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SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM Review RSS Feed

SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM

Reviews Views Date of last review
81 357,176 Thu August 3, 2023
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
98% of reviewers $1,034.58 9.56
SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM

SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM
SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM
SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM

The Pentax DA* 300mm telephoto lens features weather-sealing as well as Pentax's SDM focusing technology. It has a removable tripod mount.

SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Automatic, 9 blades
8 elements, 6 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
AF (in-lens motor or screwdrive)
Min. Focus
140 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
77 mm
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 5.4 ° / 4.6 °
PH-RBK 77 mm
Lens Cap
Weather Sealing
Yes (AW)
Other Features
AF/MF Switch,Tripod Mount
Diam x Length
83 x 184 mm (3.3 x 7.2 in.)
1070 g (37.7 oz.)
w/ Hood: +90g
w/ Tripod Foot: +80g
Production Years
2008 to present (in production)
$1096 USD current price
Engraved Name
smc PENTAX-DA* 1:4 300mm ED [IF] SDM
Product Code
User reviews
In-depth review
Unofficial Full-Frame Compatibility Tests by Pentax Forums
★★★ Full coverage at all tested F-stops and all focal lengths
Show details
Two ED elements.
Designed for APS-C but officially full-frame compatible per Ricoh. The Pentax K-1 includes full-frame correction profiles for this lens.

Screwdrive AutofocusSupersonic AutofocusQuick ShiftWeather SealedInternal FocusingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame Support
Purchase: Buy the SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM
In-Depth Review: Read our SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM in-depth review!
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos
Price History:

Add Review of SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM Buy the SMC Pentax-DA* 300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-15 of 81
New Member

Registered: June, 2011
Location: Maryland
Posts: 4
Review Date: August 3, 2023 Not Recommended | Price: $1,100.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: very sharp
Cons: worthless autofocus capabilities
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 1    Handling: 4    Value: 3    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3 ii   

I agree with the comments of bschriver11 below. While this lens is incredibly sharp and the images are fantastic, the autofocus is terrible. I am a birder, for birds in flight, you can completely forget about this lens using autofocus. It is very slow, always moves through the whole focus range, often gives up. Even with stationary objects. Maybe manufacturing or QC has changed lately; I can't understand the positive comments about focus abilities. As much as I wanted to like this lens, it is just not field functional in a dynamic environment. I bought this because the 150-450mm is soft, but I would rather have soft shots than none at all. I can't recommend this lens, certainly not at this price point this deep into its lifecycle.
New Member

Registered: October, 2009
Location: Millersville, MD
Posts: 7
Review Date: November 3, 2022 Recommended | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: ridiculously sharp, no artifacts
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: Olympus OM1-Mark III   

I've been a Pentax user for over 40 years, but in the absence of stacking support for macro, have drifted to using a light weight, mirrorless Olympus (my confession, I lug my camera equipment on long hikes almost daily). This camera has internal (body) stabilization, like my Pentax K5. Increased distance to the sensor plane in this particular mirrorless camera series effectively turns the 300mm into a 600mm lens. I bought the lens in 2012 and its been banging around in my camera bag for many miles and years. I had it tightened up and cleaned in 2022.

I've always appreciated the quality of this lens, but always used manual focusing for wildlife photography, never even noticing that my trusty K5 had lost its ability to autofocus heavier lenses. I mounted my 300mm Pentax lens on the Olympus (20MB sensor, manual focus the only option) and was totally floored by its sharpness upon photographing a submarine across the Chesapeake Bay at a distance of about 4 miles (hand-held). This lens captured incredible detail of small paint markings and people standing around on deck. Too often people offer less-than-persuasive images of bird feathers from unknown camera-to-subject distances and under unclear shooting and handling conditions. This distance I knew - Pentax makes one incredibly sharp lens. You can believe those good ratings for this optical gem!

