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Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent build quality for a kit lens
  • Proper manual focus ring, non-rotating front element, quick-shift manual focus
  • High quality petal-type lens hood included in box
  • Generally consistent image quality

Conclusion - Cons

  • Falloff and distortion at 18mm wideangle
  • 'Soft focus' effect at 55mm F5.6 coupled with closer focus distances

Overall conclusion

The SMC DA 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 AL shows Pentax taking a refreshing approach to the kit lens concept, eschewing lightweight plastics and simplified construction in favour of a design which feels well-made and handles more like a real photographic tool than any of its competitors. From the metal lens mount to the proper manual focus ring and excellent lens hood, this 18-55mm exudes an aura of quality which is markedly lacking from other manufacturers’ offerings; and perhaps due to the luxury of not having to include aperture and focus motors or an image stabilisation unit into the lens, Pentax have managed to buck the trend and produce a lens which feels solid and is a joy to use. And it's not just the mechanical construction which is refreshingly different, the optical quality is also very respectable indeed.

Now whether any of this really matters or not to the majority of users is open to debate. I suspect most owners will rarely, if ever, choose to override the camera’s autofocus; and whilst arguably lens hoods should really be used at all times, again most users don’t understand their purpose and probably leave them in the box. But for anyone who cares a little about the craft of photography, Pentax’s approach is certainly to be commended.

Of course this is still a kit lens, and corners have had to be cut to keep cost down. It shows significant falloff at wideangle, and the performance at 55mm also lags behind the rest of the range. But overall it's a pretty good offering for its class, providing new dSLR owners with some very reasonable optics from the word go. It therefore gains our recommendation.

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Build quality 7.5
Ergonomics & handling 8
Features 7
Image quality 7.5
Value 8

Recommended

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Samples Gallery

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Pentax 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL Review Samples

15 images • Posted 28 January 2008 • View album
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Comments

Total comments: 2
oldnoob

I don't know what lens they gave you to test. but mine looks just like yours , has the same specks and designation, BUT has a plastic mount.

0 upvotes
felmarpesado

what you have is the DA L version. It has a plastic mount and doesn't have a quick-shift function, which the DA version has.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 2