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08-19-2012, 08:15 AM   #1
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Sharp tele on a budget?

Hi,

I finally gave in to my urges and got a K-5, Now I'm trying to assemble a set of lenses on a budget, I'd prefer compact FA/F/A-primes but given my restricted budget, price and IQ are the main concerns.

What I have so far:
DA 18-55 3.5-5.6 WR
F 35-70 3.5-4.5
Vivitar 24mm 2.8 (P-KA, good performer, I won't upgrade anytime soon)
Rikenon 50mm 1.7 (This one, but without Ricoh-pin, I'd like a F/FA 1.7/1.4 or a A1.2 but it will do for now)
Petri 135mm 2.8 (P-K, pretty mediocre, in the long run I'll probably replace it with a A135 2.8 or one of the 100mm macros)
Super Cosina 70-210mm 4.5-5.6 (mediocre but usable at F8)
Soligor C/D7 tele converter (P-KA, significantly better than the equivalent crop, at least using any of my lenses)

The most obviously missing lens is a normal prime, that's where I'll spend most of my budget for now (probably on the DA40 Limited).


The over thing I'm really missing is a sharp tele, I'd like to stay below 100/$125, up to 200/$250 for a good AF-Tele. To find one I'd like your help.

For reference, typical prices on german ebay (~/~$):
K 200/4 (50/$65)
M 200/4 (45/$60)
A 70-200/4 (30/$40)
A 70-210/4 (60/$75)
A 200/4 (100/$125)
F 70-210/4-5.6 (70/$90)
F 80-200/4.7-5.6 (40/$50)
F 100-300/4.5-5.6 (65/$80)
FA 70-200/4-5.6 (50/$65)
FA 80-200/4.7-5.6 (40/$50)
FA 100-300/4.5-5.6 (80/$100)
FA 100-300/4.7-5.8 (75/$95)
FA 80-320/4.5-5.6 (100/$125)
Sigma DG 70-300 4.5-5.6 Apo Macro (120/$150)
Tamron 70-300 4-5.6 Di Makro 1:2 (90/$110)


Just looking at the specs, my favourites (and the three most expensive )would be:
1. A200
2. Sigma 70-300
3. FA 80-320

How do those compare and how do the cheaper ones stack up?

I still need to fit a decent tripod/ballhead into my budget, so if you have tips for a cheap/sharp tele, pleaso do share.


-Jan

08-19-2012, 08:26 AM   #2
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Good Telephoto, Inexpensive?

Hello Jan, Welcome to the Forum!
I haven't tried all the lenses on your list, but of the tele zooms I have used, the best combination of quality and price is the FA 100-300mm f/4.7-5.8. Only get the silver version, the all-black one isn't as sharp.
You will find this particular lens on many "Best low-cost tele zoom" or "Best bargain lenses" lists here, and I agree. You already have another frequently-mentioned entry on the 2nd list, the F 35-70mm. The FA zoom is just about as good.
Good Luck!
Ron
08-19-2012, 08:27 AM   #3
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the Zeiss 200mm is also very good
08-19-2012, 08:33 AM   #4
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Of the zooms on the list, the F 70-210 is generally thought to be the best. Resolution-wise, it's very close to the M primes sharing comparable focal length; that is to say, at 210mm, it's reportedly (i.e., from tests run in Modern Photography) just slightly less sharp than the M 200/4. At the wide end it has comparable resolution to the F 35-70, but significantly better IQ (i.e., better contrast, richer colors, much better rendering). Also auto-focuses as well as any non DA AF lens that I've ever used.

Of the primes, the K 200/4 is probably the best, though not necessarily by much. Reputedly a bit sharper than the M 200/4, with lots of character, but also bigger, heavier.

08-19-2012, 08:46 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Boris_Akunin Quote
A 70-200/4 (30/$40)
F 80-200/4.7-5.6 (40/$50)
FA 70-200/4-5.6 (50/$65)
FA 80-200/4.7-5.6 (40/$50)
I would avoid these 4, as they are not very good. There's an A version of the 80-200/4.7-5.6, that's bad too.

I have and like the SMC Pentax-F 70-210mm f4-5.6. There are non-SMC versions, Takumar-F versions and very similar-looking 70-200s, which might be close but not worth the risk. The SMC version is a great performer in a compact package.

I liked the SMC Pentax-F 100-300mm f4.5-5.6 though it is not supposed to be as good as the SMC Pentax-FA 100-300mm f4.7-5.6. The older version is a pretty big lens, though.

I use the SMC Pentax 300mm f4 (K) at 300mm and it's pretty good for the price. Again, a big lens but the modern alternative (DA*) is just as big.
08-19-2012, 10:12 AM   #6
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Since you've got 70mm covered,
the M200/4 would help complete the replacement
of your Super Cosina.

