Pentax smc DA 8-55mm f/3.5 - 5.6 AL

Lightweight and small, with few frills

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Our Verdict

Remarkably compact, this Pentax lens is a real space-saver. There's some barrel distortion but almost no vignetting at wide angle. The optics are only at their sharpest around the middle of the zoom range


  • Compact and light


  • Loses sharpness at extremes
  • Barrel distortion

Small and light, the Pentax 18-55mm looks more like a standard 50mm prime lens than a zoom.

The filter size is refreshingly small at 52mm, although the lens is reasonably fast at f/3.5-5.6.

There are few frills and not a switch to be seen, but you can manually override the focus setting in Autofocus mode, using the focus ring behind the non-rotating front element.

Autofocus is a bit noisy but fast on end-to-end sweep, though hunting slows down its performance.

Optically, the Pentax fared well for ghosting and flare, making the most of its SMC (Super Multi-Coating) technology.

Sharpness proved good around the centre of the zoom range but dropped off at wide-angle and towards the telephoto end.