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07-13-2009, 01:22 AM   #16
axl
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QuoteOriginally posted by jstevewhite Quote
Thanks for the lead, but I'm afraid of "BGN" rated equipment at KEH.
I know of one in the UK (the same lens, but excellent condition) but quite a bit more expensive. Interrested?:
Used Pentax SMC 135-600mm F6.7 Lens - Only 749.00 - SRS Microsystems

therer's no pic, but I've seen the lens, and it seems to be in great condition.

BR
Peter

07-13-2009, 09:03 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by jstevewhite Quote
Thanks for the feedback, Mike. I've read those reviews, thanks, and I'm leaning towards Bigma. I spent quite a bit of time perusing pixel-peeper.com images from the various long Sigma zooms, and the Bigma clearly comes out on top in contrast and sharpness. I'm starting to think, though, that the difference is that the Bigma doesn't have OIS, while the 150-500 does. Most of the images from the other x-500 sigmas seem flat and unsharp, but the Bigma is very sharp and snappy.
I can only recommend the Bigma too. It is tricky to achieve critically sharp focus with any such long lens and the Bigma is no exception. But when the focus is really right, the images are sharp and can be compared to any other lens. The softness, some users report with that lens at the longest end (and I fell prey to that perception too), is mostly caused by the focus being slightly off. It is interesting how the contrast really breaks down, if the Bigma's focus is off.

You need really good light to use it handhold at the longest end - but up to about 300mm fl it works. Anything longer and a tripod or at least monopod makes a very visible quality difference.

Ben

Last edited by Ben_Edict; 07-13-2009 at 03:05 PM.
07-13-2009, 10:06 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by jstevewhite Quote
Thanks for the lead, but I'm afraid of "BGN" rated equipment at KEH.
Have you bought any before? Pretty much universally I hear people saying that KEH's "BGN" is like what your typical seller would list as "practically like new".
07-13-2009, 10:31 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Have you bought any before? Pretty much universally I hear people saying that KEH's "BGN" is like what your typical seller would list as "practically like new".
Yeah, I know KEH are straight up kinda folks. I know what BGN *can* mean. I also worked in a pro camera shop and know what people think of their own equipment. I'm still thinking about it, though; sure looks like a cool lens. I'd like to see some images from one. Thanks for the feedback!

07-13-2009, 12:25 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by axl Quote
I know of one in the UK (the same lens, but excellent condition) but quite a bit more expensive. Interrested?:
Used Pentax SMC 135-600mm F6.7 Lens - Only 749.00 - SRS Microsystems

therer's no pic, but I've seen the lens, and it seems to be in great condition.

BR
Peter
I am not sure, I would ever buy this monster, except for LBA... After some search I found a handful of example images on the web and must say, it is surprisingly sharp and contrasty for such an old lens - and it didn't show any CAs or PF in the examples posted. But it is very big and heavy and I think, the Bigma is much more useable. Not the least, the Bigma has a good tripod mount, which makes it easy to balance on either a ball head or a gimbal mount. The Pentax needs some serious additional work to get it balanced.

Ben
07-13-2009, 12:43 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by jstevewhite Quote
Thanks for the lead, but I'm afraid of "BGN" rated equipment at KEH.
I've been quite pleased with the quality of BGN lenses I've purchased (3-4) at keh.com, they mean it when they say the optics are ok. They also mean it when they say you can return the lens if you don't approve of its quality.

They've also resold a lens I traded in as BGN quality when I think the lens was better than BGN; the only blemish on it was a tiny little chip off a single letter on a small painted-on model number.

Dave

But UG is another matter I think
07-13-2009, 01:37 PM   #22
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Hi jsteve,

If you're looking for something in the 500mm range, I've two recommendations, both of which probably won't be the popular choice.

