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HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW Review RSS Feed

HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW

Reviews Views Date of last review
7 38,281 Thu April 6, 2023
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $1,427.00 9.57
HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW

HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW
HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW
HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW
HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW
HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW


The HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8ED PLM SDM AW is a professional APS-C format zoom lens designed to deliver high image quality. It features a PLM autofocus motor which allows for fast and silent autofocus also suitable for autofocus during video recording.

The lens mount is KAF4*, which incorporates electromagnetic aperture control and the lens is weather sealed. The lens is rated for use from -10 degrees C to 40 degrees C and a humidity of 85% or less.

The lens has three super ED glass lens elements and one anomalous glass element for the purpose of reducing chromatic aberration.

This lens replaces the smc Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8ED AL [IF] SDM, vhivh goes all the way back to 2007. Where this old model had internal focus ([IF]), the new model extends slightly when focusing.

The lens is scheduled to become available in August 2021.

*  Cameras compatible with this system are the K-50 and newer. For K-1, K-3 II, K-3, K-S2, K-S1 and K-50, the camera’s firmware must be upgraded to the latest version. If this lens is mounted on a camera without proper firmware upgrade, its diaphragm control mechanism becomes inactive leaving the aperture fixed at F2.8, making it difficult to obtain correct exposure.

HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Automatic, 9 blades (rounded)
16 elements, 10 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
AF (in-lens motor)
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-RBM77 (included)
S120-150 (included)
Lens Cap
O-LC77 (included)
Weather Sealing
Yes (AW)
Other Features
AF/MF Switch,Electromagnetic Aperture Diaphragm,Focus by Wire,Metal Build,Distance Scale
Diam x Length
84x117 mm (3.3x4.6 in.)
712 g (25.1 oz.)
w/ Hood: +38g
Production Years
2021 to present (in production)
$1196 USD current price
$1399 USD at launch
Engraved Name
HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8ED PLM AW
User reviews
In-depth review
Unofficial Full-Frame Compatibility Tests by Pentax Forums
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Show details

Supersonic AutofocusQuick ShiftWeather SealedAutomatic ApertureAPS-C Digital Only
Purchase: Buy the HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW
In-Depth Review: Read our HD Pentax-DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW in-depth review!
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Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-7 of 7
Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2010
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Posts: 813

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: April 6, 2023 Recommended | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, rendering, bokeh, accurate AF
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K3 III   

I'll keep my review brief.

It's like having a pocket full of "limited" primes.

by John Pride

by John Pride

by John Pride

Female Monarch butterfly
by John Pride

Registered: February, 2010
Location: Eerbeek
Posts: 1,816

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: January 23, 2023 Recommended | Price: $1,210.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Autofocus, sharpness, bokeh
Cons: Big
Sharpness: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3 III   

Excellent zoom, which handles much better than I expected. Not the best looker (big, bulky) but solid, well balanced on the K-3 iii, with the feel of durability.

I haven't had much time to test it but what I could experience is silent and fast autofocus, nice bokeh, good sharpness. Haven't been able to test aberrations yet.

Having been used to heavier lenses, this one isn't bad at all (it is bigger than it is heavy). I'm very glad with it so far, even though it is the most expensive lens ive bought so far.
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2020
Posts: 171

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: November 23, 2021 Recommended | Rating: 10 

Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K3-III   

This lens immediately became the go to lens for any APS camera here.

Love the sharpness and image quality is outstanding in every way.

Bottom line, its a great lens and its made to, its a bit heavy and a bit pricey....but, if it holds up like it seems designed to do...the value will be very good over the years.
New Member

Registered: July, 2011
Location: Winnipeg
Posts: 14

15 users found this helpful
Review Date: October 7, 2021 Recommended | Price: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: SHARP professional grade lens
Cons: size & weight, no focus distance indicator
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3iii   

This is a professional grade lens and is quickly becoming my favorite. The new 16-50 PLM rivals many prime lenses. It is incredibly sharp across the entire image at all apertures with beautiful colors. Bokeh is pleasing, there is very little purple fringing and flare is well controlled even when pointing at the sun.

I own the old SDM version of the 16-50 and by every measure (except size & weight) the new PLM lens is much better.

I've been comparing my images from the K-3iii to my K-1 using the D FA 24-70 F2.8 and the HD DA★ 16-50mm F2.8 ED PLM AW is far superior for sharpness, vignetting, aberrations and flare. The K-1 should have the advantage with more pixels but loses out because the 24-70 is softer.

I have noted two downsides for this lens but I think the image quality far out weights them. This is a big and heavy lens. The K-3iii with the 16-50 PLM is longer than the K-1 with the 24-70 with a slight weight advantage going to the K-3/PLM combination. The other minor issue is the lack a focus scale. I occasionally use this for estimating hyperlocal distances but in real world use but I can estimate distance by eye well enough to get the shot I want. I thought the lack of the distance scale would be useful to see if I accidentally bump the focus ring while doing astrophotography (which I have done with other lenses). A simple and effective work around is to leave the lens hood on in the reverse position. The hood covers most of the focus ring which is at the front of the lens and works well to prevent accidental focus changes while in manual focus mode.

Others who have reviewed this lens have thought the price was a disadvantage. I think a well engineered lens should command a fair price and this is a very good lens. Pentax offers a number of lower priced zoom lenses at or near this focal length plus there will be a lot of the old 16-50mm SDMs on the used market soon.

