Best lenses for Pentax K-3: Recommended wide angle, telephoto and standard lenses

By Kevin Carter - Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Best wide-angle lenses for the Pentax K-3 | Best standard lenses for the Pentax K-3 | Best moderate telephoto lenses for the Pentax K-3 | Best telephoto lenses for the Pentax K-3

Pentax users won’t be surprised to learn the smc DA* 300mm and 200mm lenses head this group. They are two very good performers with very low distortion, vignetting and well-controlled lateral chromatic aberration. Despite the longer focal length the 300mm has better uniformity that the 200mm and it’s sharper at maximum aperture (albeit a stop slower at f4 to start with). The 200mm really needs to be stopped down a stop, as sharpness at the initial aperture is a little disappointing. Center sharpness is good at f4 but optimum performance is not achieved till f5.6-8.

 
Pentax smc DA Star 300mm F4 ED (IF) SDM 1400 17 9
Pentax smc DA Star 200mm F2.8 ED (IF) SDM 1200 17 8
Pentax smc PENTAX DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED 475 14 7
Pentax smc Pentax DA 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 ED AL [IF]   499 13 8
Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Pentax 349 13 7
Pentax smc DA 18-270mm F3.5-6.3 ED SDM 749 13 7
Pentax smc PENTAX DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED 261 12 6
Tamron AF18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di-II LD ASPHERICAL (IF) MACRO Pentax 645 9 5

In third place is the smc DA 55-300mm f4.5-5.8 ED, a modestly priced zoom the equivalent to an 85-460mm. It might lack the sonic-type motors of the 200mm and 300mm but what it lacks in features it more than makes up for in image quality. Unlike most lenses of this type, which are sharper at the shorter end of the zoom range, this lens performs best at 300mm. And, it has very good sharpness wide-open. Admittedly that’s a slow f5.8 at 300mm and it’s not nearly so good at 200mm (unless stopped down to f8) either, but performance starts to pick up again at 100mm at wider apertures. It has a rather complex sharpness profile, however at $475 it offers far more flexibility and is a good choice where a long telephoto might only be used occasionally.

Designed for APS-C only the DA* 300mm f4 (450mm equivalent) and 200mm f2.8 models perform well, but the real surprise is the smc DA 55-300mm f4-5.8 ED. Unusually for a lens like this it performs best at 300mm.

telephoto-pentax-k3-measurement

Although the DA* lenses are well-corrected and have good uniformity the 55-300mm shouldn’t be overlooked – it has very good performance at 300mm

We’re working hard on expanding the coverage of Pentax lenses, but we’re interested to know if there are certain models that you would like to see reviewed first. Please leave your recommendations in the comments section below.