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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
150 488,621 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
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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]
© 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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Senior Member

Registered: May, 2010
Location: WA
Posts: 166

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 1, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $455.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: SHARP
Cons: Some report AF issues

I rented this lens in 2015 for a weekend trip to a race track. I needed a lens with moderate range, great image quality, and decent low light performance. My previous lens were good kit lens, the 18-135mm and the 55-300mm.

This lens surpassed all of my expectations.

Image Quality is fantastic. Great colors, excellent contrast, and sharp photos. I was amazed to see my test shot of a race car 500 feet away come out sharp. The lens rarely came off the camera the rest of the weekend. I came away with larger amount of sharp photos than I had previously done. The autofocus was great, weight was fine for hand shooting.

By the end of the year, I made sure to purchase my own copy. It has since been my go to lens, more so than my Tameron 70-200 F2.8.

My only complaint is that it stops at 135mm.








   
Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2016
Location: Pietermaritzburg
Posts: 397

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 28, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, great bokeh, great IQ
Cons: Slow(ish) autofocus
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K20D, Kx, K3   

This is by far the best lens I’ve ever owned. It’s fast and sharp, with a beautiful bokeh. I bought this together with my K20D, second-hand for $700! At the time I didn’t really know what * series lenses were, but found out pretty quickly!

From flowers to wildlife to landscapes, this is a versatile lens. It has macro like sharpness at the closest focal distance, and yet will give good IQ at longer ranges too. Because of this you can crop fairly tightly and still get a good photo. I've used it with the 1.4x rear converter, but it seems to soften the image slightly?

The fact that the barrel doesn’t extend when zooming or focusing makes it impervious to dust, drizzle and snow. Although it’s not what you’d call light, I prefer the solid, well-constructed feel of the lens, and the weight makes it well balanced to boot.

In conclusion, all I can say is that if I was forced to sell off all my gear, this would be the last to go.



Roadside Flowers




Goodyear Eagles




Spotted Eagle Owl
   
Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2011
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 772

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 30, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $1,150.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: smooth bokeh in a compact lens
Cons: price

Well I used this lens for the September Single in challenge for the month of September 2018. I started off the month playing with this 50-135 2.8 hoping to finally see why people like it so much. After a month of shooting with it I have gained a respect for it. The photos taken at 2.8 seem to have a special quality about them, the way it handles areas of out of focus is very pleasing with a nice transition from in focus to smooth bokeh. The speed of autofocus and lack of hunting for focus worked well with my style of shooting. The size and balance with the K3 worked well and the lack of bulk made the combination easy to take with me each day. When I examined the photos closely I was unable to fault the sharpness of the lens other than due to using too slow a shutter speed leading to some softness from me rather than the lens. I can now see why it has such a great following. The silent lens focusing worked well for me and compared to the older screw drive mechanism, I found it very effective. The large zoom and focusing rings were easy to use and turn in the "correct" pentax way. Examples taken with this lens can be found in the following album
https://flic.kr/s/aHskDUwvhF
I highly recommend this classic lens
   
Pentaxian

Registered: December, 2013
Posts: 795

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 23, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $610.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, fast, versatile, IQ
Cons: Big, heavy, slow AF
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-30, KP   

This zoom lens excelent IQ. Near to primes. The zoom range is very versatile for portraits and from 70mm the F2.8 aperture gives sufficient background blur. The bokeh is excelent in the full zoom range. The build quality also very good, the zoom and focus rings are smooth, maybe the best I ever used on an AF zoom lens. The hood is bigger than what I would like, but the lens works well without it. In general I like the small primes, but this lens worst it. The AF is the only weak point of this lens, it's slow and occasionally I had acccuracy problems also. Overal this lens is the best zoom I ever used.

Here are some images:
IMG170422_0004 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG170414_0056 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG170603_0284 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG170603_0190 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG170603_0202 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG170611_0002 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG170923_0079 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr

IMG170923_0029 by Benjámin Czétényi, on Flickr
   
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2006
Location: North Face of Mount Shasta
Posts: 120
Lens Review Date: March 14, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $600.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp and Sharper, Internal Focus and Zoom, Build Quality, Good Contrast and Color Rendition
Cons: SDM ... need I say more ...
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K3   

Just 2 weeks after purchasing this lens from another PF member, the SDM quit on me. So be it ... the member I purchased it from was a very honest individual about the condition when I purchased it and I had no intention of backing out of the deal.
I eventually converted it to screwdrive and have loved the lens every since. It's one of those lenses that just make you a better photographer and I don't regret my purchase for one moment. This lens is the bomb and one of the best that Pentax has ever produced. I love mine and if you ever have the opportunity to pick one up, whether new or used, do it!!





   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2016
Posts: 505

4 users 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.
   
New Member

Registered: August, 2010
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 11

2 users 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!
   
Senior Member

Registered: January, 2016
Location: Tampa Florida
Posts: 287
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.
   
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
   
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.
   
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.
   
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 !
   
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.


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