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04-05-2016, 12:56 PM   #1
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Pentax 55-300 WR vs Sigma 70-300 APO Macro

Hey guys thinking about buying an upgrade to my 50-200 WR kit lens, which I plan to sell to fund the 55-300 or the 70-300. To be quite honest I really like this lens and my only complaint is that it doesn't have the reach. My upgrade is mostly from a reach perspective, but since I'm upgrading I figured I'd see what you guys thought about a competitor.

This is the lens I'm looking at: Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO DG Macro Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

This is the Pentax lens: HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR Reviews - DA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

The Pentax seemingly gets better reviews but none of the pictures shown look particularly great, the Sigma's does. I understand that is likely user issue so I'd like to see what you guys thought. I imagine either would be a step up from the 55-200 in IQ?

Anyway, thanks in advance!

Last edited by photolady95; 04-05-2016 at 06:21 PM.
04-05-2016, 01:15 PM   #2
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How much does the WR matter to you?
04-05-2016, 01:22 PM   #3
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Not hugely so, but it's nice to have especially since I'm going to be using either outside.
04-05-2016, 01:27 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by keanex Quote
The Pentax seemingly gets better reviews but none of the pictures shown look particularly great, the Sigma's does.
I have a detailed review with sample images on my blog, in case you're interested

04-05-2016, 01:28 PM   #5
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Sigma APO version has obvious yellow cast in the image, if that bothers you.
Copy variation is big in sigmas. Try them before buy or make sure return is possible. I went through 4-5 copies years ago to find a good one.
Pentax is smaller.
04-05-2016, 02:56 PM   #6

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The Pentax is smaller and better built, and it's optically on par or better. The Sigma covers FF and can focus really close when set to the macro range.
04-05-2016, 04:27 PM   #7
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I have the pentax lens and a previous version of the Sigma so this may or may not be helpful but thought I would put it out there. The Sigma that I have is the 70-300 F4-5.6 DL Macro rated at 8.92 in the lens review section.

I picked a used version of this Sigma on the forum here and took a lot of great bird pictures. Both stationary and in flight. Like you I wanted more reach and the 50-200 kit lens was not enough. The price was $75 as I recall and is typical for the lens used.About a year later I was able to purchase a new version of the Pentax. Shortly after I took them out to take some pictures so I could observe what was different about them. Here is what I found:

- Photos using the Sigma have a yellowish/green tint compared to the Pentax. I like the Pentax but that is personal preference and in PP you can change the tint/warmth, etc.

- Both feel similar in size and weight to me.

- The Sigma has the Macro feature which I wish the Pentax had. When wildlife was slow I enjoyed flipping the macro switch and fining other things to shoot.

- Both lens seem to hunt at times and for me neither has an advantage here.

When putting on a tripod and taking photos of a Bald Eagle roost a half mile away the Pentax was clearly sharper.

I would be good with either lens but since I have them both I default to the Pentax because it can be quite sharp while the Sigma can still do very well. So for me if it was the difference in $170 new for a Sigma or $285 or so for the Pentax I would hold out for the Pentax. In addition I have seen the non water resistant versions of the Pentax going for $185 or maybe less used here on the forum. So If I only had $200 I would look for a good used Pentax because in my case it was clearly sharper which for bird photography can be significant.

Hope that helps

Last edited by photolady95; 04-05-2016 at 06:23 PM.
04-05-2016, 04:52 PM   #8
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I had the Sigma, it was nice and yes the closer focus was handy.
The AF action was startlingly violent on the later bodies.
The af/mf switch fell off.
My 55-300 is lighter, sharper image with full time MF.
Still needs f11 at 300 for best image but all good. That link is the older DA so WR presumably better

Last edited by Transit; 04-05-2016 at 04:58 PM.
04-05-2016, 05:10 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Transit Quote
Still needs f11 at 300 for best image but all good. That link is the older DA so WR presumably better
No, the two lenses are identical optically. The newer version only gained WR and the HD coating, which should only affect image quality with a lot of stray light, which the big lens hood should block out very well anyway.

The one thing Ricoh forgot to add when they updated the lens is silent DC focusing, which is a massive shame as it appears to be the only lens updated in the last years that did not get it and the screw drive is both very slow and very noisy.

Last edited by FantasticMrFox; 04-05-2016 at 05:55 PM.
04-05-2016, 05:27 PM   #10
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I own both a pentax and sigma and would get the pentax first The 300 does work and they are about the same f stop in that range
04-05-2016, 06:24 PM   #11
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Unless Sigma changed the design signficantly, the 70-300mm is capable of a 1:2 macro ratio if thats something you're into. Not sure if the Pentax even has the option for close focus shots like that.

The caveat of course is those 1:2 macros have to be taken from like 6 feet away from the subject to get them in focus.
04-05-2016, 06:45 PM   #12
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WR is huge for me. 55-70mm is pretty useful too.
04-05-2016, 07:11 PM - 4 Likes   #13
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I've owned the Tamrons, Sigmas, and Pentax. They all are decent lenses and are capable of delivering fine images. The advantages of the HD 55-300 are the HD coating, WR, excellent build quality, and quick shift focus. The build quality on the HD 55-300 WR is top notch for the price. Both the focus and zoom rings are tight and I have never once experienced lens creep. The downside of the 55-300 is the autofocus. It can hunt like crazy. Using the back focus button can help greatly. Also quick shift focus can help a lot too. Like most consumer zooms you need to stop the lens down to get sharper images. At 300mm I never shoot below f8. When I go camping all I need it the 18-135 and 55-300 for a lightweight set up. With the HD coating you shoot almost directly into the sun with minimal flare. For the price new I think the HD 55-300 is pretty hard to beat.
I have got some pretty nice images with my 55-300.
260mm f8 hand held K3

300mm f9 K3 shooting into the sun.

260mm f8 K3

87mm f10 1/4 second hand held.

300mm f8

04-05-2016, 08:35 PM   #14
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I recently sold my Sigma 70-300mm APO DG Macro after purchasing a DA L 55-300mm

the Sigma took OK pictures, but I did not like the way it handled at all... it felt poorly-constructed, almost clunky (and I had purchased it new).. WR is not an issue for me and by all accounts, the DA L has the same optical formula as the DA 55-300, but no WR, quick-shift, and not a metal mount... all non-issues for me...

the DA L does take a better picture - not dramatically so, but I also prefer how the DA L handles and it does feel like a better-constructed lens...

(just a pair of my cents)
04-06-2016, 05:13 AM   #15
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You guys are all super awesome. I bought the 55-300 to replace my 50-200. I honestly loved the 50-200 and have no regrets about paying the extra money in the kit for it. I took some of my favorite shots with it. I can't wait to play with the 55-300. The more and more I read about Sigma lenses the less I'm inclined to want to buy them. Consistency and quality seems to the the main issues I come across.

Question though, assuming Pentax did put a silent motor in the 55-300, that would increase the costs right? If so, I'm glad they offer it without, though an option to have it with would be a better option as long as both were available.

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