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12-12-2010, 09:48 AM   #1
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Another which is sharper @ 300mm

I searched and read several threads about this question but still don't have a concise answer. I've also read reviews here on PF of lenses in what I'm looking to buy.

First some background:
I own the Sigma APO (non dg) Macro 70-300mm ( too heavy)
It's not as sharp as I'd like at 300mm and I noticed this the most yesterday shooting Bumble bees.
I don't do AF, everything I shoot is done manually.
So, onto other things you should know:
I don't have a lot of money so the Pentax 55-300mm is out of my range, money wise.

Which is the sharpest lens I can get that doesn't weigh a ton?

This one:
Tamron 75-300 F4-5.6 Ld F/pentax Af

Or this one:
27608 Pentax Smcp-fa 80-320 4.5/5.6 *58

12-12-2010, 10:05 AM   #2
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My Tammy does Ok at 300.

See: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/117806-sigma-7...ml#post1217389
12-12-2010, 10:14 AM   #3
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Look for the FA J 75-300. It's lighter than the other 300mm zooms at 385g.

KEH has one for $109.

SMC Pentax-FA J 75-300mm F4.5-5.8 AL

I own the FA 80-320 and it's a hefty lens compared to the DA L 55-300. 550g compared to 425g.

Last edited by boriscleto; 12-12-2010 at 10:24 AM.
12-12-2010, 10:28 AM   #4
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Thanks Ahab, I have the Sigma lens, it's too heavy and not so sharp at 300mm.

Do you own this Pentax Boris? I read reviews here and most people said it was not that sharp at 300mm.

My Sigma does ok at 300mm but it's still not good at 300mm. Birds, bees are soft. I need tack sharp.

12-12-2010, 10:35 AM   #5
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As you need more primes why not a 300/4 prime?
They go for about 100-200 Euros on ebay.
They better than those budget zooms.
12-12-2010, 10:57 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by photolady Quote
Thanks Ahab, I have the Sigma lens, it's too heavy and not so sharp at 300mm.

Do you own this Pentax Boris? I read reviews here and most people said it was not that sharp at 300mm.

My Sigma does ok at 300mm but it's still not good at 300mm. Birds, bees are soft. I need tack sharp.
I don't own the 75-300 so I can't comment on it's sharpness at 300. It's the lightest 300 zoom you're going to find. It would probably help to have a lens hood. If you can swing it go for the DA L. They are available on eBay for ~$220. A bayonet lens hood is less than $20.

QuoteOriginally posted by blende8 Quote
As you need more primes why not a 300/4 prime?
They go for about 100-200 Euros on ebay.
They better than those budget zooms.
Sure, you can find a K or M 300 f4 for $200 but a DA*300 f4 is at least $1,000.
12-12-2010, 11:16 AM   #7
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I've had both of those lenses and the 55-300 and there is no doubt of the order of sharpness :

1. P 55-300
2. Tamron
3. P 80-320

I was unhappy with the sharpness of the 80-320 and the Tamron was a nice step up from that, the 55-300 is probably the sharpest long zoom in it;s price range across all manufacturers (CaNikon etc included) - maybe you can find a nice used one ?

The 80-320 I sold ASAP, the Tamron is still downstairs with the other 'not used but don't want to sell' lenses, but I guess I will let it go sooner or later (when I get the 60-250).
12-12-2010, 09:43 PM   #8
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I don't have the funds for a Pentax 55-300mm. That's why I was asking about the others.

Once upon a time, back when I had my K1000, I had a Pentax F100-300mm and like it. Not sure about IQ at 300 because I didn't pay attention back then, course I didn't shoot a lot of birds then either, most I shot water sprays and landscapes, some waterfalls. With those photos IQ seemed ok.

Oh and I don't do ebay. I've been scammed too many times on there and don't want to get into using them again.

12-12-2010, 10:11 PM   #9
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I like my SMC Pentax 300mm f4. Important disadvantages - no zoom, manual mode, manual focus, and it's really big and heavy. But it's extremely usable at f4, has its own hood, and is available for a reasonable price. I tested it against some other cheap lenses that get to 300mm here, including the F100-300:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/98808-300mm-le...p-options.html

After that, I sold the F100-300 and the Tamron 28-300, and gave back the Tamron 70-300. I'll probably have to give the Vivitar away. Most of the cheaper zooms are not that great at 300mm, from what I've seen.
12-12-2010, 10:42 PM   #10
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Big and heavy is a problem I'm trying to avoid. The Sigma lens I have now is too heavy for me to hold still at times.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I may just save my money and get the Pentax 55-300mm in the future. I found one on Amazon for just over $300.
12-13-2010, 08:08 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by photolady Quote
Big and heavy is a problem I'm trying to avoid. The Sigma lens I have now is too heavy for me to hold still at times.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I may just save my money and get the Pentax 55-300mm in the future. I found one on Amazon for just over $300.
The Tamron 70-300 (as I said) is a great value lens that has given sterling service, it is sharp - just not as sharp as the 55-300 and does show more PF (not that you notice this the majority of the time) plus it has 1:2 macro which is excellent for butterflies and flowers.

If I was you I'd pick up a used Tamron (maybe from KEH or another reputable dealer that accept returns if you're not happy) for ca. US$100 and use it until you can save enough for the 55-300. When you then sell the Tamron you probably won't lose more than a few dollars and will have had an excellent lense to get by with.

You will notice a difference when you then step up to to the 55-300 but the Tamron is definitely a lot better than the 80-320.
12-13-2010, 09:46 AM   #12
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Thanks Frogfish. I'll see what my funds look like next month, I can sell the Sigma to further help with my funding. The one I linked to in my first post is the 75-300. You say 70-300, is this different than the 75-300?
12-13-2010, 09:57 AM   #13
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I believe the Tamron 75-300mm is a full-frame lens and the 70-300mm is a smaller and lighter one optimized for APS digital sensors. The 70-300 has also been private labeled and is often available more cheaply as a Quantaray version.

Mike
12-13-2010, 10:14 AM   #14
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I thought maybe Frogfish, made a typo. However, now I see, that the 70-300mm and the 75-300mm are two different lenses. Thanks Mike for clarifying this for me. I definitly don't want something older and heavier than I already have. After your statement about Quantaray, I have found one of those on Adorama for $149, and they don't have 70-300mm Tamron for sale in the used department.

What about Beach Camera? Has anyone bought from them? Because they have a brand new one for $164, though it has been used as a demo model.
12-13-2010, 01:33 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by photolady Quote
Which is the sharpest lens I can get that doesn't weigh a ton?
I can't comment on the Pentax 80-320, having never used it, but I did own the Tamron for a year or so. The one merit of the Tamron is that it is light. According to some resolution tests I checked before buying it, the Tamron supposedly has better resolution than either the Sigma or even the DA 55-300. Even if these tests are valid (I rather doubt they are), however, they don't tell the whole story. At 300mm, the Tamron produces photos of low contrast and somewhat pale colors. Perhaps it does produce better resolution at 300mm then some of the other consumer grade telephoto zooms; but that doesn't mean it produces better images.

If sharpness is what you're after, a prime is a better choice. But primes are heavy, and you won't be shooting any bumble bees with those old manual focus K and M 300/f4s without extenders, because they don't focus any closer than 4 meters on their own.
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