Registered: May, 2008
Location: Maryland
Posts: 549

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: April 4, 2022 Not Recommended | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: N/A 

Pros: Build quality
Cons: Autofocus
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Autofocus: 3    Handling: 10    Value: 5    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3ii   

I am a little confused by the ratings of the autofocus in the reviews. Everyone else must have a lens that does things that mine does not? Not only can it be slow to focus but refuses to lock focus even in bright day light on subjects with good lines and contrast, it gets close and then hunts a couple of times and then just gives up. When it does lock it is often front or back focused but does nothing consistently, quite often the camera gives focus confirmation but i can clearly see through the viewfinder that it is not focused where it should be. Pentax should offer a way to convert the lens to screw drive, it has to be better than the SDM in this lens. If i had to do it over i would look for the older FA* 300 F/4.5.
New Member

Registered: September, 2021
Location: North Country
Posts: 18

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: October 11, 2021 Recommended | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Value, Ergonomics, Optically Okay
Cons: Autofocus, Fringing
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 4    Bokeh: 7    Autofocus: 4    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-1 II   

Optically this lens is okay. It's a little dated, so "near-misses" are unusable in my opinion, but when things are in its strike-zone, it performs without any major complaints. Sharpness is okay, it's good from f5.6-f8.0 when the subject is filling most of your frame, but it can't really handle far-off subjects that require heavy cropping. Out of focus areas show some pretty heavy fringing, especially in high contrast settings, but thankfully this does not affect a properly focused and exposed subject at all. I don't notice any substantial loss of image quality using this lens on a full-frame sensor.

The autofocus is a little weak, it's slower than one would expect from a lens whose primary use would normally be sports or wildlife. It's reasonably accurate if it's already in the general range of the subject, but the lens does "get lost" when having to switch from infinity to close up or vice versa. A quick manual focus adjustment to bring it back into the right ballpark again and it'll go back to chugging away happily, but it can be very frustrating, especially when trying to capture very quick scene changes.

In terms of ergonomics, the lens is well-built, a little on the heavy side, and has a relatively large filter size, but other than that is pretty compact and is mostly an internal focusing lens. The tripod foot is a little bit of overkill, as this lens is neither large nor demanding enough to really require it. Especially with Pentax's IBIS, this lens is easily hand-held on the larger bodies. The build very much reminds me of the higher end Tamron lenses from the early 2000s, and anyone who has used, say, the Tamron 200-500 should feel right at home with this lens.

Overall, I like this lens for what it is. It can be a good affordable pick on the second-hand market and I'm not upset about the optical performance as it can turn in some good shots, but I might be pretty disappointed in it if I paid MSRP for it in 2021. It really needs an optical overhaul and a new AF motor to really shine in the modern era.


Registered: June, 2011
Posts: 486

9 users found this helpful
Review Date: August 28, 2021 Recommended | Price: $550.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image quality, build quality, weather sealed
Cons: SDM failure possible
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: Pentax K-1, K-3, KP   

I can't believe I haven't reviewed this lens on this site yet!

In short, the Pentax DA* 300mm f4 lens is FANTASTIC and worth every penny. It is sharp and contrasty, autofocus works well, built to last a long long time. It is a large lens but that's just because it is a quality 300/f4 lens. It actually handles fairly well despite the size, and I handhold all my nature shots.

I used it on the K-1 in full frame mode for a while with no issues at all. The only reason I switched to using the KP was the longer reach.

It has become one of my favorite all-time lenses and I have no regrets purchasing one. I bought mine used for a good price, but now after using it I would be willing to pay full price.

If you are looking for a fast telephoto for Pentax, this is one of the few options and I really can't think of a better one.

Here are some sample photos and a video I made reviewing the lens.

