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HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR Lens Review

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Category: Interchangeable Lenses
Product: Pentax HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR
Rating: 3.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 5

HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews the new HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR telephoto zoom lens with weather resistance.

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Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Pentax HD Pentax DA 55 300mm F4 4 8 ED WR Lens (5)

This 5.5x zoom lens provides an angle of view equivalent to an 84.5-460mm telephoto lens on a 35mm format camera, when mounted on a Pentax Digital SLR. It sports the latest HD lens coatings that promise to help suppress flare and improve light transmission. This lens has a weather resistant construction and costs around £400.

HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR Handling and Features

Pentax HD Pentax DA 55 300mm F4 4 8 ED WR Lens (3)

The build quality of this lens is good for a lens of this price bracket, with high quality plastics being used for much of the lens barrel and a metal lens mount. This lens is also quite lightweight, only tipping the scales at 502g with the lens hood attached. It balances well with the Pentax K-5 IIs body used for testing.

Focusing isn't performed internally, so the lens barrel extends during focusing and zooming. Even so, the filter ring does not rotate, which makes it perfect for use with polarising and graduated filters. A deep circular hood is supplied with the lens that attaches via a bayonet fitting on the front of the lens.


Pentax HD Pentax DA 55 300mm F4 4 8 ED WR Lens (7)

The manual focusing ring rotates during auto-focus, but it is well enough out of the way to prevent it catching your fingers during operation. Manual focusing action isn't very well damped, although there is enough resistance in the mechanism to make applying manual adjustments relatively straightforward. The Pentax 'Quick Shift' focusing system has been implemented on this lens, which means manual adjustments can be applied once the lens has focused automatically. Auto focus is screw-driven, but is reasonably quick. The minimum focus distance of 1.4m is typical for a lens of this type.

Pentax HD Pentax DA 55 300mm F4 4 8 ED WR Lens (6)

HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR Performance

At 55mm and maximum aperture, sharpness is outstanding in the centre of the frame and approaches excellent levels towards the edges of the frame. Stopping down to between f/5.6 and f/11 produces excellent sharpness across the frame at this focal length.

Zooming to 100mm results in similar sharpness in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture, although clarity towards the edges of the frame is noticeably reduced. Here clarity is still outstanding in the centre, but falls just short of good sharpness towards the edges of the frame. Stopping down to between f/8 and f/11 results in peak sharpness across the frame at this focal length.

Finally, at 300mm, sharpness is very good in the centre of the frame at f/5.8 and remains so when stopped down. Unfortunately, clarity towards the edges of the frame drops just below fair levels at maximum aperture. Stopping down improves performance towards the edges of the frame slightly, although it never really achieves good levels of performance here.
MTF@55mmMTF@55mm MTF@100mm
MTF@100mm
MTF@300mm
MTF@300mm

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-5 IIs using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are well controlled for much of the zoom range, barely exceeding three quarters of a pixel width towards the edges of the frame for much of the zoom range. However, it's a different story at 300mm, where ringing exceeds one pixel width at maximum aperture. This level of fringing may be possible to spot, especially in harsh crops from the edges of the frame along high contrast details.

CA@55mm
CA@55mm
CA@100mm
CA@100mm
CA@300mm
CA@300mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-5 IIs using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination is well controlled for a telephoto zoom. At 55mm the corners of the frame are 0.76 stops darker than the image centre and at 300mm the corners are 0.98 stops darker. Visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down by one full stop from maximum aperture throughout the zoom range.

Distortion is also well controlled for a lens of this type. Imatest could only detect 0.05% barrel distortion at 55mm and 1.27% pincushion distortion at 300mm. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make it relatively easy to apply corrections in image editing software afterwards if absolutely straight lines are paramount.

During testing, this lens proved itself very resistant to flare and contrast is retained well, even when shooting into the light. The deep circular hood does an excellent job of shading the lens from extraneous light that may cause issues with flare.

Pentax HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR Sample Photos

Wide | 1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 200

Wide | 1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 200
High-Res

Telephoto | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 300.0 mm | ISO 800

Telephoto | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 300.0 mm | ISO 800
High-Res

Sharpness is good in the centre of the frame throughout the zoom range  | 1/160 sec | f/4.5 | 107.5 mm | ISO 200

Sharpness is good in the centre of the frame throughout the zoom range | 1/160 sec | f/4.5 | 107.5 mm | ISO 200
High-Res

Images retain good contrast when shooting into the light | 1/320 sec | f/5.8 | 300.0 mm | ISO 800

Images retain good contrast when shooting into the light | 1/320 sec | f/5.8 | 300.0 mm | ISO 800
High-Res

1/400 sec | f/6.3 | 300.0 mm | ISO 800

1/400 sec | f/6.3 | 300.0 mm | ISO 800
High-Res

1/100 sec | f/11.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 200

1/100 sec | f/11.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 200
High-Res

1/200 sec | f/4.5 | 135.0 mm | ISO 800

1/200 sec | f/4.5 | 135.0 mm | ISO 800
High-Res

1/100 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 400

1/100 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res


Value For Money

Being priced at around £400, this lens is quite reasonably priced for this kind of lens at launch. However, those with a keen eye for a bargain may look towards this lens' predecessor, which is identical apart from it lacking the HD coatings and weather sealing, but only costs around £270.

HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR Verdict

Overall, this lens is a competent performer, capable of decent sharpness when used within its limits. The weather sealing and HD coating are also a welcome addition, especially as the price has been kept reasonable. Those after a telephoto to add to the range provided by their 18-55mm kit lens should be well catered for by this lens.


 

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HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR Pros

Good sharpness in the centre throughout the zoom range
Good build
Weather resistant construction
Reasonably priced

HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR Cons

CA levels a little high at 300mm
Drop off in sharpness towards the edges of the frame as the lens is zoomed in

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Pentax HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR Specifications

ManufacturerPentax
General
Lens Mounts
  • Pentax K SMC-DA
Lens
Focal Length 55mm - 300mm
Angle of View 6 - 29
Max Aperture f/4 - f/5.8
Min Aperture f/22 - f/32
Filter Size 58mm
35mm equivalent 84.5mm - 460mm
Internal focusing No
Focusing
Min Focus 140cm
Stabilised No
Construction
Blades 6
Elements 12
Groups 8
Box Contents
Box Contents No Data
Dimensions
Weight 440g
Height 111.5mm

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Comments

js12
js12  125 forum posts Czech Republic
28 Jan 2014 - 1:36 PM

First pic, check the concrete vase on the right side, then left one...

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