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08-04-2010, 10:46 AM   #1
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Advice on moving beyond 300mm: Which lens to get?

I've been searching around here and googling other forums and I've still got a few questions about venturing into a longer lens.

I currently use a Tamron 70-300. It does well enough for $150 and isn't too bad at f/8 and the 1:2 macro is a bonus too. But it just isn't that long and I'm finding more and more that I like wildlife photography.

With budget considerations (and I can't really afford it in the first place... ;p) I've mostly narrowed it down to a Sigma 150-500 f/5-6.3 OS or a DA* 300mm plus TC. I don't mind used, but I do want AF.

I was able to take a look at the Sigma in a Canon mount on a 7D. I liked it better than the Tamron 200-500. Having IS on the lens is quite nice as I did a side-by-side with the Tamron and Sigma. Reports I've seen say the Sigma OS is a bit better than the Pentax SR as well.

I haven't been able to use a DA* 300mm though. There's only one Pentax dealer in town and they don't stock the sexy lenses regularly.

So the questions:
  • Is there any direct comparison of IQ out there of a 300mm + 1.7 TC vs the Sigma at 500mm?
  • How much do you miss zoom with the prime? I already find that at 300mm I have to zoom out to acquire the subject and then zoom in for the shot.

Any other comments are welcome.

Edit: I decided on a lens, the DA* 300mm f/4. See this post for more about my decision


Last edited by mikem; 09-18-2010 at 09:58 PM.
08-04-2010, 11:19 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikem Quote
So the questions:
  • Is there any direct comparison of IQ out there of a 300mm + 1.7 TC vs the Sigma at 500mm?
  • How much do you miss zoom with the prime? I already find that at 300mm I have to zoom out to acquire the subject and then zoom in for the shot.

Any other comments are welcome.
I think you best send a PM to tcom (Dominique). And ask him.

As far as I know he has both the DA*60-250, DA*300 using them with the 1.7TC.

He owns a *lot* of lenses and publishes shots on his flickr site.
Very usefull.

Look here: Collection: Lenses

- Bert
08-04-2010, 11:34 AM   #3
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I currently use a da*300 + 1.7x AF for birding. I tested the Sigma before making a purchase and feel that they are pretty close in IQ at 510m and 500mm. But at close range, and maybe I just had a crappy Sigma copy, the da*300+1.7x won hands down.

No, I so rarely miss zoom since most all shots are at max focal length anyway. I did consider the Sigma 100-300/4 + TC but was unable to get a sample to test.

If AF is your primary requirement, remember the da*300 + Pentax F1.7x is autofocus in a range once you manually get it in the vicinity. For distant shots its no issue because you can adjust the range to be 50m to near the horizen. But for much closer shots the range narrows and you need to be quick with the focus ring for a bird flying right at you. Of course, the Sigma AF is not likely to catch up with the subject in that scenario but at least you are dealing with one less paramenter

Happy hunting!
08-04-2010, 11:53 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
I currently use a da*300 + 1.7x AF for birding. I tested the Sigma before making a purchase and feel that they are pretty close in IQ at 510m and 500mm. But at close range, and maybe I just had a crappy Sigma copy, the da*300+1.7x won hands down.

No, I so rarely miss zoom since most all shots are at max focal length anyway. I did consider the Sigma 100-300/4 + TC but was unable to get a sample to test.

If AF is your primary requirement, remember the da*300 + Pentax F1.7x is autofocus in a range once you manually get it in the vicinity. For distant shots its no issue because you can adjust the range to be 50m to near the horizen. But for much closer shots the range narrows and you need to be quick with the focus ring for a bird flying right at you. Of course, the Sigma AF is not likely to catch up with the subject in that scenario but at least you are dealing with one less paramenter

Happy hunting!
I very much liked the HSM on the Sigma I tried. Silent and quick compared to the rest of my lenses. How much of a hit to you take on the focusing when you throw the TC on the 300?