Taken with astrotracer on K-1
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2011
Location: Toronto
Posts: 3,354

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 27, 2020 Recommended | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: portability, sharpness, colour rendition
Cons: fragile electrical contacts, hesitant focusing
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3   

I have had a lot of fun with this lens over a number of years. Easy to pack in cabin baggage with my K-3 and other lenses in pre-COVID days when I could fly, good handheld, mostly used for wildlife with the 1.4x DA converter. The lens has been in frequent use since 2014.
Many reviewers have mentioned slow autofocus - I find it OK most of the time but keeping track of fast flitting warblers and birds in flight can be frustrating.
As a long term user, one issue that I don't see in the reviews is the fragility of the electrical contacts on this lens. They comprise thin brass foil tabs that are folded over onto the lens mount surface and are not even bonded to the body
Today I pressed the shutter, only to find yet again that the focus didn't work and that the settings on the LCD were all over the place. I detached the lens and one of the contacts had folded out and away from the body - fortunately I was able to gently push it back into place. Twice before I wasn't as lucky - the tab was broken off and expensive and time consuming repairs were required. I always take my 55-300 lens with me as a backup on longer trips in case this happens. I wouldn't say I'm hard on my gear - I'm just a frequent user. Over the past year or so I have carried a Ricoh GRIII with me and this has minimized the number of lens changes, but I still need to attach or detach the TC or a macro from time to time.
Otherwise I find most of my Pentax gear to be very robust, and I'm not sure why they made an exception in this case.
New Member

Registered: March, 2020
Location: China
Posts: 22

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 27, 2020 Recommended | Price: $550.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Everything except focus
Cons: Focus is not fast enough for birds
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 9    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K5ii K1   

I purchase this DA300* to replace K300 because manual focus is not enough for me to shoot birds. I use 300 to shoot birds and astrograph. Other wise, I will not usually take DA300 with me for nearby (like one day) travel.
The only drawback for this DA300 is the auto focus is not quite fast enough for bird shooting. For birds that is landing on tree or jumping on the ground, you get acceptable successful rate. For bird that is flying, I have a hard time tracing them (with K5ii).

The rest of DA300 are all very good, sharp at F4, solid build quality, very nice hood and tripod foot. I add 2X-S rear converter to get 600mm for astrophotography. Its performance is good enough to save you money for expansive refractive astronomical telescope. However, I find the Pentax astro-tracor did not perform well at long focus length. (Don't get me wrong, Astro-tracer is fantastic function that work well for wide angle astrograph, but not so to the level for deep-sky type)

the M31 Andromeda Galaxy is shoot with an equatorial telescope tripod, 30 second exposure ,80 picture stacked, PS edited and chopped.

Anyway, here is some photos for birds and deep-sky.
center resolution of DA300 @5.6 matches with the pixel size of K5.

Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2013
Posts: 19
Review Date: April 23, 2020 Recommended | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, Handling, Image Quality
Cons: Lens Hood, Autofocus Speed
Sharpness: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K3-II   

Since I so heavily rely on people's reviews of products, I felt that this was a good opportunity to give a review back, along with a comparison that I don't see made too often (between a Star prime lens and a "consumer" zoom lens)

Since it may or may not matter to people, I got into photography so that my wife and I could decorate our house with our own pictures. I prefer nature and wildlife photos, but I'll take pictures of what I come across. We've taken a few trips to rainforest areas in Central and South America, so weather resistance is crucial. I started with a K30, paired with the 18-135 and then the 55-300 HD/WR lenses. I then read too much about the quality of other lenses and cameras, and decided that I wanted to try my hand with nicer equipment. I first bought a K3 II from a forum member (thank you again), and then recently purchased the DA*300 from KEH (for what I felt was a very reasonable deal).

I chose the DA*300 for its focal length and touted image quality. The 55-300 was making me cranky with its autofocus, sometimes getting jittery during continuous focus and always the noise. That noise seemed problematic for taking pictures of animals. Naturally, the SDM motor in the DA*300 is substantially quieter. Autofocus speed may or may not be any different, but at least it's quieter when it's searching and not scaring animals off.

