DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

Started Sep 16, 2013 | Discussions
KentG Veteran Member • Posts: 4,465
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
1

Try looking at Photozone's test instead, both real world images and MTF50 charts.

The 55-300 can only reach the Excellent level in the MTF50 test at 200mm and below. It barely gets a Very Good in the center wide open beyond that including at 300mm. And at 300mm the edges are barely even Good until you stop down at least 1-2 stops, and that was on a K10D. The DA 300/4 was tested on the tougher K-5 and it reached almost to the Excellent level across the board at F4 even and did reach that level at F5.6 in the center. The 55-300 scored a 2.5-3 star rating while the DA300 got a 3.5-4 star rating.  The only zoom I know that can reach the performance level of the DA 300/4 at 300mm is the discontinued Sigma 100-300/4 EX, a lens I have been using for years.

Kent Gittings

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KentG Veteran Member • Posts: 4,465
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

Then find a Sigma 100-300/4 in PK mount if you want the best of both worlds, primes and zooms.  No zoom with a ratio of 4x or more can equal a prime or a 3x and lower zoom lens. And I include the Canon 100-400/4.5-5.6 L IS in that list also. It can't match the Sigma 100-300 in the Sigma's range anywhere although at 200mm they are close.

I had a 55-300 for awhile. I found that the Sigma 100-300/4 with a good TC was sharper than the 55-300 without one.

Kent Gittings

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jf_tea Senior Member • Posts: 1,013
DA 55-300 vs K 200 and Panasonic 100-300

The DA55-300 might be quite good... But when it was at 200mm, my K 200mm F/4, at F/4 or F/5.6, was so much sharper than the DA55-300, especially in the corners. It was a revelation. Of course, the K 200mm is MF, which is less convenient.

The competition... More recent lenses are surprising. I tried the Panasonic 100-300mm (Micro Four-Thirds) zoom... And, a few weeks later, I came to the conclusion that my DA55-300 was not satisfying. Maybe I had a bad copy? Well, it was not de-centered. But, it was so far behind the MFT 100-300 (at same equivalent 35mm FL, such as 300mm or 450mm).

DXOMark is very good with all those tests and measurements.  But, I would rather trust the users who have a DA*300, if they can compare their DA*300 with a DA55-300.

All in all, the DA55-300 could be a good choice, because, getting a really better lens is a lot of $, and, probably a few more Kg of glass.

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ozdean
ozdean Forum Pro • Posts: 24,075
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
1

Loyd I thought long and hard about a bigma but I need a lighter sniper rifle for birds + wr + pentax colour, so went this way and am very pleased.

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awaldram
awaldram Forum Pro • Posts: 12,920
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
2

Well it appears that the obvious is missed

The da55-300 is so bad @300mm/f4 it can't even take a picture

All lens are identical @monitor resolution by f8

you use your lens on your Q. ?The 55-300 is well inside the diffraction zone @5.8 and from there its downhill.

Whether the da*300mm is worth the extra money to you depends on many factors some below

1. shooting (do you shoot above f8 all the time?

2 ability (if you shoot blurry image they'll not improve with the da*300) (this means you use mono-pod/tripod where necessary not believing SR will allow shooting 1/30 @450mm)

3 IQ Quotient (how much store you put on quality)

Of cause if your happy massaging 'reviews' in your head to make them identical or even the consumer zoom the better option, then that's probably your best value option.

My own opinion is in line with Rons the da*300 is one of the best 300mm prime lens ever made, The 55-300 is a run of the mill consumer zoom and behaves as such.

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ASR45
ASR45 Forum Pro • Posts: 36,569
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
2

I think it goes without reason, you pay for what you get, if the cheaper lens was as good as the pro lens, then why are we shooting with pro lens.  

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Alan.
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awaldram
awaldram Forum Pro • Posts: 12,920
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
1

ASR45 wrote:

I think it goes without reason, you pay for what you get, if the cheaper lens was as good as the pro lens, then why are we shooting with pro lens.

Agreed I stopped believing in the 'diamond in the rough' with regards lens having had many through my hands and finding they're all missing the 'Diamond'

Whereas even poorly reviewed decent glass I've found to more often than not exceed my expectations.

The da*16-50 is  one of these often maligned and even ridiculed yet having used the Sigma and Tammy cheaper alternatives (17-50 and 18-50DC) I ended up with it .

The main truism I've found that can be applied to lens , tripods and most photographic equipment is there are no cheap alternatives there's only cheap.

