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

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

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133 464,909 Mon December 30, 2019
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
83% of reviewers $738.22 8.37
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]
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Automatic, 9 blades
15 elements, 12 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
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 (in production)
$746 USD current price
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-DA* 1:2.8 16-50mm ED AL [IF] SDM
Product Code
User reviews
In-depth review
Unofficial Full-Frame Compatibility Tests by Pentax Forums
☆☆☆ No coverage at any setting
Show details
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
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 31-45 of 133
Senior Member

Registered: January, 2014
Location: Texas
Posts: 263

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 3, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

Pros: sharp, good brokeh
Cons: on board flash will leave a shadow! So lens flare.
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: k-3   

Rented this lens for the last two weeks on the wonderful Big Island of Hawaii. Really enjoyed it and now debating on buying it on the big sale this week. I absolutely did not like that on the wider angles, the on-board flash left a shadow in the bottom part of the picture. Makes the casual snap shot useless. No one ever mentioned that in the reviews and of course this is the reason to rent first. Does anyone know if the Sigma and Tamron equivalent has this shadow problem?

Update: I did buy this lens from Adaroma for less than $900 and three years free warranty during the big Christmas sale! I checked it out on Lensalign and focus is dead-on. If the motor burns out, I've got the warranty to help out. And I got the lens at almost used price! So far the lens is sharp and I'm amazed at how sharp pictures are at 1/15 second at 2.8!!!
New Member

Registered: August, 2013
Posts: 17
Lens Review Date: August 31, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Constant aperture 2.8, built, WR
Cons: Size
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K3   

There are mixed reviews about this lens. I was also confused. But now its clear that I made the right decision. Very good overall performance. Image quality is superb.
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2011
Posts: 4,873
Lens Review Date: August 4, 2014 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: WR.
Cons: Images a bit dull, poor sharpness wide open, some aberrations
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 7    Value: 5    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5   

I gave this lens a '7' to comply with forum-wide evaluations even though according to the rating scale shown (5-6 is good) it should really get a 5 or so.

Bought this lens, sold this lens. It's really nothing special. Not particularly sharp, not particularly vibrant. Aberrations are moderate but can be fixed in post.

I'd recommend the Tamron over this lens unless WR is a must. Pentax needs to update this lens, it's really not as good as what they're charging for it these days - I honestly didn't think it was for me at $650. At $1300 it's just silly.
Forum Member

Registered: January, 2012
Location: Ajax, Ontario
Posts: 74

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 25, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $900.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: colour rendering, weather proofing, sharp after f4.0, zoom range
Cons: SDM motor, soft at f2.8, weight
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 7    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5 and K-3   

I have had a love-hate relationship with this lens. After nearly 4 years of use and two repair jobs done on the SDM motor I can finally say I love it now. It seems the two trips to the repair bench really improved the lens. They must have upgraded to a newer SDM motor and did some realigning of the optics. It now serves up much better images with respect to focus accuracy and edge sharpness. People on this forum are likely aware that the SDM focus motor is something of a lemon. First generation SDM motors will fail sooner or later. Yet, I have to give credit to Pentax for a long warranty period and honoring that policy.

Now that I have switched from a K-5 to a K-3 I have grown to really appreciate this lens. First, the K-3 nails the focus perfectly every time and the resolution is excellent in the center. When stopped down past f4 it is actually quite sharp overall. I also appreciate the weather sealing as there is little point in having a weatherproof body without a matching lens.

If one wants to evaluate this lens purely on technical terms like resolution, sharpness, chromatic aberration, curvature distortion and focus speed, it will not win any awards. However, it does all these things well enough and is perfectly usable. IMHO the DA* 16-50mm surpasses the kit lenses against these metrics.

Where I find it excels is the quality of its rendering and the rich colors it can produce. Its SMC coatings produce an image which I find much more appealing and pleasing than competing offerings from Sigma and Tamron. I tried both their equivalent lenses and returned them, since I did not care much for their "subjective" image qualities. When paired with the K-3, this lens can make some outstanding images when shooting in RAW. Even in JPG, you will appreciate its unique qualities.

The 16-50mm range and a f2.8 constant aperture makes this a fine general purpose lens. It is what stays on my K-3 and it is the one that goes out with me when I do not want to swap around a bunch of primes.

I can definitely recommend this lens if you get a recent copy with the upgraded SDM motor.
New Member

Registered: May, 2013
Posts: 2

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 18, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very useful Zoomrange
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K 5ii   

Very useful Lens with a useful Zoomrange. My DA is very sharp and the AF works fast and is on the point.
The Colours are nice, and the Bokeh is creamy. The best choice for the daily walk.
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2012
Location: Southeastern Connecticut
Posts: 813
Lens Review Date: June 19, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $750.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Beautiful color, versatile focal length range
Cons: Sometimes underwhelming; other times stunning; tendency to aberrations in direct light
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5   

I was thinking of selling this lens because I didn't feel like I was getting enough use out of it or enough good photos from it. But over the last couple days I've been re-organizing my Lightroom catalog and was surprised to see that I've taken over 400 photos with this lens, and quite a few of my favorites.

Sometimes the shots I get are underwhelming, but other times the colors are gorgeous and there is a nearly magical quality in some of the photos.

