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02-16-2011, 01:45 PM   #1
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DA* 55mm f1.4... plastic?

I just received a DA* 55mm from Newegg as they were having a good deal ($554 shipped).

Anyways, I'm a bit surprised by the build quality. I was expecting something like the DA* 300mm that I have. From what I can tell, the 300mm is all metal.

The DA* on the other hand seems to be completely comprised of textured plastic like the back of K-7/K-5 bodies. The AF/MF switch has no seam between it and the barrel and the lens hood connection has texture on it unlike the DA* 300 where I can tell it is paint (and see some aluminum from wear).

So anyways I'm a little disappointed I won't have that cold feel of a metal barrel with the DA* 55mm. For being a DA* and the cost, it should be metal in my opinion.

I'm also curious if this is a change or if they has always sold the 55mm like this. Does anyone have an older 55mm they can confirm what material the barrel is made out of?

02-16-2011, 01:56 PM   #2
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Don't call it plastic, call it reinforced polycarbonate

If it's like my 50-135, then most of the barrel is plastic on the outside, but it has a much more solid feel than the non-* lenses.

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02-16-2011, 01:57 PM   #3
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Nothing wrong with plastic - it lasts forever.
02-16-2011, 02:00 PM   #4
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It is plastic, if that is what you want to call it. I think all of the DA * lenses have about the same build. I think it feels pretty sturdy and would hate to think of how heavy it would be if it was all metal.

02-16-2011, 02:03 PM   #5
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Glad to know I didn't get a fake or something! haha

My point was that the DA* 300mm is a seriously beautiful piece of engineering and I was a bit disappointed the 55mm wasn't using the same materials.
02-16-2011, 02:07 PM   #6
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Oh, another thing.

The DA* 300mm hood has a textured paint, whereas the 55mm one has actual felt. The paint makes more sense as these are weather resistant lenses. The 300mm one will be easier to clean and should last longer.
02-16-2011, 02:47 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by sjwaldron Quote
I just received a DA* 55mm from Newegg as they were having a good deal ($554 shipped).
What a steal! I have one on order from Amazon for $620, which I considered a very good price. I cannot even find this lens listed at Newegg. You must have caught a special sale.

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02-16-2011, 04:34 PM   #8
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I used a DA* 55mm for an event once (rented) and it seemed to exhibit rather good build quality. maybe not up to an FA* or an A*, but where it counted (optical quality) it was certainly a winner! it may not be as good as say a canon 50mm 1.2L IS USM, but since its a heck of a lot less expensive, and can focus properly! (suck that canon and your backfocus monster) I think its pretty darn good for the price. nothing wrong with ‘plastic’ in an expensive lens. I mean can you even tell a K-7 or K-5 is magnesium alloy under that coating? because I couldn’t tell the difference really from my old istD and K110D if I didnt know what was under that coating.

02-16-2011, 05:40 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
I think its pretty darn good for the price. nothing wrong with ‘plastic’ in an expensive lens.
Well, Pentax-users are spoiled by the Limiteds (and some non-ltds like the 100mm macro WR) when it comes to prime lens construction... so I can understand the surprise.
02-16-2011, 05:54 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by robgo2 Quote
What a steal! I have one on order from Amazon for $620, which I considered a very good price. I cannot even find this lens listed at Newegg. You must have caught a special sale.
Rob
I'm not sure why it was so much cheaper than the two big online stores currently have. It was gone from the site a day or two later. They don't even list the K-5 anymore, but that might be due to the high rate of returns lately. Sometimes their prices are good, most of the time they are bad (they were selling a K-7 body only for $1000, haha).

Edit... The body only price on the K-r looks pretty good at the moment.

QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
Well, Pentax-users are spoiled by the Limiteds (and some non-ltds like the 100mm macro WR) when it comes to prime lens construction... so I can understand the surprise.
Exactly. I was expecting the 55 to be just like the 300 in build materials.

Last edited by sjwaldron; 02-16-2011 at 05:59 PM.
02-16-2011, 11:19 PM   #11
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hrmmm thats a bit lame. Its too expensive then imo. (well not for the price you paid)
02-17-2011, 12:04 AM   #12
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I just received my copy from Amazon. Yes, it is made of non-metallic materials, but it feels very solid and well built nonetheless. Early testing indicates moderate backfocusing on my K-7, correctible by +6-7 microadjustment. Although somewhat soft at f1.4, it is already quite sharp at f2 and just keeps getting sharper up to f5.6-f8. My sense is that it is sharper at f2 than my 31 Limited is at f1.8. I have not yet had an opportunity to see how it renders real world photographs. That will come over the next several days. My expectations are high.

Edit: I re-checked the focusing in good light this morning and found severe backfocusing, beyond what can be corrected with microadjustments. I will be returning the lens for replacement. Focusing accuracy is especially important in a lens of this speed, which can have a minute depth of focus under some circumstances.

Rob

Last edited by robgo2; 02-17-2011 at 09:20 AM.
02-17-2011, 04:50 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by WerTicus Quote
hrmmm thats a bit lame. Its too expensive then imo. (well not for the price you paid)
I'm not sure why the focus here is on the materials that make up the lens. The issue is optics, isn't it? If the lens was a dog, even if it was a beautiful metallic shell around it, it wouldn't make a difference. Anyway, optically it is a nice lens, with comparable sharpness at f1.4 to the FA 43 limited at f1.9 (per photozone).

Edit: Photo of my nephew at f2. Very sharp. I know people don't really like the bokeh on this lens, but from f2 on, it really is pretty decent.


Last edited by Rondec; 02-17-2011 at 05:31 AM.
02-17-2011, 05:20 AM   #14
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Industrial polycarbonate is not even close to what most people would consider to be a plastic, even though it may look and feel like one.

Polycarbonate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
02-17-2011, 10:00 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
I'm not sure why the focus here is on the materials that make up the lens. The issue is optics, isn't it? If the lens was a dog, even if it was a beautiful metallic shell around it, it wouldn't make a difference. Anyway, optically it is a nice lens, with comparable sharpness at f1.4 to the FA 43 limited at f1.9 (per photozone).

Edit: Photo of my nephew at f2. Very sharp. I know people don't really like the bokeh on this lens, but from f2 on, it really is pretty decent.

Who doesn't like the bokeh? I think from f/2 it's more than pretty decent. The bokeh is actually quite lovely and appropiate for portraits. I love the 55.
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