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01-28-2014, 12:24 AM   #1
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Looking to buy a telephoto lens

i already have the 18-135mm lens that came with my K-50 and absolutely love it and recently bought a sigma 24-70 f/2.8 for low light photography. although most of my shots are in the 18-135 range, there have been a few times where I needed some extra reach. im not looking for anything too expensive and probably end up buying second hand. ive narrowed it down to these:

Pentax DA 55-300 f4-5.8 (any difference in the WR and non WR apart from the obvious?)
Pentax FA 100-300 f4.7-5.8
Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 DL Macro
Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 DG Macro

which one is better in terms of sharpness?

01-28-2014, 12:57 AM   #2
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This review sums up the SMC vs HD comparison pretty well:
HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR Review - Introduction - PentaxForums.com

As for sharpness, the Pentax lens is ahead by a nice margin according to our user reviews.

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01-28-2014, 01:21 AM   #3
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Read the review, of course, but in the lower price range I think you'll do very well with even the cheapest version of the DA55-300. Since you're very happy with the DA18-135, you should get satisfying IQ out of it too.

An even cheaper alternative is the F70-210/4-5.6, or better yet the even less expensive Takumar version. I like the IQ from it even better (although it has less zoom range). I'm a bit picky, but IMO the IQ of the F70-210 gets weaker past 180mm, whereas on the DA55-300 it only goes to 135mm before getting weaker. So I don't consider the FL much of a disadvantage on the 70-210.



Nevertheless, I'm being nit-picky here. For a long, budget zoom, I don't think you can do any better than one of these two lenses.
01-28-2014, 01:46 AM   #4
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i did read the review and the comparisons with the HD but im interested how the sigma ones compare to the smc which is similar in price.i now understand how the HD is probably the best out of those 4 but it is the most expensive also. so does the smc outperform the 2 sigma lenses?i dont really care about the range 55-135 since u said it gets weaker past 135. i want a decent sharpness between 200-300mm basically since thats where it will be used mostly.

01-28-2014, 02:04 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
This review sums up the SMC vs HD comparison pretty well:
HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR Review - Introduction - PentaxForums.com

As for sharpness, the Pentax lens is ahead by a nice margin according to our user reviews.
As long as you are lucky to get 'a good one' or don't care about uneven softness in the frame corners
01-28-2014, 02:09 AM   #6
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My impression is that the DA 55-300 is comparatively stronger than the Sigma when you go past 200. On mine (the SMC version) I stick to f8 most of the time, and then I find it to be good all the way to 300 mm. I actually think it's still more than usable wide open too, but it can't compete with something like the DA*300, of course. But then we're talking twice the weight and thrice the price...

Some pictures I have taken with it recently at various focal lengths: DA Zoom Club post #686
01-28-2014, 02:26 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by schnitzer79 Quote
i already have the 18-135mm lens that came with my K-50 and absolutely love it and recently bought a sigma 24-70 f/2.8 for low light photography. although most of my shots are in the 18-135 range, there have been a few times where I needed some extra reach. im not looking for anything too expensive and probably end up buying second hand. ive narrowed it down to these:

Pentax DA 55-300 f4-5.8 (any difference in the WR and non WR apart from the obvious?)
Pentax FA 100-300 f4.7-5.8
Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 DL Macro
Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 DG Macro

which one is better in terms of sharpness?
The Sigma DG is the better of the two as it has an Apochromatic element and would probably be the best choice of the one listed UNLESS you do want to be working in severe weather then go for the WR pentax lens
01-28-2014, 04:55 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anthony Offen-james Quote
The Sigma DG is the better of the two as it has an Apochromatic element and would probably be the best choice of the one listed UNLESS you do want to be working in severe weather then go for the WR pentax lens
No it doesn't it a very cheap and inferior product.
the Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 APO DG Macro is as you describe
in summary (optically)

Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 DG Macro - cheap optically soft and high CA poor value
Tamron Di sharpest of the bunch appalling PF moderate value
Pentax 55-300 - very sharp in center some CA best range good Value
Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 APO DG Macro - sharp very well corrected no CA Good Value

