEVELE BUILT one. IN that terms, if you need it and want to pay for it, it's ok, it's a star.

Optically, it is NOT a STAR. The 50-135 and the 60-250 are. This 16-50, if not a copy of higher quality of of the medium level, shoud not be considered a Star.

Professionally, it is NOT a STAR; because of the hight risk of SDM problem, and the cost, in terms of money and time, to fix it out of warranty.

Let me explain my opionion. I had 2 copy of that optic, and tryed another one.

Optical performance: absolutelly non constant form center to border, from wide to tele, from 2.8 to f11.

Generally, this zoom is sharp wide open only at center, where it's just sharp from 16mm to 22mm and from 40 to 50. It very sharp from 23 to 39mm.
Sharpness became better at f4. Very sharp in the center, just sharp on borders. It became very sharp all across the frame only at 5.6. The best sharpness in between 23 and 36mm. In this range it's like a star should be. But if I can appreciate the relative softness around 50mm in the use for potraits, it's such a mess in term of wide angle shots and tele shots. The same behavior it has about contrast and colour aberration, changing across focal lenght and at wider aperture.
The wide angle (16-22) is very prone to flare, low contrast, purple fingering and colour aberration until f5.6. f 4 is not so bad, but not good at all for a "STAR".
Ok, it has a very good colour rendition and tone to tone transition, as a prime, a good contrast (from f4) and some 3d effect, a very good bokeh too... but it's good like this ony at 5.6 or from 23 to 36mm, with sharpness only in the center. It's more like a "medium rank" optical quality, than a "STAR". It makes me think that it's no the best, but just the faster (2.8) one with some "STAR" features like the strong built and the tropicalization. Can it justify the price?! I think not, at least if you dont'n need it too much. The tamron and sigma 2.8 zoom is cheaper and has a not so worse immage quality. We cal live without "tropicalization" and some SMC coluours, or not?


Too much of them has gone, and are still broking, often after warranty exipiration. 300$ and 3 months. It's such a mess for a STAR afeter 5 year of production.
It's a total mess if we think Pentax should permitt the use of screwdrivere AF motor simply modifing 3 or 4 values of the firmware, saving us customers from loosing money and time to get fixed, with the high risk that it will broke again in a short while.

I cant' reccomend thi zoom. It has great colours, a great rendition in some "sweet spot" and a wonderfull built, but for me that's not enought. It's not a Star for me, does not value that hight price.

I would like to say "Buy it used" but with the SDM issue, It should has at least in half warranty perdiod left, that means hight price.

What can I say... try to find a usde, optically and functionally upper level copy... if you do, you will be very satisfayed, as many owners may be not at all.
New Member

Registered: July, 2013
Posts: 14
Lens Review Date: September 1, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp & Good Bokeh.
Cons: None so far.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 7    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5II   

Just got, excellent so far, no problems love the contrast, colour and sharpness, expensive lens though.
New Member

Registered: October, 2012
Posts: 24

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 7, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $850.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Perfect range, beautiful build, handling, quiet AF
Cons: Price - but worth it
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used   

When it asks if I'd recommend the lens, I need to say exactly what I mean by clicking 'Yes'. I mean YES YES YES - the reason I have to recommend it so strongly is because of the reservations I had, and the ones I'm sure you may have.
"Hmm, seems expensive when the Sigma is 2/3rds of that price."
"Hmm, some people say it's not that sharp?"
"I think I'd like greater range at the cost of a slower aperture."

Wrong wrong wrong. This lens just answers those criticisms big time. The Sigma, ummm, no thanks. I owned it, and couldn't wait to get rid of it. It was sharp but just... bad all other ways.
The DA* isn't that sharp? Maybe try adjusting your AF or something because mine is plenty sharp.
Bigger range? Nah, the 16-50 is perfect and when you can use f2.8 all the way on that, it's just... man I love this lens.

