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11-03-2008, 09:43 AM   #1
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Your DA* experiences

I just received the DA*300 and I now have the 4 DA* lenses. I thought I'd post my experiences with the 4 lenses, and see what other people have experienced. I don't do "testing". I just use the lenses and if I'm happy with the results, then it's a good lens to me.

DA*16-50
I got this lens when I had my K10D. I was initially disappointed as it was hard to get a good focus on some shots, and then in other high contrast situations, I'd get some really bad purple fringing. However, since moving to the K20D, I haven't seen the PF and the focusing seems much more consistent. I'm using this mainly as my walkaround lens, and I really like it.

DA*50-135
I also had this lens with the K10D and I've always liked it. I know others say this is a slow focusing lens, but to me, it's very quick. Image quality is outstanding, even when cropping heavily. It's just a joy to use. I also used this at a race on my K20D and out of over 50 shots, maybe two were out of focus (mainly due to a wrong focus point). And when I say "in focus", I mean so sharp I could read the fine print on the runners' bibs! This lens is amazing! IQ for me is so good that I sold my 77Ltd since I wasn't using it enough. (Again, I'm not saying the 50-135 is absolutely better than the 77Ltd. I'm just saying that in my uses, the 50-135 is at least close enough that I just didn't need the 77Ltd.)

DA*200
This is a strange lens. I can get some great shots with it, and then I can get some that just aren't quite in focus. I also managed to get the most amazing purple fringing on one shot as well. It may be user error (I'm sure that's a large part of it) as the DOF at 2.8 can be razor thin, and PF in high contrast shots is not unusual for any lens with a wide aperture. I took some shots lately of my daughter playing tennis in bright light, mainly at f/4 or smaller. While I got some nice shots, I also got more than a few that just weren't in focus. In contrast, I took the same shots with my 50-135 and pretty much all of those were in focus. For now, my DA*200 is on a short leash. I have to be careful in how I use it, as it still hasn't earned my full trust.

DA*300
If any lens can challenge the 50-135, it's this one. The shots from this lens are just outstanding, and nearly everything I point it at is in sharp focus. The air show shots I took with it (bright, high contrast) were all razor sharp, with no purple fringing. I took a few bird in flight shots and they all seemed to turn out well, though I could still work on my technique. This is just a beautiful lens, and a joy to use.

So, that's it. No tests or such, just my experiences in using the lenses. Maybe I'll go back and try to post a few examples from each lens. What has been your experience?


Last edited by rfortson; 11-03-2008 at 08:32 PM.
11-03-2008, 10:38 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
I just received the DA*300 and I now have the 4 DA* lenses. I thought I'd post my experiences with the 4 lenses, and see what other people have experienced. I don't do "testing". I just use the lenses and if I'm happy with the results, then it's a good lens to me.
...
DA*200
This is a strange lens. I can get some great shots with it, and then I can get some that just aren't quite in focus. I also managed to get the most amazing purple fringing on one shot as well. It may be user error (I'm sure that's a large part of it) as the DOF at 2.8 can be razor thin, and PF in high contrast shots is not unusual for any lens with a wide aperture. I took some shots lately of my daughter playing tennis in bright light, mainly at f/4 or smaller. While I got some nice shots, I also got more than a few that just weren't in focus. In contrast, I took the same shots with my 50-135 and pretty much all of those were in focus. For now, my DA*200 is on a short leash. I have to careful in how I use it, as it still hasn't earned my full trust.
...

So, that's it. No tests or such, just my experiences in using the lenses. Maybe I'll go back and try to post a few examples from each lens. What has been your experience?
While my Tamron 70-200 was capable of brilliance at 200mm f/2.8, it would also
sometimes miss the shot and lock on a high-contrast background - at f/4 or greater, this happened a lot less.

I think it might have something to do with 200mm at f/4 or greater - it's hard
to design a lens that can 'see' the contrast on a distant target at f/2.8.


.
11-03-2008, 11:35 AM   #3
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Great "real feel" review. Thanks...
Sounds like all autofocus? Did you retry manual focus on any of the missed shots?
11-03-2008, 11:39 AM   #4
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I went with the Tamron 17-50/2.8 instead of the DA*16-50 largely due to price ($300 is a big margin) so I have no opinion on the 16-50 other than it's expensive.

I own the DA*50-135 and love it. The only hunting I've had with it was in really low light (wedding reception dance) and even my FA50/1.4 hunted a little then. I really like the fact that throw on the focus ring is "normal" so it is actually practical to use it in manual focus mode. But the biggest thing I have noticed with this lens compared to my others is the color rendition; it's noticeably more vibrant than everything else I have in the range.

DA*200 & DA*300: These both are on my short list for 2009.
DA*200 - I'm a little up in the air on this one now. I've seen some less than stellar reviews on it, like yours Russ, but then I see fantastic examples like tcom posted from his trip to Zambia that blow me away. I mostly want it primarily for a long portrait/close-up lens and people watching.

11-03-2008, 01:11 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ron Boggs Quote
Great "real feel" review. Thanks...
Sounds like all autofocus? Did you retry manual focus on any of the missed shots?

Thanks Ron. No, I didn't fool with the quick shift focus. I was mainly just snapping away and the vast majority of shots were in focus. But compared to my other DA* lenses, I had more out of focus with this lens. I'm sure user error is part of the equation. I'm not down on the DA*200, but I'm not 100% confident like I am with the 50-135, and increasingly, the DA*300.
11-03-2008, 03:47 PM   #6
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I own all of the DA* lenses, and they are all keepers IMO. If I was to give a rating to these lenses it wold go like this
DA*50-135mm -
DA*200mm -
DA*300mm -
DA*16-50mm -

The DA*50-135mm is by far the stand out of the bunch... color, contrast and sharpness is just outstanding. The bokeh is just lovely also on this gem. This is closely followed by the DA*200mm.