A size/weight comparison would favor the zoom, but the DA*300 is well balanced with the K3 II and especially with the battery grip, as other forum members have mentioned. I highly recommend the battery grip, and with AA's if at all possible for the additional weight. Handheld, I'm okay with the DA*300, and I seem to have better luck with keeping stable than with the 55-300. I think that the additional weight dampens my shaking hands, though 300 mm is probably my limit for handheld photography (so no TC in my future). On a monopod, having the tripod mount on the lens allows me to take much nicer pictures, especially when I remember to put the ballhead stem into the notch, if that makes sense. The combo is a bit heavy, but another one of my hobbies is powerlifting, so the weight is comforting to me. (except for long hikes)

Now image quality. This is not meant to be a scientific comparison. It's not an equal test. It's me taking pictures of bumblebees outside my house on consecutive days, one with the 55-300 and one with the DA*300. I used a monopod and tried my best. I shot both in RAW and then processed them in DarkTable as I've been getting used to version 3. The colors are a bit oversaturated on the 55-300 picture, but I think you'll get the idea.

55-300 picture, at 300 mm.


I'm very happy with the DA*300 and can't wait to take it fun places.
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2018
Posts: 131
Review Date: January 7, 2020 Recommended | Price: $675.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, lovely colours and bokeh, weather sealed
Cons: Slightly slow autofocus
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New   

Pleasing in the hand, images are wonderful, sharpness is very good wide open and superb from f5.6. Plays well with the HD 1.4x TC. Took me a while to work out how to get good results with a long lens, but that's about the 12 inches behind the camera. No complaints.

There are a selection of my photos with this lens, mostly with the HD 1.4x TC, on my flickr
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2018
Location: Central Ontario
Posts: 128

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: May 20, 2019 Recommended | Price: $849.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Everything
Cons: None that I could find
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: KP   

Phenomenal lens. So glad I made this purchase. Coupled with the HD Pentax-DA 1.4 teleconverter it is a breeze to get the shots I wanted when hiking. Takes great shots with little focus hunting in low light situations.
Forum Member

Registered: August, 2018
Posts: 72
Review Date: May 14, 2019 Recommended | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Not necessary to have a heavy lens
Cons: Nothing
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-1 ii   

Coupled to a K-1 ii, this lense is unbelievable.
You can isolate the subject in a bubble of sharpness, and give it all its the importance.
No aberrations, a lot of contrast, even in bad weather.
The focus ring does not move when the SDM motor is working.

Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 422

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: April 20, 2019 Recommended | Price: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, light, superb image quality, withstands rain and fog well.
Cons: AF defaults to short range instead of infinity when lock broken, AF not as responsive as contemporaries.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3ii   

I use this lens more than the Sigma 70-200 HSM II I own, which is saying a lot. The handling and image quality are superb.

There are only two shortfalls to speak of. The AF is slower than the Sigma. This was notable at airshows but not for other situations like sports.

The other issue I encountered that I haven't seen any references to, is that when AF lock is lost, the lens defaults to short distance, not infinity. This is really irritating as it completely blurs out the viewfinder while it's re-establishing lock. At airshows it resulted in complete loss of tracking because I couldn't see the aircraft in the viewfinder. In sports situations it was manageable, but irritating.

Other than those two things it's brilliant. I use now over my Sigma. The keeper rate is much lower than the Sigma, but the image quality and sharpness make up for it; I'm really pleased I bought it.
Forum Member

Registered: December, 2012
Location: Czech Republic
Posts: 66

29 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 21, 2019 Recommended | Price: $1,080.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: well built, sharp, nice bokeh, absent CA, excellent image quality, overall an extremely incredible lens
Cons: slow AF
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-3II, K-3, K-7, K-5 (modified for astrophotography)   

