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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 
 9.3
Aberrations 
 9.0
Bokeh 
 9.2
Autofocus 
 7.0
Handling 
 9.0
Value 
 8.4
Reviews Views Date of last review
150 488,833 Mon January 4, 2021
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
94% of reviewers $800.41 9.01
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
supersize

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]
© www.pentaxforums.com, sharable with attribution
Image Format
APS-C
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
No
Diaphragm
Automatic, 9 blades
Optics
18 elements, 14 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
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
685 g (24.2 oz.)
w/ Hood: +80g
Production Years
2007 to present (in production)
Pricing
$877 USD current price
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-DA* 1:2.8 50-135mm ED [IF] SDM
Product Code
21660
Reviews
User reviews
In-depth review
Unofficial Full-Frame Compatibility Tests by Pentax Forums
★☆☆ Usable with reservations at select F-stop/focal length combinations
Show details
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 31-45 of 150
Junior Member

Registered: September, 2012
Posts: 29

3 users 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
   
Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2013
Posts: 223

1 user found this helpful
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: 237

5 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: 213

3 users 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
   
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2009
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 6,477

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 16, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $550.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IQ, 2.8, Size, FL Range, Ruggedness
Cons: AF speed, Not FF (not really a negative but many DA lenses are compatible with FF)
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-3, K-5, K-5ii, K-01   

This lens and the DA*60-250 are a big part of what keeps me with Pentax. I hike and backpack a lot and the 50-135 is a great companion on those trips. It is small and light enough to be comfortable to carry, yet it gives close to prime quality on most shots. It works great with the 1.4tc.
   
Moderator
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Florida Hill Country
Posts: 17,298
Lens Review Date: February 14, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: N/A | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Build, Quality and Handling
Cons:

This is the best zoom lens I have ever used and one of the few I have hung onto. I did like the DA 55-300 but sold it after getting the DA* 300. The zoom I come close to liking as much as this one is the F 35-70. The DA* 50-135mm stays on one of my bodies most of the time.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2008
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Posts: 381
Lens Review Date: December 29, 2014 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $750.00 | Rating: 1 

 
Pros: Sharp, bokeh, easy to use, WR
Cons: SDM, again...!
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 1    Handling: 9    Value: 2    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5 and K5IIs   

This is a great lens and the only reason I'm posting this is because the AF failed (SDM again?) and it's in the shop for repairs. This is the 3rd time the AF fails on me: twice on my DA*16-50mm which cost $285 in 2011 and $385 last year when the gears (plastic) were replaced. I got this 50-135mm in June 2013 because of the big sale at B&H and have used it maybe 5 times. Bad items, maybe, get on with it, maybe, but that's a lot to say for quality control at Pentax. Too bad its a great lens because I'll have to keep it, for now, since I found out that you can't even get a used one for less than $800, even on eBay...!

March 12, 2016 update: Got the SDM fixed, 12 month ago, for free after knocking hard on the table...! This lense is back at its best - so far - like a piece of magic.

June 2017 update

See my post on the DA 16-50mm review page on my latest problems/comments on SDMs...! I do not recommend this lenses because of the risks on having an SDM incident. Too bad because the quality of the glass is excellent.
   
Junior Member

Registered: August, 2012
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 33

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 1, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $900.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: One of the best in terms of range and IQ
Cons: Overpriced in Recent Years, SDM Reliability
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-30   

