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11-21-2012, 11:09 AM   #1
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I need 400mm or more cheap.

Hi guys. I am using a Pentax 55-300 DA L and find it quite good as to sharpness but I need more range. I have looked at an older Pentax A400/5.6 prime, a Sigma 170-500 and also a Sigma 120-400. Ideally, the lens would be as sharp or sharper than my 55-300. I can't afford these newer ED prime lenses at 2K or more. Any ideas? What would be the best choice in the lenses I mentioned? I would use the lens for occasional birding where my 55-300 is not long enough. I don't mind using a manual focus lens if needed. Can an older A series prime like the Pentax 400/5.6 be as sharp at 400mm as my 50-300 is at 300 since it has no SLD elements? By the way, I used to have a Tamron 500mm mirror lens but it wasn't sharp enough and had a strange bokeh, I'll forget this one. Thanks for any ideas.

11-21-2012, 11:14 AM   #2
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Long - Cheap - Good...

Pick two.
11-21-2012, 11:43 AM   #3
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Put fast in the equation as well
11-21-2012, 11:46 AM   #4
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I've seen some pretty impressive stuff from a Tamrom 500mm mirror, both the 55B and 55BB versions. I know the bokeh isn't always the most pleasing, but they are both very sharp lenses. Were you using a tripod?

11-21-2012, 11:54 AM   #5
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What are you shooting?

Does it let you set up a tripod, compose and manually focus while it stays in the same spot in bright sunshine? Try your 55-300 on a Pentax Q with a third party adapter for a 250 - 1650 mm solution. See https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-q/173602-reach-q-images.html

Does the object move, such as a bird in flight and you need AF to to track it? Will cost some money if you want sharp results. See https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-clubs/55946-300mm-plus-lens-club-dis...ng-lenses.html
11-21-2012, 12:05 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Long - Cheap - Good...

Pick two.
LOL...that is like a hotrodders axiom too
Well, ours went like:
Cheap
Fast
Reliable
Pick 2

11-21-2012, 12:13 PM   #7
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A few lenses for your consideration. Are they as good as the 55-300? No. But they will get you 400mm or more for very little money.

Cosina (Phoenix, Vivitar, Promaster, Voightlander 100-400mm, f:4.5-6.7, AF Lens Reviews - Cosina Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

Vivitar Series 1 100-500mm F5.6-8 Lens Reviews - Vivitar Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

You should be able to find the Sigma 400mm f5.6 APO for less than $400

Sigma 400mm f5.6 APO MC Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
Sigma APO 400mm f5.6 Tele-Macro AF Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
11-21-2012, 12:37 PM   #8
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I have a Tokina SD 400mm f5.6, manual focus, KA mount, that I like. There's an older RMC version that's not as good, and an AF version that's better. I might shell out for the AF version. My version improved greatly when I figured out the software CA removal thing. It perfectly fits my needs, which are 1) wanting a 400mm prime 2) shots of distant stuff that I'm too lazy to get closer too 3) cheap ($180 in 2006). I think it's a pretty good lens but I don't have anything to compare it to. Construction is excellent and it has a tripod mount. Minimum focus is 13 ft/4m but I've never had problems with that. It's a little sharper than my Tamron 500mm 55BB, better contrast, less vignetting, no donuts.

Sigma has similar 400/5.6 lenses that seem to be more popular than Tokinas but at least one has an element separation problem and I can never remember the one to avoid. The Pentax-A is not that common but I've seen some for prices that I'd pay. Like my Tokina, software fixes for CA will help with many older lenses.

11-21-2012, 02:22 PM   #9
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Hi VE2CJW,

It can help if you mention the camera body that you're using -- it actually can matter. Newer bodies have greater AF sensitivity. If you're shooting a K-5, then I'd consider trying a good 1.4x AF TC with your DA L 55-300. Down to bright overcast conditions, it can AF, but it's really pushing the AF sensitivity -- In any case, you can use MF. It probably won't get cheaper than this. Any previous body will probably not AF with this combo -- K-7 won't -- Kr might, but I've not tried one personally.

If you don't mind big -- you might consider the Tamron SP 200-500 f5.6 Mod 31A or the Tokina 150-500 f5.6 SD. I haven't tried the former but it's pretty highly rated. I picked up a VG-EX example of the latter for $425USD a while back, and though it's a good lens, I haven't used it much since I have other 500mm options that are a lot more convenient to shoot. Another rare one is the Sigma EX 500 f4.5 APO in MF. Kerrick James, the Pentax nature photographer had one of these up on the PF marketplace a while back for $1000.

About the cheapest AF setup you can get would be a 300 f4-4.5 with a Pentax F 1.7x Auto Focusing Adapter. You can probably find a K 300 f4 for under $400, an M* 300/4 for under $500, or an A* 300.4 for under $600. Add the AFA for @ $350, and you're set up with a pretty nice 510mm f6.3 AF at well under 3 lbs, so handholdable with SR and good technique. The 1.7x AFA is a rather unique piece -- some love it, some hate it. YMMV, but personally I love it -- currently have 3 of them . . .

Scott
11-21-2012, 05:02 PM   #10
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I was using a tripod and also live view but the range far too far, so I had to crop. The Tamron is not too bad at 100 feet but not at 300.
11-21-2012, 05:05 PM   #11
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My camera is a K30 and I use a tripod. I was trying to catch big birds that were stationary but at about 300 feet. My lenses are good at 100 feet but not at 300. Theree is no way I can get closer to ghe birds because they are in the river.
11-21-2012, 06:59 PM   #12
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In bird photography, the closer you can get the better.
If cropping from your 500mm mirror was not cutting it, I doubt a cheap telephoto is going to help.
(Been there/done that.)

Before wasting money on sub par lenses, I will say again to consider the option I presented as I think it is a good fit for your application.
See The "reach" of the Q - images
11-21-2012, 08:40 PM   #13
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The 170-500 is pretty good, not as sharp as the 55-300 but not bad. It handles well and focuses quickly. The older pentax long stuff had fierce CA problems.
11-21-2012, 09:04 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the info. I'm going to explore the subject. I have read a lot of reviews and looked at a lot of pictures. Now I just have to make up my mind on how much I want to spend.
11-24-2012, 12:57 AM   #15
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I shoot multiple long, relatively fast options, you can get all these as they do appear from time to time on e-bay,

The longest /fastest I have is a tamron SP 200-500/5.6 with adaptal II PKA adapter. Cost me $350CDN.
I have a K300/4 and the SMC-F 1.7x AF adapter (makes 510/6.9) prices vary for this pairing due to the cost of the AF adaptor
I have a sigma APO 70-200/2.8EX and sigma APO2X EX DG tele converter. This pairing can usually be found for about 800 on eBay but be certain that the lens you get is the version quoted and not later "macro" versions that were softer wide open especially at 200 mm.

All of these can give you quality shots

The tamron 200-500 focuses surprisingly close, but at 2.7 kilos is tripod bound, the other pairings are better for hiking
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