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08-02-2011, 04:44 PM - 1 Like   #1
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I need long and want sharp - options?

Please excuse my rambling in advance - sometimes when I write things like this out it helps - plus I truly value everyone's input!

Shooting with a K20D. With what I am shooting now here at home, mostly local wildlife, I find my needs are 300+mm. I've tried a couple longer consumer zooms with some success as follows:

DA 55-300 - love this lens and will never part with it, but I constantly find the need for more than 300mm.

Sigma 170-500 APO 5.6-6.3 - I must have a pretty good copy as I get pretty good results when I shoot it @450mm and F8 or F11. And while on the Sigma subject, I recently bought a brand new 150-500 Sigma thinking this would be the end of my search - it turns out my old 170-500 gave me much sharper images than the 150-500, so that one was returned.

Tamron SP500 55BB - a mirror lens is what it is - I keep it because it intrigues me but not the sharpest and really have to PP a lot for contrast.

That is where I am right now. I have coming in the next couple days a Tokina 80-400 AT-X II to try - will be comparing it to my Sigma over the weekend.

So now I guess is where LBA kicks in - I am looking for the ultimate lens, but need to keep it under $1200 or there about.

I like the reviews I see on the Tamron 80-200 2.8 - everyone says it is tack sharp which is where I want to go, but 200mm is just not enough. Another option is the DA*300 F4 - I've come very close to buying this lens a couple times, but feel I might regret not have an zoom functionality.

Anything else I look at that is 300mm or more, that would give me tack sharp images goes way off the budget scale for me.

Then I come back around to the DA*300 - zoom might not be such an issue since I have the DA 55-300. But....300mm isn't always enough for what I am doing. So the next question is......can I shoot @300mm, and do a 25% crop of the images to give me an image as if shot at 375mm?

Again, I apologize for this rambling - I am trying to get my thoughts together in which way to go next. And also, I want auto focus and auto aperture if I am going to spend this kind of money.

Thanks for any input!

08-02-2011, 05:02 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
I like the reviews I see on the Tamron 80-200 2.8 - everyone says it is tack sharp which is where I want to go, but 200mm is just not enough.
Sharper than that Tammy -> Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 II EX DG APO Macro HSM AF Lens 579109 B&H

Attach to get you more range -> Vivitar 1.4x Teleconverter for Pentax VIV14XP B&H Photo Video

The above will not disappoint...




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08-02-2011, 05:07 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
I like the reviews I see on the Tamron 80-200 2.8 - everyone says it is tack sharp which is where I want to go, but 200mm is just not enough.
Are you talking about the adaptall 80-200/2.8 lens or the modern 70-200/2.8?
08-02-2011, 05:15 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Laurentiu Cristofor Quote
Are you talking about the adaptall 80-200/2.8 lens or the modern 70-200/2.8?
Sorry, I mean the new 70-200 2.8 - the one that is available new.

08-02-2011, 05:16 PM   #5
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Why not a DA*300 plus a Tamron-F AF Tele-Converter? I hear that it has very good IQ.
08-02-2011, 05:24 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
Sorry, I mean the new 70-200 2.8 - the one that is available new.
Well in that case, the Tamron 70-200/2.8 is a very sharp lens; sharper than the Sigma 70-200/2.8 lenses from my experience.

QuoteOriginally posted by foxhead Quote
Why not a DA*300 plus a Tamron-F AF Tele-Converter? I hear that it has very good IQ.
The IQ is very respectable with this combo, just don't expect great AF performance with this combo.
08-02-2011, 05:35 PM   #7
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The DA*300 f4, FA*300mm f4.5 and FA*30mm f2.8 are surpisingly sharp and have superb IQ. Combined with a tele, they may provide you some option.

The FA*300mm f2.8 would be the most suitable to use with a teleconverter IMO. But the DA*300mm f4 and FA*300mm f4.5 are smaller and lighter.

