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07-23-2011, 09:22 AM   #1
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Pentax DA55-300mm Review.

Good review, It echos my thoughts of this lens over 3 years ago (so it has to be good ), but for a few issues

One, in the "Con" section it says "Prone to purple fringing". In my real life shooting over 3 years and tens of thousands of pics I have never encountered a PF issue. Its there under the right conditions if you zoom in a bit (like view at 100%) but its never large enough for most users to be offending as you would have to print huge to see it.

With the DA55-300mm you are much more likely to see the blue/green type CA at times than PF. Also saying its a con does not support their own review saying

"We did not conduct specific tests to examine aberrations as we did with sharpness. Rather, we examined a variety of everyday shots and looked for items such as chromatic aberrations and pincushion distortions. In regard to chromatic aberrations, we did specifically look for purple fringing. A common occurrence in digital photography that can best be seen at the borders between high contrast subjects and an out of focus background (for example, a blue sky).
We found occasional instances of purple fringing. Nothing excessive, but in shots where one would expect to find this type of aberration, it was indeed occasionally present. That said, although this type of aberration was occasionally present, it was exceedingly minor. Another example of the fine workmanship and quality that can be found with this lens. Examine some of the images in the Image Gallery and decide for yourself."

Second issue, if I am using the test pic pull down menu right it shows the lens doing 300mm at f/4. I don't think so (minor error). Or I am using the pull down menus wrong.

Third issue. As I have said the DA55-300mm is sharp wide open corner to corner at 300mm. Even the review finds it sharp wide open at 300mm. This is a excellent performance usually reserved for much more expensive lens.

"Surprisingly, the images at 300mm, wide open are incredibly sharp. Granted, 300mm wide open is f5.8. But the images are tack sharp, corner to corner. Examine the mortar on the edges in the f5.8 image taken at 300mm. Check out those individual sand grains! WOW!"

But there copy is soft in the corners at 200mm, 100mm, 55mm (mine is not) and in the cons section the review says "Soft wide-open". Ok but at 300mm its not soft! So... IMO it should be worded different.

I do agree in real life shooting this lens is sharp enough to shoot things that will be in the center like a BIF and remain sharp wide open (f/5.8). Stopped down a bit and its sharp corner to corner. I have seen a bit better from Sigmas 100-300mm f/4 and Pentax DA*300mm, but the center looks equal at normal viewing sizes between all 3 lens. The DA55-300mm does have superb Pentax color. The colors are rich and slightly cool. The lens also has excellent contrast wide open at 300mm (helps make it seem sharper than numbers would say).

All of this plus being small and light, leaves little desire to upgrade to a bigger, heavy, expensive lens for an enthusiast.


Last edited by jamesm007; 07-23-2011 at 09:30 AM.
07-23-2011, 09:34 AM   #2
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Have to agree with you on my DAL model. Its produced some excellent action shots at soccer and with sufficient light its an amazing buy. My only temptation to buy another AF zoom would be for f2.8. Of course that costs a fortune so I am happy with my VERY inexpensive (got it in the 2 lens kit) DAL 55-300.
07-23-2011, 09:39 AM   #3
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"Surprisingly, the images at 300mm, wide open are incredibly sharp. Granted, 300mm wide open is f5.8. But the images are tack sharp, corner to corner. Examine the mortar on the edges in the f5.8 image taken at 300mm. Check out those individual sand grains! WOW!"

I looked at the so-called f4 300mm image and did not find it tack sharp corner to corner. I'm not sure I'd call even the center "tack" sharp (although it's very good), but the corners are definitely soft. I have no idea which image the author is referring to with his tack sharp comment.
07-23-2011, 09:48 AM   #4
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?? 300mm at f/4 .. that's a curious thing. But..
where is the link to this review? It's too subtle for my 'morning brain' to find

07-23-2011, 09:59 AM   #5
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did you try just the main page?

The Largest Pentax Camera Forum and Review Site - PentaxForums.com Home

it's the first post.
07-23-2011, 10:02 AM   #6
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too easy thanks!
07-23-2011, 10:11 AM   #7
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what do you mean f4 at 300mm? the DA55-300 at 300mm is only f5.8. are you referring to a different lens?

as far as the review goes, I think the PF issue is a misconception and should be worded properly. the term "prone" would generally would mean easily susceptible to such phenomena rather than saying well-balanced. I do agree that the colors are indeed desirable. the comparison of the images between the DA55-300 and the top-notch zoom (Sigma 100-300) and prime equivalent at 300mm (DA300) have small IQ difference under regular viewing size and at about approximately 25%-40% (maybe even 50%), although at 100% crops, here we can see major IQ difference that we pay for a premium lens. I'm not saying that the 55-300 is a bad lens, but rather saying it is a joy to use because it could render very good IQ (sometimes phenomenal) in general.
07-23-2011, 10:34 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by hawk1500 Quote
did you try just the main page?

The Largest Pentax Camera Forum and Review Site - PentaxForums.com Home

it's the first post.
thanks for the link. I must admit that the test review is kinda confusing and somehow erroneous? what really baffles me is the results at 300mm which were stated to be better than the results at shorter focal lengths. I didn't see the comparative images that better nor do I personally experience and affirm to say as well. although I'm not saying that the images at 300mm should be dismissed as soft but rather deemed not as sharp as the images taken at shorter focal lengths. thus saying the images are still very good. further, the conclusion regarding the lens as soft might spread some misinformation regarding the lens as soft in general. so it would be better to elaborate or specify that there is some softness on the corners.

07-23-2011, 02:25 PM   #9
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Interesting comments...

As the individual who did the review I will add the following:

Purple Fringe: from the images I took, if blow them up looking for purple fringing, I can find it. As I said in the review, its not bad at all.

300mm f4: I have not looked a the final version as posted, but yes, that would be a mistake. 300mm is f5.8

Tack Sharp at 300mm: YES....and noticeably sharper than lesser focal lengths.

Your copy may differ, as did another copy I played with since the review was initially written.

Overall an excellent lens...and absolute bargain when one weighs value vs. cost.....
07-23-2011, 03:01 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by forensicscientist Quote
As the individual who did the review I will add the following:

Purple Fringe: from the images I took, if blow them up looking for purple fringing, I can find it. As I said in the review, its not bad at all.

300mm f4: I have not looked a the final version as posted, but yes, that would be a mistake. 300mm is f5.8

Tack Sharp at 300mm: YES....and noticeably sharper than lesser focal lengths.

Your copy may differ, as did another copy I played with since the review was initially written.

Overall an excellent lens...and absolute bargain when one weighs value vs. cost.....

just a question, when you said sharper, did you mean at equivalent crops (300mm magnification) or individual corresponding crops at their full image (200mm and 300mm respectively)?

as far as my copy goes, mine is at it's best from 70mm to 210mm.

although indeed it is an excellent lens.
07-23-2011, 08:08 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by forensicscientist Quote
Tack Sharp at 300mm: YES
I can only judge by the images posted by the review, and they don't seem to be tack sharp (they are especially not tack sharp "corner to corner"; merely decent sharpness in the very center, after which the sharpness quickly evaporates). It's all relative, of course, but it seems to me it should be relative to what's available on the Pentax platform; and there are a number of lenses that would render those bricks and grout sharper. If those DA 55-300 shots are "tack" sharp, how are we supposed to describe the sharpness of lenses like the FA 43 and FA 50/2.8?
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