It is hard to say what was the purpose of Pentax Corporation when they made a decision to develop smc Pentax-DA 16-45mm F/4 ED AL (unlikely that it was designed as an alternative to a 18-55/3.5-5.6 kit lens), but I can safely say that the lens produces a good impression. Being a standard zoom lens, it is very sharp at the entire focal range, has a compact and lightweight housing with good build quality and very fast and precise autofocus.
The lens is not perfect but its drawbacks are typical for all lenses with the same or similar field of view. I mean very strong distortion at focal length of 16 mm, strong vignetting at problematic combination of focal length of 16 mm and F/4 and strong lateral chromatic aberrations at the wide end. All these aberrations can be corrected during post-processing (but not without some loss of details in the corresponding areas of the image, of course).
On the other side, the lens has no significant advantages over smc Pentax-DA 18-55/3.5-5.6 AL WR: it has 2 additional mm of focal range at the widest end and constant speed 4 at the entire focal range. The main advantages of kit lens are wider focal range, just slightly worse image sharpness at the entire focal range and similar correction of optical aberrations, moreover, the kit lens is lighter, more comoact and weather-resistant. Both lenses rely on in-camera AF motor and support Quick-Shift Focus System.
In comparison with smc Pentax-DA 17-70/4 the lens almost has no advantages. Can we really talk about «advantages» in case of only 1 additional mm of focal length at the widest end, lighter housing and slightly smaller dimensions? smc Pentax-DA 17-70/4 has wider telephoto range, also shows excellent sharpness at the focal lengths of 17-40 mm and similar correction of optical aberrations, besides, it is equipped with fast and silent Supersonic Drive Motor. Both lenses support Quick-Shift Focus System and are not weather-resistant.
In comparison with smc Pentax-DA* 16-50/2.8 the only advantage of smc Pentax-DA 16-45/4 is… its affordable price (however, the lens can be only purchased in used condition because it is now discontinued). Actually these two lenses can’t be compared directly due their different categories (we are talking about fast pro grade reportage zoom lens and a slow consumer standard zoom lens).
The following table describes the basic features of the mentioned above lenses:
|Special elements||1 ASPH, 1 ED||2 ASPH, 1 ED||2 ASPH||3 ASPH, 2 ED|
|Super Protect coating||No||No||Front element||Front and rear elements|
|Minimum focusing distance, m||0.25||0.28||0.28||0.30|
|Material of the housing||HQ Plastic||HQ Plastic||HQ Plastic||HQ Plastic|
|Material of the mount||Metal||Metal||Metal||Metal|
|Maximum diameter, mm||69||72||75||84|
|Diameter of front filter, mm||52||67||67||77|
|MSRP, USD||0 (w/camera)||Discontinued||499.95||1049.95|
The smc Pentax-DA 16-45/4 is a pretty good companion for those who are into travel photography. Being a lens with useful focal range, it is capable of shooting of architecture and landscapes, however the final images should be post-processed for correction of optical aberrations. As for the interior photography without tripod, it is difficult with this lens due to its slow speed. The lens also does not produce impressive background blur at focal length of 45mm and F/4 therefore I recommend to get a fast prime lens for portrait photography or bokeh photography, fortunately the choice of such lenses in the Pentax lineup is wide enough, especially if you won’t limit yourself only with lenses which are now in production. The same advice goes for the low-light photography.
Author of the review and photos: Evgeny Artemov, email@example.com
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