DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

Started 10 months ago | Discussions
rossdoyle
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to paulkienitz, 10 months ago

paulkienitz wrote:

UtahManSir wrote:

I find that mine is better at slightly closer ranges than close to infinity unless stopped down a bit to f10 or so.

You know, I've noticed that too. A lot of my better 100% crop 300mm pictures were taken at distances of five to ten feet.

Hm, I had not thought about this specifically. Perhaps the contrast is better up close. Anyway, for sure I am happy with 55-300 (and I'm satisfied enough that I wouldn't consider carrying anything more bulky).

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GossCTP
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to paulkienitz, 10 months ago

paulkienitz wrote:

SanMat wrote:

Hi Paul,

Looks like you've gotten plenty of responses, but here's my take. Go with the DA 300 and don't look back.

See, that was my original thought, but there are a couple of issues that come up if that's the way I want to go. One is that I just had to buy a car and we're trying to plan a trip to Europe, so I have a lot less money to spare than I thought, and the other is that if I buy this much lens at the same time as I'm buying a new body (if, as expected, they come up with a 24mp APS body this fall), then I'm buying new stuff that greatly exceeds the existing value of my system, which means it's not much different from the cost of switching mounts, which means I have to comparison-shop the C and N options and decide pretty soon whether to stay with Pentax or not. And I also have to see if there's a viable mirrorless setup that should be considered. (So far, it doesn't look like there is.)

What I'm hoping is that if I get a major body upgrade, this does not have to throw me into rebuilding the entire system at a very financially inconvenient time. And despite all advice from the majority of thread participants who sneer at the consumer zoom, what I'm getting from the actual samples and stuff is that I'll probably be fairly okay if I just get a body and postpone any lens purchases for another year or so.

What I"m hoping is that by upgrading from my K20d to the k5 ii I can boost the ISO enough to not need to shoot wide open with the 55-300. I'm not convinced that the ISO performance is that much better (except it doesn't seem to get the green tinge like the k20d) but I'm willing to give it a try. Much better camera in so many other areas anyway.

I don't sneer at the 55-300, but I don't pretend it can take on a top prime either. It is what it is. Also, being a zoom has its own value. Birders usually can never get close enough, but when I go canoeing I stumble on things out of nowhere that I would startle by trying to change position. And the 300 is too expensive to risk in a canoe.

That would make things easier. But going that way makes an implicit decision to stay with Pentax for at least another five years, probably longer, and maybe I'd better really think about that. Do I really believe that a camera line built around APS-only lenses is going to be viable in the market of 2019, when there will probably be full frame SLRs available for like $800? I don't want to invest that much in what is really only a secondary hobby, and then end up stuck with a dead mount.

One of the beauties of the mirrorless options is that no mount will truly "die". There will be adapters for probably every system to use K mount lenses. It's possible that none of them will support auto-focus, but at the very least, a high quality 300 f/4 will have value as long as cameras need lenses. Also, I'm not sure that full frame will be that big of a deal for telephoto users. APS-C has plenty of resolution and shallow DOF with fast lenses. If you are worried about mirrorless taking over (And I think it is a real possibility) I would say the most prudent thing to do is not buy any short primes or wide zooms as they will be hurt the most. There will be better options with mirrorless at 14mm, but not at 300mm.

Of course, the whole industry is in a spot that's very hard to forecast right now. For all we know, by then mirrorless cams will reach some kind of tipping point and start decimating even the big two.

CaNikon isn't going anywhere. They will have systems when the time comes. And people will continue to pay more money for the same features when they do. That's the power of branding.

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paulkienitz
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to GossCTP, 10 months ago

GossCTP wrote:

paulkienitz wrote:

What I'm hoping is that if I get a major body upgrade, this does not have to throw me into rebuilding the entire system at a very financially inconvenient time. And despite all advice from the majority of thread participants who sneer at the consumer zoom, what I'm getting from the actual samples and stuff is that I'll probably be fairly okay if I just get a body and postpone any lens purchases for another year or so.

