Pentax SMC DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED – Review / Test Report


Pentax SMC DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED – Review / Test Report

Lens Reviews – Pentax

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

Analysis

Sample Images & Verdict

Page 1 of 3

Special thanks to Jerome Hubert for providing the lens for testing!

The Pentax SMC DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED is a long-awaited lens that fills a bit of the long range gap in the Pentax lineup beyond the cheap DA 50-200mm ED kit lens. Despite of being a hot spot in consumer demand it took Pentax quite a while to come up with an offer in this range. Typical for Pentax DA lenses it covers the APS-C image circle only. The field-of-view is equivalent to “83-450mm" in classic terms so it can be used for many aspects of tele photography. At around 260€/350US$ it is very competitively priced lens.

The build quality the 55-300mm is about in line to the typical Pentax DA consumer zoom lenses that we’ve seen lately and there’s nothing wrong with that – the construction is based on a common combination of plastic and metal parts assembled with pretty tight tolerance. Both the zoom and focus control rings operate fairly smooth. The lens uses a mono-cam zoom mechanism (one inner lens tubes) which extends when zooming towards to long end of the zoom range. The tested sample (a brand new one) did not suffer from zoom creeping.

The lens has no internal AF motor and relies on the slotted drive-screw operated by the camera. This generates some noise during AF operations and the AF speed is comparatively slow although reasonably accurate on the K10D. The lens features a Quick-Shift system which provides manual focus option in single-shot AF mode without having to change to MF mode on the camera.

Specifications

Optical construction
12 elements in 8 groups inc. ?x ED element

Number of aperture blades
6

min. focus distance
1.4m (max. magnification ratio ~1:3.6)

Dimensions
112x71mm

Weight
440g

Filter size
59mm (non-rotating)

Hood
supplied, barrel-shaped, snap-on type

Other features
Quick-Shift

 

Lens Reviews – Pentax

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

Analysis

Sample Images & Verdict

Page 2 of 3

Distortions

The Pentax lens exhibits negligible distortion at 55m. In the 100-300mm range you can expect a medium degree of pincushion distortion which may be visible at times in field conditions.

Move the mouse cursor over the focal length text marks below to observe the respective distortions

55mm
100mm
200mm
300mm


Vignetting

Typical for most lenses with an APS-C format coverage the Pentax lens shows stronger vignetting at max. apertures (~0.8EV). The problem is largely reduced and no longer field relevant when closing the aperture by 1 f-stop.


MTF (resolution)

The Pentax 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED is capable of producing quite respectable resolution figures throughout the focal length range. The center performance is generally on very good level with a rather typical quality penalty towards the long end of the zoom range. The border performance is a bit soft at max. aperture but the quality can be boosted when stopping down a little. The contrast in field images is pretty snappy – surely a positive effect from the ED element(s).

The tested sample showed an optical problem (centering) at 55mm which may have polluted the figures somewhat at this setting.

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows in line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a quantity for sharpness. If you want to know more about it you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations.



Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

Lateral CAs (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) are well controlled (< 1px) between 55mm and 200mm. At 300mm CAs may be visible in critical situations though with a peak width of around 1.5px at the image borders.

 

 

Pentax SMC DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED – Review / Test Report

Lens Reviews – Pentax

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

Analysis

Sample Images & Verdict

Page 3 of 3

Click on a thumbnail to view the original file (opens in a separate window). Please note that the originals are FULL SIZE samples (=several megabytes) thus requiring a significant amount of bandwidth so please take care of the limited resources here.

Make
PENTAX Corporation

Model
PENTAX K10D

ISO Speed
400

Focal Length
77.5mm

Exposure Data:
f/4.0 @ 1/200s

Size
2592×3872

Make
PENTAX Corporation

Model
PENTAX K10D

ISO Speed
400

Focal Length
150.0mm

Exposure Data:
f/4.5 @ 1/250s

Size
2592×3872

Make
PENTAX Corporation

Model
PENTAX K10D

ISO Speed
400

Focal Length
300.0mm

Exposure Data:
f/5.8 @ 1/640s

Size
3872×2592

Make
PENTAX Corporation

Model
PENTAX K10D

ISO Speed
400

Focal Length
170.0mm

Exposure Data:
f/4.5 @ 1/1000s

Size
2592×3872

Make
PENTAX Corporation

Model
PENTAX K10D

ISO Speed
400

Focal Length
62.5mm

Exposure Data:
f/10.0 @ 1/160s

Size
2592×3872

Make
PENTAX Corporation

Model
PENTAX K10D

ISO Speed
400

Focal Length
150.0mm

Exposure Data:
f/4.5 @ 1/250s

Size
2592×3872

Make
PENTAX Corporation

Model
PENTAX K10D

ISO Speed
400

Focal Length
55.0mm

Exposure Data:
f/7.1 @ 1/250s

Size
2592×3872

Make
PENTAX Corporation

Model
PENTAX K10D

ISO Speed
400

Focal Length
150.0mm

Exposure Data:
f/4.5 @ 1/200s

Size
2592×3872

Make
PENTAX Corporation

Model
PENTAX K10D

ISO Speed
200

Focal Length
210.0mm

Exposure Data:
f/5.6 @ 1/800s

Size
2592×3872

Verdict

The Pentax SMC DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED is a viable choice when it comes to an affordable long range tele lens. The resolution figures are pretty decent and in field conditions it shines with a snappy contrast characteristic. The secondary characteristics (vignetting, distortions, CAs) are about average for a lens in this class. All-in-all it is optically superior compared to its smaller cousin, the SMC DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 ED. The build quality of the lens is fine and the AF is fast enough for most applications. A sound offer relative to its pricing.

Optical Quality:
(a better copy may get )

Mechanical Quality:

Price/Performance:

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