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07-03-2009, 01:18 PM   #1
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Need recommendation on good value 200mm+ lens

Hi there-

I'm in full LBA mode
Need some help with identifying lenses that are 200mm or greater.
I don't intend to use it for birding but for capturing indoor concerts, and possibly outdoor night concerts.

I currently have a Pentax A 70-210, which is constant f4. However, based on the results I've gotten I'm wishing for a longer reach or faster (larger min aperture, 2.8 or less). Wish my Cosina 55 1.2 had a longer reach.

I was eyeing the Pentax 55-300mm as I've seen good reports of it on here but I'm concerned that it's f5.8 @ 300mm might not be enough for indoor or nighttime outdoor shots.

Using the price of the Pentax 55-300mm (~ $350) as a guideline, I'm looking for what my options are.

I've seen the Pentax K 300mm f4 - how does this compare to the 55-300?
I may also be able to get a Pentax k 400mm f5.6 but I'm concerned about the f5.6 limiting me with low light.
I've also seen the Pentax 200mm f2.5, however I'm not sure I can afford it and I might wish for more reach
The Pentax DA 200mm 2.8 is definitely out of my reach, being ~$800


Any other lenses out there that you folks could recommend that I could look into? Oh, BTW, this will be paired with a k200d, and I've also got a Pentax LX

07-03-2009, 01:33 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by PentHassyKon Quote
Hi there-

I'm in full LBA mode
Need some help with identifying lenses that are 200mm or greater.
I don't intend to use it for birding but for capturing indoor concerts, and possibly outdoor night concerts.

I currently have a Pentax A 70-210, which is constant f4. However, based on the results I've gotten I'm wishing for a longer reach or faster (larger min aperture, 2.8 or less). Wish my Cosina 55 1.2 had a longer reach.

I was eyeing the Pentax 55-300mm as I've seen good reports of it on here but I'm concerned that it's f5.8 @ 300mm might not be enough for indoor or nighttime outdoor shots.

Using the price of the Pentax 55-300mm (~ $350) as a guideline, I'm looking for what my options are.

I've seen the Pentax K 300mm f4 - how does this compare to the 55-300?
I may also be able to get a Pentax k 400mm f5.6 but I'm concerned about the f5.6 limiting me with low light.
I've also seen the Pentax 200mm f2.5, however I'm not sure I can afford it and I might wish for more reach
The Pentax DA 200mm 2.8 is definitely out of my reach, being ~$800


Any other lenses out there that you folks could recommend that I could look into? Oh, BTW, this will be paired with a k200d, and I've also got a Pentax LX
If your price limit is a hard one, you can rule out the Pentax 200/2.5, 400/5.6 lenses from the start. Indeed you can rule out any lens with a max, aperture faster than f/4. The older Pentax K 300/4 would be a good choice for concerts. I don't think the CAs would be prominent under the tungsten lighting and AF is not a big issue, as you probably stand at a fixed location for shooting. It has more than one full f-stop advantage over the 55-300 and you've covered the 70-210mm range already with good glass.

Ben
07-03-2009, 01:53 PM   #3
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Tamron Adaptall 300mm f/2.8. I just got mine a week or so ago and so far I love it. It's very big, so check out its specifications and make sure that's something you can deal with, but its size is nothing out of the ordinary considering it's a 300mm f/2.8.
07-03-2009, 02:07 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by PentHassyKon Quote
I currently have a Pentax A 70-210, which is constant f4. However, based on the results I've gotten I'm wishing for a longer reach or faster (larger min aperture, 2.8 or less).
Longer but not faster is easy - as you say, the 55-300 handles that, the K300/4 even better. Faster but not longer is easy too, although not particularly cheap - DA*200/2.8, Sigma or Tamron 70-200/2.8, etc. Longer *and* faster (eg, a 300/2.8) gets you into some major bucks, not to mention some major size and weight (nothing you'd want to handhold). No way would I go there, and I'm pretty serious about concert photography. If I'm at a concert where I'd need a 300/2.8 to get a usable shot, that's a concert where it just isn't worth taking the camera. Indeed, it's pretty unlikely in many venues that they'd let you in the door with 300/2.8 without a press pass, and if you've got a press pass, you can be shooting from close enough that you don't need a 300 is the first place.

Frankly, for outdoor concerts or other settings where you need 200mm or more, I think you've got a great lens for that already. Sure, a 300/4 sounds nice, but 99% of the time, that's too long, so you'd want the 70-210 too. And it doesn't take *that* much cropping to get 210mm to look like 300mm.

