HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE Review

HD Pentax-DA 55-300MM F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE
Amazon.co.uk: £350.45

John Riley reviews the compact and weather-sealed 55-300mm telephoto zoom lens for Pentax DSLRs.

13/04/2017 - 10:35

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Hd Pentax 55 300mm Ed Plm Wr Re On K3ii Body With Lens Locked

Here we have the third 55-300mm lens from Pentax, covering the APS-C format, which equates to a “35mm equivalent” of 84.5-460mm. This is also the third Pentax lens to offer a retractable construction, making the barrel shorter for carrying and storage. (The first two were the Q series 15-45mm zoom and the 18-50mm that came with the Pentax K-S2 body.) This time we have a new optical formula and the first Pentax lens with an electromagnetic diaphragm. This results in a new variant of the lens mount designated KAF4. This has other implications, as we shall see. So let's delve under the surface and look at the details of this new optic.

HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE Handling and Features

Hd Pentax 55 300mm Ed Plm Wr Re Front Oblique View

The overall appearance and feel are quite similar to the 18-50mm retractable lens that we have already seen. A single easily operated button releases the lens barrel so that the zoom ring can be used. If the camera is switched on whilst the lens is retracted, the shutter release is disabled and a warning message appears on the rear screen. The release of the zoom ring is, like the first lens, quite jerky and stiff in operation, hardly smooth. However, the standard of assembly of the lens, in general, is high, and things do ease up a little once the lens is in use. In contrast, the manual focus ring, which lies closest to the body, is as smooth as silk from the start, operating electronically and also offering QuickShift, where manual focusing can be used to tweak the AF position focused on.

There is little else to see on the lens. The front element is surrounded by the 58mm filter thread and also the bayonet for fixing the provided round lens hood. The hood has a removable slot that allows filters such as a polariser to be rotated without removing the lens hood. The HD coatings reduce flare and the front element is also given an SP (Super Protect) coating to repel grease, dirt and water. The diaphragm has 9 rounded blades to improve bokeh. Weight is 442g or 471g with hood. This is virtually the same as the previous 55-300mm lenses.

Maximum apertures run from f/4.5 to f/6.3, depending on the amount of zoom, with minimum aperture varying from f/22 to f/32. There are 14 elements in 11 groups, including an ED (Extra Low Dispersion) glass. Minimum focus is excellent at 0.95m, which is significantly closer than previous versions. Maximum magnification becomes 0.30x. This is really useful, especially for subjects such as flower studies, where single blooms can be zoomed in on even if at the back of wide borders.

Hd Pentax 55 300mm Ed Plm Wr Re On K3ii Body With Lens At 300mm

Focusing is via a rear focus system, meaning that the front element does not rotate and the lens remains the same length regardless of the focus position. Zooming does alter the length. A New PLM (Pulse Motor) ensures silent and fast focusing. Obviously the faster the better for a lens that may well be used for wildlife, although the difference seems subjectively to be relatively small at the telephoto end. Weather Resistance is a huge benefit and this gives us considerable freedom to continue shooting in bad weather conditions.

When we come to the mount, we have the standard basic K mount, but with critical modifications that make this version KAF4 and only compatible with the K-70 or later straight out of the box. There is a limited list of other bodies where downloading a firmware update will allow use of the new electromagnetic diaphragm. This applies to the Pentax K-1, K-3 II, K-S2 and K-S1. For the purposes of this review, I updated my almost new K-3 II and there were no problems, apart from locating the firmware on the Ricoh websites, some of which listed it and some not. In the end, the Japanese site was the source.

Handling-wise, the new diaphragm is of no major advantage to stills photography, but I can see that videographers may well appreciate its silent and smooth operation.

