Pentax 55-300

The Pentax 55-300 lens is a step up from the cheap Pentax 50-200 lens.

In terms of full frame equivalent, the focal length will be equal to 83 to 450mm. Combined with the relatively slow aperture, this glass will be fine for general telephoto application and is better than the Pentax 50-200 lens.

Pentax 55-300

Lens Score (APS-C Sensor)
Optical Quality: 3 Stars (3 / 5)
Build Quality: 3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)
Value for Money: 4 Stars (4 / 5)

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However, this is not the glass to be used for professional telephoto application.

The good thing about this lens is the weight. It is quite light and for the weight you will be able to get a long telephoto range.

The price is quite attractive as well as it is quite competitive.

If you only shoot telephoto occasionally and do not want to spend too much money, then this is the glass to get.

See the complete Pentax 55-300 review below to see if this glass is for you.

Technical Specs

Official Name:
Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED

Focal Length Markings:
55, 70, 100, 200, 300mm

Features:
DA – The Pentax 55-300 is only compatible with cropped sensor DSLR camera.

ED – Extra Low Dispersion Glass – Technology to make the image sharper by correcting the light wavelength that travels through the Pentax 55-300 lens.

Full Technical Specs (from Pentax’s website):

Technical Specifications
Groups / Elements 8 / 12
Angle of View 29 – 5.4°
Number of Blade Diaphragm 6
Minimum Aperture f/22-32
Minimum Focusing Distance 55.2in. (1.4m)
Filter Thread 58mm
Weight 15.5oz. (440g)
Dimension (Diameter x Length) ø2.8 x 4.4″ (71 x 111.5mm)
Macro Magnification Ratio 0.28X

Optical Performance

Sharpness

The center sharpness on this lens is very good at any aperture and focal length. There is no significant sharpness loss when you go through the focal length here.

Border sharpness is a different story here. At the widest aperture, it is soft at any aperture and focal length. Stop down by one stop to make it sharper

To get maximum sharpness on this lens, shoot at f/8.

Sharpness Scale (from Best to Worst):
(5) Excellent
(4) Great
(3) Good
(2) Fair
(1) Poor

Center Sharpness

Focal Length / Aperture f/4 f/5.6-5.8 f/8 f/11
50mm Great Great Excellent Great
100mm Great Great Excellent Great
200mm n/a Great Great Great
300mm n/a Great Great Great

Border Sharpness

Focal Length / Aperture f/4 f/5.6-5.8 f/8 f/11
50mm Good Great Great Great
100mm Good Great Great Great
200mm n/a Good Great Great
300mm n/a Good Good Good

Distortion

Distortion control is just average on this glass.

At 50mm, the distortion can be ignored. However, at 100mm and above, the distortion on this lens is quite apparent. The distortion that appears here is the pincushion distortion.

See the distortion grid test below.

Distortion Test at 55mm

Distortion Test at 55mm


Distortion Test at 100mm

Distortion Test at 100mm


Distortion Test at 200mm

Distortion Test at 200mm


Distortion Test at 300mm

Distortion Test at 300mm

Vignetting

Vignetting is apparent at every focal length at the widest aperture.

You will need to stop down by one stop to significantly reduce it.

See the vignetting test result below.

Vignetting Test at 55mm

Vignetting Test at 55mm


Vignetting Test at 100mm

Vignetting Test at 100mm


Vignetting Test at 200mm

Vignetting Test at 200mm


Vignetting Test at 300mm

Vignetting Test at 300mm

Chromatic Aberration

From 50mm to 200mm, chromatic aberration is very low on this lens and can be ignored.

However, the chromatic aberration is high on 300mm from f/5.8 to f/8. You would need to stop down to f/11 to reduce chromatic aberration significantly.

See the test table result below.

Chromatic Aberration Scale (from Best to Worst):
(5) Negligible
(4) Very Low
(3) Low
(2) High
(1) Very High

Chromatic Aberration

Focal Length / Aperture f/4 f/5.6-5.8 f/8 f/11
50mm Very Low Very Low Very Low Negligible
100mm Negligible Negligible Negligible Negligible
200mm n/a Very Low Very Low Very Low
300mm n/a High High Low

Build Quality

Materials

This is a consumer zoom lens and so the build quality is not that great. It is made from mostly plastic but there is some metal parts as well.

Zoom Ring

The zoom ring is quite smooth. This lens will extend when zoomed towards the telephoto end. Thankfully, this lens does not suffer from zoom creep.

Focusing

The focus ring is quite smooth as well. This lens has no internal autofocus motor and has to rely on the camera’s drive. This will in turn generate some noise during autofocus.

The autofocus speed is quite slow on this lens but it is very accurate. This lens has a Quick Shift system which allows for quick manual focus switching.

Image Stabilization

The Image Stabilization feature is installed in the Pentax camera body, not on the lenses. Check our Pentax DSLR camera if it has Image Stabilization feature.

Compatibility

The DA designation means that this lens is only compatible with Pentax cropped sensor DSLR. It should not be used with a full frame DSLR or 35mm film SLR camera.

Sample Image

Below are some sample shots that I took using this Pentax 55-300 lens. Click on any thumbnail to open the image.

Sample Image 1

Sample Image 1


Sample Image 2

Sample Image 2


Sample Image 3

Sample Image 3


Sample Image 4

Sample Image 4


Sample Image 5

Sample Image 5

Conclusion

Here I will be summarizing this Pentax 55-300 lens review.

Drawbacks

  • Soft borders at all focal lengths at the widest aperture
  • Visible vignetting at all focal lengths at the widest aperture
  • High chromatic aberration at 300mm
  • Slow and noisy autofocus
  • Average distortion control at focal lengths above 50mm

Positives

  • Sharp on the center at all focal lengths and aperture
  • Good value for money
  • Accurate autofocus mechanism

Good For

  • Consumer use telephoto application

Not So Good For

  • Low light telephoto shooting due to small aperture

What Others Are Saying…

by “K. Gittins”

I got this in the hopes of replacing both a Pentax 50-200 and a Sigma 70-300. Luckily, the image quality seems to be an improvement over both, though they were acceptable on their own. This…
Click here to see the full review

by “T. Heagney”

This is a terrific lens for the K20D or any other Pentax. OK, it’s not as fast as the DA*50-135, or the Sigma 70-200…But this one is half the weight of either and a lot smaller than most compact…
Click here to see the full review

Where to Buy

Pentax 55-300

Lens Score (APS-C Sensor)
Optical Quality: 3 Stars (3 / 5)
Build Quality: 3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)
Value for Money: 4 Stars (4 / 5)

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Thanks for reading this Pentax 55-300 review and I hope you have enjoyed it.

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