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04-16-2009, 08:55 PM   #1
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A tele between dirt cheap and crazy expensive?

I'm looking to get a little more serious with wildlife photography. I currently use an SMC Tak 200/4, which is nice, but I'm looking for something with a bit more reach and range. I'd like to get to the 300-400 range, and I'd prefer a zoom to keep lens switching down a little.

Only problem is I can't find anything (in terms of quality) between the Tamron 70-300 at $170 and the Sigma 120-400 at $750 (which may be cheap compared to some, but crazy expensive on a student's budget). I know there's the DA 55-300, but I'm not impressed with it and would likely go for the Tammy if I decide to go the cheap route.

Is there anything (maybe an older manual focus lens) that can get me a little better quality (and maybe a little more reach) than the Tamron without costing nearly 5x more?

04-16-2009, 10:59 PM   #2
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Versatility counts too

There's 70-300's all over the web at less than $100. Don't overlook the Tamron 75-300, my favorite of the two - also less than $100 used - $115 new.

Here's a typical example from the 75-300 at F8 at about 35 yds in flat light.

H2
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04-16-2009, 11:25 PM   #3
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Why dont you go for a tamron/sigma 70-200 f2.8 and a pair of 1.4x/1.5x and 2x teleconverters ?

you will have an all-in-one solution for long and mid range together at a not-too-expensive price

other choices: 2nd hand Sigma 135-400mm and 400mm f 5.6
good luck
04-17-2009, 12:07 AM   #4
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QuoteQuote:
mutedphotos: Only problem is I can't find anything (in terms of quality) between the Tamron 70-300 at $170 and the Sigma 120-400 at $750 (which may be cheap compared to some, but crazy expensive on a student's budget).
I am not big when it comes to shooting at longer focal lengths, but I do shoot there occasionally. I started with the Tamron 70-300mm. While it can surprise you now and then, I am generally not thrilled with it.

It is tough, because lenses in this range are expensive. I hear, though I have never tried, that the Tokina ATX 400mm 5.6 is good, and I have seen some nice images posted here by our forum members. But, I think, especially in Pentax mount, they will be hard to find.

I am currently shooting with a 67 165mm lens and a Tamron 2x Tele. This gives me a 330mm f 5.6, before the crop factor. The 165mm & tele are not that heavy for a prime in this focal length when you consider this is 67 glass. And the long-end image quality surely beats the Tamron 70-300mm. The cost breaks down like this:

165mm 67 lens $90
67 to PK adapter $50 + $20 shipping (China)
Tele from a package deal, perhaps $50

Total= $210

Image Quality--you judge. I just posted one shot, at f11, here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/49428-medium-f...tml#post561155

EDIT--This is a manual focus setup--the $90 for the lens was a good Ebay deal, one which can be duplicated.

And here is a handheld shot wide open:


Last edited by Jewelltrail; 09-25-2009 at 09:06 AM.
04-17-2009, 03:54 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by mutedphotos Quote
I'm looking to get a little more serious with wildlife photography. I currently use an SMC Tak 200/4, which is nice, but I'm looking for something with a bit more reach and range. I'd like to get to the 300-400 range, and I'd prefer a zoom to keep lens switching down a little.

Only problem is I can't find anything (in terms of quality) between the Tamron 70-300 at $170 and the Sigma 120-400 at $750 (which may be cheap compared to some, but crazy expensive on a student's budget). I know there's the DA 55-300, but I'm not impressed with it and would likely go for the Tammy if I decide to go the cheap route.

Is there anything (maybe an older manual focus lens) that can get me a little better quality (and maybe a little more reach) than the Tamron without costing nearly 5x more?
You might consider the SMC Pentax K 300/4. As you don't seem to mind manually focusing I think it is the best bargain in this range on the used market. It will give you the extra length you want without putting you into chapter 11. Check the reviews in the lens database and the discussion in the K Club. It has issues with CAs and purple fringe in high contrast situations, as most lenses of this vintage do, but you can work aroud these issues. It is also very sharp, pretty fast at f 4, and can deliver some pretty impressive results IMO.



