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03-02-2013, 06:14 PM   #1
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pro's and con's of different 300mm Pentax lenses?

Curious to get some input from some of those much more experienced in such matters....

If you had to compare the different pentax 300mm offerings how would you rate them overall? I'm toying with dropping some $$$ on a tele - and there are quite a few interesting options out there....
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?

03-02-2013, 07:03 PM   #2
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The DA*300 is a fabulous lens. @stormtech can give you a good comparison of the FA*300 and the DA*300 as he currently has both of them. I have recently upgrade from a DA*300 to a Sigma 300 2.8 for the faster AF and better DOF control (2.8 vs 4.0).
03-02-2013, 07:05 PM   #3
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I have the SMC 300/4 and am not a fan. For $~200 its a good deal but it doesn't handle stray light very well at all. I think my DA-L 55-300 does at least as well at 300 and it has AF.

The M version is only in * and runs about 2.5x what the K model runs (on average). Reports are that it handles stray light MUCH better than the K model and is significantly sharper too.

The A version is in two flavors, both * models, the f4 and the f2.8. Difference in price is staggering with the A*300/2.8 costing $2750 or so (you can get a modern Sigma 300/2.8 for that money and it is backed by a 6 year warranty and has AF) and the A*300/4 running $500 on average. Apples to apples the *f4 model runs about what the M* model goes for - roughly, and is very sharp by reports.

The F version seems to be the best of the bunch from the reviews. It runs $1100-1200, has AF, more modern coatings, has 9 elements in 7 groups (the A has 8 elements in 7 groups), and is a f4.5 with internal focus.

The FA version is also an f4.5 with the same optical formula but is not as well thought of by reviewers and runs a couple hundred less.

The DA*300 is the current version and is back to f4 but has the dreaded SDM (although it apparently has fewer faults reported than the zooms) and is WR (none of the others are). It has 8 elements in 6 groups and runs $1400 new and around $800-1000 used from what I can tell.

If I were to sell my K model and replace it I'd probably go for a solid F model if I could find one. If I were going to spend $2500 on a telephoto it would be the Sigma 300/2.8.
03-02-2013, 07:15 PM   #4
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Well, they pretty well sort out in terms of advancement in coatings and functionality. Personally, I don't think the IQ of the A* 300/4 is on a par with the other A* lenses but it has the advantage of being very compact. I think the DA*300/4 is terrific but you need good light to use it with a TC which is why I lean toward faster options. I'd go for the FA*300/2.8 in a micro-minute if I had the cash and could find one for sale but I'm pretty happy with my Tamron Adaptall 300/2.8.

03-02-2013, 07:25 PM   #5
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The K version and earlier will have the problem discussed here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/217115-whats-a...on-called.html. It isn't always noticeable. The later lenses don't have this (I believe, haven't used one though). The K also could use a tripod mount. Some of the Takumars have a mount. The K stands up pretty well against the $150 Sigma or Tamron zooms if you have a Sherpa to carry it.
03-02-2013, 07:29 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
The K version and earlier will have the problem discussed here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/217115-whats-a...on-called.html. It isn't always noticeable. The later lenses don't have this (I believe, haven't used one though). The K also could use a tripod mount. Some of the Takumars have a mount. The K stands up pretty well against the $150 Sigma or Tamron zooms if you have a Sherpa to carry it.
It is a wee bit on the heavy side. My copy came with a home made (well done too) collar and tripod mount, which makes using it so much easier. Still, it's a beast.
03-02-2013, 07:43 PM   #7
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I have aspirations of upgrading K 300 to DA 300 for :
A) the modern coatings ( K version can suffer from tragic PF )
B) tripod mount
C) AF (my copy of K300 is quite stiff to focus on my Kr )

Value for dollar, I'm not dissatisfied with the K version though, and the Aperture ring means it works on my film bodies.
03-02-2013, 08:24 PM   #8
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I was after a 300 mm f4-5 last year. I researched by DA*300mm f4.5 and FA*300mmm f4.5. Both are well regarded by the PF community

At the end, my decision was in favour of the FA*300mm f4.5 and this was mostly based on three relatively small points:

- Size & weight: the FA*300 is smaller and slightly lighter (almost same size as a DA18-250mm fully extended)
- Price: I could get a FA*300 for about $200 less than the DA*mm

- SDM failure.

I shoot in the wild and carry my lens with me. The small size and absence of SDM tilted the balance for the FA*300mm f4.5.

I have used the FA*300mm for more than 12 months and I am very happy with it. One of my best lens investment.

Hope that the comment and experience will help.


Last edited by hcc; 03-02-2013 at 10:28 PM.
03-03-2013, 12:04 AM   #9
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DA*300
Pro´s: SDM (silent), quick shift, WR, IQ, bokeh, close focus distanse
Con's: SDM (might fail, but it's rare with failure on DA*300), f/4
03-03-2013, 01:02 AM   #10
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+1 to the above. I also have the M300* and while it is an excellent manual focus lens, it cannot close focus like the DA*. The DA* 300 is an excellent butterfly lens because of this.
03-03-2013, 01:05 AM   #11
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Original Poster
thanks for all the replies - goes a long way in confirming what I had interpreted from the various lens reviews
DA*300 and F*300 seem to have the most positive reviews (and I have to admit to favouring the F* just from fear of SDM failure in such an expensive investment)
hopefully I can get one in my price range - but will consider a A* or M* if the price is right.
03-03-2013, 01:21 AM   #12
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The F*300 is one of my crucial lenses. Having the hood built in is nice too. AF is also generally faster than the DA*300, although the DA*300 is not too bad in that respect - one of the faster focusing SDM lenses.

I wouldn't worry much about SDM failure, as that's primarily present in the zooms (fortunately I haven't even had trouble with those so far).

Do be aware that spare parts are next to impossible to get for the F*300 anymore, so double-check the condition if you buy one. But it was my deliberate choice and is a lens I really depend on.


I agree that you should choose between the DA*300 and F*300, and base your decision on factors such as IQ in online images (such as on the PPG), WR, speed of AF, noise of AF, whether 1/3 stop difference in speed matters, built-in hood, and whether the exterior color of the lens matters.
03-03-2013, 01:26 AM   #13
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If you find this Sigma lens, consider it. Not as sharp as a DA* (haven't tried the F* and FA*) but it is much cheaper and it has a very decent image quality.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/userreviews/sigma-300mm-f4-apo.html
03-03-2013, 02:31 PM   #14
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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
03-03-2013, 02:41 PM   #15
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I have a SMC Takumar 300/4 and an F*300. I bought the Takumar new (cost an arm and a leg, then) and persisted with it until I bought the F*300 (secondhand, for something not much less). The Takumar is very good, but suffers a little from CA, whereas the F* is very good, as you'd expect. Both have built-in hoods, which I wish Pentax would revert to, and both have removable tripod mounts. I chose the comparatively rare F* over the FA*, because it is well-built, lighter and has the tripod mount and built-in hood, and they were selling for about the same price at the time. I suspect the paint finish on the F* is more durable, too.
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