Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
02-04-2021, 06:02 PM   #1
Junior Member




Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 26
DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 vs. FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8

I am upgrading from K110D to KP or K70. I never considered my FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8 to be even half-decent, and decided it would be a great opportunity to upgrade to a better zoom in this range. I never used any star or limited lenses, and I still think this lens seriously lucks sharpness, contrast, and has ugly bokeh. It never impressed me on a 6Mp camera, so I feel its drawbacks will be even more evident on a 24 Mp one. The DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 is in my budget. And then... I checked out the lens database and saw a deluge of ecstatic reviews from users who could not believe how sharp and contrasty the FA is. I am puzzled. Are they speaking relative to its price, or are they truly impressed? How does the FA compare to the DA? Is DA's performance going to be the same or only marginally better? If this is the case, I see no point in spending the $. I am perfectly happy with the plasticky feel of the FA. I use it for mostly portraits and kids. I am not into wildlife. The FA has very poor autofocus, but if this is the only advantage of the DA, I would pass on it. The extra focal range of the DA is also a non-issue for me. I am mostly concerned with sharpness, contrast, and bokeh, especially when wide-open.

Here are some very typical samples, shot from a tripod, with a long hood, converted from PEF to JPG with no post-processing whatsoever.
Unfortunately, the forum downsizes the images, so I include full-res fragments.

Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K110D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K110D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K110D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K110D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K110D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K110D  Photo 

Last edited by Pentaxxoid; 02-04-2021 at 06:07 PM.
02-04-2021, 07:55 PM   #2
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
ramseybuckeye's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Hampstead, NC
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 13,338
Part of your problem with these images is that you are shooting wide open meaning you have a very narrow focus field, so only a sliver can be in focus, if you are on a tripod you don't need to do that. But I have had that lens and was not impressed with it, it's kind of a cheaply built so there could be a lot of things that have happened to your lens before you had it. There can be a lot of difference in quality from one to another.

I have the DA 55-300mm PLM and it is an all around good lens, I would highly recommend it. If I had to guess it is probably one of the top selling Pentax lenses, probably the best value for price.
02-04-2021, 08:12 PM   #3
MSL
Pentaxian
MSL's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Greater Toronto Area
Photos: Albums
Posts: 4,117
I don't have either of the lenses you talk about (which raises the obvious question of why am I bothering to post...), but I do have the F100-300. I can tell you that its performance at 100 is excellent. At 300 no so much. In meh lighting, not so much either, but under bright conditions you can make it work. So if the FA is anything like it, you need to really dig into the reviews and understand how it is being used by each person. I also think these lenses are prone to user error - they are big and slow to focus. So if you try to push your luck with slow shutter speeds you may also be disappointed. Just some caveats to think about.
02-04-2021, 09:05 PM   #4
Pentaxian




Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Oklahoma USA
Posts: 1,985
I don't have either of these lenses, but I have done several comparisons of other "consumer" zooms topping out at 300mm. Overall, assuming a good copy, the ones I've tested do pretty well at the shorter lengths, but do fall off at you go longer. But it's also very easy to be technique-limited at those longer focal lengths, where vibration (even on most tripods), subject motion, and atmospheric factors can easily affect your images. Plus you have to do some post-processing, maybe more with the older equipment (sharpening to overcome the aa filter, contrast adjustment for the older coatings, etc.) And on the older cameras without live view, AF is always suspect. On my newer cameras live view AF is also suspect, honestly, and with zooms, Pentax models to this point don't allow viewfinder AF to be fine-tuned for multiple focal lengths. But the newer models have live view AF which is more accurate, and can be confirmed visually.

