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11-30-2010, 03:53 PM   #1
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Telephoto lens comparison, 50-200 vs. third party non Pentax

Pentax DAL 50-200 or Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 DG Macro?

I realize both entry end, budget minded optic choices. I recently purchased a K-x kit w/ both lenses (50-200 included) and happened to also stumble upon a Sigma 70-300 F4-5.6 (non APO) for $69. So inexpensive, no big investment, I bought it.

Question being, I also recently bought the new SMC DA 35mm f/2.4 AL as my $$ is being aimed at IQ and portraiture, shorter FL's. I only occasionally see the need for a longer reach, so it's either/or in my choice on the tele's. Longer reach w/ the Sigma, granted, yet it's reviews are mediocre to middling, soft at the long end, various IQ issues, etc.....but its a $69 lens, I'm not pixel peeping and as mentioned, only the occasional need. BUT....I have no idea IQ wise if the 50-200 is a superior piece of glass. If its THAT much better, the extra FL of the Sigma is not as important and I'd resell it. If they're half dozen of one, six of the other w/ like IQ (esp the Sigma at the 200mm range), I'd opt for the Sigma, just to have the longer length. Definitely have the need for only one budget tele-lens in my bag at the end of the day. Thoughts?

Also- I have an offer for a sharp copy of the Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.5 DC macro for a decent price ($240). Significant upgrade from the 18-55 kit lens? (plastic mount version, tho I think optics the same) I'm a transplanted Canon'er and I appreciate the input from those w/ the body of knowledge

thnx, i realize, 2 qstns
50-200 or 70-300 Sigma?
18-55 or 17-70 Sigma? (I realize on this one the Sigma will have better IQ than a kit lens, but just fielding opinions on whether its worth the extra $$)

TY- Ralph

12-01-2010, 05:05 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by rrwilliams64 Quote
thnx, i realize, 2 qstns
50-200 or 70-300 Sigma?
18-55 or 17-70 Sigma? (I realize on this one the Sigma will have better IQ than a kit lens, but just fielding opinions on whether its worth the extra $$)

TY- Ralph
1- neither, save up a little extra and get the pentax 55-300, great lens, the 50-200 isn't terrible though, and it's probably better than the sigma- but shooting 300mm at f5.6, your shutter speed will have to be at least 1/320 (maybe 1/500) to get sharp photos, so good luck in anything that isn't mid day sun
2- again, probably neither- save up and get the tamron 17-50 f2.8, the kit lens is good at f5.6, but that's pretty slow
12-02-2010, 04:07 AM   #3
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thnx Clark, but re: the 5igma's f/5.6 at 300 and its shutter speed end result ("shooting at high noon" ;-D)......... same dynamics w/ 55-300 which you suggest, which is f5.8 at 300, no? thnx
12-02-2010, 04:16 AM   #4
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But the IQ of the 55-300 is considerably better than both your lenses. Definitely best value for money in quality results.

Kit lens ain't gonna be as good as the Sigma, but Pentax do have a DA 17-70 (f/4 constant max) and Tamron has a 17-50 which is not only faster (f/2.8 constant max) but better IQ than the Sigma.

12-02-2010, 04:54 AM   #5
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I own a copy of the 50-200, and find it pretty good at the long end but rather soft at the wider end. However, I've heard some people say the opposite is true, others that it's good throughout, others still that it's bad throughout. This leads me to believe that it is a lens design which is intolerant of sample variations, meaning that it's going to be pot luck as to whether you get a good or bad copy.

So, my suggestion would be to give it a thorough test for sharpness at all focal lengths and apertures. If it seems sharp throughout, then you're lucky, and have a good copy, so it's probably worth keeping. There are some lovely examples of shots taken with this lens here:

Flickriver: Photos taken with Pentax smc P-DA 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED lens

Otherwise, the DA 55-300 has an excellent reputation, and I believe it's now available cheaply in DAL (i.e. plastic mount, no hood, no quick-focus) form.

I don't have personal experience of the Sigma, but nothing I've come across on the Internet would suggest that it's going to be close IQ-wise to a 55-300 (or 50-200, if it's a good one).
12-02-2010, 06:12 AM   #6
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If edge IQ is more critical than size or price, then the 55-300 is the way to go. I agree that it is an excellent value. The DA 50-200 is cheap and small. It is much smaller than the 55-300, and I have found in useful as a travel lens. Its performance is roughly comparable to the long end of a superzoom, though my results are better than some of the tests would suggest--more in line with those Flickr examples in terms of IQ.

By the way, that "looking westward" photo from Morocco is just superb. That is an example of travel photography with some inspiration.

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