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Pentax DA 16-45mm 1:4 ED/AL review

January 2008 | By Andy Westlake
Buy on From $430.49

Introduced way back in December 2003, the SMC DA 16-45mm F4.0 ED AL was Pentax’s first lens specifically designed for digital SLRs, featuring a reduced image circle compared to their existing 35mm lenses, and matched to the dimensions of the APS-C sensor. The design featured an Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass element and two aspherical elements, promising high quality imaging performance, and Pentax boasted of its compact size and light weight compared to a 35mm format lens with similar specification.

The 16-45mm was clearly aimed at supplementing 35mm users’ existing standard zooms which would lose their wideangle view on the digital sensor, and as such the rather modest 3x zoom ratio corresponds to a 24-70mm equivalent range, essentially covering the wide angle option at the expense of telephoto range. The F4 constant maximum aperture, while by no means remarkable, makes this lens a full stop faster than most comparable zooms at telephoto, whilst helping to keep the size, weight and cost to a reasonable level.

Although digital SLRs have advanced in leaps and bounds in the four years since its introduction, the 16-45mm is still going strong in Pentax's lens range, and indeed has only recently been supplanted by a 16-50mm F2.8 as their premium standard zoom. But in the meantime, it’s arguably been somewhat left behind by newer designs from other manufacturers, which tend to offer much longer zoom ranges as all-in-one ‘walkaround’ solutions. So the question to be answered is whether the 16-45mm is a dinosaur out of step with the modern age, or a golden oldie with much still to offer? Let’s find out.

Headline features

  • 24-68mm equivalent focal length range
  • F4 constant maximum aperture 
  • 'Quick shift' manual focus
  • KA mount for Pentax  APS-C dSLRS only

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the focal length range from wide to telephoto:

16mm (24mm equivalent) 45mm (68mm equivalent)

Pentax DA 16-45mm 1:4 ED/AL specifications

Street price • US: $410
• UK: £310
Date introduced December 2003
Maximum format size APS-C
Focal length 16-45mm
35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C) 24-68mm
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 83°- 35°
Maximum aperture F4
Minimum aperture F22
Lens Construction • 13 elements/10 groups
• 1 ED glass element
• 2 aspherical elements
Number of diaphragm blades 8
Minimum focus 0.28m
Maximum magnification 0.25x at 45mm
AF motor type • ‘Screw drive’ from camera body
• ‘Quick Shift’ manual focus
Focus method Extending front element
Image stabilization No
Filter thread • 67mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories • Front and rear caps
• Petal-type lens hood PH-RBL 67mm
Weight 356 g (12.9 oz)
Dimensions 72mm diameter x 92mm length
(2.8 x 3.6 in)
Lens Mount Pentax KA

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

Foreword / notes

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read some of our Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / recommendation / ratings are based on the opinion of the author, we recommend that you read the entire review before making any decision. Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of them, click to display a larger image in a new window.

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From my experience, the lens performs very well at the wide angle. I do know, however, that the users are divided, with some copies being excellent and others just mildly better than the kit lens.