What I"m hoping is that by upgrading from my K20d to the k5 ii I can boost the ISO enough to not need to shoot wide open with the 55-300. I'm not convinced that the ISO performance is that much better (except it doesn't seem to get the green tinge like the k20d) but I'm willing to give it a try. Much better camera in so many other areas anyway.

In your case, that would be a hopefully large change in low light performance but a small change in resolution. Any lens that works well would continue to work equally well. But in my case I'm going for a fairly large resolution change, which carries the risk that my existing lenses become suddenly a lot less adequate.

One of the beauties of the mirrorless options is that no mount will truly "die". There will be adapters for probably every system to use K mount lenses. It's possible that none of them will support auto-focus, but at the very least, a high quality 300 f/4 will have value as long as cameras need lenses.

Yeah, but autofocus is kind of important. That's why I'm not just buying a PEN and sticking adapters on it. That's okay once in a while (and I have a Q for that purpose) but it's really only usable for quite immobile targets.

If I got a C or N tele, I'd at least know that an autofocus-supporting adapter exists for one mirrorless system.  I doubt anyone will ever build one for K-mount SDM lenses... unless the wild rumor that Ricoh plans to pull a mount change on us and make a mirrorless full frame is true.

CaNikon isn't going anywhere. They will have systems when the time comes. And people will continue to pay more money for the same features when they do. That's the power of branding.

A lot of big companies have felt that way when a new technology started nibbling around their ankles... sometimes they're perfectly right to dismiss it, and sometimes they're not.

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Q with 02 zoom and Nikkor 180/2.8 ED for birding
K10D, Sig 17-70, DA 55-300, FA 50/1.4 "billy bass"
discards: DA 50-200 "zipper", F 100-300, Sigma 135-400 "piglet", M 400/5.6 "the Great Truncheon"

 paulkienitz's gear list:paulkienitz's gear list
Pentax Q Pentax K-3 Pentax smc DA 55-300mm F4.0-5.8 ED Pentax smc DA* 300mm F4.0 ED (IF) SDM Samyang 8mm F3.5 Aspherical IF MC Fisheye +4 more
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paulkienitz
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to paulkienitz, 10 months ago

paulkienitz wrote:

A lot of big companies have felt that way when a new technology started nibbling around their ankles... sometimes they're perfectly right to dismiss it, and sometimes they're not.

Speaking of, I just got a bright idea for what I'd do if I were Olympus or Panasonic.  Start working, in a quiet back-burner way, on full-function adapters for C and N lenses.  If someday Micro Four Thirds starts to become a dominant mount at a consumer level, it might go a long way toward making the system usable for pros if they had a painless way to transition their major glass investments.

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GossCTP
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to paulkienitz, 10 months ago

paulkienitz wrote:

paulkienitz wrote:

A lot of big companies have felt that way when a new technology started nibbling around their ankles... sometimes they're perfectly right to dismiss it, and sometimes they're not.

Speaking of, I just got a bright idea for what I'd do if I were Olympus or Panasonic. Start working, in a quiet back-burner way, on full-function adapters for C and N lenses. If someday Micro Four Thirds starts to become a dominant mount at a consumer level, it might go a long way toward making the system usable for pros if they had a painless way to transition their major glass investments.

Well, the problem there is that companies have a vested interest in keeping you tied to their systems. A crippled adapter is basically just a tool to help people jump ship slower. The lenses are where the money is, so nobody wants to release a camera that can use the best quality/value lenses that exist in each system. At that point, everyone is basically a third party glass designer. I do wonder about the potential to reverse engineer the mounts. I think we all know the Chinese manufacturers aren't above selling adapters that the brands haven't authorized. Also I wonder if the "adaptall" concept might make a comeback with third party lens designers.

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paulkienitz
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to GossCTP, 10 months ago

GossCTP wrote:

paulkienitz wrote:

paulkienitz wrote:

A lot of big companies have felt that way when a new technology started nibbling around their ankles... sometimes they're perfectly right to dismiss it, and sometimes they're not.

Speaking of, I just got a bright idea for what I'd do if I were Olympus or Panasonic. Start working, in a quiet back-burner way, on full-function adapters for C and N lenses. If someday Micro Four Thirds starts to become a dominant mount at a consumer level, it might go a long way toward making the system usable for pros if they had a painless way to transition their major glass investments.