There are of course two other 55-300mm lenses, so how does the new optic compare? The original SMC Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 is still an excellent lens, although no longer available new. Its successor, the HD Pentax-DA 55-500mm f/4-5.8 WR adds weather resistance and the new HD coating and is quite possibly the version of choice. The new lens may be slightly more compact when retracted but is little different when in use. The KAF4 mount also limits its usefulness considerably, and I wonder how many people will buy it to find their body is not compatible. However, for those who shoot video, the new silent diaphragm may well be the game changer and this PLM version may well be their natural choice.

Hd Pentax 55 300mm Ed Plm Wr Re Rear Oblique View

HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE Performance

Sharpness at 55mm is centrally very good from f/4.5 to f/16, becoming soft at f/22. The edges are soft at f/4.5, good at f/5.6, very good at f/8 and f/11, good at f/16 and soft at f/22.

100mm shows very good central sharpness from f/4.5 through to f/16, with f/22 being quite soft. The edges are very good from f/4.5 to f/11, good at f/16 and soft at f/22.

200mm sees a slight drop, centrally being very good from f/5.6 to f/16 and soft at f/22 and f/29. The edges are a good standard from f/5.6 to f/16 and soft at f/22 and f/29.

Sharpness drops off again at 300mm, being centrally good at f/6.3, very good at f/8, good at f/11 and f/16 and dropping to soft at f/22 and f/32. The edges are generally soft but offer good sharpness at f/8.

When we say sharpness, what we are measuring is resolution and the lens does not resolve the finest detail as it is zoomed in towards 300mm, but it does show excellent contrast and as a consequence offers nice, punchy images. It is debatable whether the smallest aperture, be it f/22 or f/32 is of much value, but then again the option is there and some subjects may well suit the overall softness at those settings.

This also ties in with the bokeh, and without a doubt, the quality of the out of focus areas is extremely smooth. The effect for portraits and flower studies, for example, is very pleasing.

Pentax HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE MTF Charts

MTF@55mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax-da-55-300mm-PLM-MTF55mm_1492073443.jpg">High-Res</a>
MTF@55mm
High-Res
MTF@100mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax-da-55-300mm-PLM-MTF100mm_1492073444.jpg">High-Res</a>
MTF@100mm
High-Res
MTF@200mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax-da-55-300mm-PLM-MTF200mm_1492073444.jpg">High-Res</a>
MTF@200mm
High-Res
MTF@300mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax-da-55-300mm-PLM-MTF300mm_1492073444.jpg">High-Res</a>
MTF@300mm
High-Res

How to read our MTF charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-3 II using Imatest.

 

CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very well controlled at the centre of the field at all focal lengths, especially the widest. The edges are best at 100mm in this respect but overall are well corrected. There is visible CA at the edges, but it can be sorted in software if desired. JPEG shooters can simply switch on the camera's built--in correction.

 

Pentax HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE Chromatic Aberration Charts

CA@55mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax-da-55-300mm-PLM-CA55mm_1492073472.jpg">High-Res</a>
CA@55mm
High-Res
CA@100mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax-da-55-300mm-PLM-CA100mm_1492073473.jpg">High-Res</a>
CA@100mm
High-Res
CA@200mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax-da-55-300mm-PLM-CA200mm_1492073473.jpg">High-Res</a>
CA@200mm
High-Res
CA@300mm<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax-da-55-300mm-PLM-CA300mm_1492073473.jpg">High-Res</a>
CA@300mm
High-Res

How to read our CA charts

Chromatic aberration (CA) 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 minimise the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Pentax K-3 II using Imatest.

 

Flare is not an issue as none was observed. The relatively new HD coating serves well and there is no loss of contrast and no sign of any artefacts.

Distortion starts off at 55mm with -1.78% barrel. At 100mm we see +0.88% pincushion, after which it's pincushion all the way, +1.41% at 200mm and +1.30% at 300mm. These figures are good for a zoom lens and, as always, correction can be applied in-camera or in software.


