Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
08-25-2013, 10:50 AM   #1
New Member




Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Alversund
Posts: 22
What is the best way to acquire 500mm on a certain budget?

Hi,

Sorry to spam the forum with a question I guess there exists many similar posts with, but I am in a little bit of a dilemma wich I hoped some of you guys with a little more experience than me would be able to give me some good advice on.

Here it goes: I am looking for one or more tele-lenses for doing bird-photography and other nature and wildlife. On a strictly amateur-level of course. I have been reading and thinking a lot of some of the Sigma zooms, with a preference for the 150-500 version, (a new version of this is as far as my budget goes). But recently I've been looking more towards some of the older manual alternatives that exists, I almost got my hands on a M*300 /4 lens for a good price, and I have been asking around regarding a couple of A-lenses (200/2.8 and 300/4), which all seems like more convenient alternatives when it comes to handling etc. I am afraid the Sigmas will be to big for me to bother taking with me when going hiking etc. I have also been considering getting the Pentax-F 1.7x AF-adapter to combine with the manual lenses, wich gives a certain level of autofocus.

What would you recommend? Go for a all-in-one Sigma, or looking for some more lightweight alternatives? I am also concerned of the IQ of the Sigmas, and the overall sharpness. At least compared to the A-lenses mentioned. Or should I aim lower, would I be happy with a DA 55-300 (which I have seen some great pictures from) combined with maybe a Tokina 400mm when I want to go extra long?

Any advice or experiences would be very much appreciated,

regards,
Lars

08-25-2013, 11:25 AM   #2
Moderator
Site Supporter
photolady95's Avatar

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Cruising PentaxForums and watching your back.
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 8,910
First question is, what are your intents with such a long lens? I photograph animals, birds and other wildlife with a Sigma 70-300mm APO nonDG lens and it's works great for what I shoot. So, what's your aim?

I have heard the Pentax 55-300mm is sharp at the 300mm end.I don't own one so can't say for sure this is true.
08-25-2013, 11:37 AM   #3
Veteran Member
manacho2005's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Red Oak, TX
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 462
I have a Sigma 170-500, and can tell you it requires a lot of light or high ISO. All the "Bigmas" are F6.3 @500 and do best beyond F8.
If you're shooting with a K20, I would recommend the 55-300, and crop if it doesn't quite reach. It is well regarded, even wide open.
You may also find a used DA* 300 that could save you on a rainy hike.

Also have to mention the Sigmas that reach 500mm are pretty heavy for hiking; although I have carried mine for hours, but to each their own.
08-25-2013, 11:42 AM   #4
Site Supporter
jatrax's Avatar

Join Date: May 2010
Location: Oregon
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 10,288
You have to define some parameters in order to make a good decision:
Budget?
Auto focus or manual focus?
Zoom or prime?
Longest focal length (do you really need 500 or is 300 OK)?
Size of target (sparrow or ostrich)?
Distance you expect to be from target (in a blind or just walking about, at the zoo or in the wild)?
How much weight do you feel comfortable carrying?
Tripod or hand held?
Fast glass or slow?
TC or no?

There are a number of different ways to get there but each has pluses and minus. Sigma 500mm f/4.5 is about as good as it gets for Pentax but is expensive. Pentax DA 55-300 is excellent but slow and only 300mm, a TC can be used on it in very good light but I would consider it marginal in anything less than ideal conditions.

I have:
DA 55-300: excellent light weight lens with remarkable IQ for the price. Easy to hand hold, easy to pack. Slow and tends to hunt for focus in some situations.
Sigma 50-500: (old screw drive version) Tremendous zoom range and reasonable IQ. Good in fact out to 400-450, soft after that. Can be used with a TC but results were too soft for me. Big, heavy and awkward, can be hand held but better on mono-pod or tri-pod.
DA*60-250: Great IQ, fast focusing, fairly light, constant f/4, easily hand held. Expensive and much bigger than 55-300 with sort-of similar range.
Vivitar 500mm: Fair IQ, long reach, prime lens, inexpensive. Tripod only, very heavy, lots of CA in high contrast situations, manual focus.

08-25-2013, 11:43 AM - 1 Like   #5
Veteran Member
oxidized's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: USA - Delaware
Photos: Albums
Posts: 434
if you dont mind manual focus (and waiting), every once in a while one the legacy 150-500mm tokinas floats up on ebay. Here is some info on the lens:
Tokina 150-500MM f/5.6 AT-X Lens Reviews - Tokina Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
There are two versions with A and without A setting. I've see a few with A setting somewhat recently go for around $300-400. Keep in mind the lens is MASSIVE and heavy, however it is built like a tank. They just dont make them like that anymore.
08-25-2013, 11:56 AM   #6
New Member




Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Alversund
Posts: 22
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
You have to define some parameters in order to make a good decision:
Budget?
Auto focus or manual focus?
Zoom or prime?
Longest focal length (do you really need 500 or is 300 OK)?
Size of target (sparrow or ostrich)?
Distance you expect to be from target (in a blind or just walking about, at the zoo or in the wild)?
How much weight do you feel comfortable carrying?
Tripod or hand held?
Fast glass or slow?
TC or no?

