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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

Sharpness 
 8.5
Aberrations 
 7.6
Bokeh 
 8.4
Autofocus 
 7.9
Handling 
 8.5
Value 
 7.6
Reviews Views Date of last review
133 457,390 Mon December 30, 2019
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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
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SMC Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM
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Description:
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]
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
APS-C
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
No
Diaphragm
Automatic, 9 blades
Optics
15 elements, 12 groups
Mount Variant
KAF2
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
F2.8
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
AF (in-lens motor or screwdrive)
SDM
Quick-shift
Yes
Min. Focus
30 cm
Max. Magnification
0.21x
Filter Size
77 mm
Internal Focus
Yes
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 83-31.5 ° / 74-27 °
Hood
PH-RBJ 77 mm
Case
S100-140
Lens Cap
O-LC77
Coating
SMC,SP
Weather Sealing
Yes (AW)
Other Features
AF/MF Switch
Diam x Length
84 x 98.5 mm (3.3 x 3.9 in.)
Weight
565 g (19.9 oz.)
Production Years
2007 to present (in production)
Pricing
$746 USD current price
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-DA* 1:2.8 16-50mm ED AL [IF] SDM
Product Code
21650
Reviews
User reviews
In-depth review
Unofficial Full-Frame Compatibility Tests by Pentax Forums
☆☆☆ No coverage at any setting
Show details
Notes
Internal zoom.
Three aspherical elements and two ED elements.

Features:
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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Inactive Account

Registered: May, 2007
Location: Cork
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: August 15, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Its centre Point is incredibly sharp
Cons: Weight, its heavy & price

Tried out this lens yesterday. At F2.8 not as good as I thought it would be but moving out to f8 you could not beat this lens. I shot a plane in the sky & you could print a 10"x8" print clearly. The same could not be said of the Tamron18-250mm lens which was not as good. It took natural light well & even when evening sun came in no flare. Indoors this lens stood out & its clarity was incredible. I shot my Yorkshire terrier & the shot is one of the best I have of him. I bought this lens for my hiking in Ireland & New Zealand & to stop my insurance company having heart attacks. I will get over the weight because the quality of the photos is superb. I look forward to a 200mm plus lens in this series next year.
Mike
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: August, 2007
Location: Apiary, Oregon
Posts: 1,181

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 30, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $899.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: fast
Cons: physically larger than expected
New or Used: Used   

I've had mine a week now. I don't have an opinion of the optical quality (this is not a negative---just haven't tried to evaluate it). What I am really excited about is the SDM.
You have to do a software upgrade on the K10D to 1.3 to get it to work, and if you have any other pentax digital other than the K100 Super which has been on the market since early july to bad, so sad...... to be sure it supports the now obsolete cam drive characteristic of the KAF mount, but you don't get the benefit of the SDM.

In June I was batting around whether to buy a K10 or K100 and finally settled on the K10 as I decided that the K100 wasn't different enough from my perfectly good istD to justify having a 'new one'. the SDM was announced and never ocurred to me that the SDM might not work on the K100. I shudder to think I could have been the last guy on the planet to buy a K100 that doesn't support SDM, but I dodged the bullet.

The SDM draws power through the two electic contacts
which define the '2' in the KAF2 mount designation which were originally added to support Power zoom in a few
film models.

The SDM is a real winner. Almost totally silent (you can hear it with your ear to the lens), and much faster than the cam driven, though the speed has a lot to do with the camera body as well. My ZX-5 seems to whirr for an eternity compared to the K10---with the same lens

My disappointment with the 15-50 is its absolute physical size. Not having seen it in person before I bought it I was expecting a smaller lens. Somehow I was sort of expecting something the size of the of the DA 50-200, but instead it is large and heavy.

I've used a Sigma 18-35 for my wide angle zoom for years and somehow had an expectation of a similar piece size.
I probably should have known better since it has a long zoom range and is fast, but I was genuinely surprised at its heft.

I do like the SDM however. While it may be a step in planned obsolence of all the FA lenses, it is a better mousetrap which will bite you when the K-next-D comes out someday with no camshaft.....

