Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II Lens for Pentax and Samsung Digital SLR Cameras
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on May 7, 2008
I'm a former pro photographer for a newspaper & now freelance my skills for special events & corporate needs. The original kit lens was quite good for general use and serves well for newspaper shots, but not up to pro standards for high resolution work. Enter the AL II designed for the newly introduced high resolution Pentax K20D:

The new AL II has improved the resolution across the entire focal range, from corner to corner. Border softening is dramatically reduced, and the original lens vignetting is all but eliminated. Pentax has made a very good kit lens noticably better.
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on May 17, 2008
This lense is a nice improvement over the original 18-55MM. You have about a 1 F-stop change in light transmission. The edges are much clearer. This is the best kit lense by far compared to any competitor.
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on May 21, 2009
I got the Pentax K2000 Camera that comes with the cheap version of the Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL. I say cheap because it uses the same glass but with a cheaper construction. Plastic mount, no lens hood and no "Quick-Shift Focus System".

Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II upgrades in the following areas:

1) Better overall construction, metal mount
2) Hood is included
3) "Quick-Shift Focus System" and focus measurements on the focus ring
4) Less Vignetting compared to Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL
5) Sharper on center and boders compared to the Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL on my Pentax K2000

In this version II of the lens it is very similar to the old Pentax 16-45mm f/4.0 SMC PDA ED AL lens in image quality.

Problems is still has

1) Has the very same Distortions as the Pentax DA L 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL common to zoom lenses.
2) Same speed (f/ stops) across the lens
3) Same 18 - 55mm short zoom range

So the question becomes, is it worth the money? I got it for $90.00 so to me it was a decent price and a decent upgrade.

The question you have to ask yourself if weather you would be better served by some of the new standard zoom lenses that go from 18-200 mm and have the same lens speed when at the same focal length as the Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II. They will cost more, be heavier but could do dual duty as a zoom lens in adition to standard lens.

I gave it only 4 stars because the larger 3.5 aperture is still too small for low light pictures and the zoom range too short to get really close to anything you would consider far away.

In the end I find the Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II a good buy. It is small, light and is nice to walk around. What it does it does well, it just might not do enough for some.

Update: After careful comparison between the Pentax DA L 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL and Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II Lens the difference between to two seems bigger.

at 18mm F/3.5: The Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II has more contrast, sharpness, especially on the corners, but it is still soft. At F/5.6 both lenses improve in sharpness but the Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II stays ahead. At F/8 both are almost equally sharp at center but the The Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II still has sharper corners. The The Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II clearly has less Vignetting at all apertures at 18mm.

at 35mm F/4.5: The Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II has more contrast, sharpness, especially on the corners. At F/5.6 both lenses improve in sharpness but the Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II stays ahead. At F/8 the The Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II is almost in a virtual tie with the Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL, the closest I find both lenses to each other and the sweet spot for both lenses. The The Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II clearly has less Vignetting at F/4.5-6.3 apertures at 35mm.

at 55mm F/5.6.5: The Pentax L DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL is soft. On the other hand the the Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II is sharper and has a nicer bokeh (out-of-focus blur). At F/8 the The Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II clearly has a sharper and brighter image. The The Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II clearly has less corner Vignetting at all apertures at 55mm.

From my testing it is clear the Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II is the superior lens.
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on June 13, 2008
A noticeable improvement over the first edition of this lens. Lightweight and small and the optics stand up to the much higher priced lenses. I recommend this lens to anyone interested in a great lightweight walk-around zoom.
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on October 12, 2009
I got this lens in a kit w/ a K20D body (excellent overall camera). After looking at the positive reviews here I had to do a double-take, to see if we were talking about the same lens (we were) and the next question was, if, as some reviewers noted, this is an improvement over a previous model, I don't think I'd want to use the original.

