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12-21-2010, 12:40 PM   #1
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Budget lens or wait?

I shoot on a budget, and love that Pentax provides me with older/less expensive glass that I can snag. I am always on the lookout for cheap, great manual glass. Aside from my kit lens, nothing I own is autofocus. I only have one "A" lens.

But once in a while, I would like some automatic function. I will be buying the Pentax DA 35mm f2.4. For the price, i can't beat it. Great focal length for snap shots around the house.

But what I am really missing is the longer length glass. I'm talking 200mm at f2.8. For shooting around work (large church with a lot of indoor concert type events).

What I think I want is the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 II EX APO Macro HSM for Pentax. But even at the reasonable $800 price tag, I won't be getting it any time soon.

I could swing the DA 55-300mm. Seen a few under $300 used. That is more in reach, but not very fast. The K-x is great at 1600, but at f5.6 i would have to be at 3200 ISO, and would have to shoot in jpeg with high noise reduction to get anything I could really use. I tried some 3200 ISO shots raw this year, and didn't like the noise.

But the 55-300 cold hold me over for a while, maybe... cause an $800 purchase is not something I can just up and do.

12-21-2010, 12:54 PM   #2
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This might not be the best solution, but...

There are many, cheap, mediocre 70-200 / 70-210 / 80-200 zooms. There are a number of the constant-aperture f4 / f4.5 variety. If the 55-300 is only going to be useful to you because of the reach, but the aperture will still drive you crazy, you might want to seriously consider one of these to hold you over until you can afford something properly fast.

f2.8 is going to be what you really want, because I can tell you that the shutter speeds you need at 200mm + f4.5 are pretty restricting without a flash. But I found my 80-200mm solution for 30 dollars, and the few times I have used it, it's never been stellar, but I've taken home enough pictures for it to be worth while. I think when it comes to performance zooms, you are going to want technology that is no older than 15 years to be honest. But to hold you over, something bargain bin might do the trick for now...
12-21-2010, 12:55 PM   #3
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...or you could buy a used 50-200, and, with the money you save, get a nice tripod.

This way you still have a decent 200 mm although slow, but you overcome the slowness with the tripod, an always useful piece of equipment.

It wil not freeze your subjects, but at least you won't have to worry about camera shake.

It's a solution, of sorts...
12-21-2010, 01:24 PM   #4
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The DA 55-300 is probably too expensive for a lens that won't work out in the end. It just seems to get you $300 further behind. I think I would wait, and if you really need to buy sonething, look for a deal on a DA-L 50-200.

12-21-2010, 01:36 PM   #5
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Maybe I'll buy the 55-200 and rent the Sigma (or Pentax equivalent) when I need it... until I strike it rich.

I did used to have a Kiron vivitar manual that I liked. not fast, but worked. But I had mixed results with it inside/low light. Outside was great.
12-21-2010, 01:42 PM   #6
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I heavily used (and I still have) a 3rd generation Vivtar Series 1 70-210 2.8-4. It was y only long lens for many many years and I was pretty happy with the results....

If I remember right that one was made by Komine, back in the '80s. But Kiron was also a well regarded optics maker, often building lenses or single lens elements or lens projects for other companies.
12-21-2010, 02:03 PM   #7
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Yes, you are in a quandary. Long+fast+AF = expensive, that's the basic equation. You need to either drop the speed, or drop the AF, or pay a premium price. Dropping speed means using flash or boosting ISO. Dropping AF means using CIF or losing shots. Meeting all your desires may require robbing a mini-mart. Bother...

And then there's size and weight. Long+fast = big, usually. My longest fastest is a MF Vivitar-Kiron Series 1 Version 1 70-210/3.5 weighing 880g. My longest lightest is an AF FA100-300/4.7-5.8 that weighs just 380g. A bit wider is my AF Tamron AL 28-200/3.8-5.6 massing 430g. All have have good-to-great optics and are available for well under US$100. With your Kx's high-ISO performance, is blazing speed really a necessity for you?

I am a budget lensman. I keep track of this stuff: Of my 175 current lenses, just 10 cost more than US$100; only one was $1k; 70 were under US$10; and the average price was US$34. Yes, I'm a bottom-feeder. I am no longer employed. Thinking about a US$800 lens leaves me quivering, sweating. I'll have to sell lots more stuff on eBay, to afford anything long+fast. I'm too old to rob mini-marts.
12-21-2010, 02:06 PM   #8
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I'd suggest a 55-300 even if you'll use it exclusively under 200mm.
For an AF lens, its performance is excellent. at 200mm the maximum aperture is f/4.5 I believe. That makes it reasonably fast at that focal length.

