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04-11-2009, 05:35 AM   #1
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Pentax DA 50-200 or Pentax M-200mm /4

I need some advise for the collective wisdom here. I have a Pentax DA 50-200mm (kit lens), I got it for my wife's business trips. She can carry it and my Sigma 17-70mm and have a light small kit.

However at home it is almost never used, I have the 50mm /1.4 for the short end. And I have tried it at 200mm and I've been always grossly saddened. Crops from my Vivitar S1 105mm produce nicer, sharper, more contrasty shots.

I'm not in the budget for a 200mm /2.8 or 300mm /4 (a new house is expensive) but I've been looking at a pentax M-200mm /4.

Does anyone have any experience with both, I've search the interweb high and low for a comparison, but haven't found one.

HELP

04-11-2009, 09:33 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by omega leader Quote
I have tried it at 200mm and I've been always grossly saddened. Crops from my Vivitar S1 105mm produce nicer, sharper, more contrasty shots.
I'd be curious to see samples. My DA50-200 does quite well at 200mm - better than the Quantaray-branded Tamron 70-300, better than the M135/3.5 cropped to provide the same FOV, and at least as well as the M200/4 (see below). Either you've a very sub=par copy of the DA50-200, or that Vivitar is just *amazing*!

QuoteQuote:
I've been looking at a pentax M-200mm /4.

Does anyone have any experience with both, I've search the interweb high and low for a comparison, but haven't found one.
I have both, and would say the M200/4 is perhaps marginally better at f/5.6, but the 50-200 is better by f/6.7. And the M200/4 much larger & heavier, which makes me like it less. It's main advantages are that it has the option of f/4 - which *does* come in handy at times - and the *much* smoother MF action.

Here's a recent uncropped shot from the DA50-200 at 200mm:



And here's one I just posted the other day in another thread, cropped to provide more or less a 300mm FOV:


Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 04-11-2009 at 09:38 AM.
04-11-2009, 09:39 AM   #3
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50-200 vs M200/4

QuoteOriginally posted by omega leader Quote
I need some advise for the collective wisdom here. I have a Pentax DA 50-200mm (kit lens), I got it for my wife's business trips. She can carry it and my Sigma 17-70mm and have a light small kit.

However at home it is almost never used, I have the 50mm /1.4 for the short end. And I have tried it at 200mm and I've been always grossly saddened. Crops from my Vivitar S1 105mm produce nicer, sharper, more contrasty shots.

I'm not in the budget for a 200mm /2.8 or 300mm /4 (a new house is expensive) but I've been looking at a pentax M-200mm /4.

Does anyone have any experience with both, I've search the interweb high and low for a comparison, but haven't found one.

HELP
I have both. I found the 50-200 disappointing particularly at the long end - hopelessly soft over much of the frame. Others have had a better experience - there may be variation between examples. The M200/4 is not spectacularly sharp at f4 but it's completely usable and very good a stop or two in. At all equivalent stops I found it better than the 50-200 - somewhat better at the centre and a lot better at the edges and corners. Mark Sabatella has often posted on this topic and has taken a different view - his experience is not mine. I think it's worth getting one on ebay and just trying it - they are very common and not expensive. Of course you have the manual exposure and focus issue, but I always have found it an easy lens to focus. Exposure is slightly tricky on my K10D, but having set it the prescribed way for manual lenses it is easy to check it on preview and adjust as necessary.

The 55-300 is another thing though - that is the one I would consider if I were you. Mine was spectacular until it rolled out of the dry cabinet onto a concrete floor ...

Tim
04-11-2009, 09:41 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I'd be curious to see samples. My DA50-200 does quite well at 200mm - better than the Quantaray-branded Tamron 70-300, better than the M135/3.5 cropped to provide the same FOV, and at least as well as the M200/4 (see below). Either you've a very sub=par copy of the DA50-200, or that Vivitar is just *amazing*!

I have both, and would say the M200/4 is perhaps marginally better at f/5.6, but the 50-200 is better by f/6.7. And the M200/4 much larger & heavier, which makes me like it less. It's main advantages are that it has the option of f/4 - which *does* come in handy at times - and the *much* smoother MF action.
spookily telepathic - see my simultaneous post!
Tim


Last edited by timo; 04-11-2009 at 09:42 AM. Reason: save bandwidth
04-11-2009, 09:56 AM   #5
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Another option

Like Marc, I have both of these lenses and I agree with what he is saying.

I find out of all my old mf prime lenses I play around with, the M-200 gets the least use. For me as a fixed length 200 is just too long be stuck with when out and about. Also if I remember correctly, the minimum focus distance is pretty far off.

Like Marc, I have a very good copy of the Da50-200 so the convience of the zoom and decent 200mm makes it my choice. I am sorry yours is lacking at the long end.

But before you buy a M-200... I would just throw out another option. Look for a Tamron 103A adaptal 80-210... It is as fast as the M-200 and its close focus is a beautiful thing to behold.... I got mine thrown in for free with a adaptal mount purchase... but I have seen them for 25-30 dollars...

I am not able to get my files right now, but I did just see a post on MFlenses with someone who had just got this lens...

Here is the post with some sample pics
Manual Focus Lenses :: View topic - Tamron 103A 80-210/3.8-4 Zoom - Excellent Value !

It is a tad longer than the M-200 but infinately more usable IMO.
04-11-2009, 11:50 AM   #6
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Nice Copy

Marc, those are fantastic. I have to say I have never seen that kind of image quality from my copy. I guess I just lucked out (in a bad way).

I didn't get a change to check the quality of the lens, normally I'm very picky about them but this was a rush last minute purchase.

As for the 55-300mm I think the price is too high and I would be tempted to get a 70-200mm /2.8 or a 300mm /4 instead.

Thanks.
04-11-2009, 12:22 PM   #7
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It's interesting to me that every time this subject comes up (several similar threads on dpreview), opinions seem pretty split. Some say the M200/4 is clearly better than the DA50-200 at 200mm, others say the opposite. It's hard to know how much of that is due to some people having better or worse copies of either lens, and how much is due to different expectations and prejudices. I'll admit to caring way more about center sharpness than corners, bokeh, or contrast.

Whereas some see clear wins for one les or the other, I'm actually somewhere in the middle. I see the IQ as being really pretty similar overall - slight advantage to the M200/4 at f/5.6, slight advantage to DA50-200 stopped down when I've tested it. Ergonomics are also kind of a tradeoff - I love the smaller size & lighter weight of the DA50-200, and of course AF has its advantages, but the MF is *so* much nicer with the M200/4. And of course, the M200/4 has the advantage of f/4, but the the DA50-200 has the advantage of the focal lengths between 50mm and 200mm. I'm happy to have both lenses, but the DA50-200 gets used far more often.
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