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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
150 489,162 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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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 150
Junior Member

Registered: May, 2012
Posts: 30
Lens Review Date: October 2, 2019 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $2,500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: muy afilado. punto dulce... 90mm - f4
Cons: motor de enfoque se pego temprano
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 3    Handling: 8    Value: 5    New or Used: New    Camera Used: k20 -k5   

a pesar de que lo utilizo en MF ya que se pego el motor de enfoque ,lo compraría nuevamente por su calidad de imagen excepcional
   
New Member

Registered: June, 2010
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 21

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 15, 2016 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 3 

 
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: 1    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.
Update: the SDM motor never worked well and eventually died completely. I had a Forum member fix it by overriding the silent, non-focus system for just $30. At first, it worked fine. Using it to shoot a church service on Sunday, after less than an hour, the AF quick completely. It did come back later, but I expect much more.
Unless you always manually focus or don't mind a lot of frustration, find something else.
   
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.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: April, 2011
Location: Canberra, Australia
Posts: 582

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 5, 2014 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $750.00 | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Sharp, small
Cons: Horrible, Horrible AF
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 2    Handling: 9    Value: 6    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K-3   

I bought this lens to compliment my 16-45. The first time out with it was shooting moving motorcycles.
It is truly tack-sharp, but don't think about using it in any action scenario as the AF speed is just truly woeful. It's like the AF motor is trying to move through sludge; it really is that bad.
It could possibly make a decent portraiture lens, but I do so little of that I just cannot justify spending that much money on it.

I've since replaced it with a Tamron 70-200 2.8 and will be reconsidering the 16-45 with a something-70mm.

It's a shame, because the focal length provided is a wonderful range and it is wonderfully sharp - but it just completely let down by the auto-focus speed.
   
Inactive Account

Registered: August, 2012
Posts: 3
Lens Review Date: August 23, 2012 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $750.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Great Build Quality
Cons: Slow, inaccurate auto-focus
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 3    Handling: 8    Value: 6    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: k10d   

Very disappointed with the copy of this lens I purchased. The auto-focus doesn't work properly at all unless shooting close up. Beyond 5-6 ft, forget about it. Even closed down to f 6.3, consistently out of focus, no where near the sharpness I've seen in the examples posted on here. Real bummer. Guess I caught hold of a bad piece of glass... Or maybe my cameras out of whack, but this lens has just been a frustration for me, and not even because of the SDM...
   
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2008
Location: Highland, MI
Posts: 336
Lens Review Date: November 21, 2011 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 3 

 
Pros: When the camera focuses correctly the picture quality is ok.
Cons: The autofocus is way (and I mean wayyyyyy) too slow.
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 5    Autofocus: 2    Handling: 5    Value: 3    New or Used: New   

I bought this lens thinking that it would be a great addition. Man I was wrong. It's so slow to focus and being a photographer who shoots swing dancing, models, weddings, and events I can barely use it. Not only that but when it does lock the pictures are so out of focus. Even with the in-camera calibration, the lens is subpar.

When I orginally purchased it, I had a chance to purchase this lens or a Tamron 17-200 2.8. If I had a chance to do it again I would definately go with the Tamron hands down. If you have to shoot with speed and accuracy then don't even concider this lens.
   
New Member

Registered: July, 2011
Location: carlotinha1@gmail.com
Posts: 1

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 18, 2011 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: N/A | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros:
Cons:

Essa lente serve para ist dl2 tava querendo para fotografar aves e lua ela é muito pesada.
   
New Member

Registered: December, 2010
Posts: 10
Lens Review Date: December 25, 2010 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $819.00 | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: good at low light
Cons: soft focus at the edges
New or Used: New   

First impression of the Pentax 50-135. Have been using it for two days now together with the brand new K-5.
Been a day to the coast and made pictures of the pacific ocean, the driftwood, lighthouse and coastline. The pictures seems to be sharp in the middle but at the edges it is like a soft focus is used. Close ups are not crispy and bright as I had hoped for.
Today I made pictures inside, it is very good with low light, but it is like a soft focus is used.
I have a UV filter B&W haze 1x MRC, could that be the problem !!!
I am somehow disappointed, but will make more pictures the next few days, if it stays the same I am returning the lens.

Look here
(Non working link deleted)

&

(Non working link deleted)
   
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2007
Location: Ankara, Turkey
Posts: 399
Lens Review Date: October 22, 2009 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $800.00 | Rating: N/A 

 
Pros: Optical performance
Cons: SDM

Mine is not really a review, for now, that is!