Update: March 10, 2011 I've now been using this lens for some years. Although I own many lenses, it is my lens of choice. It is and has been on my camera since I first wrote this review, unless I have specifically removed it for a particular reason, and replaced it for the moment with one of a dozen or more other Pentax lenses that I own. Lately I have acquired a new Pentax K-5, but this lens remains my default lens of choice.

It's still a monster, but I found a case big enough to hold it and the camera and I'm a happy camper. While it's too big for the pop up flash---particularly on the K10, I live with that for the benefits of it.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2006
Location: North Idaho
Posts: 665
Lens Review Date: October 3, 2007 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $850.00 | Rating: 3 

 
Pros: SDM, SMC, WX sealing, construction quality, clutch focusing
Cons: short "throw" when manual focusing - bokeh and chromatic abberation at 16mm and f/2.8

On the way back from lunch about two weeks ago, I stopped in the local camera store, and what do I see on the shelf behind the counter? Yup, you guessed it! While waiting patiently for a salesman, I went over in my mind how much I'd be willing to pay. Finally got some help, and even though the price was more than I had in mind...just couldn't resist. How does that go? "A bird in the hand...", or in this case, "in stock, on the shelf versus a less expensive price from an internet retailer who will deliver 'who knows when'". I passed on the UV filter, and felt 'better'.

Have only exercised this lens on one occasion. For the class I teach (Map Interpretation and GPS), I went into the desert to take some field shots in support of my lectures on topographical features and their representation on maps. Boy! I'm gonna really like this lens! I don't think I'll ever use the kit lens again! Neither my Zenitar...nor any of my M or A primes in this focal range. About the only lenses I'm going to keep (in this focal range) are my Limited primes and fast 50mm lenses. Otherwise, gone! That's how much I like this lens. It is now my default lens...the one that stays on the body when it is in the bag, and the one that will get used the most.

On the negatives and positives...

SDM...it works! Very, very silent. You feel it more than hear it. Seems pretty fast too, but would have to do a time test to make sure. The focus lock is pretty quick and positive. I'm impressed!

SMC...what can one say? It is simply the industries best! Pentax has not rested on their laurels, but have continued to improve SMC over the years. SMC alone is worth any extra expense of a lens.

WX sealing...when you need it...you'll be glad you have it. More of a "peace of mind" item, but again, worth any extra expense.

construction quality...for a composite lens, I have not seen anything better. This thing will last a long time, and will be handed down from generation to generation.

clutch focusing...thank you, Pentax, for keeping this in the DA* lenses. This is another feature that makes Pentax lenses worth any extra expense.

About the only negative I can offer of this lens is that there is an extremely short "throw" when one is in manual focus mode. For comparison, consider the 77mm Limited. That has a very long "throw" which allows a more precise manual focus. This lens has a very short "throw", from stop to stop. That 'feature' greatly aids in autofocus speed, but does not help when manually focusing. Consider this lens a auto focus lens...and use primes for manual focusing needs.

The other thing I don't like is the lack of an aperture ring. But, none of the DA lenses have one, so it really can't be considered a negative. It's just the way the industry is going. Having an aperture ring is what makes pre-DA/FAJ lenses attractive (to me).

Almost went for the 16-45/4, but glad I waited. This lens, along with the 50-135/2.8, Limited primes, and one of the fast 50s are my travel kit now.

Thanks, Pentax, for such a great lens.

- - - - -

Update, April 2008

Above comments unedited, however I have to change my recommendation from "yes" to "no" and drop the ranking from 10 to 3. The primary reason is because of the bokeh when shooting at 16mm and f/2.8 aperture. A Zenitar will give you better images under such settings. Low contrast situations are probably okay at 16mm/2.8, but if there is any amount of contrast in the out-of-focus areas; you will get a horrible image.

This is the first Pentax lens I purchased that I wish I didn't. It does not deserve the Pentax * nomenclature, which used to be reserved for the "best of the best". Now, the definition seems to have changed to indicate a lens that is weather sealed with SDM.

