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04-16-2012, 10:13 PM   #1
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Need advice for wildlife lens

Hi I am now on the market for a longer lens after selling my kit 200mm and sigma 300mm.
I am wondering what options I have. I only shoot wildlife Birds and reptiles mostly. I would like to keep it below $2000 but I am also intrested in other options for future knowledge.
I was looking at the sigma 150-500 os but it I am not sure as reports seem to be all over the place.

Thanks for the help

04-16-2012, 10:52 PM   #2
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The 50-500mm might be a better choice- see our review here:
Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO OS HSM - Review - PentaxForums.com

I'd also take a look at the user reviews.

A prime might not be just a bad idea either. i.e. the DA* 300mm, or a Tamron 70-200mm + teleconverter.

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04-17-2012, 12:29 AM   #3
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My copy of the 50-500 is good at the 500 end close up but crap from about 15 m onwards. My solution was to get the Sigma 500 and pentax 60-250 which is a killer as far as costs go. It seems lots of pentax users are very happy using the pentax 300 and use a converter to get closer. I don't know how the auto focus works. To get around the limitations of my 50-500 with birds I used a big flash and got some excellent results. I just used everything on manual and full blast with the flash. I was stunned that the Sigma 500 4.5 gave me a bucket load of detail without the flash.

As far as the 50-500 goes if you don't have 7grand it's a great buy, extremely versatile and perfect for your lizards and a lot of habitat photos. The lizards don't look as good with a big blast of flash. Mine really struggled with birds of prey and anything at a distance. (Anyone who says that the 50-500 plus flash is too heavy is a whimp however the setup is a good way of destroying flashes. )
04-17-2012, 12:34 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob from Aus Quote
My copy of the 50-500 is good at the 500 end close up but crap from about 15 m onwards. My solution was to get the Sigma 500 and pentax 60-250 which is a killer as far as costs go. It seems lots of pentax users are very happy using the pentax 300 and use a converter to get closer. I don't know how the auto focus works. To get around the limitations of my 50-500 with birds I used a big flash and got some excellent results. I just used everything on manual and full blast with the flash. I was stunned that the Sigma 500 4.5 gave me a bucket load of detail without the flash.

As far as the 50-500 goes if you don't have 7grand it's a great buy, extremely versatile and perfect for your lizards and a lot of habitat photos. The lizards don't look as good with a big blast of flash. Mine really struggled with birds of prey and anything at a distance. (Anyone who says that the 50-500 plus flash is too heavy is a whimp however the setup is a good way of destroying flashes. )
this might be a little off topic, but does the sigma 500 have any front filter threads? if not, what is the size of the front of the barrel? (or is the hood built in?)

looking at getting one myself when finances finally permit

04-17-2012, 12:45 AM   #5
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No thread for a front filter at all (its a bit terrifying) - I have the metal lens hood fixed to the front all the time. The front lens is 110mm. I purchased a camera bag specifically to just hold the 500 with the K5 body. The new Sigma 500 is suppose to have had the optics reworked and works brilliantly on a K5. With no moving external parts I have no more problems hand holding the lens than I did with the 50-500 zoomed out. The metal hand grip is really generous and I have heard it does not ballance on agimble as well as other large primes.
04-17-2012, 01:27 AM   #6
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I have the older Sigma 50-500 EX DG and I can vouch for it's quality.

It won't necessarily blow your socks off - although I think in the 150-300 range it's extremely good - but its decent even at 500mm. It's a great wildlife lens becase you can show both the environment in which the subject is located at 50mm and get in remarkably close at 500mm.

It suffers from being slow to focus and slow optically but build is great and I don't think you'll find a better value for money lens that can get you to 500mm.

If you don't need the lens' trump card of flexibility then I think a prime would be the quality way to go.
04-17-2012, 01:41 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob from Aus Quote
No thread for a front filter at all (its a bit terrifying) - I have the metal lens hood fixed to the front all the time. The front lens is 110mm. I purchased a camera bag specifically to just hold the 500 with the K5 body. The new Sigma 500 is suppose to have had the optics reworked and works brilliantly on a K5. With no moving external parts I have no more problems hand holding the lens than I did with the 50-500 zoomed out. The metal hand grip is really generous and I have heard it does not ballance on agimble as well as other large primes.
Cheers mate, appreciate the experience you have posted on this mighty fine lens
04-17-2012, 04:09 AM   #8
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I owned a Sigma 150-500 APO OS HSM before moving up to the Sigma 500mm 4.5. I used the 150-500 almost entirely at the long end for birds. I found it performed well from 300-420mm stopped down a bit. http://i1093.photobucket.com/albums/i436/oeriies/ducks%20and%20birds/redtailedallbirdIII.jpg.
It was soft at 500mm but still produced usable images with a bit of work in PP, e.g. http://i1093.photobucket.com/albums/i436/oeriies/ducks%20and%20birds/myrtlew...octcloseup.jpg

