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10-22-2010, 09:04 AM   #1
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Some questions regarding DA* 60-250mm f/4

A couple of years ago I made the switch to Pentax after shooting Canon since the launch of the EOS system. I switched for the DA Ltd primes combined with SR. I told myself at the time that I'd use Pentax when I wanted a compact, lightweight system and the Canon gear if bulk/weight wasn't a concern. It turns out that I haven't touched my Canon stuff in 2 years and the only thing about that system I truly miss is the EF70-200/4L IS and 1.4xTC. I certainly don't miss the vastly inferior user interface. Based on the early reports of the Pentax K5, I've decided the time has come to sell off my remaining Canon gear and switch completely over to Pentax.

I've got the DA 55-300 (I really like the size/weight) and it's ok out to about 200 but in a side-by-side comparison with my EF 70-200/4L IS, DA 70/2.4 Ltd and FA 135/2.8 it's not really in the same league. Therefore I rarely ever shoot with it. In fairness, I didn't really expect it to be any better than most consumer 70-300 zooms, but for the price I thought I'd give it a try.

My search for a Pentax equivalent to the EF 70-200/4L IS has been narrowed down to the Pentax DA* 60-250 f/4 and the Sigma 100-300 f/4. I've done as much reading as I can and I think I've settled on the Pentax primarily for the greater zoom range (i.e. 4x vs 3x zoom), weather sealing, 67mm filter size (can use all my EF70-200/4L filters) and the smaller, lighter package. A few questions do remain however:

1. I understand that the 60-250 extends when zooming. Is this correct? All of my Canon zooms (EF-S 17-55 IS/2.8; EF 28-135 IS) that have extended have been completely filled with dust in very short order whereas those that don't extend have never had this issue. Does the 60-250 suck dust in when zooming? Does the weather-sealing eliminate this issue?

2. When I zoom on any of my Canon zooms, they maintain their focus. For instance if I focus on an object at 200mm focal length, then zoom wider to 100mm, the object remains in focus. This doesn't work on the DA 55-300 and it drives me nuts! How does the DA* 60-250 behave in this regard?

3. I've been looking for an Arca-Swiss compatible lens plate for the tripod collar of the DA* 60-250. Neither Kirk Enterprises or Really Right Stuff (I've been pleased with their offerings in the past) appear to have one. Any suggestions?

4. I'd like a teleconverter for the lens. There doesn't seem to be a consensus on this issue. Is there a really good teleconverter that's fully compatible with this lens? By fully compatible I mean it's sharp (I'd want it to be virtually indistinguishable from the lens without a TC by f/8 like the Canon offering is), maintains AF throughout zoom range and at all distances, and reports correct EXIF data. This one isn't a deal-breaker and if none of the current TC offerings fulfill my requirements, I'd rather just know now so I can stop researching and wait until someone comes out with a new TC that works well.

Thanks in advance for your help and advice.
Bruce

10-22-2010, 10:27 AM   #2
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I can help you with items 1 and 4.

1. Yes, the 60-250 extends when you zoom out. I forget the exact amount, but it's about 7-8cm if I recall correctly.

4. There is no TC that will fully meet your requirements. The Tamron 1.4x (Pz-AF) will retain the SDM AF, but it often requires a second try to lock on. Also, it does not alter the info in the EXIF data. The Pentax 1.7 AFA will alter the aperture info, but you have to manually focus it close before using AF, which doesn't sound like what you want.
10-22-2010, 10:52 AM   #3
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I thought it extended, somewhat disappointing, but the real issue is whether or not this action sucks dust in. I hope the weather sealing eliminates this problem.

As for the Pentax 1.7 AFA, how close does one have to focus? Does AF-C tracking work or does it quickly run out of it's AF range? I think I'll have to await a better TC solution by the sounds of things. Where's that lens roadmap again?
10-22-2010, 10:58 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by bpjod Quote
I thought it extended, somewhat disappointing, but the real issue is whether or not this action sucks dust in. I hope the weather sealing eliminates this problem.

