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50-200mm lens comparison

After buying a 55-300mm lens, the 50-200 has to go… but not after a thorough test to convince me that this is a wise decision. So a test was made with these contenders:

  • Pentax DA 50-200
  • Pentax DA 55-300
  • Sigma 50-500
  • A set of manual focus primes: M50, M100, M150, M200

They are compared at 50, 100, 150 and 200mm focal lengths and at 2 openings: F/4-5.6 and 2 stops closed.
The best lenses are:

  • 50mm open: M50 + 55-300; than 50-200; last is 50-500
  • 50mm 2stops down: same
  • 100mm open: M100; than 50-500 + 55-300; last is 50-200
  • 100mm 2 stops closed: M100; than 50-200 + 55-300; last is 50-500
  • 150mm open: M150; than the rest
  • 150mm 2 stops closed: 55-300; than M150 + 50-200; last is 50-500
  • 200mm open: 50-500; than 55-300; last are M200 and 50-200
  • 200mm 2 stops closed: 55-300; than 50-200 + M200; last is 50-500

Conclusions per lens:

  • 50-200: for size and price it’s a very good lens. Always, always stop it down for better results!
  • 55-300: at all focal lengths and openings equal and almost always better than 50-200. With 100mm extra reach and a bit more weight. A keeper!
  • 50-500: what shall I say… this lens does not always focus OK, it back-focuses regularly. It is rarely on top on the bunch… And the indicated focal lengths are not correct: in reality they are shorter! It’s also heavy and difficult to hand-hold, but… the 10x zoom gives so much flexibility…..
  • M50: a very nice lens in sharpness and color. The wider openings give rather soft images, though…
  • M100: very good lens, sharp at every aperture. Beats every zoom lens at 100mm!
  • M150: absolutely good, but not perfect. The 55-300 is about as sharp, and way more flexible at the same weight.
  • M200: does not live up to the standard of the othet M-lenses in this test. However, in other circumstances it a very, very good…

Final conclusions:

  • I can sell the 50-200 without regret….
  • The 50-500 Bigma keeps puzzling me…. I like to compare it to others at the long end soon
  • The 55-300 is an absolute keeper: sharp every time and easy to handle
  • M-lenses still work perfectly, although the 200 did not convince me this time…