08-04-2010, 12:09 PM   #5
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I can't tell you much about the Sigma 150-500 as I never had it. Currently I am just having the Sigma 50-500 HSM OS DG here for a few days for testing, but I did not have enough time yet to know what this heavy lens is able to produce.

Now, I had the Sigma 170-500 and it's main problem was that it produced nice, detailed and sharp shots up to around 350mm. Beyond 350mm it gets soft. At 500mm, the results were in general quite soft. But at that time, my camera did not have SR, so that might have been a problem as well.

The DA*300 is beautiful lens producing excellently sharp, detailed and contrasty results. The 1.7x TC does reduce a bit the overall result, but the end result is still very good. I never achieved such sharp result with the Sigma 170-500.

Here a few photos with DA*300 and 1.7xTC:







Hope I could help
08-04-2010, 12:26 PM   #6
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I'm still getting used to the 150-500, but it seems pretty decent. Sort of odd to not hear anything when it focuses.
08-04-2010, 12:40 PM   #7
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WOW! Those bird photos are incredible!!! Didn't realize you could use a TC on the DA* 300mm And did someone say you could use one on the DA* 60-250 as well?
08-04-2010, 12:52 PM   #8
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Yes, you can use the 1.7x TC on the DA*60-250 as well, but it will not produce results as good as on the DA*300. A TC is really something to put on an excellent prime, it does not give so good results on zooms.

Here a few sample with TC 1.7x on DA*60-250:





08-04-2010, 02:03 PM   #9
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great shots Dominique! I love the Waxwings
I do miss my DA300mm, it is a really good lens and the 1.7x afa acts as a focus limiter ( and focuses faster ) so I found it not too bad for BIF even. In good light anyways.
A random Eagle with the 1.7


Last edited by borno; 08-04-2010 at 02:15 PM.
08-04-2010, 02:37 PM   #10
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check the 300mm Plus club thread, there are a lot of good ideas there.

for me at 500mm I use the SMC-Pentax (K) 300F4 and 1.7x AF TC this is the best bang for buck

here is a shot with my K7 at ISO 1600 and 1/40th (that's right, it was really dark) This is a 100% crop with no PP (I could take care of the CA but left it alone)



and another with my *istD and a flash




Although the origonal sigma 70-200 F2.8 EX (non DG non Macro) does well at 400mm with the 2X TC

again with flash
08-04-2010, 03:28 PM   #11
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It seems like a 300mm + TC would be the way to go. I'd have a pretty smokin' lens w/o the TC and a very good setup for longer reach. And it's just a little more than half the weight of the Sigma. Now to get the money part figured out...
08-04-2010, 07:36 PM   #12
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A 300 and tc is a good combo but it needs to be a good and fast 300 and a very good tc
08-04-2010, 07:40 PM   #13
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What options are there for Pentax TCs t couple with the DA* 300mm? I think I'd be interested first in a 1.7x. New or used would be alright.
08-04-2010, 08:32 PM   #14
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I have a few longer telephotos and I find they all have their strong and weak points. For example, the K400 is a really great lens, takes excellent pictures and is light enough to go for a hike with. On the down side, it doesn't focus as close to a subject as I would like and is more subject to shake on the tripod than others.

The DA*300/4 is a good walk around lens and takes excellent pictures. I'm just not into AF, so I find I prefer my MF lenses.

The A*300/2.8 with the A 1.4X-L is an excellent combo but is heavy....almost too heavy for hand shooting (you should really be using a tripod with anything 300+ anyways.) If I had to sell all of the ~300mm lenses, this is the one I would keep.

Anyways, here is a shot from the K400....



Here is the DA*300/4



Here is the A*300/2.8


Last edited by SteveM; 08-04-2010 at 08:46 PM.
08-05-2010, 04:09 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by pghwarrior23 Quote
WOW! Those bird photos are incredible!!! Didn't realize you could use a TC on the DA* 300mm And did someone say you could use one on the DA* 60-250 as well?
Here a few of my DA*60-250 & 1.7X TC combination.
Shot last week in Uganda.





It is not as sharp as the DA* 300mm + TC, but reasonable.

- Bert
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