Pentax smc DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR

All-purpose zoom lens for extreme adventures

Pentax smc DA 18-135mm

The Pentax smc DA 18-135mm is a zoom lens that covers a considerable range of focal lenghts (which is equivalent to a 27-207mm on the 35mm format), capable of adapting to various styles of photography, from landscape to sport. It’s the first Pentax device to be equipped with the DC Direct Current Autofocus technology, that guarantees a faster and more reliable focusing than the previous SDM (Ultrasonic Drive) technology. A valuable feature is the tropicalization, that makes this lens the perfect companion for the flagships DSLRs, such as the K-3 or K-5; in addition to the total resistance of the body to severe weather conditions, on the lens is also applied the SP Super Protect treatment, which prevents dust and grease to adhere to the surface.

Thanks to the round shape of the 7 aperture blades, it’s possible to get a very pleasing bokeh, making the lens capable of capturing close-ups with shallow depth of field, characterized by a natural out of focus blur.

My personal experience with this lens has been quite positive, I’ve used it both with my K-5 and my K-3 in a variety of situations and it never disappointed me: during the historical competition of “Yabusame” (the traditional japanese horse mounted archery) the flexible zoom range and the fast DC autofocus made me capture some nice pictures; the AF motor didn’t hesitate even when the horse was galloping straight toward me at full speed. The lens proved to be reliable also in the middle of winter in Japan, under a pouring rain, while shooting a landscape: the hood covered the front lens from the drops of water quite effectively and the many rubber seales prevented any seepage inside the barrel. Another peculiarity of this lens that I’ve really appreciated is the color rendition, especially with a high quality circular polarizer attached to it: I’ve rarely seen such a rich and deep color rendering and more than once I’ve been amazed by the vibrant tonalities of green and red; in some cases this zoom outperformed even the DA★ 50-135 f/2.8. Later, I’ve found a similar color rendition performances in the (widely underrated) HD DA 20-40mm f/2.8-4 Limited DC WR lens.

Coming to the negative sides of this lens, personally, I’ve found a couple of light shortcomings: the first one is the optical tendency of losing sharpness at the frame corners, while vignetting a bit too much, especially at the widest apertures; the situation anyway gets better stopping down of one or two EV. The second aspect that I consider “less than optimal” is the structure of the lens itself: it has double extending barrels, so when you zoom it becomes a bit too long. To say the truth this is a common feature for mainstream zoom lenses, but I think that after years of use it can be prone to some wobbling or creeping…

Concluding, the good image quality, together with the innovative technological features and the weatherproof capability, makes the Pentax smc DA 18-135mm a real swiss knife.

Color rendition Sharpness on frame corners
Fast DC autofocus motor Vignetting when wide open
Weather sealing Double barrels extending zoom
Useful zoom range
Pleasant bokeh


Some of my shots taken with the Pentax smc DA 18-135mm


Technical specifications

Series DA – Lens for APS-C
Focal lenght equivalence on 35mm 27.5-207mm
Maximum aperture value f/3.5-5.6
Minimum aperture value f/22-38
Number of diaphragm’s blades 7
Field of view 76-11.9° (with Pentax D-SLR)
Optical scheme 13 elements in 11 groups
Minimum focusing distance 0.4m
Maximum magnification value 0.24x
Filter diameter 62mm
Mount mechanism KAF3
Lens’ surface treatment SP – Super Protect
Weight 405g
Dimensions (lenght x diameter) 73mm x 76mm
Peculiarities Tropicalized lens, DC AF Drive – Direct Current, Quick Shift Focus

To know more about the Pentax smc DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR

  Bojidar Dimitrov

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