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05-14-2016, 08:30 AM   #1
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Needed: comments on telephoto zoom for K-S2: DA 55-300 WR or DA* 60-250?

Can anyone offer comments on the performance of the DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR and the DA* 60-250mm F4 ED [IF] SDM for informal snapshooting at a social occasion such as a wedding?

I gather that the 60-250 is faster to focus than the 55-300. How do these lenses compare with the DA 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 ED AL [IF] DC WR? AN 18-135 is the only automated lens I own, and is always mounted on my camera.

I am sure that Pentax would recommend the smaller 55-300 WR for the K-S2's smaller camera body, but I have misgivings. I know that the 60-250's SDM focusing would be silent, where the 55-300's screwdrive focus would make some noise. User reviews of the 60-250 also indicate that the lens does fairly well wide open, which would be an advantage if taking pictures inside.

If it matters, since I live with the small aperture of the 18-135 WR, I compensate by using a fairly powerful flash on-camera: a Metz Mecablitz 52 AF-1. I keep the flash on the camera unless the flash's lack of weather sealing is an immediate risk.

The 55-300 WR and the 60-250 are larger than the 18-135 WR. How much more intimidating are these than the 18-135 WR?

05-14-2016, 09:06 AM   #2
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When it comes to price and image quality, those two lenses are in different leagues.
The 55-300mm is decent and goes all the way to 300mm, not bad considering its price point. But the 60-250mm beats it - brighter aperture, better optics, features. You can buy 4 55-300mm lenses for the price of one 60-250mm.

If you have the funds, go for the DA* 60-250mm: Pentax DA* 60-250mm F4 Review - Introduction | PentaxForums.com Reviews
SMC Pentax-DA* 60-250mm F4 ED [IF] SDM Reviews - DA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
Later you can get a wide-to-normal zoom and you have a very competent kit. The 18-135mm should be okay until then, as it has a good range and WR.

QuoteOriginally posted by SnapperDaddy Quote
The 55-300 WR and the 60-250 are larger than the 18-135 WR. How much more intimidating are these than the 18-135 WR?
The DA* 60-250mm is very professional-looking. You have to be confident when you use it, or you might raise suspicion But pretty much all top-tier lenses look a little intimidating.

Last edited by Na Horuk; 05-14-2016 at 09:22 AM.
05-14-2016, 09:09 AM   #3
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I have the 16-85. I chose it for wide angle opportunity. It also has the DC motor which the 18-135 has. They both have silent AF also. The wide angle at the short end is valuable for groups. Silent AF is an asset at gatherings such as weddings. The 55-300 takes nice shots and the AF is fine but it is not silent. That is one of the reasons I opted for the Pentax 16-85 and Sigma 150-500 DG OS for Pentax. I recommend the 16-85. The 18-135 covers more range, and it has nice ratings, though I have seen comments about the SDM type AF system it uses that were not prevalent, but not good in some cases.I personally have never used/handled the 18-135 though, and it along with the 16-85 are in the 5 star review range on the B and H site.
05-14-2016, 10:54 AM   #4
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If you are an informal wedding shooter any lens will do but for best results, you should shoot with the fastest lens available to you (now or in the near future). WR, what is there to worry about at a wedding, you are worrying about a non-issue imo. As for the screwdrive AF noise, unless you happen to constantly change the subject distance from near infinity to minimum focus distance, it's not so noticeable as some fear. I was shooting a field hockey match with a Tokina AT-X 80-200/2.8 AF Pro - partly to test the tracking capability of my K-5 - the constantly adjustment of AF in AF-c mode was about as loud as the second hand ticking away on a cheap quartz wall clock. With the ambient noise at the match, I doubt those ticking noise bothered anyone within 2 or 3 feet away from me.

05-14-2016, 11:29 AM   #5
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The DA* 60-250mm is of course the "better" of the two if you can justify the price and the added size. In my personal opinion, the thing that's most intimidating is the AF noise that the 55-300mm produces

Anyway, this review should give you a good idea of what to expect:
HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR Review - Introduction | PentaxForums.com Reviews

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05-14-2016, 11:54 AM   #6
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For informal snap shooting at weddings, I'd think the DA*50-135 ƒ2.8 would be better than the 60-250 ƒ4.
I rarely use my DA*60-250 indoors. I'd rather go with my Tamron 17-50, Sigma 70 macro and Tamron 90, all ƒ2.8 for a wedding, and for that purpose I'd trade both The 70 and 90 for a 77ltd. ƒ 1.8 in a heartbeat
05-14-2016, 05:08 PM   #7
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About the 18-135 and the 16-85

