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03-05-2016, 03:48 PM   #1
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Best Zoom of 300MM for Wildlife

Hi Friends,

I have a thread in the KS2 forum, asking for help deciding between the KS2 and K50 cameras. Whichever one I get will be used primarily for wildlife in the National Parks and small critters around my home, squirrels, birds, etc.

I once had a K50 and still not sure why I sold it? I used almost exclusively a Sigma 18-250mm and might go that route again. I'd really like to have the most reach I can get though, in a reasonable sized lens. I notice that Pentax has two 55-300mm lenses, one WR and one not. I'm sure that Tamron and Sigma also offer lenses for Pentax cameras.

If anyone has a long zoom they really like, or don't like, I'd sure appreciate hearing your opinions.

Thanks!

Jack

03-05-2016, 03:58 PM   #2
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Cheaper the 55-300 would be best, a bit more (if you can find one used) is the Sigma 150-500 or Sigma 50-500, and then top of the line right now in a long zoom is the DFA 150-450. Of course you can find a used Pentax 250-600 for the price of a really good used car.

If looking for an all in one then see if you can get the Sigma 18-300 or go with a 2 lens kit.
03-05-2016, 04:08 PM   #3
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DA L 55-300 on a budget, HD DA 55-300mm for a little more features, DA* 50-250mm for something good, or DFA 150-450mm to definitely cover the telephoto range.
QuoteOriginally posted by Setter Dog Quote
I notice that Pentax has two 55-300mm lenses, one WR and one not. I'm sure that Tamron and Sigma also offer lenses for Pentax cameras.
Pentax made a couple versions of 55-300mm. They have the same optical construction, but different features. The HD version is most different from the other ones, since it has newer lens coatings (HD instead of SMC) and it might have different shape aperture blades. This does not have a huge effect, but it might have a slight advantage.
Tamron and Sigma do offer lenses for Pentax, but not the full lineup. I think Tamron 70-200mm as well as some Sigma zooms that go to 500mm are available for Pentax K. And also the 70-300mm "macro" zooms (from both Sigma and Tamron), which some people like a lot, but others claim the HD DA 55-300mm is better.


Here are links to informal user reviews of the three different versions of 55-300mm, and then the Sigma and Tamron 70-300mm zooms. The review numbers are not supper accurate, but the comments and sample photos can be helpful
https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/SMC-Pentax-DAL-55-300mm-F4-5.8-Zoom-Lens.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/SMC-Pentax-DA-55-300mm-F4-5.8-Zoom-Lens.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/hd-pentax-da-55-300mm-f4-5.8-ed-wr.html

https://www.pentaxforums.com/userreviews/sigma-70-300mm-f4-5-6-apo-dg-macro.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/userreviews/tamron-70-300mm-f4-5-6-af-di-ld-macro.html
03-05-2016, 04:12 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
HD DA 55-300mm for a little more features, DA* 50-250mm for something good, or DFA 150-450mm to definitely cover the telephoto range.
Essentially what I was going to say, but as usual in more detail and better explained.

03-05-2016, 04:13 PM   #5
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Also, I would recommend you avoid superzoom lenses, because the main strength of interchangeable-lens cameras is that you can.. well, change lenses. Shorter zooms generally have better image quality, and fixed focal length (prime) lenses are better still.
03-05-2016, 05:23 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the suggestions!

Good suggestions from all of you. Thanks so much,...

Has anyone used the 18-270mm Pentax? I realize it's not 300mm, but, on paper, it looks like a useful lens.

Jack
03-05-2016, 05:57 PM   #7
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It's hard to pick out a "best" lens because your budget will play a big role, but as far as value is concerned, it's hard to beat the Pentax 55-300mm. Beyond this lens, I think it's important not to overlook the DA* 60-250mm. While it doesn't have as long of a focal length, it should outresolve the 55-300mm and deliver better image quality overall. Plus, you get an extra stop of light which is always good

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03-05-2016, 06:30 PM   #8
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Prices for the 60-250 are probably at historical lows, too, so do consider!