02-04-2021, 09:10 PM   #5
Junior Member




Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 26
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
Part of your problem with these images is that you are shooting wide open meaning you have a very narrow focus field, so only a sliver can be in focus, if you are on a tripod you don't need to do that.
Yes, I am fully aware of that. This is not a problem with portraits as long as the eyes are in focus. In the images I uploaded, even if you look at the sharpest areas, they still suck big time in my opinion in every department.
02-04-2021, 09:12 PM   #6
Pentaxian




Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Southeastern Michigan
Posts: 3,058
Well, upgrading from a K110D to a KP would be a huge upgrade! In so many ways I'd need serious time to list. Every aspect from build quality, to imaging quality, to viewfinder, to controls design- on and on. I can't help but notice your examples are all closeups yet you are using a lens more specifically designed for telephoto uses. If you rarely need telephoto reach, but doing a lot of closeups, you might consider a KP and the DFA 100mm f/2.8 WR macro lens for top quality.


None of the Pentax "F" or "FA" 100-300mm lenses have a great reputation, but as MSL says, are generally good in their 100-200mm range, while diminishing in quality at the longer telephoto range. And yes, shooting with an aperture wide open will not be at a lens's best performance, besides reducing DOF so less of your shot will be in focus. The DA 55-300mm PLM lens you mention is far more capable. It can deliver good closeups too, just not as good or as closeup as that DFA macro can provide. Its AF is especially fast. Another very competent all-around lens also being able to deliver good closeups is the DA 18-135mm DC WR, and is remarkably compact for such a large zoom range, and its compact design goes well with the KP. Thought not as quick as the PLM lens, its AF is exceptionally fast and accurate. You can visit the thread: "DA 18-135mm WR, show us what it can do" to see many examples. Best to start with the last page (most recent) and work backwards.

Last edited by mikesbike; 02-04-2021 at 09:17 PM.
02-04-2021, 09:24 PM   #7
Junior Member




Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 26
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
If you rarely need telephoto reach, but doing a lot of closeups, you might consider a KP and the DFA 100mm f/2.8 WR macro lens for top quality.
I do want the long reach These close-ups are for illustration only. These were the only 3 shots of non-people I could find out of thousands of shots made with FA 100-300. For close-ups, I use FA 50/2.8 macro.

---------- Post added 02-04-21 at 11:28 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
generally good in their 100-200mm range, while diminishing in quality at the longer telephoto range.
Is this the case with the DA 55-300 as well? I use my FA100-300 at the 300mm 50% of the time. That's the whole point of telephoto!
02-04-2021, 10:44 PM - 2 Likes   #8
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
ramseybuckeye's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Hampstead, NC
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 13,338
QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxxoid Quote
I do want the long reach These close-ups are for illustration only. These were the only 3 shots of non-people I could find out of thousands of shots made with FA 100-300. For close-ups, I use FA 50/2.8 macro.

---------- Post added 02-04-21 at 11:28 PM ----------


Is this the case with the DA 55-300 as well? I use my FA100-300 at the 300mm 50% of the time. That's the whole point of telephoto!
No, this are the quickest examples I could find, this is at 300, plus using the DA 1.4 rear converter on the K-50


KP and 55-300 at 300 plus converter


KP and 55-300 without converter, the butterfly is shot wide open, the front is not in focus





Last edited by ramseybuckeye; 02-04-2021 at 10:53 PM.
02-04-2021, 11:25 PM   #9
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
JensE's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Leipzig
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,246
The 55-300mm PLM only open to f/6.3 at the long end. I have it and love it, but it's not the ideal lens to isolate subjects and requires enough light. May not be the ideal choice for people. You could consider a used DA200/2.8 - if that still suits your needs from a focal length perspective. Still compact, it will provide a lot more creative options, potentially cropped to achieve the 'reach'. Check out the samples or use the sample search. With body-driven AF, the Tamron 70-200/2.8 renders very nicely as well and can be found used for a similar price as a new 55-300 PLM. Food for thought. AF on the 55-300 PLM will be much faster though.
02-05-2021, 02:21 AM - 2 Likes   #10
Des
Loyal Site Supporter
Loyal Site Supporter
Des's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Sth Gippsland Victoria Australia
Photos: Albums
Posts: 5,064
QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxxoid Quote
I do want the long reach .... Is this the case with the DA 55-300 as well? I use my FA100-300 at the 300mm 50% of the time. That's the whole point of telephoto!
QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
No, this are the quickest examples I could find, this is at 300, plus using the DA 1.4 rear converter on the K-50
In the unlikely event that Tom has failed to land the point, I'll add some from the 55-300 PLM at 300 to underline it. (I use it at 300mm more than at any other FL.)