This lens has the highest price tag among my set of lenses (too many to count).
It is also the only one that failed!

After about a year of infrequent use (I was busy shooting film!), I have started using/re-using this lens. It was "optically" perfect; almost like a prime at every focal length!

However, its SDM started to behave and since using the screw driven AF engine is actively blocked (read, forbidden) my lens turned into a manual one within weeks. The lens was used lightly (first on K10D, then on K20D). It is in "new" condition for all practical purposes. It was used just like all of my other lenses (Pentax and Sigma), of which I am happy.

There are only a few places in the world that are authorized to fix the SDM. And, there is no local representative or service, Pentax is not currently represented in my country.
I wrote two of them for paid repair. None replied!

I do not understand what my mistake was. Do you?

I am not thinking of buying another lens "with SDM" until Pentax either issues a satisfactory statement about the reported problems (and their solution) or publishes a firmware to allow usage of screw driven AF when needed.

I humbly advice Pentax to define a process where users living outside the countries it has representatives and/or services can apply for help.
What am I supposed to do if my equipment fails? Pray?
(The lens was bought in the US, by the way).

I also warn potential buyers (of lenses with SDM, especially second-hand) think thrice if they live in the remote & neglected corners of the world. For other lenses, there is not much reason to be extremely cautious; even my 40 or so years old Takumars work like magic!
   
Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2016
Location: Bristol, Tennessee
Posts: 117

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 4, 2021 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $405.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: well built, compact, nice bokeh
Cons: auto focus issues, soft wide open
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K3   

This lens is sturdy and well built, yet compact enough to take with you for when you need a bit more reach. This is a great lens for portraits. I have used it mostly for portrait sessions or as my long lens before I obtained my DA* 60-250 F4. I had a DA 55-300 before I had the DA* 50-135, and I almost always preferred a cropped picture from the DA* 50-135 over an uncropped DA 55-300, so much so that I stopped carrying the DA 55-300, unless I knew I was going to be at the extreme end. On the other hand, I can't say I'd leave the house ever with just this lens unless I was only doing portraits, because I'm almost always wanting a bit wider shot than it can provide. So if you're doing portraits, this is a great choice. If you're doing anything else, it's a great second lens.
   
Pentaxian

Registered: November, 2013
Location: Barcelona
Posts: 471
Lens Review Date: October 4, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Quality Image, decent AF, non heavy at all. Images pop up
Cons: AF is quite slow for sports. SDM usually fails
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K3, K5, K3II   

I bought my copy knowing the SDM motor was broken.
So following a tutorial I have converted it to screwdrive mount.

I don't care much as I use to use my lenses for motorsport.

This lens is great. The image quality is fantastic and the bokeh even at F4 is delicious.
Yet, for my taste, my likes and the use I give it to its a bit too slow in the AF. I have shoot motorsports with it and can do the work, the range is fantastic in apsc (70-200mm equivalent) and its not heavy at all. But that AF is not the best. My Sigma 100-300mm f4 beats it every day, and I wonder if the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 would beat it easily every other day also.

Yet it creates delicious images when doing portraits

_IMG6969 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

_IMG6964 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

IMGP6516 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

It does work well in low light environments

_IMG5980 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

_IMG6048 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

IMGP6575 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

And for motorsport purposes if you are close enough to action, you get good results. (my copy has even been champagne sprayed into)

_IMG2015 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

_IMG1678 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

_IMG0473 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

_IMG0347 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

_IMG0327 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

_IMG0435 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

_IMG0235 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

IMGP6558 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

It is also a Grid Killer, shoots thru glass in the cars as a knife in butter. Smooth and silent, but precise.

IMGP6634 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr


_IMG2898 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

IMGP6744 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

_IMG2958 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

_IMG3016 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr

_IMG3048 by Daniel Gonzalez Aguilera, en Flickr



The best part for motorsport is that it is quite a compact lens so it is not intrusive to anybody having a chat, or working.
Yet as I said before I doubt wheter a Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 would work better for me.

This is a lens that is no wonder if you can carry it around as its light weight, no issue to add it in the backpack for a weekend with the 2 cameras, flash/es, long lens short lens, laptop and so on.
   