There are a number of different ways to get there but each has pluses and minus. Sigma 500mm f/4.5 is about as good as it gets for Pentax but is expensive. Pentax DA 55-300 is excellent but slow and only 300mm, a TC can be used on it in very good light but I would consider it marginal in anything less than ideal conditions.

I have:
DA 55-300: excellent light weight lens with remarkable IQ for the price. Easy to hand hold, easy to pack. Slow and tends to hunt for focus in some situations.
Sigma 50-500: (old screw drive version) Tremendous zoom range and reasonable IQ. Good in fact out to 400-450, soft after that. Can be used with a TC but results were too soft for me. Big, heavy and awkward, can be hand held but better on mono-pod or tri-pod.
DA*60-250: Great IQ, fast focusing, fairly light, constant f/4, easily hand held. Expensive and much bigger than 55-300 with sort-of similar range.
Vivitar 500mm: Fair IQ, long reach, prime lens, inexpensive. Tripod only, very heavy, lots of CA in high contrast situations, manual focus.
Budget: around 1000$ maximum. (that's around what I have to pay for one of the cheapest Sigma zooms in Norway (120-400 or 150-500)
Auto or manual focus: I like and are quite used to manual focus, but I tend to be lazy and take the easy way out. (in other words; use my autofocus-lenses)
Zoom or prime: Zoom for versatility, prime for sharpness and IQ. Impossible to choose really. In a perfect world I will use a tele-lens both on random trips with no specific goal, just as taking pictures of birds in my backyard, as well as spotting for eagles on the coastline. Which brings me over to focal length, would probably need more than 300 when looking for eagles.
I guess I feel comfortable carrying some weight if I am on a current "mission". Would prefer using a tripod or at least a monopod if on this kind of trips.
I have just upgraded from a K20D to K-5II, which will make it easier with a slower lens.

As i mentioned, a TC have been thought of when considering buying some second hand A or M-lenses.
08-25-2013, 12:03 PM   #7
New Member




Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Alversund
Posts: 22
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by photolady Quote
First question is, what are your intents with such a long lens? I photograph animals, birds and other wildlife with a Sigma 70-300mm APO nonDG lens and it's works great for what I shoot. So, what's your aim?

I have heard the Pentax 55-300mm is sharp at the 300mm end.I don't own one so can't say for sure this is true.
I guess I am looking for versatility, either in several prime lenses or in a all-in-one lens since I am hoping to use it both for photographying small birds out in my garden and looking for eagles in the mountains or near the sea. (I live west in Norway, with a beautiful coastline).

It's maybe a bit to random, but I am just an enthusiast with the desire to get as good images as possible, without having to rob a bank.
08-25-2013, 01:17 PM   #8
Moderator
Site Supporter
photolady95's Avatar

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Cruising PentaxForums and watching your back.
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 8,910
I shot this small bird in my backyard with my Sigma 70-300mm:


You might also look for a Samyung 100-500mm A lens. I got mine for $75 on the MarketPlace here on Pentax Forum. It is rather heavy though and too much reach for where I shoot. My backyard and several local river parks.

08-25-2013, 01:33 PM   #9
Pentaxian
Lowell Goudge's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 15,314
i have a lot of different options to get to 400/500 mm for birding, and as the founder of the birders social club i welcome you to also consider joining.

my long options include

K300/4 + SMC F 1.7x AF Adaptor
Tamron 200-500/5.6 (manual focus but with KA Adaptor)
sigma APO 70-200/2.8 EX plus sigma APO 2x EX DG teleconverter


the pros and cons, the k300/4 plus the AF teleconverter is good and acceptable sharpness but lacks auto exposure functions and flash support (except on my *istD) it also suffers from longitudinal and lateral CA in the OOF areas, it is however the lightest and therefore good for hiking, but the AFA adaptor does not come cheap. Mine is an origonal I bought in 1991 with my PZ-1

the tamron is the fastest lens i have at 500mm but at 3 kilos is tripod bound. sharpness is good but it suffers from fringing. sharpness is good, andwith a KA mount supports flash

the sigma zoom is the alround winner sharp, relitively light reasonable AF and in the world of sigma 70-200/2.8s is the sharpest at 200mm and wide open of all varients produced later, except the latest OSM optically stabalized version, which does not have a pentax HSM TC.

