Pentax SMC-DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] WR - Review / Lens Test - Sample Images & Verdict
Lens Reviews - Pentax

Sample Images

Here're some RAW-converted images taken with the Pentax K-5.

Click on a thumbnail to view the original file (opens in a separate window). Please note that the originals are FULL SIZE samples (=several megabytes) thus requiring a significant amount of bandwidth so please take care of the limited resources here.

Make PENTAX
Model PENTAX K-5
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 115.0mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure 1/400s
Make PENTAX
Model PENTAX K-5
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 100.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/400s
Make PENTAX
Model PENTAX K-5
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 31.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/500s
Make PENTAX
Model PENTAX K-5
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 53.0mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure 1/1250s
Make PENTAX
Model PENTAX K-5
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 28.0mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure 1/400s
Make PENTAX
Model PENTAX K-5
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 40.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/320s
Make PENTAX
Model PENTAX K-5
ISO Speed 200
Focal Length 18.0mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure 1/1000s

Verdict

We were quite enthusiastic about the Pentax DA-SMC 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] WR at the time we received it. Regarding the high pricing of the lens we were expecting a very good performance throughout its broad zoom range and all that in a very compact, high quality body. Unfortunately the testing reality revealed a mediocre optical performance at best. A lens with a 7.5x zoom ratio may be quite ambitious but other manufacturers managed to design pretty good lenses with an even more extreme range. The Pentax lens is actually very good to even excellent in the image center but the borders/corners suffer from massive field curvature at the wide end and plain sofness at tele settings. This is certainly no issue for portraits and such but you don't really want use this lens for architecture or landscape photography here. This is also in so far surprising because the (cheaper) Pentax SMC-DA 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 (a Tamron design) was actually very usable here. The secondary characteristics (distortions, vignetting, CAs) are about class-average. A very positive aspect is the build quality of the lens - the lens body is based on tightly assembled, high quality materials and the weather sealing is a quite unique selling point. The new DC AF motor may not be as fast as Pentax' SDM but it's quite fast and comparatively quiet. The biggest problem of the lens is its pricing which is simply not in line with the optical performance. Better consider the Pentax DA-SMC 17-70mm f/4 SDM instead which is a far better lens.

Just to mention again - we couldn't believe the rather poor performance so we asked the local Pentax service in Hamburg/Germany for an assessment of the situation. Result: the lens is within factory specifications.

Optical Quality:    
Mechanical Quality:
Price/Performance:
      
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