Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
02-15-2014, 02:46 PM   #1
Pentaxian
mgvh's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: MD
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 854
Does a decent, cheap telephoto prime exist?

Here's my story: I got really lucky and in a $25 grab bag full of stuff I got the highly regarded Kenko Pz-AF 1.5x Teleplus SHQ - autofocus, autoaperture... Very nice! I used it with my longest lens, the DAL 55-300 which I really like. Works great! Shots w/ the Kenko (at ~450mm) can be better than ones without it (at 300mm) and cropped, but as others have noted, a teleconverter will accentuate the weaknesses of the lens.

And now starts the slippery slope.

So, I'm thinking, how about getting a nice prime that will take full advantage of the Kenko! Something in the 200-400mm range can compete with the DAL 55-300. What's more, I'm finding it an enjoyable challenge to work w/ primes instead of zooms. Hmm... that DA* 300 f4 is out of my price range. Yes, I know the formula: good, cheap, or fast. Pick 2 of the 3, and so I'm happy to work with slow for now. I'm also hoping I can get lucky at $50 cheap.

I've been all through the lenses reviewed on the forum, and so for the cheap options, it looked like I would need to move into old M42s or T mounts. The Pentax Ks or Ms either got real expensive real quick or else had poor reviews compared to other lenses.

So, I got a nice Tele Takumar 200mm f5.6 M42 that even came w/ an original Pentax M42>K adapter for about $30. It was given a 9.3 score for sharpness on the forum reviews, so I had high hopes. What a spunky little lens! So small for 200mm! Works better w/ a tripod only because it's so light! But... after quite a bit of testing, the DAL 55-300 certainly provides sharper pictures w/ better contrast, and its autofocus has a better success rate than my manual focus (using either viewfinder indicator or focus peaking on the K-30). Using it with the Kenko 1.5x TC wasn't worth it.

Next try was with a Tele Vivitar 300 f5.6 in T mount w/ both a M42 and K mount adapter for $25. It's a solid piece of equipment. It's useable handheld, but certainly better on a tripod. But... the DAL 55-300 provides as sharp or sharper pictures, better contrast, and autofocus. Again, the Kenko 1.5x TC doesn't provide much advantage.

So, does anyone know of a cheap telephoto prime in the 200-400mm range that can outdo the DA(L) 55-300? Can $50 get anything decent? Otherwise, somebody stop me!

Thanks for any suggestions.

02-15-2014, 02:56 PM   #2
Site Supporter
Sandy Hancock's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,503
You already have just about the best budget telephoto lens out there.
If you want a significant upgrade, save up.
02-15-2014, 03:10 PM   #3
Veteran Member




Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 304
I am not sure if you can fit this with a tele-converter to this.

SMC Pentax 200mm F4 Reviews - K Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

The other alternative is keep your eyes on all craigslist and other ebay for your focal length requirements. Sometimes there is a someone somewhere who sells something which he does not value, like he / she should.

Cheers!
02-15-2014, 03:31 PM   #4
Veteran Member
Steinback's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: GTA, ON, Canada
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,673
There are a few manual 400mm f/5.6 lenses around from the likes of Sigma, Vivitar and Soligor (and probably others too) that might be somewhat better than the 55-300 plus 1.5 converter, but you would be doing well to pick them up for $50. The last one I tried for sold closer to $100 in K mount. I have a $40 Soligor 400mm f/6.3 that is pretty decent as such lenses go, but your current setup is probably equal or superior to it in size, convenience and image quality. There are also many older 400mm lenses out there that have worse image quality.

You may be better off saving up for one of the Tokina or Sigma 400mm f/5.6 AF lenses that generally sell in the $400 to 500 range if you want to see a substantial increase in speed and quality. Another option would be something along the lines of a Sigma 150-500 or 50-500, likely for $800 plus.

02-15-2014, 03:46 PM   #5
Loyal Site Supporter




Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Southern Indiana
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 15,547
A used copy of the DA *200? I got one for 750 and it is a lot sharper than the 55-300 at 200 and a stop faster. I don't know that any of the older lenses will do much better than what you have already.
02-15-2014, 04:53 PM   #6
Pentaxian




Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Southern California
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,181
A decent prime can definitely outdo the DA55-300 starting at about 135mm or so. There are a few 135mm Pentax lenses that can get somewhat close to your price range. I had a M135/3.5 I didn't think was better (I may have had a poor copy) but the Takumar 135/2.5 was fairly good.

However, if you go to 200mm the prime will clearly be better. Look for lenses between the extremes of $1000+ for a DA*300 and your ideal of $50. For example, my K200/2.5 is an excellent lens at somewhere around $500. You'll have to shop around to find what lenses give the proper price/performance compromise you're looking for. But any decent 200mm prime should be a real upgrade.
02-15-2014, 05:46 PM   #7
Pentaxian
Just1MoreDave's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Aurora, CO
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 4,841
Fifty dollars is tough. I think the Vivitar/Komine 200mm f3.5 is pretty good, and I'll sell you my extra one for less than $50. I guarantee it's better than the 55-300 at f3.5, but I strongly suspect the 55-300 is close enough at f8 to make you miss AF and aperture control. I think that would be true even with a TC, but since it's an f3.5, maybe it won't be that bad.