Get it before Pentax puts the prices up even more.
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2012
Posts: 100

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 23, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

Pros: wide angle to portrait, weather shield, fast apperture, 80% of my picture are on this zoom range.
Cons: price

Consider the best lens you can get for your photography, cover from wide to street to portrait.
i never worry about the weather condition, since the lens and camera is weather resistant.

2.8 will give you sharp at center and the rest a bit soft.

5.6 will give you "excellent" a cross the frame.
Forum Member

Registered: February, 2011
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 57

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 26, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $670.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Professional build quality, fast, quiet.
Cons: None.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K-7   

I bought my copy used. Absolutely no problems with auto-focus - fast on my K-7 and very quiet. This lens is awesome, it has not left my camera since it arrived! Well worth the price.
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2012
Location: Wales,UK
Posts: 28

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 26, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,075.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Ignore the negatives. Sharp lens
Cons: Price
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K5   

I've ummed and aahed over buying this lens for quite a while now. I had the kit 18-55mm which is decent but having bought DA* 50-135 and the 300mm I wanted this lens. I read reviews, re-read them and the negatives were gnawing away at me. The Tamron 17-50mm looked a great deal and I've tried Sigma lenses which are ok/good but didn't give me that "Wow factor". A month ago I decided to treat myself and bought for 695 in the UK. Geez, why did I wait so long! The copy I have is just, well it's WOW. The images are super sharp, the colours have that Pentax magic and I've only shot handheld so far. I'm even considering selling my DA15mm Ltd now due to the results I'm getting. So in essence, don't dither just go out and treat yourself :-)

Only 1 problem now. I'm saying to myself "What will this lens be like with a K5-IIs?"
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Grimsby UK
Posts: 224

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 17, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharpness, sharpness, focus speed
Cons: weight, ubalanced when zoomed
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5 mkii   

Having read so many bad reviews of this lens I kept my Tamron 17-50mm for nearly four years when I decided I had to try this lens myself. Lens was bought from a fellow forum user.

When I bought this lens I factored in teh cost of an SDM focus repair, touch wood mine has been fine so far, as has my four year old 50-135mm.

The build quality of this lens is awesome, it just feels quality and is bigger to hold than the 50-135mm which is also a lens of beauty.

The lenz is heavy with a 77mm front element and feels a lot heavier than the Tamron. I have read many times that the Tamron's IQ is up there with the 16-50mm as a user of both I can categorically state it is NOT. The Tamron is good value but not as good as the Pentax quality wise. The auto focus on the 16-50mm I have found to be faster and more accurate than Tamron too which tended to hunt rather a lot, the Pentax does not except under extreme conditions.

The lens profile for lightroom makes some strange distortions at 16mm, usually dragging into the corners, I have made my own adjustments to the profile which seems to work better as can be seen in the final image below.

So how sharp is it???

at f/2.8 natural light

Portraits and AF in a dimly lit club at f/5.6

Veteran Member

Registered: June, 2011
Location: Near Sydney, NSW
Posts: 331

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 5, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Huge range for f2.8, basically everything else
Cons: Expensive
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5   

This seems to be one of those lenses that just divides people... and it's not just a copy issue, because the guy I bought mine from was saying he couldn't get a good photo out of it - and I've basically got nothing BUT good photos out of it.

The thing is, at f2.8, no it isn't AMAZINGLY sharp like its big brother, the 50-135 (that thing is scary) - but it just has this quality that makes the photos look brilliant anyway? I'm not sure what it is - for example, at f4, 30mm, the Sigma 17-70 is just as sharp as this - but try telling that to someone looking at the shots I've taken with both lenses. The Sigma just sucks arse compared to this...

As for the handling - there are people saying it handles poorly?! What are they using it on, an iPhone? Short, fat lenses handle incredibly - and this is probably the best of the lot. I shoot weddings with this, together with the 50-135, and it's just SO clear that Pentax designed them to be used together - and to be used for hours on end. They just feel right, just as they look right.
The only thing Pentax did wrong was to make the 50-135 too sharp (in the 50-120 range) and so this by comparison, looks softer - but it isn't soft by any stretch of the imagination.

