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01-08-2014, 12:41 PM   #1
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Help with lens choice.

Hello guys!
I was wondering if you could give your opinion on what i am looking to buy. Or maybe someone had exactly the same choice to make.
Here's the thing - i own a Sigma APO DG 70-300mm, in my opinion it is pretty good for what you pay, but as everyone here, probably, knows - one always reaches for something better. So i did long research, and found 3 lenses in similiar reach and my 400-450 budget. They are 70-200mm Tamron f2.8 and Pentax' 55-300's, both - old one and new HD WR version. Yeah, and Tamron lens is the most expensive out of this lot.
I must say i am not a professional, just an amateur. Maybe there will be some occasional "important" shootings, but that is it. So that been said, i want to ask your opinion - Is that constant aperture of 2.8 worth an extra wallet juice and loss of extra 100mm of reach?
Sharpness would be important for me. Weight and size - not really.
Thanx!

01-08-2014, 01:03 PM   #2
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Without a doubt the 70-200 Tamron is a fine piece of glass, and if you can afford it, I would choose it in a heartbeat. So useful for so many situations. Wonderful portraits and fast indoor shooting...

It is big, but since weight and size are not an issue. It would be a great choice.
01-08-2014, 01:04 PM   #3
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I have had two copies of the 55-300mm (DA-L and DA) and currently have the Tamron 70-200mm F2.8. In my experience the 70-200mm is substantially sharper than the 55-300mm. When I first got the Tamron I was quite surprised at the difference. Even stopped down to F8, the Tamron was clearly better. In terms of Autofcous I never have had problems with the Tamron, and find it autofocuses well. though it is noisy (but no more than 55-300). The extra stop (close-in) or longer (two stops) helps a lot for both sports and indoors. I also compared the long-end (300mm) to the Tamron cropped at 200mm, and found the the cropped Tamron pictures as good as the 55-300m. However, there is a big caviat (pun intended). The Tamron is HUGE, and I often find I don't bother to bring it. However, for sports or certain indoor it is great. I am actually contemplating selling it and getting the 55-300mm instead just due to the size and weight.
01-08-2014, 01:11 PM   #4
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Thank you guys for opinion. And Henrik, when you say huge, will that Tamron actually fit in regular camera backpack? I dont have anything fancy - just a CaseLogic.

01-08-2014, 01:28 PM   #5
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I think you are comparing apples to oranges here. Both of those lenses are excellent for the purpose they were designed for, but that purpose is different.

The 70-200 f/2.8 is a fast, constant aperture lens. It is big, heavy, fast and only goes to 200mm. For portraits, weddings and lots of applications where top image quality is needed it is great.
The 55-300 is a slow consumer zoom with great reach, excellent portability, fine image quality and great utility where portability is important and adequate light is available.

I used the 55-300 extensively before getting the DA*60-250, and I generally liked it a lot. It was always with me because it fit in my back pack and the extra weight was negligible. I don't always take the 60-250 with me because the weight does matter when hiking.

Only you can decide whether the extra weight is worth it. I've never used the 70-200 but I'll accept that it is sharper than the 55-300, so the question is if it is enough better to justify the extra cost and weight.
01-08-2014, 01:35 PM   #6
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I have them both.

I love them both.

If I had to give up one it'd be the 55-300. The Tamron isn't as good cropped from 200 to 300 as the 300 is natively, but the extra aperture is worth it, and the macro is very useful to me.

