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07-13-2016, 03:16 PM   #1
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Long tele, what are the options ?

Hi everybody,

I am getting more and more into wildlife photography. Currently I have a K-50 with a Takumar F 70-210 lens as my telephoto zoom. I realize that I don't have sufficient reach with it to get the pictures I want and that too often I have to crop rather heavily.

So I am in the market now for a long telephoto lens. I have written down the important criteria for me which are in order of importance :

- at least 300mm on the long end
- weather sealed
- less then 500,00 € used
- fast and silent AF

I don't have any problems with screw drive AF (except the noise), though I miss many shots with my 70-210 as the K-50 tracking isn't that good, but I presume it is related to the body. The noisy AF could be a problem for bigger wildlife, such as boars and deer, so I might consider some kind of ultrasonic AF.

Lenses which I have looked at so far:

HD 55-300 WR: Weather sealed, but noisy and slow AF

Sigma 120-400: Fast and silent AF, not weather sealed

Pentax DA* 60-250: Fast and silent AF, weather sealed, not 300mm and not within price range

Tamron or Sigma 70-300: Slow and noisy AF, not weather sealed

Pentax FA 80-320: Slow and noisy AF, not weather sealed

I am starting to get desperate since I have this problem every time I switch back to Pentax after trying other brands and honestly I would dream of a Tamron SP 70-300 f/4-5.6 Di VC USD for the K-mount

Any help or suggestions for a long tele would be greatly appreciated.

07-13-2016, 03:25 PM   #2
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The new 55-300mm PLM would fit the bill, since it's designed for fast AF, but that lens isn't compatible with the K-50. You'd have to upgrade to the K-S2 or K-70.

My recommendation would be to get a used DA* 60-250mm. You should be able to find one for close to your budget. While it doesn't go all the way up to 300mm, it's actually better cropped than say the 55-300mm.

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07-13-2016, 03:25 PM   #3
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Does not exist. Pony up some more dough for a used Pentax DA* 300. Nice things cost money
07-13-2016, 03:29 PM   #4
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Really, the HD 55-300 is pretty decent. I have many great shots with it, and AF on my K3 isn't an issue. Image quality is not up there with the best (most expensive), but it certainly isn't shabby. And it is very compact for its focal length range.

The new silent KAF4 version unfortunately won't work on your K50.

07-13-2016, 03:55 PM   #5

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55/300mm is a good lens....add a 1.4x TC for 420mm, I used this combo on my k50s and now use it on K1.
07-13-2016, 04:04 PM   #6

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DA 55-300 (any version, even DA L) can deliver excellent results.
Shoot it well (good AF mode, good shutter speed, good light, stable grip, no UV filter , f5.6 or f8) and it will reward you. The screw drive noise isn't too bad either. Not any worse/more intrusive than the shutter noise of some cameras (eg K-x) that I've used with the 55-300.
07-13-2016, 04:57 PM   #7
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If you can live without WR and stretch your budget a little look for a Sigma 150-500 used.
07-13-2016, 05:21 PM   #8

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It sounds like you are really looking for the reach factor. For birds and other wildlife, reach is the most valuable tool to have in a lot of cases. The 55-300 you mentioned along with the 1.4 teleconverter might help you, but the tc is near the cost of a new camera that will work with the newer lenses in the future for you. Silent AF is a quality that is important if you really plan on shooting wildlife effectively. For example, I had an earlier version of the 55-300, and it took nice pictures but the AF was not silent and I did not have the zoom reach I needed, so I traded in the 55-300 and bought a new Sigma 150-500 DG OS lens. The 150-500 has served me well ever since, and the silent AF and reach are both there when I use it with my K-3II now. If I were you, a setup giving you 400 mm or more (I would need at least 500 preferably) and silent AF would be good. The 120-400 you mentioned might be a candidate if you can find one that is new or in mint condition. A new camera that can use the newer Pentax lenses (ex. newer 55-300) and the Pentax tc effectively might be something to have on your list for future equipment also, just to have the compatibility advantage.

Good luck and happy shooting.

07-13-2016, 07:21 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
Pony up some more dough for a used Pentax DA* 300.
I second this. It's truly stellar and quite reasonably priced.
07-13-2016, 07:38 PM   #10
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Don't rush it.
Practice with what you have at the moment.
Try and add a few bucks to your lens "fund" regularly.
Get a good (used) DA*300/4 when the time is right !

Love mine ... never leaves the K3 !
07-13-2016, 11:40 PM   #11
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Few lenses ever feel long enough in wildlife, unless you work on your skills in getting closer to the wildlife. The HD 55-300 WR isn't a bad start. It isn't the sharpest but its decently sharp with good colour saturation and contrast. You could use that first and save and wait for something with better reach - like the DFA 150-450 much later.
07-14-2016, 12:24 AM   #12
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I would get the DA* 300 mm, its available for 700-1000 USD or the 60-250 mm (similar price) used on ebay... if that's not an option I'd get the newest DA55-300mm
07-14-2016, 06:36 AM   #13
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if fast af, relatively quiet, and reach are all to be achieved within the price you give, i will give you an option from left field.

get the pentax F 1.7X AF Converter, and then pick your manual focus lens af F4 or faster to pair with it.

i say this because the af elements in the 1.7x converter are very small and light and focus quickly because you approach focus manually with the mf lens first.

this works with any mf lens f 4 or faster so you need to get the sharpest mf lens(zoom or prime) to use with it.

for lens suggestions, i would recommend for primes, the K/M/A 300F4, the \A being preferred as it then lets the camera work in all exposure modes, or one of the vivitar series 1 70-210 lenses, again a KA mount lens is better so later versions to give all exposure modes.

i use the K300/4 with the AF adapter and it gives a very useful 500mm lens at a combined weight of 1.1 kilos
07-15-2016, 12:07 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
Pony up some more dough for a used Pentax DA* 300. Nice things cost money
I ponied up for the FA*300 and don't regret it. For sharpness it's up there with the DFA 100. Compact, relatively light weight (935g, several hundred grams light than the DA*300), full frame (useful in case you go that way later), good control of CA, a nice MF clutch which is pretty close to QS. Cheaper than even a used DA*300. Doesn't have weather sealing. Screw drive AF, but quieter than the 55-300. Screw drive may be better for longevity too - always a shadow of doubt about SDM AF lenses.

Bang for buck, the 55-300 is unbeatable. But go up a class to the * lenses (whether current or previous generation) and the image quality is a lot better.
07-15-2016, 12:40 AM - 1 Like   #15
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The 55-300 isn't too shabby

Popped out and shot a New Holland Honeyeater this afternoon with the HD DA 55-300 on the K1 in crop mode. 1/1000 sec, f/8, 300mm, ISO2500. It ain't DFA* sharp, but it's pretty damned useable!


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