QuoteOriginally posted by C_Jones Quote
I have the 16-85. I chose it for wide angle opportunity. It also has the DC motor which the 18-135 has. They both have silent AF also. The wide angle at the short end is valuable for groups. Silent AF is an asset at gatherings such as weddings. The 55-300 takes nice shots and the AF is fine but it is not silent. That is one of the reasons I opted for the Pentax 16-85 and Sigma 150-500 DG OS for Pentax. I recommend the 16-85. The 18-135 covers more range, and it has nice ratings, though I have seen comments about the SDM type AF system it uses that were not prevalent, but not good in some cases.I personally have never used/handled the 18-135 though, and it along with the 16-85 are in the 5 star review range on the B and H site.
My reading is that the 16-85 and the 18-135 WR both rate well as a step up from kit lenses: reviews show that each has particular strengths.

The 16-85 was not even rumored when I bought my 18-135 WR as my single-lens starter with my dear departed K-30.

I gather that the 18-135 WR is best at its wide end, and competes well with the 16-85 around 24 mm, which works well for one of my snapshooting habits. I've never tried a wider field of view than 18 mm on APS-C, so I don't know what the extra width of 16 mm would offer.

The 18-135 WR does not use an SDM motor. Like the 16-85, it uses a DC motor, which is silent. In the 18-135 WR it is speedy, and according to my reading this lens appears to have none of the reliability issues of the SDM focus drive in the DA* 16-50 and the DA* 50-135. I know, Ricoh says they fixed the reliability problems with SDM motors in 2012.

I don't dislike my 18-135 WR, quite to the contrary. I just found that it wasn't long enough for some pictures I took from across the hall at a recent wedding reception. The DFA 70-200 is longer, but more lens than I dare use informally or dare pay for at this point. Hence my look at the DA* 60-250 and the DA 55-300 WR.

---------- Post added 05-14-16 at 05:13 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by excanonfd Quote
If you are an informal wedding shooter any lens will do but for best results, you should shoot with the fastest lens available to you (now or in the near future). WR, what is there to worry about at a wedding, you are worrying about a non-issue imo. As for the screwdrive AF noise, unless you happen to constantly change the subject distance from near infinity to minimum focus distance, it's not so noticeable as some fear. I was shooting a field hockey match with a Tokina AT-X 80-200/2.8 AF Pro - partly to test the tracking capability of my K-5 - the constantly adjustment of AF in AF-c mode was about as loud as the second hand ticking away on a cheap quartz wall clock. With the ambient noise at the match, I doubt those ticking noise bothered anyone within 2 or 3 feet away from me.
My thinking matches yours about speed - in a couple of years of shooting with the DA 18-135 WR and my Mecablitz 52 AF-1 on my K-30, I practiced getting the most out of the sensitive APS-C sensor, but I did have to push the ISO past 1600 sometime, which brought more noise into some of my shots than I liked.

Unless my guess is far off, spectators at a field hockey match are likely to be far less sensitive to camera noise than participants and guests in a wedding.

---------- Post added 05-14-16 at 05:56 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
The DA* 60-250mm is of course the "better" of the two if you can justify the price and the added size. In my personal opinion, the thing that's most intimidating is the AF noise that the 55-300mm produces

Anyway, this review should give you a good idea of what to expect:
HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR Review - Introduction | PentaxForums.com Reviews
This might be heresy, but my interest isn't in technology for technology's sake. If I can focus well enough at F4, I am well aware of the benefit of adding a stop's worth of light at the long end. I'm trying to gauge the speeds at which these lenses focus, and the noise produced by the 55-300 WR.

The comments I read indicate that autofocusing a 55-300 WR in dim light involves struggle - I expect that the lens simply starves the focus module for light, and its gearing slows the process.

As for noise: the only time I've been able to listen to a screw-drive zoom lens rack focus was while on a visit to the busy shop floor of B&H Photo and Video; they had no 55-300 WR for me to try, so I had to use another lens, if I recall it was the 50-200 WR. That lens wasn't as noisy as I'd feared, but a retail shop floor isn't a church quieted for a wedding, so I can't judge from experience.
05-14-2016, 05:59 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by SnapperDaddy Quote
The comments I read indicate that autofocusing a 55-300 WR in dim light involves struggle - I expect that the lens simply starves the focus module for light, and its gearing slows the process.
At F5.6 (versus F4) the camera won't be as quick to make AF calculations. Moreover, while the DA* 60-250mm isn't the fastest-focusing lens on the planet (look at the D FA* 70-200mm if that's what you want), it's no doubt faster, especially if your subject moves around a lot.


