Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home

Pentax Lens Review Database » Digital Era Pentax K-Mount Lenses » DA Prime Lenses
HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW Review RSS Feed

HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW

Reviews Views Date of last review
4 54,862 Mon August 26, 2019
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $4,799.24 9.00
HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW

HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW
HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW
HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW
HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW
HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW

The HD PENTAX-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW DC extreme telephoto lens was initially announced at the CP+ tradeshow in February, 2012 and officially announced in September, 2012 at Photokina. It went on sale in February, 2013.

This lens is designed for the APS-C sensor format. With a modest maximum aperture of 5.6 it is relatively affordable and convenient to carry around.

The lens is optimized for rendering distant subjects particularly sharp and well-defined. The DA 560mm is based on optics used in astronomical telescopes. Contrary to popular belief, the lens is not collapsible (it does feature a built-in retractable hood, however).

The lens is designed for all-weather use (AW) incorporating a total of 29 seals to protect the innards of the lens. It has a built-in filter holder at the rear taking 40.5mm filters. A circular polarizer filter which can be rotated without removing the filter from the lens is included with the lens.

The lens has a built-in DC autofocus motor and features Quick-shift which allows the photographer to manually fine tune focus without switching out of autofocus mode.. On cameras with no support for in-lens autofocus motors (*istD series, K100D and K110D) the lens works as a manual focus lens.

This lens features Pentax HD coating, the next generation of multi-coating (supersedes SMC coating).

The diaphragm blades are rounded for a smooth bokeh in the range F5.6 to F11. The filter holder at the rear has a wheel that allows for turning the circular polarizer when mounted in the holder.

HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW
©, sharable with attribution
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Pentax K
Aperture Ring
Automatic, 9 blades (rounded)
7 elements, 6 groups
Mount Variant
Check camera compatibility
Max. Aperture
Min. Aperture
AF (in-lens motor)
Min. Focus
560 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
112 mm (Rear: 40.5 mm)
Internal Focus
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

APS-C: 2.9 ° / 2.5 °
Built-in, slide out
Dedicated case
Lens Cap
Nylon slip-on
Weather Sealing
Yes (AW)
Other Features
AF/MF Switch,Drop-in Filter Holder,Focus Range Limiter,Tripod Mount
Diam x Length
130 x 522 mm (5.1 x 20.5 in.)
3040 g (107.2 oz.)
w/ Hood: +246g
Production Years
2013 to present (in production)
$3028 USD current price
$6999 USD at launch
Engraved Name
HD PENTAX-DA 1:5.6 560mm ED AW
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
Circular polarizer included.
ED elements.
No autofocus on older bodies (*istD series, K100D, K110D, and film).
Designed for APS-C but officially full-frame compatible per Ricoh. The Pentax K-1 includes full-frame correction profiles for this lens.

Supersonic AutofocusQuick ShiftWeather SealedInternal FocusingAutomatic ApertureFull-Frame Support
Purchase: Buy the HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW
In-Depth Review: Read our HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW in-depth review!
Sample Photos: View Sample Photos

Add Review of HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW Buy the HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-4 of 4

Registered: February, 2015
Posts: 1,139

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 26, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $3,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Quality build, built-in lens hood. filter holder, Light weight, Weather sealed. (5) DC rather than SDM Focus motor.
Cons: balance, length, tripod foot placement,
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: Used    Camera Used: K-1   

Using this lens requires some preparations.
When at the site, handheld is possible under good light conditions.
The results are quite satisfying. AF is fast enough to track walking animals. Bokeh with linear patterns in the background can be harsh.

Check out the threads about this lens:
DA 560mm 5.6 AW - useful accessoires -
DA 560mm 5.6 AW - thread collection - everything about the DA560 -


Registered: July, 2008
Location: Luxembourg
Posts: 5,076

9 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 10, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $4,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness
Cons: Weight
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 8    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K-1   

Incredible lens. It works well in FF mode, but I use it most in Crop mode.

All my shots on Flickr
Veteran Member

Registered: May, 2012
Location: White Rock
Posts: 450

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 19, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $5,200.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, lightweight, smooth focusing ring, WR
Cons: awkward length, tripod foot placement
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K5ii, K3   

After doing tons of research and meeting up with Murray to try out his copy, I sprung for this lens the other year. The build quality is fantastic, yet the lens is still lightweight. I shoot in manual focus, so when asked to test the AF capabilities paired with the 1.4x TC, I wasn't expecting it to be so quiet.

