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This lens has the less-than-substantial look, feel, and pricing of a typical kit zoom, but has a few important tricks up its sleeve. It offers, for starters, an extra long reach out to 300mm, significantly more than the 55-200mm budget tele zooms from Canon, Sigma, Tamron and others. Surprisingly, as we’ll see, this extra zoomability comes at little cost in image qualtiy. Streeting for only $350, this digital-only lens that coverts up to an 82.5-450mm on Pentax DSLRs, dropped nearly $50 during its first months on the market.


Much longer racked out than contracted (by almost 50%), this surprisingly long and light tele cast no shadow (sans hood) when used with a Pentax K100’s built-in flash.

Its unusually large zoom ring is easy to find, with rubber ribbing and a slightly stiff turning action. The manual focusing ring is somewhat noisy and rough-turning, but with well-marked subject distance scales (feet in blue; meters in white). The lens’s ornamental band of bright green aluminum is your cue that this is a Pentax DA (digital only) lens.

If it has an Achilles heel, it’s the autofocus which is quite loud and slow by today’s — no make that YESTERDAY’s — standards. (This lens could really have benefited from Pentax’s fast and quiet SDM AF motor.)


Sharpness and contrast were in the Excellent SQF range at all tested focal lengths — quite surprising for a lens this inexpensive and this long. (We would have expected a drop into the Very Good, even Good, ranges.) In DxO Analyzer 3.0.1 distortion tests, we found Imperceptible barrel distortion at 55mm (0.05%), and Slight pincushion distortion at 200mm and 300mm (0.29% and 0.22%, respectively). This is considerably better than, for example, the comparable Sigma and Nikon (non-VR) 55-200mm digital-only lenses which each showed Visible range distortion in 2 of the 3 tested focal lengths.

Light fall off was gone from the Pentax’s corners by f/5.0 at 55mm, by f/6.3 at 200mm, and by f/8.0 at 300mm. About what we expected.

The maximum magnification ratios at the uniform close focusing distance of approximately 55.5 inches ranged from 1:16.8 at 55mm to a strong 1:3.34 at 300mm.


If you can take the sluggish AF, this lens will reward you with unusually reach, excellent optics, and favorable pricing. Yes, you could go to a 14X super zoom like the Pentax 18-250mm, but you may not like the image quality or the higher price tag!