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05-04-2014, 06:07 PM   #1
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Which Pentax 55-300mm Lens?

Hey Guys,

So I'll soon be travelling to Chicago on a 3 week holiday to visit my girlfriend, and was going to purchase 2 new lenses while I'm out there.
One of which is the Pentax SMC DA 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 ED(IF) Zoom Lens (as I've always wanted a fish-eye lens, and its 10-17mm, which will go with my 18-55mm kit lens that came with my K-r) But the other lens I'm planning on purchasing is a Pentax SMC 55-300mm.

But my question is, which 55-300mm lens do I buy? The DA, the DA L or the WR lens? I'm debating paying the extra $140 for the WR lens (obviously i cant really benefit from the weather-resistance as the K-r isn't weather-resistant, but may upgrade my camera body at a later date) but as this will be the most I'll of paid for a lens so far I'd like it to be as protected as possible (it's metal rather than plastic, right?) and have heard of "Quick Shift" on the DA Lens, what is Quick Shift? and does the WR version include this?

Thanks for your time guys Hope you can help

05-04-2014, 06:14 PM   #2
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The WR version has a metal mount plate vs the plastic one on the DA L version, but AFAIK the bodies are the same material. Not really an issue IMHO.

Quick shift allows you to focus manually while the lens and camera are in AF mode. You can use this to fine tune an auto-focus that isn't exactly on what you want, or if you need to quickly manually focus you can just do so without having to change the camera into manual focus mode.

I have the DA L version and if I were to buy another I would go for the WR version just for the quickshift feature. The other differences are bonuses but not huge attractions for me.
05-04-2014, 06:57 PM   #3
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Ah i see, thanks for the help I think i will purchase the WR version for the metal mount and extra features, as im from england it ends up being over 100 cheaper than buying it over here anyway.
05-04-2014, 07:11 PM   #4
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It won't be long before tibbitts is telling you how poor the quality control is and how you should get a Tamron 70-300 instead.

05-04-2014, 08:25 PM   #5
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Three versions are:
DA-L: is plastic mount, no quick shift, no lens hood. (Lens has silver / white ring)
DA: has the metal mount, quick shift, lens hood with removable polariser window and included soft lens pouch. (Lens has green ring)
DA-wr: All the feature of the DA, plus weather resistance and changed focus and zoom ring texture. (Lens has red ring).
All are optically identical.

If you don't need the weather resistance, then the DA is the better version to get. I would avoid the DA-L as the quick shift and lens hood are essential in a telephoto lens.
05-04-2014, 10:00 PM   #6
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I have had the DAL version for 3 years and I love it.
05-04-2014, 10:19 PM   #7
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For what it's worth, you can find generic hoods for the DA-L 55-300mm that are identical to the Pentax hood it just doesn't say Pentax on it. I bought one for my DA-L lens. I paid less than $5.00 usd for it off ebay. It also has the removable polarizer window in it. I will say there are times the quick shift focus would be nice but I've learned to work around that. I find if I follow my subject the lens will hold focus. Here's a sample from my DA-L 55-300mm from last Saturday.


05-04-2014, 10:43 PM   #8
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As mentioned they are optically identical, so no choice there, you can buy 3rd part hoods, so not a problem,
And quick shift I have on some lenses but never use.
As to the plastic mount I don't remember ever reading a thread about it wearing, breaking or causing any problem, but I might have missed something there.
From a finance point you might as well get a Dal version unless you intend to us it in the pouring rain, the average no Wr lens wiill take light rain especially if you dry it off as you get the rain spots on the lens which does happen.
I regularly photograph objects cars, trucks,Rv, boats, all sorts for a living and have no choice of the day or weather and have never had a wet problem yet with a non Wr lens.

05-05-2014, 06:03 AM   #9
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Although optically the same there is a difference between the SMC coating on the older versions verses the newer HD coating on the WR version which does give it a slight micro-contrast enhancement. Basically it boils down to if you want WR or not. To me it was worth it.
05-05-2014, 06:55 AM   #10
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well I've been looking into prices etc, for all 3 lenses, and I've narrowed it down to either the DAL or the WR versions. I think I would be better off paying the extra 37 for the WR version, brand new with case, hood and filter than I would for the second hand used DAL lens, with no case, filters or hood.

Just got to wait until the end of June to get out to Chicago so I can order my lenses am definitely looking forward to see the differences from the 10-17mm fisheye and the 55-300mm WR lenses compared to my current lenses

Thanks for all the help and info guys, I'm definitely glad I signed up to this site!
05-05-2014, 08:45 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
It won't be long before tibbitts is telling you how poor the quality control is and how you should get a Tamron 70-300 instead.
I wouldn't tell someone to blindly buy a Tamron 70-300 instead, because I don't know that it's statistically better or worse than the Pentax 55-300. The Tamron lacks a number of important features that the Pentax includes, even not considering WR. But I wish somebody had impressed on me, even with annoyingly frequent posts, the importance of testing every lens - all four extreme corners, at a wide range of apertures, focal lengths, and focusing distances. For me, it was a slow and somewhat expensive evolution from being satisfied by every one of my dozen SMCTs and Canon FDs in the MF/film era, to repeatedly being disappointed by Pentax, Sigma, and, yes, Tamron, in the AF/digital era.
05-06-2014, 12:27 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by zeanonjenkins Quote
well I've been looking into prices etc, for all 3 lenses, and I've narrowed it down to either the DAL or the WR versions. I think I would be better off paying the extra 37 for the WR version, brand new with case, hood and filter than I would for the second hand used DAL lens, with no case, filters or hood.
Quick shift is handy especially with a telephoto. Whatever you do get it from somewhere that will do a return/replacement in the time that you've got over there - a real physical shop maybe ? It only takes a minute to check for decentering etc.
05-07-2014, 02:55 AM   #13
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i was going to order it online while i was out there, im not sure where there are any camera shops in or near chicago that would sell pentax gear? and what do you mean decentering? what should i be looking out for when i get or test a new lens?
05-07-2014, 03:16 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by zeanonjenkins Quote
i was going to order it online while i was out there, im not sure where there are any camera shops in or near chicago that would sell pentax gear? and what do you mean decentering? what should i be looking out for when i get or test a new lens?
Decentering is one of the problems with long mass produced lenses - the optics are not well aligned because of lack of QA/QC in assembly or damage in transit. Basically, one corner or one side will always be more out of focus compared to the rest.

A quick way to check, if you have the lens in your hands, is to aim at a distant object, focus on it in the centre, switch to manual focus and without disturbing the focus tilt the camera to get four more shots with the object in each corner. You may also need to lock the exposure - keep the lens wide open and change shutter speed. Then pixel-peep. The four corners should be similarly good (or bad). If one is markedly worse (they may all be a bit fuzzy as some lenses have field curvature by design) then the lens is decentered. It will bug you forever more
05-08-2014, 02:08 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by kh1234567890 Quote
A quick way to check, if you have the lens in your hands, is to aim at a distant object, focus on it in the centre, switch to manual focus and without disturbing the focus tilt the camera to get four more shots with the object in each corner. You may also need to lock the exposure - keep the lens wide open and change shutter speed. Then pixel-peep. The four corners should be similarly good (or bad). If one is markedly worse (they may all be a bit fuzzy as some lenses have field curvature by design) then the lens is decentered. It will bug you forever more
You make it sound as though you wouldnt notice it if you didnt do this process to check if it was there, if thats the case surely it cant be that much of a problem? i thought it would be a problem you would notice easily without doing any tests etc, something that you can see affects the quality in every photo.
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