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View Poll Results: Which option do you think will best suit me?
HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE 1184.62%
SMC Pentax-M* 300mm 323.08%
TAIR-3S 300mm F4.5 - Fotosniper 17.69%
Takumar 200mm F3.5   00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 13. You may not vote on this poll

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07-21-2017, 07:51 AM   #1
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Lens advice needed - 300mm on K-3

I have a K-3 with a Sigma DL 70-300mm (NON apo) lens and I'm looking to be able to get a lens that would closer match my camera's capability.

I have been considering 4 different avenues and would like some opinions.

A: HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4.5-6.3 ED PLM WR RE then SELL my Sigma
B: SMC Pentax-M* 300mm then keep my Sigma
C: TAIR-3S 300mm F4.5 - Fotosniper then keep my Sigma
D: Takumar 200mm F3.5 then keep my Sigma

I'm trying to achieve a sharp lens with good color and good aberrations.
I'm fine with a heavier lens. I don't do sporting events, it's mostly for Nature and Landscapes. I'm fine with MF. Budget up to $450 used. Mostly the use would be wildlife.

Mostly, it comes down to How does the HD Pentax-DA 55-300 PLM compare to these other lenses? If it's somewhat close in sharpness then I'd rather go that route so I keep one lens. I would think the DA 55-300 would be better in color/contrast but I have no idea how the sharpness compares.

Just a footnote: Let me just say I am restricted by a budget, so please keep any alternative suggestions realistic with the price range I'm looking at. Yes, I'd love to buy a $600+ apo but that's not in my budget

Thanks!
Dan


Last edited by DanT; 07-21-2017 at 08:41 AM. Reason: Add purpose and budget
07-21-2017, 08:16 AM   #2
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You've not actually mentioned your budget, the proposed use of the lens, or if you prefer new or pre-owned. This info would help us make a more reasoned choice for you, but it all boils down to what you are comfortable with - have you tried any of the lenses ?
07-21-2017, 08:26 AM - 1 Like   #3
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I have the DAL 55-300 and it is quite good with my k3. I would expect newer versions to be even better
07-21-2017, 08:29 AM - 1 Like   #4
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I wouldn't recommend an MF lens for 300mm --- you'll end up missing too many shots. And a lens like the M* 300 f4, although faster and probably sharper than the other options, isn't likely all that much better than the DA 55-300 PLM. So I'd get that little compact zoom. The fact is, if you're really serious about getting the best quality at 300mm, at some point you're going to want to get one of Pentax's AF star 300 primes. When you do that those MF options will instantly become useless. But the DA 55-300 will continue to prove valuable as a compact alternative and as a lens that covers the range under 300mm all the way to 55mm.

07-21-2017, 08:38 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by 35mmfilmfan Quote
You've not actually mentioned your budget, the proposed use of the lens, or if you prefer new or pre-owned. This info would help us make a more reasoned choice for you, but it all boils down to what you are comfortable with - have you tried any of the lenses ?
My Budget would be up to $450.
I haven't tried any of these lenses. Unfortunately there are no places locally that I could rent any of them.
07-21-2017, 08:50 AM - 1 Like   #6
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You need to consider the minimum focusing distance when you buy old telephotos. The MFD of the M* 300 is listed as 400cm. The MFD of the DA 300 PLM is 95cm. If you ever want to take a picture of a bug, the M* 300 is pretty much out of the race.

I have a 300mm Takumar f/4 that is pretty decent at f/8, but the MFD is something like 550cm! I often find myself grumbling about carrying around all the weight of an f/4 lens for what is essentially an f/8 lens in terms of usefulness. Having said that, the old Tak is a pretty capable lens when the circumstances are favourable.
07-21-2017, 10:17 AM   #7
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If a longish MFD is okay, you might want to consider a small ED telescope with a flattener or reducer. They can be quite sharp, and aberrations can be almost non-existent, but there are caveats: You need a decent mount, and there is no aperture control. I have a 400mm f/6 Sky-Watcher ED telescope that it 320mm f/4.8 when used with a 0.8 reducer. I've never said "I wish this 'scope was sharper." But if you have to purchase a mount, it would be difficult to acquire this stuff and stay within your budget.

