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11-26-2019, 05:07 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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Why I stopped using my DA*300

Since I bought the DFA 150-450 and HDDA 55-300 PLM, I haven't touched the DA*300. Optically, the DA*300 is magnificent, but I had far too much frustration trying to achieve focus with it. It wouldn't just hunt, it would suddenly leap to short focus, and take forever to achieve a lock again. In the middle of the photos below, you can see that the lens went completely OOF, and there's no focus limiter. A target the size of a Super Hornet shouldn't be hard to focus on. It's possible that I have a bad copy. I've been tempted to get it services, but with the DFA 150-450 and HDDA 55-300 I don't really need the DA*300 anymore.



Why I don't use the DA*300
by RobGeraghty, on Flickr

11-26-2019, 05:29 AM - 4 Likes   #2
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Surely a worthy candidate for a redo with DC and HD coatings, that DA*300, IMHO.
11-26-2019, 05:30 AM - 1 Like   #3
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I understand your pain - the zooms do provide the options that all zooms do over a prime

and those zooms are very good to boot

so if I am going to try to photograph wildlife I do have decisions to make

do I want to haul the size and weight of the " big guy " around

do I want the lesser IQ ( in my opinion ) and shorter range of the PLM in exchange for how light and small it is ?

do I just want the prime

decisions, decisions, decisions

then I think how luck I am that my wife has allowed me to get the equipment so I have to make those decisions
11-26-2019, 05:31 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Madaboutpix Quote
Surely a worthy candidate for a redo with DC and HD coatings, that DA*300, IMHO.
Yes!! With the type of motors used in the DFA 150-450 or the HDDA 55-300 PLM, it would be a different experience entirely. I don't know how much the HD coatings would add to an already amazing optical system. It's the AF which is frustrating (adding a focus limiter might help too).

---------- Post added 26-11-19 at 11:38 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by aslyfox Quote
I understand your pain - the zooms do provide the options that all zooms do over a prime
and those zooms are very good to boot
so if I am going to try to photograph wildlife I do have decisions to make
do I want to haul the size and weight of the " big guy " around
do I want the lesser IQ ( in my opinion ) and shorter range of the PLM in exchange for how light and small it is ?
do I just want the prime
decisions, decisions, decisions
then I think how luck I am that my wife has allowed me to get the equipment so I have to make those decisions
Yes, it's nice to have the options. The IQ of the PLM is surprisingly good, but nowhere near the DFA 150-450. So far I've only been able to use the DFA at two airshows, and it was worth it!

11-26-2019, 05:39 AM - 1 Like   #5
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this is a very well known issue with the Pentax system overall. Slow AF even in the flagship body (compared to Canikon or Sony). We will grow up, someday.
11-26-2019, 05:44 AM - 4 Likes   #6
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I hear you.

I've owned all the DA* lenses, and it is optically the best of the bunch. I've had more luck than you with its focus, but the whole series would be better off rubbed out and started again with real focus motors.

I've only had the one copy of the DA* 300, and I'm keeping it, despite using the DFA 150-450 or DA 55-300 PLM preferentially most of the time.

Of the others:

Two copies of the DA* 16-50. Poor corners at the wide end and, but good everywhere else. Both had failed SDM. One repaired, one converted. Both gone to new homes. The DFA 24-70 on the K-1 is much better, and only slightly bigger.
Two copies of the DA* 55. First one had a dead SDM out of the box. Its replacement is still going strong, but it's not perfect (merely good) wide open and still focusses slowly. I love it though - it's my second best fast fifty(ish) after the mighty DFA*, and much smaller.
Two copies of the DA* 50-135. Lovely portrait lens. I sold my first to a friend after buying the incredible DFA* 70-200. Still fine I think. It's recent replacement fritzed its SDM early in the piece, but its other strengths are such that I'll keep it as a screw drive.
Two copies of the DA* 60-250. Both excellent optically with no SDM problems. I just can't warm to the handling and focus breathing. Despite this, it's the second best DA* and a keeper.
The DA* 200 only lasted a month in my hands. Too much lateral CA.
11-26-2019, 05:46 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by manishved Quote
this is a very well known issue with the Pentax system overall. Slow AF even in the flagship body (compared to Canikon or Sony). We will grow up, someday.
I would have agreed with you until I got the DFA 150-450 and the PLM. Both are much faster to focus than my other Pentax lenses, and the capability of the K3 seemed to increase with these on the camera. I'd like to try them with a K1 or KP to see how much it improves. Or better still, the yet to be released successor to the K3. Since I have been using the DFA 150-450 I feel much more like the limitation is my technique with using the camera and lens than the lens itself (or the camera). To a degree I think the K3 was held back by the DA*300, and the newer lenses let me experience the camera's ability more.

