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07-22-2009, 08:33 PM   #1
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DA 55-300mm vs. DA* 60-250mm?

I am looking for a long zoom for taking to the zoo and for nature and birding

is the difference that big between the two to justify the price?

also is the 50-135 can serve as a nature / zoo lens?

Thanks!!

07-22-2009, 08:42 PM   #2
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I suggest you check out the lens review section of this site. Here's the link for the 55-300 user reviews for starters.

I personally would prefer to buy the 60-250 because it has weathersealing plus a constant f/4 aperture throughout the entire zoom range. The SDM motor is also very quiet. But again, this is all if you're really picky and want the best and are willing to pay for it. But if you're on a budget and can handle f/5.8 at the longer focal lengths, then go for the 55-300.

I tested my friend's 50-135 and IMO it's not an ideal lens for wildlife. You really do need a 200+ mm focal length for this.
07-22-2009, 08:50 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by enoxatnep Quote
I suggest you check out the lens review section of this site. Here's the link for the 55-300 user reviews for starters.

I personally would prefer to buy the 60-250 because it has weathersealing plus a constant f/4 aperture throughout the entire zoom range. The SDM motor is also very quiet. But again, this is all if you're really picky and want the best and are willing to pay for it. But if you're on a budget and can handle f/5.8 at the longer focal lengths, then go for the 55-300.

I tested my friend's 50-135 and IMO it's not an ideal lens for wildlife. You really do need a 200+ mm focal length for this.
I know that's why I am asking

the reviews on the 55-300 are VERY good.
I really don't need WR.
I am willing to pay for better optics.
so basically my question is how huge the difference in the optics/ IQ between the two.

300mm at 4 or 5.8 not a big deal for me as I will use 300mm out side any way.
07-22-2009, 09:43 PM   #4
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In my experience the 50-135 is viable for most zoo photography opportunities.

Where the 60-250 is going to really take the 55-300 in usability is: the 55-300, I believe, is varifocal. As you zoom in/out the focus point changes slightly; enough to normally require refocusing. In counterpoint though, the 55-300 is smaller/lighter which has its own benefits. There's nearly $1000 difference in price though, so given the high praise the 55-300 so often gets, you really need to decide whether your shooting needs justify the additional cost.
Personally, for that much coin and my shooting needs I would pick up a (gently used maybe) 55-300 and either the DA*300 or DA*200 prime.

07-22-2009, 09:54 PM   #5
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Good points raised here.
The 55-300 is really good value, and in many cases it would be hard to justify the inflated cost of the 60-250 in comparison.
As with most things, with increasing quality there comes exponentially increasing prices.
The 55-300, while it's a great consumer lens, it is not optically excellent in comparison to the 70-200s or the 60-250. The 55-300 is, however, considerably sharper and able to render colours and contrast better than the 70-300 counterparts from Sigma and Tamron.

The choice is yours - but if you're willing to spend the dollars, but need the high end range, you may need to go for the 60-250, or settle for a 300 prime.
07-22-2009, 10:03 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by redpigeons Quote
I am looking for a long zoom for taking to the zoo and for nature and birding

is the difference that big between the two to justify the price?

also is the 50-135 can serve as a nature / zoo lens?

Thanks!!
I took the 50-135 to the zoo this weekend - it works alright for a zoo setting where you can get reasonably close. You still wont be getting tight head shots from behind the fences though. most of my shots were full to 3/4 body shots from 20 to 50 ft away (gorilla, giraffes zebras, small zoo - como in saint paul, mn) It definitely would not be suited for birding, unless you can put yourself within 10 feet of the subject.

the 55-300 is a very nice lens, and given the conditions you indicated you will find yourself shooting in, i dont see the difference in cost between it and the 60-250 as worth it. off the top of my head, the 55-300 stays around f4.5 through just over 200mm as well, so you are not gaining a ton of speed. faster af, weather sealed and weight are what you will gain (iq i am sure would be considerably better, but imho not worth close to $1K).

I now have a panasonic L1 and olympus 70-300 for telephoto work (with the 2x crop gives me 600mm equiv on the long end).
07-22-2009, 11:51 PM   #7
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I own the DA 55-300mm, had the DA* 50-135mm and briefly tried out a Pentax pro's DA* 60-250mm.

For zoo shots the longer the focal length, the better so for a cheap option, the consumer grade DA 55-300mm will do fine. Adequately sharp but some colour fringing in high contrast scenes, but definitely much better than the Sigma or Tamron consumer grade tele lenses.