The 55-300 is about as good as you could get for a consumer zoom in this range.
QuoteOriginally posted by JensE Quote
The 55-300mm PLM only open to f/6.3 at the long end. I have it and love it, but it's not the ideal lens to isolate subjects and requires enough light.
Yes, it's only f6.3 (back off to about 260mm if you want f5.6), but it's excellent wide open.

To get f4 at 300mm in an AF lens in a current K-mount lens you would need to go to a prime such as the DA*300mm - there are no zoom options. (The nearest is the DA*60-250mm f4.)

The only legacy AF zoom I can think of that offers f4 at 300mm is the Sigma 100-300mm f4 (Sigma APO 100-300mm F4 EX DG Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database) which is rather heavy and hard to find. The only other zoom option to get close to 300mm f4 would be to use one of the 70-200mm f2.8 lenses with a 1.4x TC for an effective 280mm f4.

Last edited by Des; 02-06-2021 at 04:24 PM.
02-05-2021, 04:36 AM - 1 Like   #11
Pentaxian




Join Date: May 2014
Location: Linz
Photos: Albums
Posts: 1,545
QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxxoid Quote
Yes, I am fully aware of that. This is not a problem with portraits as long as the eyes are in focus. In the images I uploaded, even if you look at the sharpest areas, they still suck big time in my opinion in every department.
From my experience with the F 100-300mm lens (I guess the FA will be somewhat similar) your examples show the worst case scenarios for the lens (using the long end wide open).
This lens performs best around f8-f11 with good light and it requires some post processing to eliminate CA and increase contrast.

I expect the DA 55-300mm PLM lens to be much better in IQ especially when wide open, when closed down to f8 the advantage of the new lens will somewhat lessen. As for the older DA 55-300mm lens, it will probably depend on sample variation (especially with your FA 100-300mm lens -> do you have a good or a bad copy of this lens) which lens will perform better (wide open the DA will be probably better though).

Conclusively I rarely use my F 100-300mm lens on my K-3, but in the right conditions it can still deliver good results.







edit: your detail views also don't show a lack of sharpness because of the lens, they show out of focus areas in my opinion.
For the first flower back-focus was the main issue in my opinion, front-focus for the second flower picture. The apple picture depends on where you wanted the focus, but I think a narrower aperture would have been better

Last edited by othar; 02-05-2021 at 05:45 AM.
02-05-2021, 05:31 AM   #12
Pentaxian
timb64's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Doing my best to avoid idiots in crowded places.
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 8,588
Why don't you replace your camera body and then see how you get on with your existing lens before committing to the expense of jumping ship to the PLM?You never know you might find the upgraded body gives the FA a new lease of life.
02-05-2021, 12:24 PM   #13
Seeker of Knowledge
Loyal Site Supporter
aslyfox's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Topeka, Kansas
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 20,934
you might want to keep your eye open for the D FA 150-450mm zoom

QuoteQuote:
Description:
The HD PENTAX-D FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW telephoto zoom lens was announced at the CP+ tradeshow in February, 2015 in connection with the announcement of a Pentax 24x36mm full-frame DSLR to be introduced late in 2015. Together with the HD Pentax-D FA* 70-200mm F2.8 zoom lens these are the first Pentax lenses to cover the 24x36mm full-frame format since the D FA 100mm F2.8 WR lens, which was introduced back in 2009.

While this lens is designed for the 24x36mm full-frame format it can also be used on cameras with the APS-C sensor format. This lens has four autofocus buttons on the lens barrel. These buttons together with the enhanced Quick-shift system provide for a lens that is fast in use and pegs it as a lens designed for sports and wild life. These AF buttons can be used with the K-3 (after a firmware update) and newer cameras. The lens sports rounded diaphragm blades for smooth Bokeh.

It is a variable aperture zoom which helps keep weight and size down.

