Monday, October 01, 2007

The Pentax SMC-DA 18-250mm Zoom Lens

One surprise Pentax had up its sleeve is a lens that wasn't on the lens road map. Today, Pentax announced the new SMC-DA 18-250 F3.5-6.3 ED AL(IF) lens that will work with all Pentax DSLRs. That's a 28mm to 383mm equivalent in 35mm. It's a small little package with a big 14X zoom range, 16 lens elements, 7 aperture blades, and a 62mm filter diameter. Recommended retail price is $499. (Update: 1001NoisyCameras has clued us in that Pentax Japan says the lens will be shipping in late October and that they're making about 6,000 per month)

The SMC-DA 18-250mm

All-purpose superzooms have been getting smaller and smaller, and the current trend is for IF (internal focus mechanism) lenses that are under 1lb in weight and that have a terrific APS-C zoom range. It's true that the compromise is for softer corners and more distortion, but the small lens extension size means that there's less flash vignetting and the light weight means it's a good tourist lens. Tamron already has its 18mm-250mm lens on the market for about $499 (see the review at PopPhoto), but this new Pentax version boasts the SMC coating Pentax is famous for, and it doesn't need the Tamron's Manual/Autofocus switch (because Pentax has that on the camera body). Among the nice little design touches is the zoom lock clasp that features ribbing (pictured right). It comes with a petal lens hood similar to the DA 18-55.

Now you might be asking, what's a better budget zoom solution? Two lenses like the DA 18-55 and the DA 50-200, which have less distortion but collectively weigh more, or the superzoom DA 18-250? Well, it depends. If you want less wide angle distortion in landscape photos, less vignetting, and better flare reduction, you'll definitely want the pair of lenses. If you're planning on traveling super light, you'll just want the one lens, which you'll never have to change and risk getting dust in your camera, and it's that premium of design that you're paying extra for. You can just leave it on all the time. So, it boils down to what you're willing to put up with. Me, I'd take all three.

Lens Mount: PENTAX KAF2
Lens Construction: 16 elements, 13 groups
Angle of View: 76-6.5°
Diaphragm: Fully Automatic
Minimum Aperture: f/22-f/45
Number of Aperture Blades: 7
Metering System: TTL Open Aperture Metering
Minimum Focus Distance: 1.48’ (0.45m), or about 18"
Filter Diameter: 62mm
Maximum Magnification: 0.28x
Maximum Diameter: 3.0” (75mm)
Minimum Length: 3.4” (85.5mm)
Weight (w/o hood): 16.0 oz (455g)
Hood: PH-RBB 62mm


John said...

This could potentially be a very good lens, especially for people who want convenience. I really liked the Tamron ultra-zooms I used to sell back at the old camera shop I worked at, and I'll bet that with Pentax coatings and quality control, this lens will be a winner. I'll also bet it will help drive more dSLR sales for Pentax, now that soccer moms won't have to carry around two lenses. Convenience is the name of the game for consumers like that.

If Pentax bundles this lens with the K100D, they'll have a big hit on their hands.

Matthew Miller said...

I guess my concern is that this isn't just a surprise that wasn't on the roadmap. I'm a little worried that Hoya has decided to go off in a different route entirely.

Matthew Miller said...

On the other hand, I'm glad to see that they're announcing stuff at all right now. Hopefully this is the build-up to more exciting announcements as the week progresses.

Anonymous said...

Um, this has been pretty well established as a rebadged tamron 18-250 (which I have, and love), with the addition of the SMC coating.

I figure it's completely manufactured by tamron, which is why they can get it out so quickly.

No SDM, and there's absoltely no mention of quick-shift focus (which the tamron doesn't have).

Good to see this, it's a good thing and will help pentax compete in the entry level. Shouldn't slow down the real pentax lenses (the DA60-250 etc).

Anonymous said...

Nothing original about this superzoom. Would I buy it? thanks.

Ken said...

This lens could be slightly superior to its Tamron counterpart; firstly because with the SMC glass it will have better light transmission and (usually for Pentax lenses anyway) nicer colour, and secondly I think they will incorporate the AF automatic clutch mechanism as has been done for all the DA series lenses.

Pentax specifically says in their brochures that the quick-shift focus is a feature of the DA series anyway.

Anonymous said...

I have decided to buy the Pentax k100d super.
Now i'm trying to decide if i should go for the smc-da 18-250mm or the pentax lenskit wich contains the smc-da 18-55mm & the smc 50-200mm.

What should i do?

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous considering choices:

Consider also the incredibly good (and good value):

Pentax SMC-DA 16-45mm f/4 ED AL

There used to be a camera kit with that lens and the (non-super) body. It was cheaper to get that kit and buy the 50-200mm separately.

This is also a good approach if money is tight enough that you need to take it in steps. Or even if you have plenty of cash that frees you to get the body and one lens, and wait for the much anticipated 60-250mm due out in the next month or two.

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