Cedar Waxwing in the Morning Light | Near the Grand River, K? | Flickr
07-21-2017, 10:22 AM   #8
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A DA*300/f4 can be had for a reasonable price if you keep looking. And it is only a stunner on K-1 in case you end up seeking something for K-1 down (or up) the road.

07-21-2017, 10:28 AM - 1 Like   #9
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I have tair 3s fotosniper. The worst lens in aspect of shooting. It is quite sharp when aperture is 6.3. 5.6 is usible, but 4.5 - not. Very inconvenient aperture mechanism. Focusing mechanism is 50/50. If you would like to buy tair 3, try normal version, not sniper.
Now I use pentax da*300 f4. Absolutely different level of shooting. If you would try this one you will never try any tair. Colors differ a lot.
07-21-2017, 10:30 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by shardulm Quote
A DA*300/f4 can be had for a reasonable price if you keep looking.
Not for $450.
07-21-2017, 11:13 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by DanT Quote
My Budget would be up to $450.
I haven't tried any of these lenses. Unfortunately there are no places locally that I could rent any of them.
if you are looking into renting lenses, check out LensRental.com from Tennessee.

you receive the lens through UPS if I recall correctly and return it the same way

they even might sell you the rental lens and give you credit for your rental fees.

I have used them and it worked out well for me
07-21-2017, 11:20 AM   #12
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I have a 55-300, but wish sometimes i had a nice sharp 200 prime. Crops from a nice 200 would likely out IQ a 55-300 at 300
07-21-2017, 12:41 PM - 1 Like   #13
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you could try looking for a Tokina AT-X FA 80-400mm F4.5-5.6, I went through several lens looking for something that worked for me..without spending $700-800 or more . They are quite sharp, mine out to 400 although some say theirs starts to soften around 350 . fairly compact , nice felt lined hood, metal so it is a little heaver than the plastic ones..but nothing like the big sigma's .. .cost would be around your budget..not real common but you can find them..

look under lens reviews in this forum

fyi: shoot with a k3
07-21-2017, 01:53 PM - 1 Like   #14
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I voted for 55-300 PLM. I have no hands-on experience with that lens, but the in-depth review on PF said it has similar optical performance to the earlier 55-300 (non PLM). My 55-300 is optically good and compact enough to carry everywhere. It' sharp enough at 300mm; I only need more sharpness when I have to crop heavily for small or very distant targets.

You mentioned shooting nature and landscapes. 300mm is too narrow for many landscapes so the ability to zoom out is important. The usual way to do landscapes is ISO 100, stop down to f8-f11 for sharpness and depth of field, and let the shutter go as long as needed for a proper exposure. Therefore, the wider aperture of your other 3 options won't matter for landscapes.

If you want to photograph small animals in poor light, thenthe M* 300 gets a second look because of f4 vs f6.3. However, trying to manually focus on small animals could be frustrating. My vote remains with the 55-300; increase ISO, use DNG format, and process for noise reduction as needed.

Here's an example of 55-300 sharpness on a K-5. It will be sharper on your K-3; you have more pixels and no AA blur filter in front of your sensor. I can read the small text in the full resolution version. The poor color is because of gray skies, not a lens issue.
07-21-2017, 02:32 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by northcoastgreg Quote
I wouldn't recommend an MF lens for 300mm --- you'll end up missing too many shots. And a lens like the M* 300 f4, although faster and probably sharper than the other options, isn't likely all that much better than the DA 55-300 PLM. So I'd get that little compact zoom. The fact is, if you're really serious about getting the best quality at 300mm, at some point you're going to want to get one of Pentax's AF star 300 primes. When you do that those MF options will instantly become useless. But the DA 55-300 will continue to prove valuable as a compact alternative and as a lens that covers the range under 300mm all the way to 55mm.

I agree with northcoastgreg 100%. I use a K-3, and an F*300/4.5, and now also a 55-300 PLM (while I used to use a 55-300 pre-PLM along with the F* 300/4.5). I use the F* when I can and the PLM when I can't (or when I need a compact walkabout tele), and I am (and have been) quite happy with my 300mm coverage (and would be nearly as happy with the DA* 300/4 or the FA* 300/4.5. along with the 55-300 PLM).

Last edited by fwcetus; 07-21-2017 at 02:38 PM.
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