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05-11-2010, 02:50 PM   #1
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need help deciding - best telephoto for K-x on trip to Alaska

I just bought a K-x for an upcoming trip to Alaska. I am confused by all the differing ideas I've been reading regarding telephoto lenses.

I'd like to use a wide range telephoto, but don't know which one: 18 - 200, 28 - 300, 50 - 300. The camera came with an 18 - 55.

I love to photograph wildlife and some maco. At home I live on a creek and want to shoot the turtles who swim right up to me as well as the ospreys landing in the trees down the creek.

Cost is an factor unfortunately. I found at Amazon a Sigma 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DG IF Macro Aspherical Lens for Pentax and Samsung SLR Cameras and a Tamron AF 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Macro Zoom Lens for Pentax Digital SLR Cameras

Any and all suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any help.

05-11-2010, 03:07 PM - 1 Like   #2
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The consensus on the forum tends to be:
18-200 has poor IQ
18-250 has acceptable IQ
50-200 has acceptable IQ
55-300 has very good IQ
60-250 has excellent IQ

Bang for buck winner is the 55-300mm.

For cheap macro you can buy a screw on macro filter thingy for the 55-300, R something 150, can't remember sorry.
05-11-2010, 03:11 PM   #3
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unfortunately none of the lenses listed has the reach for what you really need.

You need a way to get out to 400-500mm IMO for good wild life shots, and you want faster for low light conditions.

the 60-250 F4 might be the best overall, especially since you could add a TC (smc - f 1.7x AF TC) and still auto focus using the TC elements
05-11-2010, 03:37 PM   #4
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Everyone shoots different, but in Alaska, especially if you don't live there, I really think you want to photograph any wildlife in the context of their environment. Meaning, I don't think you need the long lengths like you and others think you do.

While it may be cool to fill your frame with a reindeer's head, I think the better shots are going to be wider showing the animal in its natural surroundings.

You could fill your frame with a reindeer's head at the petting zoo where you now live.


Last edited by Ira; 05-11-2010 at 03:43 PM.
05-11-2010, 04:13 PM   #5
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To be clear, "telephoto" means long lens it can be a zoom (variable FL) or a prime (invariable FL). Either way, good long lenses can be expensive (and cumbersome) but Lowell's right: if you're serious about wildlife, 300mm is too short.

If you're just starting out, the DA 55-300mm isn't a bad choice. You'll want to combine it with a 1.4x or 1.7x TC which will degrade IQ some and will require good light. A more expensive option would be the DA*300mm & 1.7X TC which I find to be a very good and easy to handle combination.
You can save a chunk of change if you can do without AF, btw.

Oh, and the longer the lens, the more you need to make provision for stabilization (mono- or tripod.)
05-11-2010, 04:16 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by dadipentak Quote
Oh, and the longer the lens, the more you need to make provision for stabilization (mono- or tripod.)
that depends

see the attached posting, Image stabilization (and a ton of practice) canproduce amazing results. 1/40 with a 510mm lens on ASP-C sensor = 4 stops over the rule of thumb

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/general-photography/100077-question-bird-...ml#post1030308

also note this combi SMC300mmF4 and AF TC will only cost between 600 to 800 depending on where you get them, and it is a rugged combo. Hand holding is no issue, and unless you take the time and effort to build your own tripod mount, you don't have a choise, it does not come with one.

Lens weighs less than the new DA300F4 BTW
05-11-2010, 05:28 PM   #7
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Since cost is "a factor" you can probably rule out the 60-250 :-)

The Tamron 70-200 f2.8 is about $730.

The 55-300 has a good image, but is a little slow.

The 50-200 WR has less reach, not quite the same image quality, but is weather-resistant that might make sense.

The inexpensive Tamron or Sigma 70-300's are also slow like the 2 Pentax lenses above, but they have a 1/2-size quasi-macro mode (at the longer focal lengths) that might combine both requirements in one.

I hate tripods, but you'll probably need one...

Last edited by SpecialK; 05-14-2010 at 04:46 PM.
05-11-2010, 06:04 PM   #8
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As a general rule and as far as the general consensus goes in all threads to be found here,*the DA 55-300 gives you the most bang for your buck.

I don't have one (don't care about the long lengths or zooms), so I'm just saying this from what I've heard. Not based on personal bias, which is what always happens when people give their comments about a lens they already own.

And 300 is more than enough.

05-11-2010, 06:36 PM   #9
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Considering your budget you may be limited to sticking with majestic landscapes and awesome macro shots. And possibly lucky enough to capture some good wildlife.
When I was in Alaska in the '80's I used a Vivitar 80-200mm with a 2x converter for 400mm and it was not enough to pull in the grisly that seemed so big with the eye. When I blew it up as large as my enlarger would go, the bear was still less than an inch tall.
Buy, hey, even if you never see a bear or a moose the trip will be worth it and your images will show it.
05-11-2010, 06:40 PM   #10
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easy choice if cost is an issue

DA 55-300 is the way to go. Could get one around 300.
05-11-2010, 08:07 PM   #11
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I'll add that I have a 55-300 and found it to be a very nice travel lens on our trip to Spain. OTOH, if I were going to Alaska, I'd take the DA*300mm & 1.7x TC.
05-14-2010, 07:18 AM   #12
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thank you

Thank you all for the advise. Due to cost factors, I went with an 18 - 200 with a doubler and wide angle attachment. I expect them to arrive any day and will see how they work. I would have preferred the 55 - 300 but the way I shoot, I know I'd constantly be changing lenses to get what I want and then miss the shot.

BTW, my daughter takes a screw tied to a string with a big washer at the end, screws it into the tripod mount, stands on the washer and pulls the string tight for steady shots. She uses a point and shoot so I don't know how well it would work with a DSLR. But a cheap and easy to carry option!
05-14-2010, 03:21 PM   #13
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An easy to carry tiny monopod will steady the camera more reliably than a string.
05-14-2010, 04:06 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by jholstein Quote
BTW, my daughter takes a screw tied to a string with a big washer at the end, screws it into the tripod mount, stands on the washer and pulls the string tight for steady shots. She uses a point and shoot so I don't know how well it would work with a DSLR. But a cheap and easy to carry option!
The string pod is a favourite of old times, but still works effectively. You can try it with your DSLR as well. You should especially try out, whether the string pod works best with or without Shake Reduction switched on.

Ben
05-14-2010, 05:06 PM   #15
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QuoteQuote:
The string pod is a favourite of old times, but still works effectively. You can try it with your DSLR as well. You should especially try out, whether the string pod works best with or without Shake Reduction switched on.

Ben
With a string, there is no way to support the (perhaps heavy) lens while you are waiting for...the "shot".
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