Pentax HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE Sample Photos

Abandoned Strawberry | 1/1000 sec | f/8.0 | 300.0 mm | ISO 3200<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_abandoned_strawberry_1492071124.jpg">High-Res</a>
Abandoned Strawberry | 1/1000 sec | f/8.0 | 300.0 mm | ISO 3200
High-Res
Bold Colour | 1/800 sec | f/8.0 | 150.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_bold_colour_1492071276.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bold Colour | 1/800 sec | f/8.0 | 150.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Brass Tap | 1/500 sec | f/16.0 | 230.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_brass_tap_1492071291.jpg">High-Res</a>
Brass Tap | 1/500 sec | f/16.0 | 230.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Classic Jaguar | 1/200 sec | f/11.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_classic_jaguar_1492071306.jpg">High-Res</a>
Classic Jaguar | 1/200 sec | f/11.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Close Up Classic Jaguar | 1/400 sec | f/11.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_close_up_classic_jaguar_1492071321.jpg">High-Res</a>
Close Up Classic Jaguar | 1/400 sec | f/11.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Close Up Fungi | 1/500 sec | f/6.3 | 170.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_close_up_fungi_1492071341.jpg">High-Res</a>
Close Up Fungi | 1/500 sec | f/6.3 | 170.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Coy Flamingo | 1/1250 sec | f/6.3 | 300.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_coy_flamingo_1492071353.jpg">High-Res</a>
Coy Flamingo | 1/1250 sec | f/6.3 | 300.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Crane | 1/320 sec | f/9.0 | 300.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_crane_1492071366.jpg">High-Res</a>
Crane | 1/320 sec | f/9.0 | 300.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Defending Its Territory | 1/800 sec | f/8.0 | 120.0 mm | ISO 800<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_crane_defending_its_territory_1492071380.jpg">High-Res</a>
Defending Its Territory | 1/800 sec | f/8.0 | 120.0 mm | ISO 800
High-Res
Daffodils | 1/800 sec | f/8.0 | 230.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_daffodils_1492071393.jpg">High-Res</a>
Daffodils | 1/800 sec | f/8.0 | 230.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Decaying Post Box | 1/50 sec | f/8.0 | 70.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_decaying_post_box_1492071408.jpg">High-Res</a>
Decaying Post Box | 1/50 sec | f/8.0 | 70.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Derelict Caravan | 1/800 sec | f/7.1 | 120.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_derelict_caravan_1492071424.jpg">High-Res</a>
Derelict Caravan | 1/800 sec | f/7.1 | 120.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Finn At Play | 1/250 sec | f/5.0 | 78.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_finn_at_play_1492071435.jpg">High-Res</a>
Finn At Play | 1/250 sec | f/5.0 | 78.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Mereside Hide | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 78.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_mereside_hide_1492071449.jpg">High-Res</a>
Mereside Hide | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 78.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Pochard In Action | 1/500 sec | f/8.0 | 300.0 mm | ISO 800<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_pochard_in_action_1492071462.jpg">High-Res</a>
Pochard In Action | 1/500 sec | f/8.0 | 300.0 mm | ISO 800
High-Res
Portrait | 1/320 sec | f/4.5 | 120.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_portrait_1492071472.jpg">High-Res</a>
Portrait | 1/320 sec | f/4.5 | 120.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Resting Duck | 1/320 sec | f/8.0 | 230.0 mm | ISO 800<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_resting_duck_1492071483.jpg">High-Res</a>
Resting Duck | 1/320 sec | f/8.0 | 230.0 mm | ISO 800