New Member

Registered: January, 2020
Posts: 5

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 8, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $257.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Beauty lens , Sharp
Cons: Af
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: Used   





   
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2013
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 2,676

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 15, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $850.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Optical qualities, Size, Focal length range, 'all weather'
Cons: Autofocus (see below)
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3 II, K-5 II   

The Pentax DA* 50-135 was one of the first lenses that I bought in late-2011 after getting my new K-7, and it has been one of my most-used lenses. As a lens that I rarely leave at home, it easily receives c.a.m’s 4.5-star Gold rating of Highly Recommended!

The optical qualities are excellent. The lens is sharp across the field, with very good performance even in the corners at most settings. While the lens is usable wide open across the focal length range, I’ve noticed a slight softness at f/2.8 compared to other commonly-used apertures, especially at the longer end. However, I’ve never had a concern about distortion, vignetting, or aberrations, and the colours, contrast, and overall rendering are superb. In particular, the bokeh is typically pleasing at wide apertures.

At a mass of just under 700 grams, I find this lens to be comfortable to carry and handle. It is significantly smaller and lighter than my Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 HSM – which illustrates a strong benefit of the APS-C format. It’s a versatile lens that pairs nicely with my DA 20-40mm Limited. The lens has proven itself in a variety of shooting environments, including trail hikes, cityscapes, concerts, and portraits.

Autofocus
My copy was afflicted by autofocus issues four times during 2012-2013, during the height of many user reports of ‘SDM failure’. Warranty work included two new motors, cleaning, adjustments, calibration, and “gearing and clutch cam ring” repair. On the fifth instance, the AF seized again and the lens could not be focused manually. At that point, I converted the lens to ‘screwdrive’ mode, and it has worked flawlessly ever since.

I have conducted a rigorous AF Fine Adjustment (AFFA) calibration, assessing the settings at 50, 90, and 135mm; at focus distances of at least 30 x focal length; and variably focusing from the minimum focus distance and infinity positions. I found that the optimal AFFA setting varied according to focal length and focus direction; the optimal setting that gives the sharpest autofocus at all focal lengths is AFFA = +3 when focused from the near position. So, I simply preset the focus to the near side of the subject before each shot, which is an extra step but not a big deal. Note, however, that the AFFA is a function of both the lens and the camera acting together, so this issue may not be entirely a fault of the lens itself. This detail – and the SDM issue – is reflected in my lower rating of ‘7’ for AF.

The AF accuracy is typically spot-on and the shot-to-shot focus consistency is very good. I tend to take pictures mainly of static subjects, and I find that the autofocus is sufficiently quick and assured on my K-3 II. I don’t find that the screwdrive movement is annoyingly noisy, but it’s certainly more noticeable than the nearly-silent SDM mode. On the other hand, the screwdrive focus action is somewhat faster than the SDM, and it works.

- Craig







   
New Member

Registered: November, 2018
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: February 19, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: sharp from 3.5; reasonable size and weight
Cons: slow autofocus; a bit soft at 2.8
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-70   

Decent size and weight, well balanced on my K-70. Good sharpness from f3.5 but a bit soft wide open at 2.8. Autofocus is a bit slow but OK to use as portrait lens. Like many other users reported, my copy does not work well with the HD 1.4x teleconverter (rather soft until f6.3).
   
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2014
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 1,609

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 10, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Rendering; focal range; sharpness
Cons: autofocus

This was my first 'pro' level lens, and WOW is it a good lens! I had been using my HD DA 55-300 as an event lens, as it runs (if I remember correctly) around an f/4-4.5 for a good portion of its range. I found myself needing the extra stop of light indoors, and so I sprung for this lens. I was at first concerned, coming from the 55-300, that this zoom range would be restricting. This has not proved to be an issue in the least! It is a very versatile range with good quality.

I got it used with a failed SDM and had it converted by our good 'ol local Pentax Forums convertor, and now it runs great on screwdrive. It has a weird thing still that at 90mm it will back/front focus horribly - so I learned to avoid that focal length for autofocus. The focus isn't great, and I find it difficult to trust at f/2.8. Especially at 135mm, which isn't quite as sharp as the other focal lengths, it is easy to miss the focus by a hair. So I generally shoot at f/4, but f/2.8 is indoors doable with care, a monopod helps.

The rendition and colors are fantastic, so is the sharpness. It is a great lens. I've started taking this and the DA21 limited as a simple fairly compact two lens combo for events, and it works out really nicely. It has proven leagues above the HD DA 55-300, but there are still some impediments that I deal with for the low price I got it for.
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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