The DA* 50-135 is a fantastic lens in ALMOST every way. Until I ran into reliability issues with the silent focus motor on two separate copies forcing me to switch over to the discontinued but very similar Sigma 50-150 as my "go-to", I used the DA* 50-135 almost exclusively for portraits, artistic work, photographing live events and more and never had any major complaints. The 50-135 is well built and handles nicely despite being somewhat "dense" from having so much glass packed into such a small package. Aesthetically, the 50-135 looks and feels like a premium "Pentax" lens should. I rarely use a tripod for the type of shooting I typically do, but have had no issue hand-holding the lens on longer shoots. In low-light AF situations coupled with fast-moving subjects, the 50-135 delivered excellent results both wide open and at distance. Plus, the Weather Resistance (WR) of the Pentax affords much needed peace of mind to an active photographer like me, who lives in a dusty desert and likes to travel. The Sigma, on the other hand, is not weather sealed, which limits the conditions I feel comfortable using it in. Also, compared to the Sigma, I prefer the color rendering of the Pentax by a small margin, as it offered a bit more warmth and depth of contrast, no doubt due to the unique blend of pixie dust Pentax uses in their amazing lens coatings! I have heard of the 50-135 delivering "prime-like" IQ throughout most of its zoom range and feel that this is a fairly reasonable description. The image quality is stellar and certainly among the absolute "best of the best" when it comes to modern zooms. Unfortunately, what ultimately killed the enjoyment of this lens for me was the SDM motor issue. The Sigma has proven to be significantly more reliable in my case. In the end, as my second DA* 50-135, which I purchased brand new at Christmas 2012 from an authorized dealer, began to develop the dreaded SDM noise and intermittent function issues after barely a month of light use (shortly after my first 50-135's SDM from around 2010 completely quit on me and had to be repaired to the tune of $200+), I opted to return the Pentax and keep the Sigma. More than a year later, I'm still shooting the Sigma regularly and have had zero issues with its performance or reliability. I only wish I could have said the same for my DA* 50-135, because it really is an incredible lens deserving of the "Star" heritage in ALMOST every way. If you get a good copy with a reliable motor, it will be the best lens you ever own. However, I still see reports of SDM failures on lenses purchased as recently as late 2103, so the problem obviously hasn't been fixed, despite many claims by Pentax over the past few years. I love the lens enough that I've strongly considered giving it another chance, but prices have been rather steep over the past couple years compared to what these lenses originally sold for. Regardless, if you're in the market for a professional quality zoom in this range, it's hard to do much better than the DA* 50-135 on any platform. Just make sure to buy new from an authorized retailer so you have the peace-of-mind of a factory warranty in case your copy ends up with an unreliable focusing motor like mine and many others.
   
Inactive Account

Registered: January, 2014
Posts: 76
Lens Review Date: July 7, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,375.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Overall IQ, Sharpness even on 2.8, Inetrnal focusing and zooming, silent AF, WR
Cons: Slow AF, occasionally unreliable AF
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5ii, K-r   

I had choosing hard, long and carefully - and finally i bought this lens and not regret it.
From first contact in the shop the spark jumped between me and the lens.
I compared it to DA 70 ltd, and I must say that images from DA* I favoured more.

IQ: Images from this lens have some special "magic", something beyond simple sharpness and contrast. 70 ltd is a tad sharper, but overall images seems to be more living. Images are sharp in centre from wide open on every FL. To get sharpness on edges on border FL, stop down to f4 or 5.6 and you get super sharp images across the frame.
AF: Af is near silent (but my DA 18-135 is more quiet). But it is slow. Before AF was locked, butterfly flew Sometimes AF refuse to lock (in situations, when other lenses haven't such a problem). My copy has also BF/FF problem, but not same on all FL. So I must fine AF tune somewhere between 0 (on 135) and +6 (on 50) to get good result thru all FL.

Handling: It is DA* lens. It handles very well, zoom ring is comfortably damped, operation of focusing ring is quite odd, but even manual focus is very good. Nothing is retracting from lens, it keeps its lenght thru zooming and focusing. There is quickshift and even MF/AF switch on the barrel. Although lens is quite heavy it sits on my k-5ii very well and almost all my shots (except testing ones) were shot handheld.

Overall: It's nice piece of equipment and although it's very expensive, it's worth every penny. This lens is robust, has silent focusing and images are stunning. It has its own character.

