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08-20-2011, 04:30 PM   #1
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Like everyone else, I need help with my long lens purchase!

Ok. I need a longer lens. Rather, I want a longer lens.

I have become obsessed with the Sigma 100-300 f4. But unless I get lucky, I know I will have a really hard time finding one.

Obviously, I'm interested in the 60-250. Then there is the 55-300. Then there is the Sigma 120-400mm. Then there is the bigma. Then there are the 70-200mm offerings from Sigma and Tamron. Am I missing anything?

Right now, my longer choices are a tamron 90mm Macro and the long end of my Pentax 18-135.

I'm also planning on buying a teleconverter, either a 1.4/1.5 or taking the hit on the pentax 1.7. I don't want a 2x because of the speed loss.

So what do I do? I want to take pictures of all sorts of stuff. My son, birds, and, as I'm a teacher, my students. I want flexibility.

Are there any lens/teleconverters that work especially well together?

I know the primes (DA* 200 and 300) are great options, but I don't think I'll use them as much as I would a zoom.

Thanks for the help forum.

08-20-2011, 04:49 PM   #2
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I've been going through something similar over the past few months, but my obsession has been 400+mm lenses.

In the range you are looking at, don't discount the 55-300 too much. While not the fastest lens, it is still my favorite and the lens that is mounted on my camera most of the time. The zoom range is great for me, and I've produced some outstanding photos with it. I think it is one of the best value lenses in the Pentax line.

Now if you want to talk about f2.8 lenses, that is where I am heading next........
08-20-2011, 04:54 PM   #3
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f/2.8 lenses do provide for excellent shallow DoF control and improved focusing speed (not to mention unique rendering), but are bulkier and more expensive than the highly regarded DA 55-300. I have both the DA 55-300 and a Tarmon 70-200, but because of their differences are used in quite different settings.

Not being specific about what you want a telephoto for lends me to think a consumer lens such as a DA 55-300 should suffice. But that is your call to make if you'd be happy with 300mm and a maximum aperture of f/5.8
08-20-2011, 04:54 PM   #4
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I own a DA*60-250, nice lens, not long enough, I'f I was starting from scratch, Sigma 70-200 2.8 with 2x converter. You can get the non-os version right now for cheap...

08-20-2011, 04:56 PM   #5
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One of the best deals, IMO, is the Tamron 70-200mm F2.8.
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro AF Lens AF001P-700 B&H

Unfortunately, it's gone up to $769 from $699, but it's still a pretty good deal. The IQ is very good and you'll have the flexibility of shooting at F2.8. If you don't want to spend that much, then I'd go with the 55-300mm, but I'd say it would be worth it to go for the tamron.

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08-20-2011, 05:04 PM   #6
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Careful--no lens is ever long/fast/sharp enough. It's a very slippery slope and I'm going down fast. The DA 55-300 is quite good and very versatile: the Sigma 1-300/4 is even better.
08-20-2011, 05:17 PM   #7
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You have a hard choice to make, and you need to provide more info on your budget and what do you want to shoot.

Long lenses are expensive. What is your budget? are you prepared to get a MF lens? There are some excellent second hand lenses and the PF marketplace is great place to find these lenses (and to place a 'Wanted' message).

Your needs will impact your choice. Do you need a fast long lens? In the affirmative, you will need a f2.8 lens but these lenses are heavy and really expansive. Could you use a f4 or f4.5? These lenses are good for outdoor shooting.

I was in a a similar situation to yours about 6 months ago. My longest prime was 90mm and my longest zoom lens was the 18-250mm. I wanted longer and a better IQ at the longer lens. After carefuly consideration, the Bigma's were out of contention because they were too heavy and too expensive. I selected the FA*300mm f4.5 as my prime choice. I placed a 'Wanted' ad on the PF marketplace. Two PF members contacted me and I was able to buy one. I was happy with the deal and I am very, very happy with the FA*300mm f4.5. I can strongly recommend the FA*300mm f4.5 for you needs. The IQ is brilliant, the lens is relatively small and relatively light. A great choice!

