Pentax unveils its new ‘star’ 16-50mm f/2.8 standard zoom

(Image credit: Pentax)

While the rest of the world goes mirrorless, Pentax plugs on with its DSLRs, and the new HD PENTAX-DA★16-50mmF2.8ED PLM AW shows that it really does mean business.

It’s an APS-C standard zoom that would pair up very well with the new Pentax K-3 Mark III DSLR, the company’s new flagship APS-C camera.

The focal length of this new lens corresponds to 24-75mm in full frame terms, so it’s the APS-C equivalent of the 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses loved by pros on full frame cameras.

Pentax says its new lens boasts “Exceptional resolving power assured by uncompromising optical design”. It uses one ED element, one anomalous dispersion element and two ED aspherical glass elements to deliver resolving power and contrast right to the edges of the frame and to control chromatic aberration.

Pentax’s HD coating is designed to offer a high level of hardness and durability, with 50% less reflectance than conventional multi-coatings, also suppressing ghost images and flare.

HD PENTAX-DA★16-50mmF2.8ED PLM AW specifications

(Image credit: Pentax)

Focal Length: 16-50mm (24.5-76.5mm in 35mm format)
Maximum Aperture: F2.8
Minimum Aperture: F22
Lens Construction: 16 elements in 10 groups
Angle of View (Diagonal): 83-31.5°
Minimum Focusing Distance: 0.3m (0.98ft.)
Maximum Magnification: 0.24x
Filter Diameter: 77mm
Diaphragm Control: Electromagnetic diaphragm
Diaphragm Blades: 9 (Rounded)
Maximum Diameter x Length: 84mm x 117mm
Weight: 712g

(Image credit: Pentax)

Where it fits into the Pentax lens range

Pentax does make cheaper variable-aperture standard zoom lenses for its APS-C DSLRs, but this is a premium, professional quality lens aimed at more advanced and discerning users.

There is already an smc PENTAX-DA★16-50mmF2.8ED AL[IF] SDM in the Pentax lens range, but this new lens offers a considerable improvement in image quality, especially edge sharpness and chromatic aberration control.

The ‘PLM’ in the name stands for ‘Pulse Motor’, a new AF actuator that is 1.5x to 2.2x. faster than the previous 16-50mm, with more precise manual focus control too.

This lens is designed specifically for Pentax's APS-C cameras, not the full frame Pentax K-1 Mark II – that has its own range of lenses.

The new HD PENTAX-DA★16-50mmF2.8ED PLM AW will go on sale in August for $1,399.95 / £1,499.99.

Read more:

Best Pentax lenses
Best Pentax cameras
Best DSLRs
Best cameras for enthusiasts

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Rod Lawton

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at