Well, the problem there is that companies have a vested interest in keeping you tied to their systems. A crippled adapter is basically just a tool to help people jump ship slower. The lenses are where the money is, so nobody wants to release a camera that can use the best quality/value lenses that exist in each system. At that point, everyone is basically a third party glass designer. I do wonder about the potential to reverse engineer the mounts. I think we all know the Chinese manufacturers aren't above selling adapters that the brands haven't authorized. Also I wonder if the "adaptall" concept might make a comeback with third party lens designers.

Simple cure for the self-cannibalism concern: charge $800 or more for the adapter.  If it's truly full featured, with no crippling and no limitations relative to the native mount, you'll be able to command that sort of price.  The target audience would be people who want to use a small mirrorless for everyday lightweight shooting but also want to occasionally use their stock of big expensive pro glass.

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Q with 02 zoom and Nikkor 180/2.8 ED for birding
K10D, Sig 17-70, DA 55-300, FA 50/1.4 "billy bass"
discards: DA 50-200 "zipper", F 100-300, Sigma 135-400 "piglet", M 400/5.6 "the Great Truncheon"

 paulkienitz's gear list:paulkienitz's gear list
Pentax Q Pentax K-3 Pentax smc DA 55-300mm F4.0-5.8 ED Pentax smc DA* 300mm F4.0 ED (IF) SDM Samyang 8mm F3.5 Aspherical IF MC Fisheye +4 more
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jamesm007
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to paulkienitz, 10 months ago

Here is why I enjoy the DA55-300mm, and am happy with the results. I went out after work with my tripod and K-5 and DA55-300mm just to take a few quick snap shots; knowing none of the pics will be soft or even a little soft or suffer too much aberrations no matter what f/stop or focal length I am at. Its an enjoyable lens for enthusiasts on a budget IMO and others. It delivers high quality images to quote ePhotozine "In practical picture taking there is no doubt that this lens produces sharp, excellent quality images, with outstanding colour reproduction."

Again not my words. Just another photography site testing the lens. For example, the little squirrel that stood still long enough for me today to get a snap shot of him 60' away (it was dim lighting). The results are all I could ask for the money and meets my needs. In other words I enjoy just being able to take shots like this at any f/stop or focal length, in back lit conditions with no worry of too much aberrations or the shot being soft. I know if the camera is in focus its going to be a good shot (technically).

The lens is picking up very fine details (pixel peep it at 100%) at a good distance. Almost all my pics posted from the DA55-300mm over the years are cropped This is a purpose built APS sensor lens with no VR or larger glass elements, tubes, to cover FF needed. Pentax could save on cost of manufacturing, and add better glass. Nothing suggests Pentax did not. Pentax says it did put two ED elements in it and one of high performance?

Of course being a consumer lens it gives up speed. It gives up corrections at infinity focus, but its not bad at infinity! Pic below taken at infinity today.

just a quick snap, you can zoom in at full size.

Crop of above. Not bad, it meets my needs.

Pic with infinity focus, again not bad at all even pixel peeping. It is a zoom of 55-300mm. Target and point of focus is the chimney.

As Klaus of Photozone says "a viable choice". Buy what you want and makes you happy.

 jamesm007's gear list:jamesm007's gear list
Pentax K20D Pentax K-5 Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM Pentax smc DA 55-300mm F4.0-5.8 ED Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM +9 more
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John Cafarella
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Re: wow, that is a dramatic difference.
In reply to ozdean, 10 months ago

ozdean wrote:

Hi John, heading down your way next week I hope you put on some good weather!

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Springtime in Melbourne??    Good luck is all I can say!  Take an umbrella and and a coat even if it looks great outside.  Enjoy!

Where are you visiting?

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John Cafarella
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Re: My 55-300 at 300mm ...
In reply to veroman, 10 months ago

veroman wrote:

<Snip>

It's safe to say that the 55-300 represents excellent value and that some samples of this lens are not up to par.

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SteveG

Or alternatively that some samples are excellent and are above par.   It's not unusual to have good copies and not so good copies of consumer lenses, but I honestly don't think I've heard of anyone saying they've had a bad *300.  That' includes F* FA* and DA*.