01-28-2014, 05:55 AM   #9
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seems like the best value for money would be the pentax 55-300.thanks guys.
01-28-2014, 06:23 AM   #10
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I've been happy with the 55-300 on my K-5. Any zoom is a compromise, but this one seems to prioritize what you want in a long zoom.
01-28-2014, 07:16 AM   #11
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I was in the same boat you were a few weeks ago. I thought about purchasing the el cheapo pentax FA 100-300, or Sigma or Tamron similar focal lengths but they are cheap $30 to $100 used lenses and the IQ of course is not very good. So I instead went with a Manual Tokina AT-X F4 100-300 and could not be happier. The price was a bit more ~$250 but well worth the stellar IQ. You should be able to pick up a used DA-L 55-300 for a similar price, maybe even lower if you go that route and of course it is auto focus. Either way you can't lose.
01-28-2014, 07:56 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
I was in the same boat you were a few weeks ago. I thought about purchasing the el cheapo pentax FA 100-300, or Sigma or Tamron similar focal lengths but they are cheap $30 to $100 used lenses and the IQ of course is not very good. So I instead went with a Manual Tokina AT-X F4 100-300 and could not be happier. The price was a bit more ~$250 but well worth the stellar IQ. You should be able to pick up a used DA-L 55-300 for a similar price, maybe even lower if you go that route and of course it is auto focus. Either way you can't lose.
i agree that the tokina 100-300 f/4 is an amazing lens.if i could find a decent one at $250 then i would have jumped at the chance.cheapest one i could find was about $370 (excluding import charges).
will be going abroad in a couple of months.might wait to see if i can find anything used at a camera shop.
01-28-2014, 08:06 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
Read the review, of course, but in the lower price range I think you'll do very well with even the cheapest version of the DA55-300. Since you're very happy with the DA18-135, you should get satisfying IQ out of it too.

An even cheaper alternative is the F70-210/4-5.6, or better yet the even less expensive Takumar version. I like the IQ from it even better (although it has less zoom range). I'm a bit picky, but IMO the IQ of the F70-210 gets weaker past 180mm, whereas on the DA55-300 it only goes to 135mm before getting weaker. So I don't consider the FL much of a disadvantage on the 70-210.



Nevertheless, I'm being nit-picky here. For a long, budget zoom, I don't think you can do any better than one of these two lenses.
Another 18-135 basher, another one comes out of the woodwork every day.
01-28-2014, 08:16 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Another 18-135 basher, another one comes out of the woodwork every day.
Does this also include Adam the Pentax Administrator on this forum? Was he not the person who originally reviewed this lens back in 2011? The review was not very flattering.
01-28-2014, 09:10 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
Does this also include Adam the Pentax Administrator on this forum? Was he not the person who originally reviewed this lens back in 2011? The review was not very flattering.
Yes it does.

I've read a number of Adam's reviews, I rarely agree with what he says 100%. But he does a great service by doing the work behind his reviews and getting the information out there. I read what Adam wrote, and it was key to me buying the lens. I don't expect a review to flatter, I expect it to tell me what I'd be getting.

My wife, Tessfully, has access to this lens and she says it a little differently. She says," I don't seem to be able to get the same results with this lens you do." Do you see the difference between saying the lens doesn't suit you and bashing the lens? In our case, we are talking about the same lens. No blaming it on sample variation. No blaming it on the lens.



If you do the comparisons, look at the test numbers, and you'll see, much of the criticism is unwarranted. It's simply better in some FLs than the lenses suggested as alternatives. And it's best is better than their best, in every case. I have no idea why those lenses get a free pass, and the DA 18-135 got ravaged.

I read the reviews, bought the lens despite the criticisms on line, and was absolutely blown away by what it does. Nothing I read in the reviews prepared me for the IQ I got in most of my images at all focal lengths. And that is a disservice to the readers, not a service.

Last edited by normhead; 01-28-2014 at 09:22 AM.
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