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09-12-2013, 05:24 AM   #1
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DAL 55-300 Question

I have read a lot of great reviews of the DA / DAL 55-300 and I wonder if something is wrong with my copy.

I do sometimes get great shots from it, but 95% or more just don't turn out well. I know some things are on my end...camera shake or whatever, but I don't have issues like I do with this lens with any other, including heavier ones. I use the lens completely manually most of the time, like all of my lenses, but on this one, the autofocus is more or less useless...as those shots come off even worse. My DA 50-200 WR solidly outperforms my 55-300, but I want the focal range. My copy also focuses well past infinity.

My question is: Is there anything I can do? Is it something that can be serviced or exchanged, or is it something that I have to just accept? I'm sure with a little research I can find my answers, but I'm at work and you guys tend to be very helpful and knowledgeable about this stuff, so I figured I'd bounce it here first.

Any help you can offer would be appreciated.

Thanks!!!

09-12-2013, 05:40 AM   #2
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Have you tried adjusting the focus? Pg. 110 of the manual.
09-12-2013, 05:57 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Have you tried adjusting the focus? Pg. 110 of the manual.
I don't really use autofocus. I was just mentioning that it was even worse when I tried it.
09-12-2013, 06:21 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Noskovus Quote
but 95% or more just don't turn out well.
Can you post some examples so we can see what's "wrong" with the images?

QuoteOriginally posted by Noskovus Quote
the autofocus is more or less useless
QuoteOriginally posted by Noskovus Quote
I don't really use autofocus. I was just mentioning that it was even worse when I tried it.
While I have found it is more prone to hunting than any other lens I have, when it does finally focus, mine is usually dead on. However, I'm asuming your issues are not focus related since you use manual focus... That's why I asked for examples of what's going on so that you can get replies about things other than focus.

09-12-2013, 06:27 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by HockeyDad Quote
Can you post some examples so we can see what's "wrong" with the images?



While I have found it is more prone to hunting than any other lens I have, when it does finally focus, mine is usually dead on. However, I'm asuming your issues are not focus related since you use manual focus... That's why I asked for examples of what's going on so that you can get replies about things other than focus.
Yes. Not sure if I will be able to while at work today, but I will get some. I will post some of the good as well as the bad.

I do wonder sometimes if I am just expecting too much from it. I have gotten some great shots, but most not to the level of sharpness that I do with all my other lenses. I have seen a few though and that's why I wonder what I'm doing wrong or if there's something wrong with it. With my 50-200 seemingly having less trouble and often considered the inferior of the two, I just don't know what to think.

For sure, it does focus past infinity, so my question on the repair is still open. I've owned the camera and lens for about four months now.
09-12-2013, 06:38 AM   #6
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What shutter speed and aperture settings? Often they are the main culprints for subpar images.
09-12-2013, 06:46 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by VisualDarkness Quote
What shutter speed and aperture settings? Often they are the main culprints for subpar images.
I almost always shoot at 100 ISO. I do almost everything I can to avoid going over that.

I try and always shoot at f8 with this lens.

Most of the time I'm using the 55-300 is in the open, midday, on decent days.

Shutter speeds are what I adjust to compensate for the ISO and occasional ND Filter (If I have enough light). I will usually never go slower than 1/30, as I know there's a good chance I won't get a steady shot. From 1/30 and faster, I usually don't have issues with shake on other lenses, so I don't think that's the problem here...though perhaps it's more sensitive?

I use my Tele-Takumar 200mm 5.6 more now because of the issues I've had with my 55-300. It's heavier and I don't seem to have the issues I have with the 55-300 with it either.
09-12-2013, 07:21 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Noskovus Quote
I will usually never go slower than 1/30, as I know there's a good chance I won't get a steady shot.
1/30 is REALLY slow at 300mm. The zoom magnifies any camera shake a lot. There's a rule of thumb about 1/[Focal Length] that applies to FF and you actually multiply that by the crop factor so for APS-C you'd be looking at a rule of thumb something like 1/(300mm*1.5) = 1/450 for a hand held shutter speed. Of course, everyone is different and we have SR in our Pentax bodies so take that guideline with a HUGE grain of salt but if you're seeing what looks like motion blur or softness in images shot at the long end of your 55-300mm, you might try faster shutter speeds.

09-12-2013, 07:28 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by HockeyDad Quote
1/30 is REALLY slow at 300mm. The zoom magnifies any camera shake a lot. There's a rule of thumb about 1/[Focal Length] that applies to FF and you actually multiply that by the crop factor so for APS-C you'd be looking at a rule of thumb something like 1/(300mm*1.5) = 1/450 for a hand held shutter speed. Of course, everyone is different and we have SR in our Pentax bodies so take that guideline with a HUGE grain of salt but if you're seeing what looks like motion blur or softness in images shot at the long end of your 55-300mm, you might try faster shutter speeds.
Definitely wondering if that is it, or at least part of it. I have been trying to shoot faster (though not as fast as you suggest) because I thought I may still be getting shake.

