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01-19-2012, 12:13 PM   #1
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Does it make sense to add a DA* 300mm to my 70-200mm?

The stars are aligning: I have a big round b-day coming up, and I am going to Costa Rica which will have plenty of photo opportunities (landscapes, wildlife, rainforest, etc.). In other words opportunity to feed my LBA!

I am currently using a DA* 16-50 and a Tamron 70-200/2.8, which replaced a 55-300mm. Also have a FA D 100mm WR for macro work.

I was originally planning to go wider and add an UWA to the mix (the ever on-going Sigma 10-20/Tamron 10-24/Pentax 12-24 dilemma discussed to death many times). However, recently I have been getting this notion that I need to go LONGER instead.

I originally got my Tamron as an interim solution until I could afford the 60-250mm, but I absolutely LOVE the IQ of that lens, and I have been using the max F2.8 aperture a lot more than I had expected. I am not sure I could give it up now, even for the 60-250mm. I do have a Tamron-F 1.4x TC, and that with the 70-200mm gives me a 270mm F4. With the TC the IQ is better than my 55-300mm, but not stellar.

So a DA* 300mm looks mighty tempting, and would give me WR in the rainforest and great IQ, but without the flexibility of the zoom. And will there be a substantial gain over my 70-200 w/TC? Also my TC supposedly works with it for a 420mm/5.6. I addition I have the 100mm WR, but how useful is the WR really, if you have to change lenses???

Another option would be to sell my 70-200mm and pick up a 50-135mm plus a 60-250mm for full WR, lots of flexibility, slightly smaller size, but with some loss of IQ especially at the long end, and with some loss of speed.
Maybe I should just go back to my UWA. Choices, choices, choices…

How would YOU spend my birthday money???

PS: Love landscape photography, but also like wild-life and birds, though the latter is something I have only dappled in. I take about as many pictures at the extreme shortend (16mm) as I do at the other (200mm) end (or 300mm when I had my 55-300mm). Those extremes probably make up over 35% of the photos I take

01-19-2012, 01:15 PM   #2
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I'm probably the wrong guy to talk to, since i'm not much of a wildlife guy, prefer more the closer-in city/rural scenes.

But, IMO, i think you should start looking at how to carry and what to carry, so you are comfortable walking around. And after you get it all in a bag, walk a mile with your bag, packed as it would be in CR, and see if it works.

I have the DA-300, and its a wonderful lens, but i rarely carry it or use it, because its 2 lbs and large and less flexible. Its sort of a specialty lens (as i've said, i don't do wildlife :-))

Instead of spending money on another lens, how about buying the Fuji x10 or another compact, and use it for a backup, non-intimidating, city type camera. That way, if either camera dies, you won't be without a means to take pics - just a thought :-) For the weight of another lens, one of these compacts will fit into your luggage just as well and will provide that walkabout capability.
01-19-2012, 01:30 PM   #3
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Are you planning to bring a tripod? Because 420mm 5.6 pretty much demands a tripod unless you really pump the ISO or are in very bright conditions, hardly likely in a rainforest. 300/4, marginal but doable. Related to your point about WR and changing lenses, the TC of course isn't WR either. Doesn't sound like you should give up the 70-200; you like it too much, including its max aperture. If the Tamron + TC is better than the 55-300, it must be rather good. Take those and get a new UWA. Enjoy the trip!
01-19-2012, 01:44 PM   #4
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Will defintely bring a tripod (a 055CX). All going in a Kata D-3N1-30 when I bring everything. I also have a smaller Kata Select-18 holster bag holding just my 70-200 and 16-50. I likely would not bring both the 300 and 70-200 when walking around, so from that perspective I am not really adding any more weight than what I am used to.

It would be nice having a small reserve camera, but I probably would prefer a second body before that. Not high on my list...

01-19-2012, 01:50 PM   #5
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I got my 60-250 with my Christmas money, but I needed to fill a different slot. When I got my 500 sigma I needed to retire my 50-500 sigma which left a big hole.

I am still working out how to get the best out of the lens, but I find the zoom range extremely useful. I have a rapid strap on it and it fits very neatly on my side. I have used my 50-135 in a rainforest last year and it was very useful lens.

So my thought is do you want your new lens exclusively for wildlife then 300mm might be the go
If you want more than wild life get the 60-250
If you intend to eventually have both lenses, I would get the the 60-250 first.

If you have a TC I would leave it at home. I use the crop feature on my software
01-19-2012, 02:11 PM   #6
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Actually Incan see adding it plus the SMC-F 1.7x AF TC. 300 over 200 in not much but 500 over 200 is a whole different game
01-19-2012, 02:31 PM   #7
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The DA*300 is a wonderful lens, add it whether it makes sense or not
You can get good results with just a monopod.

