HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE Announced

New retractable telephoto lens with upgraded silent AF

By PF Staff in Pentax Announcements on Jun 8, 2016
HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE Announced

Today the HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE joins the Pentax lens lineup as a compact, weather-sealed APS-C telephoto zoom lens featuring a retractable barrel design.  This lens also debuts PLM (Pulse Motor) autofocus technology and an electromagnetic aperture diaphragm to facilitate smooth focusing and exposure adjustments during video recording.  The recently-launched Pentax K-70 has been designed to support these enhancements; older Pentax bodies including the K-S2, K-S1, K-3 II, and K-1 will also be compatible following a firmware update.

Since the K-70 debuts hybrid live view/video AF featuring phase detection points, this lens really is all about fast AF performance, especially for video.  This is an area in which the performance of previous Pentax bodies had been quite limited.  With a PLM or DC lens mounted the K-70 supports AF-C in video mode.

Electromagnetic aperture control is not a new technology— Canon EF lenses have been using it for decades, for instance. But it is slowly being rolled out in DSLR mounts that formerly relied on the stop-down lever.  We've seen it on recent high-end Nikon lenses, and now, Pentax is giving it a try in this new telephoto zoom.  Thanks to this design, the traditional stop-down lever is no longer needed to operate the aperture diaphragm.  Instead, a motor in the lens automatically stops the aperture down at the time of image capture.  This allows for greater precision, gradual adjustments, and quieter operation.  The trade-off is lack of backwards-compatibility with DSLRs that do not receive firmware updates.  This lens has received a new KAF4 mount designation.

Like the DA 18-50mm RE duo, the new 55-300mm's barrel can be collapsed using the zoom ring.  When stowed, this shortens the lens by nearly 3 centimeters compared to the previous 55-300mm.  The new 55-300mm also features an updated optical formula to facilitate internal focus and a rear-mounted focusing ring.  The trade-off for its compactness is the loss of about half a stop of light throughout the range, compared to the old lens.

Other features of the lens include weather-sealing, HD coating, and rounded aperture blades.

Availability will be announced in July, and the launch price is set at $399.

DA 55-300mm PLM Key Specifications

Optics
Image Format APS-C
Angle of View (Diag/Horiz) 29-5.4 ° / 25-4.6 °
Optical Formula 14 elements in 11 groups
Max Magnification 0.30x
Min. Focusing Distance 95 cm
Aperture
Aperture Ring No
Aperture Blades 9, rounded
Aperture Range F4.5-6.3 (max)
F22-38 (min)
Aperture Diaphragm Automatic, electromagnetic
Focusing
Quick Shift Yes
Internal Focusing Yes
Autofocus Type In-lens PLM motor
General
Lens Mount Pentax K (KAF4)
Filter Size 58mm
Weather Sealing
Yes
Dimensions (WxHxD) 76.5 x 89 mm (3.01 x 3.5 in.)
Weight
442 g (15.6 oz.)
US/UK Launch Price $399.99 / £399.99

Full specifications can be viewed in our lens database.

Product Photos

Notice the lack of an aperture level on the lens mount.  Remaining electrical connections are unaltered compared to the KAF3 mount.  Click on any thumbnail to enlarge.

Press Release

June 8, 2016

Ricoh Imaging announces compact, lightweight and weather-resistant HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3ED PLM WR RE lens

Advanced-design telephoto zoom lens delivers high-speed, quiet autofocus and outstanding optical performance in an extremely portable package

DENVER, CO. June 8, 2016 – Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation today announced the
HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3ED PLM WR RE lens. Designed for use with PENTAX K-mount digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras, this new, weather-resistant 5.5X telephoto zoom lens provides enhanced autofocus (AF) and outstanding optical performance in a compact and lightweight package.

The lens provides effective focal lengths between 84.5mm and 460mm when mounted on a PENTAX APS-C format digital SLR, including the new PENTAX K-70 announced today (see separate news release). Its design enables quiet, high-speed AF operation in still-image shooting, as well as smooth and quiet AF tracking operation during video recording, with minimal mechanical noise created by focus and aperture shifts.

PENTAX HD (high-definition) coated optics deliver sharp, bright, high-contrast images free of flare and ghosting. The HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3ED PLM WR RE lens offers a minimum focusing distance of 37.4 inches (0.95 meters) to further expand the range of photographic applications. With a fully retractable design, the lens measures only 3.5 inches (89 millimeters) long when retracted, and weighs less than one pound (442 grams), making it easy to carry around, even for casual shooting.