Still see more softness than I do on other lenses, though at similar settings and lengths (I'm considering the Tele-Takumar a similar length because it's 200mm for Full Frame and the 55-300mm is for crop, right? - Still not totally sure on that.)

And then there's still the infinity issue as well.
09-12-2013, 07:34 AM   #10
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Why hobble your modern sensor (with usable images up to 3200 ISO) by locking it in to ISO 100?

Adam Lynd of the Toronto Blue Jays - I'd never catch that baseball at ISO 100 - and my Kr is "old tech" compared to the K-30.




Oh ya... that's with 50-200 which reputation wise is a less desirable lens than the 55-300...
09-12-2013, 07:42 AM   #11
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I rarely shoot at less than 1/500s with the 55-300 and I will even shoot up to ISO 6400 on occasion....

I have shot handheld at 1/40s, but that is really a lucky shot.
09-12-2013, 07:55 AM   #12
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I am probably overly critical of my photos, but I always think they look grainy when I shoot over 100. Probably just me being picky.

My 50-200mm is much more consistent for me. In fact, until I read the reviews and saw that most considered the 55-300mm much better, mine was collecting dust.



So....
So far, I think I am going to: Turn my ISO up if I have to (thinking about going past 800 makes me twitch, but I will play around with it) in order to keep my shutter speed at least past 1/100 or higher if I can. (I'm used to slower than that, so, again, I will play around with it.....baby steps, people.).



Still need to figure out if I can get it fixed for going past infinity.

And if I'm still having issues (getting better results from similar lenses in similar situations is why I started wondering if something was wrong in the first place.) I may see if I can send it in for that?
09-12-2013, 08:07 AM   #13
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I certainly suspect that shutter speed is one big issue, but you need to eliminate as many variables as you can to properly test the lens. Definitely use a tripod with SR off using timer or remote and shoot a page of sharp text on a flat wall in a well lit area, outside if possible to eliminate any AF issues with some indoor lighting. If the text or whatever high contrast target you choose is not sharp at f8, you may need to do some AF microadjustments. I've never attempted to MF with this lens, so I can't comment on that. I do have the DAL version and my copy is good at f8, but I usually close down to f11 when I shoot near 300mm. I checked AF with my copy and did not need to make any adjustments.
09-12-2013, 08:11 AM   #14
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Here's a couple of shots I've taken with it that were keepers for me from my last outing with the lens. All of them taken from a Kayak where I could be fairly stable and come up on them slowly. Pretty sure I was using an ND filter, but not positive. Probably shot most of these over 1/100 as it was a nice day at the time.

These were the keepers. There were hundreds I didn't keep.

I don't know the EXIF on these at the moment, but will try and post it later.

Blue Heron

Blue Heron

Blue Heron

Killdeer

Belted Kingfisher

Unknown Bird


The images are better on my Flickr account, but it's blocked here from work, so I can't link to it right now. Look up Noskovus there to see better and more pics from the 55-300.

Last edited by Noskovus; 09-12-2013 at 08:27 AM. Reason: Note
09-12-2013, 08:19 AM   #15
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ISO 100 is very low when shooting handheld with a long lens. Just a thought: If your other lens is giving you better results, it might be that it's because it's a shorter focal length, and just under the usable handheld shutter speed threshold. I usually stick to "safe" shutter speeds of at least 1/whatever the focal length I'm shooting at. For what it's worth, I've never had a problem with my 55-300, ever. It's a superb performer and one of my all-time favorite lenses.

QuoteOriginally posted by Noskovus Quote
I don't really use autofocus. I was just mentioning that it was even worse when I tried it.
What AF mode are you using? If you're using a multi-pattern mode, it might be that it's focusing on something other than your subject. Use center point AF for awhile & see how that works. Otherwise, you might try adjusting the autofocus, That could also be your problem.

If you want to verify whether your focus is working correctly, stick a piece of newsprint to a well-lit flat wall, put your camera on a tripod several feet away, directly facing it (not at an angle), use center point AF, open up the lens all the way, and take some photos at various focal lengths. If you have a remote it would be a good idea to use it to eliminate the possibility of camera shake. If the pics are in focus, the lens is fine. If not, you need to adjust the AF.

You could have a bad copy of the lens, but I'd try to rule out other things first.

Good luck,
Bob :-)
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