Pentax DA 18-55mm AL Performance, Specification Review

The SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 AL, to give it its full name, is Pentax’s take on the popular ‘kit lens’ idea, designed to offer an operating lens to offer with their SLR systems at the best price. And while most of the other producers have taken the chance to discover developing a lens as simply as possible, and using as much nasty as they can get away with, Pentax have taken a different strategy.

Pentax DA 18-55mm
Pentax DA 18-55mm

They have tried to provide an optic which seems well-made and provides some truly suitable functions for serious photography lovers, such as a non-rotating front factor for narrow customers, and a completely useful guide concentrate option. This strategy will no doubt entice the more experienced customer, but the big question must be whether the optics live up the obvious ambitions of the lens, or instead sides have been cut at the cost of shop attraction.

UPDATE: During the ultimate planning of this evaluation, Pentax declared an new ‘mark II’ edition of this lens to match with the release of the K20D, and presumably improved to take better advantage of the 14Mp indicator. We desire to get our practical the new lens, to see exactly what developments Pentax have were able to make.

Key Features

  • 27-83mm comparative central duration range
  • ‘Quick shift’ guide concentrate system
  • KA install for Pentax APS-C dSLRS only

Pentax DA 18-55mm AL Design

The most stunning feature of the Pentax 18-55mm, in contrast to its counterparts from other producers, is a much greater impact excellent to the development. Despite with a weight of just 225g, it contrives to feel more like a mid-range lens than a budget kit zoom capability, with a steel install and utilisation excellent plastic materials for both the lens gun barrel and the zoom capability and concentrate jewelry.

Pentax DA 18-55mm Body
Pentax DA 18-55mm Body

Indeed the guide concentrate band easily victories the award for being the best in its class; it features a long toss and a distance range, and the front factor does not move on concentrating. Finishing the program is the best bonnet offered any kit lens. Overall, this seems like a product which has been designed by photography lovers, not accounting firms.

Pentax DA 18-55mm AL Images Quality


This lens is at is best at wideangle (at 18mm it suits the larger 16-45mm at 20mm), but somewhat unsociable at telephoto. As might be thought, efficiency enhances on avoiding the lens down a bit, and is often best at F8-F11, before beginning of diffraction. As regular F22 and more compact should usually be ignored, and don’t even think about avoiding down to F40 at 55mm; the outcomes create us wonder why Pentax even hassle providing this aperture.

Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic aberration is overall quite well controlled; as regular it’s at its most severe in the 18-24mm area, where the overlay of nowhere and red collections indicates visually-intrusive green/magenta fringing. However the scenario enhances at more time central measures, and CA is all but unseen at Negatives and more time.


We consider falloff to begin becoming obvious when the area lighting drops to more than 1 quit below the center. Falloff is fairly noticeable at 18mm, perhaps showing the part of under-design to the small-diameter front side factor. We evaluate a more 1.3 prevents begin up, which gradually but continuously reduces with avoiding down all the way to F11. The scenario enhances at 24mm, and 1 quit extensive open; uncommonly however we also see some vignetting sneaking begin up at the telephoto end. Overall this is probably the 18-55mm’s the most fragile factor.


As regular distortions is rather noticeable at wideangle, with 1.4% gun barrel at 18mm. This changes to pincushion beyond 24mm, attaining an optimum at 55mm of -0.86%. This is more or less regular efficiency for a kit lens.

Specific picture top quality issues

Overall this lens is a very consistent entertainer in the field, and searching for faults in its performance feels a little bit churlish. Especially it seems much better than most kit contacts at managing surface, presumably due to excellent top quality internal construction, and helped in no small part by the well-designed bonnet.

‘Soft Concentrate Macro’ at 55mm

This lens’s only minor Achilles’ high heel in conditions of picture quality is a unique smooth start up at 55mm, with the lens set to smaller focus ranges. Officially this is due to under-correction for rounded aberration, which leads to a attribute soft-focus, a little bit ‘dreamy’ feel to the pictures, with features ‘smearing’ into dark areas. It’s not uncommon to see this type of impact in a lens of this type at near focus ranges – both the Cannon 18-55 IS and the Pentax 16-45mm do something identical – but the Pentax 18-55mm reveals it to an uncommonly high level. Most importantly a small smooth focus impact start up at 55mm might even provide some benefits; it can give a perfect smooth to head and shoulder area pictures, combined with a more inviting qualifications cloud. Unfortunately it does rather ruin the lens’s closeup efficiency at broader apertures, unless you like a smooth focus impact to your macro photos. Having said that, it can be basically removed by avoiding down to F8, so is easy enough to work around.

Pentax DA 18-55mm Images Quality
Pentax DA 18-55mm Images Quality


Autofocus is motivated by a screw-drive system from you body system, so AF rate, disturbance and precision is essentially depending on you used. On our K10D analyze body system, we found concentrating to be generally fast and precise under most circumstances, although with a certain propensity to battle a bit in low light, especially at the telephoto end with its slowly highest possible aperture of F5.6.

Pentax DA 18-55mm Images Quality
Pentax DA 18-55mm Images Quality

Pentax DA 18-55mm AL Specifications

Street price • US: $110
• UK: £180
Date introduced September 2004
Maximum format size APS-C
Focal length 18-55mm
35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C) 27-83mm
Diagonal angle of view (APS-C) 76°- 32°
Maximum aperture F3.5-5.6
Minimum aperture F22-38
Lens Construction • 12 elements/ 9 groups
• 1 Aspherical element
Number of diaphragm blades 6
Minimum focus 0.25m
Maximum magnification 0.34x at 55mm
AF motor type • ‘Screw drive’ from camera body
• ‘Quick Shift’ manual focus
Focus method Extending front element
Image stabilisation No
Filter thread • 52mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories • Front and rear caps
• Petal-type lens hood PH-RBA 52mm
Weight 225 g (7.9 oz)
Dimensions 68mm diameter x 67.5mm length
(2.7 x 2.7 in)
Lens Mount Pentax KA