High-Res
Roundhouse And CA Test | 1/125 sec | f/8.0 | 98.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_roundhouse_and_ca_test_1492071499.jpg">High-Res</a>
Roundhouse And CA Test | 1/125 sec | f/8.0 | 98.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Squirrel | 1/3200 sec | f/6.3 | 300.0 mm | ISO 6400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_squirrel_1492071527.jpg">High-Res</a>
Squirrel | 1/3200 sec | f/6.3 | 300.0 mm | ISO 6400
High-Res
Static Engines In Operation | 1/200 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_static_engines_in_operation_1492071552.jpg">High-Res</a>
Static Engines In Operation | 1/200 sec | f/16.0 | 135.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Texture In Metal | 1/2000 sec | f/11.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_texture_in_metal_1492071588.jpg">High-Res</a>
Texture In Metal | 1/2000 sec | f/11.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
The Conversation | 1/800 sec | f/8.0 | 300.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_the_conversation_1492071615.jpg">High-Res</a>
The Conversation | 1/800 sec | f/8.0 | 300.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Tulip And Smooth Bokeh | 1/160 sec | f/8.0 | 230.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_tulip_and_smooth_bokeh_1492071641.jpg">High-Res</a>
Tulip And Smooth Bokeh | 1/160 sec | f/8.0 | 230.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Tulips | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 300.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_tulips_1492071667.jpg">High-Res</a>
Tulips | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 300.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Wild Flowers | 1/200 sec | f/6.3 | 170.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_wild_flowers_1492071685.jpg">High-Res</a>
Wild Flowers | 1/200 sec | f/6.3 | 170.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Winding Gear CA Test | 1/60 sec | f/16.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_winding_gear_ca_test_1492071701.jpg">High-Res</a>
Winding Gear CA Test | 1/60 sec | f/16.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Worsley Packet House | 1/320 sec | f/6.3 | 120.0 mm | ISO 400<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_worsley_packet_house_1492071722.jpg">High-Res</a>
Worsley Packet House | 1/320 sec | f/6.3 | 120.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res
Bokeh At F4,5 | 1/100 sec | f/4.5 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_bokeh_at_f45_1492071143.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F4,5 | 1/100 sec | f/4.5 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Bokeh At F5,6 | 1/60 sec | f/5.6 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_bokeh_at_f56_1492071164.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F5,6 | 1/60 sec | f/5.6 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Bokeh At F8 | 1/30 sec | f/8.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_bokeh_at_f8_1492071186.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F8 | 1/30 sec | f/8.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Bokeh At F11 | 1/15 sec | f/11.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_bokeh_at_f11_1492071207.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F11 | 1/15 sec | f/11.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Bokeh At F16 | 1/8 sec | f/16.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_bokeh_at_f16_1492071227.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F16 | 1/8 sec | f/16.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res
Bokeh At F22 | 1/4 sec | f/22.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100<br /><a target="_blank" href="https://www.magezinepublishing.com/equipment/images/equipment/HD-PentaxDA-55300mm-f4563-ED-PLM-WR-RE-6134/highres/pentax_55-300mm_plm_bokeh_at_f22_1492071250.jpg">High-Res</a>
Bokeh At F22 | 1/4 sec | f/22.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Value For Money

The HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 EDPLM WR RE can be found at £379. The previous version is the HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED WR, still available at £269.

Sigma offers three alternatives, the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO Macro Super DG (£179), the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Macro DG (£169), and the Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 DC Macro HSM (£499).

Unless the retractable lens body, the electromagnetic diaphragm or the faster PLM focusing are the deal makers, then the previous Pentax lens looks to be a very attractive proposition at £269.     

For more options have a look at the Top 26 Best Pentax Lenses.

 

HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE Verdict

The HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE lens has some interesting and useful features. Weather resistance, superb bokeh, good sharpness ay most focal lengths, electromagnetic diaphragm and retractable construction. However, the previous version is also as good and also slightly brighter, being f/4-5.8 as opposed to f/4.5-6.3. It is certainly considerably less expensive.

The new lens is a reliable choice for Pentax APS-C cameras but does compromise compatibility with many cameras. There was a time when all Pentax lenses were 100% compatible with all bodies, and this has held well, up to now. Here we see the first lens that is specific to a few models and this may well be the price of progress as technology inexorably marches onwards.

 

HD DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE Pros

  • Low flare
  • Generally good sharpness
  • Very useful focal length range
  • Weather resistance
  • Electromagnetic diaphragm
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Good contrast for punchy images

HD DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE Cons

  • Only usable with limited range of bodies
  • Zoom action could be smoother
  • Sharpness falls off at longer focal lengths

 

Features: 4/5
Handling: 4/5
Performance: 3.5/5
Value: 3.5/5
Overall Verdict
4/5

 

Pentax HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE Specifications

ManufacturerPentax
General
Lens Mounts
  • Pentax K SMC-DA
Lens
Focal Length 55mm - 300mm
Angle of View 6 - 29
Max Aperture f/4.5 - f/6.3
Min Aperture f/22 - f/32
Filter Size No Data
Stabilised No
35mm equivalent 84.5mm - 460mm
Internal focusing No
Maximum magnification 0.3x
Focusing
Min Focus 95cm
Construction
Blades 6
Elements 12
Groups 8
Box Contents
Box Contents No Data
Dimensions
Weight 442g
Height No Data


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wvbarnes

Link Posted 13/04/2017 - 23:18
I've been using this lens as a more practical travel lens than the heavy and slow focusing F4 300mm star since December including whale and dolphin watching (examples on my gallery here) in the Caribbean and plenty of local wildlife. It is very quick to focus on my K3 and very sharp at 300mm. Perhaps the test sample lens was poor.
Bill

johnriley

Link Posted 14/04/2017 - 09:31
I've had a look through your excellent gallery and many of the shots are made at f/8, which is the best aperture at 300mm with this lens. The sharpness is of the standard expected and very good it is too. It looks like you had quite a trip!
Best regards, John

wvbarnes

Link Posted 14/04/2017 - 23:03
Thanks John,

The lens was excellent in the bright Caribbean light. Not so good at distance when dull wide open. For the whales and dolphins I used the full high frame rate and AFC. My default mode for my K3 is TAV mode at F8, 1/500th or better and as low an ISO as allowed up to 3200. I prefer centre spot AF for wildlife linking AF/AE in menus. The lens is F4.5 up to 150mm. F5.6 t0 260mm and F6.3 to end. I agree zoom ring too tight but getting better with use. Tight weather seals i guess.

johnriley wrote:
I've had a look through your excellent gallery and many of the shots are made at f/8, which is the best aperture at 300mm with this lens. The sharpness is of the standard expected and very good it is too. It looks like you had quite a trip!


Bill

Perspicador

Link Posted 16/04/2017 - 21:41
The KAF mount 55-300mm WR lens which you referred to John, is a recent acquisition for me and having wrestled with a Sigma previously, I feel liberated by its use - particularly since the software update on the K-50 which you assisted me with. In fact focussing at speed has considerably improved recently and I am more confident with bird photography with the kit I now have than I have ever been. A forth-coming trip to the Cairngotms will be the real proof of the pudding but I do feel confident with this.
Link Posted 17/04/2017 - 10:52
Updated the firmware on my K3 and was able to buy this lens.I really like it and it was an upgrade to a cheap Sigma zoom .I really like this new lens and had some great success with it.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/httpflickrcomphotosbrian/

zmem

Link Posted 17/04/2017 - 19:40
The K-50 was noted in one of the previous but not the article . The firmware update to utilize the K-50 with this lens worked with no problems. Well pleased with this combination! Nice article

pauljay

Link Posted 24/04/2017 - 09:42
Just wish there was a full frame equivalent!
Paul.

Photography is not a sport. It has no rules. Everything must be dared and tried! (Bill Brandt)
jaypix
yankee44
PPG

johnriley

Link Posted 28/04/2017 - 09:59
pauljay wrote:
Just wish there was a full frame equivalent!

There is/was the SMC Pentax-FA J 75-300mm that until recently SRS were selling new for 119. A real bargain and not a bad lens, definitely worth having. Other than that or independent makes, it's the HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm, which is slightly more expensive and a little heavier!
Best regards, John
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