In summary, consider more carefully your needs and your budget. Then you can make an informed decision.

Hope that the comment will help.
08-20-2011, 05:36 PM   #8
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If you want something very good and not expensive, Tamron SP Adaptall 60-300
Something good and fun, Tamron 500mm mirror.

08-20-2011, 05:57 PM   #9
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As mentioned, NO LENS IS EVER LONG-FAST-SHARP ENOUGH! And long+fast --> heavy+costly.

I strolled around this afternoon with my Lil'Bigma DG 170-500 which cost me US$1k+ and weighs 1270g / 2.8lbs and has seen maybe 200 shutter clicks since I bought it a couple years ago. My worst+dumbest lens purchase EVAR and I'm stuck with it; and carrying it hurts my once-mighty hands. (Well, I'd been shoveling earlier. But it has terrible zoom-creep too.) I have a couple other huge heavy (but cheaper) lenses that aren't exactly stroll-around items either. What *was* I thinking?

What I actually carry are the (comparatively) little DA18-250 that's with me always; and often an FA100-300 (silver) that's a gem; and almost as often a Sakar 500/8 mirror that's light and sweet; and sometimes a PKA Tamron 60-300 that ain't bad, or sharp-small-cheap M42 200-300-400's.

Yes, the zooms are versatile. Yes, the primes are lightweight. No, none of these are speed demons. I'd rather boost ISO, and shoot ETTR, than look for a faster (and heavier) lens that I can't afford. And then there are the applications: For birds, 400mm is too short; for kids, it's too long, unless they're FAR away. Maybe you need different lenses for different subjects, like the 55-300 for peoples and a 500 mirror for birdies. One size rarely fits all. Good luck!

Last edited by RioRico; 08-20-2011 at 06:09 PM.
08-20-2011, 06:21 PM   #10
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I guess it depends on what sort of compromise you are willing to strike between image quality, portability and ease of use and of course the price.

For example there is a fair bit of difference between the way 55-300 and FA*300/2.8 render even at the same aperture not to mention the fantastic subject/background separation at f2.8 that's not possible with the zoom.

The portability and price differences are obvious.

Once I compared the 55-300 to A*200/2.8 at 200mm where the zoom shines. The old prime resolved a lot more detail in the shadow and the highlights making a richer image. Mind you you needed to zoom in a fair bit to really see it. On a 4x6 print I doubt that there would be any substantial difference in quality.

I would browse the 300+ lens club thread and see what sort of images the different lenses produce.
08-20-2011, 06:52 PM   #11
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Ok so what do you really want?

Maybe an older MF?

I have a 400 /5.6 Vivitar from the early 80s as well as a tamron 200-500f5.6. Add to that a K300/4 with a 1.7x AF TC and I have lots of reach. Some points to note. A 1.4x TC is one stop slower, the 1.7x is 1 1/2 stops slower and a 2x is 2 stops. You really need a lens F4 orfaster for a TC to give AF. One of the most cost effective long reach options is a 300/4 and the AF converter

You can, at about 900 grams for the lens carry I and hand hold it. My tamron zoom at 2.4 kilos is a tripod only lens

If you want more modern get an early sigma 70-200/2.8 and 2x TC. This gives you 400/5.6 and they are sharp. Stay away from the macro version they are soft at 200mm.

Last edited by Lowell Goudge; 08-20-2011 at 07:11 PM.
08-21-2011, 07:18 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dmort Quote
Ok. I need a longer lens. Rather, I want a longer lens.
I think this is a very boring answer but the DA 55-300 should be *fine*. Fast = massive lens that would be a real pain to carry, and honestly, I can't think of many uses of f2.8 at 300mm (dof is crazy thin). It would be useful for a sports photog who needs to feeze action at all costs, but for you, I would not worry. Perhaps a 1.7 teleconverter could be added into the mix (might be expensive...)
08-21-2011, 10:40 AM   #13
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The classic, old-school prime set on FF is 35mm 50mm and 90mm. This is easy to match on APS size cameras. My basic lens set is 21mm, 31mm, 77mm (which is a 105mm equiv telephoto). Most people upgrading from kit lenses would choose the 16mm-50mm and 50-135mm f/2.8 zooms and be happy. (Your budget and shoulder would be happy, also)

The crop-factor means longer telephotos are easy to find, but usually excessive unless you have a specific need. I mean, the 50-135mm is like the FF 70-200mm journalist's friend. Can you give a specific reason why you want to go longer than 200mm equivalent? Birds, wildlife, sports, paparazzi? Other than that, you can almost always zoom with your feet with a 77mm or 135mm.

