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Lens review

Pentax smc DA 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II

16 October 2009
Szymon Starczewski

3. Build quality

The new „kit lens” and its older version in appearance are practically impossible to distinguish from each other, which can be seen very clearly in the picture below. Additionally, we encourage you to have a look at the comparison between both instruments and also between them and other “kit lenses” from Canon and Nikon; it can be find here. The chart confirms our observations – the new lens has exactly the same physical dimensions and is only 5 grams lighter than its predecessor.

Pentax smc DA 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II - Build quality

Pentax smc DA 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II - Build quality

When we become more incisive, we can find out that the new kit’s parameters are slightly better, especially the distance scale, which starts as soon as from 0.25 m, not from 0.34 m as it was previously the case.

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It is all the more interesting as the improvement of the parameters and expected better optical properties of the new lens were reached by...reducing the number of optical elements. The new Pentax consists of 11 elements in 8 groups ; its predecessor had 12 elements in 9 groups. The new model, though, includes new aspherical elements and additional SP (Super Protect) coatings on outside elements. The overall picture is complemented by a 6 diaphragm blades aperture, which can be closed down to f/22 or f/40, depending on focal length.

Pentax smc DA 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II - Build quality

As we mentioned before, the Pentax smc DA 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II is one of the best-made kit lenses, added as almost free of charge to a reflex camera. The lens barrel doesn’t offend your eyes with shoddy plastics, the bayonet mount is made of metal; the zoom and focus rings are both fully usable although the latter is a bit narrow. It is still much better, though, than in case of focus rings from Canon, Nikon or Sony “kit lenses”. In addition, the Pentax lens is equipped with a distance scale which its competitors lack too.

Pentax smc DA 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II - Build quality

The lens ends with a filter thread which is a 52mm, and does not rotate on focusing and/or zooming. The fact, that a petal-type lens hood is included in box we consider also an important feature. Apart from that, a newly constructed cap is easy to put on and off with the hood attached to the lens.

Pentax smc DA 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II - Build quality