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03-03-2009, 12:51 PM   #1
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DA* 200mm f 2.8 vs DA* 300mm f 4

I'm starting to save up for my first top notch expensive lens and I think I want to make it a long telephoto prime. My primary love is wildlife/outdoor photography but living in downtown Portland I've adapted a bit to urban photography. That said, I really want to find a lens that is the best available in its class which currently the DA* series seems to be. I love the build quality and weather sealing and am a little skeptical about the "bigma".

To my question, which of these seems preferable?

I'm leaning towards the 200mm since f 2.8 would be incredibly useful and I could add a teleconverter to get extra length. I'm not familiar with pentax TC's so does anyone know which ones are available? My reasoning is that if there is a 1.4/1.5x TC that will bring the lens down tow f/4, I'm still getting more length at f4 though slightly reduced IQ.

The 300 is appealing though because thats longer and would probably give me more opportunities. This decision is a long way off but its fun to entertain these thoughts. Anything else on the horizon that might not be out yet? I'm hesitant on sigma but i'll entertain any thoughts.

I want something that will allow me to produce good images (no, not make them for me) and stand up to a little abuse. One of the reasons I chose to go with pentax is that even though their long telephoto options are limited, the build quality on these two lenses is fantastic and its price range is reasonable where over the course of a year a person like me could save for it. No way i'd be able to save up for a nikon 400mm f 2.8 in any reasonable amount of time.

quick edit: I realize there are better lenses out there, especially the F* and FA* lenses but i'm looking around 1k. I know the longer the better for wildlife so maybe now I shift to the 300mm? Also, has anyone ever rented pentax lenses online? I certainly wouldn't mind trying these before buying them


Last edited by jmbradd; 03-03-2009 at 01:13 PM. Reason: added stuff
03-03-2009, 01:11 PM - 1 Like   #2
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James, if you go with the 200/2.8 you will have a good lens for street candids, but will be limited for wildlife. If you go with the 300/4, I would personally consider that to be the minimum for wildlife, but it is often too much for street photography. You already have realized this basic problem. If the Bigma is no longer an option for you, you should give the Sigma 100-3/4 a serious thought. Its quality is hardly descernioble from that of the two DAs, but you get the flexibility of the zoom.

Another point are teleconverters. Pentax has announced a SDM capable 1.4x tc, which is a nice thing to have, if you use SDM lenses. Otherwise the only tcs Pentax ever produced are all manual focus (except for the AF-converter - which gives it 1.7x magnification only by accident, as its intended use is to allow AF function with manual lenses). On the other hand, there are no better tcs available then the Pentax 1.4x-L and 2x-L modells, followed by the 1.4x-S and 2x-s modells -but all MF.

With the Sigma lenses you could ofcourse successfully usd the dedicated Sigma Apo convertors, of which the 1.4x hardly reduces image quality and the 2x is also a good choice.

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03-03-2009, 01:37 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
James, if you go with the 200/2.8 you will have a good lens for street candids, but will be limited for wildlife. If you go with the 300/4, I would personally consider that to be the minimum for wildlife, but it is often too much for street photography. You already have realized this basic problem. If the Bigma is no longer an option for you, you should give the Sigma 100-3/4 a serious thought. Its quality is hardly descernioble from that of the two DAs, but you get the flexibility of the zoom.

Another point are teleconverters. Pentax has announced a SDM capable 1.4x tc, which is a nice thing to have, if you use SDM lenses. Otherwise the only tcs Pentax ever produced are all manual focus (except for the AF-converter - which gives it 1.7x magnification only by accident, as its intended use is to allow AF function with manual lenses). On the other hand, there are no better tcs available then the Pentax 1.4x-L and 2x-L modells, followed by the 1.4x-S and 2x-s modells -but all MF.

With the Sigma lenses you could ofcourse successfully usd the dedicated Sigma Apo convertors, of which the 1.4x hardly reduces image quality and the 2x is also a good choice.

Ben

Thank you for the reply.

Certainly nothing is "eliminated" yet this so early in a search, I've just heard sigma has issues with build quality. Living in the Oregon its inevitable I'll shoot in less than dry conditions. That said, I could always use a plastic cover. Weight isn't so much an issue to me as I'm young. The added flexibility of a zoom is appealing, especially given where I live.

I like to think I'm not interested in shooting birds and small wildlife but who am I kidding, what else is there to shoot when you aren't finding deer and other large animals? Maybe I'm destined to buy a bigma anyway.