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britcam
britcam Senior Member • Posts: 2,457
Re: Hit and miss sometimes....

robbo d wrote:

My Kx kit lenses were always sharp in focus....not high IQ, but sharp, my FA 28-105 just seems to be a peach of a lens, but I purchased a DA*50-135 I took to a wedding the other week and had horrible focus issues. Tried my new DA12-24 and so far not impressed either.....seems soft.

Maybe my new K5IIs will change the whole ball game again.........bit frustrating really.

I have no complaints about either the 50-135 or the 12-24 on my K5IIs - no fine adjustments needed and both super sharp with no AF issues

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britcam - Rich S

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DAVID MANZE Veteran Member • Posts: 4,629
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

ozdean wrote:

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Regards Dean - Capturing Creation
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Hi Dean,

Well there you it, question totally answered!

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Dave's clichés

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awaldram
awaldram Forum Pro • Posts: 12,920
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

Hi Dean Hope you don't mind , For those who forget to look @1:1

Looks like all lens aren't equal by F8

But hey DXO say they're equal so must be true !!!

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ozdean
ozdean Forum Pro • Posts: 24,075
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

No problem Andrew, I suspect the difference would have been even greater at f5.6, unfortunately I didn't test that before selling my 55-300.

The other thing that is also noticeable with a pro grade lens is that the perceived dof is greater which is understandable as the resolution has stepped up a notch.

Mind if one is printing at 6x4 the difference in these 2 lenses may not be noticeable at all because of the down sampling taking place. It all comes down to the final output required by the individual.

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audiobomber
audiobomber Veteran Member • Posts: 5,596
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

awaldram wrote:

My own opinion is in line with Rons the da*300 is one of the best 300mm prime lens ever made, The 55-300 is a run of the mill consumer zoom and behaves as such.

I agree with that, with one clarification. The 55-300's MTF performance is unremarkable, but it has excellent colour and contrast for a consumer zoom. Subjectively, sharpness is a combination of resolution and contrast. That's why users overestimate the 55-300's resolution, and why it measures very well in PopPhoto's SQF rating, which includes resolution and contrast, but looks average in Photozone's MTF test, which only measures MTF scores.

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Dan

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veroman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,837
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

awaldram wrote:

Hi Dean Hope you don't mind , For those who forget to look @1:1

Looks like all lens aren't equal by F8

But hey DXO say they're equal so must be true !!!

I suspect that the copy of the 55-300 used for the above was a poor sample. Mine does significantly better and more closely resembles the 300mm prime ... though it's certainly not as good as the 300mm prime.

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veroman Veteran Member • Posts: 4,837
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

awaldram wrote:

... My own opinion is in line with Rons the da*300 is one of the best 300mm prime lens ever made, The 55-300 is a run of the mill consumer zoom and behaves as such.

I would not call it "run of the mill." My copy says that it represents real value at its price point. Noisy? Yes. Hunting? Sometimes. Sharp? Yes, up to 200mm, then gradually goes downhill ... but still acceptably sharp for snapshot purposes. For serious work? Yes, up to 200mm.

I'd apply "run of the mill" to Sigma's 70-300 cheapies, Canon's 75-300 cheapies and a few Tamrons at the low end.

But considering that the 55-300 is less than $400 (and even cheaper if you get the DA L version with plastic mount) and the 300mm f/4 is about $1,400 dollars, I'd say that the 55-300 delivers value ... IF you get a good copy. The posts here suggest to me that there are inferior copies out there. The post that shows the telephone pole comparison doesn't at all reflect what I get from my 55-300.

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Wanganuilad
Wanganuilad Senior Member • Posts: 2,210
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

GossCTP wrote:

... I've done test shots with the 55-300, and it is by no means at it's best wide open at 300mm. I think it improved until at least f/9.5, particularly at the corners.

Yep, I use f 11 at airshows if I can

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jamesm007 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,641
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

"The optical design was especially developed to meet the requirements of high-resolution digital SLR cameras. A high performance ED lens element is incorporated to keep color aberrations to a minimum"

The above quote is from the Pentax catalog on the DA55-300mm. The lens had two ED elements but one of them is of very high performance. Have a read -

http://c2b6d376b97bcc466063-5420c200a1f030d1394a9548df6eadbd.r5.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/support/LENS%20BROCHURE_121912_LR.pdf

The DA55-300mm is an APS sensor only lens. This means it needs much smaller glass and overall size compared to the older designed DA*300mm. Its not sealed or made as strong. So yes you can get a diamond for cheap. I have full size pics if anyone wants samples. If you scale Photozines numbers it matches the DA*300 which was tested on the K5 and the DA55-300mm on the K10D. Also look at ephotozine MTF30 numbers.