Here are some samples:
50mm f4, slight cropping and very light touch of PP


100% crop - 80mm f5 NO PP, only cropped (so, with some PP it can be better, but I provide it as test)
   
New Member

Registered: February, 2009
Location: Rome (Italy)
Posts: 16

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 9, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, constrution quality
Cons: none (a little slow autofocus)
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5II   

The DA 50-135mm is a fantastic lens !

He made ​​a spectacular portraits, already at f/2,8, with a great bokeh. I use it at every studio session for fashion, glamour, etc.

Its sharpness is also wonderful for photos of architectural details, animals, nature, sports.

It's lightweiht enough to be a telephoto, and on aps-c provides a focal range really optimal for portrait and architecture.

Its weak point is the auto-focus, sometimes slow, but still good.

If I had to choose only 1 objective out of all, I would choose this one!
Highly recomended !
   
Senior Member

Registered: December, 2012
Posts: 135

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 26, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $565.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Size and weight, built quality, overall IQ, WR
Cons: Extremely slow focusing, some CA and geometric distortion, sharpness wide open, min. focus distance
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 5    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax k-5II   

This would be a really nice lens if it weren't for the lethargic focusing speed.

Good built, perfect size and weight, WR, overall IQ, focus ring doesn't turn in AF mode and is perfectly usable on manual.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2010
Location: New Berlin, WI
Posts: 519

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 17, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Superb IQ: Sharp, smooth bokeh, color rendition
Cons: known for SDM failure,
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3, K-5   

Wonderful image quality. Ultimate sharpness at f5.6. Sharpness drops from excellent to very good at the long end and f2.8. Otherwise it's prime quality under all settings.
The autofocus is not very fast so not good for sports but definitely fast enough for portrait, which is what this lens is for.
This lens is known for SDM failure, so even though the issue should be resolved with newer copies, I strongly suggest you get an extended warranty with this lens.

Wonderful portrait lens.


   
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: Everything
Cons: Nothing
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5   

I have had this lens for years and I absolutely love it! The image quality is amazing and the build quality is excellent. There is nothing to not love about this lens (in my opinion).
   
Forum Member

Registered: January, 2014
Location: Scotland
Posts: 96
Lens Review Date: May 2, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Build quality, IQ (sharpness, colour, contrast), consistency through range (f/l and aperture), good at f/2.8
Cons: SDM problems (can be a plus!), heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 10    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K5   

This was the third lens I bought for my K5. I've listed SDM problems as a negative, but for me it was a positive - it was the reason I was able to buy this lens quite cheaply (300) - the SDM had failed, but I was happy to hack it through the firmware to get screwdrive operating instead.

Build quality - apart from the SDM mechanism - is excellent. It is heavy, which is overall a negative, but being well-balanced, it actually seems to help stabilise the lens when handholding (which is very achievable even at 135mm).

Optically, this lens is exceptional for a zoom. Throughout the focal length range, it is excellent and that excellence is available at most apertures until diffraction kicks in. It is slightly softer at f/2.8 than at f/8.0 but not massively so. Check out these 100% crops of a Pentax lens cover, focus is on the "N" at:

f/2.8


f/4.0


f/8.0


All images direct from camera, save for cropping to 100% in lightroom. No sharpening or other changes applied.

There is some slight CA at f/2.8 but this largely disappears at narrower apertures. To be honest, the CA is far less noticeable on this lens wide open than it is on my 50mm or 35mm DA primes when they're wide open. The worst is highlighted in the hand-held flash shot below, at f/2.8:



In short, it's an absolutely cracking lens. It is versatile, delivers exceptional image quality through its range and I struggle to find as much use for my 50mm prime (given its relatively weak f/1.8 performance) except when I want a light, unobtrusive lens. These last two qualities are really my only criticisms of this lens (and expected, really), especially since the SDM's unreliability was actually the only reason I was able to pick one up at an affordable price anyway!
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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