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11-29-2010, 10:01 PM   #1
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Difference Between DA* sealing and WR?

Being out in the elements a lot when I shoot as a fly fisherman, weather resistance is key to me. It seems Pentax has three levels: none, "WR", and the DA* sealing. I have searched the forum many times and seen lots of speculation based on what pentax puts in their brief descriptions on the site, but is there any explicit outline of the difference between WR and DA*? Is it simply that they both are equally well suited to water, but the WR lacks the dust resistance of the DA*? Pentax seems to market their DA* series as THE counterpart in full weather-resistance to their K-7 and K-5 bodies, but how much less "weather-sealed" am I with a WR lens instead of a DA*? I want something that is going to last a long time, but then again with the SDM issues of the DA* it doesn't seem to put that series out there as extremely long-lasting, but I guess that is a whole other can of worms.

So my real question is, with the "simplified" design of a WR lens what am I missing in sealing that I would get with a DA* if anything at all?

Thanks! -Loren Elliott

11-29-2010, 11:23 PM   #2
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Loren,

There has been some threads suggesting that the DA* are bettter built than the WR lenses.

Let just say that the specs are close, but most WRs are usually entry level lenses (18-55WR, 50-200WR). Hence it is not possible to compare directly the optical characterstics of the DA* and WR. These entry-level WR lenses will lack the optical quality of the DA* lenses.

Importantly WR does not mean waterproof. But there are ample evidences... of WR lenses and body sustaining some atrocious treatment.

Food for thoughts...
11-30-2010, 12:00 AM   #3
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I know the DA* lenses are optically superior, I am not asking about an optical comparison but rather a weather-sealing comparison.

And it seems Pentax is now making WR versions of not only entry-level but also mid-level lenses if you look at the 100 macro and the 18-135.
11-30-2010, 12:11 AM   #4
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Judging by the o-ring on a DA* lens mount compared to an o-ring on a WR lens, I'd say that the waterproofing on a DA* would be better than on a WR.

Also, the DA*200 manual uses the term 'waterproof' rather than 'water resistant' - which is the term applied to WR lenses.

11-30-2010, 02:37 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Spock Quote
Judging by the o-ring on a DA* lens mount compared to an o-ring on a WR lens, I'd say that the waterproofing on a DA* would be better than on a WR.

Also, the DA*200 manual uses the term 'waterproof' rather than 'water resistant' - which is the term applied to WR lenses.
I notice that the DA*200 is an internal-focus design, which to me would imply that it could indeed be totally water (and dust) proof.

If the focusing mechanism causes the lens to "telescope", then it means that air (and that might be humid air), water or fine dust may be drawn into the lens during focusing - I can't imagine such a lens being designed to allow internal air pressure to be substantially different from ambient atmospheric pressure (but I might be wrong). Hence the "normal" lenses have to make do with "WR", which probably just means that air is allowed to flow into and out of the lens in a manner which is more controlled than is usually the case.
11-30-2010, 06:06 AM   #6
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I have seen schematics of the seals on the 18-55 WR and it satisfies me. And I have exposed mine to some pretty harsh snow and rain and sand, with no problems.

I believe DA* are assembled with tighter tolerances and as such are even more resistant to bad weather. But that's it. Otherwise, when shipping a non DA* WR lens, Pentax would issue warnings like "should not be used under direct rain", etc.
12-01-2010, 08:56 PM   #7
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I will only note, as I do about once each fortnight, that the descriptions from Pentax vary substantially.

There is no repeatable and defined measure of resistance to the entrance of water. So we have to live with the Pentax reference to WR helping with splashes and splatters and moisture. What we used to call "damning with faint praise".

Pentax also tries to make it clear that WR does not offer protection against dust. Some here will argue that any protection against water must, inherently, offer some protection against dust.

I will leave this to the engineers that design and test lenses to explain in greater detail. Alas, we don't seem to have any. There may be a message in that fact.

Me? I worry more about dust in the body than in a lens. So I happily shoot outdoors with a K-7 (formerly a K10D and soon to be a K-5) and will add a 18-135 WR to replace a little-used 18-55mm WR. If I could get a 60-250mm sealed without SDM or with a five-year Pentax warranty on that lens, I'd be very happy and a great deal poorer.

Dear Ned: it's very obvious from reading this forum that you'd sell many more SDM lenses if the warranty were extended by another 12-48 months. Even if the warranty were at a modest additional charge. Get on it. Or give up. Sincerely, Geoffrey.
12-02-2010, 05:40 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by glanglois Quote
I will leave this to the engineers that design and test lenses to explain in greater detail. Alas, we don't seem to have any. There may be a message in that fact.
Well, my job title is "optical designer"... I don't design photographic lenses but I do have PhD training in optics...

However, weather resistant seals are not in the hands of optical design, but of mechanical design.

