Pentax 50-135 DA* f/2.8 Lens Review

Pentax 50-135 DA* f/2.8 Lens Review

This is my idea of the perfect portrait lens. That’s quite a statement, and I mean it. The focal length is spot on for the sensor size and with an f/2.8 construction throughout the zoom range this is an ideal lens to shoot portraits. I used this professional quality lens on a Pentax K200D and it was superb.

The lens design is simple on the outside with large focus and zoom rings plus an autofocus switch. The left hand seems to fall naturally around the lens on either of the active rings. The focus ring stays put when the lens auto focuses and if you want to override the focus manually, there is an instant pick up the moment the focus ring starts to rotate. I found the autofocus mechanism to be reasonably fast, very quiet and accurate.

10-17mm sample shot 1

I took this picture with natural light hand held at a 90mm lens setting, ISO 200, f/4 and at 1/125th second exposure.

There is no anti shake mechanism within the Pentax 50-135 DA* f/2.8 lens because it is located in the camera body. This makes perfect sense and the lens is lighter and of simpler optical construction as a result, and the adage “less is more” is certainly true here. The Pentax 50-135mm DA* is a wonderfully sharp lens and renders out of focus backgrounds beautifully when used at f/2.8 or f/4. The bokeh seemed to improve just beyond minimum focus and for mid length portraits it was wonderful. Another advantage of having a large maximum aperture portrait lens is you can use a lower ISO for a given shutter speed and this results in a better quality image in low light conditions. Don’t take the shutter speed too low whilst using this lens hand held because the high resolving power will show even the slightest blur. Although the in camera shake reduction can help with the wobblies it doesn’t stop subject movement.

This lens is designed for use on the Pentax *ist D series cameras and the image circle covers a sensor size of 23.5mm by 15.7mm. This makes the lens considerably smaller and much lighter than an equivalent f/2.8 optic designed for full frame cameras. The equivalent focal length in the 35mm format is 75mm to 202mm and this is a hotly contested zoom range at f/2.8. I expect this lens to be up there with the best available in comparison tests.

The Pentax 50-135mm DA* lens also sports the Pentax SP (super protect) coating that utilises nano-technology to repel dust and dirt and it certainly makes removing finger prints an easy task. The lens coating also serves to reduce light scatter in the lens that usually results in flare.

10-17mm sample shot 1

I took this picture with natural light hand held at a 55mm lens setting, I moved in closer and used the wide end of the lens to give the picture more intimacy. ISO 200, f/4 and at 1/90th second exposure.

This lens comes with a well designed hood that does the job of keeping extraneous light out of the lens perfectly. I noticed a little door or flap in the hood to facilitate polariser filter adjustment; this is a great addition to an already good lens hood that is reversible on the lens for easy storage. My advice is to always use this lens hood supplied because the pictures you shoot will have deeper, clearer shadows and more contrast as a result. The pictures I shot with this lens exhibited super contrast when I shot into the light, far more than I expected.

Best bits of the Pentax 50-135mm DA* Lens:

  • Excellent build quality
  • Light and compact for an f/2.8 tele zoom
  • Razor sharp images
  • Excellent image contrast
  • Internal zoom and focusing
  • Fast maximum aperture
  • Well designed lens hood
  • Dust and moisture resistance

Worst bits of the Pentax 50-135mm DA* Lens:

  • None

This is my Pentax portrait lens of choice and it would make the perfect accompaniment to the Pentax 16-50mm DA* f/2.8. I always recommend investing in good lenses. It is the lens that converts the three dimensional scene into a two dimensional image. The camera just records it. I can easily tell if a picture has been taken with a decent lens like this or a cheaper lens of equivalent focal length. Identifying what camera a picture was taken with is nowhere near as easy. This is the kind of lens that will elevate your photography to another level and you will feel motivated to shoot with it. It’s light enough to deserve a permanent place in your camera bag if not on your camera.

Pentax 50-135mm Rating:

 9/10 value
 9/10 build quality
 9/10 image quality
 9/10 handling

Overall:Overall 9 out of 10

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