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09-22-2010, 03:03 PM   #1
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Looking for a DA 50-200mm Replacement

Hello All,

I'm looking for suggestions for a telezoom to replace my DA 50-200mm f4-5.6. Currently, the DA 50-200 is used solely for lightweight hiking purposes, and I'd like to replace the lens with something in a similar weight class. Here are some thoughts about what I'm looking for.
  • Lens speed isn't an issue. For it's designated purpose, I'm quite fine with a slow lens.
  • Autofocus is nice, but not necessary. My FA 77mm is the only autofocus telephoto glass I own, so I'm used to manual focus on the long end.
  • Optical quality isn't absolutely important, but it is definitely something I'll be considering. As long as it's "acceptable" stopped down to f8 or f11, I'm cool. As reference, the DA 50-200mm did not cut it for me, even stopped down. The DA L 18-55mm, on the other hand, is more than acceptable in the optical performance department.
  • Size and weight are of supreme importance. I haven't done any hikes over 8 miles this year, but I'd like to next year. My goal is to climb Long's Peak again next year which is a 17 mile round trip with a mile of elevation gain topping out above 14,000 feet. When I did it the first time, I was 20 years old and managed to drag a Canon F1N, Canon FDn 20mm f2.8, Canon FDn 35-105mm f3.5 and a Tamron SP 80-200mm f2.8 LD IF up with me. Now that I'm knocking on the door of 30, just the thought of that makes me tired. Small and light are appreciated!!!!!!
  • Zoom range would ideally be somewhere in the 70/80mm range to the 200mm range. I'm looking to do compressed landscapes more than wildlife shots, so I don't need a whole lot on the long end. In fact, I could live with less than 200mm if it would keep the size down.
  • a mild concern. I'd like to keep it under $400 or so if possible. The prime hiking season is almost done this year, though, so if there's something that meets all the requirements, I could squirrel away my pennies over the winter.

At the moment, I'm considering going with the DA 18-55mm and M 135mm f3.5 as the lightweight kit. Still, I'd like the convenience of a telephoto zoom to give a touch more versatility.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts and suggestions!

09-22-2010, 03:37 PM   #2
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Well, I think you have three choices which are influenced by size, weight and cost:

1. SMC Pentax DA 55-300 - Better optical quality than the DA 50-200, slightly bigger and heavier.
2. SMD Pentax DA* 50-135 - Much better optical quality, but less range, bigger and heavier.
3. A non-Pentax 70-200 f2.8 - Better optical quality, same range, but again bigger and heavier.


Chris Stone
09-22-2010, 04:12 PM   #3
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If you can find one with a return policy (in case it's not for you), the Sigma 55-200 served me well for a while. It was a relative bargain at auction in May, but I haven't seen a sub-$100 price since then.
(Picasa tagged link)

When I decided the 55-300's reputation could not be ignored, I decided to save both grams and cash with a DAL version, and it's been excellent. In bright conditions it will even take my 1.5x TC for extra mileage - - but that's not something I need often. I'm sure that now and then I will miss the quick-shift focus, but since my old Alpha gear didn't have it I don't remember to miss it; the 16-45 has it though and that may cause me to reconsider.

If tests bear out its talent as well as its versatility, it might all go out the window for an 18-135 WR though...

Last edited by jimr-pdx; 09-22-2010 at 04:34 PM.
09-22-2010, 04:40 PM   #4
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Another vote for the 55-300! It replaced the 50-200 for my hikes. I only ran into problems when I tried some 300mm action shots in low light (two people in a canoe on a fast flowing river.)

09-22-2010, 07:23 PM   #5
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I wonder if you have a dud 50-200 as I'm regularly surprised by the quality considering the size and price of it. My regular lens is a 16-45/4 but I have a DA 18-55 (no L) and I'd consider the 50-200 sharper... maybe I have a dud 18-55!
09-22-2010, 07:37 PM   #6
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It sounds like the new 18-135mm is just what you need. MSRP is $530 but the street price should be less, but $400 might be pushing it.
Good luck on Long's. The first time I went up you could still go up the cable route. I'll never forget looking over the edge, down the Diamond!
09-23-2010, 06:33 AM   #7
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Original Poster
Thanks, all, for the advice. The f2.8 zooms are more lens than I'm wanting to carry, so I think I'll pass on that. The 55-300 was a thought, but even it seemed a little bigger than I wanted to carry. I love the form factor of the DA 50-200mm, I just haven't gotten the results I'd like to out of it.

At the moment, I think I'll have to look into the 55-300 a little more.

Again, thanks for all the input!
09-23-2010, 07:33 AM   #8
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I agree that the 55-300 is noticeably and larger and heavier than I'd really want in the kind of kit you are talking about, but I also agree it's really the only option that strikes me as worth looking at. I'm a bit surprised, though, that you find the 50-200 not up to even the fairly low standards you describe. I find mine roughly equal to my 18-55 - really, noticeably better in some respects, not quite as good but still more than good in others. People keep suggesting I might have an unusually good copy, and I'd agree it's way better than the one Photozone tested. You would be welcome to try mine out for a while to see if there really is a noticeable difference just from the ample variation.

09-23-2010, 07:50 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by slick100d Quote
It sounds like the new 18-135mm is just what you need. MSRP is $530 but the street price should be less, but $400 might be pushing it.
Sounds ideal. especially if the OP has a weather-proof body. The sale of the 18-55 and 50-200 would help fund the purchase.

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