The SMC Pentax 300mm f4 is probably worth a try. Lowell Goudge uses his with a Pentax-F 1.7x AF Adapter, so it might be OK with your TC. I think of these as around $150-200, but haven't seen prices recently. The lens itself is fairly long and heavy: 1Kg+, 77mm filter.
02-15-2014, 06:03 PM   #8
Pentaxian
Na Horuk's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Slovenia, probably
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 10,718
Its one of those: quality, cheap, tele - choose two!
It kind of depends on what your definition of cheap is. The DFA 100mm is a bargain for what it offers. WR, f2.8, 1:1 macro, very sharp.. but it is expensive compared to a 135mm from the 70s

02-16-2014, 02:38 PM   #9
Pentaxian
mgvh's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: MD
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 854
Original Poster
Thank you, all!
(BTW, thank you again to Just1MoreDave for your review of a bunch of cheap 135mm lenses from 2009! That's the kind of thing I was hoping to find for cheap 200-400mms.)
I must have a good copy of the DAL 55-300, because it's really hard to find an advantage for the TeleTak 200 f5.6 or the TeleVivitar 300 f5.6 I got. Still, with more practice, I'm finding how and when those lenses can be useful. They do seem to want more light, need careful focusing, and require a bit of pp to get rid of aberrations as compared to the DAL.
If I find that I like working w/ primes at this length, it looks like the next best cheap option is the Pentax K 200 f4 Deedee mentioned. Beyond that, as others of you have noted, just save up for a good lens which is going to run in the hundreds of dollars.
Thanks again.
02-16-2014, 02:51 PM   #10
Site Supporter
boriscleto's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Liverpool, NY
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 12,666
$50 telephoto better than the 55-300?
02-16-2014, 04:33 PM   #11
Pentaxian
mgvh's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: MD
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 854
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
$50 telephoto better than the 55-300?
yeah, yeah, I know... and I know that there are some very expensive primes out there.
BUT, and correct me if I'm wrong, I've got to figure that it's easier (and hence cheaper) to make a prime which would provide the same or better quality as a zoom at the same length.
Further, I'm looking for competition at the long end of the 55-300 which isn't necessarily it's strongest aspect.
Further, I'm content to go with old glass, manual focus, manual aperture, M42 or some flavor of T-mount, and does not have to be fast.
Is that really too much to ask for $50 or so?
02-16-2014, 04:54 PM   #12
Site Supporter
boriscleto's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Liverpool, NY
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 12,666
QuoteOriginally posted by mgvh Quote
yeah, yeah, I know... and I know that there are some very expensive primes out there.
BUT, and correct me if I'm wrong, I've got to figure that it's easier (and hence cheaper) to make a prime which would provide the same or better quality as a zoom at the same length.
Further, I'm looking for competition at the long end of the 55-300 which isn't necessarily it's strongest aspect.
Further, I'm content to go with old glass, manual focus, manual aperture, M42 or some flavor of T-mount, and does not have to be fast.
Is that really too much to ask for $50 or so?
Cheap->Long->Good

Pick two.

The 55-300 has the benefit of modern computer design. It will be superior to any long prime costing less than several hundred dollars.
02-16-2014, 04:59 PM   #13
Veteran Member
Steinback's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: GTA, ON, Canada
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,673
I don't think I've used it since I picked up my DA 55-300, but here are some shots from my Soligor 400mm f/6.3 for your amusement (there was also a Vivitar version).

I should probably test it against my 55-300 plus 1.4 teleconverter eventually just out of curiosity. My Sigma 120-400mm would be another interesting contender.

Soligor 400mm Lens - a set on Flickr

One of the problems you are going to run into is that most of the old, long primes that sell cheap now weren't terribly well designed or built, and didn't perform all that well on film 30 or 40 years ago. They were aimed at people looking to get an acceptable (but probably not great) 4x6 print from film and who didn't have much money to spend.

The better telephoto primes of decades past (Takumar 500mm f/4.5, K 400mm f/5.6) sold for a lot of money new, still sell for several times more than you are looking to spend now, and don't necessarily perform as well as your 55-300.
02-16-2014, 05:00 PM   #14
Pentaxian
JinDesu's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: New York City
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 5,625
I'm not sure $50 will get anything decent. At $50 for the 300-400mm range, you'll be looking at the mirror lenses like the 500mm F8s. Anything that's more complex than that will be in the $100-200 range - or at least that's my experience.
02-16-2014, 06:26 PM - 1 Like   #15
Pentaxian




Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Flyover America
Posts: 4,475
QuoteOriginally posted by mgvh Quote
So, does anyone know of a cheap telephoto prime in the 200-400mm range that can outdo the DA(L) 55-300? Can $50 get anything decent?
In a word - no.
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!
adapter, autofocus, focus, k-mount, kenko, lens, m42, pentax lens, range, slr lens, tripod
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Does such a hood exist? LowVoltage Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 6 10-26-2013 08:43 PM
Does such a lens exist or has existed? YossarianKL Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 7 03-29-2010 01:05 PM
Need a decent cheap flash MikesChevelle Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 7 03-24-2010 07:03 PM
Does such a thing even exist? bdery Pentax Camera and Field Accessories 4 07-04-2009 08:39 PM
Cheap, long-range telephoto lenses any good (how about prime ones)? bjsmith Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 35 06-21-2007 10:53 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:33 PM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.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