I must say that the DA* 50-135/2.8 is one outstanding lens! It truly deserves the * nomenclature, and produces images every bit as good as Limited lenses within its focal range. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the 16-50/2.8.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2006
Location: Ontario
Posts: 744

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 26, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharp, SDM, weather sealing
Cons: Distortion, size, I had to sell my 24mm to get it and zoom creep.

I was nervous about getting this lens. All the bad samples being reported and all the QC issues being talked about almost made me pass on this. I'm glad I didn't.

On the wide end, it's on par or slightly better than my DA 14mm f/2.8 at all apertures up to and including f/8 (I didn't go beyond that) and the colour is more natural. Contrast also seems a bit better overall.

SDM is quiet, but it's no quicker than the screw-drive AF.

The size of this lens is substantial, dwarfing my 14mm. The build quality is also excellent.

Weather sealing is also a bonus which I've been hoping for, for a long time. Glad this finally came to pass!

The lens also has PF/CA in high-contrast areas. This isn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it is present. The only other "issue" I see is the distortion at 16mm, but in my real-world application, the distortion isn't too much of an issue as landscapes seldom include strait lines.

As for trading in my FA* 24mm f/2.0 - no regrets on that! This lens - to my (limited) experience with it - has proven sharper and maintained all the 'star' lens qualities the 24mm had going for it as well.

**EDIT**
2008-06-25

Just an update after having used the lens more.

One item I'm adding to the 'cons' of this lens is there is zoom creep on this. Typically it will slip from 16mm to 18mm without fail. Much less frequently, it will creep all the way out if you're on a long hike and not paying attention (with the camera hanging off your shoulder). It's enough of an annoyance that I've moved my rating from a 9 to an 8. It's not a deal-breaker though.

The other 'con' isn't really a knock against the lens....more my lack of foresight. Cokin P type polarizers (in my case, singh-rays) vignette up to about 19mm unless you hand-hold them against the lens. Grads don't have this problem....just the polarizers. If you're thinking of getting a cokin filter system for this lens go with the XP size.

On the other hand, I've been very impressed with the image quality of this lens....moreso than when I purchased it.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 593
Lens Review Date: December 12, 2007 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharp, great build quality, weather sealed.
Cons: CA. Distortion at wide angle settings only.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 8   

This is an excellent zoom, IMO.

Very sharp for a zoom, contrasty, great colour rendition and bokeh is good most of the time depending on subject matter. It seems that bokeh suffers a little with highlights, but overall it is very good for a zoom.

AF SDM is super quiet and accurate and the build quality is excellent.

I used this lens and the AF540FGZ flash for a wedding recently and it worked brilliantly. Never missed a shot with the low light focus assist lamp and the results were excellent.

For a general all purpose zoom, this is an excellent lens and one of my most utilised lenses and highly recommended. It has the focus clutch system which is also very handy for fine tuning.

I rate:
Sharpness: 9
Bokeh: 7 - 9 depending on subject matter
Colur rendition: 9
Handling: 9
Build quality: 10
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2007
Location: Sparwood, BC, Canada
Posts: 11,348
Lens Review Date: January 2, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $900.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Speed, balance on k10d with grip, silent focusing, image quality
Cons: Purple fringing and Chromatic aberration
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9   

I would have given this lens a 10 if it were not for the CAs, and they can be corrected in post processing - and often need it. I took everything in my arsenal except the A 70-210/4 with me on a trip to Waterton Lakes National Park and Beauvais Lake Provincial Park today. Never took it off the camera.

I string for a local weekly, and guess what lens is the one that gets me my gas money? I had eight pictures in the last issue before Christmas. Five full colour and three black and white.

This lens is a winner, in my book. It does what I need when I need it.

[Edit] 12 Aug 2011. Added detail review numbers. My opinion of this lens has not changed. I will add that DxO does a really good job at automatically removing CA and distortion from the lens. The combination is hard to beat, but very expensive.
   
