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04-16-2013, 11:41 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Pentax DA 55-300 vs Tamron 70-300 LD Di Macro comparison

Today i took delivery of my new Pentax DA 55-300. I have been pretty excited about receiving this lens, the reviews and reports are good. And the good folks here also helped steer me in the direction of the 55-300.

On first handling the lens its immediately apparent that it exactly matches the 18-55 kit lens for looks and build. Which is no bad thing, after all the DA 18-55 is rated as one of the better kit lens. I bought the DA model with the metal mount, Quick shift focus and genuine hood. I'm glad i did spend the extra now, i was in two minds at the time of buying, could have saved 40 opting for the DA-L. The hood is superb, just like the one on the 18-55. And is complete with window for using polariser filters, that is such a cool feature. And the quick shift focus works a dream.

The are a couple of downsides. The zoom action is a little stiff and suffers with stiction, something the Tamron doesn't. And the manual focus ring is a lot smaller than the Tamron. Plus i do like the overall chunky size of the Tamron, the Pentax is very slender by comparison. All very minor quibbles and not a deal breaker in sight (although that may come later at the race track).

Optically the Pentax is good, right through its entire focal range and wide open. There is no image quality drop off at 180mm like the Tamron or 200mm like the Sigma 70-300 DG. And Chromatic Aberration is controlled to the point of there being almost no trace. Couldn't ask for more from a consumer grade lens. Only the loud and relatively slow AF has me a little worried.

Thought i would take a couple of pics with the new lens. One is a comparison with the Tamron. The other my car, just to show the sharpness. The comparison photo is a centre crop of each image and the camera was tripod mounted to rule out any shake. It was a nice sunny day with no wind. And absolutely no post processing, other than the crop, was applied to either image.

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04-16-2013, 11:43 AM   #2
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Wow, that tamron has some nasty purple fringing
04-16-2013, 11:50 AM   #3
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It's quite shocking really. I took at picture of a TVR at the race track last weekend. The car was blue with white sign writing down the side. The lens simply couldn't cope with that challenge and the result was dreadful. That was the moment i knew the Tamron was a gonna. Just had to go.
04-16-2013, 12:05 PM   #4
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Congratulations. I still use mine regularly despite having a vareity of non-consumer lenses to choose from

04-16-2013, 12:38 PM   #5
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Thanks.
04-16-2013, 12:48 PM   #6
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Thanks for sharing that. The Tamron looks nasty! But for a lot of people, it does have its place and purpose.

For the money though, the 55-300 (I have the DA-L ) is an awesome choice.
04-16-2013, 02:09 PM   #7
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Assuming the dragonfly was the target, the Tamron is way back-focused, so there really are no valid conclusions to draw from this regarding its sharpness (the PF does look bad, though).
04-16-2013, 07:36 PM   #8
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I've have the 55-300 and have had the Tamrons, Promasters (rebadged Tamrons) and Sigmas 70-300, same results, though a couple weren't bad if you were very close. I don't hear that noisy autofocus much, I've learned to use the quickshift to get it close, then kick in the autofocus.

04-16-2013, 07:55 PM   #9
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The version of Tamron I have is A17 and is a very sharp lens but does show tendency to purple fringe.
The comparison above with the dragonfly is misfocused so I expect the PF is exaggerated and would diminish a bit if properly focused.

An example of what I typically see is below:

04-16-2013, 11:22 PM   #10
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I'll re-do the Tammy image and make sure i nail the focus this time.....sorry. I'll also look into whether the lens is back-focusing and run the de-bug hack on the K10D.

That's a fantastic image btw. Show's what the Tamron can do in the right hands.
04-16-2013, 11:25 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
I've have the 55-300 and have had the Tamrons, Promasters (rebadged Tamrons) and Sigmas 70-300, same results, though a couple weren't bad if you were very close. I don't hear that noisy autofocus much, I've learned to use the quickshift to get it close, then kick in the autofocus.
Quickshift, get close and then let the AF finish off was my plan too. I'll put it into practice Friday hopefully, photograph a few race cars. Will also try sorting out the Tammy before and take that along too for comparison. If i'm honest this is all about justifying the money spent on the Pentax, so i really want there to be some sort of tangible difference in favour of the Pentax........
04-17-2013, 02:07 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ikarus Quote
Assuming the dragonfly was the target, the Tamron is way back-focused, so there really are no valid conclusions to draw from this regarding its sharpness (the PF does look bad, though).
A quick question. If the Tammy is back-focused and i use the de-bug mode on the K10D to correct it, will that then throw off the three Pentax lenses (18-55, 55-300, 50 1.7)? Or does the camera save that setting just against that one lens? I was a having play last night and i think you are right the Tammy is back-focusing. But the Pentax lenses are all bang on (as far as i can tell from a simple test).
04-17-2013, 05:27 AM   #13
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As far as I know using the debug mode on a K10d to change the focus point will make the setting global so all of your lenses will be affected.

Maybe just test using manual focus?

As a side note I must mention that this version of the Tamron that I have (A17) is much sharper than a previous Tamron 70-300 I owned that was an older model with smooth focus and zoom ring rubber.
I don't recall that model number.
This one I have now has a rough cross hatch pattern to the zoom and focus ring.
04-17-2013, 02:18 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
As far as I know using the debug mode on a K10d to change the focus point will make the setting global so all of your lenses will be affected.

Maybe just test using manual focus?

As a side note I must mention that this version of the Tamron that I have (A17) is much sharper than a previous Tamron 70-300 I owned that was an older model with smooth focus and zoom ring rubber.
I don't recall that model number.
This one I have now has a rough cross hatch pattern to the zoom and focus ring.
Can confirm mine is an A17 too. And that the operator of the camera is a fool.

Did some more testing indoors and the Tamron had no problem focusing on the right target. Which is good news, no back-focus issues. Just the fool behind the camera didn't check to make sure the AF had locked onto the right target when photographing the dragonfly. I'll re-do the test when we get some good weather again.
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