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04-06-2013, 03:26 PM - 3 Likes   #1
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SMC F70-210 and DA 50-200 WR Comparison,

I took about 150 comparison photos between two copies of the SMC F70-210mm f4-5.6 and a DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 WR that I just got. I haven't seen any other comparisons between these. The DA doesn't get a lot of praise but it met my needs on paper so I bought it. Note that I'm using the SMC version of the 70-210. There are non-SMC versions and Takumar versions and 70-200s, not the same.

Sharpness

Normally I would show you some nice 100% crops at different apertures for sharpness. I'm not because the photos are just about the same. Sharpness is essentially the same. The F might have a slight advantage at the long end and a slight disadvantage at 70mm, but even at 100% with a lot of well-focused samples at multiple distances and focal lengths, the lenses are really close. Since the F is warmer, I can tell which samples are from which lens. My pretest opinion was that the F would be sharper, and I might just be seeing what I expect.

Contrast

Again I expected to see the F70-210 do a bit better. I think the lenses are close for some colors but not all. I have one comparison set where the DA 50-200 was better, shown in a reply below.

Colors

The F is warmer or the DA is cooler, even if I set the white balance to the same temperature. Other F lenses I have also have this warmer look.

Even the noticeable IQ differences are small:

The F has 9 aperture blades so OOF highlights have nine sides, not hexagons like the DA. The F should make better sunstars but at telephoto, not many photos have usable elements for that.
I can't see differences in bokeh, maybe just not using the right scene.
The DA is about a half-stop better at purple fringing. Neither lens fringes a lot. In my test I could only see it at 70mm and wide open, gone by f6.7 for both lenses.
The DA is also better at flare rejection, but both lenses are pretty good for zooms IMHO.
The F doesn't vignette noticeably but the DA has some vignetting wide open, not noticeable one stop down.

Physical differences separate the lenses more. The F is heavy, has a stiff zoom ring and a small inconvenient focus ring. The front element rotates when focusing. AF is loud. Quick-shift doesn't exist. It's compact but still about a half-inch/12mm longer than the DA at its smallest. The DA gives less of an impression of build quality, but build quality impressions are always wrong. The scale and markings are applied, while the F markings are stamped in or behind a window. At 70mm, the DA is a half-stop slower, f4.5 vs. f4.0 for the F. The F has an aperture ring. The DA has a reversable bayonet hood.

I'll follow up with some comparison shots of various features besides sharpness.

04-06-2013, 03:37 PM   #2
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This pair shows the largest contrast difference between the two lenses. It's at f8, 1/45, ISO 100 on a tripod, SR off, CDAF in the center.

F70-210 first at 210mm:



DA 50-200 WR at 200mm:

04-06-2013, 03:44 PM   #3
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The worst flare comparison. If you have to shoot with the sun in the frame at 200mm , the DA is the better choice.

F70-210, 210mm, f5.6, 1/6000, ISO 100:



DA 50-200:

04-06-2013, 03:49 PM   #4
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I tried a bokeh comparison at the long end, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 100. The blue tape gave me a spot to focus with CDAF, making sure both lenses focused on the same point. You see the vignetting on the DA here too, not dramatic.

F70-210:



DA 50-200:



04-06-2013, 03:56 PM   #5
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Out of focus highlights. I set each lens to about 5 feet. The first pair is wide open, the second is f11.

F70-210:



DA 50-200:



F70-210:



DA 50-200:

04-06-2013, 04:09 PM   #6
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WOW! thank you so much for this comparison.. I have been about to buy an F70-210 several times but weight and size always turned me off.. I guess the 50-200 is the way to go.. even in its L version.. To the hunt! thanks again
04-06-2013, 04:12 PM   #7
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Did I mention that I want to sell the two F70-210s?
04-06-2013, 04:35 PM   #8
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thank for this ! it's good to know ! You should post this in the review section

04-06-2013, 04:52 PM   #9
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Could you take a landscape with both lenses, infinity focus, @ f8, 70mm and 200mm, and compare the pics? My suspicion is, your conclusion will be different.
04-06-2013, 05:04 PM   #10
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Interesting read indeed, it matches my experience with these 2 lenses.