Fully weather-sealed, this lens is a durable and dependable companion for outdoor shooting—even in rain, snow or other wet conditions—when used with any of the many weather-resistant PENTAX DSLRs, such as the new K-70.

Availability of the HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3ED PLM WR RE lens will be announced in early July. When available, it can be purchased at www.ricohimaging.com for $399.95, as well as at Ricoh Imaging-authorized retail outlets throughout North America.
Main Features

1. High-speed AF operation

With the adoption of a rear-focus system, the lens is almost 10 percent lighter than the PENTAX’s previous 55-300m lens—the HD PENTAX-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8ED WR. By driving this focusing lens using a pulse motor (PLM), which is directly linked to a lead screw, this zoom lens also operates faster — approximately 8.3 times at its wide-angle end and approximately 1.7 times at its telephoto end —and quieter than its predecessor. When mounted on the new PENTAX K-70 digital SLR camera body (also announced today), it assures smoother, faster AF operation with dimly lit subjects, thanks to an improved AF algorithm that exchanges AF data between the camera body and the lens with greater precision. Operability of its power-assisted focus system during manual-focus operation has also been improved. Since its distance ring is designed to accurately detect the angle of rotation and swiftly react to a change of angle, this zoom lens can shift its focusing lens smoothly in response to distance ring operation.

2. Quiet AF operation and electromagnetic diaphragm control, perfect for video recording

This is the first K-mount lens to feature an electromagnetic diaphragm control system.* When mounted on the new PENTAX K-70 digital SLR or other compatible camera body, it assures smooth, high-precision aperture control during video recording. This state-of-the-art system shifts the aperture setting automatically and smoothly to result in more natural, true-to-life videos, even when the brightness level of the subject changes drastically, such as a live theater performance or a sunlight- streaked forest scene, or with active subjects such as athletes and animals. Coupled with the PLM mechanism, the system also assures smooth AF tracking operation and exposure control, while minimizing the intrusion of focus- and aperture-shift noises during video recording.

* NOTE: This lens’ KAF4 mount is compatible with an electromagnetic diaphragm control system. In order to use this lens, the camera’s firmware must be upgraded to the latest version (except for the PENTAX K-70). Cameras compatible with this system are: K-1, K-3 II, K-S2 and K-S1. If this lens is mounted on a camera without proper firmware upgrade, its diaphragm control mechanism becomes inactive, making it impossible to obtain correct exposure.

3. High-quality images, with a minimum focusing distance of 37.4 inches (0.95 meters)

With focal lengths from 84.5mm to 460mm (in the 35mm format), this telephoto zoom lens provides approximately 5.5-times zoom coverage from medium- to super-telephoto ranges. Its 14-element, 11- group optics include an ED (Extra-low Dispersion) optical element to effectively minimize spherical and chromatic aberrations, while delivering high-resolution, finely detailed images with rich contrast from the image’s center to its edges and minimal color bleeding at any focal length setting. In addition to a short minimal focusing distance of 0.95 meters, made possible by the rear-focus system, the lens barrel has also been designed to be free of extension during AF operation.

4. Compact telephoto zoom lens

Thanks to its retractable structure, the lens is only 3.5 inches (89 millimeters) long and weighs less than one pound (442 grams).

5. Weather-resistant construction

The lens features dependable, weather-resistant construction with 11 sealed parts to effectively prevent the intrusion of water into the lens interior. When paired with a weather-resistant PENTAX digital SLR camera body, the result is a durable, dependable digital imaging system that performs superbly in demanding shooting settings.

6. HD Coating to optimize image description

The lens is treated with high-grade, multi-layer HD (high definition) Coating. Compared with conventional multi-layer coatings, this PENTAX-original coating assures higher light transmittance and less reflection to deliver bright, high-contrast images free of flare and ghost images, even under demanding lighting conditions.

7. Other features

・Quick-Shift Focus System allows the user to instantly switch to manual-focus operation, even when the camera’s AF system is in operation.

・SP (Super Protect) Coating applied to the front surface of the lens to effectively repel water and grease.

・Rounded diaphragm with nine blades to produce a smooth, beautiful bokeh (defocus) effect. Designs and specifications are subject to change without notice.

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