Don't get me wrong, the lens is not bad. Construction quality is good and it works well with the K20D. The biggest problem I have with it is at short focal distances 18-24mm I can clearly see (and I am not a pro by any stretch of the definition) the problems with image quality:

1) Distortion (images start looking fish-eyed)
2) Vignetting
3) Chromatic aberration

Now, there are two pieces of good news: (1) these effects almost completely disappear at 24mm and up (2) at shorter focal distances raw processing software can deal with these problems to some extent (I use Bibble, YMMV). At 24+mm this lense is EXCELLENT and overall a good value. So the drawback is that now any time I take a picture with it I have to weigh the advantage of a wider angle vs. the guaranteed distortion and other problems I will have to deal with in post-processing.
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on September 11, 2008
Don't even hesitate to buy this lens. It is as sharp in my tests as Super Takumar primes as well as East German Carl Zeiss screw mount primes.
Love the color rendition and contrast this lens produces. Even if your wallet is overflowing with cash, the lightweight flexibility and insanely low price makes it want to travel without fear of loss, damage, or cramping your style. Can't comment on the original version, but many tend to equate more $$ = better pictures. All I can say is: no lens at this price (99.00) by any manufacturer beats this one for value for the $$.
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on December 4, 2009
I have read lots of reviews of this lens and most of the time it is referred to as a "kit" lens. Originally that just meant that it was the lens that came with the camera body but I think it has become unofficial code for "cheap" or "the one the amateurs use." If that is true, than this is no "kit" lens. It is a great lens that happens to come in the box when you buy some bodies (K200D in my case). This is a small, light lens with a good range for basic shooting - portrait, landscape and close-ups. Wide open you can get lots of horizon. It is my "go to" lens for sunsets. At 55mm it can get close-ups of flowers, eyes, etc. The addition of the Pentax "quick shift" focus override lets an experienced photographer do all kinds of cool things with out of focus areas or for getting the in focus area somewhere outside of the normal focus points.

There is a little drop off in IQ at 55mm. It is tack sharp at 40mm and f/8. If you understand the limitations you can get wonderful pictures.

This lens has earned a permanent place in my bag because of its extreme utility. If I am in a completely unknown shooting environment, I choose either this or my other "kit" lens - Pentax DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED Lens for Pentax and Samsung DSLR Cameras

I dont understand why people knock this lens for being part of a kit. My only improvement would be a faster version. Give me the exact same lens in a f/2.8 or better for a reasonable price and I am there. Tamron A16 - Zoom lens - 17 mm - 50 mm - f/2.8 XR Di II - Pentax K
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on February 7, 2010
This is the "kit lens" that came with my Pentax k200d. I have had the camera and lens for 18 months now and have taken thousands of pictures. I added two more lenses, a Pentax 50 mm, 1.4 and the 50-200 mm Pentax; yet the it lens it the one I rely on on. Easily, 90% of my photos are taken with it. Even inn low light it comes through. It is a real work horse. Distortion is minimal and not noticeable in the vast majority of photos, mostly portraits, snapshots, and landscapes. When I get serious, I turn to the very fast and fine 50 mm, but for convenience, the little zoom is the one I go with.
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on March 6, 2009
I was looking for a decent wide angle lens and had read about the AL I version of this lens. Upon researching more I figured out this version (AL II) of the 18-55 lens doesn't have the issues of previous 18-55 AL I. I was about to buy a Pentax SMC A 28mm or a manual Pentax 28 mm lens. The 18-55 AL II lens has very low distortion,practically no PF and the "light fall off at the edges" problems with 18-55 AL I have been fixed.
I waited nearly 1 month for the right price on Amazon and boy did I get a deal...at only USD 69.99 a brand new copy of this lens is just the perfect icing on the cake!!
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on August 29, 2014
Very, VERY poorly shipped in a padded envelope. Inside the envelope was the original retail box which was not in a reenforced shipping box. The retail box was so smashed and ripped that it could not be taped together or repaired. Don't know why the seller would save the box (obviously for the same reasons I would have liked to have it) and then risk having it, and possibly the lens, damaged in transit. NOT IMPRESSED. Very little respect for private property by the seller.

As far as the lens goes, I have only had enough time to verify that it works on my DSLR and appears not to have been damaged in transit. Time will tell. Fortunately I have found that Pentax does a good job of producing rugged and long lasting merchandise.
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