As for the Pentax 1.7 AFA, how close does one have to focus? Does AF-C tracking work or does it quickly run out of it's AF range? I think I'll have to await a better TC solution by the sounds of things. Where's that lens roadmap again?
It would be nice if it didn't extend during zooming, but then I suppose it would be even larger too. Not sure if it sucks dust in, but the fact that it's weather sealed should help minimize this.

I no longer have the 1.7x so I can't confirm this other than from memory. As I recall, when using the 1.7x and the 60-250 as long as you don't need to focus too close to yourself (say everything is at least 5+ meters away) then you can set it to the focus scale to about 10m and the range of the AFA can cover everything from 5m to infinity. Again, I don't recall the exact distance settings, but depending on what you're shooting you may not have to manually focus much at all.

10-22-2010, 11:10 AM   #5
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Hi,
Photozone.de has a picture of 60-250mm extended (along with a nice review):
Pentax SMC DA* 60-250mm f/4 ED [IF] SDM - Review / Test Report

Also, have you considered Tamron 70-200mm f2.8? I had it in Nikon mount and was impressed with build and image quality:
Tamron SP AF 70-200mm Di LD (IF) Macro Lens Review: 1. Introduction: Digital Photography Review
10-22-2010, 02:11 PM   #6
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Haven't seen dust in my 60-250 yet. IIRC the object stays in focus while zooming. There's no dedicated foot for it AFAIK, but the generic foots seem to work fine.
I'm not sure it's fully sharp wide open like your 70-200/4 is....if you stop down it gets sharper by f/4.5. It's also 8oz heavier than your 70-200/4 and I think it's a little bigger.
10-22-2010, 02:27 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by bpjod Quote
2. When I zoom on any of my Canon zooms, they maintain their focus. For instance if I focus on an object at 200mm focal length, then zoom wider to 100mm, the object remains in focus. This doesn't work on the DA 55-300 and it drives me nuts! How does the DA* 60-250 behave in this regard?
I don't have the DA 55-300, however what you describe doesn't sound right, it sounds like your DA 55-300 is behaving like a varifocal lens. None of my (many) zoom lenses loose their focus when you zoom in and out. Are you sure that's what your lens is doing? If so, I'd check with other 55-300 users that it isn't defective.
10-22-2010, 03:53 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies so far. I'm really hoping for the DA* 60-250 to be similar to my 70-200/4L IS but I'm beginning to see that there may be a few shortcomings.

1. kenyee suggests that it may not be as sharp wide open
2. no fully functional TC for it
3. 36.7-26.8=9.9 oz heavier! (similar dimensions though: 0.2" wider and 0.2" shorter than the Canon)
4. I personally think the IS on the Canon 70-200/4L is more effective for that focal length than the Pentax SR.
5. extends when it zooms
6. super quick, accurate AF

On the otherhand it does have some advantages too:
1. 60-250 vs 70-200
2. Can use it on Pentax bodies! (Love my K7, looking forward to the K5)

I did contact Really Right Stuff and they said they'll make a lens plate for me. All I need to do is send them a photo of the base of the foot with a ruler overlying it so at least that issue is addressed.

Ugh. Decisions. Maybe I should hang on to my second system after all. Sell off everything but the 70-200/4L IS, 400/5.6L and 1.4xTC as those are the things I cannot easily replace in the Pentax world. I wish I could get my hands on a DA* 60-250 for an hour or so to try it out.

10-22-2010, 04:29 PM   #9
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From everything I've heard, the 70-200/4 is one of the sharpest lenses in it's class. The 60-250 is no slouch, and to be honest my copy seems very sharp wide open. But it's an uphill battle to compare the two as I agree with all of your other points (IS vs SR, weight, non-extending zoom, superior AF, no TC). When it comes down to it, as you pointed out, the two things in the 60-250 favor is the extended range and the K-mount.

From the sound of your situation and what you want (especially if you want more length and the ability to more seamlessly shoot with TCs), I would keep the 70-200/4L IS, 400/5.6L and 1.4xTC as a second system.
10-22-2010, 06:36 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by bpjod Quote
Thanks for all the replies so far. I'm really hoping for the DA* 60-250 to be similar to my 70-200/4L IS but I'm beginning to see that there may be a few shortcomings.

