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05-08-2011, 09:44 PM   #1
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Sports & Wildlife Lens Suggestion

Hi. This is my first post, so please be kind! Since reading about the K-5 and some of you're lenses, I'm thinking of switching over from the evil Canikon Corporation. However, while I've got a couple of my potential future lenses figured out (I'm thinking the 15mm F4 and 70mm F2.4), I'm not sure what the best options for the longer lenses are. I do a reasonable amount of outdoor sports and wildlife photography, so this is an important question for me. Is there a general consensus for the best 300mm / 400mm lens under $2,000? My main criteria would be focus speed and sharpness at maximum aperture. Most of my photos would be taken in good light, so F4 or F5.6 would be ok. To go a step further, would anyone be prepared to say how the Pentax/3rd party options would compare to the Canon 300mm F4 IS, or 400mm F5.6? Plus, I don't really know any pentax users, so can't compare the speed and responsiveness of SDM vs non-SDM lenses. Is there a big difference in focus speed in the real world? Lastly, some reviews suggest that the autofocus and tracking abilities of the K-5 leave a bit to be desired. I know that reviewers are always keen to find flaws. So just wondering if this is a real problem? I know there are a few queries here. I'd be grateful for any advice. Thanks

05-08-2011, 10:05 PM   #2
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Pentax has a lot of legacy glass which can compare with canon L lenses, but unfortunately, those lenses are not only hard to find, but also very expensive. We have a lens database here on the site with info on all those lenses: Pentax Reviews - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database (and just about all others as well )

The first lens I'd recommend is the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8, as it's ideal for indoor sports or short-range wildlife. See my in-depth review as well.

Pentax unfortunately doesn't have any lens longer than 300mm, but their DA* 300mm F4 is nice (and relatively cheap!)

If you want longer teles, Sigma comes to the rescue with some solid glass. There's the 120-400mm if you're on a budget, the 120-300mm/2.8 if you're not, and the 500mm F4.5 if you want maximum reach. I had the pleasure of testing it (in the Nikon mount) at B&H this weekend, and I must say, it's very small and surprisingly easy to hold given its reach.

As I said above, do check the lens databases, as we have every Pentax lens listed, and there's also a pretty thorough listing of third-party lenses. The current Pentax lens series are DA, DA* (pro-quality), D FA (macros), DA L (budget zooms), and FA (mostly discontinued).

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05-09-2011, 12:12 AM   #3
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Hi Adam. Thanks for the quick and thorough reply. I've been reading through the articles and posts on this site for the last couple of months. I'd like to say that it is an excellent site. I'd previously seen your review of the 70-200. However, I currently have a lens like that, but find it a bit short. My gut feeling is that the 300mm F4 might be the one for me. Its good to see that you think its a nice lens.
05-09-2011, 05:52 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fresnel Quote
I'm thinking of switching over from the evil Canikon Corporation.
Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Apple, Microsoft...Everyone is just doing business. Nothing particluarly 'evil' about any one of them...not a good reason to switch.

I don't shoot wildlife but sports and wildlife are supposed to be two areas where people say Pentax is lacking. Wildlife for lack of longer lenses and sports for the AF lacking behind Canikon. But this is from reading what others have said rather than any direct knowledge. So take it for what its worth.

05-09-2011, 07:52 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by psychdoc Quote
Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Apple, Microsoft...Everyone is just doing business. Nothing particluarly 'evil' about any one of them...not a good reason to switch.

I don't shoot wildlife but sports and wildlife are supposed to be two areas where people say Pentax is lacking. Wildlife for lack of longer lenses and sports for the AF lacking behind Canikon. But this is from reading what others have said rather than any direct knowledge. So take it for what its worth.
while it is true that pentax does not offer the same overall range of lenses that canon or nikon do, there are lots of ways to get a good wild life lens set up.

It depends on the focal length of course, but as already mentioned here, there is a DA300F4 in production by pentax that is reportidly a very good lens.

you can also get some very good lenses from Sigma, especially zooms, that go out to 500mm.

One last option is to look at legacy lenses.

I took this shot yesterday with an SMC 300F4 and the SMC-F 1.7x AF TC

the lens is 45 years old and the teleconverter is 20 years old (but still in some form of limited production)

any pentax 300F4 in k mount, plus the AF adaptor makes an excellent 500mm option in my opinion. there are even those who use this AF adaptor on the DA300F4

05-10-2011, 06:05 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fresnel Quote
I do a reasonable amount of outdoor sports and wildlife photography, so this is an important question for me. Is there a general consensus for the best 300mm / 400mm lens under $2,000?
Apart from the legacy glass the modern choices are often Sigma based at the long end. The first two listed are likely the closest contender to the Canon F/4 L. Perhaps check out the images and threads on those ones.

Pentax DA* 300mm f/4 -
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 -


Sigma 50-500 f/4.5-6.3 HSM, OS.
Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8. - (Not released as yet)

I think the DA* and 100-300mm Sigma are similar performing and aren't bad lens, Bigma (50-500mm) is a little slow, I tend to shoot it at f/8 exclusively at the long end to ensure sharpest results, as long as you have good light, I'm quite happy with it's performance.