Last edited by Lowell Goudge; 08-26-2013 at 07:27 PM.
08-25-2013, 01:37 PM   #10
Lens Buying Addict
monochrome's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Kirkwood (St. Louis) MO
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 19,493
Many people are doing pretty good work with a Q, the K>Q converter and pretty standard Pentax lenses. A K105 or M100 - both well regarded medium telephotos - approximates 550mm on a Q and 450mm on a Q7. That might be one inexpensive way to get reach.

$100 (Q) + $300 (K>Q and tripod foot)
$499 (Q7) + $300 (K>Q and tripod foot)

The DA*300 is apparently very good on that set up but wouldn't fit your budget.

Last edited by monochrome; 08-26-2013 at 10:26 AM.
08-25-2013, 03:10 PM - 2 Likes   #11
Pentaxian




Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Chicago suburb, IL, USA
Posts: 1,535
Hi Lars,

I'm primarily a birder, and either have or have owned most of the ~500mm alternatives except for any of the Sigma xx(x)-500 zooms as IMO, I have found better alternatives for the way I like to shoot.

My most used is the FA* 300 f4.5 + the P F 1.7x Auto Focusing Adapter for handheld shots. At f7.7 wide open, it sounds slow, but it's fast enough for most daylight conditions, and the AF only struggles in pretty dark overcast or deep shadows. The fact that the lens is very sharp wide open helps because I don't have to stop down to get good results. Compared to the Sigma >>500 zooms, it's within about 1/2 stop at max aperture, but taking handling into account, it's a much better alternative, IMO. Any 300mm ~f4 is going to weigh @ 1 kg (2 lbs and change), and the 1.7x AFA only adds a few oz, but the Sigmas weigh @ 1.6 kg (3.6 lbs) and at 500mm, the lenses have to extend to about double their shortest length, so the heavy front element is hanging way out there, so the balance point moves forward significantly. This is a concern for two reasons: It adds a degree of difficulty to handholding, and the shifting balance point can make the lens more difficult to use when mounted on a tripod, especially with a gimbal.

I actually have four 300mms with max apertures @ f4: The mentioned FA* 300/4.5, a Canon FD 300/4 L converted to K mount, a Sigma EX 100-300/4, and an MF Tokina 100-300/4 AT-X SD. The FA* and Canon L are very close in IQ and size/weight, but the FA* usually gets the nod when I'm going to pair it with the 1.7x AFA because it's much faster to manually prefocus with about 180 of focus ring rotation compared to @ 270 for the Canon. The FA* also focuses closer with the MFD at 2m vs the Canon at @ 3m (@ 6ft vs @ 10 ft), which is important to me because I often can shoot very close. The Sigma, though close to the same level of IQ, is slightly softer with the AFA, and weighs about a lb more, so unless I feel I'd want the zoom, it tends to stay home. I was a bit disappointed with the IQ of the Tokina. Reviews that I've read suggest that this lens is also close to prime sharp, but my copy isn't in the same class as the other three.

There are less expensive 300mm f4 alternatives. There are the Pentax K 300/4, M*300/4, and A* 300/4. All of them are very good with the 1.7x AFA. The K is significantly larger and heavier than the later models as the M* and A* are the smallest 300/4s ever made, IIRC. All of these lenses are less desirable for me for two main reasons: All have MFDs at 4m (@13 ft), and none use ED glass to control CA/PF. They all are sharp wide open, and are convenient in size and weight. CA/PF is reasonably easy to correct in PP, so that should not be much of a problem, but for me, the MFD is the deal breaker as I often get ops to shoot at much shorter distances, but I've been doing this for quite a while, so I probably get more of these short range opportunities than many because of this experience. Prices for these seem to be reasonably stable at @ $300-400 for the K, $400-500 for the M*, and $500-600 for the A*. Of these, the A* is the most desirable because of the automatic diaphragm. With the 1.7x AFA, the max aperture becomes f6.8, and that's really close to the AF systems limit (@ f8). This makes it fiddly to use a full manual lens if you want to stop down and still use the AF advantage of the AFA.

I also have one of the Tokina 150-500 f5/6 SDs. It's a very nice lens (especially for the price I bought it at), but at f5.6, it will only work with the AFA in the brightest conditions, and it's easily the biggest lens I own, so I'm unlikely to opt to carry it around much -- definitely a tripod only proposition for me. Another very inexpensive alternative is a 500mm f8 mirror lens. I have a Tamron SP 500/8 Cat in Adaptall 2, and it's a very lightweight alternative, but it's difficult to handhold because it is so light, and the DOF is very thin, so MF is tricky. IQ is very good, and then there's the infamous donut bokeh to contend with.