Inactive Account

Registered: September, 2007
Location: Belgium
Posts: 18
Lens Review Date: January 3, 2008 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: Image quality, f2.8 and weather sealing
Cons: SDM, weight (although still ok), shorth throw on the focus ring

I'm not yet at the level of professional photographer so I must admit I have not checked out the ultimate details like chromatic abberation (and I have never had problems with this either, not even with the 16-45 DA). This is probably due to the nature of the pictures I take (usually low light).
Apart from those things, I have compared some shots taken with a 50 mm Pentax-M f1.4 at f4 (this lens is known to be very sharp at f4) with shots taken with this lens (also at f4) and shots taken with the Pentax DA 16-45 (also at f4).
The first two are equal in terms of sharpness, while the 16-45 is just a bit less sharp (but still very good). I'm impressed by this.
Autofocus is better (and definitely a lot faster :-) than I can do it manually, and as good as I can do it manually with the Pentax-M (this lens has a much longer throw on the focus ring).
I've also owned a Sigma EX DF 28-70mm f2.8, and at f2.8 the Pentax is obviously much better (as expected).
The weight is impressive, but I haven't had any problems with it yet (not even on new year's eve :-).
Size is better than I had expected, only slightly larger than the 16-45 DA.
Build quality and overal feel is excellent ! I expect this lens to last a very long time...
And then the obvious: SDM is better, faster and more silent than regular AF, it has weather sealing, and internal focus (for whoever uses filters).

Looking forward to the release of the DA* 50mm 1.4 !

###
Have to take back some of my comments, and drop rank from 10 to 5, because the SDM (although it seemed ok at the beginning) doesn't give much added value (it's not much faster/better than regular AF in dark situations), and seems to be very fragile stuff because something in the SDM simply broke off (and WITHOUT having dropped the lens, like Pentax claims !)
It cost me 500$ to have this repaired (while it was still in warranty), and now I'm stuck with a lens I'm afraid to use because it's so fragile.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: October, 2006
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 11,794
Lens Review Date: January 28, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $799.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: High Contrast, Creamy bokeh
Cons: Back focusing
New or Used: New   

This zoom saves me from carrying too many primes on several trips.

A great zoom with incredible bokeh and colour. There is an issue with backfocusing under low light setting. But my Canon 50mm f1.2L does this more than this zoom!

Sample shots of this lens here


My DA* 16-50mm f2.8 shots
   
Pentaxian

Registered: November, 2007
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Posts: 539
Lens Review Date: February 21, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: image quality, build quality, silent
Cons: barrel distortion at 16mm, weight

Have been using this lens for some 5 months now. Generally speaking it has lived up to my expectations. Some comments:
-mechanically a very solid construction, operates smoothly
-bigger and heavier than standard kit zooms, being a stop or two faster .
-sharpness pretty good already at f 2,8. Stopped down - even a little - excellent!
-very good colours and contrast
-slight barrel distortion at 16 mm, as usual with nearly all wide angle zooms. This is about the only criticism I have to report.In most cases this is unnoticeable, and disappears completely at longer focal lengths
- flare and reflections are kept at bay, especially with the lens hood provided.
- some vigneting wide open at 16 mm, but not too bad
- the SDM AF may (or may not) be somewhat faster than the shaft drive. However,the special feature about this is the complete absence of the usual squeaks. This silence is almost spooky, and makes you wonder whether the lens is focussing at all! It does take a while to build the confidence!
-weather sealing is an additional bonus,and may come in handy depending on where you shoot

I am quite pleased with the lens. I also have some primes for my film bodies within the focal range of this zoom.In practice I have never bothered using them on my DSRL since buying this lens. I quess it is only serious architectural work where I might be tempted to stick to the primes.
   
Senior Member

Registered: August, 2007
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 269
Lens Review Date: March 25, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $699.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Contrast, Color Rendition, Weather-sealing, Sharpness, Rugged Construction
Cons: Heavy, somewhat expensive, QC issues (see below)

It took me 3 tries to get a good one that did not have centering defects. However, this lens is so good when it works the way it was intended, that it was worth the hassle.
   
