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09-08-2009, 02:21 AM   #1
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Consumer zoom or manual *

Let's assume you need a 300mm lens and you can deal with manual focus.
Would you buy the SMC-A*/M* 300mm F4.0 or DA 55-300mm F4-F5.8 ?
The versatility of the zoom is not the point here, I am talking about the IQ at 300mm.

Kind regards
.lars

09-08-2009, 02:41 AM   #2
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IQ wise A/M*300 probably has the edge. But I just can't live w/ its 4m minimum focal distance. DA55-300 has a minimum focal distance of 1.4m, which is so much more fun to use imo.

I myself use F*300/4.5, sometimes I wish it could focus a bit closer, like the DA*300/4.
09-08-2009, 02:42 AM   #3
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I'd be guessing that the lens development has vastly improved for tele lenses since the SMC 300 was designed making the DA 55-300 the winner on IQ. Have a look in the lens reviews section for pictures supplied by both lenses and see what you think.
09-08-2009, 03:08 AM   #4
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Also depends on what you want to shoot.
Anything closer than 4m, the 55-300 is actually great IQ-wise. I've captured a number of shots at MFD and have been quite happy with the results.
If you like the quality feel of an A* or M* lens, and don't mind MF, then why not go for an A* 300 (if you can find one) as that would be a lifetime keeper.

09-08-2009, 03:56 AM   #5
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A little love for the K 300/4

While it may not focus as close it is still f4 at 300mm and that is a factor to consider as well. There is no substitute for speed. The SMC K 300/4 has its issues

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/29940-pentax-smc-300-4-a.html


as discussed above but can deliver some fine images.



Let's not forget the fact the K 300/4 will be a lot cheaper if you can find one as well. Best bang for the buck in the 300mm range. Certainly worth considering if you need a 300mm and don't mind manual focuing.

Tom G
09-08-2009, 04:20 AM   #6
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The reason for wanting the A*/M* is the small size. However, the m*300 is tempting as a collectors item as well. It was the first * lens and also pretty groundbreaking when it was released. I didn't know it was that unique before I read an article written by Marco Cavina comparing the 300mm lenses from M* to DA*.

Kind regards
.lars
09-08-2009, 08:52 AM   #7
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The M*300 might be small compared to the K, but it's still enormous compared to the 55-300, or indeed pretty much any other slower zoom that goes to 300mm. Nothing I've seen suggests to me that the older primes win by any significant enough margin on IQ to be worth what you give up in size or in flexibility. But of course, f/4 is f/4 - *that* would really be the reason to go with the M*. Either that's essential or it isn't.
09-08-2009, 09:46 AM   #8
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Wanting to go with a 300mm lens, I'm assuming most of the time spent shooting will be in the 50ft - infinity range?

I've been looking for a genuinely good 300mm lens (but keep buying other stuff instead ) and the 1 stop plus change of the older MF lenses seems worth it to me, considering the fact that AF isn't needed.

Zooms that are not great on either end of the focal length spectrum they offer is becoming tiresome. Having a 320mm lens that isn't usuable over 240-260mm included.

09-08-2009, 10:03 AM   #9
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This came from the A*300 @ f4. The A* can definitely show some fringing in high contrast situations, but other than that, if you nail the focus, it will produce excellent images.

09-10-2009, 12:02 AM   #10
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Thanks all.
09-10-2009, 04:18 AM   #11
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Something makes me think you are kidding.

From what I have seen, A * 300mm / 1:4 is far superior to any zoom, consumer or not.
09-10-2009, 04:30 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ilya80 Quote
Something makes me think you are kidding.

From what I have seen, A * 300mm / 1:4 is far superior to any zoom, consumer or not.
Though I love my A*300, I would not completely subscribe to that. High quality zooms are as good, if we look at the resulting image and with respect to CAs, modern zooms can be better than the A*. I am talking about the Sigma 100-300/4 or the Sigma 70-200/2.8+ Siagma 1.4x Apo tc.

By what margin the A* is better than a consumer grade zoom, I cannot comment, as I never had on of these. But the A* has some other obvious advantages:
- build quality
- compactness - with regard to its aperture
- comparetively fast aperture

Ben
09-10-2009, 05:20 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
Though I love my A*300, I would not completely subscribe to that. High quality zooms are as good, if we look at the resulting image and with respect to CAs, modern zooms can be better than the A*. I am talking about the Sigma 100-300/4 or the Sigma 70-200/2.8+ Siagma 1.4x Apo tc.

By what margin the A* is better than a consumer grade zoom, I cannot comment, as I never had on of these. But the A* has some other obvious advantages:
- build quality
- compactness - with regard to its aperture
- comparetively fast aperture

Ben
I believe you're right regarding CAs.
Anyway, the Sigma costs approx $1.300 USD.
If you're lucky you can get the M* 300 for $300-400 USD.

Kind regards
.lars
09-10-2009, 06:53 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Recercare Quote
Let's assume you need a 300mm lens and you can deal with manual focus.
Would you buy the SMC-A*/M* 300mm F4.0 or DA 55-300mm F4-F5.8 ?
.lars
I don't think it's really a choice of 'which you would buy?' so much as 'which can you afford to buy?' (Or was this a hypothetical question "If money was no object...?" )

The DA 55-300mm F4-F5.8 can be bought for about US$340, whereas a good M*/A*300 F4 generally sells for around US$1000 on eBay. As for the K300 - it may well be cheaper but I haven't seen one for sale for a while.
09-10-2009, 08:00 AM   #15
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I can recommend the SMC Pentax-A* 300mm F4 version

The only downside is that its a slow lens at F4.
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