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03-09-2011, 05:13 PM   #1
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Cheap, good, old MF 300mm zoom or tele... Any recommendations?

Hey all.

I'm looking for a good cheap lens on the used market for under $100. Since I like shooting with manual focus lenses, that's where I'm concentrating my search. Here's what I'm looking for in a lens:

1) Sharpness
2) Good contrast & color
3) "A" setting on aperture ring
4) Decent bokeh
5) Reasonably decent build quality
6) Low CA.

I'm only concerned with the 300mm (or thereabouts) focal length. Could be a prime, or a 100-300 zoom, etc.

I found an old Sigma 75-300 within my price range, but haven't found any info on it. It's the same one mentioned here.

I've seen many old Tamron, Sigma, Tokina, etc. lenses cheap, but would like some info from people who've used one. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Cheers,
Bob :-)

03-09-2011, 09:22 PM   #2
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I think you're going to have to adjust the requirements a lot. One lens that comes close in some ways is the SMC Pentax 300mm f4. I got mine for less than $200 a couple of years ago. This lens or older Takumar versions are the only Pentax/AOC primes that are within 100% of your target price. I think it's
  • sharp
  • great contrast and color
  • no A setting
  • great bokeh
  • great build quality
  • not really low CA

It's also quite usable at f4, great focus ring, integral hood, no tripod mount, 77mm filters. I'm not aware of any competition here.

I liked some qualities of the Tamron 70-300/f4-5.6, and some of the SMC Pentax-F 100-300mm f4.5-5.6. Those might be in your price range. An extensive test is here. There are many lenses I haven't used, though.
03-09-2011, 09:29 PM   #3
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Look for the FA 100-300/4.7-5.8. It's AF with plastic mount and will probably cost a bit more than $100, but it's the best fit for your requirements. Focus ring has enough throw to make MF decent.

Sample output:



You'll be hard pressed to find a better budget tele.
03-09-2011, 10:14 PM   #4
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I'll echo the suggestion of the FA100-300/4.7-5.6, which shouldn't be too much more than US$100. I'm no birder, but I've got my best bird pictures with it. Really nice optics! Ignore the plastic feel -- function trumps form.

Then there's cheap. I got a MF one-touch Promaster Spectrum 7 (Tamron) MC Auto Zoom Macro (1:4) 60-300/4-5.6 in PK-AR mount (Ricoh button, not pin) for US$13. Near focus is around 1.5m; apertures are 4-22+A. Decent if not brilliant, solid build, it meets most of your criteria, and it's cheap. It could join the 18-55 for a 2-lens kit, but my DA18-250 covers most of that, so my 60-300 doesn't see much use now. I guess I keep it around in case I ever run into a disposable-lens situation: sandstorms, riots, etc.

03-09-2011, 11:40 PM   #5
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I have a Vivitar 400mm F/5.6 and a Vivitar 300mm F/5.5 that will be listed for sale tomorrow. The 400mm is TX and the 30mm is T4 mount. The deal includes a TX-pK adapter (no A setting). I can't list them now because I don't have any photo of them.

Check the marketplace tomorrow if you're interested.
03-09-2011, 11:42 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by GibbyTheMole Quote
Hey all.

I'm looking for a good cheap lens on the used market for under $100. Since I like shooting with manual focus lenses, that's where I'm concentrating my search. Here's what I'm looking for in a lens:

1) Sharpness
2) Good contrast & color
3) "A" setting on aperture ring
4) Decent bokeh
5) Reasonably decent build quality
6) Low CA.

I'm only concerned with the 300mm (or thereabouts) focal length. Could be a prime, or a 100-300 zoom, etc.

I found an old Sigma 75-300 within my price range, but haven't found any info on it. It's the same one mentioned here.

I've seen many old Tamron, Sigma, Tokina, etc. lenses cheap, but would like some info from people who've used one. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Cheers,
Bob :-)
Hi Bob:


I've had a bunch of lenses in this general area. The one which delivers the best IQ @ 300mm is the Tamron 60-200 3.8-5.4. If you have a PKA mount, you can buy the lens right now, at our forum, for $50--you will not beat this value. If you buy a PKA adapter it will cost you another $85 or so--a little over your budget, unless you get a deal. BTW, I would not, under any circumstances, by the SMC 300 f4--it is not very good on digital--I bought one in Mint conition, then sold it.

The Tamron 70-300 LD Af isn't too bad @ 300 mm, but nowhere near as good as its MF sibling described above. Here are example shots with the 60-300 23A: 2nd & 3rd one @ 300mm with big crops.







