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10-07-2008, 06:54 AM   #1
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Pentax DA 55-300mm lens Input Requested

Hey everyone,

Been away for a while since I made my first posts but I'm back for a while and trying to catch up on posts. Lots of reading to do.

btw... thanks to those of you that helped me in the beginning. With limited knowledge of my new K200D, I got some really good shots from my last mini vacation and the results can only get better.

Anyway... I am a big landscape, nature lover and have a question regarding a lens I am considering purchasing. I read the reviews on the forums and it rates very high but wanted to get just a little bit more input. First time DSLR jitters and all that....

I am considering purchasing the Pentax DA 55-300mm F/4-5.8 ED Zoom Lens.


I currently only have the kit lens that came with the camera (18-55mm) and 2 other SLR lenses and a TC that I used with my K1000. As I learn to use the old lenses with my new camera, I would like to have a zoom that is specifically made for my new camera.

I am willing to spend a little more money than I normally would in order to get this lens but again, would like a little feedback.

I am going into the Smoky Mountains in two weeks and would like to have options for photographing the area.

Your input is greatly appreciated.
Thanks
Julie

10-07-2008, 08:09 AM   #2
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just do a search of 55-300 and you'll see tonnes of posts

if you want a more technical review there's one at Welcome to Photozone! but they weren't as impressed.
popphoto.com really liked the lens

personally i have it and it does seem to do the job. i think it's sharp enough for me and the best thing is the low weight.
10-07-2008, 08:41 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
personally i have it and it does seem to do the job. i think it's sharp enough for me and the best thing is the low weight.

Very well put... i was also impressed about its size/weight for a 300mm telezoom...

The only way i'll be getting rid of my copy is if I decide to get the 50-135, because i'd need the funds!


10-07-2008, 08:56 AM   #4
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It's a "Go-to..." & "Walk-around..."

lens for me.

You are welcome to visit my photo-blog (link in sig). It has 44 examples of the DA 55-300 paired with the lowly K100D and the sparkling K20D. You will find examples of long shots and others that have been cropped to almost simulate a macro. In some cases my technique and eye could be better, but I'm learning.

As you can probably tell, I really like this lens-body pairing.

10-07-2008, 04:37 PM   #5
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Julie,
My 55-300 is actually in Phoenix where it's enroute from B&H to California where a friend will get it and bring it to me in Oaxaca, Mexico.
I spent a lot of time looking at photos at PBase and other sites taken with this lens. I was fairly impressed with the results, especially for the price.
Then I considered what I would use it for. I don't really do birds. I decided I would like to zoom in on faces in the crowd at parades--we have a lot of parades--and probably 85% of my shots with this lens would be that. Occasionally, I'd like to zoom in on architectural detail or building decorations on old churches. That will be 14%. I don't have a clue what the other 1% will be.

The wide end, 55mm, isn't bad for strolling around town.
10-07-2008, 07:21 PM   #6
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Don't forget about the Tamron 70-300 Di LD. It also has quite a following and is less than half the price of the Pentax. Plus it has the added macro feature. My copy is very sharp and puts a smile on my face when I use it knowing how cheap it was.

But if you think you will use the lens a lot and money isn't an object, get the Pentax.
10-07-2008, 08:54 PM   #7
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For the going price today the DA55-300mm is a bargain or at the very least, and this is agreed by Photozone and PopularPhoto its worth the money and is a good lens.

Now IMO its a great lens because it does not visible fall down at 300mm, the contrast stays high which allows you to shoot wide open 55-300mm and its small and light. Only negative is a slow AF, you wont be chasing rabbits with this lens. But its fast enough, Oh and a few other things like great Pentax color, low CA/PF.
10-07-2008, 09:56 PM   #8
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I use this for wildlife, soccer and landscape photography on a K20D. I disabled the half press AF and use the AF button. It can be handheld at 300mm if the shutter speed is above 1/350. Image quality is excellent at all FL and f-stops. I get good results by pre focusing on where the action will occure and using the AF button to tweak the focus.

A excellent lens at a good price. Well balenced especilly with the battery grip attached.

10-08-2008, 01:48 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by GPE Quote
I use this for wildlife, soccer and landscape photography on a K20D. I disabled the half press AF and use the AF button. It can be handheld at 300mm if the shutter speed is above 1/350. Image quality is excellent at all FL and f-stops. I get good results by pre focusing on where the action will occur and using the AF button to tweak the focus.

A excellent lens at a good price. Well balanced especially with the battery grip attached.
I took my 55-300mm with me to work yesterday and was disappointed with the results; the images were blurry. Previously it has rendered good IQ so I was puzzled as to why it failed me this time. Seeing your statement above I checked the EXIF on my images shot at 300mm and found that my shutter speed was very slow; under 1/100th. I'll try again with faster shutter speeds next time.

On another note, this lens does seem to hunt for focus. Even after it had found proper focus it would then cycle all the way in and out again. Quite annoying, really.
10-08-2008, 06:08 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by J.Scott Quote
On another note, this lens does seem to hunt for focus. Even after it had found proper focus it would then cycle all the way in and out again. Quite annoying, really.
that's the weak point of the lens
the best thing to do is to help out the lens by using the quick-shift to focus first
and make sure to hit a contrasty subject
10-08-2008, 07:14 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by J.Scott Quote
...this lens does seem to hunt for focus. Even after it had found proper focus it would then cycle all the way in and out again. Quite annoying, really.
Like others, I've de-coupled AF from the half-depress shutter button option and transferred it to the OK button on the K100D. Quick-shift is used to to pre-focus to an estimated subject distance. If I'm close, AF can fine tune things. It's not clairvoyant. While it tries to get it right, nearby objects can confuse it. You need to double check things, use some judgment and override it at times. Of course, this is true for all lenses. Once you accept their limitations and learn how to work around them, you will garner great success.
10-08-2008, 12:39 PM   #12
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Thank you for lens input

Hey everyone... thank you so much for your input. Your comments were greatly appreciated and have helped me make my decision.

My original thought that this was the lens I wanted to purchase was confirmed and I'll be purchasing it later today.

Normally cost is a factor but I budgeted for one really good lens when I bought my K200 and based on what I want to use it for, this sounds like the one for me. I may not have this option in the future the way things are going, so I'm going to take advantage of it now.

Thanks again,
Julie
10-08-2008, 11:07 PM   #13
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This may help you appreciate the capability of this lens.
I only received it in the mail today and gave a bit of a workout.
Shots as taken, only resized for forums, no other PP action.

Taken at 50mm



Taken at 300mm



Taken at 30mm with Tamron 1.4 T/C




Hope this helps you. Then again, you may have already purchased the lens
10-09-2008, 02:33 AM   #14
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A bit late to the thread, I just want to say that since I got it, it's almost constantly on the camera. I like it very much and have found reviews and user reports to be true. For that price range it is excelent lens - almost no visible deformations, vigneting and CA, sharp through the range and pleasing bokeh. It's a keeper for me.
10-09-2008, 11:32 AM   #15
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Bruce,

I don't know if it is my computer or not, but the photos didn't come through. Is there another way I can view them? I'd love to see them.

I ended up not able to purchase it yesterday, both posts made after my last one just reaffirmed I was making the right choice, even without being able to see the pictures.

I thought I had some pretty decent shots with another lower end digital I had, but this camera obviously blows those out of the water and I can't wait to add the lens to my collection and go camera happy.

The other camera is great when I need quick and don't want to drag the whole outfit with me, but my landscape, nature, outdoor pictures with always be with the new one. Awesome!!

Thanks again everybody.
Julie
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