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05-14-2013, 03:36 AM   #1
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Long lens dilemma. Help please

I’ve convinced myself I need a long lens. Don’t try and talk me out of it. I do. Really.



It’s intended use would be birding and wildlife, sport (amateur and school, surfers on holiday, etc), my grandson playing and general snooping



I’ve got a 55-300 DA and although I’ve had some great results with it, it’s not my favourite. I just don’t like it that much.



I’ve been saving up my pennies and intend buying a new 300mm DA* this summer. However, as the time is nearing I now have some doubt creeping in. Am I making the right choice? Should I be considering a Sigma 50-500mm f4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM or even the Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM ?



The 50-500mm is the same price and the 150-500mm is 300 cheaper.



I’ve got 50 – 200mm covered in numerous primes so I’m only interested in the long end.



I would welcome the views of anyone who has direct experience of any two or more of these lenses; all aspects i.e



Is the IQ of the 300 DA* that much better than the others, including crops

How would the 300 DA* with a decent tele-converter compare

AF of the various lenses.



Basically,try and convince me that the 300 DA* is the wrong decision


Last edited by JimD; 05-14-2013 at 05:50 AM.
05-14-2013, 03:43 AM   #2
Ash
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The zooms are naturally slower. They will make it hard to get good results other than in optimal lighting conditions. Having an f/4 capability is handy at 300mm. Longer, and at least f/5.6 becomes necessary, and those lenses in AF are hard to find. The 250-600 comes to mind.
05-14-2013, 05:07 AM   #3
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You'll get a certain degree of cognitive bias from me and maybe anyone else who has a DA*300, or is a prime lens snob.

I have no experience with the 150-500 and I've hand held and shot a couple of frames with the 50-500 OS version.
The 50-500 especially the OS version is generally accepted as being better than the 150-500.

This is where the Choice supportive bias comes in. I had pretty much decided on the DA*300 so when i decided to compare it to the heavier 50-500, I "remember" quickly deciding that it was WAY too heavy for me. (I'm sure some people find it perfectly easy to hand hold).
The other thing I didn't really like about the 50-500 is that it is slow, as in it's at max aperture f6.3 from about 210mm mark to 500mm. When you are shooting these long focal lengths you need all the shutter speed you can get. I had a K-7 at the time and I didn't want to bump the ISO up an extra 1 1/2 stops to the world of grainy noise. The 150-500 top out f6.3 from about 290mm up. Both are slower than your DA55-300.

After buying the DA*300 i marvelled at how fast and sharp it is as part of my post purchase rationalization overlooking the fact that I couldn't zoom out to anything wider or have anything longer than 300mm (a length which I already had covered with the 55-300).

This led me to searching and then paying a highly inflated price for the rare 1.7x-AF Adapter on ebay.
The 1.7x AFA works really well with the DA*300 (there's that post purchase rationalization again). The DA*300's SDM system is disabled and the short throw of the AF adapter mean the focus is attained very quickly. The only trade off is that you have to pre-focus generally in the range that the AF adapter will cover.

If you have a K-5II or IIs (and maybe the K-30) these have an expanded AF tracking area in the AF-C mode with the DA lenses. This doesn't work with the AFA attached and you are limited to the centre focus point so you have to keep the moving subject in the dead centre or the AF goes "zip-zip" through the range an you've lost it.

There are other TC's like the Tamron 1.4x PZ-AF and the Kenko Pz AF 1.5x Teleplus SHQ.
These use the SDM in the lens itself to focus. I have read that these do mis focus sometimes or require an addtional press of the shutter or AF to attain focus. Have a look at the reviews. These will get you 420 or 450mm, The AFA 1.7x gives you 510mm.

Now I have a "gap" of top quality glass between 100 and 300mm. The DA*200 and DA*60-250 have both been considered at one stage or another but i have not succumbed to LBA.
(Actually scratch that.. i did just buy an FA31 yesterday ) I'm sure there's a cognitive disorder term for that too.

I've got no complaints with my DA*300 except sometimes the bokeh behind the subject in backlit or contrasty situations like this example -link- could be a bit smoother but I couldn't tell you another equivalent lens that could be better in that regard.


As a post script the B&H newsletter I got today shows Canon released a 200-400 f4 L lens which has a built in 1.4x converter so it can be switched instantly to a 280-560mm f5.6. All you'd need is a used 7D to serve as a rear lens cap. Oh and it's $11,800.
05-14-2013, 05:53 AM   #4
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I'll only add a couple remarks since Steve did such a fine job above.

First thing that pops out to me is your not liking the DA 55-300 - please explain as it might help us with recommendations. While the build quality and speed aren't up to that of the DA*300, I find I can get very sharp images @300mm if stopped down a little and using good long lens technique. I ask this because - are you sure you need a DA*300?

I currently have the Sigma 50-500 (newest version), plus the FA*300 4.5 and had the DA*300 for a couple months recently.

