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09-29-2011, 06:44 PM   #1
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Best lense under 1000 for aviation photography.

Need a better zoom lense than I am currently shooting with. Any suggestions?
Thanks

09-29-2011, 06:58 PM   #2
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What are you currently shooting with?
09-29-2011, 07:09 PM   #3
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Also, are you wanting to shoot planes or birds?
09-29-2011, 07:18 PM   #4
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Well first tell us what you are currently using so we know what it has to be "better than" .

Starting with nothing I would say DA 55-300 (350 usd) which excellent in decent light. easy to hand hold at 450grams.

Longer reach? Maybe a used Sigma 50-500 or new 150-500 for around 1000usd.
Again this is for good light as they are f6.7 at the long end. Also the weight is 2kg so not so easy to hand hold.
the older Sigma 120-400 and 170-500 can be had for slightly cheaper, but still heavy and f5.6 max.

For lower light and better IQ maybe a 300 f4 prime but you would be lucky to find an autofocus. F* FA* or DA* 300 for 1000usd.

You could also get an MF prime 200mm 2.5 and couple it to an AFA 1.7x to give you a 340mm fast autofocus f4.
The AFA .1.7 is rare and these days will bite you for an insane 450usd.

An A*300 f4 is under a grand and excellent IQ and only 850grams but manual focus.
The old K300 f4 is cheaper at under 300USD but is a bit more prone to flare and CA if you are photographing planes in flight. Correct able in post I guess though. It's also a bit heavier than the A* version. But 1/3 the price.

That's a start but there plenty more options.

09-29-2011, 09:17 PM   #5
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Sorry about that. I am currrently shooting with the SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8. How about a third party lense? I have had some decent shots with this lense but am ready to upgrade.
09-29-2011, 09:20 PM   #6
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Used DA* 300mm f4 if lucky.

DA* 200mm f2.8 would be awesome too
09-29-2011, 09:37 PM   #7
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What's wrong with your current lens? Are you primarily wanting better quality, or just more reach?

If it's better image quality, then you could consider the Pentax 60-250mm f4, the DA* 300mm f4, the Tamron 70-200mm f2.8, or the impossible-to-find-and-discontinued Sigma 100-300mm f4.

If you're wanting more reach, then the lenses that first come to mind for me are the Sigma 50-500mm, 150-500mm, or 170-500mm.
09-29-2011, 10:02 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ginglesair Quote
Sorry about that. I am currrently shooting with the SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8. How about a third party lense? I have had some decent shots with this lense but am ready to upgrade.
I'm inclined to agree with everything Steve1307 says. While there are some very nice Sigmas and Tamrons that have about the same reach as your 100-300mm, I think they all perform nearly the same as the DA 55-300mm. From what I've read the DA 55-300mm edges out the FA 100-300mm 4.7-5.8 in terms of sharpness, but by no means is it leagues ahead. I have the DA L version of the 55-300mm and it is nice, but I wouldn't tell you to trade in what you have unless you need the extra range at the wide end. Anything Steve1307 mentioned is an upgrade even if you only went by the extended ranges, but IQ-wise they're all respectable performers if you go the reviews.

I'm afraid it's tough to find a good deal on new equipment with this topic. It seems you get very similar lenses in the xxx-300mm range from all the brands for around $300. Anything longer and you're pushing a price tag of around a grand; there's nothing in between, price-wise. Once, I did spy a Sigma 120-400mm on KEH but that got snapped up pretty quickly.

If you do find a lens that sounds right for you I believe you can be put on a list at KEH and they will email you when they have new glass coming in to the store.