Thats another reason for the price difference.

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awaldram
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to paulkienitz, 10 months ago

Hi Paul,

Don't for one second think I look down on the 55-300 as a piece of junk, It's a fine lens and probably at the top of the pack of the xx-300's for feature set provided or optical compromises required to hit the price point..

Its sharp enough , has enough control of CA and very nice contrast a compelling combination where the others have optimized one at the expense of another, So teh Siggy is better corrected and the Tamron is sharper.

My concern for you was I know you own a Q and use it reach capabilities fro your birding.

the 55-300 on the Q will not rock your heavily into the limits even wide open and the lowish resolution of the lenses will hinder any fine detail resolution of feather etc.

The da* 300 on the other hand by quirk of fate is a match made in heaven it appears to be 'the stupidly long lens' for the Q delivering IQ at level that on paper shouldn’t happen.

Have a look at the examples posted on the 'other' forum from it .

If you buy the 55-300 I fear it will only be a stop gap till you get the real thing for your Q

Buy once first time is my advice , but then I can't see what strains are on your disposable income.

Having said that if your about to embark on a once in a lifetime trip the 55-300 might be a better option for now giving more flexibility.

 awaldram's gear list:awaldram's gear list
Pentax Q Pentax K-3 Pentax smc DA* 55mm F1.4 SDM Pentax smc DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL (IF) SDM Pentax smc DA* 50-135mm F2.8 ED (IF) SDM +11 more
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kikivrany
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to paulkienitz, 10 months ago

Hello paulkienitz

I have only the DA 55-300, so I can't say how much better the IQ of the 300mm prime is ... but I think for sure it is.

My Point is an other one. Both lens have a useful use. The one is a zoom and the other have the better IQ, and maybe also a faster focus.

For a zoom lens example: I don't make a lot BIF pictures and therefore have not a lot praxis, but a zoom lens help me a lot for my bird pictures. I can use the lens around 55mm to find the bird in the viewfinder and follow them...and when the bird get close enough or at the right surrounding, I zoom in and can make the picture.

The other point is that a lot picture do not need the full 300mm.

But when you will use the lens for birds, which are per se far away, you don't need the zoom area and you get for sure with the 3mm prime a higher IQ for crop and maybe a faster focusing.

It's up to you ... for me both lens would have a useful use

best regards kikivrany

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robbo d
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Re: I just HAD to chip in :-D
In reply to veroman, 10 months ago

Veroman,

I wonder that myself. I have not experienced the distortion on Ozdean's shots before.

My take on the DA* is that the whole picture is sharper, the centre by a bit and the borders by a lot, when compared to a good copy of 55-300 that also perhaps seems to matter which camera it's on. When photographing birds, usually the centre is all we see, as in above shots and gives one a rosy view of the 55-300, which is perhaps my main use for it also......

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audiobomber
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to paulkienitz, 10 months ago

You implied somewhere that cash is a concern, so get the 55-300 for now. Get the DA*300 later, or maybe the DA 100ish-400ish in the roadmap. A 55-300 is still a nice lens to have, and is a great alternative to the DA*300 in certain scenarios; travel light, need wider angles, won't be cropping heavily, or DA*300 to expensive to risk.

If you get a 55-300, get the DA, not the DA L. Quick-shift is an advantage for this lens in particular, because it hunts more than most.

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jamesm007
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Re: I just HAD to chip in :-D
In reply to robbo d, 10 months ago

robbo d wrote:

Veroman,

I wonder that myself. I have not experienced the distortion on Ozdean's shots before.

My take on the DA* is that the whole picture is sharper, the centre by a bit and the borders by a lot, when compared to a good copy of 55-300 that also perhaps seems to matter which camera it's on. When photographing birds, usually the centre is all we see, as in above shots and gives one a rosy view of the 55-300, which is perhaps my main use for it also......

