Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
05-09-2008, 08:58 PM   #1
Veteran Member
Ivan Glisin's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Belgrade
Posts: 656
DA 55-300: Mini Review

Here are my impressions on the new DA 55-300 after about a week with it:

Design and Construction

DA 55-300 is a very well designed lens. Construction is very solid and the lens is assembled with very tight tolerances making operation very smooth.

Zoom ring is very tight and requires solid push to rotate it. This is good since DA 55-300 will not zoom in or our on it's own: I was having my camera mounted on monopod and walking with the lens pointing down does not result in a focal length change at all. You simply can not "shake it" to a different focal length. One interesting thing though is that while operating zoom ring the sound it makes reminds me of a sound you would produce by scratching a nylon jacket or bag with your fingernail, but I have checked other lenses in the store and confirmed with Ed, and it is apparently normal. Well, something must create all that friction, although I believe this will loosen up a bit with use to just the right friction.

Focusing ring rotates about 180 degrees from infinity mark to 1.4m. Very unusual long throw for AF lenses but results in VERY precise manual and auto focusing. Good design! Since DOF is so shallow that is really necessary. Don't be surprised though by noisy focusing ring while manually focusing: although it turns smoothly you can hear all the gears turning inside. Again, it appears to be normal.

Fully extended at 300mm lens barrel almost does not wobble and lens still feels very solid. Thanks to much thicker barrel and differently design lens hood DA 55-300 looks much better than somewhat "skinny" and "shaky" DA 50-200. (And honestly, I always hated that paper cup looking lens hood on DA 50-200.)

Optical Quality

And here is the best part: DA 55-300 appears to be an exceptional lens! Sharpness is very good at all focal lengths and apertures and very uniform across the frame. A big plus! I took several shots of the brick wall at apertures from wide to f/11 and I am not sure there is any practical improvement so I discarded stopped-down tests since wide open is good and as good as stopped down. Just amazing! Once Photozone review is up I believe that Klaus will confirm this. (If he does not get a defective sample!) I am not sure, but there may be even slight improvement towards the 300mm end where this lens really excels, but this is not to say that 55mm is poor. So shoot at any aperture and any focal length with confidence. No worries: there is no need to stop down or avoid some focal lengths for optimal quality.

Very light chromatic aberration and purple fringing do exist, but you'll need to work really hard to see them! I did not feel any need to correct anything. You'll need 100% magnification to see some purple fringing (almost only traces) in most contrasty situations. Color rendering and contrast are very good, flare resistance also. There is slight vignetting but you'll need really uniformly lit surface to clearly see it. All in all: very good!

The most interesting capability is 1.4m closest focusing distance, opening the possibility for close-up work. With excellent sharpness wide open and pleasing bokeh, 300mm at 1.4m can replace your macro lens in most situations. If you are after portraits of spiders and bees you may need 1:1 macro, but for anything bigger than that DA 55-300 will do just fine.

Sample Images

Here are some sample images. All are taken with *istDS, meaning no SR! Trust me, it is EXTREMELY hard to stabilize the camera at 300mm so I guess SR would help a lot. I have used my monopod for some shots, some are handheld. I was trying to shoot wide open but check data (EXIF included) and remember there is no difference in sharpness. All photos are processed in Adobe Lightroom 1.4, resized in Photoshop 7 with light sharpening (USM 150%, 0.3px) to compensate for loss in resolution. However, 100% crops are NOT additionally sharpened. Here we go:





100% crop:


This guy was about 5 meters (15ft) away from me, at 300mm. Horizontal shot cropped to vertical, but with no reduction in vertical size:


100% crop:


This bench was about 30m (100ft) away, taken at 230mm:


Here is what you can frame from about 3m (10ft):


The same distance, one more time:


And this is about as close as you can get at 300mm and 1.4m:


Bottom line: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

05-09-2008, 09:45 PM   #2
Veteran Member
Dale's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Surfcoast Victoria Australia
Posts: 560
Great review,

The other 55-300 image posts here have looked really quite good. It seems like this will be one of the really good Pentax lenses.

I'm soooo glad I just jumped for the Tamron PF 70-300 special. It hasn't even arrived and I'm seriously thinking of starting the 70-300 flood on the market place.

