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08-13-2008, 05:38 PM   #1
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Pentax A*300 vs. DA*300 (8 large photos)

I sold my A*300 and purchased a DA*300. But while I had both in my hot little hands, I thought that I would do a quick test comparing the two. The A*300 has a little disadvantage though, it has some marks on the objective glass. They do not seem to make any difference in the pictures as you can see in the images below.

It is difficult to tell the difference between the two. They are both very sharp at f/4, and extremely sharp at f/5.6. The difference in contrast was mostly due to changing light conditions between the rainstorms here in the Jacksonville area. I got a break between storms to take these pictures before I had to send off the old lens to the new owner.

The first one is the A*300 and the second is the DA*300. All photos have a 100% crop in an inset.

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f/4
*



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f/5.6




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f/8




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f/11




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Last edited by TomInJax; 08-14-2008 at 11:20 AM. Reason: Set images to resize on click.
08-13-2008, 05:47 PM   #2
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The new lens appears to have better contrast.
08-13-2008, 05:53 PM   #3
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DA* seems to have worse tree bokeh up to 5.6 or it may be because the lighting changed?
08-13-2008, 06:24 PM   #4
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I find it hard to really see much difference just browsing through the photos.

I guess the question is, is AF really worth all that extra because otherwise, I think the A does jsut fine. When you consider that not all birds arae as tame as that dove, and many times you are shooting through trees, MF might be better.

Out of curiosity, how much rotation of the focusing collar does the DA take to go from infinity to min focus. How does that compare with the A. I have notices many AF lenses seem to have much reduced focusing ring rotation from infinity to min focus compared to MF lenses. While this helps in speed of focus, it hurts in precision. For me, the real optimum is 180degrees like my old Series 1 70-210 F3.5. My K300 with 270 degrees is a little too slow to aquire focus, but my sigma 70-200 F2.8 at 90 degrees is tough to get precise.

p.s. I did notice however you have a hot pixel almost dead center in the sensor.

08-13-2008, 06:45 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I guess the question is, is AF really worth all that extra because otherwise, I think the A does just fine. When you consider that not all birds are as tame as that dove, and many times you are shooting through trees, MF might be better.
You are right about manual focus. I actually had the focus more accurate with the manual focus in this case. But, my eyes are getting older and the dove was very patient with me. In a faster action setting, I wouldn't have a chance on getting the focus right (with my eyes now). When I was younger, I could hit the manual focus dead on and often wondered why anyone would want auto focus!

QuoteQuote:
p.s. I did notice however you have a hot pixel almost dead center in the sensor.
Yes, I noticed that today. I thought that the camera's software was supposed to map them out of the equation?
08-14-2008, 08:01 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by TomInJax Quote
...

Yes, I noticed that today. I thought that the camera's software was supposed to map them out of the equation?

You have to run the diagnostic mode so it can find them first I think. Never done it myself, but it'll be in the manual.

I noticed that the first two shots, you hit the focus better than the camera did on the bird. The third shot, the camera finally dialed it in, but your MF shots are consistently focused more precisely.

I also noted that the DA seems to have a brighter image. If you're shooting manually, it could be something to do with the lens, if its in an auto mode with the DA, perhaps its just the camera compensating.
08-14-2008, 08:21 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by thePiRaTE!! Quote
You have to run the diagnostic mode so it can find them first I think. Never done it myself, but it'll be in the manual.
I found the issue. It has to do with V1.00 firmware and the 2 second delay. I updated it to V1.01 and it is fixed.

QuoteQuote:
I noticed that the first two shots, you hit the focus better than the camera did on the bird. The third shot, the camera finally dialed it in, but your MF shots are consistently focused more precisely.
Ya, I noticed that and that makes this test less precise. Perhaps I should have manually focused both lenses. But I was in a hurry to get the A*300 lens packed up and in the mail to the new owner. I did use a tripod and 2 second delay though. I may have to dial in the focus on a few of my lenses with the K20D. But the fact that I had some shots in focus means that AF is not as reliable as a good eye and manual focus. Ugh! I also forgot that I had set the camera on JPEG only and only 6MP. Oh well. It did show enough.