03-05-2016, 08:35 PM   #9
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Also, if you can find it used, the Sigma 100-300 F4 if you're willing to pay ~$1100 USD
03-05-2016, 09:30 PM   #10
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The single in social group has had a few people use the 18-270 with strong results, but as a superzoom it doesn't compete in as many shooting situations as the premium DA* 60-250 for example.

What is your goal more specifically, why 300mm and why zoom? What shooting conditions? What budget?
03-06-2016, 12:21 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Setter Dog Quote
Whichever one I get will be used primarily for wildlife in the National Parks and small critters around my home, squirrels, birds, etc.

I once had a K50 and still not sure why I sold it? I used almost exclusively a Sigma 18-250mm and might go that route again. I'd really like to have the most reach I can get though, in a reasonable sized lens. I notice that Pentax has two 55-300mm lenses, one WR and one not. I'm sure that Tamron and Sigma also offer lenses for Pentax cameras.

If anyone has a long zoom they really like, or don't like, I'd sure appreciate hearing your opinions.
Hi Jack,

If you are really serious about wildlife photography, you will not be happy with a consumer zoom. Good quality telephoto lenses don't come cheap. A good quality long zoom will be even more expensive than a good quality long prime.

I have tried all king of telephoto lenses, old and new, zooms and primes, and the only one that makes me smile every time I use it is the Pentax F*300/4.5. It's more or less flawless (except for a somewhat busy bokeh) and very compact for a 300mm lens. It is also very sturdy and covers full frame. Of course, it's not a cheap lens (around $1,000 for a mint sample) but you will not regret if you buy it.

To give you an idea of the optical quality, here's a picture of the moon taken the other day at F/5.6:



The most remarkable point is that I took the picture with a Kenko 3X teleconverter (this combination is equivalent to a 900/13.5 lens). A teleconverter not only magnifies the image but also all the defects of the lens, and specifically the chromatic aberrations. As you can see on the above picture, the picture is sharp, clean and there are absolutely no colored fringes (and I didn't apply any correction in post), even when used with a 3X teleconverter!

Needless to say I never use the 3X teleconverter on other telephoto lenses, simply because the result is not worth it and I get better quality by cropping the original picture.

Cheers!

Abbazz
03-06-2016, 03:16 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by wissink Quote
if you can find it used, the Sigma 100-300 F4 if you're willing to pay ~$1100 USD
Totally worth it though:


Pentax K5IIs- Sigma 100-300mm f/4 APO EX DG ISO 320 f/11 1/500th
03-06-2016, 03:55 AM - 1 Like   #13
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The DA 55-300 lenses are the same optically, the only difference is that the HD version has newer coatings and weather sealing. They are really decent lenses, but the issue with all of these lenses is getting enough light to have a decent shutter speed. I would stay away from super zooms like the 18-250 or 18-270 or 18-300 lenses. They are OK as walk around lenses, but pretty weak on the long end.

These are a couple of recent shots with the DA 55-300.







If you are serious about doing wildlife, then looking at the DA *300 or the DFA 150-450 are certainly the way to go. They are sharper lenses at similar aperture. If wildlife isn't a big deal, then I would look seriously at a combo like the 18-135/16-85 and one of the DA 55-300 versions together. I think you'd get better image quality with that then with a single super zoom lens.
03-06-2016, 06:31 AM   #14
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While not really 300 a sigma 70-200/2.8 with a teleconverter is very good depending on wh Ch version of the sigma you get.

The first version without macro (about 12 years old now) using sigmas TC or the latest one with the Pentax 1.4x TC would be very good but not cheap
03-06-2016, 01:05 PM   #15
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I am very happy with my Sigma 18-300mm. I think it is sharp at 300mm from f6.3.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/boergelein/sets/72157663031391420
Boer1974's Album: Sigma 18-300mm - PentaxForums.com

Last edited by Boer1974; 03-06-2016 at 01:15 PM.
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