I guess my conclusion would be that this lens doesn't seem to be for every one, but unfortunately (for you, if you're not one of the lovers) you're stuck with either the Sigma which zooms backwards (absolute deal breaker for me, makes me vomit) - or the Tamron which has raggidy build quality and massive vignetting.

My conclusion for myself is - the DA* 16-50 and the DA* 50-135 - they're like Rogers and Hammerstein.

Registered: May, 2008
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 1,365
Lens Review Date: March 28, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $750.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, Sealed, Quiet, Fast Focus
Cons: Non Yet
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: New   

I love this lens! This is a perfect companion to my DA* 50-135mm F2.8.

I was very hesitant to get it based on some of the reviews and the ridiculous pricing scheme from Pentax. It was $1500 which is too high. For the holidays, they lowered the price so I pounced and I'm glad that I did. It has gives new life to my K200D. It focuses smoothly, quietly, and very accurately in low light. I can now use my K200D for my concert and event shoots.

Buy this lens.
New Member

Registered: March, 2013
Posts: 1

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 15, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharp, aperture, WR, accurate and quiet focus
Cons: price
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5   

Compared to the DA 18-55 II kit lens that came with my K20D this lens is a god. Even with no comparison this lens has treated me very well and will never go anywhere without it.

Night time landscape images on 2.8 are surprisingly sharp and clear. I use this lens in the studio and would have a tough time saying this lens is any less sharp than my canon 24-105 f/4. I also own a 50 f/1.4 and only use it instead of this lens because it has better bokeh but that is the only advantage that 50 has on it except size.

In reading the reviews I understand people have had problems with CA but I have never had this problem, maybe I got a rarely good copy. Its a lens I can't be without.
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2012
Location: Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Posts: 5,432
Lens Review Date: January 19, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $750.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality, WR, IQ
Cons: SDM unreliability
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5 IIs   

This lens has been greatly maligned by many for its SDM failure, and I too have suffered this. What impressed me was that Pentax repaired it free of charge despite mine being a second-hand lens bought from overseas. I have since bought a second copy new.

That said, in normal use the DA*16-50 is an excellent performer. The AF is not super quick, but it is silent, accurate and doesn't hunt. It feels great to use, and the WR is very reassuring in the field.

It is more prone to flare than the DA15 (what lens isn't?) and in very high contrast it shows some CA and fringing, but for a standard zoom it is a wonderful performer.

It deserves at least a solid nine, but I'm giving it ten to redress some of the unfairly low ratings it has been given in the past.
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2011
Location: Aylesbury, Bucks
Posts: 492

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 21, 2012 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Build quality
Cons: Size, weight, handling
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 6    Value: 5    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5   

I bought this lens because I was looking for a decent standard zoom for my K-5.

I know that there are reliability issues with the lens, so I bought it new for 639 (some 200 less than the current RRP).

It is not a bad lens by any stretch of the imagination. Build quality is excellent and I liked the gold highlights and distance scale. This aspect is certainly way above the competition from Sigma and Tamron. I had few complaints about the image quality. It's not up there with my macro lenses, but perfectly decent:

Autofocus was snappy and accurate. This was partly down to the extremely short focus throw (no more than sixty degrees, if that).

However, problem was: I just didn't like it. I found taking it out and using it more of a chore than a pleasure and this is all down to the handling which is poor. Make no mistake, this is an enormous lens. The weight given above is wrong. With hood mounted, it tipped my kitchen scales at more like 660 grams. The weight is exacerbated by the extremely poor balance - uniquely among zoom lens, the camera is more wieldy with the lens fully zoomed out. Besides the weight, the relative sizes of the zoom and focus rings meant that my hand would, as often as not, twist the focus ring rather than the zoom ring when composing a photograph. Note that this a trait shared with the 50-135.