New Member

Registered: April, 2008
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: April 11, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $565.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: SDM, Build Quality, Color rendition
Cons: Average Distortion control/Vignetting at 16mm wide open

Happy owner of a 16-45mm, I was staying on the sideline and keeping my LBA at bay, with all the reports of QC issues. But I finally answered call of the wild hmm the Amazon who were selling a refurbished sample at a great price. I thought to myself: it might have got some R&R through Pentax, someone went through the hassle for me so worth the risk... I am so glad I took the plunge:
- The lens is beautifully made
- The SDM exceeds my expectations. It is nearly silent and very fast (similar to 16-45mm in daylight, much better in darker indoors conditions)
- It is good at F/2.8, and becomes excellent from F/4.
- The color and contrast are excellent - on par with my DA 70mm which I find most excellent in that department.

- The only downside is the performances at 16mm wide open which is average (not bad, just fair). Just stop it down and it comes back to its fantastic self.

It is now fighting my DA 70mm for my most beloved lens spot. To anyone on the market, I would say take the chance, go through the Pentax R&R if necessary - it is worth the effort.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 2,591
Lens Review Date: May 7, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: SDM, Weather Sealing, Color and IQ are great
Cons: None

I am not a wide-angle shooter, but I bought this lens in anticipation of my trip to the Grand Canyon where it just made sense to have it. Because of that it is not my favorite lens, but that does not take away from it being a true performer.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2007
Posts: 8,241
Lens Review Date: May 12, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Color, contrast, sharpness, SDM, Weather sealing, constant f2.8
Cons: 1st copy was bad

The 10 is for my 'good' copy - my first two copies were sub-par. When I got the good copy, I was simply stunned at the IQ of this lens at every focal range an aperture. The SDM and weather sealing are icing to me - the f/2.8 constant aperture is more important, but this lens' best feature is it's IQ, plain and simple. It's color/contrast are better than any zoom I've tried - except for maybe the DA* 50-135.

Highly recommended.
   
New Member

Registered: May, 2008
Location: Quebec City, Canada
Posts: 8
Lens Review Date: May 30, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $900.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build quality, flare control, excellent contrast and colour, smooth and quiet focusing
Cons: Soft at f/2.8, weak corners at wider apertures, CA, purple fringing, very short focus span

Scary quality control reports prevented me from buying this lens to match, but I finally pulled the trigger and I have been lucky (so far). My observation (with a Pentax K20D) :

Pros :
+ Superd build quality, tight tolerances, the zooming action nice
+ quite sharp at f/4 and VERY sharp at f/5.6, until around f/11
+ beautiful colour and contrast
+ smooth and quiet autofocusing, plus Quickshift and that neat AF/MF swith on the lens barrel
+ weight balance with K10D/K20D
+ very good resistance to flare
+ weather sealing
+ close focus bokeh at 50mm

Cons :
- very short focus span, which is a pity for manual focusing espicially given the broad focus ring
- very weak corners at 16mm f/2.8, f/4
- lower contrast and overall soft image at f/2.8
- chromatic aberration levels, especially at wide angle but still present at longer focal lengths
- occasional purple fringing (not much but it seems that it's worse with a K10D)
- bokeh at wider focal lengths can be downright unpleasant
- barrel distortion at 16mm

I'm very pleased with this lens, in spite of the cons listed above. I chose it over the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 because of its superior build quality, silent autofocus, weather sealing and because the Tamron seems to underexposure randomly. I considered the Sigma 17-70mm too, which has lower chromatic aberration and purple fringing levels but less "sophisticated" autofocus, lacks a constant aperture and weather sealing. Plus the 16-50mm colour and contrast are more pleasing to my eyes.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2008
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA
Posts: 266
Lens Review Date: August 21, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp, colors, bokeha, SDM, weather sealed
Cons: possible QC problem

Overall it's a great lens. I've got a good copy but after 3 weeks AF stopped working. Sent for repair - now it works as expected.
Yes, it's heavy, but what do you expect from a zoom lens with SDM and constant F2.8? Yes, it's soft in the corners wide open, but I don't think there are many lenses with similar specs that are better. Yes, there's high % of duds, but when a copy is good it is good.
On the positive side - it's very sharp stopped down, it's fast and silent, color rendition is great (IMO). But the main point is that I have a lot of fun taking pictures with it.
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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