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09-29-2009, 12:21 PM   #1
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The Quest for 300 (or 250)

I think I am in the market for a relatively fast (f4) or longer Lens. I was thinking the 300 range but I am not ruling out 250. Use would be Landscapes, wildlife, birding. I am pretty much a zoom guy but have not ruled out the DA* 300

The Contenders are:

1st Place Sigma 100-300 f4 - have not read a bad word about it. (50%)

2nd Place DA* 60-250 f4 - SDM not that big a deal however it is weather sealed which places it pretty close to first place (35%)

3rd Place the DA* 300 - stellar lens, weather sealed - but not a telephoto that alone may take it out of contention. (15%)

I know I would use 60mm more than 100 but also know 300 is a minimum focal length for birds, etc. and I have other lenses to cover the shorter length.

The race is really between 1 and 2 for me anyway. So to all the excellent nature and wildlife photog's out there would I miss the extra 50mm to gain weather sealed ? (I do ocassionlly get out when it is snowing or light rain but not often enough that would be a deciding factor alone).

And are there any other contendors that are in the same price range ? (I like AF but would consider MF )...

09-29-2009, 12:46 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by daacon Quote
3rd Place the DA* 300 - stellar lens, weather sealed - but not a telephoto that alone may take it out of contention. (15%)
Just to be a pain in the neck, it IS a telephoto lens. It's a PRIME telephoto lens, not a ZOOM telephoto lens as the other two are.
09-29-2009, 12:53 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fixcinater Quote
Just to be a pain in the neck, it IS a telephoto lens. It's a PRIME telephoto lens, not a ZOOM telephoto lens as the other two are.
I stand corrected yet unswayed from the Sigma 100-300 thanks.
09-29-2009, 01:04 PM   #4
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Sorry I can't chime in with experience on any of these, but it seems you're asking us to make a recommendation on good quality lenses that do slightly different things and have their own pros and cons, and only you can really make up your mind on what's most important.

If you want best IQ, go for the prime. Best chance of surviving a rainshower while out shooting, go for the 50-250. Best range, especially if you add a TC, go for the 100-300.

Pretty clear-cut to me.

09-29-2009, 01:06 PM   #5
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if you don't mind MF there is a smc-A 300F4 on ebay right now, bidding is up to about $400. Add to this a 1.7x AF TC and you have 500mm AF lens

I use the SMC - 300F4 plus this TC for birding and wildlife and have posted many results in teh past.
09-29-2009, 02:34 PM   #6
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I spent the summer going through the same selection process except my #2 was the Bigma. I tried renting all 3 for a couple weeks each to test drive but could not get the Sigma. In the end, I looked at my shooting habits for wildlife with the Bigma and my old DA55-300 and 95% of the time the lens was racked out to its max range. Therefore my selection was the DA*300 based on best IQ at max range and the fact that it works well with my Tamron-F 1.4x TC for the rare occasions where cropping is not as good.

You mentioned landscape so your requirements are different than mine for the lens. Enjoy shopping!
09-29-2009, 03:29 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies - I know threads like these are all rhetorical. I don't do a lot of wildlife as I live in suburbia just outside a large city and I already have the Bigma. There is some wildlife about 30 minutes away (Bison, some elk, deer, etc). And the mountains are a mere 4 hours away.

Just need to see my thoughts in type so to speak - if anything I would say the 60-250 is gaining ground as I stop and reflect on it - more versitile and smaller. Then again until I actually pull the plug they are all in the running. Renting is an idea that may have some merrit ummm. I think there are few places here that will rent gear no idea if they will rent the stuff I want , guess it may be time to check it out .....
09-29-2009, 03:48 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fixcinater Quote
...
Best chance of surviving a rainshower while out shooting, go for the 50-250. Best range, especially if you add a TC, go for the 100-300.
Just to be a pain in the neck (), the DA* 300mm would be arguably better in a rainshower than the (extending) zoom of the DA* 60-250, though I'm really only arguing for the sake of quoting you - seemed funny at the time ... In reality, I've used my DA* 16-50 in the rain several times, and it's extending barrels never seemed to leak water into the lens, so they must have figured that out pretty well.

09-29-2009, 04:13 PM   #9
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So far, in 2009, at least 30% of my pictures have been taken with my DA* 300/4, actually closer to 32%. I'm that close to saying it's my most versatile lens, as strange as that may sound. I love it as a landscape lens. It works well in the woods where many times, in close quarters, a wider angle lens just picks up so much limbs and old dead trees in a composition and you can't get rid of them. It's close focusing abilities along with the K20D's cropping abilities make it a great macro lens. Oh if it had an aperture ring or wait till I finally find a PKA extension tube set.
Of course I may just be weird or maybe it's because the lens is never far from me, but I just love the focal length. Even though it's still a bit to short for birding really, it's probably the perfect size and weight to focal length telephoto. And it's weather sealed.
I know I can't sway you Daacon, by all accounts the Sigma 100-300 is a great lens. But I would advise for you to rent the DA* 300/4 for two weeks and shoot with it before you make your final decision:-).
09-30-2009, 12:25 PM   #10
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I have owned all three of those lenses (and currently own the Sigma 100-300 F4 and the DA*300.