I have the 50-135mm, but once I bought the 77mm I found I didn't use the 50-135mm very much. I do like shooting birds and wildlife, but 135mm doesn't get me close enough for birds. So, for my defined needs, I researched 300s, and bought the wonderful 300mm F f/4.5, which is almost identical in size to the 50-135mm; pretty damn good for a pro-quality, FF glass.

300mm zoom or prime?

You have several 300mm options, but few choices above that. On Nikon I really liked the 70-300mm as a travel lens, but found that the f/5.6 at the long end struggled in low light. Also, I almost always used it at the ends, either 70 or 300. The solution is a no-brainer: for the same size, pick a pro-quality lens optimized at 300mm. I think you can't go wrong with F300 f/4.5, FA300 f/4.5 or DA300 f/4. They each cost about $1,200, and telephoto lens design is not nearly as compromised as zoom lens design.

I chose the F300 f/4.5 because I wanted the tripod foot, and I have residual hope that Pentax will come out with a FF. I always shoot at f/4.5 and I'm extremely happy with the bokeh of the backgrounds and the sharp, sharp details of the focus point.

What about 300mm f/2.8? The main issue is weight and convenience. If you need it, you need it, and you can't complain about the $3,200 price, because that is what you'd pay on the used marked for Nikon or Canon. Availability is the main issue.
08-21-2011, 11:09 AM   #14

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Well I'v wrote a little test on the DA*60-250 (somewhere down here) and it is a fantastic lens. Short for birding, but that was not my intention. Not fast enough for some sports, but there I thought of the DA*200mm in the waiting time to kill for the coming of Sigma's 120-300mm/f2.8.

I owned a 170-500mm lens and that is a fantastic lens. Only real downside is that for good sharpness on 500mm you need to stop down to f9-f11 and that will lead to having plenty of light to use it.

I'm not a big fan for TC's but maybe if Ricoh would descide to launch a new 1,4x TC then I jump on it.

So depending on your wishes and money to spend I would say that DA*60-250 would be a lens you enjoy a lot. Having 70-200/f2.8 would be great also at a little reduced iamge quality (only for pixelpeepers). Finding a good FA*80-200mm/f2.8 would also be great. Going down the scale of money to spend a DA55-300mm would be a very nice lens.

Looked it up:
08-21-2011, 02:15 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by MetaD Quote
The classic, old-school prime set on FF is 35mm 50mm and 90mm.
The voices in my head are telling me to quibble, and I always listen to my voices, so here goes:

35-50-90 is ONE (and not the most common) 135/FF lens set. For FOV equivalence, they translate on APS-C to around 24-35-58. Probably the more common set, as evidenced by their availability, would have been 28-50-135. These roughly translate for APS-C as about 20-35-90. I'm not saying that either set was/is preferable, just that the latter lenses are rather more common.

Most people upgrading from kit lenses would choose the 16mm-50mm and 50-135mm f/2.8 zooms and be happy.
And many do make such a choice; and I hate that sort of combo, 'cause it means swapping lenses at 50mm. For those of us who shoot a lot between roughly 30-80, that disruption is intolerable. IMHO a 17-70 is a more usable range.

Can you give a specific reason why you want to go longer than 200mm equivalent?
OP said he want to shoot birds and kids. OP also hasn't yet responded to our suggestions, so we're flailing around offering our usual favourites. We have the constrained reality to deal with: There ain't no good long fast light inexpensive zooms! We all have our own solutions to the necessary trade-offs. I wonder which (if any) the OP will jump for?

Last edited by RioRico; 08-21-2011 at 02:21 PM.

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