Hand holding - I simply can not hand hold the Sigma while it is quite easy with the DA*300.
Speed (aperture) - The Sigma takes some work. It needs to be stopped down a little for good results and also needs good light. I can shoot the DA*300 wide open all day if I want and works much better in low light.
Cropping - I've found that with a very good image from the DA*300, I can crop it to equal that of the Sigma @500mm. But....I like to print my images large (usually 11x17) so I am wary of doing any heavy cropping.

I have yet to test the Sigma @300mm for a direct comparison to the DA*300 - can't do that now as I have sold the DA*300 in favor of keeping my old standby FA*300 4.5.

A lot depends on what you are shooting and your shooting style. When I had both, if I had to make a choice between the Sigma and the DA*300 and sell one, the Sigma would be sold.

05-14-2013, 06:11 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by JimD Quote
Basically,try and convince me that the 300 DA* is the wrong decision
No, I won't. If AF is important to you and you don't have money to burn and you don't want schlep a huge unwieldy rig, the DA is your best bet--it's a very fine lens.
05-14-2013, 07:31 AM   #6
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I know I have gotten great results with my 150-500, and it's going to be the cheaper one! I would get it.
05-14-2013, 08:14 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by steve1307 Quote
You'll get a certain degree of cognitive bias from me and maybe anyone else who has a DA*300, or is a prime lens snob.

I have no experience with the 150-500 and I've hand held and shot a couple of frames with the 50-500 OS version.
The 50-500 especially the OS version is generally accepted as being better than the 150-500.

This is where the Choice supportive bias comes in. I had pretty much decided on the DA*300 so when i decided to compare it to the heavier 50-500, I "remember" quickly deciding that it was WAY too heavy for me. (I'm sure some people find it perfectly easy to hand hold).
The other thing I didn't really like about the 50-500 is that it is slow, as in it's at max aperture f6.3 from about 210mm mark to 500mm. When you are shooting these long focal lengths you need all the shutter speed you can get. I had a K-7 at the time and I didn't want to bump the ISO up an extra 1 1/2 stops to the world of grainy noise. The 150-500 top out f6.3 from about 290mm up. Both are slower than your DA55-300.

After buying the DA*300 i marvelled at how fast and sharp it is as part of my post purchase rationalization overlooking the fact that I couldn't zoom out to anything wider or have anything longer than 300mm (a length which I already had covered with the 55-300).

This led me to searching and then paying a highly inflated price for the rare 1.7x-AF Adapter on ebay.
The 1.7x AFA works really well with the DA*300 (there's that post purchase rationalization again). The DA*300's SDM system is disabled and the short throw of the AF adapter mean the focus is attained very quickly. The only trade off is that you have to pre-focus generally in the range that the AF adapter will cover.

If you have a K-5II or IIs (and maybe the K-30) these have an expanded AF tracking area in the AF-C mode with the DA lenses. This doesn't work with the AFA attached and you are limited to the centre focus point so you have to keep the moving subject in the dead centre or the AF goes "zip-zip" through the range an you've lost it.

There are other TC's like the Tamron 1.4x PZ-AF and the Kenko Pz AF 1.5x Teleplus SHQ.
These use the SDM in the lens itself to focus. I have read that these do mis focus sometimes or require an addtional press of the shutter or AF to attain focus. Have a look at the reviews. These will get you 420 or 450mm, The AFA 1.7x gives you 510mm.

Now I have a "gap" of top quality glass between 100 and 300mm. The DA*200 and DA*60-250 have both been considered at one stage or another but i have not succumbed to LBA.
(Actually scratch that.. i did just buy an FA31 yesterday ) I'm sure there's a cognitive disorder term for that too.

I've got no complaints with my DA*300 except sometimes the bokeh behind the subject in backlit or contrasty situations like this example -link- could be a bit smoother but I couldn't tell you another equivalent lens that could be better in that regard.


As a post script the B&H newsletter I got today shows Canon released a 200-400 f4 L lens which has a built in 1.4x converter so it can be switched instantly to a 280-560mm f5.6. All you'd need is a used 7D to serve as a rear lens cap. Oh and it's $11,800.
Steve1307, the first step is admitting that you have a problem. We're delighted that you are able to rationally consider your mental state. The second step is gaily chirping "But it's not REALLY a problem!" and buying more lenses.

But only the really good ones. No problem!
05-14-2013, 08:15 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by JimD Quote
I’ve convinced myself I need a long lens. Don’t try and talk me out of it. I do. Really.



It’s intended use would be birding and wildlife, sport (amateur and school, surfers on holiday, etc), my grandson playing and general snooping



I’ve got a 55-300 DA and although I’ve had some great results with it, it’s not my favourite. I just don’t like it that much.



I’ve been saving up my pennies and intend buying a new 300mm DA* this summer. However, as the time is nearing I now have some doubt creeping in. Am I making the right choice? Should I be considering a Sigma 50-500mm f4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM or even the Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM ?



The 50-500mm is the same price and the 150-500mm is 300 cheaper.