Don't know what the cost differences are or what you take pictures of, though.
01-08-2014, 01:42 PM   #7
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One more thing to consider is the environment in which you'll be shooting. I chose the newer 55-300 because I wanted something light and small, weather-resistant and with adequate reach for wildlife photography when I travel. I would have made a different choice if I was mostly shooting subjects at a closer range in protected environments where I didn't have to schlep my gear for miles.
01-08-2014, 01:42 PM   #8
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Although I do not own either the Pentax 55-300 or Tamron 70-200, I went through a similar analysis a while ago. I was comparing the 55-300, Tamron 70-200, and the Sigma 70-200 2.8 HSM II. I opted for the Sigma for its optics and reported faster AF speed. It's a fine lens, and I'm sure that you would find the Tamron to be similar. However, the Sigma is slightly larger and heavier than the Tamron. I find myself needing to make a deliberate choice to put it in the backback and use it - it's not a lens that I usually carry because of its size. In that sense, the Pentax 55-300 might get more use generally, albeit with certain penalties in optical quality and focus speed. The Sigma is at my limit for hand-holding, but I find the optics and widest aperture to be worth the trade-off. (I subsequently got a DA* 300 for longer reach).

- Craig


Last edited by c.a.m; 01-08-2014 at 01:48 PM.
01-08-2014, 02:15 PM   #9
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Thank you guys for worthy opinion! I must say, as an amateur i do take more pics outdoor, so as was said by frogoutofwater one should not forget about WR capabilities of Pentax 55-300. And i think even if 55-300 isn't that sharp as Tamron, it wont matter if i wont be printing large prints and won't be charging people if i ever need to shoot something more "important" than just a landscape while out and about. Thinking even further, if i ever need extra sharp, i might just rent a lens, right?
Am i thinking in right direction guys?
01-08-2014, 02:22 PM   #10
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Another thing just shoot in my mind... Will 55-300 give me any disadvantages if i ever want to enter an amateur photo contests? I understand that it's not a lens what wins in a contest. I'd imagine that not every amateur has higher quality lenses like Tamron, but still had won any contests, right?
01-08-2014, 02:53 PM   #11
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I am biased toward the Tamron. I have one, and every shot I take with it just has that special something. It's just wonderful. I bought a flipside 400 backpack, and carry the Tamron everywherealong with my DA limiteds.

Seems my shots always end up looking like this:



Last edited by Kozlok; 01-08-2014 at 03:00 PM.
01-08-2014, 06:25 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
I am biased toward the Tamron. I have one, and every shot I take with it just has that special something. It's just wonderful. I bought a flipside 400 backpack, and carry the Tamron everywherealong with my DA limiteds.

Seems my shots always end up looking like this:


Yes... a "special something" that is a good way to describe the photo quality of the tamron. I have only borrowed one, and I own the 55-300. Once in a while in the right lighting I will get a great pop from the 55-300... But many shots from the Tammy had the special thing... I have the Tamron 28-75 2.8 and it is my most used zoom lens. I love it. But the 70-200 is at the next level IMHO.

You could win a photo contest with the 55-300... but you will have more quality entries with the Tamron.

Now I like my 55-300, dont get me wrong, and I have shot some nice photos with it.

One way to get a sense of how people feel about a lens is to look at the marketplace here. The 55-300's are always in the marketplace, in fact I think I saw a DL for 150 today... seldom do you see the 70-200. Once you get used to that constant F2.8 and the quality, it is hard to get rid of it.
01-08-2014, 08:01 PM   #13
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Here's another one of my dog. Just shot offhand, light from the window. The light didn't look amazing in real life, but the picture through the Tamron looked fantastic. Shot wide open at ISO 3200, so it was actually kinda dark.


01-08-2014, 08:08 PM   #14
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Here's another one shot wide open at 160mm. Plenty of light this time. I recovered just a bit of the shadow detail from LR (the mailbox is actually in pretty heavy backlight, so was quite dark originally), but look at that bokeh, and sharpness/micro contrast is amazing.

I've looked at shots with the Sigma 70-200, and they are sharp, and the bokeh is fine, but they just don't seem to have the same sparkle that the Tamron has.


01-09-2014, 03:09 AM   #15
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Kozlok, well those pictures are amazing. Thanks a lot for adding photos, that is helpful! Looks like i've made my mind! I have a good deal for Tamron, so why waste it? My Sigma 70-300 will have to do for now as an everyday long zoom.
Thank you once again guys!
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