Mar 28, 2013

Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW

Introduction

The HD Pentax-DA 560 F5.6 ED AW super-telephoto lens was originally presented by Pentax at the CP+ tradeshow in January, 2012.  It was officially announced at Photokina later that year, but it didn't hit the shelves until February 2, 2013.

Pentax fans have anxiously awaited this lens for a long time, as before its debut, the longest lenses available from Pentax (the DA* 300mm F4 and DA 55-300mm F4-5.8) only had about half the reach.  While the gap between 300mm and 560mm still remains to be filled in the Pentax DA lens lineup, we are happy to see that a longer telephoto option has finally arrived.

With a focal length of 560mm (840mm equivalent in the 24x36 mm format), this lens designed primarily for wildlife photographers. To meet the demands of ourdoor use, it is fully weather sealed and relatively light at 3 kg (6.7 lb). The lens also has a built-in silent autofocus motor which employs Pentax's reliable DC technology.  On top of this, the 560mm is the first Pentax K-mount lens to feature the new "HD Coating", which is Pentax's version of a nano-crystal optical coating.  This coating is designed to deliver better flare resistance than conventional multi-coating without making any compromises in terms of durability.

Producing long lenses is nothing new for Pentax, who in the past have produced lenses such as the FA* 600mm F4, A* 600mm F5.6, and A* 1200mm F8 (please visit our lens database if you're interested in learning more about these historical lenses).

In the US and in Europe, the Pentax 560mm lens launched at a pricetag of about $7000, which makes it approximately $1000 cheaper than a comparable lens for Nikon crop-format DSLR cameras, such as the Nikon 500mm F4 VR II.  It is however significantly more expensive than the Sigma 500mm F4.5, which retails for approximately $5000 and is available for Pentax, Canon, and Nikon.

Thus, in this review we will aim to provide you with a fair evaluation of the performance of the Pentax-DA 560mm ED AW to help you decide which camera system and/or lens is right for your super-telephoto needs.

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