Though an sdm capable pentax TC means the 300mm da* could also be a 420mm f/....6?

I think what i'm looking for is personal experiences, as I'm not really a "test chart" type of person. I'm searching these forums a lot and there are some amazing images out there from all of these lenses. I don't think I'll be disappointed with whatever I choose, I just want to see whats out there (and waste some time at work!)
03-03-2009, 02:14 PM   #4
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QuoteQuote:
If the Bigma is no longer an option for you, you should give the Sigma 100-3/4 a serious thought. Its quality is hardly descernioble from that of the two DAs, but you get the flexibility of the zoom.
I'm sorry, but I find this hard to believe. In general, very few zooms even come close to decent primes, and both the DA* 200/2.8 and the DA* 300/4 are not just "decent", but seem to be ~top-quality~ primes. I have no experience with the Sigma 100-300/4, and it maybe is a fine zoom, but it ~is~ a zoom. I can't believe that the quality is just "hardly discernible"...

03-03-2009, 02:18 PM   #5
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The 100-300 is a HECK of a lens, it would be interesting to see a side by side.
03-03-2009, 02:29 PM   #6
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QuoteQuote:
it would be interesting to see a side by side.
Yes, indeed.
03-03-2009, 02:33 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by fwcetus Quote
I'm sorry, but I find this hard to believe. In general, very few zooms even come close to decent primes, and both the DA* 200/2.8 and the DA* 300/4 are not just "decent", but seem to be ~top-quality~ primes. I have no experience with the Sigma 100-300/4, and it maybe is a fine zoom, but it ~is~ a zoom. I can't believe that the quality is just "hardly discernible"...
While that was true not so long ago, there are a number of zooms these days that are quite comparable to "decent" primes. Naturally the BEST primes still have an edge, but to say high-quality zooms don't even come close seems unreasonable to me. The 100-300 is much superior IQ-wise to the bigma, from what I've seen.
03-03-2009, 03:02 PM   #8
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It depends on what you mean by "urban" shots, but I can't imagine using even a 200mm for what I'd consider street photography. Every once in awhile I'll use my 50-135*, but again it depends on what you're looking at and how you want to capture it. You might also consider the 60-250* (assuming it ships in Apr). Except for the size, that would be an interesting urban lens.

03-03-2009, 03:48 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by nostatic Quote
It depends on what you mean by "urban" shots, but I can't imagine using even a 200mm for what I'd consider street photography. Every once in awhile I'll use my 50-135*, but again it depends on what you're looking at and how you want to capture it. You might also consider the 60-250* (assuming it ships in Apr). Except for the size, that would be an interesting urban lens.
What I mean by "urban" (i left that intentionally vague) is streets, buildings, parks, but not neccessarily people. Still something awkward to me about photographing people I don't know.

The 100-300 f4 seems appealing with the 1.4x teleconverter but how is their build quality? Is there anything other than weather sealing and slight distortion (which seems to be the biggest problems with zooms anymore...) that I would miss from a pentax DA*? I'm sure all of them are quality lenses but I won't lie, versatility is appealing. Basically i'm looking for the combination of image quality and build quality. The latter is very important to me.
03-03-2009, 03:48 PM   #10
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I bought both of them a month ago, just before the prices went up. I love them both, but would say the 200 is more versatile. I often shoot with the 200 on one body and 14, 35 or 50 on the second. For urban wildlife (zoo, or birds at a feeder) it should be ok, for actual wildlife, nothing is long enough :-)

I have a collegue with the Sigma 100-300 and it is very sharp. Personally I don't like zooms, but I was considering the Sigma because of its optical qualities.
03-03-2009, 03:50 PM   #11
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I have both the DA* telephotos and they are superb. If your purchase is a long ways away, then the *cough* DA*60-250mm *cough* may be an option for you whenever the Pentax gods decide to release its fury upon us.

As a side note to the side discussion that has emerged, the Sigma 100-300mm, from what I have seen, and has been tested side by side by a member on this forum, is on par with the DA* primes, if only slightly behind. The old moniker about tele zooms, is just that, old. Sigma produced a stellar product, so much so that the person that tested the two lenses kept the Sigma IIRC.
03-03-2009, 04:00 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jmbradd Quote
What I mean by "urban" (i left that intentionally vague) is streets, buildings, parks, but not neccessarily people. Still something awkward to me about photographing people I don't know.