Yes, when I am shooting objects near the center it gives a rosy view of the DA55-300mm. If you go to DXO web site and pick both of the lens spoken about with a K50, go to measurments, sharpness and use the field map you will see the DA55-300mm being sharper versus the DA*300mm in the large middle area 'only' this is true; the DA*300mm is for sure sharper corner to corner. Its a prime lens designed long ago. The DA55-300mm is a newer zoom design for high res sensors. It has to make trade offs. But it went for all out sharpness in the middle at 300mm where most will use it. In fact, I hate to state it. But its as sharp if not sharper than the DA*300mm in the middle according to DXO and PopPhoto. And looking around at pics would suggest this is in fact true; for the center and less than infinity! Some tests do fail to state this but I will tell it and show it like it is. Go to the other Pentax web site, look them both up and look at wildlife pics, then distand landscape pics and you will see I am telling the truth. But the DA55-300mm is not that bad at infinity.

Now how many DA* 300mm owners will take a pic of a small squirrel about 60' away in the shadows or sunlight and post it. I ask kindly for a comparison of the lens at less than infinity so others can see. Or bigma owners.

Here is another out of camera jpg no pp at all, nothing. Its straight out of the K5. This is at 300mm f/5.8. Do note its doing well however even at the sides (look at the tail). Do note most peoples finest shots are in bright light. I went ahead and did one in the dark shadows as the sun was fading yesterday. But no one posts pics with other lens to compare in same? Its not easy to find exotic birds. But maybe any small animal.

You most view original size to see all the detail. I also have a DNG of this pic as I shoot jpg/dng but don't have time to develop and optimize a dng. But others can post pics?

 jamesm007's gear list:jamesm007's gear list
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britcam
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Re: Squirrel comparisons ...
In reply to jamesm007, 10 months ago

I noticed your Exif data, so I'm assuming you were using a tripod ...   (ISO 200, +1.0 EV, and 1/80 second)  I was surprised to see that you needed +1.0 EV, as the image looks quite bright, and I rarely find I need to go above 0.0 EV unless the tonal values are consistently bright.

I had a 55-300 then sold it for a 60-250 a few months ago, but still think about getting another 55-300 for its sheer convenience. I have an FA300 f4.5, but no squirrels here sadly so unable to offer any comparative photos at 300mm ......;-)

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paulkienitz
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to awaldram, 10 months ago

awaldram wrote:

If you buy the 55-300 I fear it will only be a stop gap till you get the real thing for your Q

Buy once first time is my advice , but then I can't see what strains are on your disposable income.

Don't worry, I'm not going to spend money on a 55-300, it's the lens I already have.  In fact, it's old enough and heavily used enough that it's starting to wear out mechanically.  The extending part is wobblier than it once was, and the focus mechanism occasionally jams.

 paulkienitz's gear list:paulkienitz's gear list
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awaldram
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to paulkienitz, 10 months ago

paulkienitz wrote:

awaldram wrote:

If you buy the 55-300 I fear it will only be a stop gap till you get the real thing for your Q

Buy once first time is my advice , but then I can't see what strains are on your disposable income.

Don't worry, I'm not going to spend money on a 55-300, it's the lens I already have. In fact, it's old enough and heavily used enough that it's starting to wear out mechanically. The extending part is wobblier than it once was, and the focus mechanism occasionally jams.

In that case I'd stick with it. As it seems with your short term plans it is probably the better solution.

As they say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

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Tim A2
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to paulkienitz, 10 months ago

For whatever it may be worth. this was taken with my 55 - 300 mm lens at 260 mm ( I thought I had it at 300 mm). It is full size.

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veroman
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to Tim A2, 10 months ago

Tim A2 wrote:

For whatever it may be worth. this was taken with my 55 - 300 mm lens at 260 mm ( I thought I had it at 300 mm). It is full size.

Looks pretty sharp to me!

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awaldram
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Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
In reply to veroman, 10 months ago

veroman wrote:

Tim A2 wrote:

For whatever it may be worth. this was taken with my 55 - 300 mm lens at 260 mm ( I thought I had it at 300 mm). It is full size.

Looks pretty sharp to me!

Really.? either the lens isn't square or is badly decentered.!

Bottom left is oof compared to the rest of the image.

This is easily visible in the non expanded image and glaring if you look 1:1.

Possibly a smudge on the lens as well.

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 awaldram's gear list:awaldram's gear list
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