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SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM

Sharpness 
 9.4
Aberrations 
 9.0
Bokeh 
 9.2
Autofocus 
 7.0
Handling 
 9.0
Value 
 8.4
Reviews Views Date of last review
130 386,364 Sat January 7, 2017
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
95% of reviewers $818.00 9.02
SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM

SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM
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SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM
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Description:
Like all current DA lenses, the SMC Pentax DA* 50-135mm is designed only for Pentax APS-C 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* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF]
Image Format
APS-C
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
No
Diaphragm
Automatic, 9 blades
Optics
18 elements, 14 groups
Mount Variant
KAF2
Max. Aperture
F2.8
Min. Aperture
F22
Focusing
AF (in-lens motor or screwdrive)
SDM
Quick-shift
Yes
Min. Focus
100 cm
Max. Magnification
0.17x
Filter Size
67 mm
Internal Focus
Yes
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 31.5-11.9 ° / 27-10 °
Hood
PH-RBK 67 mm
Case
S90-160
Lens Cap
O-LC67
Coating
SMC,SP
Weather Sealing
Yes (AW)
Other Features
AF/MF Switch,Internal Zoom
Diam x Length
77 x 136 mm (3 x 5.4 in.)
Weight
765 g (24.2 oz.)
Production Years
2007 to Present
Pricing
$869 USD current price
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-DA* 1:2.8 50-135mm ED [IF] SDM
Product Code
21660
Notes
Internal zoom.
Three ED elements.

Features:
Screwdrive AutofocusSupersonic AutofocusQuick ShiftWeather SealedInternal FocusingInternal ZoomingAutomatic ApertureAPS-C Digital Only
Purchase: Buy the SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM
In-Depth Review: Read our SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM in-depth review!
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos



Add Review of SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM Buy the SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 130
Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2016
Posts: 227

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 7, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness wide open, beautiful rendering, smooth bokeh.
Cons: SDM unit prone to failure
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K-3   

This is probably the best APS-C lens that Pentax have ever made. Nothing else comes close in providing the utility or quality that this lens provides. The colour, sharpness and bokeh are amazing. Like one reviewer put it, this lens makes a mediocre snapper look like a great one.

I've had five copies of this lens, all used. Three out of five have had SDM issues but all of these were easily fixed by opening up the lens and massaging the motor. Tutorials can be readily found for this procedure.

The copy that I now use exhibited a squealing motor as well as sluggish response to autofocus so I converted it to screwdrive using my K100d. Again, a procedure that is well documented. Autofocus is now much more responsive.

In all, this is the one lens I'd pick if I could only have one. It's equivalent to 70-200 on full frame so it's really not wide at all, but the images produced are out of this world. Ignore the autofocus issues. Screwdrive is worth the extra tiny bit of noise if your SDM motor dies. This lens is THAT good.
   
Senior Member

Registered: August, 2011
Location: San Diego
Posts: 160

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 15, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $999.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Great image quality
Cons: Auto Focus (died)
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5IIs; K3   

I bought the lens in 2013. I also got a 3 year extended warranty due to all of the reports I read here about the auto-focus failing. With a month to go on the warranty, the auto-focus failed.
   
New Member

Registered: August, 2010
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 7

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 7, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $965.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, color
Cons: Heavy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New   

It's been a spectacularly good experience owning this lens over the last 6 years. It never ceases to amaze me. Nothing makes me look like a good photographer more than this lens. Incredibly sharp and the colors never need to be corrected. The 3-D effect is something hard to find in a lens, but this one excels at it. Pixie Dust galore. I can't say enough good things about this lens!
   
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2010
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 16

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 15, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Beautiful, clear shots of stationary objects, when it doesn't backfocus
Cons: Not for use with objects or people in motion, especially in unfavorable lighting
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 1    Handling: 7    Value: 5    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-50, K200D   

When it takes focuses, it frequently takes gorgeous shots and, in some lighting situations, it is the only lens I have that will take nice shots. However, that depends greatly on whether it will focus. People talk about sports shooting, as if that's the only type of action which can befuddle a camera. I tried to shoot a talent show tonight with stage lighting. If people weren't moving, it could be coerced into focusing and taking some nice enough shots. But, if anyone in the frame was moving at all, the AF would not work at all. I missed a lot of shots watching the lens hunt. I should have gone to manual much sooner, although, given the lighting, that wasn't easy either. It was very frustrating. In fact, by the end of the night, I was almost ready to throw over Pentax completely. Awful AF is really the only problem with the lens, but, unfortunately, it has the power to render its strengths useless. If you plan to buy this lens, plan on using manual focus a lot.
   
Junior Member

Registered: June, 2012
Posts: 47

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 28, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Good for indoor events
Cons: Stay away from this lens built prior to 2012 SDM failure
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 5    Handling: 6    Value: 7    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K5   

People are selling off DA* lens because of the release of K1. So price dropped quite a bit. But use caution before you buy an used copy. SDM failure rate was high before 2012 redesign. Check the SN and compare with the forum's database to determine the manufacture date.

Otherwise this is a good lens on APS-C for wedding and alike. Not suit for sports because of the slow AF and reach limits.

