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03-04-2011, 09:53 AM   #1
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Yes, another help me decide a new lens post



LBA is setting in nicely, especially now that I have the K-5. I'm looking to add another lens, budget is about $800 max.

I'm looking at the Tamron 70-200 2.8, Tamron 90 Macro and the Pentax 18-135 WR.

What I want it for: Really looking for a great lens for portraits, taking pictures of my son (due in June), and for birding/BIF/wildlife shots.

I already have 10-20 covered, and 17-50 2.8. The DA 55-300 is a great lens but seems limited for truly great shots (the K-5 might help now with indoor and wildlife at higher ISO). I've been disappointed with it for birding.

The 18-135 I like just because its WR (good for hiking but not critical) and so light.
The 70-200 blows me away as far as IQ, but its large and heavy. And I wonder if the 70-200 range is really ideal for pics of kids (I tend to use the 17-50 more). Using a 2X TC with this would be great for birds too.
The Tammy 90 also has great IQ, and macro interests me but I might not have time to get into macro with a kid on the way

So, what would you do?

03-04-2011, 10:01 AM   #2
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We all love these threads don't we ?!

Kids - lots of great lenses for that. Either Sigma 50-150/2.8 (special deal on at the moment at Ffordes in the UK - ca US$600 and don't forget less VAT plus postage if outside Europe) or the 50-135 are great for that.

Agree with your comments on the 55-300, excellent lense in it's own right but it's definitely not a birding lense, too slow and shots don't crop well due to low resolution. I've just bought a DA*300 to replace it and it's worth every penny - massive difference in quality / IQ.

A 70-200 is not enough length for birding, thogh if you add the Tamron x1.4 it's getting there and becomes a 98-320/4 ... but anything with the x1.4 really slows down the AF, though IQ remains excellent. Maybe the Sigma 120-400 if you're on a budget, not a fast lense but very nice incremental IQ jump on the 55-300.
03-04-2011, 10:13 AM   #3
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Thanks Frogfish. I don't want a strict birding lens. I mostly want excellent IQ for pictures of kids/family, with the added benefit of additional reach. Seems like the 70-200 is on par with the 50-135, and no SDM issues. I'm just worried that the 70-200 range is too much for people pics, and I wouldn't use it as much as I think due to that and the weight/size (does it fit in a normal bag?).

Then again, the 18-135 seems like such a great walkaround/vacation lens....
03-04-2011, 10:16 AM   #4
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If you're willing to go with Used lenses, you may be able to squeeze the 90 and 70-200 in your budget.



03-04-2011, 10:23 AM   #5
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Putting a TC with the 70-200 will significantly slow down AF performance by nature of the TC function as mentioned, so may not prove to be the best upgrade to the 55-300, which isn't as poor as Frogfish has said it is for birding. Technique matters much (even with faster and longer lenses) and you can certainly get some good results from the 55-300, for example:



And here's a 100% crop from a 55-300 capture:

...tack sharp if you ask me. It's important though to maintain a swift shutter speed (like 1/500 or faster) to ensure no motion blur.

I also have the 70-200 and it serves more of a low light indoor concert/thin DoF portrait purpose than a BIF one, nevertheless it could do reasonably well at full stretch with a TC if you're able to put up with the slower AF. What may be better is a longer lens like the 120-400 as suggested or even longer such as Sigma's 50-500 or other 400 or 500mm primes. AF versions of such lenses though run into the thousands of dollars.

Then as for kids, I'd go with the focal length you're most comfortable shooting with - if you get all you need from the 17-50, stick with that. If you want a telezoom for that purpose, both the 70-200 and Pentax's 50-135 are well suited. I tend to use more primes now and zoom with my feet, so the FA 43 and 77 limiteds are my go to lenses in that regard.

Last edited by Ash; 03-04-2011 at 11:26 AM.
03-04-2011, 10:45 AM   #6
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There is no better move regarding macro then DFA100/2,8WR.
And now for birding. Are you interested in sitting birds or flying birds? I have the Bigma and it's lame for BIF. Too heavy, difficult to keep tracking the subject. It's great for sitting birds.
For BIF I use Sigma 180/3.5. Fast AF (with K-5) and I can crop easily as it is super sharp. Only DA*300 would be better IMHO.
03-04-2011, 11:14 AM   #7
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the problem I see is the lenses youo have posted are not suited for the uses you have posted.

I shoot wild life and birds, and can honestly say that unless you are very very good at stalking and waiting, anything short of 400mm is going to be a disappointment for wild life.

I use two principle setups for birding and most formum members have probably seen my two combos and the results, they are:

- the SIGMA APO 70-200F2.8 EX (non DG non Macro) plus sigma 1.4x and 2x TCs. I think most agree this is the sharpest of all sigmas (althoug the new HSM is reportidly pretty good too), and the dedicated sigma TCs work very very well with this lens.
- the pentax SMC 300F4 (K300) and SMC-F 1.7x AF TC. This combo gives 510mmF6.8 or something like that, but is still fast enough to hand hold (with SR and high ISO of the K7) or used with flash on any camera.

althouogh a 70-200 is a good lens it will come up short on it's own (pun intended)

but the 70-200 is too long for most portrait work, unless you are really talking outdoor candid shots.

