Pentax SMC-DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 ED [IF] SDM - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Pentax

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published October 2007

Lens kindly provided by Jürgen Wulf!


The new Pentax SMC-DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 ED [IF] SDM is an urgently needed addition to the line-up - till its release the low-end DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED was the only current production tele zoom lens by Pentax. It is a dedicated APS-C lens with a field-of-view equivalent to 75-203mm on full format cameras so it is obviously meant as a revival of the classic 70-200mm f/2.8 medium tele zooms. The optical design is the result of a co-development with Tokina whereas the mechanical implementation is different.

The 50-135mm is a member of the professional grade DA* family and the build quality is on an accordingly high level thanks to quality materials and weather-sealing. Unlike Tokina Pentax decided not to implement a tripod collar - this a bit of a borderline approach but a viable one regarding the comparatively moderate weight (685g). The physical length of the lens remains constant regardless of the zoom or focusing action. The broad, rubberized zoom ring operates very smooth. Thanks to an internal focusing system (IF) the front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem. The Pentax Super Protect (SP) coating on the front element has been optimized to repel dust, water and grease.

The DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 features a new Supersonic Dynamic Motor (SDM) AF (*) although it also offers the old AF drive screw for legacy DSLR support. In terms of technology the Pentax SDM is pretty much comparable to Canon's USM or Nikon's SWM - ultrasonic motors operate near silent and usually a bit faster than conventional AF motors. That said the 50-135mm doesn't really live in a league of its own speed-wise - it's certainly fast enough though. Thanks to a Quick-Shift system manual focus override is instantly possible in Single-Shot AF mode once the focus has been achieved. The AF accuracy of the tested sample was spot on when approaching the focus point from longer focus distances, less so from closer distances.

(*) In order to take advantage of the SDM drive you need to upgrade a Pentax K10D to firmware v1.30.

Equiv. focal length75-202.5 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/4.2 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction18 elements in 14 groups inc. 3 ED elements
Number of aperture blades9
min. focus distance1 m (max. magnification ratio 1:5.9)
Dimensions77 x 136 mm
Weight685 g
Filter size67 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodpetal shaped, snap-on type (supplied)
Other featuresSDM (Supersonic Dynamic Motor) AF drive, weather sealing

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