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03-11-2009, 08:15 AM   #1
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Which lens to buy?

I'm looking to buy a long telephoto lens. The choice is between the DA* 300 Pentax and the Sigma 50-500. I could use a teleconverter on the 300 to get the reach of the 50-500 if needed. They both are in the same price range so money doesn't play a big role. What do you guys suggest?

03-11-2009, 10:26 AM   #2
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I just blew $14 on a 300mm prime so I am qualified to comment.

I like the idea of a prime+TC. If I'm at 300mm and I need more reach, I need a lot more, like 100-150-200mm more. So I don't really need a zoom to stop at every focal length in between, except for some slightly better framing. With 14 Mp, I can crop for that. If you use 300mm a lot and much more infrequently, the IQ and lens speed is better at 300mm. There is probably a weight and size advantage. The downside is possible fumbling to install a TC instead of just zooming.
03-11-2009, 11:11 AM   #3
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I have both of the lenses and use both a lot, primarily for shooting birds. I hand-hold the DA* 300mm on a K20D, especially for birds in flight. The Sigma 50-500mm is used primarily on a tripod with a Jobu Black Widow gimbal mount. Both lenses are very good but if I had to choose just one it would be the DA* 300mm. I took a look at your web site and nature doesn't seem to be primary subject for you, so this information may not be of much value to you.

Ed Hutchinson
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Pentax K10D, K20D; Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4, F 17-28mm f/3.5-4.5 Fish-eye, DA 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3, D FA Macro 100mm f/2.8, A Macro 100mm f/2.8, A* Macro 200mm f/4, DA* 200mm f/2.8, DA* 300mm f/4, 1.7x Teleconverter; Pentax AF540FTZ Flash; Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3, 180mm Macro f/3.5, 1.4x & 2.0x APO EX DG Teleconverters; Tamron 28-300 f/3.5-6.3mm; Kenko AF SHQ DG 1.5x Teleconverter; Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 tripod, 3249B monopod, 3229, 322RC2, 488RC2 ball heads; Really Right Stuff BH-55 LR ballhead; Jobu Black Widow Gimbal, FB-TM2 flash bracket; CyberSync CSR & CST Remote Controls (2 sets); RPS Studio Wireless Shutter Release
03-11-2009, 11:24 AM   #4
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Whatcha using it for?

Ed H. has a good point. Different telephoto lenses are better for different tasks. What would you need to take photographs of with each of those two lenses?

M

03-11-2009, 11:29 AM   #5
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Adding to the previous post ..... I have tried the Pentax DA* 300mm with a Kenko AF SHQ DG 1.5x Teleconverter. The teleconverter retains all the 300mm functions, including SDM focusing, but the combination usually hunts around the point of focus. I use teleconverters very seldom ... just not a big fan.

Ed

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03-11-2009, 12:03 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by e_hutchinson Quote
I have both of the lenses and use both a lot, primarily for shooting birds. I hand-hold the DA* 300mm on a K20D, especially for birds in flight. The Sigma 50-500mm is used primarily on a tripod with a Jobu Black Widow gimbal mount. Both lenses are very good but if I had to choose just one it would be the DA* 300mm. I took a look at your web site and nature doesn't seem to be primary subject for you, so this information may not be of much value to you.

Ed Hutchinson
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Dane PhotoImagery's Photo Galleries at pbase.com

Pentax K10D, K20D; Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4, F 17-28mm f/3.5-4.5 Fish-eye, DA 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3, D FA Macro 100mm f/2.8, A Macro 100mm f/2.8, A* Macro 200mm f/4, DA* 200mm f/2.8, DA* 300mm f/4, 1.7x Teleconverter; Pentax AF540FTZ Flash; Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3, 180mm Macro f/3.5, 1.4x & 2.0x APO EX DG Teleconverters; Tamron 28-300 f/3.5-6.3mm; Kenko AF SHQ DG 1.5x Teleconverter; Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 tripod, 3249B monopod, 3229, 322RC2, 488RC2 ball heads; Really Right Stuff BH-55 LR ballhead; Jobu Black Widow Gimbal, FB-TM2 flash bracket; CyberSync CSR & CST Remote Controls (2 sets); RPS Studio Wireless Shutter Release

My main use for the longer lens is quarter mile motorcycle drag racing. I'd like to be able to get a little farther down the track and still get some good shots at the starting line. I'm also starting to get some intrest in nature shots too. Trying to branch out a little.
03-11-2009, 12:35 PM   #7
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It is great that you listed your requirements--you will need a fast handling lens to capture the motorcycles well.
I would recommend the DA* 300--even with a TC. I have the Bigma, it is not a fast lens to use and it is not a fast lens functionally--only f6.3 at the long end. The image quality is OK but not as good as the DA* 300. The Bigma's AF is moderately slow, but I find that it is not very accurate (and will require my adjusting it using the K20D's function in camera). I have needed to use manual focus for my best shots.

