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11-04-2009, 01:43 PM   #1
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cost effective telephoto 4 newbie

I am new to this system and can't find any discussion of mirror Vs straight telephoto lenses. I am sure there must be at least one thread somewhere, but I am not finding it. So I am posting my question here with my apologies to those who have read this discussion a thousand times.

What is the most cost effective way to try out long distance shooting? I don't want to dump a whole lot of money into something I might not like. I see that the mirror telephoto lenses are considerably cheaper than the straight lenses. Why is this and is the image quality what one might expect from a system that cost 1/10 what its competition costs? Or do they take good photos? Any recommendations for someone starting out on a budget?

What is the most cost effective way to get into wildlife? Do I have to buy a new lens? I do have a good 200 mm manual lens. Would an extender tube be more cost effective?

Thanks in advance for helping an ignorant newbie.

11-04-2009, 01:54 PM   #2
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mirror lenses are generally not as high contrast, and usually low apertures i.e. F8 at 500 mm.

adding an extender to your existing 200mm lens will work and still give you AF capabilities if the lens is F2.8 to F4 depending on the magnification of the extender,
11-04-2009, 01:55 PM   #3
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I think the Tamron 70-300 is a great lens for the money. I've been using it more and more recently, and been pleasantly surprised. Its macro feature is pretty handy, too.
11-04-2009, 02:07 PM   #4
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well based on my own experiance with mirror lenses i'd say save up and get something descent rather than trying to get there on the cheap

i got a 600mm sigma mirror and its not to bad but accurate manual focusing isn't easy and even when spot on its not that sharp

currently pulling the pennies together and gonna get a sigma 150-500mm alot of money but if you plan to do wildlife/sports/airshows etc then worth saving up that bit longer than being disapointed with a mirror lens - that said if you are looking for a mirror from what i have heard the tamron 500mm is probably the best of them

11-04-2009, 02:29 PM   #5
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there is another thread running about long tele's

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/78807-suggestions-500mm.html
11-04-2009, 02:37 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by PrimeObjectif Quote
I think the Tamron 70-300 is a great lens for the money. I've been using it more and more recently, and been pleasantly surprised. Its macro feature is pretty handy, too.
I completely agree, I sold my Tamron 70-300 to get a 55-300mm Pentax, missed it so much I bought another one! (and kept the Pentax). The Tamron is plenty affordable to do such things! I paid around $139 (new) for mine.
11-04-2009, 07:15 PM   #7
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See the "mirror lens club" thread in this forum for examples of what a mirror lens can do. If you *need* 500mm, then a mirror lens can be a cheap and not terrible way of getting there. But you should ask yourslef how badly you really need that focal length. For most purposes, most people would be better off with a regular zoom that goes to 300mm. 200mm is oK in a pinch. An extenstion tube doesn't make it any better for long distance in fact, it prevents it from focusing at all at long distances. Extensions yubes are for closeup work - bugs that are mere centimeters away, not wildlife that are dozens of meters away. Teleconverters are the devices you are thinking of that increase focal length, but they generally also decrease IQ by about the same amount. except the the very best / most expensive teleconverters combined with the best / most expensive telephoto lenses, you're almost always better off just cropping the results whatever lenses you have than using a teleconverter.
11-04-2009, 07:39 PM   #8
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I have both the Tamron 500mm mirror lens as well as the Pentax DA 55-300, both of which I will be keeping as long as there is a K-mount dSLR for me to put them on... they're good quality 'cheap' lenses.

11-04-2009, 11:10 PM   #9
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Thank you everyone who has taken the time to share your experiences. This is really helping.
11-04-2009, 11:15 PM   #10
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BTW, where does a Kenko Vari 420-800mm Super Telephoto fit in the quality spectrum?
11-05-2009, 03:58 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigB Quote
BTW, where does a Kenko Vari 420-800mm Super Telephoto fit in the quality spectrum?
It does not fit into any quality spectrum, because it is so slow (small max. aperture), that you will find it completely unuseable. (Yes, I know, there will always somebody somewhere, who probably took an acceptable shot with it...)

It is a 420/8.3 - 800/16 lens! In real life you will often need to stop down a long lens to f/11 or f/16 to get a certain depth of field, but if a lens starts with f/16, you will be hard pressed to achieve correct focus, because the viewfinder is so extremely dim.Also, the aperture is fixed and will change with shooting distance, getting as low as f/21 at 800mm and the shortest distance. Even if you get correct focus you can only shoot static objects as shutter speeds get long or you need very high ISO settings with the according increase in noise.

All in all I am sure a 400/5.6 or even a 500/8 mirror lens will provide better images and is easier to handle.

Ben
11-05-2009, 01:15 PM   #12
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Thank you!
11-05-2009, 01:27 PM   #13
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I am in the works to acquire a Pentax FA 80-320 f4/5.6, and once I get it I will report back.
11-05-2009, 03:48 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pcarfan Quote
I am in the works to acquire a Pentax FA 80-320 f4/5.6, and once I get it I will report back.
I can highly recommend the FA 80-320mm, it's inexpensive (my copy cost abot US$120 from a member here) and stopped down 1-2 stops it is acceptably sharp.

I've got a couple of samples from it in my My PPG.
11-05-2009, 03:53 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike L Quote
I can highly recommend the FA 80-320mm, it's inexpensive (my copy cost abot US$120 from a member here) and stopped down 1-2 stops it is acceptably sharp.

I've got a couple of samples from it in my My PPG.
Mike, I checked all the PPG images taken with this lens, and remember yours very well. Very nice. I have my sigma 100-300 F4, and I just want to see what I can do with a budget zoom, and then probably sell it. I want to see it's overall rendering in different situations.
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