04-17-2009, 04:55 AM   #6
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Tom

I should have known you would beat me to pushing the 300 F4

Seriously it is a good lens for a good price between the two values the OP noted.

Also for the OP $750 is not crazy expensive. A new Sigma 300 F2.8 is $2900 and the 500 F4.5 is $4500. That I consider crazy expensive.

750 is serious but not insane, and for that price you can get a first generation sigma 70-200F2.8 used, and perhaps have a little left over for a sigma TC to go with it. They make an excellent combo
04-17-2009, 06:20 AM   #7
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a 600/4 is $7K. That's crazy expensive.

For birding, everything I've read says you need 500mm or more if you're serious about it. I didn't think I was serious enough about it to put that much money into it ;-)
It's a pretty expensive hobby if you want good results. It's less expensive if you want sorta ok results :-)
04-17-2009, 06:28 AM   #8
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You guys are posting images worse than the 70-300 tammy produce

04-17-2009, 06:57 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by kenyee Quote
a 600/4 is $7K. That's crazy expensive.

For birding, everything I've read says you need 500mm or more if you're serious about it. I didn't think I was serious enough about it to put that much money into it ;-)
It's a pretty expensive hobby if you want good results. It's less expensive if you want sorta ok results :-)
I would disagree that you absolutely need 500mm or more. I do agree that a 600F4 would be nice, but although I am serious,. i am not obsessed.

My 2 main combos are a pentax 300F4 plus 1.7x AF TC and a sigma 70-200 F2.8 with 1.4x and 2x sigma TCs

neither costs more than $1000 today
04-17-2009, 09:46 AM   #10
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I wasn't sure how much I would use a long lens so I picked up an old manual 400mm f/6.3 prime for about $35 to give it a try. The image quality isn't bad, but not too surprisingly more speed would be nice for shooting around dusk. I haven't seen one recently but 400mm f/5.6 manual lenses do show up in the forum here occasionally in the $100 to $200 range.

This set: Soligor 400mm Lens - a set on Flickr shows the kind of results I get with decent lighting.
04-17-2009, 09:54 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jewelltrail Quote
I am currently shooting with a 67 165mm lens and a Tamron 2x Tele. This gives me a 330mm f 5.6, before the crop factor. The 165mm & tele are not that heavy for a prime in this focal length when you consider this is 67 glass. And the long-end image quality surely beats the Tamron 70-300mm.
I read that thread but the technical stuffs and the use of wording there are much beyond me and my limited english proficiency. You said 330mm before crop factor, then what is it after crop factor? 165mm (0.5 crop factor from the table in that thread)? It can't be so, since you're comparing this lens with tamron 70-300mm. What am I missing?
04-17-2009, 11:29 AM   #12
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Off the top of my head:

Tamron 300/5.6 (Adaptall)
Vivitar 400/5.6
Sigma APO 400/5.6 (make sure it's both APO and the elements aren't separated)
Pentax 300/4
Tele-Takumar 300/6.3

Just to get started
04-17-2009, 11:33 AM   #13
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just to add a reference shot to ryan's list, here is the vivitar 400mmF5.6.

cost was $169 brand new in 1982

Shot was taken in the summer of 1982 on ektachrome 400 and scanned on a minolta DIMAGE II scanner at 2880 dpi with 8 bit color

04-17-2009, 11:35 AM   #14
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Vivitar lenses are "not that great" on the surface, but with a couple seconds in post processing, they are just as good as the more expensive offerings
04-17-2009, 11:44 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ryan s Quote
Vivitar lenses are "not that great" on the surface, but with a couple seconds in post processing, they are just as good as the more expensive offerings
my only serious complaint about this lens is the fact it does not close focus. Minimum focus distance is about 7 meters (22 feet!) so unless you are shooting something like the tiger I posted above, it is not as useful as you think. if I shoot a warbler at 22feet, I have an image on my sensor 4mm high (the sensor is 16 x 24 mm) and therefre we are dealing with something that would need to be cropped in to the center 3% of the sensor

In fact, since I gor my 300F4 and the 1.7x AF TC I don't use this any more. the 300F4 is a far superior lens.

but then again, who wants to be within 20 feet of a tiger, in a zoo OK maybe, but in the wild?
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