If you are just wanting something for occasional use, and don't want to make a substantial investment, then it's hard to beat a mirror lens -- both for size and weight, and cost. I'd recommend the Tamron SP 500/8. It's got quality construction, is readily available, and the optics are good. The downsides are the donut bokeh, manual focus, fixed aperture, very thin Depth of Field, relatively low contrast, and the small size and light weight actually works against handholding at this focal length. It's an Adaptall 2, so you'd have to get a PK adapter for it, and they're getting rare and relatively expensive for what they are. The upsides are that they are easy to carry and store, give great optical quality for the cost, have no CA or PF concerns, and the whole deal should be able to be obtained for less than $200 USD.

The second alternative is if you expect to be shooting at over 300 mm a considerable amount, want the best performance for the buck, and don't mind a lens that is large and heavy. My personal choice in your price range would be a Tamron SP 300/2.8 LD with a 1.4x TC and the Pentax F 1.7x Auto Focusing Adapter. This lens is also an Adaptall 2, and works best with a PK/A adapter which allows automated exposure. These adapters have gotten extremely rare, and relatively expensive, but since they allow any Adaptall 2 lens to work with Auto Exposure with our K-mount DSLRs, getting one opens up a lot of possiblities for future acquisitions in a pretty good line of MF lenses. The 1.7x AFA is another item that has become rare and expensive, but IMO, it's the most useful of all the Pentax accessories for a tele shooter.

The SP300/2.8 LD is an excellent lens on its own right. It's not quite as good as some of its more modern AF counterparts, but it's definitely in the same class, and doesn't miss by much. Many times, it's offered with the Tamron SP 140F 1.4x TC in combination, and this is an excellent TC which is Adaptall 2 dedicated and would give you 420mm at f4. The P F 1.7x AFA would give you limited Auto Focusing at 510/4.8 with, at worst, very good optics, built in focus limiter, relatively compact size and weight, and quick AF in just about any lighting conditions. Stack the 1.7x on the 1.4x, and you have a AF 714mm f6.7 -- almost 1.5x the reach of the Bigma at the same aperture, with similar size, weight, IQ, and cost.

The Sp300/2.8 model 60B can be gotten for @ $400-800 USD, The PK/A adapter will cost @ $100 in the current market, and the 1.7x AFA will probably cost @ $300 nowadays. This is an incredible bargain as the comparable AF 300/2.8s available are the Sigma EX 300/2.8 APO at $1500-2200 used (with the newer DG models a bit more) and the FA* 300/2.8 ED(IF) usually at $3000+ used. There were a very limited number of Tamron AF and Tokina AF 300/2.8s made, and they seem to be rarer than the FA*300/2.8, so they're up there in price also -- if you can find one for sale.

Some factors that you should consider in an ultra tele -- Minimum Focusing Distance and internal zoom (where applicable), and internal focusing. Many of the older ultra teles and zooms have very long MFD (13-30 ft or more). The SP 300/2.8 is under 8 ft. MFD. Internal focusing and/or zoom is important if using a gimbal. Gimbals are very desireable because they make handling a heavy camera/lens combo virtually effortless, but they require the whole package to be balanced to work optimally. Lenses that extend the barrel to either zoom or focus will not remain in balance, and though they can be used with gimbals, they require that you use some friction to overcome the variations in balance point, which kind of defeats the design.

I'm sure that there will be those who will say that the 1.7x aFA is not worth the money that the current market for them demands. For the dedicated tele shooter, it opens up the possiblities for long teles to include all long teles with max apertures of f4.5 or faster. Compare the cost of a Tamron 300/2.8 + 1.7x AFA at @ $1100 to the Sigma 500/4.5 at @ $4000 -- I'll accept any limitations to the Tamron+AFA combo for the $3K difference. . . not to mention the smaller size and 2 lb+ weight difference.

