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10-10-2010, 03:40 AM   #1
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Action Lens with decent reach

I had 10X optical zoom on my compact camera before moving to a DSLR, (equivalent im told of 300mm) and while I'm loving my K-x the 18-55mm kit lens and the 50mm Cosina prime I aqquired, I am hoping to shoot some animal shots and also action as well.

Basically I am wondering what the best value zoom lens up to 250mm or 300mm is in the 150 - 250 range. It has to have autofocus as I will be using it for capturing teams of dogs mushing on rigs and scooters, people on bikes and other action shots of animals.

I also need to bear in mind that in Ireland we get cloudy weather most of the time, so being able to shoot at say f2.8 would be advantageous I'm assuming.

Is the DA 55-300mm a good lens? It doesn't stop to f2.8 i believe the max aperature is f4 so would this hinder fast shooting in cloudy conditions?

Anyone heard of this - Cosina AF 100-300mm f5.6-6.7 MC?
Or any opinions on this - Tamron AF 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di LD Macro?Or the Sigma 70-300 f4.0 - 5.6 APO DG Macro?

All the above seem to be within budget, it would be nice to have to the macro feature if any of them were any good. I assume a proper macro lens would be a better option though in the future, and my main need is AF for action and reach.
Thanks in advance. Any example photos with any of these lens are appreciated too

10-10-2010, 04:01 AM   #2
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You are not going to get a good zoom that goes to 250/300 mm and has 2.8 widest aperture at anything like your budget.

I use a Pentax DA*60-250 which is an excellent lens, costs four times that, and is still an f4.0

When shooting at the longer range a wide aperture does seem advantageous, and certainly helps with viewfinder brightness, but will give you a very narrow DOF. For what you describe you don't need f2.8. I rarely shoot the 60-250 at f4! You have a camera that has a very good reputation for hi ISO/low noise capabilities so dont get too concerned about aperture but bump the ISO up.

I have no experience of the lenses you mention I am afraid.
10-10-2010, 04:47 AM   #3
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Of the lenses you mentioned, the DA 55-300 is probably the best. Remember that you get what you pay for. As far as I know the cheapest ways to get to 200mm with f2.8 would be either a Tamron 70-200 f2.8 or a Sigma 70-200 f2.8. Still, either of those lenses will be two or three times as much as you want to pay.

Remember that all of those lenses that you mentioned are variable aperture lenses. This means that when you are zoomed in, the lenses are at their slowest (the DA 55-300 is at f5.6 at 300mm, it is at f4.5 at 200mm). Still, I would start with the DA and maybe start saving for a faster zoom.
10-10-2010, 06:27 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Your TZ1 is the equivalent of 35-350mm for a full frame 35mm image.
At the long end the lens is f7.1 and (according to dpreview) iso 200 is about as high as you'd acceptably go for prints. They say the sensor is noisy and the NR loses detail above iso 200. Your opinion may differ of course, that OK.

With a Pentax APS sensor this would mean a lens of 23 - 230mm would give you the same image view.
Your 18-55 f3.5-5.6 kit lens is already wider than your TZ1 and if you go for a zoom up to 300 then this extends your reach in comparison to the TZ1.

There are a lot of threads here comparing Pentax 55-300, Sigma 70-300, Tamron 70-300 and others, and the general consensus in Pentaxforums at least is the 55-300 wins every time.
The DA55-300 is more expensive but there is a DA-L version if you can get it which is optically the same as the DA and comparable in price to the other two.
These reasonably economical zooms are all f4 - 5.8 at the long end. ie are about a stop faster than your TZ1.

Your K-x has excellent high ISO performance, better than the K-7 and is usable at 1600 or even 3200 with good quality. This performance gives you 3-4 stops of speed advantage beyond your TZ1. (and a couple better than the K-7 as well).

As "Rondec" mentions, the only common f2.8 telephoto zoom lenses for Pentax are Sigma & Tamron 70-200 f2.8, both of which weigh 1.2kg and cost 900euro and have less reach.
These are good for indoor sports with artificial light and for shallow d.o.f if maybe you wanted to isolate the action in a football game and have other players and the crowd smoothed out of focus.

For outdoors even in overcast weather you may be fine with a slower lens and using higher iso on your K-x.
For example, a really heavy overcast with subjects is shadow will be about say EV11.
Using f8 and ISO set to 1600 this gives you a shutter of 1/500. Fast enough?

I have a DA55-300 and really like it. I haven't shot much sports action and don't claim to be any good, but took the shot below at a track day where I got to ride in the passenger seat of one of these for a couple of laps. (It was 5 minutes action, 6 hours waiting around but well worth it).

The conditions were overcast (measured EV13) settings are ISO 400, f6.3 at 300mm, shutter 1/1000.
It was taken at 300mm but has been cropped to the equivalent of a 600mm view. Jpeg straight from the K-7.
The car is doing about 170km/hr. Not bad for a "slow" lens i thought.

BTW: This car/driver was leading for most of the Bathurst 1000km V8 Supercar race here today but then took a penalty and finshed 7th

Last edited by steve1307; 10-10-2010 at 06:38 AM.
10-10-2010, 09:41 AM   #5
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Wow thanks for the replies guys.

Steve all of that really helps. As a newbie to the whole DSLR world, the comparisons to my TZ1 (thanks a mill for going to the trouble of checking into that) are really helpful. I never realised the equivalent lens was less than 300mm. I'm now wondering do I really need the extra zoom, or would a 200mm or a little more, do me.

Thanks for the photo too. The dogs mushing will likely hit 32-35km per hour on the downhills and the bike road races can see the lads hitting up to 90km/hr on the downhill. So I won't be using it for the amount of speed you have shot below. Though that shot is really sharp for the speed! I'd say it was more fun in the passanger seat (or even better if you can get into the drivers seat)

I can get the DAL version of the 55-300mm Pentax lens for 210 new. A second hand in good shape, if I could find one would be nice as well.
10-10-2010, 12:17 PM   #6
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You are fortunate to own an K-x. Its excellent high ISO performance makes using a 300mm 5.6/5.8 lens practical for indoor sports as well as in-the-forest & twilight shots of wildlife, at least for viewing on an electronic display.

In my experience the K-x works very well with the DA 55-300 at the long end; however, a 300mm, f4 manual lens might be worth a try. I'm satisfied with my lightweight AF DA 55-300.


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