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08-19-2009, 03:26 PM   #1
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DA 55-300mm: much of an upgrade from DA 18-250mm ?

I purchased a DA 18-250mm in May, primarily for a trip to Europe. But now I realize that I don't really need a lens with that kind of range, and maybe something that just covers the telephoto end would be better.

So I figure I could sell my like new copy for about the price of a new DA 55-300mm. Both are similarly well reviewed here and elsewhere, so I don't expect that I would be seeing a giant leap in quality or usability. But would there be enough difference to justify the hassle of the swap at all? I know that over their common zoom range, the 55-300 will be a bit faster. But how much difference in image quality is there at, say, 250mm? Some people consider the 18-250 to be soft at the long end.

So for folks that have any experience at all with both lenses: it the swap a no-brainer? Or will I find it just as well to stick with what I have?

08-19-2009, 04:37 PM   #2
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I have the Tamron version of the 18-250 (my review readings generally all say that the Tammy is better than the Pentax version) and the DA 55-300 (recently aquired). Initially, I really liked the 'travel lens' aspect of the Tamron but am finding that it's not getting as much use as I thought and I have other better lenses in the 55 or less range that I'd go to first before the Tamron. To me, the DA 55-300 is a telephoto lens period and is now my mainstay when I want distance (I'll even use a 1.5x teleconverter on it with good sucess). So from my view these two are different lenses. I'm unlikely to get rid of either in the short term as the travel lens aspect is still there. It's hard for me to say in terms of images quality as most of the image quality issues starts and ends with me, the photographer.

The other thing to consider is that the DA 55-300 has the quick shift focus ring that is lacking on the 18-250. For me this was a decider as I've come to really like this feature on my lenses.

Good luck on this one.
08-19-2009, 06:47 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew Quote
my review readings generally all say that the Tammy is better than the Pentax version)

I'll even use a 1.5x teleconverter on it with good sucess
Sorry, I have to disagree on these. My readings say the Pentax and Tamron are the same lens. Any tests I've seen of a 55-300mm + TC showed that cropping gave superior results compared to adding a TC.

I have a distinct preference for the 55-300 over the 18-250 in their common ranges. It's faster and has better IQ (colour depth, contrast) and better resolution above 150mm, especially wide open. For some reason I've found the 18-250 does not look good when shooting over water, and that's an important consideration to me for a telephoto.

The long end of the 18-250 is deceiving. It only reaches 250mm at infinity focus. It loses range as you get closer. If you set the 18-250 at 250mm, at a subject distance of one mile it has the same FOV as the 55-300 set for 230mm. It's only about 200mm at 30 ft distance. At 9 feet, 250mm looks like 160mm. This effect is due to the internal focus design. Since the OP wants the lens for telephoto only, there's no real comparison IME. The 18-250 is a very good general purpose lens, but it doesn't hold up as a telephoto compared to the 55-300.

Last edited by audiobomber; 08-19-2009 at 08:37 PM.
08-19-2009, 07:55 PM   #4
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i've had both the 55-300 and 18-250. for a general walk-around, the 18-250 is my choice.
for tele, no question 55-300 is the lens to use.

the only drawback from the 55-300 that bugged me was the not-so-close MFD of about 5 feet.
it would have been really nice if the MFD was around 1 meter or less.

but IQ wise, it's excellent.

08-19-2009, 08:59 PM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback so far everyone.
08-19-2009, 09:34 PM   #6
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I haven't really tried the 18-250mm, but as a 55-300 owner, I could certainly attest that the 55-300mm really gives a 1-2 punch IQ-wise. the only drawback of the 55-300 is it is slower than the DA* 50-135. but mind you that the 55-300 has a 165mm edge over the DA50-135mm. so it's a good trade-off. unless of course you are vying for a prime 300* which would cost you a thousand and wouldn't mind it, then you know what to choose without minding the budget.

Last edited by Pentaxor; 08-20-2009 at 03:12 AM.
08-20-2009, 02:03 AM   #7
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55-300

@ 300 F10 1.5m away



300mm F9



200mm @ 1600 iso f8 (soft effect pp'd)



Landscape @ 300mm f10



55mm f6.3



Hope the above pics give you the answer to your question

Regards

Dylan

Last edited by dylansalt; 08-20-2009 at 02:09 AM.
08-20-2009, 06:20 AM   #8
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Wow, those are great shots coming from "that consumer lens"! I'm definitely considering finding a copy for the fall U9 soccer season!

