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02-08-2014, 10:59 AM   #1
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$500 enough to upgrade?

I am a long time collector of film cameras and (very) amateur photographer. Last year I sold a lot of my collection and purchased a K-01. Sold some more and got a
K-50 in November. I like to shoot wildlife and landscapes. For telephoto, I have a DAL 50-300 and a Nikon 500mm f8 mirror (converted to K mount). I would like a lens which would increase reach of the DAL and image quality of the Nikon. My current budget is around $500 (not enough for that DA 560).

Here’s the question for the kind and knowledgeable Forum members.

Can $500 buy significant improvement in reach/quality, or should I keep saving? Manual focus is acceptable. (Alternate question: Is it the photographer and not the lenses?)

Thank you

Banskojoe

02-08-2014, 11:38 AM   #2
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Technique is extremely important at those ranges. Good, rock solid tripod, no wind, no heat haze, use of mirror lock up or delay, use of remote, all help.

Take a look at:
Long Lens Techniques | OutdoorPhotographer.com
Proper Long Lens Technique
Nature Photography

I don't think you can get to 500mm with that budget and get significantly better results. 400mm, maybe. The Pentax A 400mm f/5.6 is good and can produce excellent images and should be in your price range. The new teleconverter coming out would increase the reach of the 55-300 but it is not going to improve the image quality. You can get one of the older Bigmas for $800-1,000 with decent image quality, though a good tripod is still going to be needed.

You don't mention what tripod/head you have but if that is not up to the task I think with your budget you might see more return on getting a good tripod.

The gold standard for 500mm on k-mount is currently the Sigma 500mm f/4.5 but that is $5k, you already mentioned the DA 560mm so you are aware of the cost of entry to this focal range. So $500 is not going to get you there. A good tripod and head to hold one of those lenses is going to run $500++

My advice, for what it's worth, is keep saving and get $1,250 - 1,500 together and get something that will really show an improvement.
02-08-2014, 12:03 PM   #3
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They just announced the teleconverter for which would let you use your 55-300 at a focal length of 420 mm so if you are happy with the IQ of that lens you might want to look at that. Another option that some people like it to use K-mount lenses on a Q body.
02-08-2014, 12:24 PM   #4
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An improvement over the 55-300 for $500? No.

02-08-2014, 02:20 PM   #5
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Take it to ~800 and you could likely score a Sigma 150-500.
02-08-2014, 04:01 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
They just announced the teleconverter for which would let you use your 55-300 at a focal length of 420 mm so if you are happy with the IQ of that lens you might want to look at that. Another option that some people like it to use K-mount lenses on a Q body.
I thought the teleconverter required a lens of f4?
02-08-2014, 04:22 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pearsaab Quote
I thought the teleconverter required a lens of f4?
It is the AF system that needs the wider apertures. If you manual focus, you can use it on anything. The downside is the loss of one shutter speed or aperture stop, and also with something like the 55-300, I'm not even going to try it. Hmmmmm - maybe I'll try my AFA 1.7X and see what happens. Ya never know ...
02-08-2014, 04:37 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pearsaab Quote
I thought the teleconverter required a lens of f4?
The HD 55-300 is listed as compatible, so the others should be as well. I use the DA L 55-300 on a 1.4x TC and the AF is slower, but it works.

02-08-2014, 04:39 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by pearsaab Quote
I thought the teleconverter required a lens of f4?
They list the 55-300 as compatible but with the disclaimer that it might not work. I take that to mean that in good light it will mostly work. And in poor light it will hunt. I've used 1.4x TC on the 55-300 and it worked maybe 60% of the time. Frustrating enough not to repeat the experience, but technically it does work. Just not well. It will be interesting to repeat that test with the Pentax 1.4x and see if it performs any better.

Edit:Boriscleto beat me (as usual)
02-08-2014, 05:01 PM   #10
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you can get used tamron 70-200 2.8 for $500.

You lose 100mm reach but gain f2.8 and much sharper lens.

Quality tele lenses are expensive
02-08-2014, 05:17 PM   #11
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Q is always an option and I just looked at the price on it. A Q10 and Kmount adapter would ring up to $550 and would make your 55-300 a 35 m equivalent of 300-1700 lens. Use a K-mount 28-75 and you will get a pretty good telephoto range.
02-09-2014, 02:00 AM   #12
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The M*300 (or A*) is within your price range and is supposed to be pretty good. One of the problems with these are the long min focus distance.
02-09-2014, 10:15 AM   #13
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Yes, it's possible to upgrade for that amount, but not without doing some judicious shopping around.
02-09-2014, 10:44 AM   #14
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You might want to post some examples of what you're trying to do and what you think needs improvement.
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