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01-28-2014, 09:24 AM   #16
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I don't know the Sigma's but early on, I spent some time with a number of cheap tele zooms (Tamron products and others) in that range and settled on the DA 55-300. I also picked up the FA 100-300 and recently got the FA 80-320, both of which are cheap and well, you get what you pay for. The new HD 55-300 WR lens would be and interesting upgrade but as I don't shoot a lot of long tele shots, I'm very happy with the DA 55-300. I will say that in my readings of posts on this site, the general (although debatable) consensus seems to be that the DA 55-300 provides the best bang for the buck.

01-28-2014, 09:43 AM   #17
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I've got the Pentax DA-L 55-300, and it's a stellar performer from about 70mm on up. Below 70mm, it's a bit soft, but from 70-300, it's terrific.

In case anyone wants to go super-cheap, the old manual focus Tamron SP 23A 60-300 is another excellent lens. And it's a 1:1.55x macro lens, to boot! I've seen those for around $50. As far as image quality, I'd say it's comparable to the Pentax 55-300. It's a mighty fine lens for little coin.
01-28-2014, 12:19 PM   #18
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I'm happy with my DA-L 55-300 as well. For the price, it's a more than decent lens.
01-28-2014, 05:37 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by kh1234567890 Quote
As long as you are lucky to get 'a good one' or don't care about uneven softness in the frame corners
This has definitely been a problem with all 5 of my 55-300s, although centering or other element alignment issues are certainly not confined to this model or Pentax lenses exclusively. It's very important to purchase any lens from a source that allows you to return it easily after sufficient time to test it thoroughly, and at as low (shipping, usually) cost as possible.

01-28-2014, 06:46 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
This has definitely been a problem with all 5 of my 55-300s
5? How bout saving some for the rest of us.
01-28-2014, 06:54 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Another 18-135 basher, another one comes out of the woodwork every day.
I've never used this lens, let alone abuse it.



It has IQ in the middle, commensurate with its price. I found the DA55-300 to be the same way. So if you like one, you're likely to approve of the other.

I consider comparison to the DA55-300 more of a compliment than an insult.

Last edited by DSims; 01-28-2014 at 07:07 PM.
01-28-2014, 07:04 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by schnitzer79 Quote
i already have the 18-135mm lens that came with my K-50 and absolutely love it and recently bought a sigma 24-70 f/2.8 for low light photography. although most of my shots are in the 18-135 range, there have been a few times where I needed some extra reach. im not looking for anything too expensive and probably end up buying second hand. ive narrowed it down to these:

Pentax DA 55-300 f4-5.8 (any difference in the WR and non WR apart from the obvious?)
Pentax FA 100-300 f4.7-5.8
Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 DL Macro
Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 DG Macro

which one is better in terms of sharpness?
I owned the Sigma 70-300mm DL, and later upgraded to the Tamron 70-300mm. The Tamron was sharper, except for the annoying purple fringing. Then a few years ago, the Tamron died, and I got the cheapest version of the Pentax DAL 55-300mm. No contest! The Pentax is easily better than the Tamron and the Sigma DL. I haven't owned the newer Sigma. These days, I do lots of birding with a K30 and the 55-300mm. Yes I crop, and then apply USM. But it works great. This is a 3:1 crop at 300mm F/8, then resized from 1620x1080 downto 1200x800 for the web. By my math, the image below is is a 1350mm FF equivalent crop.

I also own the SIgma 150-500mm, and there's no doubt its better for the extreme telehioto, but the Pentax 55-300mm is a lot more convenient. I'm tempted to upgrade to the newer weather proof version of the 55-300mm, with quick shift focusing, and slightly better coatings, but I'm good with the lens I have. I usually use a lens hood, which helps with contrast.

Last edited by sheld; 01-28-2014 at 07:12 PM. Reason: corrected image
01-28-2014, 07:38 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
5? How bout saving some for the rest of us.
Not to worry: three are already back in circulation, and another will be within a week or so. Somewhere out there there's a 55-300 with all the elements assembled correctly, but I think I've run out of patience searching for it. The photozone 55-300 test copy had decentering, as did their 60-250DA* test copy. To quote from their test:

"Following a bit of a Pentax tradition the tested sample wasn't perfectly centered..."

Some traditions are good; some, not so much.

01-28-2014, 11:37 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by sheld Quote
I owned the Sigma 70-300mm DL, and later upgraded to the Tamron 70-300mm. The Tamron was sharper, except for the annoying purple fringing. Then a few years ago, the Tamron died, and I got the cheapest version of the Pentax DAL 55-300mm. No contest! The Pentax is easily better than the Tamron and the Sigma DL. I haven't owned the newer Sigma. These days, I do lots of birding with a K30 and the 55-300mm. Yes I crop, and then apply USM. But it works great. This is a 3:1 crop at 300mm F/8, then resized from 1620x1080 downto 1200x800 for the web. By my math, the image below is is a 1350mm FF equivalent crop.

