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HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW Review RSS Feed

HD Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW

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6 66,738 Fri August 14, 2020
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
83% of reviewers $4,582.83 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)
$3996 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 FocusingBuilt-in HoodAutomatic 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
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Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 16,817

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 14, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $4,300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness and contrasr
Cons: Tripod foot not oriented for correct lens balance
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Autofocus: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 9    New or Used: New    Camera Used: K1 MK2   

I thought long and hard about this lens and ultimately got it this year (2020).

When unpacking the lens my only thought is My God this is a big lens. I have also used a Tamron 200-500/5.6 which is dwarfed by comparison. My Sigma 70-200/2.8 plus 2X TC looks like a toy.

The first things I did were to evaluate mounting it on a tripod, and as other reviewers have noted, the tripod foot really should be reversible, or permenantlay mounted in the opposite direction. Sadly the screws attaching the foot are not symmetrical

To balance it you need a 160 mm mounting plate set all the way back as the balance point is under the silver band with the serial number. But you need thicker than the standard 10mm thick plate or you get additional vibration on a tripod.

Also due to the mounting foot orientation the ability to carry the lens by the foot, as a handle is a little difficult because this makes it back heavy. Again adding a lens plate helps.

The strap anchors are also not at a lens balance point, and the lens is front heavy when hung by the straps.

The location of the mounting foot and lens straps would seem to make this lens hard to carry in the field, but having done several 5k plus 1-2 hour tracks, it is actually a very transportable lens. There is a trick. I use a pro tech strap system, and with the wide padded strap, and some extenders, so that i carry it on my right with the strap over my left shoulder and neck, the lens hangs at waist height. Then with the mounting foot almost inverted (10:00 position that I will explain later) I hold it with my right hand.

Shooting hand held is also simple and comfortable. Again there is a trick. Set the tripod foot to about the 10:00 position, and slide your left hand between the foot and the lens barrel, with your thumb on the camera side of the foot. It fits almost like a baseball glove with the back of your hand under the strap of the glove. It is relatively easy to lift up, with your right hand on the camera body/shutter position just to steady the lens. The slight back heavy condition due to the mounting foot location is just enough to control the lens easily. I have been able to hold it steady enough by hand to focus on Jupiter and in the shot, when enlarged, see the moons. I was impressed.

You can also have the same neck and shoulder strap arrangement and hold the lens with your left hand across your body, ready and in shooting position, just raise it up with your left hand directly to your eye and shoot.

Although the lens is listed as full Frame, there is some vignetting. I measured this with a couple of missed birds in flight shots against a blue sky. I measured centre, corner and edge grey scale value And compared them.
Centre =103
corners = 39,
mid edge, side = 67,
mid edge top & bottom = 83.

Since the K1 format is 36 x 24 mm (w x h) On cropped sensor there is about 1/2 stop fall off centre to edge, Where as on the K1 it is about 3/4 stop.
Corner fall off is about 1 1/2 stops, considering jpeg between greyscale 30 and 215 is about 45 greyscale = 1 stop

But you don’t really notice even on full frame the slight vignetting.

Shooting with this lens I find is much better than with a screw drive lens, the AF while not blazingly fast is positive, there is No more back and forth hunting around the focus point. The silent focus is also a blessing in some situations. Overall I get more shots where I hit the focus than with my sigma APO 70-200/2.8 EX plus sigma 2X TC. Contrast and color saturation are also better than my sigma alternative which I have shot since my *istD days and was always pleased with.

Although I spent the first few hours trying to figure out how to mount the lens to a tripod, I have yet to shoot with it on a tripod. Although large physically it is a good carry around ultra long telephoto, for walking and birding. Clearly there is no need to be tripod bound. I was afraid that might be an issue but it is not.

For photos, see the following album, which I have used to chronicle my experience,

Or watch the post your photos forum, as many are cross posted there

Edit note: someone asked about Purple fringing especially wide open. So I deliberately took a shot At F5.6 of vultures on a galvanized barn roof (silver) and against a light sky. I see virtually no evidence of fringing, I need to try more but it was enough for me to rate the lens for aberrations, which I had not done previously

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 17, 2020 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $4,000.00 | Rating: N/A 

Pros: long reach
Cons: poor construction quality (two samples' results combined for this review)
New or Used: New   

The first example that I purchased could not obtain a sharp image under any circumstances - there was nothing in the field of view that could be said to be "in-focus". That one was returned to Ricoh within a month of purchase, but they refused to either repair it or replace it. I had to get my bank to back out the credit card charge on that one, though I took a substantial hit for shipping.

The second one I purchased from a local store, which let me try it out to see (as well as I could with the camera's LCD screen) whether this one could take reasonably sharp pictures. I bought it and took it home. On my third or fourth attempt to use the lens, it fell apart as I was removing it from its Pentax-supplied case. I took it back to the store. Apparently Pentax wants to charge me something in excess of $600 to repair the lens under warranty.

Update: I did spring the bucks for the repair; now it's a terrific lens. I still don't feel that I could recommend it, though.

Registered: February, 2015
Posts: 2,027

3 users 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: 6,486

13 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

5 users 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: 515

31 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: 8    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
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