This lens has the mystical "Pentax Pixie Dust"

EDIT-1 Added 100% crop at 1400 x 900 pix

Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2006
Location: Norway
Posts: 690

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 25, 2021 Recommended | Rating: 10 

Pros: Even performance at all focal lengths and apertures
Cons: Expensive
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3 III   

I got this a few days ago and I am really impressed with it. It feels solid with no slack or wobbling in the front as the old one. AF is instant. Usually it is finished focusing while I am still pressing the shutter release button downwards.
But what impresses me most is how even in performance it is. It is difficult to see any difference in sharpness between f/2.8 and f/5.6 at any focal length. It is better at f/2.8 than the old one at f/5.6. It is similar in sharpness as the DA35/2.8 and DA*50-135/2.8 at 50mm (f/2.8-f/5.6). The old one had a weak spot at 16mm and f/2.8, but not so with the new one. Even at 16mm it is similar in sharpness at f/2.8 and f/5.6.

Here is an image taken with 16mm and f/2.8. It is sharp in the bottom corners. The top corners show "some" vignetting.

Edit: The first version of the image I posted here had some vignetting. But Lightroom has now a proper profile for this lens and vignetting isn't really a problem any longer.
Forum Member

Registered: January, 2021
Location: Braunschweig
Posts: 91

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 22, 2021 Recommended | Price: $1,499.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: 100% sharp in all conditions
Cons: price
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 5    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K3II and K3 III   

I bought this lens for my K3 II - yes, not for the new K3 III.
Before that I installed the latest update for the K3 II, to be sure everything works fine.
As it arrived it was the biggest and heaviest lens of all. It's really in the range of a 24-70 Full Frame lens.
The look and feel - as already mentioned by first user experience - is the best of the best. It feels solid, with highest quality.
The zoom and the focus feels: there is nothing better in lens world.
There is NO - really NO lens/zoom creeping at all: I wear the camera with a peak design clip at my belt upside down. So the lens really is with all bumps and moving from my body in the down position.
I also have the old 16-50 which was very stiff... but after 1 hour of wearing it in this manner it was fully extended.
Not the new one!
But this also let you guess, that you need some torque force to zoom in and out. But it is a good, high Quality feeling.

The AF/MF switch is a little bit too sensitive. I never used it, but accidentally switched it. That never happens on the old one.

The image quality is impressive!
I loved my DA*55 1.4...But now, I don't know, if I will use it in the old way, when it was important to get a good Bokeh and I've to switch from the old SDM 16-50 to the special portrait lens.
This is not longer necessary: the new lens is extremely sharp wide open and produce a butter soft Bokeh (not so extreme well as the 55 @1.4 - but that's technically not possible as we know)
And more interesting : I can trust this lens!
When my camera shows green hexagon for "in focus".... I get a tack sharp picture to 100%. With the old one... let's say 60%....and not sharp at 2.8 in direct comparison.
Aberration : I must admit, that I don't care about distortion and vignetting so much.
My only critical look is to CAs. There are CA at the new lens, too. Much less compared to the old one. But there are. Also at the JPG which are corrected in the Camera. Until 5.6 in the extreme corner with light from the front through tree branches (for example).
But when you have big purple fringes on the old one... there are only some minor pixels at the new one.

All the other things: colors, tones, rendering... in my opinion : perfect! Nice skin tones, nice green trees and gras, nice blue skies.

The focus now proves (as written here somewhere else from me) that the old K3II AFC is not so bad! As for the other PLM lens (55-300) : the algorithm of the II is very capable, too. It now proof: the the limiting factor was a big part from the old and slow lenses.
Fast fast fast. Quite, quite quite.
When I focus on the eye with the outer AF point of the K3II, to get a nice composition of the picture with 2.8 : perfect and 100% sharp.

I'm now looking forward to mount it on the new III later.

Is it worth the price? In my opinion Yes!
It is the most used focal length.... than it should be the best lens! And this is the best lens you can get for this camera.


1 Year later: I change my rating for the Autofocus from 10 to 5 Yes it is still the fastest of all Pentax lenses together with the 55-300 PLM.
But I have massive problems with other AF fields that the center.

This is my second lens. Both had this problem on my new K3 III (also three copies of it later!). Accuracy and sharpness with center AF or center AF and recompose is still very very good.

But the Joystick on the K3 III is not usable @2.8 for outer AF Point.

So: I change the rating for Autofocus (I thought this topic doesn´t belong to the "sharpness")

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Antwerp, Belgium
Posts: 1,727

9 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 3, 2021 Recommended | Price: $1,499.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build, IQ
Cons: Price, size
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3 III   

Giving it a 9 score because of the size and weight of this lens, and partly because of the price, albeit a price that is in line with the lens' performance.

The build of this lens is impressive, in line with what we have come to expect from the DA* line since the DA*11-18, i.e. much better than the old SDM DA* line that debuted in 2007.

Handling is fine. On the K-3 III plus grip it balances nicely. Zoom is smooth (one barrel extending vs 2 on the SDM). On the K-3 III without grip the bottom is almost even with the bottom of the camera, which can provide a balanced hold resting on the extended palm of the left hand, for those who hold their camera in such a manner. But nothing will change the fact that it is a big heavy lens.

IQ is awesome, esp compared with the SDM DA*16-50, which was fine on the 10MP bodies of 2007, but no longer manages on >20MP bodies of the last few years. I used to avoid using that lens at its widest or with full open aperture. My first results from the PLM DA*16-50 confirm that this limitation will be in the past, and I will be able to get good results from it in all extremities of its specs.

There is indeed a slight drop in sharpness in the corners and some barrel distortion (with subtle moustache) at 16mm f/2.8, but I'm waiting to see the impact of lens corrections on this to evaluate its practical consequences. I am nevertheless confident that it will present no issues at normal full image viewing distance.

AF is quick and very silent. To really judge it, I would need much more in-the-field use however. Worst case that will be a few months away unfortunately...

Oh, and I love the bokeh. IMHO, it is the best I've seen in any zoom lens in this range.
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