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02-26-2014, 04:43 AM   #1
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What lens is for me?

I'm in want of a telephoto lens, but am not sure which one will suit my needs and keep me "happy" for years to come.

Budget-under $1000

Primary use-backyard/park birding, squirrels, deer etc.

I see several lenses that may suit my need from here and other places including

Pentax 300 or 400 mf
Pentax DA 55-300
Pentax DA 300 (waiting till I have enough saved up to get)
Sigma 170-500 APO DG
Sigma 150-500
Sigma 400 APO mf (have read there are issues with lens cement)



Just not sure based on what I will be using it for, what will satisfy my needs without breaking the bank but also not wanting me to run out and buy a different lens next year.

I've been considering renting the DA 300 and the Bigma and trying them out, but would rather not spend $100+ on that as it could be used towards purchasing a lens.

Thanks!

02-26-2014, 05:15 AM   #2
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For what it's worth....

The DA*300 is an utterly incredible lens. Stunningly sharp at f/4.0, surprisingly compact, very close focussing, dreamy bokeh and weather resistant.
The DA55-300 is remarkably small and light, but is miles short in terms of image quality at the long end.
I have no experience with the various Bigmas.
02-26-2014, 05:16 AM   #3
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Well the DA 55-300mm is a fine lens, very good and doesn't cost that much. Lots of Pentaxians have this as their go-to tele lens. But the Pentax DA* 300mm is on a whole other level!
A fixed focal length lens will give you great low light performance and image quality, but a zoom gives you lots of flexibility.
It also depends on the subject - for many bird photographers 300mm is not enough. For other wildlife, its plenty.
So the answer to your question depends on your priorities. But the DA 55-300mm is a fine place to start and clarify those priorities.
02-26-2014, 07:01 AM   #4
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I really like my Sigma 150-500. It is large, heavy, but very sharp and very long. Great for birding and wildlife.


Last edited by VoiceOfReason; 02-26-2014 at 07:02 AM. Reason: eye kant spel
02-26-2014, 07:06 AM   #5
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You'll likely want to have at least 300mm or longer, especially for birds. Or longer. Or longer.

I think there is one 170-500 and at least two 150-500's in the marketplace.
02-26-2014, 07:15 AM   #6
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I had Sigma 400mm f5.6 for short time. Cant say nothing bad, especially for the price. So my thought would be, ofcourse if your primary need is not razor sharpness, but versatility, i would get Sigma 400mm and DA 55-300. This should definately go under budget.
Just my thoughts.
02-26-2014, 07:27 AM   #7
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And don't forget to get a tripod if you're going longer than 300, if you don't already have one... I find that even at 300 the tripod helps quite a bit, unless it's real bright and sunny.

I guess this is a good place to ask people that have tried both Bigmas (50-500 and 150-500), how they feel about the quality, especially at the long end? The 50-500 is quite a bit more than the 150-500, but is it better over 300? If they are the same I don't see a reason to get the 50-500, as you probably won't ever use it in a situation where 50mm is required...
02-26-2014, 07:31 AM   #8
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I have the DAL 55-300 but have been poking around for something better and/or longer. I also am on a budget. So far:
  • The DAL 55-300 is really hard to beat if you are on a budget. Mine also happens to be quite good at the long end though more so in the 200-250mm range.
  • I know this will be met with some suspicion, but I have one of those 500mm f8 long lenses, and it is actually quite good. (Mine is the Tou/Five Star label, but there are many others.) It's big, but it's very light and does come with the tripod mount. It's a preset, but it has an easy way to open it up for focusing before closing it down to shoot. Yes, f8 is slow, but when you're shooting at long distances, f8-11 gives you some workable depth of field. BTW, these tend to be T-mount lenses, but T > K mount adapters are very cheap. You have to do everything in manual, though. And when I say it's quite good, what I mean is that it produces better images than cropping / enlarging pics shot w/ the DAL 55-300.
  • Maybe not the best for birds, but maybe check something in the 200mm range. You can get a Takumar in f4 or f5.6 for well under $100 or the Pentax M 200. I'm told that the Pentax K 200 is better, but they are harder to find and certainly more expensive.
  • Another option is a teleconverter. Very mixed results on these... I have a Focal MC 2x that actually can (sometimes, especially if you have lots of light) do better than shooting without the tc and cropping/enlarging. Even better, I have a somewhat less ambitious Kenko Pz-AF 1.5x Teleplus SHQ that can more consistently deliver better results.
My budget bottom line at this point when I want longest reach is to use the 500mm f8. If I don't want to carry that around or want to go handheld, I use the DAL 55-300 and can use the Kenko 1.5x for extra reach.

UPDATE: Duh... now I see that your budget is $1000 not $100. Then, from all I've been able to ascertain, get the DA *300. That's my long term plan.

02-26-2014, 07:41 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by hobkyl Quote
I'm in want of a telephoto lens, but am not sure which one will suit my needs and keep me "happy" for years to come.

Budget-under $1000

Primary use-backyard/park birding, squirrels, deer etc.

I see several lenses that may suit my need from here and other places including

Pentax 300 or 400 mf
Pentax DA 55-300
Pentax DA 300 (waiting till I have enough saved up to get)
Sigma 170-500 APO DG
Sigma 150-500
Sigma 400 APO mf (have read there are issues with lens cement)



Just not sure based on what I will be using it for, what will satisfy my needs without breaking the bank but also not wanting me to run out and buy a different lens next year.

I've been considering renting the DA 300 and the Bigma and trying them out, but would rather not spend $100+ on that as it could be used towards purchasing a lens.

Thanks!
If you want to shot birds then longer than 300mm is important. The DA 300 combined with the soon to come 1.4TC will be a very nice combination but at a cost probably between $1,500 and $2,000 depending on sales. The Sigma 150-500mm (currently on sale for $900) gets pretty decent reviews and takes you to that 500mm range. As always there are a series of compromises to sort through to pick your best option.
Good luck!
02-26-2014, 07:53 AM   #10
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I'm leaning towards the Sigma 150-500.

I haven't really explored the world of primes, and while from all I gather they are the creme de la creme of lenses...not sure how that would work out for moving wildlife in relation to where I am set up. Seems a zoom would offer that versatility in case a bird was in close or further away.

Decisions decisions. Been researching for close a week and ready to pull the trigger this week...still just undecided.

Would those recommending the 150-500, prefer that over say the 170-500 or 400 (can be had for under $400, but am concerned about haze/lens cement issues)?
02-26-2014, 08:49 AM - 1 Like   #11
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I have a friend with the 170-500 and after we compared between it and my 150-500 he sold his and is in the market for the 150-500. It is that much better. Both of us us a K5.
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