The Sigma and Tamron alternatives are very well-reviewed in the In Depth Reviews on this forum, but I think I'll stay with this lens and get to know it better. It's certainly earned a more prominent place on my camera and, while I haven't needed it yet, I'm sure the weather resistance will prove useful.
Senior Member

Registered: March, 2011
Posts: 140
Lens Review Date: May 12, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Pros: Stellar image quality
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5   

I have an overwhelming urge to show this lens some love! I had wanted this lens for years, but I was very hesitant to buy it based on reviews and SDM failures. I gave in a few months ago and I could not be happier with it. I may have ended up with an exceptionally good copy, but mine is tack sharp, renders beautiful colors, focuses quickly, and is the type of lens that I appreciate more and more every time I shoot with it. If anyone out there is as hesitant to buy one as I was, I have to tell you that I have nothing but love for mine! I waited for a few months to post a review because I wanted an honest sampling of it's various aspects. I find this lens to be truly astounding in all aspects!!!
New Member

Registered: January, 2013
Location: Ontario
Posts: 10

6 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 22, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: build quality, weather sealing, constant f/2.8 aperture, sharpness, SDM focusing, bokeh
Cons: tough to understand and use
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K20D, K-5 IIs, K-3   

This lens has attitude problems.
What I mean by that is that it is an extremely stubborn lens to grasp.

On the one hand it is astoundingly sharp and produces bokeh no other zoom lens could hope to replicate. The AF is fast, quiet and accurate, the zoom ring is smooth and direct, the focus ring is well dampened and has click.through stops (it clicks at the end of the focus scale but continues spinning, which is GOOD!) The construction is awesome, and it is weather sealed. Mine has been submerged completely when my kayak rolled and still has no issues. The focal length range is extremely useful and the aperture remains a constantly quick f/2.8 all the way through.

On the other hand, this lens is moody and simply doesn't want to be consistent between copies. You really have to get to know your specific copy because each and every one of them has their own little "zone" that they perform the best in. For mine, it is at 22mm and f/3.5. For my friend's, it is at 40mm and f/4. Another copy I have observed peaks at the 35mm f/3.5 mark and yet another seems to love 20mm at f/5.6

You have to use the lens every day for at least a solid month before you even BEGIN to understand its unique quirks. Every copy seems to have a tiny focus issue which has to be adjusted in the camera. Once you dial in the AF, the sweet spot, and even its favourite operating temperature (trust me, a big difference between shooting it at 0C and at 40C) you will be amazed at how astounding this lens truly is.
If you are buying one, get ready for a wild ride and a long learning curve because, after a year of use, I STILL don't think I completely understand this beautiful thing.

It's my workhorse lens. The one I can depend on more than any other. The one that I simply KNOW will always pull through for me.
But there is always that little glimmer of doubt and fear of it throwing a mood swing. That fear is what ends off driving you to be better than you were yesterday.

Below are two shots taken with the lens at a recent concert.

Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2013
Location: Hampshire, UK
Posts: 923

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 3, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very good, but ...
Cons: Difficult lens to use
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 8    New or Used: New   

When I bought this lens a year ago I struggled with it. I wanted something else - something uniformly sharp across the frame, or so I thought. I bought a couple of primes and have been very happy with them (DA 20 & 40). However, this winter I decided to have a concerted effort with this lens.

I studied the resolution charts and analysed my previous results and after some time I realised what this lens was about (I think).

This is what I think now, for what it's worth:

# This lens is difficult to use, until you understand it (I'm getting there, I think).
# I started with dull misty days and generally poor light and somehow it pulled something out from the dullness. A quality that I don't think the primes would have found. The colours on fine days are striking.
# It isn't equally sharp across the frame. In fact it is significantly less sharp at the edges at extreme apertures. This I first thought was a huge problem. However, I now see it as an advantage, creatively. It can be very sharp in the centre.
# It is a heavy lens. This is subjective, really, especially as I have been using small primes. I've found that I do need a tripod on most occasions to obtain the sharpness. Is this due to the weight or balance ? But again, I now see this as an advantage. Slows me down too. Fewer snaps.

Overall, I'm glad I tried again to learn this lens. It is the most tricky lens to use in my collection, but I'm growing to appreciate it.

In my opinion, the review test charts for this lens are in some ways misleading as they miss the point. The do point out how the lens behaves in a mechanical way, but I should have stood back and tried to interpret what the data was trying to say ie it is NOT a lens with flaws, but an challenging lens with much potential.
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2014
Location: St Petersburg
Posts: 387
Lens Review Date: March 22, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, IQ, SDM Speed, Color Sat....
Cons: SDM a bit finicky, but if you have an issue, just get it calibrated....
New or Used: New   

Better than reputation, bought it used, WITH transferable SAGE warranty from owner- Bought lens and SAGE at B&H last may...

This lens is as good or better than FA* 28-70 on all aspects. Lighter, crisper, sat as good, SDM faster (get yours cal'd if you have an issue.)

Incredible IQ. Worth the calibration wait. Used United/PTX. All is good...
Junior Member

Registered: November, 2012
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Posts: 27

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 5, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K-5   

I was very surprised by the high quality of the SMC 16-50mm 2.8. Just as sharp as the lenses with comparable focal length (31mm and 43mm). Three-dimensional images and a color rendition similar to what the SMC 15mm 4.0 provides. No problems with respect to the SDM motor. I am very pleased with it, and I consider those who give it a bad rating either very unlucky or rogue.
Junior Member

Registered: June, 2011
Location: New York
Posts: 33
Lens Review Date: December 3, 2013 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $849.00 | Rating: 1 

Cons: AF does not work
New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3, K-5   

I guess I got stuck with one of the bad ones. The AF is locked up right out of the box and not functional. As for MF it seems quite nice - but not really going to test since I have to send back. There really seems like it is a mixed bag for this lens. I have found quite a few reviews that have this lens' AF functionality failing quite often. For the price, Pentax should really do better. I love every other Pentax lens I own - This one left me quite a bit disappointed. Maybe I will feel better about it when I get a lens that actually works.
Senior Member

Registered: January, 2013
Location: San Luis Obispo
Posts: 146

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.
Inactive Account

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.
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