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Pentax-DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR

How it has impacted my photography · 01-13-2013 · By PF Staff in Influential Photo Gear

I got my first DSLR-a Pentax-only four years ago. To make it work for me, I bought gear and I sought help from friends, from blogs and from forums like this one. Eventually, a very simple lens taught me to use my camera. That lens was the smc PENTAX DA 50-200mm F4-5.6. I had the WR model. I feel this is the thing that has had the biggest positive influence on my photography.

The smc PENTAX DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR is a medium telephoto zoom lens. It has Pentax's Quick-Shift Focusing System, ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass, and is available with or without weather sealing. It is just 3.1 inches (79.5mm) in length (when not zoomed) and weighs only 10.1 oz (285g). The retail price for the WR model is around $250 and the non-WR versions (the same lens optically) are less than half of that used.

This lens covers a wide range, is easy to own and takes pretty nice photos. However, is not exceptional. The 50-200mm is actually a little hard to use and that is how it helped me.

Prior to owning the 50-200 all my lenses were the constant-aperture type and I always used the Av mode, or sometimes, a Scene mode. However, the 50-200 is very picky about ISO, shutter-speed and aperture combinations and the camera's convenience modes never got it right. I was making only dark, grainy or blurry photos with this lens so I was planning to sell it.  However, I found, accidentally, that if I could get the right configuration for a setting, photos in that setting could be really great with the 50-200. This was the motivation I needed to really learn about my camera: that is to learn to set up shots without the camera's help. I start using my camera in the M mode setting almost exclusively. Eventually I was using fewer and fewer test shots, and had start to use M mode with other lenses as well. My camera was no longer just a larger point-and-shoot; it actually felt small considering all the options it held.

Here are some photos taken with the lens. The point of this article is not the quality of the photos this lens can make, but that one can make photos with this lens at all. So these that I have selected are simply pointing out some of the highlights of the lens, that can be brought out through the use of camera settings. I chose photos I took of moving subjects in low light settings, a tricky thing with this lens. The drummer, for instance, was playing on a parade float on a cloudy day:

200mm ISO 200 f/8 1/350 sec
95mmISO 400 f/6.7 1/180th sec
137.5mm ISO 1600 f/6.7 1/125th sec
105mm ISO 200 f/4.5 1/250th

I used to think "a starter lens" meant: "a cheap lens". However, I now feel a Pentax "starter" lens is just that: a lens to get us started, to force us to work, and to teach us.  I no longer own this lens. However, I doubt that I would have become comfortable using the features of a DSLR had I not tried the Pentax DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED WR!

- jays0n

PF Staff's avatar
About the author: Various writers regularly contribute articles to the Pentax Forums homepage blog. More recent articles are published under each author's forum username. We hope you enjoy our guides and news coverage!

Tags: lens, photos, camera, pentax, wr, iso, 50-200mm, mode

More Posts in Influential Photo Gear | More Posts by PF Staff

Next Story: The Inspirational Pentax K10D

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KFrog [Delete] Jan 14th, 2013 3:58PM

I like the drummer photo. Got some nice bokeh there to make the drummer and small tom-tom really pop. Well done.

jays0n [Delete] Jan 13th, 2013 7:35PM

Thanks @Chatchops. @Piscator, that is correct, it is the K200D. Actually at this resolution it is not bad, and that camera is okay at high ISO, but there definitely was noise. I now use a K100D Super and that is much much better with high ISO. A KX is also 100 times better.

Chatchops [Delete] Jan 13th, 2013 6:57PM

@Piscator the EXIF data shows K200D as camera

Piscator [Delete] Jan 13th, 2013 6:33PM

I notice the yo-yo picture is at ISO 1600--Might I ask what body you used? I ask because, at least at this resolution, I detect little in the way of noise.

jays0n [Delete] Jan 13th, 2013 6:07PM

Thanks guys for your comments on my article, and on the photos I included. This lens always surprised me and I always recommend it to new Pentax users. I have a friend, that I got into Pentax recently, using this lens now. I hope it does him some good.

Thanks again


richardwong [Delete] Jan 13th, 2013 5:35PM

Nice article and insight about the beginnings of a new photographer and the experience gained using this lens. I appreciate you showing what can be done in these photos.

raphtze [Delete] Jan 13th, 2013 12:51PM

fantastic captures!! it's all about who is behind the viewfinder: the photographer!

mattt [Delete] Jan 13th, 2013 10:03AM

I like this piece of kit for its pocketable size - you've made some nice photos, I particularly like the yo-yo. I agree that photos made with this lens benefit from careful composition, and attention to exposure settings.

ronniemac [Delete] Jan 13th, 2013 9:59AM

Good point, a very helpful article.

tessfully [Delete] Jan 13th, 2013 9:17AM

I enjoyed reading your blog, and I enjoyed the unique slant your took with your article.