M
03-11-2009, 12:45 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
It is great that you listed your requirements--you will need a fast handling lens to capture the motorcycles well.
I would recommend the DA* 300--even with a TC. I have the Bigma, it is not a fast lens to use and it is not a fast lens functionally--only f6.3 at the long end. The image quality is OK but not as good as the DA* 300. The Bigma's AF is moderately slow, but I find that it is not very accurate (and will require my adjusting it using the K20D's function in camera). I have needed to use manual focus for my best shots.

M
From what I've heard the Bigma is hard to handle without a tripod. I'd really rather have the DA* 300 and can't afford to buy both which would be nice. For all practical purposes the 300 would be the best choice for what my main use would be.

03-11-2009, 12:54 PM   #9
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Thanks for adding your intended use for the lens ... it makes a lot of difference for responding. I agree with Miguel, for action shots I would definitely recommend the DA* 300. I use it for birds in flight because it's relatively fast, wish it was f/2.8, but that would negate the other reason I use it for this purpose ... it's light enough to hand-hold. I have a good copy of the Bigma and recommend it for many wildlife situations. For example, the nesting birds at a Texas coast rookery that are posted on my web site were taken with the Bigma. I have also successfully used it a few times for birds in flight, but it gets fairly heavy pretty quickly. Let us know what you decide.

Ed

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03-11-2009, 01:01 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by e_hutchinson Quote
Thanks for adding your intended use for the lens ... it makes a lot of difference for responding. I agree with Miguel, for action shots I would definitely recommend the DA* 300. I use it for birds in flight because it's relatively fast, wish it was f/2.8, but that would negate the other reason I use it for this purpose ... it's light enough to hand-hold. I have a good copy of the Bigma and recommend it for many wildlife situations. For example, the nesting birds at a Texas coast rookery that are posted on my web site were taken with the Bigma. I have also successfully used it a few times for birds in flight, but it gets fairly heavy pretty quickly. Let us know what you decide.

Ed

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I have a friend of mine that shoots Nikon and he uses a 400 F/4 for the same thing I'm doing and gets some really good shots. I have a 200 F/4 and would really like something in the 400 range. Any suggestions?
03-11-2009, 02:38 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by hoghead Quote
I have a friend of mine that shoots Nikon and he uses a 400 F/4 for the same thing I'm doing and gets some really good shots. I have a 200 F/4 and would really like something in the 400 range. Any suggestions?

Buy a Nikon sorry not much help
03-11-2009, 03:24 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mrt10x Quote
Buy a Nikon sorry not much help
Not gonna happen!!!!
03-11-2009, 04:19 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by e_hutchinson Quote
Adding to the previous post ..... I have tried the Pentax DA* 300mm with a Kenko AF SHQ DG 1.5x Teleconverter. The teleconverter retains all the 300mm functions, including SDM focusing, but the combination usually hunts around the point of focus. I use teleconverters very seldom ... just not a big fan.

Ed

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Ed,

How does the image quality of the 300mm + TC compare to the zoom at 450-500mm?

Thanks,

Dave
03-11-2009, 04:34 PM   #14
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I think it is what works for you.

there are a lot of bigma lovers in the forums. I am not one of them, because i don't see the bigma giving anything beyond what I have already.

I have a sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX with both sigma 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.

I also have an SMC- Pentax 300mm F4 and pentax SMC-F 1.7x AF TC.

since I have had these longer than the availability of the bigma, I don't see 1/2 a stop at 500mm worth spending more.

On the plus side, I have f2.8 from 70-200mm, and f4 from 100-300mm. This is faster at these focal lengths than the BIGMA, and I am not even sure it is F5.6 by 400mm.

While the bigma does give a 10x zoom ratio at 50mm I would not be using it.

Having made all these bad comments, I will admit I have seen some excellent images from the bigma, but as I said, it does not offer enough over what I have.

Now to your question. My perception is that a high quality 300F4 and an equal quality TC would be better, because you don't by a bigma to shoot at 50mm, you buy it to shoot between 300 and 500 mm
03-11-2009, 05:44 PM   #15
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Dave, I haven't used a TC with the DA* 300mm enough to have a feel for the IQ compared with the Bigma, and I haven't done a side-by-side comparison. When I want to shoot in the 400-500mm range I just use the Bigma. Sorry I'm no help.

Ed

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