1. kenyee suggests that it may not be as sharp wide open
2. no fully functional TC for it
3. 36.7-26.8=9.9 oz heavier! (similar dimensions though: 0.2" wider and 0.2" shorter than the Canon)
4. I personally think the IS on the Canon 70-200/4L is more effective for that focal length than the Pentax SR.
5. extends when it zooms
6. super quick, accurate AF

On the otherhand it does have some advantages too:
1. 60-250 vs 70-200
2. Can use it on Pentax bodies! (Love my K7, looking forward to the K5)

I did contact Really Right Stuff and they said they'll make a lens plate for me. All I need to do is send them a photo of the base of the foot with a ruler overlying it so at least that issue is addressed.

Ugh. Decisions. Maybe I should hang on to my second system after all. Sell off everything but the 70-200/4L IS, 400/5.6L and 1.4xTC as those are the things I cannot easily replace in the Pentax world. I wish I could get my hands on a DA* 60-250 for an hour or so to try it out.
I own the 60-250 and love it.

1) It's a bit soft, but sharpens nicely at 4.5. I plan to combine it with the K5 for higher ISO abilities so it really won't matter at that point. If you want I can send you some action waterfowl shots that are pretty sharp from this lens at f.4.
2) Not sure what you mean on this one. I have the Tamron 1.4x Px-AF MC4 that I've used with this several times. Everything works just fine, although autofocus did seem to slow down and I could tell the difference in IQ.
3) Yeah, it's a beast. It is my heaviest and biggest lens by far - although the Vivitar 100-500 is slightly longer but thinner and lighter.
4) I cannot comment because I've never shot IS lenses. I can say I hand-hold my 60-250 99% of the time and don't even think about messing with a tripod unless I'm in fairly dark conditions.
5) It extends
6) My AF works well, although it is much slower than I can manually focus my older lenses. Granted, I like to shoot waterfowl as they are coming in to land from 100-200 yards out and it has a tough times for the camera to maintain focus with a small bird that far out. If I put it on center focus only and keep my subject right in the center, it does ok. It cannot, however, anticipate like I can manually focusing - which is why I spent most of the summer trying to master a couple of my manual focus lenses.

I bought this lens to replace my Pentax 18-250. I'm glad I purchased it. For my shooting, however, it's been a bit slow (marshes and riverbeds can be pretty dark at times for fast shutter speeds and the K10D ISO above 400 really sucks IMO. As such, I've shot more with a prime 135 2.8 manual lens and cropped.

The image quality is superb. The lens is a tank - I've drug it through some nasty conditions and it has stood up perfectly. I've had mine for 12-18 months and have no intentions of selling it!
10-22-2010, 08:04 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
Yes, the 60-250 extends when you zoom out. I forget the exact amount, but it's about 7-8cm if I recall correctly
the funny part about this is that the DA*60-250mm f/4 is slightly longer at 250mm than the sigma 100-300mm f/4- which stays the same length at all focus/zoom settings.

QuoteOriginally posted by bpjod Quote
I've been looking for an Arca-Swiss compatible lens plate for the tripod collar of the DA* 60-250.
As I recall they should have a universal plate which should fit the bill nicely, RRS and ARCA typically make plates for cameras and lenses according to popular demand, so I don't find it surprising that they don't have a plate that is specifically designed for lens that really isn't all that common. However, I really like the tripod collar set up on the DA*60-250 f/4 it is much more elegant than what you get with sigma/canon lenses these days.


AFIK the pentax DA*60-250 f/4 isn't parafocal. but then again considering the focal length range that is hardly surprising. The sigma 100-300 f/4 isn't parafocal either, but the DA* lens has a circular aperture which the sigma doesn't have and that seemingly trivial fact can really make a difference depending on the subject matter.