Oh well...
05-10-2008, 01:54 AM   #3
Senior Member




Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Posts: 264
For me it seems a must have... one step closer to my decision and not buying DA* 50-135...
05-10-2008, 03:37 AM   #4
Veteran Member
heatherslightbox's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Gainesville, FL
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,595
Great review! Thank you so much!
This is just yet another confirmation that I did the right thing by spending $100+ more on the 55-300 as opposed to the Sigma 70-300 APO. If UPS is on time (which they usually are), my new 55-300 + K10D will be meeting for the first time on Tuesday.

Heather

05-10-2008, 04:36 AM   #5
Senior Member




Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Posts: 264
I am waiting also for your review, hwblanks!!

Lucky you are!!
05-10-2008, 04:36 AM   #6
Junior Member




Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 42
Why why why. I had promised myself I would not be buying any new lenses this year and then the DA 35 macro threads hit me. I could not resist. Now this. LBA strikes again
05-10-2008, 04:46 AM   #7
Senior Member




Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Posts: 264
Well, you have a nice collection of lenses... you better dont resist to the LBA

By the way, since you have both FA35 and DA35 I would like to hear how they compare. I own a FA35 but DA35 seems also interesting for me...

Thank you!
05-10-2008, 05:05 AM   #8
Veteran Member




Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: West Virginia
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 338
Nice job, Ivan! You succeeded in triggering an LBA relapse. The squirrel shot did it! Just ordered the 55-300 from Gary Camera (IN) - $339 plus $15 shipping........

Thanks a bunch!

05-10-2008, 05:11 AM   #9
Ed in GA
Guest




Great review Ivan,

IMO, this is a "must have" lens for those who want a long zoom. I'm pretty happy to have mine already.
05-10-2008, 09:25 AM   #10
Junior Member




Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 42
cooldude14es, the DA35 is on its way to me. Will share my impressions of how it compares with that FA 35. Now let me try to find money the da 55-300
05-10-2008, 09:45 AM   #11
Site Supporter




Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: NC
Posts: 787
QuoteOriginally posted by hwblanks Quote
Great review! Thank you so much!
This is just yet another confirmation that I did the right thing by spending $100+ more on the 55-300 as opposed to the Sigma 70-300 APO. If UPS is on time (which they usually are), my new 55-300 + K10D will be meeting for the first time on Tuesday.

Heather
heather,

congrats on your purchase. please do post your opinions on the lens and sample shots when you get the chance!


jordan

Zenfolio | Jordan Paw Image Arts
05-10-2008, 12:33 PM   #12
Veteran Member
Buddha Jones's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Charlotte, NC
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,591
That looks like it will make a great 'everyday' lens, even or esp. for travel. But the results of the 60-250mm will truely determine where I end up going. But I am glad to see Pentax making great quality consumer lenses.
05-10-2008, 01:38 PM   #13
Veteran Member
Nesster's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: NJ USA
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 13,047
Yes, I want one too. Thanks for the temptation!
05-10-2008, 02:30 PM   #14
Site Supporter
maxwell1295's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Long Island, New York
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,704
QuoteOriginally posted by Dale Quote
Great review,

The other 55-300 image posts here have looked really quite good. It seems like this will be one of the really good Pentax lenses.

I'm soooo glad I just jumped for the Tamron PF 70-300 special. It hasn't even arrived and I'm seriously thinking of starting the 70-300 flood on the market place.

Oh well...
That makes 2 of us! I can still return mine (minus the 10% restocking fee) and pick up one of these. I grabbed the DA10-17 instead and I'm already second gussing myself. The 55-300 would probably get a lot more use. And considering what I spent on the 10-17, I'm not sure I did the right thing....
05-10-2008, 08:08 PM   #15
Pentaxian
reeftool's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Upstate New York
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 8,157
It looks like this lens may soon be on my shopping list. The Sigma 70-300 is ok but kind of soft at 300. All the pictures posted are really nice and the price isn't bad.
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
300mm, da, design, frame, improvement, k-mount, length, lens, pentax lens, sharpness, shots, slr lens
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Mini Review - Think Tank Multimedia Wired Up 10 raider Pentax Camera and Field Accessories 3 09-06-2010 02:38 AM
MZ-7 mini review / first thoughts filmamigo Pentax Film SLR Discussion 29 12-17-2008 02:01 PM
Sigma 100-300 f/4 in High Park (and mini-review) dkittle Post Your Photos! 10 10-22-2008 03:30 AM
K20D mini review by Mark Dimalanta cateto Pentax News and Rumors 3 02-26-2008 11:25 PM
Sigma DC EX 10-20mm - Mini Review joele Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 10 01-17-2007 03:46 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:56 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top