---------- Post added 26-11-19 at 11:50 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
I hear you.
I've owned all the DA* lenses, and it is optically the best of the bunch. I've had more luck than you with its focus, but the whole series would be better off rubbed out and started again with real focus motors.
Thanks for your feedback about the DA* lenses, Sandy! Certainly with the DA*300 I think it's optically wonderful but replacing the motor and adding a focus limiter would make it much more useful. It sounds like the SDM motors are still problematic.
11-26-2019, 06:06 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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I'm happy with the way my DA* 300 is performing at the moment, but if there is to be a re-do it should also include an improvement to those fragile electrical contact tabs (and the ones on the 1.4x TC as well). I don't think I'm clumsy when changing lenses but they get bent out or, worse, broken from time to time.

11-26-2019, 06:22 AM   #9
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The DA*300 is a fantastic lens, no doubt about it, but I understand your decision.

I'm using my DA*60-250 less and less these days, favouring the screw-drive HD DA55-300 whenever natural light allows. The DA* is a better lens optically, but the size, weight, focus breathing and - to a lesser extent, admittedly - slower focusing discourage me from using it as much as I'd like. The HD DA55-300 trades constant aperture and a bit of image quality for its compact dimensions and light weight, but I've found I'm OK with those compromises most of the time. It's easily sharp enough when used sensibly, it renders nicely, and it's just so convenient to carry around...
11-26-2019, 06:33 AM   #10
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If I had to choose one of the three to get rid of

it would be the prime

what do you folks think

what do you think of the IQ between the choices

I always have to temper my own experiences with the knowledge that my equipment operates with a big problem from the start

Operator Error
11-26-2019, 06:44 AM   #11
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I've had most of the options in this range, and pretty much come to the same conclusion. The 300 is an excellent lens, but the optical quality doesn't matter if it can't get the focus right. The 150-450 is pretty much just as good at 300, plus faster focusing and zoom flexibility(though it's larger). The 60-250 I had seemed good, but not great optically, and was very slow on the focusing. The DFA* 70-200 was A LOT better on both fronts, though much more expensive, heavy, and larger. Even the Tamron 70-200 seems better than the 60-250. The 55-300PLM is night and day faster focusing, surprisingly good optically, and much smaller and lighter.
11-26-2019, 06:44 AM   #12
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I'd like to evaluate the 150-450 at some point. Maybe next spring I'll rent one during warbler migration. The zoom does let one find the subject then isolate it. The little warblers rarely sit still. The DA300 I have is fantastic though, even on my secondary body, the K5.
11-26-2019, 07:13 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobG Quote
Since I bought the DFA 150-450 and HDDA 55-300 PLM, I haven't touched the DA*300. Optically, the DA*300 is magnificent, but I had far too much frustration trying to achieve focus with it. It wouldn't just hunt, it would suddenly leap to short focus, and take forever to achieve a lock again. In the middle of the photos below, you can see that the lens went completely OOF, and there's no focus limiter. A target the size of a Super Hornet shouldn't be hard to focus on. It's possible that I have a bad copy. I've been tempted to get it services, but with the DFA 150-450 and HDDA 55-300 I don't really need the DA*300 anymore.



Why I don't use the DA*300
by RobGeraghty, on Flickr
You might try converting to screw drive. I've seen other lenses show improvements in focusing behaviors particularly failure to lock. This isn't universally true, but when a copy of an SDM lens has issues the other copies are not known for, I suggest a conversion to test it the problem can be rectified in this way.

If you have the know how and an appropriate older body you can convert the lens back and forth to test.
11-26-2019, 07:31 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
You might try converting to screw drive. I've seen other lenses show improvements in focusing behaviors particularly failure to lock. This isn't universally true, but when a copy of an SDM lens has issues the other copies are not known for, I suggest a conversion to test it the problem can be rectified in this way.

If you have the know how and an appropriate older body you can convert the lens back and forth to test.
Are you still doing the conversions? I may have one for you.
11-26-2019, 07:39 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcpropilot Quote
Are you still doing the conversions? I may have one for you.
I am.
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