Also, for $90 I bought a 165mm 6 x 7 2,8 lens, hooked it up to a Tamron Tele 2x, for a 330mm f 5.6--great IQ--awesome bokeh, great close focus--lighter than the SMC 300mm f4 setup and so much better in every way, except speed of course. Here are a few shots with it--the last one is a crop:








Last edited by Jewelltrail; 03-09-2011 at 11:49 PM.
03-09-2011, 11:48 PM   #7
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i would look at the SMC (K) 300F4 or SMC or takumar 300mmF4 lenses, they are pretty good
03-09-2011, 11:50 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jewelltrail Quote
If you have a PKA mount, you can buy the lens right now, at our forum, for $50--you will not beat this value. If you buy a PKA adapter it will cost you another $85 or so--a little over your budget, unless you get a deal.
I have a Tamron Adaptall for Ricoh that can be used as an pK mount (not pKA). It has the Ricoh pin but the pin can be easily removed. I'm about to list the adapter for $20 including US shipping.

03-10-2011, 05:39 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by GibbyTheMole Quote
Hey all.

I'm looking for a good cheap lens on the used market for under $100. Since I like shooting with manual focus lenses, that's where I'm concentrating my search. Here's what I'm looking for in a lens:

1) Sharpness
2) Good contrast & color
3) "A" setting on aperture ring
4) Decent bokeh
5) Reasonably decent build quality
6) Low CA.

I'm only concerned with the 300mm (or thereabouts) focal length. Could be a prime, or a 100-300 zoom, etc.

I found an old Sigma 75-300 within my price range, but haven't found any info on it. It's the same one mentioned here.

I've seen many old Tamron, Sigma, Tokina, etc. lenses cheap, but would like some info from people who've used one. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Cheers,
Bob :-)

As noted above you will probably have to revise your estimate as to what you will have to pay for a 300mm that meets all your requirements for under $100. I suspect that lens doesn't exist. Like Lowell, I have the K 300/4, and it meets some of the items on your list but I doubt you will find one under $200.

Tom G
03-10-2011, 07:07 AM   #10
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Original Poster
Thanks for the suggestions, guys.

I was seriously looking at the Tamron on the forum. I might try shooting with "stop down" metering with one of my MF lenses & see how big of a pain it is. If I get along with it ok, I might go ahead & pick it up along with the PK manual adapter 'til I can find a PK-A adapter I can afford.

Barring that, I may look into the Pentax FA 100-300.

Anyone have experience with the Quantaray/Sigma 100-300mm F4.5-6.7 LDO? It's this one:

Quantaray 100-300mm F4.5-6.7 LDO Lens Reviews - Pentax Third-Party Lens Review Database

I've read some mixed reviews on it.

If anyone has any other ideas, gimme a shout.

Bob :-)
03-10-2011, 07:30 AM   #11
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I just got a copy of the fa 100-300 f4.7 for 140$ shipped off of amazon.

some people are really smoking crack though, I see the lens offered anywhere from 100-400$ some places...

lens seems pretty good, it is really "plastic-y" in its build but it gets good reviews--unlike the fa 100-300 f4.6 version in black.

Lens is really light though, which is a bonus.
03-10-2011, 12:57 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jewelltrail Quote
The one which delivers the best IQ @ 300mm is the Tamron 60-200 3.8-5.4.
(jewelltrail is referring to the SP 60-300/3.8-5.4)

I agree with this recommendation. And $50 is a really nice price for it, if it is in good condition. Considering this and the FA:

Tamron:
+ better at MF
+ better build
- can produce PF
- needs adapter for communicating aperture

FA:
- plastic build - on par with DA50-200
- bumpier MF
-+ has AF (+ or - depending on preference)
+ haven't been able to get PF with it yet
+ has KA mount
- plastic mount

They're both sharp enough at 300mm, although the Tamron may be a bit sharper wide open. The modern Tamron 70-300 is behind both in terms of sharpness.
03-10-2011, 04:51 PM   #13
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I have a 'chrome ears series' Soligor 300 5.5 and a Tair 300 4.5.

The Soligor is a bit smaller and lighter than the Tair ( but so is nearly every lens ever made ! ) but the Soligor still isn't light.

Both are good lenses if you have got a Sherpa to carry your equipment, or like me you drive wherever you can.
I'm using the Soligor quite a bit at the moment because I've just scraped some paint of the T2 mount to get catch in focus with this lens which has opened up a whole new world of usability. I'm now getting shots hand held that I could never have got before.

As for the quality of the Soligor lens, I don't think it's bad at all. I like the colour rendition and the sharpness is very acceptable stopped down a bit, and even better on a tripod or monopod.

I haven't used the Tair as much as I'd like yet but I have had a few razor sharp images, with a good tripod and stopping down to mid range.

Both of these lenses were very cheap, neither cost me over 20 ( GBP ) $32 ( US.)

Have a look at my Flickr photostream and over the last few days you'll see some shots from the Soligor. There might be some from the Tair but they're buried deep in the old stuff.
03-10-2011, 05:17 PM   #14
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The Tamron 60-300 Adaptall-2 is a fine lens. I don't find the stop-down metering on my K200D to be a real problem. The lens works well with a PKA adapter, though.
03-10-2011, 05:38 PM   #15
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Original Poster
Yeah, I checked on it & it's been sold, so I guess I missed the boat on that one.. :-(
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