My copy really is best at 300mm f/5.8. I have wrote many, and I really mean many times over the years how stopping down brings no improvments in my copy but for deeper DOF and slightly better corner performance. If you look at DXO field map of the lens that is how you will see it compared to any other. I have not seen any lens except for the Sigma 100-300mm that made me wish I had that lens. Are the DA* better? A bit better, but you would have to look hard at the DA*300mm in the center area to see any major difference, pixel peep that is. And really only the DA*60-250mm has shown me a bit better, not the DA*300mm. Not in the middle area. Yes the DA* is better corner to corner.

Have a look at the links below. None in the first post were at 300mm but between there. But most are wide open.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3483717#forum-post-51426183

Here is just a newer out of camera jpeg not PP at all snap shot at 300mm f/5.8 with my K5. The above is with the K20D. I have better f/5.8 shots, but am out of time. Talk to you latter. Oh BTW the birds and powerline are moving. But you get an idea here and there. Again latter I will post almost as good a shot as anyone can at 300mm (in terms of sharpness) if you guys want to compare. Or give you a full size download.

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jamesm007 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,641
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

Photozones numbers! They come close in the middle; scaling from the K10D to K5 test cameras. DXO also shows the same. The center/middlish area is great the deeper corners fade, but are still OK.

To be soft at 300mm you have to have a not normal copy. A copy that is within normal is pretty good. After all PopPhoto, Photozine, Photozone, DXO all show the same basic trait at 300mm f/5.8, they really do!

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KL Matt Veteran Member • Posts: 5,885
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4
3

Hi Dean,

that is a dramatic difference, but is it because of the lens?

These photos were either taken at different times of day, with different lighting conditions, or both (look at the shadow across the grass -- completely missing in the DA 55-300 shot).

The DA 55-300 shot has 2+ pixels of motion blur on a lower-left to upper-right (or the other direction) path. You can see the double image clearly in the twigs. I can't even tell where the focus is because of the motion blur. But i can tell it's not on the utility pole, as with the DA* shot. Focus appears to be somewhere behind the utility pole, maybe even behind the far foliage.

The DA* 300 shot was taken with a rock solid camera/sensor, the focus was spot on on the pole. The image looks 3d and lovely. The 55-300 shot is simply a bad shot -- how much the lens contributed beyond the motion blur we can't know.

Contrast varies greatly from when the sun shines down directly to when a cloud obscures it, even if the photos are taken only minutes apart.

Matt

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awaldram
awaldram Forum Pro • Posts: 12,920
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

veroman wrote:

awaldram wrote:

... My own opinion is in line with Rons the da*300 is one of the best 300mm prime lens ever made, The 55-300 is a run of the mill consumer zoom and behaves as such.

I would not call it "run of the mill." My copy says that it represents real value at its price point. Noisy? Yes. Hunting? Sometimes. Sharp? Yes, up to 200mm, then gradually goes downhill ... but still acceptably sharp for snapshot purposes. For serious work? Yes, up to 200mm.

I'd apply "run of the mill" to Sigma's 70-300 cheapies, Canon's 75-300 cheapies and a few Tamrons at the low end.

CA better than Tamron but worse than Sigma Apo

Look Ma Purple shadows

Sharper than Sigma Apo but not as sharp as Tamron

But considering that the 55-300 is less than $400 (and even cheaper if you get the DA L version with plastic mount)

Tamron 70-300 £99

Sigma 70-300 APO £150

Pentax 55-300 DA-L £190

Pentax 55-300 DA £300

and the 300mm f/4 is about $1,400 dollars, I'd say that the 55-300 delivers value ... IF you get a good copy. The posts here suggest to me that there are inferior copies out there. The post that shows the telephone pole comparison doesn't at all reflect what I get from my 55-300.

That is one of the issues with consumer lens 'variability' hence my calling it 'run of the mill'

Though there are many supporters of this lens just as there are the 16-45 neither show anything special to me, Competent yes special no.

Interesting there was no comment on Deans' comparison images for 15 hours.

Maybe most 55-300 owners don't examine/print their images above web sized ?

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SteveG
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To be fair here is a grab shot with the da*300, High contrast and full sized so find the uncorrected optical flaws ?

Should be easy in this hi key image unless that extra $1000 buys you something worth having ?

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audiobomber
audiobomber Veteran Member • Posts: 5,596
Re: DA 55-300 vs DA* 300 f4

veroman wrote:

I'd apply "run of the mill" to Sigma's 70-300 cheapies, Canon's 75-300 cheapies and a few Tamrons at the low end.

I agree. I have the Tamron 70-300 Di Macro, and my DA 55-300 is a significantly better lens.

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Dan

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