I'm interested in seeing some reviews and images from the soon to be released Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 with the K-5. I'm sure their will be plenty of people who will have some more thoughts on the various options.

I think production of the FA* 600mm has stopped production in Japan, but the price was way over the 2K limit, as will be the Sigma 120-300mm for the time being.
05-10-2011, 09:06 PM   #7
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I only referred to my current camera manufacturer as being "evil" to play along with the "pentax vs everyone else" tone that is present in many threads. My current camera and lenses are great. But, my camera is almost 6 years old and technology has improved enough to make me consider changing. Plus, I like the idea of downsizing. I've got a few big zooms and prime lenses that really stick out. When you're at the park with your children, travelling on holiday, or at a party, I've decided that I really want something a bit less intrusive and light weight. From an outsider's perspective, I feel that Pentax is spot on with their current lens design and philosophy - Compact / High Quality. Plus, Pentax seems to be embracing crop sensor cameras and users. This compares favourably against other manufacturers that continually push full frame cameras and make APS-C users feel like they're inferior. (Besides, I've got a couple of medium format cameras - Mamiya RB67 and Mamiya 6 - for anything of a serious nature).

Anyway, would just like to thank everyone for their suggestions. I've got a few lenses to research further. I've been hearing a bit about the 120-300 f2.8. It's a bit on the pricey side, but it ticks a lot boxes.
05-11-2011, 01:21 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fresnel Quote
Anyway, would just like to thank everyone for their suggestions. I've got a few lenses to research further. I've been hearing a bit about the 120-300 f2.8. It's a bit on the pricey side, but it ticks a lot boxes.
Well I'm waiting for that Sigma aswell. It is expencive but then again it will fit more then one purpose. If there is a descent 1.4x TC then we also have a 168-420mm/f4 as a second long telelens.

05-11-2011, 01:49 AM   #9
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Sigma aaa Bigma as it is often called the 15 - 500 is nice as well...I have the 170 - 500 and it rocks...
05-11-2011, 05:02 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by RonHendriks1966 Quote
Well I'm waiting for that Sigma aswell. It is expencive but then again it will fit more then one purpose. If there is a descent 1.4x TC then we also have a 168-420mm/f4 as a second long telelens.
I have highlighted this because at present, Sigma does not support the KAF2 mount with their TCs. Optically, the Sigma TCs are excellent and I have both the 1.4x and 2x which I use on my 70-200F2.8, and would love to see the 120-300 plus a TC on my camera, but.....
05-11-2011, 05:42 AM   #11
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Although not cheap, the Sigma 500mm/4.5 can still be purchased new.

Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX DG APO Autofocus Lens for Pentax AF 184109
05-11-2011, 07:43 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I have highlighted this because at present, Sigma does not support the KAF2 mount with their TCs. Optically, the Sigma TCs are excellent and I have both the 1.4x and 2x which I use on my 70-200F2.8, and would love to see the 120-300 plus a TC on my camera, but.....
I know, but who knows what the future will bring. Maybe even a Pentax 1,4x TC with SDM (and HSM) support.
05-11-2011, 09:18 AM   #13
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Being the usual antiquarian contrarian, I'll mention my vintage glass: 1) Enna Tele-Ennalyt 240/4.5 (M42, US$27); 2) Chinon-Alpa 300/5.6 (also M42, $27); 3) Vivitar-Komine Tele 200/3.5 (18 iris blades, T2, $53). The shorter faster lenses sometimes sit on TC's, or I'll just crop the images a little. I use CIF with all of them, almost as good as AF, and much cheaper.

Yes, I have the Lil'Bigma 170-500, but it's not exactly unobtrusive, eh? The only unobtrusive long lenses I know of are mirrors. Thus my Sakar 500/8 (US$13), barely longer than a 100-105/2.8, is quite handy in well-lit populated places.

If you have the money for a fast long lens, great! I'm a cheap bastard, so I compensate. If I had to make my living by shooting wildlife and sports for publication, my lens and camera lineup would rather different -- Canon, probably. Canon's dominance here is no accident, no mere product of slick marketing. If you really need the AF and IQ required for critical long-lens work, stick to Canon.
05-11-2011, 09:38 AM   #14
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*cough* Five Star 500mm f8 *cough*
05-11-2011, 05:22 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fresnel Quote
I only referred to my current camera manufacturer as being "evil" to play along with the "pentax vs everyone else" tone that is present in many threads................ Plus, I like the idea of downsizing. I've got a few big zooms and prime lenses that really stick out. When you're at the park with your children, travelling on holiday, or at a party, I've decided that I really want something a bit less intrusive and light weight.........
Re: tone present in many threads.
Oh! I see what you mean.

Re: compact size
For me this is the main attraction of pentax. When someone asks me 'why pentax'; this is pretty much the main reason I give. [I don't use legacy glass so that is no attraction for me; mostly because a lot of the cheaper ones are manual focus].

Best of luck with your search.
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