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03-29-2014, 12:45 PM   #1
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Upgrade old 70-300 lens - Help wanted

Having just invested in a K-3 I'm looking to upgrade my lenses and would appreciate your opinions. Heres my current arsenal :
- Pentax DA ED AL 18-135 f3.5-5.6
- Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6 APO macro
- Pentax DA AL 35mm f2.4

I'm looking to upgrade that Sigma zoom which is terribly slow to focus, here are my requirements :
- Zoom up to around 300mm
- Weight < 800g, I realise this rules out the really serious lenses but I want something that I can take around everywhere
- I don't need WR, my 18-135 can suffice in bad weather
- I'm willing to buy second-hand
- Budget flexible but thinking < 600, $1000, happy if its less!
- Fast to focus, for kids sports

Thanks in advance !

03-29-2014, 01:16 PM   #2
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I don't think there's a fast focusing lens that fits the bill size wise. I'd otherwise recommend the pentax 55-300mm, pentax 60-250mm, or sigma 70-200mm os hsm.
03-29-2014, 03:34 PM   #3
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Congratulations on investing in a camera that's well suited to your task!

You're only going to have to compromise on one criteria - no zoom.


Once you see the quality of photos coming out you won't mind so much.

I've been spending quite a bit of time on this topic lately - not only with my own equipment, but also borrowing other equipment.



Here's the story.

Pentax is not optimized for sports, yet many Pentaxians have managed to get good shots with one. Pentax realized their weakness in AF performance and have made significant strides in the last couple of generations, with the K-3 being the best. Like I said - good choice! Here are two threads you may have seen on sports photography using Pentax:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/115-pentax-k-5/115277-k-5-sports-photography-112.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/172-pentax-k-3/242969-sports-images-k-3-a.html

My images are here: EventTime Photos


Contrary to most (if not all) other brands you'll actually get better AF performance on your K-3 if you buy a screw-drive lens. The only lenses with in-lens motors fast enough to consider are the DA*300/4, Sigma 70-200/2.8 OS HSM (latest version only), and possibly the DA*60-250/4. I've used the first two recently, and while AF performance wasn't up to my screw-drive lenses (even on a K-5 IIs), they were usable for sports. The most prominent guy I know of who was using the DA*60-250 for sports was Ron Hendricks, and it worked OK, but he gave up on it and is using the DA*300. He told me he believed the screw-drive *300 lenses focused even faster than his DA*300, and when I compared them directly this turned out to be true.


I think you have 5 possible good options here in screw-drive. You should use one or more to take advantage of the way your K-3's been optimized:

- DA55-300 (any version) - definitely won't give you the IQ of the other 4, but will still give you some good shots and may focus fast enough. It's economical.

- Tamron 70-200/2.8 - much cheaper than the Sigma. I haven't had a chance for hands-on with one yet, but from what others have said about it on current bodies - combined with my experience - I believe it will also focus as fast or faster than the Sigma on a K-3. Most Pentaxians don't buy both lenses plus a new K-3 (in order to directly compare them), so they're relying on older information. But Tamron owners with newer bodies are happy with the AF performance.

- Pentax F or FA135/2.8. Fairly economical, very small, fast focusing, high IQ. One of my favorites.

- Pentax FA*200. Optically identical design to the DA*200, which I owned for about 2 weeks. IQ on the DA*200 was nice, but the SDM AF speed was horribly slow for fast moving sports. However, the screw-drive FA*200 should be the best of both worlds.

- Pentax F* or FA* 300. I got noticeably better focusing performance with the F*300 than the DA*300 indoors in a gym last weekend. I also think the IQ is slightly better on the F* and FA*, and the F* has a built-in hood. But make sure your F* is a good copy, because only some of the spare parts are still available. If you'd rather not have to cover your lens up in the rain you can get away with the DA*300, but you will miss more shots due to focus issues.


A long shot that might work well here is the economical Tokina 80-200/2.8, but I don't know of anyone using it for sports on a current body, so we're not really sure.

Last edited by DSims; 03-29-2014 at 03:59 PM.
03-29-2014, 03:45 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I don't think there's a fast focusing lens that fits the bill size wise. I'd otherwise recommend the pentax 55-300mm, pentax 60-250mm, or sigma 70-200mm os hsm.
Its something between the Pentax 55-300 and 60-250 that I think I'm looking for in terms of size and optics, if not I guess I'll just go for the newer 55-300 version I think, something over 1kg is not going to get the use from me.

03-29-2014, 03:56 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by SteveUK Quote
Its something between the Pentax 55-300 and 60-250 that I think I'm looking for in terms of size and optics, if not I guess I'll just go for the newer 55-300 version I think, something over 1kg is not going to get the use from me.
Sounds like you might want the (newer) 70-300 Tamron, but it's not available for Pentax, and it's not clear if the AF speed would be better than the other lower-cost alternatives. The 55-300 Pentax is a pretty good lens, if you can find a good copy. The WR and DA have some nice features compared to some of the 3rd party alternatives - quick shift, notably.
03-29-2014, 03:58 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
...

You're only going to have to compromise on one criteria - no zoom....
Thanks, I considered foregoing zoom and if I could reliably predict what I'm photographing, I think that could be the way, but families are unpredictable and I fear I would miss too many shots ... possibly a 55-300 plus a cheap prime.
03-29-2014, 04:02 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by SteveUK Quote
Thanks, I considered foregoing zoom and if I could reliably predict what I'm photographing, I think that could be the way, but families are unpredictable and I fear I would miss too many shots ... possibly a 55-300 plus a cheap prime.
It's not the shots you miss that matters, it's the shots you get. And if you want to get the good ones, this is how to do it on a Pentax.



But if you're still afraid of not having zoom, the Tamron 70-200 is by far your better value. The DA55-300 is good but not great.


Just remember, fear leads to mediocrity. Boldness leads to many spectacular crashes and some shining successes. Since there are no broken bones in photography you might as well go for it!

Last edited by DSims; 03-29-2014 at 04:12 PM.
03-29-2014, 04:34 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
...


Just remember, fear leads to mediocrity. Boldness leads to many spectacular crashes and some shining successes. Since there are no broken bones in photography you might as well go for it!
There is much sense here ... good case for the Tamron & getting a monopod !

03-29-2014, 04:47 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by SteveUK Quote
There is much sense here ... good case for the Tamron & getting a monopod !
As much as I like my primes, I think that would be a really good idea!
03-29-2014, 05:37 PM   #10
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I've never had any focusing issues with my Sigma 70-300 as long as the light was strong. It always has been acceptably fast for outside sports. In low light, I have had issues but I think you will find that with any consumer telephoto. The 70-200/2.8 will probably work better since it will allow more light for the focusing sensor. The 55-300 is a good lens but it will exhibit the same focusing problems you had with the Sigma because it just isn't a very fast lens.
03-29-2014, 08:06 PM   #11
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I haven't done a lot of sports with the 55-300, but if you learn how to quick shift you can do pretty well, but you definitely couldn't use it inside. I agree the 70-200 2.8 is a better option, it's just not weather sealed, but that what rain sleeves are for. I've recently got a Tamron 70-200, it seems pretty fast to focus. I've only used it at a basketball game, soccer will be more challenging.
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