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08-01-2010, 05:46 AM   #1
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Buying a K-x and I need a telephoto lens

I'm finally going to buy a K-x and I need a telephoto zoom lens for photos of subjects that are fairly far away (i'm going to be doing a zoology degree, so something to zoom in on animals in a zoo or in the wild).

I'd prefer to buy a second hand lens as I have limited funds, but so far searches on the web have proved a bit fruitless. Now i'm considering getting the twin lens set which comes with the kit lens and the Pentax SMC 55-300mm f4-5.8 DA-L ED Zoom Lens.

Is this lens worth the extra 150 i'd have to pay for this set or is there anywhere you can recommend in London or the south east to get a good telephoto lens?

Thanks in advance.

08-01-2010, 05:52 AM   #2
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The SMC Pentax-DA 55-300mm lens is a pretty good start, so I would indeed recommend it. If you'd like to see what else Pentax has to offer with respect to telephoto zooms, check out the Pentax DA zoom lenses list.

There are also many older FA lenses, which are still automatic, but can be acquired for much less.

I would recommend the SMC Pentax-FA 80-320mm. It's a full-frame lens, and can be gotten for around $100 used.

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08-01-2010, 07:10 AM   #3
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kx lens upgrades

Ive had a KX for about a yr....I got it with the kit 18-50 lens and 50-200 lens. Both of those kit lenses are in my opinion garbage....if you want good photos you need good lenses period. So I replaced the 18- 50 with a Tamron 17-50...a fantastic lens, love it. I just replaced the hit telephoto lens which is not much good with the Pentax 55-300...That lens is only 349.00 and Ive only had it a week but so far I am really happy with it. Sharp, good color, good bokeh..
08-01-2010, 11:18 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by dehanson1 Quote
Ive had a KX for about a yr....I got it with the kit 18-50 lens and 50-200 lens. Both of those kit lenses are in my opinion garbage....if you want good photos you need good lenses period. So I replaced the 18- 50 with a Tamron 17-50...a fantastic lens, love it. I just replaced the hit telephoto lens which is not much good with the Pentax 55-300...That lens is only 349.00 and Ive only had it a week but so far I am really happy with it. Sharp, good color, good bokeh..
I'm sorry, but I would have to strongly disagree on the kit lenses being "garbage." Have you had a look at the kit lens club here? I would hardly think that there are no good photos contained there. It has been and always will be the photographer that largely determines the quality of your photos, not your gear.

For the OP, there are many options for telephoto lenses that are quite cheap and manual focus, but the old adage is true that you get what you pay for. The 55-300, while being a kit lens, is supposed to be quite good and should be enough for your purposes. Any lens with a focal length greater than 300mm is going to cost a pretty penny no matter how you look at it (barring mirror lenses, but those are another story).

08-01-2010, 12:53 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by dehanson1 Quote
Ive had a KX for about a yr....I got it with the kit 18-50 lens and 50-200 lens. Both of those kit lenses are in my opinion garbage....if you want good photos you need good lenses period. So I replaced the 18- 50 with a Tamron 17-50...a fantastic lens, love it. I just replaced the hit telephoto lens which is not much good with the Pentax 55-300...That lens is only 349.00 and Ive only had it a week but so far I am really happy with it. Sharp, good color, good bokeh..
I don't think anything about those lenses deserves that title. They're lenses, used right they can and do produce great results.
08-01-2010, 08:13 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by dehanson1 Quote
Ive had a KX for about a yr....I got it with the kit 18-50 lens and 50-200 lens. Both of those kit lenses are in my opinion garbage...
Those lenses aren't garbage. More expensive lenses do not make one a better photographer. (It's like, if rich people are smarter, why must they send their kids to those expensive schools?) Those mostly interested in supreme image quality should dump all their Pentax crap, commit some lucrative crime, and buy Leica. Those interested in photography should learn to use subject, light, and lenses.

By all means, spend tons of money on lenses, especially new Pentax lenses. Keep Hoya management and stockholders happy. Take brilliant pictures of boring crap. Enter contests filled with brilliant pictures of boring crap, and try to be best at it. Hint: If a viewer's eyes see optical imperfections at a picture's margins, that means the photographer didn't grab their eyeballs with a compelling subject, well-lit.
08-01-2010, 08:46 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by betholiver Quote
I'd prefer to buy a second hand lens as I have limited funds, but so far searches on the web have proved a bit fruitless. Now i'm considering getting the twin lens set which comes with the kit lens and the Pentax SMC 55-300mm f4-5.8 DA-L ED Zoom Lens.
See the many, many previous threads comparing the various consumer-grade telephoto lenses (DA55-300, DA50-200, Tamron & Sigma 70-300, etc). Also the lens review section of this site. You'll see virtually unanimous agreement the 55-300 is the best of the bunch; only you can decide if one of the cheaper options would suffice for you.
08-02-2010, 11:54 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the advice. I'm going into London tomorrow and will try lots of telephoto lenses out. However from what i've already seen, the older telephotos are bigger and heavier and I'm not the strongest person. But i'll obviously take test shots with all and compare.
I'm very excited about getting the camera.


08-02-2010, 02:19 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by betholiver Quote
Thanks for all the advice. I'm going into London tomorrow and will try lots of telephoto lenses out. However from what i've already seen, the older telephotos are bigger and heavier and I'm not the strongest person. But i'll obviously take test shots with all and compare.
I'm very excited about getting the camera.
If you require taking images for documentary reasons related to your research and you are on a limited budget as a student, allow me to provide my 2 pence of advice.