For portraits, I would want something int he 50-100mm range, but MUCH faster so I have the option of playing with razer thin DOF.

the 18-135 is the right focal length but too slow, the macro is at the upper limit of focal length and may work for some shots, but again a little slow for some true portrait work.

one thing that may work, however, considering you are really talking about "capturing moments" with a new born, is to combine the 18-135 with flash. It is just a hunch, but I suspect that capturing the moment is much more important than true artistic portraits of your pending family addition, although I am sure there will be some of those too.

This leaves you in an unfortunate spot, you need to get more than one lens. Long live LBA
03-04-2011, 12:07 PM   #8
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Thank you all. I don't really want to use a flash, especially with a newborn.

So looks like I can continue to use the 17-50 2.8 for portraits, along with my 50 1.4. What would you recommend for the 50-100 range? Maybe the Tamron 90 2.8 Macro and 18-135.. or some primes.

And Ash, beautiful shots. I guess I need to work on my holding technique with the 55-300 :-)

03-04-2011, 01:59 PM   #9
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You already have an autofocus fast fifty? Then you need no more. It should serve you well for just about any kind of portraiture. I got decent results with my FA 50/1.4 until I decided to go down the FA ltd route, and you should also...

FA 50/1.4 examples:



03-04-2011, 06:24 PM - 1 Like   #10
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My 2:

I have the Tamron 70-200 (the new one) And I gotta say, the glass is absolutely fantastic. It's screw drive, so no worries about SDM. It has it's flaws, but you can use it for just about anything outside. Indoors you will have problems getting large/close subjects in frame, but you have a 50mm f1.4 for that anyway. It can do head/shoulders for a single subject in all but the smallest rooms. 1:3.1 macro will fill your frame with a 3 inch wide subject, and because the glass is so good you can crop to your hearts content for macro shots. I doubt you'll miss the 50-70mm range.

Here's an example of Macro:

(click image for full size)

and Birding (you DO have to get pretty close to em):

(click image for full size)

And the rest if you need more examples: Flickr: RXrenesis8's stuff tagged with tamronspaf70200mmf28dildifmacro


The biggest flaws I experience are a lack of quick shift focusing and the fact that it does not have a macro focus limiting switch.
03-04-2011, 07:15 PM   #11
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I love my Tamron 90 macro. Although I agree with Ash, for kids my 50mm 1.7 is what I use most of the time. I'm guessing a fast 31 or 35mm prime lens would be great as well. Isn't that a "standard" lens this days. I have the DA 18-135 but it's an out door lens, not fast enough for existing light in doors. I returned two Sigma 120-400s. the image quality is just not good enough from 300 to 400mm. I badly wanted this lens to work for me but in the end I did an over the counter exchange for a DA*60-250. I don't have experience with the 50-500, but again based on my experience with the 120-400, it's longer and you'll need the length for birds. The 120 - 400 is great for chickadees 3 feet away. Both copies I had couldn't focus clearly at a distance, either that or they just have unacceptable resolution at a distance. All I really know is I couldn't make them work, in situations where my Sigma 70-300 and Pentax 18-135 gave me acceptable images. ( I left the camera on the tripod, changed the lenses and shot at the same focal length and f stop.

But since you're considering it, my Tamron 90 macro makes me happier than my DA 18-135 and spends more time on the camera, and it's rated higher than the Pentax 100 macro on photozone if you don't need the WR. I got mine used for $250 in mint condition. The DA 18-135 is a very nice lens. Just looking at what you have the Tamron 90 would be a nice fit. You seem to have everythnig from 10-300 pretty well covered. If you're looking for exceptional images, I'd be looking at lenses with a * after the DA or a limited. The DA 18-135 is a step above the Kit lenses but a step below the Stars and limiteds, at least that's my understanding.
03-04-2011, 07:39 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by RXrenesis8 Quote
My 2:

I have the Tamron 70-200 (the new one) And I gotta say, the glass is absolutely fantastic. It's screw drive, so no worries about SDM. It has it's flaws, but you can use it for just about anything outside. Indoors you will have problems getting large/close subjects in frame, but you have a 50mm f1.4 for that anyway. It can do head/shoulders for a single subject in all but the smallest rooms. 1:3.1 macro will fill your frame with a 3 inch wide subject, and because the glass is so good you can crop to your hearts content for macro shots. I doubt you'll miss the 50-70mm range.

Here's an example of Macro:

(click image for full size)

and Birding (you DO have to get pretty close to em):

(click image for full size)

And the rest if you need more examples: Flickr: RXrenesis8's stuff tagged with tamronspaf70200mmf28dildifmacro


The biggest flaws I experience are a lack of quick shift focusing and the fact that it does not have a macro focus limiting switch.

I gotta say, that's pretty impressive. Looks better than samples I have seen from the new Sigma and at a little more than half the price! Hmmm.....
03-05-2011, 06:24 AM   #13
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Back from Tanzanian Safari (many pics) on dreview gives a good idea what can be achieved with the DA55-300 in relation to wildlife.
03-05-2011, 07:44 AM   #14
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The 55-300mm is perfectly fine for birding...


Original size


Original size

And it's totally not cheating if the birds are in a tree just above your head
03-05-2011, 09:20 PM   #15
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I agree. I've taken the 55-300 on safari and in the backyard or on a hike, its great. But bring it into the woods, and its just too slow. Or around sunset (when lots of birds are out). I'm going to try these scenarios again with the K-5's awesome high ISO, and see if I can get acceptable shots that way.
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