Last edited by Digitalis; 10-22-2010 at 08:14 PM.
10-23-2010, 03:48 PM   #12
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Good info everyone. Thanks. Good to know that the DA*60-250 f/4 and Sigma 100-300 f/4 are both not parafocal either. A quick test shows that my DA12-24 isn't either. Why are all of Canon's parafocal and so far none of Pentax's offerings?

When all things are considered, I think I'd rather get the DA*60-250 f/4 than keep two systems. I'm tired of the space that takes up and the different batteries, chargers, memory cards, etc. That said, I'm selling off the rest of my Canon gear at this moment and hanging on to the EF70-200/4IS, 1.4xTC and 400/5.6 along with a 40D to use them with. If everything goes well with that sale, I may order a 60-250 from somewhere with a liberal return policy and test it out. I'm sure it will be to my liking, but if not I'll return it and keep the Canon gear. If I decide it's a keeper, then goodbye Canon.
10-23-2010, 03:55 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bpjod Quote
Good info everyone. Thanks. Good to know that the DA*60-250 f/4 and Sigma 100-300 f/4 are both not parafocal either. A quick test shows that my DA12-24 isn't either. Why are all of Canon's parafocal and so far none of Pentax's offerings?

When all things are considered, I think I'd rather get the DA*60-250 f/4 than keep two systems. I'm tired of the space that takes up and the different batteries, chargers, memory cards, etc. That said, I'm selling off the rest of my Canon gear at this moment and hanging on to the EF70-200/4IS, 1.4xTC and 400/5.6 along with a 40D to use them with. If everything goes well with that sale, I may order a 60-250 from somewhere with a liberal return policy and test it out. I'm sure it will be to my liking, but if not I'll return it and keep the Canon gear. If I decide it's a keeper, then goodbye Canon.
I think that's a good move; that way you can try the 60-250 and if you don't like it you still have your Canon gear. I'd be interested to hear what your thoughts on the comparison between the two lenses (60-250 and 70-200) once you've had a chance to shoot the 60-250 some.
10-23-2010, 06:43 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by bpjod Quote
Good info everyone. Thanks. Good to know that the DA*60-250 f/4 and Sigma 100-300 f/4 are both not parafocal either. A quick test shows that my DA12-24 isn't either. Why are all of Canon's parafocal and so far none of Pentax's offerings?

When all things are considered, I think I'd rather get the DA*60-250 f/4 than keep two systems. I'm tired of the space that takes up and the different batteries, chargers, memory cards, etc. That said, I'm selling off the rest of my Canon gear at this moment and hanging on to the EF70-200/4IS, 1.4xTC and 400/5.6 along with a 40D to use them with. If everything goes well with that sale, I may order a 60-250 from somewhere with a liberal return policy and test it out. I'm sure it will be to my liking, but if not I'll return it and keep the Canon gear. If I decide it's a keeper, then goodbye Canon.
You can also rent the lens for a shoot if you prefer. I've used CameraLensRentals.com before and was pleased with the service.
10-25-2010, 06:32 AM   #15
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Bruce,

I have both the 55-300mm and the 6-250mm. Bought them the same day, in one deal, for different reasons.
The 55-300mm is a reasonble good lens, but a lot smaller, lighter, good for hiking.
The 60-250mm is much sharper, it focuses much better in low light, and it work very good with my 2 TC's (Kenko 1.5x and Pentax 1.7x).
The TC of choice for me is the Pentax. The Kenko is more a plastic TC and the weigth of the lens impacts the bajonet holdings.
I've been working with the lens in Africa a lot, in *very* dusty environments without any issues. Despite the extention of the lens.

So, for you questions:
1) Yes, it extents. But it is not a problem for dust or rain.
2) Yes, from long to wide, from wide to long it might adjust. The focus error tolerance in absolute distance becomes smaller for the longer end.
3) I have no answer. Use the lens mostly handheld, otherwise with the std collar without any issues.
4) My TC's work fine.

- Bert

PS Have a look at this: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/114743-da*-60-...at-can-do.html
The second photo I post there is a Shoebill. It was taken at 250mm + 1.7TC handheld from a rocking boat....
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