Also it's quite heavy at 1.5lbs. You don't want to carry it all day unless you have to use it to make money.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: April, 2012
Location: Montreal
Posts: 337
Lens Review Date: May 27, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: high quality image and build, constant F4
Cons: Bad autofocus - since the first year, I have to exercise the focus because its very weak when I start shooting, and doesn't get much better after use.
Autofocus: 4    New or Used: New    Camera Used: 5 years   

This is a well built, high quality lens that gives great results. However, its autofocus has been a disappointment. After the first year, the focuser would appear to not work at all initially until I exercised it for a while - i.e. focus far, focus near. Its still working and hits the mark but its quite annoying to have to "warm it up" before using.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: August, 2013
Posts: 695

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 26, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, Contrast, Color, WR
Cons: SDM :(, Weight

I find that the lens produces very pleasing images. I almost exclusively use this lens for portrait work, but it would be suitable for may photo applications. The entire focal range is pleasing for portrait work and opens up my creativity in ways other lenses do not. I feel the perspective found in 50-135mm makes my photos stand out. In the world today where everyone has a camera, I am happy to use this lens to make my photos pop and give me an edge.

It may seem obvious, but being able to adjust from 50mm (75mm equivalent) to 135mm (202.5mm equivalent) is very useful when out on location. I also use the 17-50mm lens but I seem to be picking this lens up more and more.

One serious downside... The SDM (AF motor) fails In almost every lens, including mine. Before it completely failed, I converted it to SDM and made a tutorial on how to get that done. If you have some patience and determination, you can get it done. Many users report enjoying the Screw Drive better than SDM. I agree with them, the lens performs much better. AFspeed is better and it doesn't seem to hunt as much. https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/321757-how-...ive-video.html

Weight/Size: Look, it is big and heavy, but that is what you get in a versatile lens. If you want light and portable, go with primes. For me, I use this lens when I am working and getting paid for my images. I think its usefulness out weighs its weight literally..

Conclusion: With the used price of this lens going down, the opportunity to convert to SDM, and the outstanding IQ it easy to recommend this lens. Keep in mind, the motor can and will likely fail on you, but converting to Screw Drive will save the day.


   
New Member

Registered: April, 2015
Posts: 10
Lens Review Date: April 13, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Image quality, Out of focus areas, build quality, internal zooming
Cons: AF a bit on slow but enough for me so far
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K3 and K3 II   

I found a great deal for this lens when buying a K3 II for my partner, after all done I have paid 150 euros for the lens new!!! I wanted to buy it for a long time but I was not willing to pay what it costs new nowadays.

I don't have the lens for a very long but so far I have been impressed with the image quality at all focal lengths from wide open! The autofocus is a bit slow but I use it mainly for landscapes or wildlife scenes where I don't need tracking or extremely fast focus, so for me it has been working ok! However I have been shooting it for less than a month therefore I can't say to much about it. But for now I would recommend this lens to anyone looking for something on this range. I will update the review in the near future.

happy shooting.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2016
Location: Tampa Florida
Posts: 198
Lens Review Date: March 13, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Internal zoom. Silent focus. Sharpness. Constant f2.8
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-S2   

Amazing lens. Image quality is wonderful. I love the internal zoom (no telescoping zoom) I feel like it's less intimidating to people if they don't see part of the lens extending towards them. It's my go to lens. I keep it on my camera body when not in use as some believe that sdm issues are from being left off of the camera body for long periods of time.
   
Senior Member

Registered: November, 2009
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 209
Lens Review Date: December 24, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Build quality and size
Cons:
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3, K-5IIs   

I always favored 70-200mm focal length in 35mm film and find myself often shooting in the 70mm to 100mm range on my APC cameras. The 50-135mm give the same overall FOV on the APS-C sensor as the 70-200mm on full frame yet in a smaller, lighter package. As with all other " * " (star) lenses the build quality is phenomenal. Complete weather sealing makes this great for outdoor work in all conditions. Yes, this lens is a hand-full. But it is well balanced on the K bodies and completely manageable for hand held work even in low light.
   
New Member

Registered: September, 2012
Posts: 24

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 15, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Great build quality, sharpness of prime lenses, weather sealing
Cons:
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Pentax K3   

One of the best Pentax DA lenses you can get! SDM still works great 5 years strong with lots of use.
IMGP0890 by Richard Mozis, on Flickr
IMGP0881 by Richard Mozis, on Flickr
   
Forum Member

Registered: May, 2013
Posts: 57
Lens Review Date: October 18, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 9 

 
Pros:
Cons:
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-7   

The only drawback of the lens is the accuracy of the autofocus in low light. This lens delivers very sharp images with good color and contrast. The image quality is superb throughout the zoom range, unlike other zooms I have owned. The autofocus works great in most situations, low light can be a slight drawback. Overall excellent value, perhaps best lens I have ever owned.
   