I have this lens since June 2012 - after 18-55 from a set and DA 35 Macro Limited it was my third lens I have bought. Since the first year, it is one of my favourite lenses, maybe it still holds a 1st place (by my opinion it is a better lens than probably everything I have, including FA77Ltd, FA31Ltd, A50/1.2, DFA100WR or a new DA*11-18 etc.). There is almost no trip when this lens is not in my backpack. This lens is sharp even from wide-open, CA is almost absent in 99% of photos, bokeh is nice especially is you shoot low. The only thing that would need an update is the AF. It’s precise but slow. But I think, that photos speak for the lens better than any words…

Marmota flaviventris (yellow belied marmot) - Tuolumne meadows, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Great Orion Nebula, BAdwater Basin, Death Valley, California, USA

Spermophilus saturatus (Cascade Golden-mantle​d Ground Squirrel) - Mt. Rainier NP, Washington, USA

Cyanocitta stelleri (Steller's Jay) - Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Spe​rmophilus citellus (european ground squirell) - Czech Republic

Neotinea ustulata (burnt tip orchid) - Czech Republic

Mantis religiosa (praying mantis) - Czech Republic

And total solar eclipse 2017 - Hartwell Lake; Mountain View park, Clemson, South Carolina, USA
Shot using Kenko 2× KAX teleplus MC7.

Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2013
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 578

7 users found this helpful
Review Date: September 4, 2018 Recommended | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Beautiful colors, incredibly sharp, all around incredible lens
Cons: Slow autofocus
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Autofocus: 6    Handling: 8    Value: 10    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-5II, K-1   

Few lenses have impressed me as much as this one. Not only does the lens itself feel like a machined masterpiece when holding it, but it is capable of producing images at a quality that few other lenses can produce. I would rank this #1 out of all of the lenses I've ever used as far as the quality of image you get straight out of the camera without any post processing... this one has the magic pixie dust that is mentioned from time to time. I would even rank this above the FA 77 as far as overall optics go. That being said, it is big and heavy and has slow AF... I almost always used manual focus as I found it very nice to use and it saved a lot of frustration. Bokeh is incredibly beautiful, like an oil painting... even when shot wide open. Here are some of my favorite photos taken with the Pentax DA* 300mm:

Two Red Leaves

Deer Portrait at North Park by James Baron, on Flickr

Bright Fall Foliage III

Green Leaf Portrait by James Baron, on Flickr

A Fall Sunset Silhouette

Fallen Red Leaf

Fall Focus
Forum Member

Registered: November, 2017
Posts: 50

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: April 21, 2018 Recommended | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Incredibly sharp with almost no aberrations
Cons: Auto-focus can be fussy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-70   

I've been a Pentaxian since I graduated from high school in 1978 and my dad gave me a K-1000 as a grad gift, and I've been shooting professionally for over 30 years. I've owned close to two dozen lenses over the years and just got this 300 a few months ago (I had the mid-80s model which was still going strong, but I wanted auto-focus for my newer digital bodies). This is one of the sharpest lenses I have ever owned. At ISO 100 I can't find any detectable noise. Editing pics from this lens in post is a breeze and a joy. I never have to correct for any aberrations and the rest of the workflow (color balance, exposure, sharpening, etc.) is always easy because there's almost never anything that needs fixing (unless it was pilot error, which is fairly often). It is heavy, but not THAT heavy. In fact, it's a bit smaller and lighter than my 70-200 2.8. The build quality is fantastic, the quick-shift focus is so helpful, and the focus motor is so quiet that I can't hear it. It's actually quite shocking to see the image come into focus silently. The only downside for some shooters (e.g., those that shoot fast-action sports) is that the autofocus system can be fussy: it hunts a bit, is sometimes slow to react, and doesn't work that well when tracking and shooting continuously. I'm a nature/landscape photographer, so it does't bother me at all (I'm often manual-focusing anyway). This is the kind of lens that you would run back into a burning house to save. Here's an example of a low-light shot I got this evening, hand-held while sneaking around the back of my garage (high ISO, so there is some noise, but I needed a fast shutter speed).
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