The key features of this lens are:
* All-weather protection (AW)
* HD coating
* SP coating of the front element
* One super-low dispersion element and three ED elements
* AF buttons on lens barrel
* Enhanced Quick-shift function via a three-way switch on the barrel
* Focus limiter
* Tripod mount

The lens hood has the for Pentax traditional removable piece that allows for easy adjustment of an attached polarizing filter.

The lens has a built-in DC type autofocus motor and no provision for screw drive autofocus. Autofocus is thus not possible with the K100D/K110D and *istD series cameras. Autofocus is not available with film cameras.

Read more at: HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW Reviews - D FA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

true it is bigger and heavier than the PLM and cost but if you can find one at the right price, it could be very very nice to have

_____________________

Post your HD PENTAX-D FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW pictures! - PentaxForums.com

300mm plus Lens Club: discuss your long lenses - PentaxForums.com

HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE - Show us what it can do, what it CAN'T! - PentaxForums.com

Last edited by aslyfox; 02-05-2021 at 12:34 PM.
02-06-2021, 02:20 PM - 1 Like   #14
Pentaxian




Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Northern Michigan
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 4,651
QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
None of the Pentax "F" or "FA" 100-300mm lenses have a great reputation, but as MSL says, are generally good in their 100-200mm range
Yes, that's pretty much true of all the Pentax variable aperture zooms made for film cameras, and of consumer grade telephotos in general. Even the 55-300 PLM, as good as it may be at 300mm, is even sharper in the 55mm to 200mm range.

I briefly owned the slower aperture FA 100-300. I bought it for landscape use, believing it would be better in the 100-200 range. What I was surprised is that while it was sharp in the center at 100mm, it was not at all sharp away from the center, even when stopped down, on a cropped sensor. So not so good for landscape use. The lens does have a bit of a cult reputation, which I think arises from its compact size and the fact that it does produce images that have very attractive color.

The other Pentax 100-300 lens, which came both a power zoom version (the FA) and the later non-power zoom version (the F) is generally considered the worst of Pentax film era telephoto zooms. The FA-J 75-300 has nice color and there is decent edge to edge sharpness, even on an FF sensor, from 85mm to 160mm at f11. The best of these AF telephoto zooms is the FA 80-320. Even that lens doesn't have all that much resolving power at the long end of the zoom, though it's actually pretty good (better than the others) at the wide end, with nice sharpness, color, and surprisingly good rendering. But none of those old lenses can match, on an APS-C camera, the redoubtable 55-300 PLM.
02-06-2021, 03:03 PM   #15
Pentaxian




Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Southeastern Michigan
Posts: 3,058
I still have the older HD DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 WR lens as I find it meets my needs quite well. Its screw-driven AF is providing faster and more sure performance on my KP- a pleasant surprise. Of course, still not the AF speed of the PLM version. Both are very convenient, being compact to carry, deliver fine results as are shown above, and are relatively inexpensive But if I wish to go whole-hog for telephoto, I also have the DA* 200mm f/2.8 if I should need its larger aperture with fine imaging quality, and also an old Tamron 1.4x TC. In addition, I have the very fine FA* 300mm f/4.5 which is wonderful. But these are much larger, heavier lenses, though far less so than a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens!
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!
55-300 100-300, 55-300mm, bokeh, close-ups, contrast, da, da 55-300mm f4.5-6.3, f4.5-6.3, f4.7-5.8, fa, k-mount, lens, macro, pentax lens, quality, range, sharpness, shots, slr lens, telephoto
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE vs Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 Apo DG tsode Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 12 06-28-2020 03:55 PM
K-5 vs MZ-S vs LX vs PZ-1p vs ist*D vs K10D vs K20D vs K-7 vs....... Steelski Pentax K-5 & K-5 II 2 06-28-2017 04:59 PM
SMC Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED vs SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM Budster48 Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 12 06-30-2013 11:00 AM
Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8 or Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8? GibbyTheMole Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 4 06-27-2012 11:21 AM
FA 100-300mm f4.7-5.8 or FA 100-300mm f4.5-5.6 ? Alo´s Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 5 03-25-2010 01:24 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 05:03 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