QuoteQuote:
I also noted that the DA seems to have a brighter image. If you're shooting manually, it could be something to do with the lens, if its in an auto mode with the DA, perhaps its just the camera compensating.
I shot P mode and manually adjusted the F stop, letting the camera compensate with the shutter speed.. er.. exposure time. I am sure that if I set the exposure to + 1/2 stop with the A*300, they would have been exposed similarly. Both lenses are fantastic, but I like the weather sealing and autofocus for my old eyes.

This test did reassure the buyer that he is getting a wonderful lens, made me wonder if spending a whole bunch more money was really worth it, and answered some questions that others were asking me about the differences between the two lenses. And since I had them both together for a couple days, why not?
08-14-2008, 08:37 AM   #8
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Nice comparison. I'm with you on the autofocus thing. Years ago I could manually focus very fast, but today my eye keeps saying "is that it, or should it be clearer?".


BTW: I did notice the dove moved over a board. I was going to ask if put some glue on the fence.

08-14-2008, 08:56 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom S. Quote
BTW: I did notice the dove moved over a board. I was going to ask if put some glue on the fence.
Ha ha ha! I hadn't thought of that! That's a great idea! I had to shoot fast! The dove flew off just as I finished my last quick shot.
08-14-2008, 09:54 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by TomInJax Quote
You are right about manual focus. I actually had the focus more accurate with the manual focus in this case. But, my eyes are getting older and the dove was very patient with me. In a faster action setting, I wouldn't have a chance on getting the focus right (with my eyes now). When I was younger, I could hit the manual focus dead on and often wondered why anyone would want auto focus!



Yes, I noticed that today. I thought that the camera's software was supposed to map them out of the equation?
I shoot litle garden birds an therefore AF is a very nice tool, in many conditions its faster than MF. And of Course you can switch it OFF. I had the F* 300/4.5 and now I Have the DA* 300/4, With the DA * you can overide the AF without switching it off, it focusses down to 1.4 meters, has a hardened coating and is splash waterproof.

I say there is more improvement then the AF alone.

The real quality difference will not show that easy, it gets visible, in extreme light conditions ie backlight and low light.

The handling is not as easy as with the F* 300, the F* is smaller then most 300mms
08-14-2008, 10:39 AM   #11
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Hi all,

I have to agree with Lowell in that I don't see any significant difference between the two lenses in this particular case. If anything I felt the A* looked a little better to me. However, like Tom, my eyesight isn't exactly improving with age and AF is looking like a more attractive feature with every passing year. Is AF worth that much??? It is if there is no other option. Enjoy that new lens Tom!

Tom G
08-14-2008, 11:34 AM   #12
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The question is how far will you go.

This would not have been possible without AF, they are so fast and stay only split seconds in the ideal position. The focus should be on the eye otherwise the picture looks bad. I focus with the center point only after focus I make the compo.
This is not a crop.

Guido

DA*300, 1/200, f5.6, iso 200


08-14-2008, 12:00 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Geyst Quote
... This would not have been possible without AF, they are so fast and stay only split seconds in the ideal position. The focus should be on the eye otherwise the picture looks bad. I focus with the center point only after focus I make the compo.
This is not a crop.
How do you get that close? It looks like you were within 4 meters!
08-14-2008, 12:17 PM   #14
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Tom, do you mind if I ask how much you sold the A* 300mm for?

I've heard many say that the new DA* 200mm and 300mm are just the old designs in new, weather-sealed jackets, and your photos seem to prove that's the case with the 300mm. If not the same design, then they've certainly managed to create a new lens that produces the same results as the old one
08-14-2008, 01:06 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miserere Quote
Tom, do you mind if I ask how much you sold the A* 300mm for?
It is a well used lens with some wear and marks on the glass, but works like new. So it sold for about 1/2 of what a mint copy would sell for. There is a mint copy on ebay right now for a buy it now of $850. Mine sold for $400.

QuoteQuote:
I've heard many say that the new DA* 200mm and 300mm are just the old designs in new, weather-sealed jackets, and your photos seem to prove that's the case with the 300mm. If not the same design, then they've certainly managed to create a new lens that produces the same results as the old one
Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that this is a new design in collaboration with Tokina. The old designs were not internal focusing, and didn't focus as close. The A*300 has ED glass like the DA*300. I am not sure of any more details of the differences in the optical formula. And of course the other factors like weather sealing, etc.

Florida Tree Rat:


Last edited by TomInJax; 08-14-2008 at 01:26 PM. Reason: Added photo
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