Certainly, if you're happy to have a MF lens to tie you in, then it's a matter of finding a decent MF telezoom - the Vivitar mentioned above is great, and perhaps (as a prime) even an M 200 f/4 lens if you're keen on the focal length and get a feel for how you'll shoot at 200mm - these appear on the marketplace once in a while (I had one and sold it) for between $60 and $100.

I have both the 55-300 and Tamron's 70-200 and I won't be selling either. They're both used for different applications - 55-300 for a compact daytime zoom, and the 70-200 for low light indoors stuff. The Tamron is highly recommended. (but it isn't a silent AF lens, if that matters).

12-21-2010, 02:17 PM   #9
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I have a Pentax A 70-200 F4 which i got as i want to eventually get a 70-200 2.8, its been really good for me to try out the focal length before a larger spend, highly recommend it got it for $100
12-21-2010, 07:37 PM   #10
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You can always get the 55-300 now and sell it later when you are ready to step up. You wouldn't have a problem selling it for not much of a loss if you take care of it.
12-21-2010, 08:06 PM   #11
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A used Tamron 70-300, which has the same speed as the Pentax 55-300, should cost you about $100. Many people like it.

Why spend more for something that is not really going to do what you want, anyway?
12-21-2010, 09:19 PM   #12
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Suggestion: as you have the lower range (up to 135mm) covered, drop the DA35/2.4 for now. Brings you a couple of dollars closer to your telezoom.
12-21-2010, 09:37 PM   #13
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I was hoping to get something with at least an "A" setting, and autofocus would be nice. The auto aspects of the 35 f2.4, along with it's faster aperture, are appealing. I will use it more than the longer lens, so it's more of a priority.

And a more easily achievable one thanks to the low cost.

Inside, shooting the events at work, I find that I need at least 1600 ISO and a minimum 1/125 shutter speed (to freeze movement)... The larger the aperture, the better. When the subject warrants it, I can slow down and get decent results. Here is a shot from back in the days of my *ist DS with that kiron lens I mentioned above. It was wide open at f3.8, shutter was slowed to 1/60, with ISO at 1600. This was about 190mm.




But not all concerts/events are one guy at a piano. =) I normally cannot slow things down that much.

The f2.8 on a long zoom would be nice.

Last edited by mediaslinky; 12-21-2010 at 09:53 PM.
12-21-2010, 09:54 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by mediaslinky Quote
I shoot on a budget, and love that Pentax provides me with older/less expensive glass that I can snag. I am always on the lookout for cheap, great manual glass. Aside from my kit lens, nothing I own is autofocus. I only have one "A" lens.

But once in a while, I would like some automatic function. I will be buying the Pentax DA 35mm f2.4. For the price, i can't beat it. Great focal length for snap shots around the house.

But what I am really missing is the longer length glass. I'm talking 200mm at f2.8. For shooting around work (large church with a lot of indoor concert type events).

What I think I want is the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 II EX APO Macro HSM for Pentax. But even at the reasonable $800 price tag, I won't be getting it any time soon.

I could swing the DA 55-300mm. Seen a few under $300 used. That is more in reach, but not very fast. The K-x is great at 1600, but at f5.6 i would have to be at 3200 ISO, and would have to shoot in jpeg with high noise reduction to get anything I could really use. I tried some 3200 ISO shots raw this year, and didn't like the noise.

But the 55-300 cold hold me over for a while, maybe... cause an $800 purchase is not something I can just up and do.
For what it is worth, the 55-300 has surpriced me with how good it is for a budget zoom. It easilly beat any of the older 80-300 or 80-320mm budget zooms that Pentax made. In the 55-200 range it is better than the DA50-200. For its price it is a good lens. Wont replace it until I go for the DA* zoom. But I'm more likely to complement it with a fast long prime eventually. Some day when I'll have the money.
12-22-2010, 12:26 AM   #15
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If the DA35 is more of a priority, then that's what you should get.

My suggestion was based on the lenses in your signature (no long tele); and a DA35 + DA55-300 already cost $500 so getting 'close' to the 70-200.

Good luck in the decision.
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