QuoteOriginally posted by dylansalt Quote
Hope the above pics give you the answer to your question

Regards

Dylan


08-20-2009, 06:30 AM   #9
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Great pics Dylan. They do a nice job of showing what the lens is capable of. I can only hope it would do as well in my hands.

I really do appreciate the versatility of the 18-250, and I know it's not a dog IQ-wise. But I don't like to use it much at the wide end because of the considerable distortion and vignetting. In the normal range, it's pretty good, but nothing that won't be seriously outdone by my future purchase of a DA 17-70mm. And at the telephoto end it's pretty slow. Also, I've come to realize how the IF impacts the focal length, and it makes me really feel like I'm struggling for that extra reach. 250mm isn't as long as 300mm to begin with, but when you start whacking it down to an effective 200mm or less, it starts to feel like your subject is slipping away.

Don't get me wrong, I do like the superzoom. It's worth the price for the combination of good IQ and fantastic versatility. But I really want a solid performer in the telephoto end, and I'm not sure the long end of the 18-250 is going to give me what I want. If the budget permitted, I'd have both. But I need to make a choice, and it's looking like the 55-300.
08-20-2009, 07:16 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by aerodave Quote
Don't get me wrong, I do like the superzoom. It's worth the price for the combination of good IQ and fantastic versatility. But I really want a solid performer in the telephoto end, and I'm not sure the long end of the 18-250 is going to give me what I want. If the budget permitted, I'd have both. But I need to make a choice, and it's looking like the 55-300.
It's a shame you have to choose between them. An 18-250mm, a handful of fast primes and a long telephoto is an awesome kit. I'll always have a superzoom, no matter how many more specialized lenses I own.
08-20-2009, 11:33 AM   #11
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As a one lens solution for travelling the 18-250 is great. My last non-travel vacation in Europe earlier this year I got by with K20D, 12-24, 18-250.
08-21-2009, 01:44 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by legacyb4 Quote
Wow, those are great shots coming from "that consumer lens"! I'm definitely considering finding a copy for the fall U9 soccer season!
Thanks

Most who have this lens are all positive re its IQ pedigree for it's price - it's not a DA* for sure but does well enough for me and compact enough to easily handhold.

The 18-250 definitely has it's place but not available over here.

ciao

Dylan
08-21-2009, 02:22 PM   #13
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I recently got the 55-300 since I wanted more reach on a modern Pentax lens and I'm not going to buy any of the long DA* in a near future. Having always been a prime person and zoom sceptic, I was pleasently surprised. It is quite fast and contrasty. The AF even work with a 1.7x Soligor converter. It is small and light for its range.

As for superzooms, I've always stayed away from them. You can't make a ~18 to ~300mm lens without being forced to do awfull quality compromizes.

QuoteOriginally posted by opiedog Quote

the only drawback from the 55-300 that bugged me was the not-so-close MFD of about 5 feet.
it would have been really nice if the MFD was around 1 meter or less.
Use a close up lens. Hoya sells a nice 58mm set with three lenses (+1, +2, +4). Get you into macro range and get the close focus distance down to even well bellow 1m.


With +2


+2 again



Some more without close-ups:






08-21-2009, 05:45 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Douglas_of_Sweden Quote
Use a close up lens. Hoya sells a nice 58mm set with three lenses (+1, +2, +4). Get you into macro range and get the close focus distance down to even well bellow 1m.
The 55-300mm is pretty impressive with a Raynox 150 on the end.

At 55mm, infinity focus, .38X magnification



At 300mm, infinity focus, 1.4:1 macro:


Last edited by audiobomber; 08-25-2009 at 05:46 AM.
08-24-2009, 09:36 PM   #15
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Thanks again for the input, everyone. I've decided to go ahead and make the change to a DA 55-300. I suspected that I'd go that direction all along, but I wanted some input from people familiar with both lenses. That way I could be more confident that I was gaining somethng in the swap. Even though the 18-250 is a great lens, I think I'd always spend too much time fretting over what it wouldn't do for me rather than what it would. That's why I've put it up for sale in the Marketplace. I'm sure someone else will find that it suits their needs perfectly, and will get even more good service out of it than I have.
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