Get a flash (such as AF360FGZ) and an inexpensive zoom -- such as Sigma DL 70-300, Pentax FA 80-320, etc. These are slower zooms but they are quite compact and easy to carry. Don't let the slowness of the zooms bother you because the flash will still allow you to take sharp photos. The lenses themselves are not the most expensive but are perfectly useable. Plus the old Sigma 70-300 DL goes to 1/2 macro, a useful feature.

I'd also add a 100mm macro lens plus a tripod if funds permit. You will end up using these 2 items a surprising amount in zoos and other controlled environments.

It sounds like you work on whole organism biology, what exactly are you studying?
08-02-2010, 02:32 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by tranq78 Quote
If you require taking images for documentary reasons related to your research and you are on a limited budget as a student, allow me to provide my 2 pence of advice.

Get a flash (such as AF360FGZ) and an inexpensive zoom -- such as Sigma DL 70-300, Pentax FA 80-320, etc. These are slower zooms but they are quite compact and easy to carry. Don't let the slowness of the zooms bother you because the flash will still allow you to take sharp photos. The lenses themselves are not the most expensive but are perfectly useable. Plus the old Sigma 70-300 DL goes to 1/2 macro, a useful feature.

I'd also add a 100mm macro lens plus a tripod if funds permit. You will end up using these 2 items a surprising amount in zoos and other controlled environments.

It sounds like you work on whole organism biology, what exactly are you studying?
Just to make sure not to confuse the OP

when speaking of lenses "fast" means lets in more light, "slow" means lets in less light. it more specifically refers to the numbers that comes after "f/" in the lens name, the lower the number, the faster the lens is and the more light the lens lets in

the more light the better, especially with telephoto lenses
08-02-2010, 03:21 PM   #11
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Consider:
Long fast lenses are expensive. 300mm might not be long enough. Autofocus lenses are expensive. Long manual focus lenses require skill. Teleconverters reduce lens speed and image quality. And it all depends on what animals you're shooting, and where, and in what light; and how you'll present the finished images. Yes, a flash can assist a non-superfast long lens, but that won't help much in broad daylight or at distance. The Kx has superb high-ISO capability; boosting the ISO is like using a much faster lens.

Experiment:
If possible, rent a Kx; and a zoom that goes out to 500mm; or one that zooms to 300mm, and a 2x teleconverter. Take test shots in conditions you'd expect for your photo work. Note the focal lengths you use. This should help you decide just how long a lens you really need. Or you may just want to save money and sneak up closer, eh? And don't forget the tripod.

A crazy idea:
Long ago, I shot closeups of rattlesnakes from a safe distance. How? With an SLR, extension tubes and bellows, a shoulder stock, and a cheap 400mm long lens from Spiratone. I have re-assembled that kit for about US$75 (not counting the camera). The bellows accounted for over half the cost. For long-range shots, I just remove the tubes and bellows. A shoulder stock is next-best to a tripod for outdoor shooting. Just don't frighten the police.
08-02-2010, 04:12 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by tranq78 Quote
If you require taking images for documentary reasons related to your research and you are on a limited budget as a student, allow me to provide my 2 pence of advice.

Get a flash (such as AF360FGZ) and an inexpensive zoom -- such as Sigma DL 70-300, Pentax FA 80-320, etc. These are slower zooms but they are quite compact and easy to carry. Don't let the slowness of the zooms bother you because the flash will still allow you to take sharp photos. The lenses themselves are not the most expensive but are perfectly useable. Plus the old Sigma 70-300 DL goes to 1/2 macro, a useful feature.

I'd also add a 100mm macro lens plus a tripod if funds permit. You will end up using these 2 items a surprising amount in zoos and other controlled environments.

It sounds like you work on whole organism biology, what exactly are you studying?
Flash with a 300mm lens?
08-02-2010, 04:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by dehanson1 Quote
Ive had a KX for about a yr....I got it with the kit 18-50 lens and 50-200 lens. Both of those kit lenses are in my opinion garbage....if you want good photos you need good lenses period. So I replaced the 18- 50 with a Tamron 17-50...a fantastic lens, love it. I just replaced the hit telephoto lens which is not much good with the Pentax 55-300...That lens is only 349.00 and Ive only had it a week but so far I am really happy with it. Sharp, good color, good bokeh..
One word, placebo

While each of those lenses you got is better than the kit lenses, there's no way they're as much better as you're thinking (particularly the 55-300 which is still a DA). Good upgrades, but it's not like the kit lenses prevent you from taking good shots.


To the OP, I would thing the 18-55 and 55-300 would be excellent starting lenses for you. Start with them and see if they cut it for you. If you spend enough time on PF I'm sure you'll get huge LBA and need to upgrade. But depending on your needs, those lenses could be more than sufficient. The 55-300 is definitely worth the extra it costs as part of a kit, even if it is the DA L.
08-04-2010, 02:32 AM   #14
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In the end I got a Sigma 70-300mm as it was the same price as the pentax but the build quality was better. Plus the macro feature means I can explore macro without spending more money!
I've had the camera for less than a day now, but already love it!
08-04-2010, 04:36 AM   #15
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Hope you enjoy your new lens - though I would rate the Pentax a little more impressively than you have.
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