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05-03-2016, 05:13 AM   #1
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Best sub $100 telephoto lens

Hello!

I am new to this forum but have been reading lens reviews from this site for a while. I am a student and don't have a ton of money and I am looking for the best telephoto lens under or around the hundered dollar mark. I curently have a 50mm f 1.4 m-series lens that I love and have been using my Grandfathers 80-200mm f 3.9 JCPenny lens that produces some underwhelming photos and will be replacing. I love prime lenses and have been torn between a m-series 135mm f3.5 and a F-series 70-210mm f4. Would either of those be a good bet for me or am I leaving out something else that performs better than those for a similar price.

Thanks,
Kurt Egelhaaf

05-03-2016, 05:35 AM   #2
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The M series 135 is a pretty good lens in my opinion (I own it), and in my mind one of its virtues is that at least when it's focused to infinity, it's the shortest lens I've ever seen for its focal length. This may be of interest to you if you prefer to take only a small camera bag or even just a vest with large pockets, and if you don't mind being restricted to one focal length.

It depends also on what camera you are using - if you have a digital camera, or one of the autofocus, auto-winding film bodies, I would go for the F-series 70-210 as you get not only autofocus but automatic aperture control through the camera's own controls (with other benefits, e.g. in the way the camera handles flash). For the manual focus film bodies, AF is wasted and manual focus with AF lenses is sometimes not the best (with the cheaper FA-series lenses it is actually pretty awful), so the M 135/3.5 might be the better option.
05-03-2016, 05:45 AM   #3
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Yeah, what body are you using?
If digital, you might find a used DA 50-200 for cheap.

Also, keep an eye open for Promaster lenses. I picked up a 28-105 with a film body, autofocus, which performs very well. The package cost me like $40.

M or A 135s should be available inexpensively, as well.
05-03-2016, 05:48 AM - 1 Like   #4
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For a longer zoom keep an eye out for a Tamron/Sigma/Quantaray 70-300 Macro. Pretty good for sub 100 dollars.

05-03-2016, 05:51 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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My opinion - SMC Pentax-A 70-210 f4.

Edit: I was on my cell earlier so I couldn't do a proper response.

I have the Tamron 70-300 LD DI. While it's an OK lens at f8, the AF is useful for my kids sports, which is the reason I keep it around. Eventually I'd like to replace it with the Pentax 55-300 (which can also sometimes be found for 100 dollars in its DAL version, which is a cheaper build with no quick shift and with a plastic mount).

Back to the A 70-210. It's manual focus but it eats the Tamron at any aperture, and the pictures have a very pleasing look to them.

This is at f4 (wide open) at the long end. I hear the M or A 200 f4 can't match it wide open and is just similar stopped down.


This is also wide open, and cropped.


It's even sharper at f5.6, prime sharp. This one has the focus on the 2nd vase so if you pixel peep it on flickr, you'll see just how sharp it is.


The bokeh is always very pleasing



I've even used it indoors where the f4 at the long end is very handy. The F version the OP is looking at is f/4-5.6, so f5.6 at the long end which makes it harder to use in low light.

Last edited by ChristianRock; 05-03-2016 at 07:42 AM.
05-03-2016, 06:00 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Look on EBAY and KEH as well for an SMCA 200mm f4. It's a decent tele especially @ f6.3~8, the pull-forward lens hood is the way all lens hoods should be made for SFL teles, and very clean, almost LN copies go for under $100. It works well for close ups with Raynox macro explorer lenses. HIGHLY recommend this as an inexpensive medium-length tele.

Also recommended by VoiceOfReason above, Tamron's AF 70~300mm LD macro is one of those lenses that is far better than it has a right to be at the price point. It is available NEW from B&H for $165. That is an absolute steal! The Sigma versions are also well worth considering.
05-03-2016, 06:24 AM   #7
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Thank you all for the quick replies. I have a K5 and am familiar with using film and manual lenses. At this point would a new lens be better for telephoto purposes? I have been getting good deals on most of the lenses I have bought but the deals on the F 70-210 just aren't low enough (usually about $100 for a copy without fungus). For that price should I just look at buying new, or are there lenses that I am missing like the non SMC F 70-210 F4? Also is DC autofocus available for sub 250?

05-03-2016, 06:34 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by EgelhaafKurt Quote
Thank you all for the quick replies. I have a K5 and am familiar with using film and manual lenses. At this point would a new lens be better for telephoto purposes? I have been getting good deals on most of the lenses I have bought but the deals on the F 70-210 just aren't low enough (usually about $100 for a copy without fungus). For that price should I just look at buying new, or are there lenses that I am missing like the non SMC F 70-210 F4? Also is DC autofocus available for sub 250?
Occasionally on a used copy of the 18-135 WR you can get a DC lens for 200-250.
05-03-2016, 06:48 AM   #9
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Best sub $100 telephoto lens

I agree with WPRESTO, the Tamron 70-300mm is a great lens with a macro feature that comes in handy and can be bought for much less than $100 used. Some purple fringing (PF) is a downside.
If you don't mind manual and heavy zoom lens, I recommend the Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 60-300mm f3.8-5.4 (23A) ..... but with a PK-A adapter on it. Or you can get one with a PK adapter and use stop down metering. I use one with my K-5 and am very pleased with it. I use a PK-A adapter which I swap on to my other SP Tamrons, 19AH and 26A.
The Adaptall system lenses also provide purple fringing but not quite as bad as the 70-300 in my opinion which belies the theory that lenses produced for digital cameras have less than the old manual lenses. Apparently a good processing package can eliminate the dreaded PF
The forum lens database has reviews on many Tamron zooms that can be bought as a rule are great value for money.
Just my two pennyworth.
05-03-2016, 08:05 AM - 1 Like   #10
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The best telephoto zoom lens I've ever run across under $100 is the M 75-150 f4. It's better than the F 70-210 in the 100 to 150 range, and it comes with a built-in hood, which is kind of handy. The best telephoto prime I've ever used is the aforementioned M 135 f3.5.