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05-14-2016, 07:15 PM   #9
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Usefulness of F2.8; length of telephoto required

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
For informal snap shooting at weddings, I'd think the DA*50-135 2.8 would be better than the 60-250 4.
I rarely use my DA*60-250 indoors. I'd rather go with my Tamron 17-50, Sigma 70 macro and Tamron 90, all 2.8 for a wedding, and for that purpose I'd trade both The 70 and 90 for a 77ltd. 1.8 in a heartbeat
You're arguing use case rather than technology, which make sense to me, but I think your use case doesn't quite match mine.

In terms of use case: if you're taking those three lenses to a wedding, you're switching lenses on the fly, or you're taking formal shots rather than the snapshots I take at wildly varying focal lengths.

As for technology: unless I misread your post, you want a F2.8 lens rather than F4, and because you don't need a longer tele than 135 mm on your APS-C camera, Pentax offers one in the DA* 50-135.

I too found that for a moderately sized wedding, 135 mm is long enough for the wedding ceremony, I had good luck with that as my upper limit at the one where I was snapshooting. I then found that 135 mm wasn't long enough for the reception - I wanted particular shots from across the hall.

Am I reaching for a shot that is simply beyond the optics I can afford? I might be; I don't know.
05-14-2016, 08:16 PM   #10
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Your only shot at this is probably the Tamron or Sigma 70-200 ƒ2.8. Both great lenses, the Tamron with the screw drive might be less desirable for weddings.
05-15-2016, 05:58 AM   #11
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Stressing technology vs. use cases; balanced systems vs. unbalanced.

QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
At F5.6 (versus F4) the camera won't be as quick to make AF calculations. Moreover, while the DA* 60-250mm isn't the fastest-focusing lens on the planet (look at the D FA* 70-200mm if that's what you want), it's no doubt faster, especially if your subject moves around a lot.
Adam, you're right, a wider aperture allows the camera to make quicker AF calculations.

If technology were the only concern and price were no object, the replacement for the K-30 I dropped would have been a K-1, and I'd have ordered the D FA* 70-200 and the D FA* 24-70 along with it.

I would wish for a D FA* 70-200 for my current camera body, but I run into constraints on my spending and basic questions about balance of the technology.

I'm an amateur shooting on a budget. I can't spend $2,000 on the lens. I might convince the family to spring for a used DA* 60-250.

About balance of technology: I find cameras to be like computers in one respect: all the components need to be chosen to work well together to satisfy the use case that justifies their purchase in the first place. For example, it makes little sense to spend $2,000 on an 18-core workstation CPU meant for high-end computation when one needs a $1,000 high-end graphics card for playing first-person shoot-em-up arcade games and can get by with a $300 quad-core CPU.

Considering cameras: a lens weighted for a K-1 with a battery grip and electronics designed to work with it may not handle well on a KS-2 body with its comparatively small grip. The D FA 70-200 might work best when paired with the focus module of the K-1, and significantly less well when working with with older focus modules in other cameras. The operation of an auto-focus lens involves communication back and forth between lens and camera. Is it possible that the K-1's response to the lens is more rapid than that of older bodies?

I'm reading comments on this site that the D FA 70-200 is noticeably quicker on the K-1 than on the K-3. Why is that? Are the K-1's electronics better suited, is its focus module a better match to the lens than that of the K-3?

While the Pentax system allows one to connect any D-series lens to any modern camera, I would be surprised to find that Ricoh's engineers paid significant attention to optimizing the D FA 70-200 with a body they do not intend for enthusiasts and professionals. Interviews given after the releases of the K-S1 and K-S2 quote Ricoh as saying that the K-S series is not meant to replace the K-30 and K-50 that they make for the mid-range.

I have a K-S2, which I would expect to perform less well with a D FA 70-200 attached than a K-3. f the K-3 already does not take full advantage of the D FA 70-200, how could the K-S2, which uses the older focus module from the K5-II and K5-IIs?

---------- Post added 05-15-16 at 06:04 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Your only shot at this is probably the Tamron or Sigma 70-200 2.8. Both great lenses, the Tamron with the screw drive might be less desirable for weddings.
This thought has occurred to me, then I run into my strong preference for weather-sealed lenses.