Then there are the 300mm f2.8s. Probably the only one that is within budget would be the Tamron SP 300/2.8 LD IF Adaptall 2. There are 3 models, with the 60B the most easily available, but the 360B is good if you can find one at a good price. With the AFA , this becomes a 510mm f4.8, so the specs rival the $4K Sigma EX 500 f4.5, and except for some lack of CA/PF control, this combo is close to as sharp at 1/4 of the cost. You do need to consider that you'll want a PK/A adapter, so have to add the cost of one of these to the equation, but 60Bs with a lot of cosmetic damage, but good optics and mechanics can be found for as little as $300-400. I've found this combo to be handholdable in the past, but as my body ages, this becomes less practical for me. . .I'm 63 YO and 5'5" with some significant physical limitations, so YMMV.

Here are a few examples with 300mm + AFA combos with different lenses and bodies:

K-5 IIs with the FA* 300/4.5 + AFA lens wide open, 1/250, ISO 140 This was handheld and just downsized for posting


K-5 IIs with the FA* 300/4.5 + AFA lens wide open, 1/250, ISO 4500 This was handheld and with NR and sharpening applied in PP, then downsized for posting


K-5 with the Canon FD 300/4 L + AFA, lens wide open 1/320, ISO 1600. Shot off a tripod with NR and sharpening applied, cropped on the left side to 8x10 and downsized for posting


K-5 IIs with the FA* 300/4.5 + AFA lens wide open 1/1250, ISO 800 This was handheld and with NR and sharpening applied, cropped on the right side to 8x10 and downsized for posting


K100D with the FA* 300/4.5 + AFA lens wide open 1/400, ISO 200 This was handheld and cropped from the top and bottom to 8x10 and downsized for posting


K10D with the FA* 300/4.5 + AFA lens at f 6.1, ISO 320 This was handheld with NR and sharpening applied and cropped to 5x7 and downsized for posting


This one's with the DS with the Tamron SP 300/2.8 + AFA + Tamron SP 140F Adaptall 2 1.4x TC (this is an advantage that the faster lens allows -- you can stack a TC with the AFA and retain AF with the max aperture at f6.7) This was handheld (with no SR available BTW) 1/250, ISO 400 slight sharpening and CA/PF correction applied, cropped from the right side to 8x10 and downsized for posting.


This is a 100% crop from just below and left of the center of the frame. There has been no PP applied. This shows how, with a very good lens, good TCs don't degrade IQ anywhere nearly as badly as some seem to always suggest.


Good luck in your search!

Scott
08-25-2013, 03:53 PM - 1 Like   #12
Pentaxian
Lowell Goudge's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 15,314
I would agree with snostorm a short MFD is important, I can get well inside the mfd of the K300/5. The tamron 200-500/5.6 is a great advantage for close work, imagine 500mm with a mfd less than 2.5 meters

Check out al of the recommended lenses in the sample image archive. It is worth looking at
08-25-2013, 11:16 PM   #13
New Member




Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Alversund
Posts: 22
Original Poster
Thanks for every advice. Minimum focal distance is a big point for me, I want to be able to get close to small birds etc. Does a short MFD give you any disadvantages in the long end? Stupid question maybe...
08-26-2013, 12:25 AM   #14
Site Supporter
Sandy Hancock's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,249
If you are on a budget, I would second monochrome's suggestion of getting a Q and adaptor. You could probably use one of your existing lenses and get more reach at a wider aperture, and smaller, lighter and cheaper than anything else.

It works best with a prime which is nice and sharp in the centre from wide open; it doesn't matter if it's old and manual focus. Anything in the 100-135 range will give you as much as you can hand hold. The DA*300 is amazing on the Q, but at an equivalent angle of view to a 1650mm lens, hand holding is pretty much out of the question.

As for close focus lenses, my DFA100WR macro makes a pretty handy f/2.8 super-telephoto on the Q, with a MFD of a few inches!
08-26-2013, 12:56 AM   #15
Loyal Site Supporter
wizofoz's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Melbourne, Outer east.
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,646
One option is this - If you don't need Auto Focus, drop me a line and we can talk about selling you my screw mount 500mm F4.5

Takumar/Super-Multi-Coated TAKUMAR 500mm F4.5 Reviews - M42 Screwmount Extreme Telephoto Primes - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
a-lenses, advice, alternatives, k-mount, pentax lens, sigma, sigmas, slr lens, version, wich
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
What Are The Best "All Around" Lenses For A Beginner On A Budget? vega Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 36 03-22-2013 03:47 PM
What is the best lens to use for birding at 500mm eq. ? jpzk Pentax Q 47 02-15-2013 12:50 PM
what is the best way to transfer pictures to a computer? shang Pentax DSLR Discussion 16 08-07-2010 06:53 AM
What is the best way to try lens? Pigeon Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 7 08-25-2009 12:49 PM
OK, what is the best way to send my camera back? NaClH2O Photographic Technique 10 07-06-2008 08:41 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 12:57 PM. | See also: NikonForums.com, part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top