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01-26-2015, 05:43 PM   #1
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Is my DA L 55-300 broken?

Hey guys! I'm hoping you can help me determine if my lens is damaged, or if it's just my imagination

It's the DA L 55-300mm kit lens. I've had it for a few years, and have taken good care of it EXCEPT one time where it rolled off a park bench and onto the ground. Ever since then I've suspected that it's gone soft...but it's hard to determine this for sure. It's been hard for me to get nice looking pictures at 300mm, but I don't know if this is a limitation of the lens in general, or a limitation of this particular lens. I don't have enough good pictures from before the "drop" to compare. I've heard so many great things about this lens, but it's always disappointed me. When I got the Tokina 100-300, it was a big step up (figuratively and literally - it's heavy!). Now that I've moved on and am looking to sell the kit zoom, I want to know if I'm selling damaged goods.

Couldn't think of a better way of testing than to just show you photos and see if they look normal for this lens. All these were shot with the K-5 on a tripod @ 300mm, with mirror lockup to reduce vibration as much as possible. I focused as best I could and took shots at different apertures. What you see are 100% crops of the center of the frame.

At f16, the result is not bad, but at f5.8 and f8 the sharpness is gone. This is understandable, but what makes me wonder if it's more than normal softness is that there appears to be directional blur (up/down and slightly diagonal) instead of a nice, round softness. What do you think?

f/5.8:
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01-26-2015, 05:45 PM   #2
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And here's a final image I shot using the Tokina 100-300mm lens at 300mm, f8, as a kind of control frame. It's a great lens, super sharp - at least, compared to the 55-300.

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01-26-2015, 05:54 PM   #3
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Why no used both AF methods and compare to see if they are different?
01-26-2015, 06:05 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
Why no used both AF methods and compare to see if they are different?
Well, the results you seen here in this controlled test are consistent in all the photos I've taken with the lens, whether with AF, or more often using MF and live view, using all different settings, long exposure, short shutter to freeze motion - the result is always the same - it's never quite sharp - so I don't feel the problem is related to focus accuracy or any other settings. My only question is whether these results are typical of the DA L 55-300 and that I expect too much, or if there's a physical problem with my copy, whether from dropping it, or from something else.

01-26-2015, 06:18 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by DK77 Quote
Well, the results you seen here in this controlled test are consistent in all the photos I've taken with the lens, whether with AF, or more often using MF and live view, using all different settings, long exposure, short shutter to freeze motion - the result is always the same - it's never quite sharp - so I don't feel the problem is related to focus accuracy or any other settings. My only question is whether these results are typical of the DA L 55-300 and that I expect too much, or if there's a physical problem with my copy, whether from dropping it, or from something else.
If its doing that under BOTH AF modes than it isn't a lens adjustment that is needed. It does look to be a problem with the lens because my DAL is significantly sharper at f8 than your copy. Sorry.
01-26-2015, 06:23 PM   #6
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I can do more testing to eliminate the possibility of user error, but I don't think I'm going to improve the result. Thanks for your help! That's the feedback I was looking for - certainly not what I wanted to hear, but....

Can I get a get a second opinion? :-p

---------- Post added 01-26-15 at 08:44 PM ----------

I guess my follow-up question would be: what is this lens worth, now? I'm guessing the cost of repair would be greater than the cost of the lens itself. :-\

Last edited by DK77; 01-26-2015 at 06:44 PM.
01-26-2015, 06:47 PM - 1 Like   #7
mee
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I have the HD 55-300 WR lens which (I think, optically, minus the coating) is the same lens.

Here is my copy at 1/60 f/8 ISO800 *hand held* so, in both cases of settings and lack of tripod, it should be softer... and I don't have surgeon's hands either.

However, even with this in mind, my copy is noticeably sharper..
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01-26-2015, 06:51 PM   #8
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Thanks so much for taking the time to do that, mee, that's a perfect comparison! And rather depressing, to see what yours can do that mine can't. The difference is stark - I think that puts the issue to rest. Nice to know for sure, though.

01-26-2015, 06:58 PM   #9
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Glad to help.. even if it is somewhat difficult news!
01-26-2015, 07:00 PM   #10
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Well, I wasn't expecting good news. I just had to confirm what I suspected.
01-26-2015, 07:07 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by DK77 Quote
I can do more testing to eliminate the possibility of user error, but I don't think I'm going to improve the result. Thanks for your help! That's the feedback I was looking for - certainly not what I wanted to hear, but....

Can I get a get a second opinion? :-p

---------- Post added 01-26-15 at 08:44 PM ----------

I guess my follow-up question would be: what is this lens worth, now? I'm guessing the cost of repair would be greater than the cost of the lens itself. :-\
DAL used is $175 because that is what mine is priced at. DA is a bit more because of quick shift, $200ish used in good shape.
01-26-2015, 07:11 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
DAL used is $175 because that is what mine is priced at. DA is a bit more because of quick shift, $200ish used in good shape.
Well, maybe I'll just put it on the marketplace one of these days and see if anyone is interested. I'll be able to refer them to this thread to read about the issue. The good news is that the lens gets better at wider focal lengths, so it's not useless!
01-26-2015, 08:29 PM   #13
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My copy of this lens had a similar fall after which it had pronounced forward and backward movement in the lens barrel which was affecting focus. Having nothing to lose I pulled it apart and could find nothing obviously broken. Now I can't seem to get it back together. Oh well nothing lost as it was no good as it was. Prior to its mishap I felt it was quite sharp at f8.
01-26-2015, 08:46 PM   #14
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Ah, I'm sorry to hear that, Bruce. Yeah, I didn't think it would be a quick fix.
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