Senior Member

Registered: December, 2012
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Posts: 214

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 14, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $325.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Near prime quality across a nice zoom range
Cons: SDM

Well, this is my third DA* purchase - already bought two DA*16-50 (one for me, one for my daughter)
This was bought used - advertised as only being Manual Focus as the SDM had died. Thanks to the members on this forum (and great threads documenting this technique) I bought the lens for a virtual song knowing that it was almost certain that I could get the lens converted to screwdrive and have a pro-quality AF zoom lens for about a third of the cost of a new one.
Once received, I tried "waking up" the SDM - unsucessfully, and after about 15 minutes of trying to revive the SDM mechanism decided that it was indeed dead, and proceeded to convert the lens to screwdrive by changing the lens rom. (look in the forum if you want to find out how)
About 30 minutes later the lens was whirring away happily on screwdrive - nailing focus and taking some really nice sharp pictures.
So... happy camper here. I wouldn't hesitate to buy this lens at all, as long as the prospect of having a somewhat noisier AF doesn't bother you.
Great handling, fast, sharp. And at the price I paid amazing value. Definitely a keeper.
   
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2014
Location: Galway - Ireland
Posts: 212

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 17, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $950.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IQ, build quality
Cons: AF
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K3   

WHO IS IT FOR ?
The 50-135mm is a great zoom for portraits and street photography. The range should also be great for press work and concerts.


HANDLING
This lens is big with the lens hood on, but still light to carry and work with. The focus rings are great, it is weather sealed, the construction is awesome.


AUTOFOCUS
This is the main limit of this lens : the AF is really sloooow (on K3). It is not usable for sports. Even for street photography it is not fast enough. It should be ok for studio portrait.
I manually focused for most of my real-life shots, but it is not what we could expect from this kind of high level zoom.


IMAGE QUALITY

>SHARPNESS
This lens is sharp from f/3.5. The sharpness is great at f/2.8 but not outstanding, wide open the image is slightly soft which makes it perfect for female portrait. The lens sharpness seems to be at its best in the 60-100mm range.

>BOKEH
Bokehs are really great and soft, perfect for portraits.

>CHROMA ABERRATIONS
No fringing and no major issues for me.

>FLARE
I did not notice any flare issue for this lens. Ghost is well controled.

>COLOR RENDITION
Perfect for me ! Great rendering, a little bit warm.

>DISTORSION
Nothing noticeable in field conditions.

>VIGNETING
Nothing to care about...


COMPARING TO SIMILAR LENSES

>70-200mm APO Sigma f/2.8 EX
The 70-200mm provides the extra 135-200mm range that can be usefull in some conditions. The AF is really really faster than the 50-135mm, which makes this lens reliable for field conditions. However the image quality is not as clean as the pentax one because of fringing, ghost and flare.

> 105mm macro sigma f/2.8 EX
Using the 135mm at minimum focus distance, you can get some 'proxi' pictures. This is not the sweet point of the 50-135mm, so using the Pentax lens for 'macro-like' pictures is not a great idea, you should rather go for a macro lens.


CONCLUSION
If you can afford this lens and need a portrait lens, this one should be on your list for polyvalence and image quality. However be sure than you don't need a fast AF because it is the main limit of this lens.


SAMPLE PICTURES
https://www.flickr.com/photos/134793426@N02/20462345688/in/album-72157657354961832/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/134793426@N02/20641180942/in/album-72157657354961832/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/134793426@N02/20657031391/in/album-72157657354961832/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/134793426@N02/20029414443/in/album-72157657354961832/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/134793426@N02/20657150821/in/album-72157657354961832/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/134793426@N02/20027907364/in/album-72157657354961832/
   
New Member

Registered: June, 2013
Posts: 5
Lens Review Date: May 26, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: fine lens for a zoom, 2.8, WR
Cons: vignetting, contrast, color definition
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 7    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-5 II   

I'm always a bit disappointed with all lenses I receive but this is just this gap between the two feelings of expectations (after reading to many reviews) and the real thing, when it is mounted on your camera finally . But now, I'm indeed pretty satisfied with this lens after all, which I received as a used item from Japan. My ratings are to see in relation to my personal experience with other zoom lenses I owned previously. If I would compare it to my fix focal lenses my ratings would naturally be lower. Depending which one, my fix focal lenses have better colour rendition, sharpness, contrast and IQ. Compared to my zooms I owned, this one has not to be ashamed at all, expect a bit for it's pricing. I like this lens because it gives me finally again the possibility to zoom a bit but still having an very good IQ at all ranges. I wish it would be even more powerful in all aspects but I'm maybe always just expecting too much. Many reviewers here are disappointed with the AF but my BIGMA was not really faster than this one. Let's put it like this : The copy I received, is for my uses fast enough. I'm going to keep this lens.


treated raw

EDIT
I go down now a bit with my ratings as the IQ can drop more as you may expect if you zoom. You stay @ 50mm and the suggested 5.6 f and you will be very happy with your results. But if you zoom to the range of 90mm or higher, sometimes there is disappointment after all. AF misses then as well more often. Still ok though and still a good lens but exceptionel only @ 50mm I would say. It's in the physics and so this lens can do no wonders......sad, I hoped it would do wonders
Add Review of SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM Buy the SMC Pentax-DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED [IF] SDM



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