The Sigma is great for occasions when you are doing candid photography over a wide range of focal lengths. I use it for photographing my daughter's track and cross country meets. Having just a 300mm available would not allow me to easily take team photos and other photos needing a wider angle of view.

The DA*300 is in my opinion an amazing lens. It is better at 300mm (it should be, it is a prime) than the Sigma, but not by much. It is also better wide open at 300mm. I have paired it with a Tamron 1.4X converter and it still works great outdoors. It also has a relatively close focusing distance. The only problem is that I cannot zoom it. This lens is great for occasions where you just need a 300mm such as wildlife and zoo pictures.

The Pentax 60-250 is an amazingly good lens. I had to remind myself when viewing the photos that it was a zoom lens. The color, contrast and clarity over the whole range is fantastic. It is very good even wide open. I prefer it over the DA* 50-135 (except for the size and weight). One nice thing is that it is much smaller than the Sigma when zoomed in. One problem is that since the lens extends when zooming, it takes a little more effort when zooming the lens than the Sigma. The BIG problem I had with this lens is that it is really more like a 60-200mm. The lens does not have much more magnification at 250mm than a 200mm lens. I think that this is because it is not really 250mm until infinity focus. I know this is true of all lenses, but this lens seems to suffer from this effect more than most lenses. I really wanted the lens to be longer, so that I could replace my Sigma. My Sigma gives you much more reach than the Pentax than just the 50mm difference in focal length would lead you to believe.

I think that you will be completely happy with the Sigma - just keep in mind that it is a big, heavy lens. The DA*300 is much lighter and more compact.



QuoteOriginally posted by daacon Quote
I think I am in the market for a relatively fast (f4) or longer Lens. I was thinking the 300 range but I am not ruling out 250. Use would be Landscapes, wildlife, birding. I am pretty much a zoom guy but have not ruled out the DA* 300

The Contenders are:

1st Place Sigma 100-300 f4 - have not read a bad word about it. (50%)

2nd Place DA* 60-250 f4 - SDM not that big a deal however it is weather sealed which places it pretty close to first place (35%)

3rd Place the DA* 300 - stellar lens, weather sealed - but not a telephoto that alone may take it out of contention. (15%)

I know I would use 60mm more than 100 but also know 300 is a minimum focal length for birds, etc. and I have other lenses to cover the shorter length.

The race is really between 1 and 2 for me anyway. So to all the excellent nature and wildlife photog's out there would I miss the extra 50mm to gain weather sealed ? (I do ocassionlly get out when it is snowing or light rain but not often enough that would be a deciding factor alone).

And are there any other contendors that are in the same price range ? (I like AF but would consider MF )...
09-30-2009, 12:45 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaxman Quote
I have owned all three of those lenses (and currently own the Sigma 100-300 F4 and the DA*300.

The Sigma is great for occasions when you are doing candid photography over a wide range of focal lengths. I use it for photographing my daughter's track and cross country meets. Having just a 300mm available would not allow me to easily take team photos and other photos needing a wider angle of view.

The DA*300 is in my opinion an amazing lens. It is better at 300mm (it should be, it is a prime) than the Sigma, but not by much. It is also better wide open at 300mm. I have paired it with a Tamron 1.4X converter and it still works great outdoors. It also has a relatively close focusing distance. The only problem is that I cannot zoom it. This lens is great for occasions where you just need a 300mm such as wildlife and zoo pictures.

The Pentax 60-250 is an amazingly good lens. I had to remind myself when viewing the photos that it was a zoom lens. The color, contrast and clarity over the whole range is fantastic. It is very good even wide open. I prefer it over the DA* 50-135 (except for the size and weight). One nice thing is that it is much smaller than the Sigma when zoomed in. One problem is that since the lens extends when zooming, it takes a little more effort when zooming the lens than the Sigma. The BIG problem I had with this lens is that it is really more like a 60-200mm. The lens does not have much more magnification at 250mm than a 200mm lens. I think that this is because it is not really 250mm until infinity focus. I know this is true of all lenses, but this lens seems to suffer from this effect more than most lenses. I really wanted the lens to be longer, so that I could replace my Sigma. My Sigma gives you much more reach than the Pentax than just the 50mm difference in focal length would lead you to believe.

I think that you will be completely happy with the Sigma - just keep in mind that it is a big, heavy lens. The DA*300 is much lighter and more compact.
Nice to get the advice for someone who has had all three ..... thanks I am going to have to stop and re-evaluate my 'needs' (ie: Wants).
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