12-04-2010, 02:36 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by m42man Quote

If the focusing mechanism causes the lens to "telescope", then it means that air (and that might be humid air), water or fine dust may be drawn into the lens during focusing - I can't imagine such a lens being designed to allow internal air pressure to be substantially different from ambient atmospheric pressure (but I might be wrong). Hence the "normal" lenses have to make do with "WR", which probably just means that air is allowed to flow into and out of the lens in a manner which is more controlled than is usually the case.

M42man, you are overlooking the fact that the DA* 16-50 telescopes as opposed to being an internal zoom like the 50-135, and yet they both have the fully sealed designation, unlike the WR designation, which has been used for both telescoping lenses (18-55, 50-200, 18-135) as well as a prime (100 macro). So I don't think whether the lens telescopes or not is where the difference in how weather resistant they can make it lies.

I asked Ned on his blog and all he had to say was "if it is drizzling outside but you can still wear a sweater, that is WR weather, but if it is pouring and you need a raincoat, that is DA* weather. He said bring a towel to wipe down either in wet conditions. In conclusion it seems there will be no concrete answer as to WHAT the difference is, but unless the whole difference is a hoax by Pentax to promote their top of the lines series, which I greatly doubt, we can conclude the DA* designation means better sealing/proofing than the WR designation, something that many people are unaware of I found as I did my research, as many old thread have people referring to DA* series lenses as being WR. I guess Pentax will only go as far as "sealed" and "simplified", and if you want sealing that is up to the level of a K-7 or K-5 then the DA* are the answer. Ok Pentax: change the SDM motors to something reliable and I'm in.
12-04-2010, 03:30 AM   #10
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I recall seeing some images illustrating the seals in DA* 16-50 and DA 18-55 WR lenses on one of the Pentax official websites (either on the USA or the Japan site). The DA* clearly had more seals. Unfortunately I don't remember the url and can't find the images now.
12-04-2010, 03:51 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by glanglois Quote
".

Pentax also tries to make it clear that WR does not offer protection against dust.
Pentax in NL does state dust resistance for the 18-55 WR.

QuoteOriginally posted by simico Quote
I recall seeing some images illustrating the seals in DA* 16-50 and DA 18-55 WR lenses on one of the Pentax official websites (either on the USA or the Japan site). The DA* clearly had more seals. Unfortunately I don't remember the url and can't find the images now.
I think I recall that too but it may just be that the WR lenses are not * lenses, thus probably less complicated and thus requiring less seals....
12-04-2010, 05:01 PM   #12
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I wonder if that is a mistake Janneman, as here are the words from Ned:

"Hi Loren, simplest way to explain the difference in sealing is to use a clothing analogy. If you're outside in misty, drizzly type conditions and only need to wear a sweater or pullover - that's WR weather. If it's actually raining and you need to wear a raincoat - that's DA* weather.
Of course, in either condition it makes sense if you're shooting for any length of time to carry a towel in your bag to dry off both your camera body and lens - just like you'd probably have to keep your face dry and free of rain running down your nose "
12-07-2010, 02:53 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Loren E Quote
I wonder if that is a mistake Janneman, as here are the words from Ned:

"Hi Loren, simplest way to explain the difference in sealing is to use a clothing analogy. If you're outside in misty, drizzly type conditions and only need to wear a sweater or pullover - that's WR weather. If it's actually raining and you need to wear a raincoat - that's DA* weather.
Of course, in either condition it makes sense if you're shooting for any length of time to carry a towel in your bag to dry off both your camera body and lens - just like you'd probably have to keep your face dry and free of rain running down your nose "
People have done worse with DA* lenses, me included. So WR is probably suitable for raincoat weather as well but not up to the snowstorm and deluge standards of the DA*. Anyways, I am sure I will find out in about half a year...
12-07-2010, 06:43 AM   #14
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I recently got the 18-135 fairly wet outside. Definitely "raincoat weather". Got a decent amount of water on both the inner barrels. I ignored the water and zoomed in and out like normal. Afterwards, the inside of the lens was bone dry. The worst the lens sustained were some oily stains from me trying to wipe water off the front element.

I also went out in some decent snow with the 18-55 WR. Snow built up all over the lens, the barrel and behind the hood, and it turned out perfectly fine. I didn't even bother to wipe it off, just let it dry itself.

If I were to conjecture, I would say the difference is that WR is resistant to standing water (water just sitting on the lens), while DA* has additional resistance to a minor amount of water pressure (as demonstrated by that Pentax rep at Photokina, pouring water all over it). That is to say, both are fine in virtually any kind of weather, but the difference shows up if you try to stick it under a faucet.
12-07-2010, 07:17 AM   #15
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I think it mostly has to do with internal-focusing mechanisms. It's only possible to really SEAL an internally focusing lens which is limited to the DA* line. Lenses that extend while you zoom tend to pull the external atmosphere in... which is not ideal when water is around.

The WR line is better than nothing in light rain or at the beach I would bet, but you need the DA* to survive the elements.
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