I’ve got 50 – 200mm covered in numerous primes so I’m only interested in the long end.



I would welcome the views of anyone who has direct experience of any two or more of these lenses; all aspects i.e



Is the IQ of the 300 DA* that much better than the others, including crops

How would the 300 DA* with a decent tele-converter compare

AF of the various lenses.



Basically,try and convince me that the 300 DA* is the wrong decision
More details about your needs would help.
What kind of sport are you aiming to cover? Indoor or outdoor? What age group?
And what kind of birds? There is a huge difference between aiming your camera outside your window at a feeder and tracking warblers out in the field.
This is important because sometimes, regardless of the quality, 300mm is not sufficient, and Pentax-based teleconverters are too slow performance wise to be effective for sports and some birds.

M

05-14-2013, 08:21 AM   #9
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First, I've owned 2 Bigmas AND the DA55-300. I now have the Sigma EX 100-300 f4 and my GF has a DAL55-300. It's only the DA*300 for which I have no reference.

I concur the DA55-300 is good, but it's not "wow factor" good. specially when taking pics of furry or feathered things, you know you are missing something when you compare the images to higher end lenses.

With that said, here's what I posted to a similar thread a month or so ago:

"That 500mm mark is tough to get to without spending alot of money.

I've had 2 different versions of the Bigma and sold both becuase at 500mm I found the pictures pretty useless if I had to crop even 25% (i.e. small birds you just couldn't get close enough to or farway subjects like elk/beaver that didn't fill the frame)

I have the Sigma 100-300 F4 now and with a Sigma 1.4x, I can get to 420mm and those images can atleast survive a little cropping, plus my camera bag is literally 5-7lbs lighter and when I'm on the return leg of a 4-5 mile each way hike it's a HUGE HUGE difference w/o the bigma in my backpack.

If you don't like the images from the 300+1.7x, maybe try the 300+1.4x and see what you think of the images after cropping to 500mm FOV.

At 46, I now have to seriously take into consideration the weight of my camera bag, and I don't think even if I could afford the 500 4.5 I could carry it for long in my bag. I know I'll never but a Bigma in again, it's just too heavy."

if you want the IQ of the DA*300 at 500, you have to get the Sigma 500 f4.5 at 4k or the Pentax 560 at 8k
otherwise you are compromising one way or another
like I stated earlier, I've lost faith in the Bigma for long end IQ, speed and most of all,,, it weighs a ton and it literally took miles off the distance I could hike with it, especially if there was 1000 ft or more change in altitude. I can remember hiking in the rockies a couple years ago and I had to take it out of my bag to make a hike. of course some damn bighorn sheep appeared an I cursed not having the lens with me! but missing the sheep shot was better than being med-evac'd home

Last edited by nomadkng; 05-14-2013 at 08:27 AM.
05-14-2013, 08:42 AM   #10
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One of the biggest impacts of using a long lens was when I started to use a Gimbal.
Nothing has made a bigger impact of those long telephoto shots more than a Gimbal.
I highly recommend adding a Gimbal to your wish list!
05-14-2013, 10:48 AM   #11
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I'd like to throw a potential curveball into the mix.

Instead of a new lens, perhaps you might think of a standalone compact superzoom camera? 30x, 40x, and even 50x (boosted to 200x with digital zoom) on the latest monster Canon bridge camera are all super impressive. Sony is coming out with a new Cyber Shot (HX 50) that has a 30x zoom (boosted to 60x with digital) that is about the size of a regular point and shoot. Check YouTube videos for these, you can zoom farther than your eye can see! It's ridiculous. I suggest this because it seems you're after an all-rounder camera, as opposed to one that's meant for taking award-winning shots, and also because I'm thinking pf doing the same and swapping my 18-250 for a dedicated zoom camera.
05-14-2013, 10:58 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by EarlVonTapia Quote
I'd like to throw a potential curveball into the mix.
So would I: A Q with a K-to-Q adapter.
05-14-2013, 11:24 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
So would I: A Q with a K-to-Q adapter.
That would be more expensive but better than a bridge. I sometimes bite myself for missing out on the Q deals. Oh! and the K-01 deals...

Without knowing WHY the 55-300 isn't pleasing you, it's hard to answer your question. If it's a matter of IQ, then I doubt the Sigmas will impress you a lot. The DA* will. If it's a matter of reach, then you might be better off buying a camera with more resolution (depending on your current body) and crop. But the Sigmas WILL give you more reach.

any of the lenses you mention will be larger and heavier than the 55-300, that's something to consider.

My personal opinion is that, as much as I like primes, for tele I could never work with only a prime, so I went with the 60-250. Best decision I took in a while.
05-14-2013, 12:00 PM   #14
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I've been watching these videos all last night, and I'm killing time at work now too. Check out the incredible zoom on the Canon SX50.


There's a few of these videos out there. My jaw just drops every time.

Hopefully one day this kind of zoom power will be found in a lens.
05-14-2013, 12:58 PM   #15
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But how good of IQ will they have?
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