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

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133 464,847 Mon December 30, 2019
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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

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Senior Member

Registered: March, 2010
Posts: 234

12 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.





Otis Memorial Pentaxian

Registered: March, 2015
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 6,966

7 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.


Registered: April, 2009
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 2,364

7 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 1, 2012 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $961.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: Build quality, performance at f5.6
Cons: CAs, poor to very poor below f5.6
Sharpness: 3    Aberrations: 3    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 1    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K5   

I've found this lens to have great build quality and the weather-sealing is a boon in a damp climate. The autofocus isn't the fastest but it is fast enough and accurate and I've had no problems with it. There is more flare and CA than I was expecting, but then as with any lens these are only hassles if you are not prepared to work around them and/or correct in post.


At f2.8, my 16-50mm is so soft at any focal length as to be unusable for more than the lowest quality shot. Brick wall tests, focus tests, etc, have checked out OK so I think it is just soft, period.

At f4 it is better but still not good and shots at this aperture are really OK only for web use sharpened and reduced if the image is of something taken fairly close. My 18-55mm kit lens does a better job at f8 than my 16-50mm does at f4 or below.

The sweet spot is f5.6. My 16-50mm lens performs well at this aperture, perhaps as it was intended to. Images at f5.6 at 20-45mm are pleasing - with great contrast and Pentax colours and plenty of detail resolved fairly sharply. The image is a bit distorted at the borders at 16-18mm and gets a tad softer at 45-50mm. The sharpness is not up to the standard of my DA limiteds, but as with any lens it's the overall rendering which matters and I like it.

At f8 the lens is better than at f4 but not so good as at f5.6. One can see the sharpness and contrast beginning to go. The slide into softness, diffraction et al starts again at f9 and above.

Overall, however, for a lens marketed as pro and sold for a sky-high price, I am extremely disappointed. Maybe I have a poor copy but checking the web suggests that a lot of folks have had similar experiences with this lens. If it were an f3.5-5.6 or so kit lens for a few bucks the optical performance might be thought outstanding, but for the price (and I bought it for less than it currently goes for) this lens is a ripoff considering the very narrow sweet spot at which it hits the kind of performance its price might suggest.

I realize my rating is rather harsh. If this lens cost considerably less and/or was reworked as an f4 lens and/or had a similar performance at f4 and f8 as it does at f5.6, then I would have rated it much more highly. I would rate it at 8 for its sweet spot performance, docking points for it costing so much and for flare/CA.

Update on 23 July 2012. I have had the lenses calibrated by Pentax service here. The difference was night and day, and I can see that when properly set up this lens can produce work of good quality. Alas, within ten days of getting the lens back, the zoom and the focusing system stuck solid. I managed to work them free very slowly and carefully but there is now a loose and rasping sound from within, so something has failed or popped out. So back to the service centre again. I won't change my rating now. On song, 8 would be fair for this lens but two failures one after the other on a new lens is really deserving of a 3 at best.
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.

Junior Member

Registered: January, 2018
Location: Ktahya/Merkez
Posts: 27

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 14, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fast Aperture, Superior Build Quality, Sharp For A Zoom Lens, WR.
Cons: Minor Cons: A Bit Heavy, A Bit Slow AF, Vignetting, CA.
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3   

Great all around lens.
+ Sharp enough for a zoom lens. (The edges are a little bit soft at wide open as usual.)
+ Covers the most needed focal lenghts for most jobs. (24-75mm Full Frame Equiv.)
+ Weather and Dust Proof.
+ Build like a tank. (This lens is really solid.)
+ Constant F/2.8 aperture saves lives when it comes to low-light shooting and portraits. (Especially at 50mm)
+ Bokeh is pretty good at 35-50mm f/2.8
- AF is a little bit slow. It's not the best lens for events or street photography. (That's why there are prime lenses.)
- Heavy and big. (It looks even scary at 50mm with the hood on. )
- It has serious vignetting problems at 16-24mm at f/2.8-4 (It can be easily fixed at post-processing.)
- It has serious CA problems. (It can be easily fixed at post-processing.)
- Manual focus ring is smooth but the range is so small, It's hard to use.
- Not the best lens when it comes to price/performance. (It definetly worth it for me but it's subjective.)

So, who should buy it?
* Beginner and enthusiast photographers who're looking for good quality all around lens for APS-C. This is the best you can find in the market for now.
* Any photographer who's looking for a WR, fast zoom lens. You don't care about anything. Simply take your camera and this lens and you're good to go. No worries at all.
* It's subjective but most travellers prefer to carry 1 or 2 lenses with them. This lens should definetly be one if you're using an APS-C body.
Who should not buy it?
* Photographers who shoot at events a lot and need fast AF to work with. This lens performs ok, but not the best when it comes to AF. It's a little slow.
* Street photograhers. This lens is a little bit big and heavy for this neeche. It pulls all the attention when it's zoomed in, especially with the hood on. It also lacks of fast AF. Go for a prime lens instead.