Given the current kerfluffle over mounting Sigma lenses on the K-1, I would not be surprised to find used Sigma lenses for sale as people upgrade to the K-1.

I'm not sure that Sigma will want to spend money supporting existing K-mount lenses when the company clearly sees Pentax cameras as barely common enough to justify manufacture of current Sigma lenses for the K-mount.
05-15-2016, 06:06 AM   #12
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You are overthinking this. All you need to know is what will work best on your camera. No matter which camera you own, the Tamron or Sigma 70-200 are going to work great on it. The D FA 70-200 is a pro quality lens with better build, and was designed to work with every Pentax system up to the K-1 and into the future. It's a long haul product. The Tamron and Sigma are probably equal, I've read reviews where the Tamron was tested against Canon L glass and was equal to it. It doesn't have the same build quality the Original Equipment Manufacturers put into their lenses, but for and amateur using the lens only occasionally, that won't be an issue. And you can get the Tarmon new for the price of a 60-250 used.
05-15-2016, 07:03 AM   #13
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Overthinking; mismatches of Tamron 70-200 to my intended use

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
You are overthinking this.
I'm told that I do that. . . my wife laughed when I told her of your comment.

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
The D FA 70-200 is a pro quality lens with better build, and was designed to work with every Pentax system up to the K-1 and into the future. It's a long haul product.
Everything I read about this lens stresses the quality. Everything I read about Ricoh's strategy makes it clear that Ricoh's in this for the long-term.

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
All you need to know is what will work best on your camera. No matter which camera you own, the Tamron or Sigma 70-200 are going to work great on it. . . . The Tamron and Sigma are probably equal, I've read reviews where the Tamron was tested against Canon L glass and was equal to it. It doesn't have the same build quality the Original Equipment Manufacturers put into their lenses, but for and amateur using the lens only occasionally, that won't be an issue. And you can get the Tarmon new for the price of a 60-250 used.
The issues I see with the Tamron: screw-drive focus and resulting noise; lack of weather sealing. The immediate use would be a wedding by the seaside, where I wish to keep rain and salt spray out of the guts of lens and camera. In the long run, the goal is to follow my child around, even in rain or snow.

Lacking the money for the pro quality of the D FA 70-200 and the K-1, the smart move would be to buy either a Tamron 70-200 new or a 60-250 used. The more costly option but less irresponsible one would be to buy both for less than the price of a D FA 70-200.

If past experience did not teach me not to take unfamiliar photographic equipment to a once-in-a-lifetime event, I'd buy one of these lenses now and rent the other for the week of the wedding.

---------- Post added 05-15-16 at 07:06 AM ----------

I don't mean to argue with you all. Thanks for offering your comments! I do appreciate your perspectives and willingness to help.
05-15-2016, 10:59 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by SnapperDaddy Quote
Considering cameras: a lens weighted for a K-1 with a battery grip and electronics designed to work with it may not handle well on a KS-2 body with its comparatively small grip. The D FA 70-200 might work best when paired with the focus module of the K-1, and significantly less well when working with with older focus modules in other cameras. The operation of an auto-focus lens involves communication back and forth between lens and camera. Is it possible that the K-1's response to the lens is more rapid than that of older bodies? I'm reading comments on this site that the D FA 70-200 is noticeably quicker on the K-1 than on the K-3. Why is that? Are the K-1's electronics better suited, is its focus module a better match to the lens than that of the K-3? While the Pentax system allows one to connect any D-series lens to any modern camera, I would be surprised to find that Ricoh's engineers paid significant attention to optimizing the D FA 70-200 with a body they do not intend for enthusiasts and professionals. Interviews given after the releases of the K-S1 and K-S2 quote Ricoh as saying that the K-S series is not meant to replace the K-30 and K-50 that they make for the mid-range.
Ultimately, Ricoh ended up going against what they originally said, since the K-S2 is positioned above the K-50 at the moment. We'll see what comes next!

As for the 70-200mm, it's not surprising that it would do a bit better on the K-1, as it has a newer AF system.

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05-15-2016, 11:05 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Ultimately, Ricoh ended up going against what they originally said, since the K-S2 is positioned above the K-50 at the moment. We'll see what comes next!

As for the 70-200mm, it's not surprising that it would do a bit better on the K-1, as it has a newer AF system.
Every lens should be better on a K-1 based on the difference between Canikon FF and APS-c gear. It took Nikon until this year to bring an FF type AF system down into an APS-c body. There's no guarantee Pentax ever will.
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