On the other hand, assuming you are at all serious about this, getting something faster in the range you already have absolutely makes sense. The way I figure it is, if you're serious enough to be considering spending a few hundred dollars on a lens for concerts, you're serious enough to make the effort to shoot from as close as possible. It's pretty rare that I need anything longer than 135mm; I'd consider the DA*50-135/2.8 more or less perfect if I wasn't more attracted to small primes myself. But most of my shooting is in clubs, not auditoriums or outdoors. If I was mostly shooting in locations where I truly needed something longer than 135, I'd be looking at the 70-200/2.8's. But either of those zooms would push your budget.

If I were you, first thing I'd be getting is an old manual 135/2.8; that would supplement what you have (the 70-210 and 55) nicely and cover a lot of ground right there, and leave plenty of money in the budget to apply toward something else later.

07-03-2009, 10:49 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Longer but not faster is easy - as you say, the 55-300 handles that, the K300/4 even better. ............Indeed, it's pretty unlikely in many venues that they'd let you in the door with 300/2.8 without a press pass, and if you've got a press pass, you can be shooting from close enough that you don't need a 300 is the first place.

Frankly, for outdoor concerts or other settings where you need 200mm or more, I think you've got a great lens for that already. Sure, a 300/4 sounds nice, but 99% of the time, that's too long, so you'd want the 70-210 too. And it doesn't take *that* much cropping to get 210mm to look like 300mm.

...... if you're serious enough to be considering spending a few hundred dollars on a lens for concerts, you're serious enough to make the effort to shoot from as close as possible. It's pretty rare that I need anything longer than 135mm; I'd consider the DA*50-135/2.8 more or less perfect if I wasn't more attracted to small primes myself. But most of my shooting is in clubs, not auditoriums or outdoors. If I was mostly shooting in locations where I truly needed something longer than 135, I'd be looking at the 70-200/2.8's. But either of those zooms would push your budget.

If I were you, first thing I'd be getting is an old manual 135/2.8; that would supplement what you have (the 70-210 and 55) nicely and cover a lot of ground right there, and leave plenty of money in the budget to apply toward something else later.
Marc - thank you so much for your insight. I was actually hoping you'd provide them seeing as you've said that you're a concert photographer.

Just to clarify - these are shots that I envision taking inside my children's auditiorium or stadium while they are playing with either their marching band, symphonic/orchestra, or jazz band. I do also have an off brand (gold star, IIRC) A 135 2.8. I have not tried using this yet since I've been focusing on their outdoor venues and the 135 is not long enough.

I did see a 200mm 2.5 for ~ 400 and somewhat regret not pulling the trigger. On ocassion I've seen either a Takumar M42 300/4 or the K 300/4 with the Takumar running ~ $200 or so. What is the relative value of the 200/2.5 to a 300/4 or the 55-300? I'm thinking the 300/4 might be a good lens for marching band as they do often good stadium lighting.

Keep in mind that I don't have press credentials, although I could see trying to get one for the stadium venue as a volunteer taking pictures for the school band - this is why I'm a little more keen on getting 200mm or possibly a 300mm. I've even thought about trying to get an old Nikon 300mm 2.8 Ai to see if it'll mount on the K200.


QuoteOriginally posted by ballgofar Quote
Tamron Adaptall 300mm f/2.8. I just got mine a week or so ago and so far I love it. It's very big, so check out its specifications and make sure that's something you can deal with, but its size is nothing out of the ordinary considering it's a 300mm f/2.8.
I haven't looked into a Tammy or Sigma 300 2.8 but my instinct tells me that this is more than a 55-300. Seems that the 70-200 2.8's might be less expensive than the 300 2.8's
07-04-2009, 10:05 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by PentHassyKon Quote
Just to clarify - these are shots that I envision taking inside my children's auditiorium or stadium while they are playing with either their marching band, symphonic/orchestra, or jazz band.
Ah, marching band - that's a unique case. Large area and you *can* get close to the actio when they are on the opposite side of the field. However, those venues tend to be pretty well lit. I wouldn't rule out the 55-300 for that, actually.

My experience with venues large enough to require 200mmor more is that they are *often* brightly lit enough to be able to get by with a slow (eg, f/5.6) zoom. Indoors or out, actually.


