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Pentax-DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED WR Review

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I’ve dabbled into the Pentax / Ricoh world before, although in a limited capacity.


I first tried the Ricoh GR II, then messed around with the Pentax Q and finally landing on and currently still have a Ricoh GR III.


My interest into a proper Pentax DSLR was always there, but never really looked into it in earnest until recently, checking out the local camera store and seeing that they have a K-5, K-3 and K-30.

With an interchangeable lens camera, you need a lens. The options for lenses were not huge, but I did see a Pentax 18-135mm, so decided to start there.


Disclosure – images were post processed to my liking and in various styles. Some were processed from RAW and others may be out of camera JPG.




This is a small lens for the 7x superzoom range you get. It starts at f/3.5 and goes to f/5.6. It is relatively light weight as well. My used copy had a lens hood to go with it.


It is easy to find the zoom ring, rubberized and feels good in the hand. In the fall and winter rubberized lenses are great here in Ohio!

The manual focus ring is closes to the mount, also rubberized. It reminds me a lot of the other “do-it-all” zooms from the same era from Nikon.


The lens barrel does extend when zoomed.





Weather Sealed
Kudos for Pentax making this lens weather resistant! Pentax is legendary in the weather sealing game of photography so we can expect some great things out of this lens in that department to go along with the sealing on the camera bodies.




Image Quality
So here is what most want to know. This is not one of my favorite lenses in the sharpness department. In the center, it is decent, but as you start going out from the center, the sharpness starts falling off for me quickly, and is noticeable even at f/8. The edges also seem to be distorted more than I would have hoped for. It could be the copy of the lens that I have is not indicative of the whole of the lenses out there.


I will also be the first to admit that I am spoiled by the current batch of Nikon, Fuji and Olympus lenses. From kit to “Pro” lenses those companies have put out some really impressive glass.


Moving away from sharpness, the color and contrast of the lens is perfectly fine. No complaints there from me.




I do have a Pentax 40mm f/2.8 Limited and 70mm f/2.4 Limited lens coming and will compare those against this zoom. I just had positive memories of the Pentax Q and those lenses and the Ricoh GR III and was hoping for more of that same magic.


Images speak louder than any of my words, so please judge the results I’ve been able to get from this lens.


Let’s get realistic though – this is an 18-135mm lens, which gives us a field of view of 27mm through 202mm. That is quite the range and compromises need to be made to make a lens like this work.





Focusing is just as much the lens as it is the camera and its auto focus system. There appears to be the slightest of hesitation when initially acquiring focus. Could be the camera, could be the lens…will see if the other k-mount lenses react in the same way.


On a few occasions, the focus in AF-S did miss the target. Early on, I think this was more about me than the lens/camera combo…you know – trying to get used to a new system.


For static shots and street photography, the lens works decently well.



VR (Vibration Reduction Stabilization) / IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization)
Pentax K-3 has IBIS, so no VR is in this lens. Given that, I found the K-3 IBIS to be capable of working well with the full range of focal lengths on this lens.





Bottom Line


Straight up, I needed a lens to test the K-3 and this seemed to be the best of all the options that were available locally to me at the time.


Will this be a keeper lens for me? No, probably not. While the center sharpness is good enough, the lack of clarity and sharpness from mid frame to edge is a deal breaker.


Again, please take this review with the stipulation that I may have a decentered, dud lens that is not realistic to the actuality of the other copies out there. If you are looking for major convenience, weather sealing and only shoot at f/8 or smaller apertures and post your pictures on the internet at web sizes…this may be something to consider…but for any other purposes, I’d steer someone asking into a direction of the Limited primes or the DA* f/2.8 zooms (16-50 and the 50-135). One the used market they are not outrageously priced and I’ve seen them at a lot of online retailers and eBay shops.


Bottom Line = Not Really Recommend.







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See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics


I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

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