If a copy of the F 70-210 can be found under $100, it might qualify as the best AF telephoto zoom under $100 (I paid $113 for my copy). Otherwise, a used DA 50-200 would make for a solid alternate choice in the AF category.
05-03-2016, 08:27 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by VoiceOfReason Quote
Occasionally on a used copy of the 18-135 WR you can get a DC lens for 200-250.
That seems like a pretty nice option for the role I have for this lens.

Also does anyone have any opinions on the F 70-200mm F4 lens? I have heard good and bad in the reviews. Some say it is basically a 70-210 minus the coating, while others say to watch out for copies with white lettering as orange lettering indicates a better production run. I have found this in excellent condtition for around 30-50 dollars. Is that lens worth the price?

---------- Post added 05-03-16 at 08:35 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
My opinion - SMC Pentax-A 70-210 f4.

Edit: I was on my cell earlier so I couldn't do a proper response.

I have the Tamron 70-300 LD DI. While it's an OK lens at f8, the AF is useful for my kids sports, which is the reason I keep it around. Eventually I'd like to replace it with the Pentax 55-300 (which can also sometimes be found for 100 dollars in its DAL version, which is a cheaper build with no quick shift and with a plastic mount).

Back to the A 70-210. It's manual focus but it eats the Tamron at any aperture, and the pictures have a very pleasing look to them.

This is at f4 (wide open) at the long end. I hear the M or A 200 f4 can't match it wide open and is just similar stopped down.


This is also wide open, and cropped.


It's even sharper at f5.6, prime sharp. This one has the focus on the 2nd vase so if you pixel peep it on flickr, you'll see just how sharp it is.


The bokeh is always very pleasing



I've even used it indoors where the f4 at the long end is very handy. The F version the OP is looking at is f/4-5.6, so f5.6 at the long end which makes it harder to use in low light.
Thank you for the detailed response! I have yet to consider that lens but I definitely will now. Is this the lens here? : SMC Pentax A Zoom 70 210mm F4 Lens | eBay
05-03-2016, 08:51 AM   #12
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When I upgraded from K10 to K5 I found the Tamron 70-300 had unacceptable purple fringing. Otherwise, it is very good - fast to focus, and always accurate. That was before I was using Lightroom which can remove the fringing, so maybe it's not as bad as I thought. I really should sell that lens, I'm not using it. I think a fair price for the Tamron 70-300 used would be around $75.

A DAL 55-300 isn't much more expensive, though you will need to buy a lens hood.
05-03-2016, 08:52 AM   #13
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Depending on how much tele you need, I would add the M100 2.8 to the list, it's probably the best lens I've used in that focal and price range (better than the 135 in my opinion and faster, but not as much reach, but then again smaller).
05-03-2016, 08:52 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by EgelhaafKurt Quote
Also does anyone have any opinions on the F 70-200mm F4 lens? I have heard good and bad in the reviews. Some say it is basically a 70-210 minus the coating, while others say to watch out for copies with white lettering as orange lettering indicates a better production run. I have found this in excellent condtition for around 30-50 dollars. Is that lens worth the price?[COLOR="Silver"]
I know it's a small detail, but it's not an f4 lens. It's an f/4-5.6. The 5.6 at the long end makes a lot of difference

Personally, I think I would take the Tamron LD DI 70-300 over it, if you need an AF lens. Make sure it's the DI version as the purple fringing is more controlled - mine's not bad at all for a zoom and doesn't fringe more than my vintage primes.
Reasons - the Tamron at 180mm is a f/4.5 lens and is at its sharpest setting. And it's still very good at 200mm. Anywhere above 250mm and it's not very good, but you wouldn't have that with the 70-200 anyway. The Pentax-F has poor coatings - the Tamron's are not as good as the usual Pentax SMC but they're not that bad.

Here's the Tamron at 180mm


180mm again. Notice this and the previous one are at f8 which is where it's sharpest. The A 70-210, I believe, is as good as this wide open (but the in focus area will be smaller of course).


Here's the Tamron at 70mm wide open. I also use this setting for portraits sometimes.


I paid 80.00 for my Tamron.

QuoteQuote:
Thank you for the detailed response! I have yet to consider that lens but I definitely will now. Is this the lens here? : SMC Pentax A Zoom 70 210mm F4 Lens | eBay
Yes, that is the lens. Again, remember it's a manual focus lens. So make sure you can live with that.

Otherwise, if you can stretch your budget just a little bit and get this one you for sure won't be sorry: Used Pentax SMCP-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED Autofocus Lens 21720 B&H
05-03-2016, 09:58 AM   #15
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What do you guys think of the Tokina 70-210 4-5.6 (or Pentax F 70-210) or the Pentax 50-200 :?
They could fall within that price range if hunted properly ... :?
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