If you want something more handholdable than a 5lb+ 300/2.8, then a premium 300/4-4.5 (M* or A*300/4 or F* or FA*300/4.5) with the 1.7x AFA will give you a high quality 510mm f6.8 or f7.7 respectively that is very handholdable for me at @ 2 lbs+. Check out the difference in prices for AF ultra teles against MF ones and the $300 for the AFA doesn't seem all that much. . . an M* will go for @ $300-400, an A* can probably be gotten for $400-600, and F* and FA*s, and on a good day, a used DA* should be able to be found for under $900. And you'll be able to use the AFA with other lenses as well -- I kinda like the D FA 100 macro with the AFA for a little more working distance, and the AFA added to an 50/1.4 makes a pretty nice 85mm f2.4 portrait lens. . .

Well, I started rambling as usual. . . I guess I just think about the long tele possibilities for Pentax a bit too much. . . hope this might give you some more alternatives.

Here are some examples of the SP300/2.8 + stacked TCs --

handheld leaning against a car at 714mm with a DS.


a 100% crop near the center of the frame showing the detail. Remember this is with a 6MP sensor. . . and stacked TCs


Another shot with the DS, tripod mounted, frame cropped to 5x7 vertical from a landscape frame


K20, tripod mounted, cropped to 5x7 vertical from a landscape frame.


Here's a recent shot with a K100DS, FA*300/4.5 + a Sigma EX 1.4x APO TC, a 420mm combo that should also be within your price range.




Scott
07-22-2009, 11:40 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
Hi jsteve,

If you're looking for something in the 500mm range, I've two recommendations, both of which probably won't be the popular choice.

<snip>

Scott
Wow, Scott, thanks for takin' the time to go into such detail. I finally bought the Bigma - but I also bought the Pentax 1.7x AF TC, and I'm watching the Tamron 300 f2.8s on ebay. I'll probably pick one of those up eventually, as well. I have the Tamron 180 f2.5 - an incredible lens - and the 1.4 SP TC for it. With the Pentax 1.7, it will be a 306mm f4.2 - not too shabby, I think. If I add the 1.4, it will be ... a 428mm f5.8? I used to shoot with a Tamron SP 300 2.8 back in the late 80s/early 90s; it was a rental from a local shop, and it produced beautiful images. I will eventually replicate the Tamron gear I used back then... the original Adaptall-2 SP 90mm f2.5 (the metal one), the 180 f2.5 (check) and the 300 f2.8. Not a dog in the trio.

One thing, though. The Bigma is big, but it's got nothin' on that 300 f2.8!!!

07-23-2009, 01:36 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
I am not sure, I would ever buy this monster, except for LBA... After some search I found a handful of example images on the web and must say, it is surprisingly sharp and contrasty for such an old lens - and it didn't show any CAs or PF in the examples posted. But it is very big and heavy and I think, the Bigma is much more useable. Not the least, the Bigma has a good tripod mount, which makes it easy to balance on either a ball head or a gimbal mount. The Pentax needs some serious additional work to get it balanced.

Ben
they have another one now, SMC400/5.6.
It's my old lens, I traded it in as part exchange for my new lens.
Anyway, as far as CA/PF goes. I don't know about the K series zoom, but this 400 is decent in the right conditions. But on overcast day, poiniting it towards the bird and branches with sky behind, you could practicaly make a clip to Pink Floyd's song Any coulour you like...

BR
Peter
07-23-2009, 02:27 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by axl Quote
they have another one now, SMC400/5.6.
It's my old lens, I traded it in as part exchange for my new lens.
Anyway, as far as CA/PF goes. I don't know about the K series zoom, but this 400 is decent in the right conditions. But on overcast day, poiniting it towards the bird and branches with sky behind, you could practicaly make a clip to Pink Floyd's song Any coulour you like...

BR
Peter
Their pricing seems quite reasonable. The 400/5.6 is a very sharp lens, even fully open. I have the A-version, which has a much improved optical formulay and exhibits only a low amount of colour fringing. For the SRS price, your old lens should raise some interest with buyers.

Ben
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