Pentax 06 Telephoto Zoom review

The Pentax 06 Telephoto Zoom is an impressive f/2.8 zoom lens for the compact Q camera system. It's impressively sharp, and quite compact.

The Pentax 06 Telephoto Zoom ($299.95 direct) is a telephoto zoom lens for Q cameras. It’s impressively compact, and covers a 70-200mm (35mm equivalent) zoom range when paired with the Q7. The constant aperture of f/2.8 allows you to shoot at a fast shutter speed, depending on lighting, and the Q7′s in-body shake reduction further helps you nail a sharp photo. It’s a sharp lens, and quite light, which makes it a good choice for any Q shooter with a desire to capture action at telephoto distances.

The lens measures just 2.2 by 2 inches (HD) and weighs 3.2 ounces—it’s tiny and feather-light when compared with 70-200mm f/2.8 SLR lens. This is where photographers really see an advantage with the Q7′s relatively small sensor; you don’t need as much large, heavy glass to cover the image circle required for the 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor. It supports the same 40.5mm filters as the 01 Standard Prime and 02 Standard Zoom. There’s a bayonet-style lens hood available, but it’s not included with the lens; it sells for about $40.

The lens can focus to 3.3 feet throughout the zoom range. It’s by no means macro, but you will be able to get some background bokeh when shooting subjects at the maximum zoom, without having to fall back on the Q7′s Blur Control function. When you use the lens on the older Q and Q10 its field of view is narrowed a bit thanks to the smaller sensor in those cameras; it acts more like an 80-250mm zoom on those cameras.

I used Imatest to check the sharpness of the lens when paired with the Q7. At its widest (15mm) focal length it manages an impressive 1,917 lines per picture height at f/2.8. That’s better than the 1,800 lines we require for a photo to be called using our center-weighted test, and even the edges are acceptable at 1,782 lines. Resolution remains constant at f/4, but it does start to suffer at f/5.6 due to the diffraction aspects of the Q7′s image sensor.

Zooming to the midpoint softens the image a bit—1,813 lines at f/2.8 with even performance across the frame. Stopping down to f/4 improves the overall score to 1,927 lines. At its maximum zoom the lens is just slightly soft at 1,746 lines, and we start to see some weakness at the edges as they only manage 1,575 lines. Stopping down to f/4 improves performance all around—the center-weighted score is 1,857 lines, and edges are a decent 1,664 lines.

Distortion is a nonissue if you shoot in JPG mode—the camera corrects for it automatically. If you shoot in Raw you’ll have to deal with a bit of barrel distortion at the widest angle (2.5 percent), but distortion is nonexistent at the midpoint of the zoom, and only 1 percent at its maximum. Lightroom users can correct Raw files with a single click thanks to a built-in profile for the lens in version 5 of the software, and other Raw converters with simple distortion controls will make quick work of this modest amount of barrel and pincushion distortion—but it’s still something to be aware of.

If you’re a telephoto shooter and a fan of the compact Q system, this is likely going to be a go-to lens. It showed off its sharpness in our lab tests. It’s light and compact, and it captures an impressive amount of light. If you can afford to set it at f/4 and get the shutter speed you want you’ll find that it performs best there, but the images at f/2.8 are still quite good. Its cost is sixty percent that of the Q7, but it’s a bargain compared with similar zooms for SLR systems.


Verdict
The Pentax 06 Telephoto Zoom is an impressive f/2.8 zoom lens for the compact Q camera system. It's impressively sharp, and quite compact.
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