I have a FA*300mm and I am stunned by the IQ and sharpness. A 100% crop is no issue to zoom further into the shot (with a K-7). I considered the other two lenses but opted ultimately to the lightest and smallest lens. (The DA*300mm f4 was recently reviewed by Photozone.de: http://www.photozone.de/pentax/643-pentax300f4 with the K-5, while the FA*300mm f4.5 was reviewed earlier with the K10: http://www.photozone.de/pentax/131-pentax-smc-fa-300mm-f45-ed-if-review--lab-test-report.)

Hope that the comment will help.
08-02-2011, 05:40 PM   #8
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From everyone's suggestions so far, I am listing the options as we go:

Option 1 - Simga or Tammy 70-200 2.8 w/TC
Still gives me only 280mm
$1050

Option 2 - DA*300 w/TC
Gives me 420mm w/1.4 TC
$1300

If there are focus issues with the DA*300 + TC, I am going to stay away from that combination.

I want to do this right once and for all. I've now tried 4 consumer zooms with one more on the way. I don't feel I wasted anything at all since I love the learning experience when trying these lenses out, and I can get most of my money back out of them when I sell them.

08-02-2011, 05:41 PM   #9
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The sigma 50-500mm is sharp, but it's got ugly bokeh. I can still recommend it if you want reach, however.

Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO OS HSM Lens Review

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08-02-2011, 05:45 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
If there are focus issues with the DA*300 + TC, I am going to stay away from that combination.
I don't mean to scare you off from that combo, but I just want you to be aware that it's far from perfect. The Tamron 1.4x Pz-AF TC will allow you to lock focus with the DA*300 via the SDM motor, but it's not very fast to lock and often doesn't lock on the first attempt. Pre-focusing close to the correct focus helps a bit and gives you the best chance of locking on the first attempt, but just don't expect the AF to perform nearly as well at it does without the TC attached.

I've also used the Tamron 70-200/2.8 with the same TC and the results (in terms of AF) are a bit better as it locks more often than not on the first try. Then again, we're talking about adding a TC to a lens that's a conventional screw-driven AF lens that's a full stop faster to start, so that certainly helps.
08-02-2011, 05:48 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
The sigma 50-500mm is sharp, but it's got ugly bokeh. I can still recommend it if you want reach, however.

Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO OS HSM Lens Review
Thanks for the suggestion Adam, but after trying out a brand new Sigma 150-500, I am very disappointed.

When I received it, I ran a bunch of test shots with that lens against my old Sigma 170-500, and I was very surprised with the results. My 170-500 was much sharper at the following:

500mm 6.3 (6.7
500mm 5.6
400mm 6.3 (6.7)
400mm 5.6

I honestly thought when I bought the new 150-500 that it would end my quest for the perfect long lens, but it didn't stand up at all to my old version. Now I am leery to even try the 50-500.
08-02-2011, 05:52 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgaies Quote
I don't mean to scare you off from that combo, but I just want you to be aware that it's far from perfect..
I hear what you are saying, and certainly appreciate the heads up!

Actually, in my feeble mind, I see myself not using a TC at all, hence why I tried the Sigma 150-500.

So this brings another point - lets say I settle with a DA*300 without a TC - do you think I will be able to get a sharp enough image to crop 25%-35% and still have a sharp enough image to print at 11x14?
08-02-2011, 05:56 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
So this brings another point - lets say I settle with a DA*300 without a TC - do you think I will be able to get a sharp enough image to crop 25%-35% and still have a sharp enough image to print at 11x14?
Yes - you would also get a sharp enough image to crop 25-35% with the 70-200 w/ a good teleconverter; there is a ton of misconceptions and false assertions about teleconverters...



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08-02-2011, 06:02 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by joe.penn Quote
Yes - you would also get a sharp enough image to crop 25-35% with the 70-200 w/ a good teleconverter; there is a ton of misconceptions and false assertions about teleconverters...-
OK - I won't discount the use of a TC - especially if it the means to an end of my quest.
08-02-2011, 06:51 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote

When I received it, I ran a bunch of test shots with that lens against my old Sigma 170-500, and I was very surprised with the results.
Me, too. Most people find the opposite to be the case.
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