QuoteQuote:
I do also have an off brand (gold star, IIRC) A 135 2.8. I have not tried using this yet since I've been focusing on their outdoor venues and the 135 is not long enough.
True, but it will be your best friend in the school auditoriums and other indoor settings. Too long for small nightclubs, actually, but nice for most small-medium auditoriums (and remember, cropping is still legal!). If it's an especially large venue and you're toward the back, 135 won't be long enough even with cropping, but then as I said, venues that big almost always have enough light that you could use your 70-210 or even a 55-300.

QuoteQuote:
Keep in mind that I don't have press credentials
I've only had that kind of access once myself. But still, it's usually not difficult in most venues to walk toward the stage, shoot for a while, then return to your seat. People do it all the time, even in major concert venues. Beats the heck out of trying to point a 300/2.8 at the stage from the 75th row without knocking out the people in the row in front of you.
07-04-2009, 01:58 PM   #7
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I've got a Soligor 200:2.8 manual focus that's not bad & didn't cost much (less than $100USD).
no sharpening, wide open, contrast adjusted, 100%:

Deblurred 2pixels (Focus Magic)

Takumar 200 at f4 for comparison:


I want a sigma 70-200 2.8 AF but it looks like that'll cost me $700USD or more. It's the best I've seen wide open; the Tamron 70-200:2.8 maybe better stopped down, and costs about $100 less.

One of many Daves in Iowa

EDIT: There's a Tokina 80-200 2.8 at Keh.com for $165. It now has a Nikon AI-S mount but that's easy to change to a manual focus & manual aperture K type mount*. It is a well reputed lens: http://photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00NCb5

* it may fit the pentax without alteration, but for a secure mount, just unscrew the Nikon flange plate and, using the same screws, replace it with a flange-type m42-K adapter.

Hmm, maybe I need this lens? Hmmm... (Marc, how much do you value AF for concert/indoor sports work?)

Last edited by newarts; 07-04-2009 at 03:40 PM.
07-05-2009, 03:54 AM   #8
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Pentax M 200 f4. totally mad sharp a stop down. if you don't mind MFocusing, this is a killer. I prefer it much better than the K 300 f/4. though the 300 is 100mm longer, it is more of a hit and miss lens. kinda frustrating actually. PF and CA are just too much on the K 300.

btw, this lens is cheaper than the K 300, sold at 200 I think. it's also better in terms of IQ. it is generally way better than any telezooms available at that focal length. except probably the FA* and DA*.

I think you could solve the focal length issue of this lens by adding up a 1.4x AF teleconverter. guess that should also solve the manual focusing. probably the new K7 would also be able to boost up the lens' speed deficiency and perform much better under lowlight. detailed noise is eminent I believe. but I think, that's a forte.

07-05-2009, 04:18 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by PentHassyKon Quote

I did see a 200mm 2.5 for ~ 400 and somewhat regret not pulling the trigger. On ocassion I've seen either a Takumar M42 300/4 or the K 300/4 with the Takumar running ~ $200 or so. What is the relative value of the 200/2.5 to a 300/4 or the 55-300?

saw that one as well. If only I had the cash then or given a month or two, I could had bought it. as for value, the 200/2.5 trumps those lenses by virtue of speed and IQ. you got to settle with a 200 f4 I guess. it's the closest to that of the 200 f2.5, only a stop slower.
07-31-2009, 10:29 PM   #10
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Just to follow-up since I started this thread-

Bought the 50-200 initially and not long after an opportunity for a 55-300 came up. Needless to say I now have them both

Will do some comparison shots soon......

Would still be interested in a fast 200 - still lusting for that 200 2.5.
.....
OR maybe a 300 2.8, 400 5.6?
08-02-2009, 05:44 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by PentHassyKon Quote
Just to follow-up since I started this thread-

Bought the 50-200 initially and not long after an opportunity for a 55-300 came up. Needless to say I now have them both

Will do some comparison shots soon......

Would still be interested in a fast 200 - still lusting for that 200 2.5.
.....
OR maybe a 300 2.8, 400 5.6?
Hold out for that K 200/2.5. It will be worth the wait. Hope you don't have to wait the 20 years or so I did. There is just no substitute for speed in the conditions you want to shoot.

I have the K 300/4 as well as the M 400/5.6. I have used the K300/4 with some success in dimly lit school gyms. This lens gets dumped on by some but I submit it is the best bang for the buck in the 300mm manual focus category. Forget the M 400/5.6 as it is just too slow and big for that application. Fine for outdoor work where you have lots of light and room but IMO hopeless in an auditorium.

