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03-03-2013, 02:49 PM   #16
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I can only speak for the FA* 300, which is my favorite lens, but if I were buying one tomorrow, I'd probably go for the DA*. WR, SDM, real Quick Shift focusing, more durable finish, a real tripod foot...

With that said, the old screw drive lenses are a way better deal. Add the $99--brand new--Vivitar 1.4x teleconverter and you can be in the 300mm+ club for under a grand. Otherwise, add $300 for the Tamron Pz-AF SDM teleconverter so it can be used on the DA*...

03-03-2013, 02:59 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by ryan s Quote
Add the $99--brand new--Vivitar 1.4x teleconverter and you can be in the 300mm+ club for under a grand. Otherwise, add $300 for the Tamron Pz-AF SDM teleconverter so it can be used on the DA
Yep, and the Vivitar TC is the same exact TC as the Tamron, manufactured by the manufacturing company for Tamron - the Vivitar even has the power connector riser in the TC for HSM/SDM lenses but it is not powered up, other than one being screw drive the other being HSM/SDM, it is the same exact TC with the same exact glass and coatings...
03-03-2013, 07:12 PM   #18
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I can only share my experience shooting the DA*300 and the F*300/4.5, as I rented the DA a few times and have many shots from it. I also recently purchased the F* which is turning out to be a worthy acquisition.
Comparing shots taken with both lenses, I prefer the sharpness of the F* as it appears to be the better performer of the two. Also, the size difference is dramatic, the F* can fit in a regular padded slot in my sling bag or in an accessory pouch (tripod foot removed) whereas, I need to use my dedicated tele case for the DA300. This matters if I am hiking with a full set of primes, plus my bulky 70-200 zoom. I haven't found any issues with excessive CA from the older F*, so not a big deal that the the coatings are possibly inferior. Also, the built in hood was a nice idea on the F*, which I find convenient. I also appreciate that I can use this lens in the future with my FF bodies...

Pros of the DA include quiet focusing with SDM, better availability, and WR sealing. Between the two, I prefer the F*, but they are both good choices. I cannot remember how many aperture blades the DA has but the FA only has six which makes some boring sun stars, if that matters to you.

Last edited by mikeSF; 03-03-2013 at 07:21 PM.
03-04-2013, 06:15 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by mholford Quote
.....How would you compare F*300 to a*300 to m*300 (and what order would you place them in preference?) - and how much better are they then a standard 300 f4 smc pentax, or 300 f4 super tak?
obviously price is one factor... (looking at a range from $26 to $2000+ here) are the Star lens' worth their weight in gold?
I've owned the F*, the A*, the K (and the DA*) and if I were ranking them in optical performance it would be:
Joint 1st - F* and DA*
2nd place - A*
3rd place - K

Personally I wouldn't choose any manual focus version primarily because of the speed of focusing. I am not good enought to pre-empt the position of most subjects (birds, planes, cars, etc) so my hit rate would be too low. The A* is capable of excellent shots on digital, but my view is that it's not quite as good as the later AF lenses

So between the AF versions (I can't comment on the FA* because I haven't really used one) it's a choice of the F* and DA* - and to be completely honest you won't go far wrong with either of them

There is very little between the F* and DA* in the quality of the shots they can produce, I believe it comes down to a few small factors that may be important to you, these are:
WR - If you are likely to be shooting in the rain then the DA* is a clear winner.
Aperture - that extra third (?) of a stop may be important to you, but either lens is very capable at maximum aperture.
Size - the F* is more compact, important for travel?
Build - i prefer the build of the F* and I like the built-in lens hood (cant lose it).
AF Speed - the DA* should be significantly quicker (SDM) but I've never had a particular problem with either.

I still have my F* 300mm f4.5 and am unlikely to part with it any time soon - It is one of the best looking lenses ever produced by Pentax (IMO) oh yes... and Star lenses are worth their weight in gold, or pixie dust or hens teeth

03-04-2013, 09:36 AM   #20
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Great feed back from everyone. The lens I've been eyeing on fleabay just passed 800 US... and will probably end up outside my budget...
This lens is harder for me to justify as a business expense - I'm not a professional photographer. The rest of my kit I justified because it's letting me do my own product shots etc. for my business, but other then spying on my competitor..... this lens would be much more for personal interest/hobby so my budget is more constrained... I do see an a* out there in more of a reasonable price (<700 US) and lots of older taks etc. sub 300... I will likely buy an older lens and play with it for a bit while saving my $$$ for a Star lens down the road. But I really appreciate all the comments, and I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for a good deal on a "star" tele going forward.
03-04-2013, 09:55 AM   #21

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I have the DA-55-300, A* and DA*. The A* is one of these lenses that you really really want to like, it is very compact, has very nice color and contrast, but it is a bear to get a decent shot out of, at least for me. Not very sharp either. The DA* is a nice lens. It has it's limits, a bit slow acting on the focus, but quiet, and very sharp, enough to shave with. Light and easy to handle, worth the money in my opinion. It is a lens where people will notice how much nicer your photos are getting. The DA55-300 is ok if you have very good light, otherwise you will look for a bridge to toss it off of.
03-04-2013, 12:58 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
For those who complainabout the K300/4 and its weight, it is actually lighter than the DA300/4. While it does suffer from lateral CA and also some longitudinal CA I have found it performs quite well with the 1.7x converter. As for a tripod mount, too many people complainabout this but it only takes a half hour or so to make one with minimum tools
I can attest to the tripod mount being an easy fix. As for weight - did not realize that the DA300 is such a bear.
03-04-2013, 05:13 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
As for weight - did not realize that the DA300 is such a bear.
Actually the da300 is not a bear, the K300 is just a light 300/4

03-05-2013, 01:08 AM   #24
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I've owned the A* 4/300, the FA* 2.8/300 and the DA* 4/300. Of these I decided to keep the DA* as it was without question the best of the bunch. It focuses closer, is a good weight, is weather sealed and has far less CA than any of the other Pentax 300s I've used. I do miss having 2.8 at times, but the general IQ of the DA* won me over.
03-05-2013, 09:03 PM   #25
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I used to own the FA* 300/4.5 -- and wish I still did. It was microscopically less sharp than the Canon L 300/4, which my son has used for years for professional bird photos.

I currently have a P645 300/4 A*. It's pretty brilliantly sharp, even with the matched 1.4 converter. You don't, of course, get auto aperture and metering, but using it in Av or P modes wide open works fine on my K-5 with the Pentax 645 to K adapter. With the old 1.7 AFA Pentax converter it's pretty much neck and neck in image quality with a Canon L 100-400 on a 7D, though of course the autofocus is fairly primitive.

The old K 300/4 isn't worth the time and trouble.

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