I prefer the DA* 300mm to the Sigma 150-500 as a walk around birding lens. It is light enough to carry comfortably, unlike the Sigma 150-500, and so sharp that the images can be cropped to the equivalent of 500mm and still be sharper than what the Sigma 150-500 produces at the long end, e.g. http://i1093.photobucket.com/albums/i436/oeriies/ducks%20and%20birds/blackca...aycreekoct.jpg

In my experience the cropped images from the DA* 300mm are of better quality than those produced with the addition of a Tamron 1.4TC to the same lens.

Either of these lens options lose badly (on everything except price) to the superb Sigma 500mm 4.5. I continue to be amazed by the images it produces, e.g.,

http://i1093.photobucket.com/albums/i436/oeriies/ducks%20and%20birds/wildtur...daprilfool.jpg
http://i1093.photobucket.com/albums/i436/oeriies/ducks%20and%20birds/greatbl...arasotafeb.jpg

Another option for you to consider is the Sigma 400mm 5.6 APO Tele-Macro. It is out of production, but occasionally available used for $500-$600. I haven't owned one, but it gets good reviews.

04-17-2012, 07:41 AM   #9
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Thanks guys it seems we don't have much choice. I see Pentax is coming out with a new long range lens 550mm anyone no the price point for it?
I would love to get the Sigma 500mm 4.5 but I cant afford it right now.

so my choices are
- Sigma 150-500
- Sigma 50-500
- Pentax DA 300 with TC

If I went with the DA 300 with TC what would I loose? and what TC would I need to buy to work best on K5
04-17-2012, 10:35 AM   #10
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I am leaning towards the Da300 its sharp and is weather sealing witch would be very use full. Only problem is no one has any in stock here I am in London Ontario.
04-17-2012, 12:26 PM   #11
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If you want to manual focus there are other choices. Tamron 300 2.8 adaptall are pretty good lenses. You csn pick up a good copy with a 140f tc and adapter for $1000-1500. There was an A*300 2.8 here recently for $2k ish. You lose autofocus but these are capable lenses.
04-17-2012, 02:06 PM   #12
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I am going to get the Da300 but would also like a TC what is the best would like one that works with AF.
04-17-2012, 04:07 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob from Aus Quote
My copy of the 50-500 is good at the 500 end close up but crap from about 15 m onwards. My solution was to get the Sigma 500 and pentax 60-250 which is a killer as far as costs go. It seems lots of pentax users are very happy using the pentax 300 and use a converter to get closer. I don't know how the auto focus works. To get around the limitations of my 50-500 with birds I used a big flash and got some excellent results. I just used everything on manual and full blast with the flash. I was stunned that the Sigma 500 4.5 gave me a bucket load of detail without the flash.

As far as the 50-500 goes if you don't have 7grand it's a great buy, extremely versatile and perfect for your lizards and a lot of habitat photos. The lizards don't look as good with a big blast of flash. Mine really struggled with birds of prey and anything at a distance. (Anyone who says that the 50-500 plus flash is too heavy is a whimp however the setup is a good way of destroying flashes. )
The current price on the DA* 300/4 is ~ $1995. This is a great lens and I am glad I have one. However, I wouldn't have it if this was the price. It would by nice to know when that DA 560/5.6 is going to come out.
04-17-2012, 04:09 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by coreyhkh Quote
I am going to get the Da300 but would also like a TC what is the best would like one that works with AF.
Pentax has the rumored DA 1.4x tc listed as coming out in 2013 or later. They have had a working prototype for 6 years. Otherwise, the F 1.7x af is an option on the used market.
04-17-2012, 04:15 PM   #15
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Yeah I am thinking of getting the 150-500mm and then getting the 300DA and I still have my kit 18-55 then down the road I can sell the sigma when something better comes out. I can get the 300 for $1250
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