09-30-2011, 03:03 PM   #9
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My current lineup: Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 sometimes with either 1.5x or 1.7x AF teleconverter added (the 1.5x makes it a 105-300mm f/4 lens), or Tokina 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6. Both work well, and at some point I'm going to try to figure out which one works better for what I'm doing. I'd guess in most cases the Tamron 70-200 with the 1.5x teleconverter will be the ticket. I also have a Tokina 400mm f/5.6, which I'm thinking would make sense to keep on my second body, since it's performance at 400mm will be better than the zoom at 400mm, and depending on the plane, the airfield, and your position on the flight line, 400mm can come in handy sometimes.
09-30-2011, 05:21 PM   #10
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300mm is not particularly long for birds or single airplanes.

Relatively cheap 500mm and 600mm mirror lenses don't have the IQ, and I'm not good at manually focusing, anyway :-)

I finally went with the Sigma 150-500 as it was significantly cheaper (by $600) than the available version of the Bigma 50-500 and I did not need 50-150mm. I'm happy with it, as long as I don't accidentally shoot hand-held at 1/90th...

But, I only got 11 dollars in change from the $1,000.

I have seen the 170-500 in the marketplace for under $600 on rare occasions. The 120-400 comes up once in a while.
09-30-2011, 06:58 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by nater Quote
My current lineup: Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 sometimes with either 1.5x or 1.7x AF teleconverter added (the 1.5x makes it a 105-300mm f/4 lens),
What 1.5x teleconverter do you use with the Tamron? Does the AF still work with it? How does the image quality hold up?

I've been hoping to find a used Sigma 100-300mm f4, but maybe the Tamron 70-200mm with the 1.5x TC would be a good alternative.
09-30-2011, 08:26 PM   #12
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The Sigma 300mm f4 APO is pretty darn good for the price if you can find it in PK mount, too. It's about half of your budget even with a AF TC.
10-01-2011, 09:14 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ginglesair Quote
Sorry about that. I am currrently shooting with the SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8. How about a third party lense? I have had some decent shots with this lense but am ready to upgrade.
While it's not expensive, the lens that you have is capable of consistently fine results in terms of image quality. In particular, it is surprisingly good at 300mm. I have one that I keep in my bag for occasional use- nothing wrong with it.

Air shows are not very demanding Perhaps you could clarify by defining what you mean by an upgrade when you're probably not going to gain a whole lot, if at all, in terms of image quality at mid qpertures. More sturdy construction? Brighter viewfinder? Broader range? Longer focal length?

My own somewhat cynical perspective is that amateurs are cranking out good shots of planes in flight by the bazillions, so there's no money to be made from it. Hence there is little point in spending a pile of money on a lens for that particular application when you can do a fine job with a cheap lens that you already have. It may be more useful to refine technique than to buy another lens.

On the other hand, if you simply want a more solid lens to use long-term, go for it.
10-01-2011, 09:46 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Edgar_in_Indy Quote
What 1.5x teleconverter do you use with the Tamron? Does the AF still work with it? How does the image quality hold up?

I've been hoping to find a used Sigma 100-300mm f4, but maybe the Tamron 70-200mm with the 1.5x TC would be a good alternative.
I've used the Kenko Pz-AF 1.5x Teleplus SHQ Teleconverter with good results. I also tried out the Promaster Spectrum 7 AF 1.7x with some success, but I did notice the AF system hunting more, so I didn't shoot with it much. I should note that most of my tests/photographs with this combo have been on my K200D, as I only recently bought a K-5. In my brief time with the K-5, it's been an improvement across the board (focusing accuracy, speed, etc.) but I haven't had the chance to take it to any airshows yet.

To give you a sense of how the Tamron 70-200mm AF f/2.8 lens performs with the Kenko 1.5x AF teleconverter, here are some photos from when I went to the 2010 Westfield, MA airshow (it was very overcast that day). First the full frame shots (RAW, imported to Aperture, exposure adjusted since the K200D has a tendency to underexpose, exported to JPEG), followed by a 1:1 pixel crop of a portion of each image:








10-01-2011, 09:49 PM   #15
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I would go for either the Tamron 70-200 if you take other action shots, or the 300mm F4 if you want more reach. See our review on the homepage of the tamron!

Adam
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