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Monday, 07 July 2008


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Hi Carl,

If you get the chance to use the DA☆ 50-135mm, would you be able to comment on that lens' and the 200mm's relative focus speeds? I really like my 50-135 but AF speed is definitely not one of its strengths (on a K10D - perhaps it's faster on a K20D).

Also, how does the DA☆ 200mm perform for shooting headshots? I find that 135mm is generally tight enough that I don't have to get uncomfortably close, but a bit more distance between me and the subject could produce interesting results.

Carl, thanks for the mini-review. But one thing, don't forget the 'A'. It's not the D*, it's the DA*.

Little things like this matter to us Pentaxians :-)

Oh, and where do I have to sign to have the Colorado Elves send *ME* a lens to test...?

Funny thing: a Danish photographer, Mogens G. Stryhn, in the seventies famously declared the 300mm lens to be his "normal lens".

He liked to photograph against strong light, and often used his car to shoot through as a lens hood.

His most famous book is called "Cultural Emperialism" (Kulturemperialisme) and he claimed that it was a strong statement about letting the third world be itself instead of making it into Europe. However, as far as I could see the book actually contained simply very competent and pretty pictures of people and places.

At an event I was at, a speaker had briefly mentioned the The Golden Section, and when Mogens later spoke, he very sarcastically mentioned it when he saw a Golden Section in one of his own pictures. Clearly a person who defines himself as much about what he's against as about what he's for.

It seems he is still active and selling his pictures and books, apparently at prices so low one wonders how he does it.

I wish you guys (Carl/Mike) would finish your K20 review.... before the current 5D rebate period ends ;-)

You know what i mean? ;-)

If there were only comparable lenses to the DA 35/macro, DA*200, DA21 LTD, FA 43 LTD, DA 70 LTD available in other mounts !!

The combination of DA21, DA35 LTD, DA*50-135, DA*200 is a KILLER kit. D700, 5D be damned.

i spent all day thinking about this lens and it was a pleasant surprise that you've tested it out today. just when i convinced myself i didn't need it :@

Interesting ... I will try to give my tele lenses a new chance. Several years ago I did a lot of 85mm shots on Kodachrome film. It seemed to fit my way of seeing things.

(But for the last couple of years I mostly did 28mm (42mm equivalent) shots. And I love it!)

Thanks for that - it's really nice to see a review that concentrates on *the experience of using* the kit in question, rather than its absolute sharpness. As long as sharpness is "sufficient", the question of whether it works well in practice is rather more important. This sounds like a good'un from that perspective.

Great review. Being also a fan of primes I am considering this lens, the review is very helpful.

Additionaly,I have written Pentax and gotten no reply to a question I have and wondered if anyone can answer for me. Are new digital only limited lenses also weather resistant so I can safely use them in the rain with my K10 (or hopefully K20 in the future)? If not would I be putting the camera at risk, or just the lens?

It's an excellent lens from the results I've been seeing over on the PDML, as is its sibling the DA* 300mm f4 SDM.

I'm wondering if these two lenses use ring-motor USM, as the first SDM lenses (the 16-50 and 50-135) use micro-motor SDM and aren't noted for their AF performance.

Also, sadly, there's one exception to the rule that all DA and D-FA lenses have Quick-Shift Focus (Pentax's term for full-time manual override), the DA 18-250 lacks this feature. However its also the only lens in the DA lineup which doesn't have Pentax-originated physical design. The Tokina-derived designs have Pentax-designed barrels and focusing systems. The 18-250 is a tweaked and rebadged Tamron, the only thing pentax about it is the coating).

Andy, I've not had a chance to try the 50-135. As for the 200 for "head shots" on APS-C, it's a matter of personal preference but that would be much too long for me. It would push you far enough back to make the connection to the subject pretty tenuous. The lens can do it, mechanically, but unless your subject is a half-starved fashion model the result may not be flattering. The compression from shooting so far away "adds pounds" to anyone's appearance.

Eolake, 300 as normal? Hmmm...I wasn't aware of the Danish photographer you mention, but during the 60s 70s and later there was a style of American commercial/corporate photography that centered on really long lenses and Kodachrome film. Jay Maisel was probably the most successful practitioner and I think originated the style. But for me, a lens like this is in the "now for something completely different" category to occasionally break away from my pretty consistent wide to normal viewpoint.


In Pentax land all of (and so far only) the DA* series lenses are dust and weather sealed. Pentax uses the * to mark their premium glass much like Canon's L series.


Brian, as far as I'm aware, only the DA* lenses are weather resistant, not the Ltds. But a plastic bag and a couple of rubber bands is all it takes to make any lens weather resistant :-)

Brian, as far as I'm aware, only the DA* lenses are weather resistant, not the Ltds. But a plastic bag and a couple of rubber bands is all it takes to make any lens weather resistant :-)

I find trying to use the four way controller to move the focus point a bit slow. My usual MO is to use the single central focus point to gain focus on the off center subject, and then simply recompose the picture.

Miserere: When you move the lens to change the center focus point you change the angle between yourself and the subject. Thus any shot with a small DOF will be put out of focus. Learn to move the focus point instead of the lens, or, as the author states, manually focus when the going gets tough.

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