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07-14-2012, 07:52 PM   #1
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Longer reach needed

All/any advice would be appreciated. I am getting started into DSLR photography (having now purchased a K-5), after having been P&S user (Panasonic Lumix FZ-150) for a while. I am gradually increasing my lens options, but I miss the zoom range of the Lumix (600mm). I currently have the 18-135 WR, DA 55-300 and 31mm f1.8 Pentax lenses. I would like a little more reach, as I like to zoom in for candid photos without being noticed. I am considering either the Sigma 150-500 (around $1000) or a Pentax SMC-F 1.7x AF Teleconverter (around $600). I would appreciate any advice regarding the suitability (or otherwise) of the teleconverter for my existing lenses, or whether the Sigma lens would be a better option, or whether there are any other completely different suggestions Many thanks.

07-15-2012, 01:58 AM   #2
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Like yourself, I came to Pentax from a Panasonic P&S. In my case, I had a Pana FZ20 and I move to Pentax K-7. My longest lens is 300mm and I found that I rarely need more. I have a TC for the occasional long-reach shot, but I found using it very rarely.

You mentioned two options: TC or new len(es).

Any TC will lower your IQ and it should not be your first option. Even myself, I prefer to crop my shots over using the TC.

You are better off to consider another lens IMHO.

Pentax has announced a DA550mm on its road map:
Pentax Lens Roadmap for 2012-2013 - Pentax Camera News & Rumors - PentaxForums.com

It may be worth to consider the 550mm. This is an interesting lens IMO.

The Sigma 50-500mm may be another excellent option if it suits your needs. Do read the in-depth review:
Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO OS HSM - Review - PentaxForums.com

And remember that the lens is heavy. Really heavy....

You might also consider alternatives like the Sigma 150-500mm.

Hope that the suggestions may help.
07-15-2012, 04:02 AM   #3
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I suspect the "600mm" you speak of on your Lumix is probably the "35mm equivalent". If so, you need to understand 300mm on APS-C is the same angle of view as 450mm on full frame. With a bigger sensor and the excellent IQ of the DA55-300 you should be able to crop your shots and at least equal the candid telephoto shots you got from your old format.
07-15-2012, 04:36 AM   #4
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I recently rented the Sigma 50-500 for a trip to Alaska for use on my K-7. I was less impressed with the sharpness than some folks, and I guess my technique is lacking because I was unable to hand-hold the camera steady enough with either the K-7 anti-shake or the lens stabilization. So if you're thinking about candid shots using a huge lens set-up on a tripod...

07-15-2012, 05:39 AM   #5
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The Sigma 150-500mm and/or 50-500mm are both excellent lenses once you learn to shoot at 500mm, but they are heavy and bulky. Your DA 55-300 is already the top of the heap as far as small(er), light, and sharp (at f/8) telephoto zooms go. If you didn't already have one, that's the lens solution I'd recommend! The others are best if you are built like a fireman and/or go birding with a tripod and enough patience to learn long-lens technique.

IMHO, the teleconverters that will work with the DA 55-300 (ie: still autofocus with such a slow lens @300mm, like a Tamron Pz-AF 1.4x) will not give you the quality that just cropping or resizing the digital image will. Sure, it's easier to see what you're shooting and whether it's in focus with a TC, but teleconverters are really only a viable option when used on those giant, heavy "pro" prime lenses that already cost well more than $1000...
07-15-2012, 05:53 AM   #6
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What Sandy said. And those Sigmas are big beasts, even the "small" 170-500 is more than 1.3 kg.

But each to his/her own. If you think you need 500mm I'm not the one to say you don't
07-15-2012, 05:54 AM   #7
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I would rent a sigma before I make this purchase. I think you would be unhappy with the IQ when using a teleconverter, but you have no idea how it would be to try and hand hold a lens of that size.

What size room are you taking candids in, btw? I have the 60-250 and that is plenty of reach for me to zoom in on candids without being noticed at a wedding. If my lens was any bigger I feel that people would notice what I was doing. Don't get me wrong, I would love to own a bigma, but I think of that lens as more of a nature/wildlife lens than a people lens. The only use I think I would really have for a bigma might be at the back of a very large church to zoom in on the hands or at a sporting event where I couldn't move around a whole lot but could use a tripod.
07-15-2012, 11:50 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
I suspect the "600mm" you speak of on your Lumix is probably the "35mm equivalent". If so, you need to understand 300mm on APS-C is the same angle of view as 450mm on full frame. With a bigger sensor and the excellent IQ of the DA55-300 you should be able to crop your shots and at least equal the candid telephoto shots you got from your old format.
Plus one; 600mm is indeed the 35mm equivalent (I did check the specs). 300mm on a Pentax dSLR will give you 450mm (35mm equivalent)

I can not imagine using a 2 kg lens for candid shots. I've tried the 50-500 (and 150-500 is not much lighter) and weight was a deal breaker for my usage; if I ever buy one of those, it will be for use with a tripod.

