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The SMC Pentax-DA 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 AL, to give it its full name, is Pentax’s take on the ubiquitous ‘kit lens’ concept, designed to offer a functional lens to sell with their SLR bodies at the lowest possible price. And while most of the other manufacturers have taken the opportunity to explore how to build a lens as simply as possible, and using as much plastic as they can get away with, Pentax have taken a different approach.

They have attempted to produce an optic which feels well-made and offers some genuinely desirable features for serious photographers, including a non-rotating front element for filter users, and a fully usable manual focus option. This approach will no doubt appeal to the more knowledgeable buyer, but the big question must be whether the optics live up the apparent aspirations of the lens, or instead corners have been cut at the expense of showroom appeal.

UPDATE: During the final preparation of this review, Pentax announced an new 'mark II' version of this lens to coincide with the launch of the K20D, and presumably tweaked to take better advantage of the 14Mp sensor. We hope to get our hands on the new lens, to see exactly what improvements Pentax have managed to make.

Headline features

  • 27-83mm equivalent focal length range 
  • 'Quick shift' manual focus system
  • KA mount for Pentax  APS-C dSLRS only

Angle of view

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

18mm (27mm equivalent) 55mm (83mm equivalent)

Pentax DA 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 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

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area