I have owned 2 F70-210s and DA WR and DAL 50-200 and a Samsung version previously, although never at the same time, currently I settled for a DA 50-200WR for the WR and Quick Shift Focus and light weight and tiny size.

Thoughts on various version of DA50-200,wide open image quality is nothing to write home about but on a sunny day @f8 it delivers quite nice results and is much easier on my back and arm. Handling wise AF is quick enough, quick shift focus really helps in difficult situations, those instance I usually just manually put it to the proximity of the focus point and let the camera do the rest. I haven't used it extensively with my K-01 yet but initial testing shows the size and weight is a good match, and again quick shift focus really helps with K-01's notoriously slow AF with telephoto lens.

F70-210 yes it's rather sharp(although can't say it's a lot better than the DA), yes it's image got a warmer tone, it's the F series look it gives that really attract me to that lens, but every time I had it in my hands the size and bulk and the handling of the lens really put me off... that means it seldom comes with me on outings, hence I sold them off after a while. I bought one expecting to use on my SFXn but I didn't really shot film often enough...

Verdict? if you want a cheap and cheerful telephoto zoom that doesn't break your bank or your back, out of this bunch get a DAL 50-200 if you are on a tight budget, shoot with plenty of light hence no need of Quick shift, get a DA 50-200 if you don't intend to shoot in adverse weather conditions, value the benefits of a hood and quick shift, get a DA50-200WR if you shoot in dusty/damp situation often but can't/don't want to shell out for DA* lens, and got tons of 49mm size filter to share with your primes.

F70-210 is a difficult one, depends on how much you can get it for, if you can get it for less than the DA variety I'd say get it and be happy, it's got a lot of character and charm and will give you pleasant result, and you can use it with your film camera and it's got a 49mm filter thread. For me the handling issues, namely rotating front element, weight, bulk, no quick shift eventually sway me towards the DA, but you requirements may be different from mine.

If you want telephoto zooms with fast aperture and great image quality, stop kidding yourself and start saving for a 70-200 f2.8 :P

My 2 cents.
04-06-2013, 05:19 PM   #11
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Funny you should make this informative post today...I just returned from a meeting with a craigslist seller who had an F35-70 & F70-210 combo for sale. I was fairly impressed with the quick AF & build quality (and surprising weight) of the 70-210. Unfortunately, the F35-70 was sticking & had oil inside, and the seller didn't want to break up the pair, so I passed on the deal . It's ok though, since I'm perfectly happy with my copy of the DA L 50-200. For me, the combination of light weight, portability, decent IQ and low price makes it hard to beat as an everyday outdoor zoom.

Last edited by paulh; 04-06-2013 at 06:36 PM.
04-06-2013, 06:33 PM   #12
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Thank you very much for this very helpful review. Now, if you could just add a comparison to the A70-210 (the SMC variety)...

I have the 50-200DA, and it's ok stopped down, but generally not as good as the 55-300. On the other hand, the 50-200 is pretty consistently so-so across the frame, but I'm still looking for a perfectly consistent 55-300. If anybody can ever find a perfect copy of the 55-300 it would probably be the best value vs. the 50-200 and the 70-210F.

Paul
04-06-2013, 06:50 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by causey Quote
Could you take a landscape with both lenses, infinity focus, @ f8, 70mm and 200mm, and compare the pics? My suspicion is, your conclusion will be different.
I have this scene at 70mm, focused at maybe 350-400 feet.



I set them both to the same white balance and took some 100% crops of the center which was the CDAF target, then some 100% crops of the upper left.




The color difference should make it obvious which crop is which. I don't really have a good test scene for infinity focus which includes center and corner in the same plane and detail to see at 100%.
04-06-2013, 08:04 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
I have this scene at 70mm, focused at maybe 350-400 feet......................
Thanks! To be honest, I'm surprised. I had the DA 55-200mm and the Takumar-F 70-200mm (same optical formula as the F 70-210, but uncoated), and the latter seemed sharper than the DA.
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