The physical length of the lens is not to be ignored; it's 1 inch too long to be taken as a carry-on. Add a nice padded backpack and you're in a bit of a dilemma. Due to the size, handholding is not really an option. The minimum focusing distance can also be a bit tricky to work with as it's just over 18'. It's a fantastic lens that produces sharp images with fantastic bokeh, but not meant for someone who's looking for portability.
Site Supporter

Registered: August, 2007
Location: Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Posts: 426

28 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 15, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $6,996.95 | Rating: 9 

Pros: (1) Quality build, with a nice satin finish and built-in lens hood. (2) Geared, rotating filter holder/tray & polarizing filter & rear UV filter are supplied. (3) Light weight @ 6.7 pounds. (4) Weather sealed. (5) DC rather than SDM Focus motor.
Cons: (1) Long length. (2) Poor placement of tripod foot. (3) “Long” close focus distance. (4) Inadequate case for field use. (5) Lack of protective front filter. (6) Bright white colour.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K3, K5 IIs   

Explanations and Solutions:
(1) The lens is a bit long, compared to the FA*600mm F4.0, probably due to the type of lens design. The specifications say 20.5 inches, and with the hood extended it is 24.75 inches. The FA*600 is 18” w/o the hood extended. The weight is significantly less than the FA*600 (15 lbs. vs 6.7 lbs.). As tempting as the light weight may be, it is not easy to hand hold given the “lever” effect caused by the length. This also makes it a little difficult to control on a ball head, even a large one, like the Really Right Stuff BH-55 , unless you are very careful setting the ball drag, or tension.
Using a gimbal head such as the Wimberley Version II, which I use, or one of the Jobu Gimbal heads, or equivalent, would be the best mount. Because of the light weight, the horizontal mount gimbals such as the Wimberley Sidekick, which I use for my shorter telephoto lenses, the Kirk King Cobra, or the 4th Generation Designs Mongoose M3.6 will also work very well. , , ,
(2) The balance point of the lens is not very close to where you would mount the lens foot on a tripod and the foot is not reversible. With a K3 body and D-BG5 battery grip the balance point is approximately ¼ inch back, towards the camera body, from the silver ring that contains the lens name and serial number. This is significantly behind the mounting foot. Correct balance of the lens on a head is important in controlling the lens, on any head, and is particularly important with a gimbal heads to take advantage of the design advantages/benefits.
Most heads use quick release systems and if you use a long QR plate such as the Wimberley P50, which is 6 5/8 long, it will properly support the mounting foot while allowing at least a 2 ¼ inch protrusion toward the rear that picks up the balance point.
(3) Close focus distance is a little long at 18.37 ft. Most 600mm lenses are 16.4 ft. and 500mm lenses are around 13 ft. This is an issue when photographing small birds or mammals in close, particularly as Pentax to not make an extension tube set.
Kenko made a “Pz-AF UniPlus Tube 25” (25mm) extension tube which has both AF & AE contacts. These are no longer made but are occasionally available used; however they are a bit rare and usually somewhat expensive. Mine works on this lens, but I have not field tested it or measured the minimum focus distance at this time.
Now that Pentax have released the HD-DA 1.4x AW rear converter, they are more than half way to providing a 20mm, fully auto, weather sealed extension tube.
(4) The lens case is not equal in quality to the lens build and not as protective or as robust as I would like to see. In my opinion it would not be adequate for extensive field use and travel.
The LensCoat 3Xpandable Long Lens case is an excellent design, available with a “pack” harness and waist belt, and will carry this lens with the body attached, and also with the TC attached as well, by extending the case length.
(5) Lack of protective front filter (112mm)
B+W Make a 112mm UV Haze filter but it is not inexpensive at $160 USD.
(6) A bright white finish is not a good choice of colour for photographing wary wildlife, particularly birds.
LensCoat make an excellent waterproof neoprene cover set in four camo patterns plus black.

Updated: Jan-24, 2016
My initial opinions were that since Pentax was not giving this lens a star * designation that has always indicated a professional grade lens, and having used an FA*600mm F4.0 for years I could see that it was not as “robust” a build, and it did not appear to be as complex an optical design. A logical conclusion would be that it is not in the same class as the FA*600 F4.0 ED (IF) which is what I stated.

However after using the HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW the past year and a half, shooting well over 15,000 images, I am particularly impressed. Not just with the quality of my images, but initially I thought that the length might make it an awkward lens to handle. However this is not the case, as I found the handling characteristics to be good, particularly given the much lighter weight.

The AF Fine Adjustment (micro focus) for both of my K3s was -2 and for my K5 IIs was -1, which are lowest adjustments I have experienced with any other lens.
This lens has a quick, quiet and accurate autofocus, and the limit switch is a plus, and is very sharp wide open with excellent contrast.

AF Fine Adjustment using this lens with the HD Pentax DA 1.4X AW AF Rear Converter was fairly straight forward and appeared to present no problems, focusing quickly at F8.0, however field use, in varied lighting conditions, with the converter was disappointing. While the combination appeared to be autofocusing properly, only those images made in very bright, front lit, lighting conditions were acceptable. More testing is indicated.

I have expanded extensively on the negative aspects of the lens, and it does have some minor design shortcomings, but all of the “cons” have adequate solutions. In my opinion, I still feel that it is an excellent choice for wildlife photography, or other serious long lens shooters.

While some may feel it is a little pricy, I think it is reasonably good value and consider it a worthwhile addition to my field kit. I do not know why this lens did not receive a star * designation but it is certainly a star in my camera bag.

Murray O'Neill'neill
Add Review of HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW Buy the HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 12:21 PM. | See also:, part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]