Tom G

Last edited by 8540tomg; 08-02-2009 at 05:46 AM. Reason: typo
08-02-2009, 09:59 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by 8540tomg Quote
Hold out for that K 200/2.5. It will be worth the wait. Hope you don't have to wait the 20 years or so I did. There is just no substitute for speed in the conditions you want to shoot.

I have the K 300/4 as well as the M 400/5.6. I have used the K300/4 with some success in dimly lit school gyms. This lens gets dumped on by some but I submit it is the best bang for the buck in the 300mm manual focus category. Forget the M 400/5.6 as it is just too slow and big for that application. Fine for outdoor work where you have lots of light and room but IMO hopeless in an auditorium.

Tom G
200/2.5 - I couldn't wait for one at the $ I had so I went and got the 55-300. At 200 it is @ f4.5, so roughly 1 1/3 stop off. With SR and use of a monopod (can I use SR with a monopod?) Might just be able to do it.
Another thought is possibly the Nikkor 180/2.8.

k300/4 - well compared to 55-300's f5.8 @ 300, another 1+ stops difference. I wish I could see how big it is compared to the 55-300.

I've got the Pentax-A 70-210 as well as the Vivitar Series 1 70-210 f3.5. I'll post the pics soon as I can put em up in flickr.

The 55-300 will have do for a while until I get another opportunity (reasonable one that is) for the 200/2.5 or sensor technology get's better. I figure by the time I can get the 200/2.5
08-02-2009, 10:14 AM   #13
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Hi PHK,

I'm not a concert shooter, but have some experience with longer lenses. If an MF 80-200 2.8 is under consideration, I'd take a look at the Tamron SP 80-200/2.8 Adaptall 2, which is IMO the best of the fast xx-200 MF zooms. This is an excellent lens -- one of the few zooms that stand up to pretty critical use with the P F 1.7x AFA for birding. I got mine for @ $212 a few years ago, but the asking prices seem to have gone up since, and you'd still have to get a PK/A adapter which can now be a significant expense. It's hard to compare them, but I'd say you'd get similar optical performance to your excellent A70-210/4, at a stop faster, but the size/weight penalty is significant, as it always is with fast tele stuff. If you could get lucky and find one cheap, this Tamron would be a lens to consider.

http://www.adaptall-2.com/lenses/30A.html

It's probably not an option because of the money, but something to think about if you shoot a lot of low light stuff, the better high ISO performance of the K20 or K7 CMOS sensor gives you more latitude shooting slower lenses in lower light situations. Your A70-210/4 would shine with either of these bodies at higher ISO without having the size/weight penalty of the faster glass.

A last option would be to just bump the ISO up another stop and look for a good NR program. I'd take a close look at Topaz Denoise. It's kinda slow, but does a remarkable job reducing noise while retaining finer detail.

Scott

Last edited by snostorm; 08-02-2009 at 10:15 AM. Reason: added link
08-02-2009, 10:24 AM   #14
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There's a Soligor 200/2.8 at adorama.com now for $99USD
Soligor/canon 200/2.8 Tele Lens *72

It is for a Canon (I presume FD) mount. It'd likely be easy to convert it to fully manual (ie. stop down - preset metering) Pentax K mount.
08-02-2009, 10:24 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by PentHassyKon Quote
200/2.5 - I couldn't wait for one at the $ I had so I went and got the 55-300. At 200 it is @ f4.5, so roughly 1 1/3 stop off. With SR and use of a monopod (can I use SR with a monopod?) Might just be able to do it.
Another thought is possibly the Nikkor 180/2.8.

k300/4 - well compared to 55-300's f5.8 @ 300, another 1+ stops difference. I wish I could see how big it is compared to the 55-300.

I've got the Pentax-A 70-210 as well as the Vivitar Series 1 70-210 f3.5. I'll post the pics soon as I can put em up in flickr.

The 55-300 will have do for a while until I get another opportunity (reasonable one that is) for the 200/2.5 or sensor technology get's better. I figure by the time I can get the 200/2.5
I look forward to seeing your results. I use SR whenever I use my monopod with the longer lenses. It seems to work fine for me.

Tom G

Last edited by 8540tomg; 08-02-2009 at 10:25 AM. Reason: typo
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