TC is a better option, I guess, but AF might suffer (as mentioned before) due to widest aperture.

07-16-2012, 02:49 AM   #9
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From what you are used to with the P&S the 55-300 has more got you covered, doesn't cost much and is very light. You can easily crop the shots at 300mm (although you get better IQ at 240-260mm and cropping, so I'd recommend shooting there) to get at least as good and probably better than your 35mm equivalent 600mm on the P&S.

The AFA x1.7 TC is superb, as is the Tamron Pz-AF x1.4, but that doesn't mean they suit every lens. If people say the x1.7 has a major adverse affect on IQ then I'd suggest they've never used one and you can't crop even the DA*300 to an equivalent FoV and expect to get the same IQ. It is my de facto 510mm birding lens when attached to the DA*300 (more that 50% of the time). But you don't don't need this and the 55-300mm doesn't like TCs anyway - take a look at my testing here : https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/139941-lenses-...-x1-4-etc.html

I'm sure the 55-300 will meet 90% of your long lens needs.
07-16-2012, 05:25 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Camjor Quote
All/any advice would be appreciated. I am getting started into DSLR photography (having now purchased a K-5), after having been P&S user (Panasonic Lumix FZ-150) for a while. I am gradually increasing my lens options, but I miss the zoom range of the Lumix (600mm). I currently have the 18-135 WR, DA 55-300 and 31mm f1.8 Pentax lenses. I would like a little more reach, as I like to zoom in for candid photos without being noticed. I am considering either the Sigma 150-500 (around $1000) or a Pentax SMC-F 1.7x AF Teleconverter (around $600). I would appreciate any advice regarding the suitability (or otherwise) of the teleconverter for my existing lenses, or whether the Sigma lens would be a better option, or whether there are any other completely different suggestions Many thanks.
Any 500mm lens handheld will need a lot of practicing, before you can expect sharp results. Using a simple monopod is an viable alternative to using an obtrusive tripod. The monopod was often my option, when I just had bought the 50-500. After a couple of months I started to get sharp images handheld - so you need patience and need to be prepared for some frustration in the beginning.

The Pentax AFA 1.7x and the 55-300 don't go together well. The lens is simply too slow for the AFA. Don't forget, that it was never meant to be used as a tc, it is mainly and adapter to bring AF functionality to MF lenses. The magnification is simply an unavoidable side effect. It works nicely with some lenses and poorly with other. But in all cases, you loose the primary function of the AFA, when you use it with slow lenses.

Ben
07-16-2012, 07:39 AM   #11
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Thanks everyone

Thanks everybody. I think I need to investigate the cropping option a little more closely on my 55-300 lens, and I am going to rent a 150-500 for a few days to try and get a feel for it as well. Once again I am truly appreciative of everyone's willingness to share their experience and expertise, hopefully down the track I will be able to do the same for other newcomers. Proud to be a Pentax user.
07-16-2012, 05:22 PM   #12
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I've owned both the Sigma 170-500mm and the 150-500mm. The 150-500mm was sharper, but the 170-500mm was much easier to handhold. The 150-500mm looks cooler.

The 170-500mm comes up on here and on eBay on a semi-regular basis, and can usually be had for $500-$600, but sometimes less if you're lucky. So it would be a good way to try your hand at a 500mm zoom without spending a stupid amount of money. I found the image quality on the 170-500mm to compare favorably to some of the consumer 300mm zooms. And if you're not comfortable shooting with the 170-500mm, then you definitely won't enjoy the challenge of the 50-500mm or 150-500mm.

If you want to see a full-size sample from my 150-500mm, check out this thread:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/192048-great-5...-shootout.html

Click on the smaller picture to download the original 12 megapixel file.
07-16-2012, 07:53 PM   #13
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QuoteQuote:
And if you're not comfortable shooting with the 170-500mm, then you definitely won't enjoy the challenge of the 50-500mm or 150-500mm.

.
A monopod in any case works wonders. I doubt you will go unnoticed when you are toting a bazooka.

Last edited by SpecialK; 12-19-2012 at 07:11 AM.
12-19-2012, 06:26 AM   #14
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You might want to practice your stalking skills, seriously. I fish flats and do a little hunting. Stalking your pray unoticed to get the optimum placement in order to cast a fly or take a shot is a challenge. Same applies to photografy.
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