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12-09-2008, 04:45 AM   #1
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Help with LONG TELE lens(es) choice...

Hi all, I'm a total newbie to Pentax, need your expert advice , please.

I need a long lens, 400mm, 500mm, 600mm for bird photography, that will autofocus with K20D.
Which ones would produce the best image quality (sharpness, contrast, color) ?

I guess there might be great manual focus lenses available, I'd like to consider them too. How well do they work with semi-AF TC 1.7x ?

Please give me as much detail/info as possible, including the weight of each lens, which is an important factor for me.

Sharing PERSONAL experience would be great.

Thanks !


Last edited by igor; 12-09-2008 at 04:51 AM.
12-09-2008, 05:07 AM   #2
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I guess it depends on how much you want to spend

I have made these following suggestions several times, and I use 2 parings

I have an SMC 300mm F4 (K mount) which I use with the 1.7x AF TC, which I usemostly on my *istD with a flash. I would consider this a budget option

See photos below.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/392996-post102.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/106132-post4.html


Then I have a sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX and sigma's 1.4x and 2 X TCs.
This is definitely NOT a budget option

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/187646-post19.html
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/187646-post19.html

BUT you don't necessairly need a long lens for birds, as seen below taken with my *istD and an SMC-FA 28-105 F4-5.6. There is something to be said for luck


https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/182066-post33.html
12-09-2008, 05:57 AM   #3
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I believe Sigma has a 500mm f/4.5 still available new for Pentax.

Yep they do! Sigma | 500mm f/4.5 EX DG APO Autofocus Lens for Pentax | 184109

For a budget option, look into the Sigma "Bigma" (50-500mm, but it's f/6.3 at 500mm)

No personal experience with these lenses....
12-09-2008, 07:44 AM   #4
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Based on your avatar, you may be considering a 'big' purchase too. Though a number of people on this forum own the Sigma 300/2.8 EX DG which works great with TCs, I'm the only one that left a review (so far?). It can be had here: PentaxForums.com Third-Party Pentax Lens Review Database - 300mm F2.8 APO EX DG
I can only imagine how much better it would work on the K20D (I want that camera).
...you asked for personal experience... That should qualify I think.

This gallery is filled with photos I took of birds on a overcast drizzly day (so mostly wide open) without the use of either 1.4x or 2x TC (as most everything else in my "Tanzania '07" folder used a TC): 070820 - Leaving the Serengeti and Day Room @ Kilimanjaro (KIA Lodge)
And you can click the link in my sig for some of my pix from that trip.


Last edited by m8o; 12-09-2008 at 07:50 AM.
12-09-2008, 09:26 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by igor Quote
I need a long lens, 400mm, 500mm, 600mm for bird photography, that will autofocus with K20D.
Which ones would produce the best image quality (sharpness, contrast, color) ?
Depends a great deal on your budget. I own the Sigma 500mm f4.5 and it doesn't really have any competition at the moment for new lenses in the Pentax mount. It's sharp wide-open has an excellent reputation and produces the results for wildlife photography. You can also use the matched Sigma TC's with it (it's screw-driven AF) and can, at a pinch, be hand-held.

From personal experience, I'd suggest lugging it around on a strap attached to the provided mounts. Makes it much more manageable as you traipse long distances on unreliable terrain.

A handy match for the lens is the Pentax 300mm DA* for closer work which has a great working distance and (relative to the Sigma) is light and weatherproof.

If the budget is tight, then the Bigma (50-500mm) from Sigma is good, but unless you have very good light to work with can be a real pain to use at the long end.
12-09-2008, 10:21 AM   #6
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On my ist DS I'm using my Old SMC Takumar 300 F4 and I believe a Sigma 2X converter. Its a heavy beast and needs a tripod without IS like your camera, plus I have to manually stop down. But, it has wonderfull contrast and with the APS-C sensor it's either a 450 or a 900.
Good Luck,
Tony Renier
12-09-2008, 10:23 AM   #7
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Lowell, Gordon, m8o, Jonathan, thanks much for your comments/suggestions.

