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09-04-2010, 09:34 PM   #1
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Pentax DA 50-200mm vs Tamron/Sigma 70-300?

Hey guys, I am wondering which of these are the better model? I want to get into macro photography, and be able to get close to objects which my kit 18-55 can't reach. I just bought a pentax-m 50mm on ebay, so I am wondering if 70-300 is the better option? Sorry guys, I am new and confused, thanks in advance!

Oh ya, I will also be going on a tour of the farollone islands soon, so I'd prefer to buy a lens which would be great for this

09-04-2010, 09:57 PM   #2
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Firstly, for your tour, the 18-55 should do you reasonably well - just bring a tripod for those evening shots and shoot at f/8-16 for your landscapes.

As for close focus/macro work, I could not do the genre justice without advocating for dedicated macro lenses - 1:1 if possible. Any would do, and I'd suggest a manual focus lens if money is tight. For AF, the big 3 in my mind are Pentax FA or DFA 100 f/2.8 macro, Tamron 90 f/2.8 macro and Sigma 70 f/2.8 macro. There is also the FA/DFA 50 f/2.8 macro if you can find one and it suits you better.

The Sigma/Tamron 70-300 is not a true macro lens, but can give some decent results if conditions are right. I've personally been disappointed with the Sigma, whether for telephoto or macro work - quite soft and lacking in any decent contrast. Much better is the Pentax 55-300, but it is neither macro nor close focus (minimum working distance 1.4m). I still prefer this one even for larger-type macro work (flowers, etc) since I can crop quite heavily and still retain excellent detail, which the other 70-300s cannot offer. I cannot speak for the DA 50-200, but I do know the DA 55-300 is considerably better.
09-04-2010, 10:04 PM   #3
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I see. Can you provide ebay links to some good manual focus macro lens? Thanks in advance
09-05-2010, 03:50 AM   #4
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Just have a look at this forum's lens review database, see which one's you'd be interested in and make a search.

09-05-2010, 09:19 AM   #5
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The Pentax 50-200 is small and light, but does not have a real close-focus ability. It is only slightly contrastier and sharper than the Sigma 70-300 APO (note there are 2 versions of the Sigma and the APO is the superior one). The Sigma has the quasi-macro mode in the 200-300mm range only, and as mentioned, is OK for flowers.

The Pentax 55-300 is superior to any of the above for image quality, though it does not have any close focus ability.

A dedicated macro lens is the way to go for macro shots. Manual versions may be fairly cheap. Among the autofocus varieties, the Tamron is highly regarded and probably the least expensive.
09-05-2010, 10:11 AM   #6
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Thanks guys. I bought a pentax-m 50mm/1.7 on eBay. Is that a macro lens?
09-05-2010, 12:56 PM   #7
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No, it's not - you'll struggle to get the detail you want with it - hence my plug for dedicated macro lenses. There is no substitute.
09-05-2010, 01:23 PM   #8
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I see. Feel free to link me to any heap manual macro lenses on eBay.

09-05-2010, 04:31 PM   #9
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As mentioned, you should really take advantage of the Lens Review Database on this site to leanr about the lenses. As a general rule, if it is a zoom, it's not a macro lens, even if it says macro on it. If it's a prime, it's not a macro unless it *says* it is a macro lens, but even then you want to check the reviews and specs to see if it's 1:1 or 1:2. And you you need to read up on the subject of macro photography to understand what these ratios mean, and also understand the role played by focal length. Once you understand some of this, you'll have a much easier time figuring out which lens is right *for you*. But until then, there's basically no way anyone can make a great recommendation.

What I would say is that macro aside, if you don't have a telephoto zoom, you might as well get one but don't make any alleged "macro" feature a criteria. Stick a $40 Raynox 150 on the front of a compatible zoom like the 50-200 and it instantly becomes *far* better for macro purposes than any zoom that claims to be macro. See the Raynox club thread in this forum for more on that adapter.

Also see the tons of information that exists explaining extension tubes, revering rings, and other ways of doing macro photography. Just finding a web site or book that explains macro photography should explain these options well. Be aware that the Raynox I mention is a type of "closeup lens", which most of these source will mention but say the quality isn't there. That's true of most closeup lenses, but it's not true of multiple element "achromatic" closeu lenses like the Raynox.
09-06-2010, 12:00 AM   #10
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I see Well what about just regular shooting, not macro? I can get the 50-200 for a good price, and I am wondering if it would do fine for whale watching and such.
09-06-2010, 12:44 AM   #11
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It would depend on how close you can get to your subjects to not need more than 200mm of reach. I'll suggest the DA 55-300 again, since it's simply an excellent (and better) performer for only a few extra dollars.
09-06-2010, 11:01 AM   #12
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For wildlife, sure, longer is pretty much always better. It's just a question if of how big a lens you are comfortable with and/or how much you are willing to spend. Each of the lenses mentioned on this thread has its advantages - the 50-200 being fairly cheap and significantly smaller, the Tamron/Sigma 70-300's being longer and often even cheaper but much larger, and the 55-300 being similar in size to the 70-300's (maybe slightly smaller than the Tamron) and more expensive but optically better.

if you check out the hundred or so existing threads discussing these lenses, you'll see people basically going around and around and around just making these same points over and over (also discussing the fairly insignificant optical differences between the various cheaper options). You pretty much need to decide for yourself which tradeoff you personally want to make.
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