I also own the SIgma 150-500mm, and there's no doubt its better for the extreme telehioto, but the Pentax 55-300mm is a lot more convenient. I'm tempted to upgrade to the newer weather proof version of the 55-300mm, with quick shift focusing, and slightly better coatings, but I'm good with the lens I have. I usually use a lens hood, which helps with contrast.
not bad considering all the cropping and resizing. yeah i think im convinced on the 55-300.However, I might wait a little longer to see if i can find a good deal on the tokina 100-300 f/4.
01-29-2014, 06:30 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by schnitzer79 Quote
not bad considering all the cropping and resizing. yeah i think im convinced on the 55-300.However, I might wait a little longer to see if i can find a good deal on the tokina 100-300 f/4.
You NEED the Tokina
01-29-2014, 04:27 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by schnitzer79 Quote
not bad considering all the cropping and resizing. yeah i think im convinced on the 55-300.However, I might wait a little longer to see if i can find a good deal on the tokina 100-300 f/4.
PM sent
01-29-2014, 06:58 PM   #27
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Based on the photozone tests, I'm curious if anyone has compared the Tamron 70-300 LD Di and the Pentax 55-300 (any variety) after running the raw files through, let's say, DxO. As usual the tested Pentax suffered from decentering (at the wide end) in the photozone test, but overall the Tamron seemed equally sharp, while having more fringing, particularly in the mid range. Software has seemed to have gotten better at handling the fringing over the years, so I wonder whether the net results would still favor the 55-300.
01-29-2014, 09:32 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
Based on the photozone tests, I'm curious if anyone has compared the Tamron 70-300 LD Di and the Pentax 55-300 (any variety) after running the raw files through, let's say, DxO. As usual the tested Pentax suffered from decentering (at the wide end) in the photozone test, but overall the Tamron seemed equally sharp, while having more fringing, particularly in the mid range. Software has seemed to have gotten better at handling the fringing over the years, so I wonder whether the net results would still favor the 55-300.
I owned the Tamron 70-300mm for my ist-DL, and then upgraded to the Pentax 55-300mm, when the Tamron died. I remember comparing some test chart photos (6 megapixels), and the Pentax was slightly higher resolution than the Tamron, and of course, the Pentax doesn't have any pf.
01-30-2014, 03:34 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
Based on the photozone tests, I'm curious if anyone has compared the Tamron 70-300 LD Di and the Pentax 55-300 (any variety) after running the raw files through, let's say, DxO. As usual the tested Pentax suffered from decentering (at the wide end) in the photozone test, but overall the Tamron seemed equally sharp, while having more fringing, particularly in the mid range. Software has seemed to have gotten better at handling the fringing over the years, so I wonder whether the net results would still favor the 55-300.
I compared the Tamron 70-300 to two copies of the 55-300. I took many comparison shots to decide whether to keep the Tamron or one of the new 55-300s.
The main differences I've found:
  • As regards resolution, the Tamron is on the same level as the Pentax IMO, even at 300mm.
  • However, the Pentax has visibly better contrast and looks sharper and punchier, especially at the long end, even though it has no advantage whatsoever in resolving the very fine details compared to the Tamron
  • The Pentax has very little problems with purple fringing compared to the Tamron
  • The Tamron has much smoother bokeh. It shows less outlining effects in out-of-focus highlights and has a nice rounded 9-blade aperture compared to the non-rounded 6 blades of the Pentax.
I sold the Tamron after my tests but slightly regret it now because I've become somewhat of a bokeh aficionado since then, and the Pentax is somewhat disappointing in that regard...
01-30-2014, 08:57 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by sTi Quote
I compared the Tamron 70-300 to two copies of the 55-300. I took many comparison shots to decide whether to keep the Tamron or one of the new 55-300s.
The main differences I've found:
  • As regards resolution, the Tamron is on the same level as the Pentax IMO, even at 300mm.
  • However, the Pentax has visibly better contrast and looks sharper and punchier, especially at the long end, even though it has no advantage whatsoever in resolving the very fine details compared to the Tamron
  • The Pentax has very little problems with purple fringing compared to the Tamron
  • The Tamron has much smoother bokeh. It shows less outlining effects in out-of-focus highlights and has a nice rounded 9-blade aperture compared to the non-rounded 6 blades of the Pentax.
I sold the Tamron after my tests but slightly regret it now because I've become somewhat of a bokeh aficionado since then, and the Pentax is somewhat disappointing in that regard...
The purple fringing definitely seems to be a weak point of the Tamron lens. I'm just wondering whether advances in software have somewhat minimized this particular disadvantage relative to the 55-300. For example, I've also noticed that compared to my old 100-300F, the 55-300 has outstanding contrast in raw output. But with a little PP, the results become very close.
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