If you use the TC you'll lose the WR ability and in darker areas the AF will suffer.

I was hoping to get to Costa Rica sometime in the near future, I look forward to your shots.

This gentleman (not me, not a Pentax shooter) has a set of bird shots from Costa Rica. Most are using a much longer lens - Birds of Costa Rica - a set on Flickr
01-19-2012, 05:21 PM   #8
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I have had several Pentax 300mm prime varieties over the years and a zoom to 200mm of some sort at the same time. Currently I have the DA 300 4 and a Tamron SP 80-200 2.8 (30A).
The prime is optimized at 300m while the zoom is optimized roughly in the middle of its zoom range (same for almost all zooms). With the 300's, I have always owned a TC (now a 1.7x AF). The only telephotos I have had without TC's are 400 and 500mm primes.

So, in the end, I would highly recommend that DA 300 with a good TC to go with it. It will complement your zoom nicely.

01-19-2012, 06:28 PM   #9
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buy a 1.4x, 1.5x, or 1.7x TC.
If you found out not enough, then you buy the DA*300.
You will get 450mm focal length.
01-19-2012, 09:16 PM   #10
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First thing I would do if I was you would be to buy a back-up camera, I couldn't even contemplate going on a trip like that where it seems photography is going to be a major facet of your time, without one. Even a used Kx would be a great camera to have in an emergency (and save lens changes if you bring both along when out in the field) and would cost you nothing at all relative to what it will have cost you of you have a camera issue (loss, damage, theft, fault) with your K5.

Once you have covered the above I'd consider whether you actually need the length. In a jungle maybe not so much but in a rain-forest probably yes because that canopy is so high and the 70-200 is just going to be too short. I have the *300 and both the Tamron x1.4 (420mm) and Pentax AFA x1.7 (510mm) and although this makes the min f-stop slower, this is easily covered with the K5 and your tripod, they offer minimal lose of IQ.

My testing with the K5 / 300 / x1.7 and x1.4 is here :
01-19-2012, 09:34 PM   #11
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DA* 300/4 is a great lens. Add a AF 1.7x & monopod and you've got a very good system.
01-20-2012, 07:36 AM   #12
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frogfish is right, but where do you draw the line lens vs body.

I don't suffer from lack of back ups because I never trade up, so my old body becomes back up. Works very well that way.

Even if I didn't have a second body I would consider taking a P&S just in case.

Edit note, the other thing a second body lets you do, is switch quickly from extreme tele to something else. I find when I am out with a 400/500mm lens on one body (especially with my 200-500/5.6 being tripod bound, a lighter shorter lens option on a second body is a bonus, because usually things are happening all around and a short tele option is very useful
01-20-2012, 08:05 AM   #13
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I'll reiterate my contrarian view that adding an UWA will be a more significant addition than a 300/4. The 300 will gain you either some IQ over the Tamron + TC, or some reach (slow) when coupled with the TC, but it won't be a transformative step. You'll still find yourself wishing for more reach and/or speed, when the subject is distant wildlife. Whereas going wider than your current 16-50 really does get you something you don't currently have, other than by stitching together shots. Or, as suggested by others, a backup body. Or something small -- pocketable.

If the trip were primarily about wildlife photography, then getting longer glass would be the obvious choice. But from your description you are currently more a dabbler at wildlife photography (same as me, BTW) and are looking for a generalist kit for this trip. Think about your priorities for the trip as a whole, not just the photographic side of it, and see if that makes the choice clearer.
01-20-2012, 08:08 AM   #14
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I'm happy with the DA* 60-250. We then carry the DA 10-17, The Tamron 90 macro, The Pentax 1.7 converter, and either a kit lens or the DA 18-135 and a 50 1.7 and DA 21 Ltd... But that's for two people.

When I go on my own DA 18-135, Pentax 1.7 and DA*60-250. Not light, but, watertight on a K20D and the DA 18-135 is actually better than the kit lens in the 18-60 range. You don't want to go over 70 with it unless it's on the camera and there's a shot you might miss. I'm still looking for a 35 macro to go with this setup.

One taken a few minutes ago with the DA* 60-250 and Pentax 1.7 converter. No cropping.

01-20-2012, 08:33 AM   #15
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If I go through the OP's initial post again, I guess the question really is, aside from one or two shots in a forrest, where the extra width of a 10mm-12mm or a fisheye can add a dramatic effect, most landscapes are shot with focal lengths starting at 16mm or longer.

It should also be noted that regardless of focal length, in a rain forrest, unless you have a flash, it is really dark and telephoto shots are somewhat limited. Birds and wildlife are much more photographable away from the forrest, in grasslands and villages, for example. Unless you are in a built up area, I am not sure an ultra wide is a necessity.

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