I will consider the Sigma 300/2.8 and 500/4.5 for sure.

However I'd like to know more about Pentax brand lenses, like 400/5.6, 600/5.6, are they as good as Sigma glass? Will they AF on K20D body?

Also, the DA* 300/4 shots look great, but 300mm isn't enough for shooting local birds (too shy and cautious), I understand there is NO matching Pentax 1.4x TC for this lens, correct?
12-09-2008, 11:17 AM   #8
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I'd think you'll have to hit the used market to get any Pentax lens over 300mm. If it's an FA autofocus lens, it will autofocus on the K20D.

QuoteOriginally posted by igor Quote
Lowell, Gordon, m8o, Jonathan, thanks much for your comments/suggestions.

I will consider the Sigma 300/2.8 and 500/4.5 for sure.

However I'd like to know more about Pentax brand lenses, like 400/5.6, 600/5.6, are they as good as Sigma glass? Will they AF on K20D body?

Also, the DA* 300/4 shots look great, but 300mm isn't enough for shooting local birds (too shy and cautious), I understand there is NO matching Pentax 1.4x TC for this lens, correct?


12-09-2008, 11:35 AM   #9
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The FA* 300 /2.8 is a great lens and I'm told it works great with the Pentax 1.7 TC. Both are hard to find but will worth with the K20.

There is a TC coming out for the DA* Lens but I don't know when it will ship.

Some of the long FA lens used to be available through special order. They are not listed on the website anymore though so maybe not.

As far as glass quality, I have no personal experience with the lens over 300. I have been told the Pentax makes excellent glass.

I don't know how helpful that was, but there you go.
12-09-2008, 02:31 PM   #10
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This does help a lot, thanks!


QuoteOriginally posted by sabatocd Quote
The FA* 300 /2.8 is a great lens and I'm told it works great with the Pentax 1.7 TC. Both are hard to find but will worth with the K20.

There is a TC coming out for the DA* Lens but I don't know when it will ship.

Some of the long FA lens used to be available through special order. They are not listed on the website anymore though so maybe not.

As far as glass quality, I have no personal experience with the lens over 300. I have been told the Pentax makes excellent glass.

I don't know how helpful that was, but there you go.
12-09-2008, 02:32 PM   #11
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I'm an ebay man for many years, so you're perfectly right
Thank you!

QuoteOriginally posted by egordon99 Quote
I'd think you'll have to hit the used market to get any Pentax lens over 300mm. If it's an FA autofocus lens, it will autofocus on the K20D.
12-09-2008, 02:40 PM   #12
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I have an eBay search saved for all types of lenses. One is a "long lens" search. It's very depressing how few long & fast lenses there are to be had in that market. Something in me really wants me to buy an old 4 element SMC 500/4.5 lens for a reasonable price. I keep doing the math, that putting a 1.7x AF TC on my 300mm yields a 500/4.75 lens that's most likely superior to the old 500/4.5... yet I still yearn for that old Pentax glass.
12-09-2008, 04:01 PM   #13
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I recently purchased the Sigma EX 300 f2.8, and 70 to 200 f2.8. both have produced great shots on k10d and k20d. I just need to correct the FF when there are two items in the shot as they tend to BF on both cameras.

Outside of that problem, they have done me proud.
I may go to the 500 if and when Pentax goes full frame.
12-09-2008, 04:29 PM   #14
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m8o and Russell, thanks for the input.
I still haven't heard a single comment about the Pentax 600mm f/5.6 lens... This one was among my first candidates...any opinions? reviews? whatever.
12-09-2008, 05:27 PM   #15
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There was a thread about it the previous month. I'm assuming you scanned the forums & searched. Let me see if I can find it. Hold please....

I'm back... This one: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/39842-600mm-f5...ighlight=600mm

re-edit: There's also one review of it: https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/showproduct.php?product=112&cat=28 (be sure to scan the reviews section of this forum)

p.s. Igor, really great collection of photos on your bird-shot site! Big thumbs up.

Last edited by m8o; 12-09-2008 at 05:38 PM.
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