It's quite sharp, and very compact for its focal length.
I posted a couple of samples in my April 1, 2012 review here:
SMC Pentax-M 200mm F4 Reviews - M Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
08-19-2012, 12:05 PM   #7
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Hi Jan,

My recommendations are:

SMC Pentax-F 80-200mm (Do not be fooled by the rating. It is still a good, sharp lens for the price. You can find my review on the link below.)
SMC Pentax-F 80-200mm F4.7-5.6 Reviews - F Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database


Also if you do not mind manual metering the SMC Pentax-M 4/75-150 is a highly recommended lens. Prime picture quality in a zoom. Even cheaper is the Tamron 3.8-4/80-210mm Adaptall lens. If you get it with a simple K mount adapter you can get it around 30-35 GBP. If you want it with the PKA mount the mount costs 3-4 times the lens price.
I have both the Pentax 75-150mm and the Tamron. They are both excellent lenses. Make sure you get the 103A version of the Tamron.

Zsolt
08-19-2012, 12:43 PM   #8
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wow, I didn't expect quite this much feedback, thanks!

I guess, I'll be looking out for the FA 100-300/4.7-5.8 (the silver one) and the F 70-210mm f4-5.6 (this one, right?)

How does the A200/2.8 4 stack up against the M200 and K200? I'd prefer a lens with A-setting, especially if upgrading to an equivalent/better AF-version isn't an option budgetwise.
I guess, I'd take a K200 at a good price to get maximum IQ, but how big is the difference A200<->F70-210?


-Jan


Last edited by Boris_Akunin; 08-19-2012 at 04:33 PM.
08-19-2012, 02:55 PM   #9
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Just throwing another one in the mix: K 45-125 - very sharp at all focal lengths and an interesting intermediate range one touch zoom.

Not small - not light. Overlaps well with your F35-70 with similar rendering.
08-19-2012, 03:51 PM   #10
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What would suit me best is a small set of compact lenses to take everywhere plus a few special-purpose lenses to carry if needed, something like this:

To take everywhere:
24/2.8 - 40/2.8 - (50/1.7, 50/1.4, 50/1.2) - 85/100/135

If needed:
a WA zoom (i.e. the Sigma 10-20/4-5.6) and a tele + TC (replacing the 85/100/135, at least if it's a zoom)

the WA zoom is going to have to wait, a 70-210 could also replace my mediocre 135.

The best candidates I could find for the 85/100/135 slot are:
M85/2 (150/$185)
A100/4 Macro (150/$185)
A135/2.8 (120$150)

So a good ~70-200 zoom can cost more if it delivers good results on the short end.


By the way, my sauce for the german ebay prices: Foto Pentax ebay - a set on Flickr


-Jan
08-19-2012, 03:51 PM   #11
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If compact is an issue the DA50-200mm goes cheap as it's often criticised against the DA55-300...

My copy (which is also WR) of the DA50-200 is plenty sharp and certainly small for a lens of its focal length... I personally think its a cracking bit of kit and am really not sure where the negativity regarding it comes from... Colour saturation and contrast is as good as any lens I own and you can even get some nice bokeh out of it in the right setting...
08-19-2012, 04:05 PM   #12
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Well, WR is certainly a plus, the DA50-200WR sell around 150 on german ebay, but how does it compare to the F70-210/4-5.6?

To stick with primes, I could also go for A100/4 Macro + A200/4 (250/$310) or M85/2 + A200/4 (300/$375), starting with the A200/4.


-Jan
08-19-2012, 04:25 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Boris_Akunin Quote
wow, I didn't expect quite this much feedback, thanks!

I guess, I'll be looking out for the FA 100-300/4.7-5.8 (the silver one) and the F 70-210mm f4-5.6 (this one, right?)
That's the correct one, labeled SMC.

QuoteQuote:
How does the A200/2.8 stack up against the M200 and K200? I'd prefer a lens with A-setting, especially if upgrading to an equivalent/better AF-version isn't an option budgetwise.
I guess, I'd take a K200 at a good price to get maximum IQ, but how big is the difference A200<->F70-210?
The A200/2.8 is one of Pentax's first * lenses, mostly because it has an Extra-low Dispersion element. That should make it better than the K or M. The 70-210 is supposed to have an unadvertised ED element (rumor? fact?) but since the A* is two stops faster, it probably still wins. It's probably out of your budget. You might see an A200/4 macro for even more than the A* - yes, they really sell for that.

QuoteOriginally posted by Boris_Akunin Quote
Well, WR is certainly a plus, the DA50-200WR sell around 150 on german ebay, but how does it compare to the F70-210/4-5.6?
That is actually a good question. The WR version is close to the right size, a lot lighter, same 49mm filter size, and WR. I've never seen a comparison.
08-19-2012, 04:50 PM   #14
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High IQ tele on a budget: Tamron adaptall SP70-210 or SP60-300.
08-19-2012, 05:48 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Boris_Akunin Quote
What would suit me best is a small set of compact lenses to take everywhere plus a few special-purpose lenses to carry if needed, something like this:

To take everywhere:
24/2.8 - 40/2.8 - (50/1.7, 50/1.4, 50/1.2) - 85/100/135

-Jan
The SMC-M 135/3.5 now deserves a spot on your list, or the 120 /150mm Pentax lenses. These things are so small they should be registered as concealed weapons (though my 135/3.5 isn't sharp enough until f/5.6 ). I regret selling the 150mm but still have the SMC-Ms 135 and 200; tiny and talented considering their focal lengths.
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