The DA*200mm is a wonderful lens with a mixed purpose and I think it is often times misunderstood and misused. For me, this is my sport lens, when I go to the soccer field, this is all I take in my kit, perfect reach for me and catches what I am looking for 90% of the time. I believe the other 10% is lost to AF speed of the camera and lack of practice. It is also a great lens for portraits and random shots as you can really isolate your subjects at a distance with the f2.8, and IMO it equals the bokeh you get from the DA*50-135mm.just wonderful.

The DA*300mm is another stellar lens. For me it is my outdoor lens, nature trails, hikes, zoos, and if I get crappy seats at the ballpark. It's sharp sharp sharp!! I've taken bird shots and cropped them down heavilly and was still impressed with its detail, just awesome. But it doesnt come out of the bag all the time because its only used once in a while. But when it comes out it is a joy to use.

The DA*16-50mm is the last on my list, but still gets 4 smileys. It's last because it really isn't as much of a stand out as the others, but really good on its own right. I realy don't use it as much as I need to. That in itself is a learning process on my part, once I learn exactly how to make it work for me, it will prolly get a 1/2 smile. I got a good copy, so it is sharp, and the bokeh is really great, but the focus length isnt really in my wheel house just yet.

In conclusion, I think they are all keepers. The only weakness I can find in the ones that I have it my lack of skill to use them to their fullest.
11-03-2008, 03:55 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Buddha Jones Quote
In conclusion, I think they are all keepers. The only weakness I can find in the ones that I have it my lack of skill to use them to their fullest.
Me and thee, brother! (meaning "I agree")
11-03-2008, 05:21 PM   #8
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Though I prefer primes for their size* and speed, I have two zooms and one of them is the 50-135. I bought it around the same time I got the 77 ltd. I have been very impressed the images that have come from the 50-135. At times I feel like I could be fine with only the DA*. But the size of the 50-135 is more than I want to carry sometimes.

All in all, the 50-135 is my favorite zoom and due to its quality and versatility, I can't even put a prime like the 77 ltd, much higher on my list.

*With regards to primes and their size, the Vivitar 90/2.5 is a tank and an exception to that rule.

11-03-2008, 05:52 PM   #9
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Careful - this is an attempt by Russ to make us FA* owners go buy the new DA* lenses and sell those FA* lenses (to him)....

"My name is Marc Langille and I approve this message."


Seriously Russ: I would really like to give the 1st, 2nd and 4th lenses some real tests out in the field, in terms of weather sealing and how they perform under less than ideal conditions. The DA* 16-50/2.8 would be an excellent UWA landscape lens. Obviously the DA* 50-135/2.8 would be an excellent landscape lens too... and that DA* 300/4 needs no introduction...

Regards,
Marc

Last edited by Marc Langille; 11-03-2008 at 07:48 PM. Reason: clarification
11-03-2008, 07:44 PM   #10
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I have the DA* 16-50 and DA* 50-135. I tested them both with focus test charts at the camera store before buying them. I love them both. The 50-135 stays on the camera most of the time in spite of the size. In fact I feel like going out to the garden and taking some shots right now.
11-03-2008, 07:46 PM   #11
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Hey Marc,
Nobody really wants our "old clunker" FA* lenses do they?
11-03-2008, 07:48 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ron Boggs Quote
Hey Marc,
Nobody really wants our "old clunker" FA* lenses do they?
Well... I don't know Ron... there are some shady folks out there in forum land... one has a first name of Russ...
11-03-2008, 08:31 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ron Boggs Quote
Hey Marc,
Nobody really wants our "old clunker" FA* lenses do they?
Nah, Ron. I don't know where Marc gets this stuff!

Marc, I'd love to see what you could do with the DA*300. I'll bet it would really sing!

(OT) BTW, Marc (or anyone), in Outdoor Photographer they list "top wildlife dslrs" and the K20D is in the list. For longest current lens, they list "300mm/800mm". What's out there that's 800mm for Pentax (not that I could afford it)?
11-03-2008, 08:40 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
Nah, Ron. I don't know where Marc gets this stuff!

Marc, I'd love to see what you could do with the DA*300. I'll bet it would really sing!

(OT) BTW, Marc (or anyone), in Outdoor Photographer they list "top wildlife dslrs" and the K20D is in the list. For longest current lens, they list "300mm/800mm". What's out there that's 800mm for Pentax (not that I could afford it)?
I suspect it's a gem, but you buy me a DA* 300/4 or send me yours... Seriously, thank you Russ! I appreciate the props. I would love to try that DA* 300/4 to see what it can do, no question.

Regarding 800mm: the only option buying new is the Sigma series lenses. They do make the 800/5.6 in Pentax mount:
http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/lenses_all_details.asp?id=3295&navigator=7

MSRP is $8300, but I bet you can get it for low $7K's... step right up, I'll buy two...
11-03-2008, 08:54 PM   #15
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I haven't had them for too long, but I love my DA*'s.

These were all difficult handheld shots, all unadjusted in PS except for cropping and downsizing for upload. All ISO 200:

1) Shot through thick, dirty glass, manual focus. 135mm f4.5 1/500
2) crop of #1.
3) Strong glaring back sunlight. 135mm f2.8 1/180
4) crop of #3
5) Late dimming light, overcast. 36mm f5.6 1/180
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