A few sample images taken with K-3 and DA* 16-50mm 1:2.8 SDM (Especially pay attention to chromatic aberration and sharpness):

This image was taken using manual focus but for some reason, the stars were blurry when i focused to infinity or around infinity. They were sharper when i pulled the focus to about 1.5 to 2 meters. It's weird, I'm trying to figure it out. Note that the blur in stars also has to do with the shutter speed being 30 seconds.

Some chromatic aberration is visible in high contrast areas like the edges of the flower. It was taken at F/4 at about 35 - 40 centimeters distance from subject.

This image was taken using Pentax K-3's HDR feature at +/- 3 Stops Auto setting. The lens was looking directly into the sun (behind the archer on the right). This image shows how DA* 16-50mm 1:2.8 SDM handles chromatic aberration in harsh light, literally shooting directly into the sun but it was taken to experiment and for fun.

An "OK" shot taken at sunrise.

You can also do street photography with this lens, in fact i did quite a lot of street photography with this lens but personally, i prefer the Pentax-A 50mm 1:1.7

The starburst effect at apertures F/8-22 is also quite pleasing for me.

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.
Forum Member

Registered: December, 2012
Location: Warsaw
Posts: 83

4 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 6, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very good to STUNNING IQ. Screw-drive-ability on K5.
Cons: SDM failure by the previous owner was my LUCK!
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used   

Interesting, how ratings of this glass do vary from 3 to 10... maybe inconsistency in QC (quality control) or in EL (expectations level) ;-)

I was lucky to get this lens in very good optical/mechanical condition really cheap due to its SDM failure. Screw drive conversion took me no more than 5 minutes.
I am user of a very good copy of the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, so the IQ expectations were quite high. No regret: DA 16-50 produces stunning IQ results across the entire Tamron (REAL) zoom range:17,7-50mm. At 16mm centre sharpness is great from f/2,8 - from f/7,1-f/8 corners are very good, too. I'm not a landscape pro and I don't pixel-peep extreme corners shot at f/2,8 on 16mm setting. Contrast, colour and resolution is what this lens produces. Weather Resistance and Manual Focus all-time override are also two important features.

Screw-drive AF is quite fast and accurate - Pentax type :-). Only one AF correction value is required for the entire zoom/distance range, while for my Tamron I needed to remember few different values for different focal length and distance (the only reason I sold it).

Pentax DA 16-50 is bigger and heavier than Tamron/Sigma, but the advantage is that the REAL focal length on the wide zoom end is 16mm while Tamron is 17@17,7mm and Sigma is 18@19,5mm.

Considering the prices of the new lenses I'd go for well selected Tamron with confirmed, accurate AF mechanism. Tamron is more compact and also has great colour and resolution, but for the price I've paid - I am a happy man with my DA 16-50.
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2011
Location: Hanoi
Posts: 213

4 users 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
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2009
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 6,429

4 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.
Senior Member

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

4 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

Junior Member

Registered: May, 2015
Posts: 28

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 29, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: great optics
Cons: chromatic aberation between f/2.8 - f/4
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 7    Value: 5    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax k5II and Pentax k5IIs   

Maybe i was expecting more from this lens if i put in balance the price i paid.

I tested this lens on Pentax K-5 II and Pentax K-5 IIs , but honestly i don't know what to say. For the price i paid i was expecting more.

- Chromatic aberration at f/2.8 and f/3.2. I got less chromatic abberation on a cheap Tamron 18-200/f3.5-6.3
- Lazy focus. I was expecting more from a SDM
- the hood is a litle bit larger. If you use this lens for holidays, is a little bit bigger with the hood on.

- Great optics after f/4
- Sharp
- Nice bookeh
- Bright
- Great colours
- very good in details
- Solid and high quality construction

So, if you can buy this lens with less than 500euro, go for it. It is a great lens for all around/travel.

Is much more better than Tamron 17-50/f2.8 and sigma 17-50/f2.8. It captures some details that only on full frame you can see.

I also attached some pics, straight from the camera.

Senior Member

Registered: August, 2012
Posts: 118

3 users found this helpful
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.)
Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2013
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 273

3 users found this helpful
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:
Veteran Member

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: December, 2007
Location: Montreal
Posts: 1,208

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 8, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp, contrasty, WR, silent (SDM)
Cons: barrel distortion @16mm, big and heavy, zoom friction around 28mm
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 6   

This lens had a bad reputation due to a lot of bad copies but its performance is fantastic when you get a good copy.

One of the complaint about this zoom is the relatively poor performance at f/2.8. Actually it's already quite sharp in the center, borders need about f/5.6 to get very sharp.

Optically, the only real complain I could do about this lens is the heavy barrel distortions @16mm. I know you can correct them by software (or even in-camera starting with the K-7 and K-x) but it's another step and you'll loose borders meaning that you don't get your full 16mm.

Build construction is great in general (and much better than lenses costing more like the Canon 17-55 IS). The only thing I don't like is the friction when zooming at around 28-35mm. The mechanism never feels as smooth as the excellent DA* 50-135mm.

The big downside for me regarding this lens is the size and weight. I think it doesn't balance well on my K-7 if I'm not using the external grip.

Pictures taken with the DA* 16-50mm
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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