Depending on your distance to the subject, the DA* 50-135mm can be too short in terms of focal length and won't really throw the fencing for caged animals OOF enough, even at f/2.8. For small animals and birds, 135mm won't hack it, even the budget DA 50-200mm is better in this regard. Now the DA* 60-250mm is an altogether different animal compared to the el-cheapo DA 55-300mm. Superb from f/4 onwards and excellent in terms of optical performance, imo even more versatile than the DA* 50-135mm. Most definitely a special lens that is well worth the money, especially if you consider it can replicate the DA* 50-135mm, DA* 200mm and DA* 300mm in zoom range. To me it is the dream tele zoom.

Another factor to consider is that lenses with SDM have the edge in not spooking shy animals. The DA 55-300mm can and does hunt on occasion, and that screw drive sound has startled some animals in quiet settings from my experience.

Last edited by creampuff; 07-23-2009 at 12:02 AM. Reason: spelling
07-23-2009, 12:44 AM   #8
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How fast is the 60-250's SDM? I ask because the AF speed of other Pentax SDM lenses really disappointed me (screwdrive lenses were focusing much faster). If the 60-250 has the same slow SDM then I don't think it's that good for wildlife (unless you shoot dead or sleeping animals and flowers ).

07-23-2009, 01:08 AM   #9
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An extremely versatile lens is the 55-300 and can be used comfortably wide open over its whole range as can be seen below @ 300mm wide open



Now lets look at the price here in SA - 55-300 (R 5000) / 60-250 (R19 000 wtf??)

Personally I am not willing to pay such a hefty premium for "maybe" a 20% increase in IQ and less portability.

Dylan
07-23-2009, 02:10 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by simico Quote
How fast is the 60-250's SDM? I ask because the AF speed of other Pentax SDM lenses really disappointed me (screwdrive lenses were focusing much faster). If the 60-250 has the same slow SDM then I don't think it's that good for wildlife (unless you shoot dead or sleeping animals and flowers ).
Actually the DA* 60-250mm's focusing is quite good. Well it definitely doesn't hunt like the DA 55-300mm.
Who gave you the idea that SDM means quicker focusing? It just focuses quieter that's all.
07-23-2009, 08:55 AM   #11
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Thanks guys

well the 55-300 is such a cheapo ($200+-) that I might just get it .
looking on Flicker some of the best zoo shots were taken with the Nikon 70-300 VR.
and I am guessing its about the same as the Pentax
07-23-2009, 11:22 AM   #12
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I have the 50-135mm and 60-250mm plus had the 55-300mm.

The 50-135mm is not long enough for the zoo, fine for the shorted shots but anything with a bit of distance you can forget. The 55-300mm is a super little lens for the price but to be honest the 60-250mm wipes the floor with it in every respect (although it should considering the price difference).
07-24-2009, 04:40 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
Who gave you the idea that SDM means quicker focusing? It just focuses quieter that's all.
Well, I was naive enough to think that newer technology is better, even with Pentax (as it is with Nikon and Canon). Silent focusing is a good thing, but if it's slower than decade-old screwdrive focusing (which is the case with 17-70 and 50-135)... then thanks, no SDM!
08-11-2009, 11:31 AM   #14
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I'm thinking of upgrading my lens line up a bit on the long end and to K7. Currently I have DA* 50-135mm and DA* 200mm. Love both. The 200mm is a superb lens, but being a prime is less flexible. I'm thinking of selling 200mm and getting the pentax 1.7x teleconverter. With it, my 50-135mm would be 85-230mm, and supposedly with little loss in IQ.

Another way I'm thinking of is to buy 60-250mm and selling both 50-135mm and 200mm.

What do you guys think? The first option seems cheaper and even more flexble as I still have a fast 2.8 lens for low light.
08-11-2009, 12:17 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by xxxxx Quote
I'm thinking of upgrading my lens line up a bit on the long end and to K7. Currently I have DA* 50-135mm and DA* 200mm. Love both. The 200mm is a superb lens, but being a prime is less flexible. I'm thinking of selling 200mm and getting the pentax 1.7x teleconverter. With it, my 50-135mm would be 85-230mm, and supposedly with little loss in IQ.

Another way I'm thinking of is to buy 60-250mm and selling both 50-135mm and 200mm.

What do you guys think? The first option seems cheaper and even more flexble as I still have a fast 2.8 lens for low light.
If you will beselling DA*200 let me know please. Fortheright price I might be really interested!
On other note, why dont you keep both and just get good 1.4 or 1.5 TC? With 200 itwould give you 300/4.
That'stheway how I'm planning to sort out my long end.

Br
Peter
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