Another major issue is cost. This lens is plain not good value. Although not quite at the level of the Nikon 17-55, it is significantly more expensive than competing models from Canon and Sony. Given the price, I cannot recommend it. If you're looking for a fast, standard zoom, the Tamron 17-50 is a far better value proposition (optically superior too). If you don't mind sacrificing a little speed for extra reach, the Sigma 17-70 is hard to beat.
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2012
Location: Fredericton, New Brunswick
Posts: 631
Lens Review Date: October 21, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Center Sharpness, Weather Sealing, Build Quality
Cons: Edges before F4(Not that bad, really)
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K-5   

Recently purchased this from another member, since I've received it, I've only removed it to use a tele lens. This "Horrendous Softness" others speak of isn't really an issue, as it's very sharp in the center regardless of aperture, and by F4, it's very sharp across the frame. Personally, I suspect the corner softness was deliberate, as if they were trying to make it a nice portrait lens at 50.(As, at 16, there is distortion, but corners are sharper wide open it seems)

Only complaint might be the high price tag for new. And the fact that it doesn't have a button to transform itself into a 60-250.
Senior Member

Registered: March, 2010
Posts: 234

10 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 20, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: sharp, quality is greate in my case, bokeh
Cons: heavy aberations
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K7   

Now I think Im ready to make a report about this Lens. Lets try!)
History of the purchase

I bought this lens in the May of 2012, it was used. And I bought it for my brother, who is also Pentaxian. Because he has Me as his elder Bro. Before making this purchase I already had FA 16-45 and Kit lens and some others, so I had an alternative and also tried and was looking after other Third party lenses, and actually was thinking about Sigma as a better choice. But there was a good lens with a good price in a very good placeand time, and brothers money btw %))), so it happened. I was afraid about SDM issues, I think everybody buying this lens is feeling weird about this issue, but the original owner had no SDM issues with it and I bought it. I had no reason not to believe him.

Condition and Price

It was almost like New with all stuff like boxes papers etc. Also there were two filters 77mm UV and CPL both HOYA, I think, both used. The overall price was 700$ so it was a very good price. It was in Almaty Kazakhstan, only a few people use Pentax Gear there so the second hand prices for Pentax sometimes lower there than in the outer world)))
I tested it carefully, the SDM worked perfectly, it was sufficiently fast. But every test info is already posted I think here is almost the best link

Relationship history and my feelings about this lens

Here I want to emphasize that everything Im talking about is just my opinion with no pretends on overall sence.

So I bought it in May and left it home while getting to my PhD studies in Novosibirsk. My brother used it and was glad with pictures quality, and the fact he do not need to switch lenses, to make portrait or landscape.
My main experience with this lens happened this August (2012) when I was on my hiking trip to Tajikistan in Fani mountain. It was a hard choice what to take I had a several options: FA 16-45 DA 14 Da 18-55 Sigma 10-20 DA * 16-50 DA50 200 and DA * 50-135. And a key parameter was weight-quality. Because it was 17 day trip with heavy backpacks, so every 100 grams were counted. And chosen pack was DA * 16-50 DA50 200 (and I was glad because of the first lens and not very glad about the second). So I had a continuous 20 25 day experience of DA *16-45 Usage.
Conditions were extreme also for the technique: It was warm in a daytime and cold in the night, almost every day s was rain or snow, and in the tent it was wet climate. It was always shaking in my Photobag. I also took off the hood and mounted used UV filter(sometimes I switched it to CPL), because it was usefull. And what I can say both lens and K7 worked well for the whole trip. I will never complain about this purchase.
My K7 with DA 16-50 were always on my neck, I almost hated them))) because I also had a 28 kilo in my backpack. And there was a lot of shots both portraits and landscapes, I was very glad with this lens. It fully satisfied my needs. In the trip I had no energy and time to switch lenses so 16-50 was the best choice.
I think this lens is a very good choice for a hard trip.
Yes there were aberations, I new about them.

Best Regards.
Now Pictures. The best reasons to talk about lenses, some portraits cropped.





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