The 100-300 f4 seems appealing with the 1.4x teleconverter but how is their build quality? Is there anything other than weather sealing and slight distortion (which seems to be the biggest problems with zooms anymore...) that I would miss from a pentax DA*? I'm sure all of them are quality lenses but I won't lie, versatility is appealing. Basically i'm looking for the combination of image quality and build quality. The latter is very important to me.
Just do a search for the Sigma 100-300, here in the forum and elswhere. There are even direct comparissons between the Sigma and the DA 300 available. It is a stellar lens, but a bit heavier and bulkier than a prime, hardly something for candids. But in terms of IQ it is more "user-limited", than by its own merrits. It was the one lens, I considered as an alternative to the Bigma, but may own needs were different, as I already had the 70-200/2.8, which with a 1.4x tc give me a 100-300/4... Now with this faster but shorter zoom already at hand and primes in different fls around it, I choose the Bigma - and don't regret it, even if I tend to add the DA300 (to replace my A 300/4) soon.

The build quality of all the Sigma EX zooms I have (and this is consistent with user reports about the 100-300 I have seen) is on a very high level: robust, well-made and withstands some considerable abuse.

Ben
03-03-2009, 04:01 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by jmbradd Quote
Thank you for the reply.

Certainly nothing is "eliminated" yet this so early in a search, I've just heard sigma has issues with build quality. Living in the Oregon its inevitable I'll shoot in less than dry conditions. That said, I could always use a plastic cover. Weight isn't so much an issue to me as I'm young. The added flexibility of a zoom is appealing, especially given where I live.

I like to think I'm not interested in shooting birds and small wildlife but who am I kidding, what else is there to shoot when you aren't finding deer and other large animals? Maybe I'm destined to buy a bigma anyway.

Though an sdm capable pentax TC means the 300mm da* could also be a 420mm f/....6?

I think what i'm looking for is personal experiences, as I'm not really a "test chart" type of person. I'm searching these forums a lot and there are some amazing images out there from all of these lenses. I don't think I'll be disappointed with whatever I choose, I just want to see whats out there (and waste some time at work!)
It really sounds like you've got this all figured out, but you're trying to decide which way to run with it (I get that way every time I buy a lens).

I haven't heard too many direct complaints about the Sigma EX lenses, but like you I've read other posts which refer to other reports about QC problems with Sigma. I wouldn't worry about that too much given what we hear about Pentax QC and Tamron QC, you're looking at that risk any way you go.

The bigma's HEAVY! and you probably won't want to bring it with you all the time which limits it's utility a bit, and although the short end would be super handy for street photography focal length wise, it's a pretty intimidating lens to be aiming at folks.

You'll want at least 300mm for birds and Wildlife IMHO, and the more the merrier... I've been playing around with the bigma on the Kenko 1.5x TC, and can definitely attest that 600-700mm is great for getting close to birds - I certainly wouldn't claim pro-level results with this combo, but some are pretty good (here's some from a recent trip). I'd like to compare the DA*300 + 1.5x (and 2x) TC vs. the Bigma, but right now, I don't think I can afford to own both...

The DA* 50-135 will AF with the Kenko Teleplus SHQ PZ 1.5X teleconverter using SDM, so I assume the DA* 300 will too, but my 50-135 hunts pretty badly on the TC, and probably would not be useful for wildlife - I can't say if the 300mm would be any better in that regard.

The sigma 100-300mm gets absolutely rave reviews everywhere I've read about it, but I've not used one of these (nor the DA* 300). It's an appealing lens for sure.

Good luck w/ your decision.
03-03-2009, 04:38 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by jmbradd Quote
quick edit: I realize there are better lenses out there, especially the F* and FA* lenses but i'm looking around 1k. I know the longer the better for wildlife so maybe now I shift to the 300mm? Also, has anyone ever rented pentax lenses online? I certainly wouldn't mind trying these before buying them
200 is too short for wildlife. With 300mm, if you don't have a wall behind you, you can easily "zoom out". Also, 300mm has a tripod collar. 300mm is on my list of dream purchases; it's unanimously praised. Adding a tele-converter to one of these seems blasphemous to me.

EDIT: If I went for a zoom, I'd avoid variable aperture. Both of my variable aperture zooms were gifts, so I can't complain.
03-03-2009, 06:40 PM   #15
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As far as Sigma build quality goes, I have the EX 24-60mm, EX 28mm, and EX 17-35mm and they are all excellent.
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