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11-26-2009, 04:44 AM   #1
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I'm Traveling, Want Inexpensive Telephoto Zooms : Pentax 55-300 Or Sigma 70-300 APO

Ok i'm tossing up between these two.

I was planning to get a Sigma 70-200 F2.8 however as i'll be travelling Europe for 3months I really want to keep the weight of my luggage down so I'm tossing up between both these lenses.

Both seem to have decent review, I understand the 55-300 is supposed to be sharper and a bit pricier, however the Sigma seems to have a pseudo macro mode which could come in handy to.

However in real world is there any real majorly noticeable difference in performance?

In my kit I'm taking my 10-17 Fisheye, 17-70mm Sigma and really want a decent telephoto....

The other option I am considering is just getting a Sigma 105mm f2.8 Macro?

11-26-2009, 05:13 AM   #2
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The Tamron 70-300 appears at least equivalent to the Pentax 55-300 according to Photozone.de's tests and costs about 1/2 as much.

http://www.photozone.de/pentax/281-tamron-af-70-300mm-f4-56-ld-di-macro-pent...ab-test-report

Dave in Iowa

Last edited by newarts; 11-26-2009 at 05:23 AM.
11-26-2009, 05:18 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
The Tamron 70-300 appears at least equivalent to the Pentax 55-300 according to Photozone.de's tests and costs about 1/2 as much.

Dave in Iowa

I hear the Tamron is good but suffers from bad CA compared to the Sigma.
11-26-2009, 06:08 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by C.W Tsorotes Quote
I hear the Tamron is good but suffers from bad CA compared to the Sigma.
Here's some CA data linked to Photozone.de comparing the two (Tamron looks better wide open @ 300mm):
Sigma -1676 lpph center resolution 300mm, 1:5.6


Tamron - 1849 lpph center resolution 300mm, 1:5.6


For me, the increased resolution at 300mm wide open would be important as I find need it when shooting long. For birds, etc I need as much enlargeability as I can get.

It'd be good to hear from people who've compared these lenses directly. There's not much cost difference & the Tamron's lens rotates while the Sigma's does not. Both have a 1:2 macro mode. Both lenses deliver a lot for the cost.

This is academic for me; I have the Pentax 55-300 & won't be replacing it soon I think.

Dave in Iowa

11-26-2009, 06:32 AM   #5
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I'm finding a few unfavourable reviews on the Tammy the more I read.

How would the Sigma 105mm f2.8 go as a telephoto?
11-26-2009, 06:56 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by newarts Quote
The Tamron 70-300 appears at least equivalent to the Pentax 55-300 according to Photozone.de's tests and costs about 1/2 as much.

Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 LD Di macro (Pentax K) - Review / Lab Test Report

Dave in Iowa
The Photozone DA 55-300mm test caused a calamity when it was published. Owners expected the Pentax to blow the Tamron out of the water, but the MTF scores were almost even. One theory is that the Photozone tested a defective 55-300, and this is supported by the mention of slight decentering in the test report. The other explanation is that Photozone's MTF test doesn't account for contrast, and that's where the Pentax really shines. A PopPhoto review showed the 55-300 as excellent on their Subjective Quality Factor scale, Their scale uses a combination of MTF scores and perceived IQ to rate the lens. PopPhoto SQF results are much more in line with how most people judge the image quality of a lens. The MTF scores at Photozone are again causing a furor in the new DA*55mm test, because it shows the 55mm as having the same MTF scores as the FA 50mm. People who have owned both swear up and down that the 55mm is sharper at f1.4-f2.8. My opinion is that the the Photozone MTF tests are accurate, but they only measure lines of resolution, not contrast, and it's contrast that is the more important criterion for IQ.

To get back to the original question, I have both. I had the Tamron, used it for a year, then bought the Pentax and used it for the next two years. My testing showed the Pentax was slightly sharper and the deeply saturated colours made my photos look better. Recently I went back to the Tamron for a few months and sent the Pentax in for repairs after a nasty fall. Once I got the Pentax back, the Tamron went back into storage. The Tamron photos are good, a bit too much PF, but just not quite as punchy. I imagine that anyone good at post-processing could level the playing field. One area where the Tamron wins out is in AF. The Pentax hunts once in a while and simply will not find focus. Quick shift focus with this lens is a almost a necessity. I've taken many photos I'm proud of with the 70-300, but IME it's not as nice a lens as the 55-300. Since the OP was considering a 70-200 f2.8, I assume price is not an issue, in which case the Pentax is the better choice.

The Tamron pseudo-macro is a nice feature, but I would not trade it for the 55-69mm range. If I need macro I use a real macro lens or pop a Raynox 150 on the 55-300. The 55-300/Raynox combo allows you to increase magnification from 1:2, all the way to 1.4:1 just by zooming (set focus at infinity). You have to stop down a LOT for DOF though, so you need bright light or a flash.
11-26-2009, 07:00 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by C.W Tsorotes Quote
I'm finding a few unfavourable reviews on the Tammy the more I read.

How would the Sigma 105mm f2.8 go as a telephoto?
My 55-300 is a lot wider and a LOT longer than my D FA 100mm. The D FA 100mm is considerably sharper at 100mm and has 1:1 macro focus. What are you intending to photograph?

Last edited by audiobomber; 11-26-2009 at 08:56 AM.
11-26-2009, 08:22 AM   #8
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I'm in the same boat. I'm looking for a good telephoto zoom as well, though I don't need the range of 300mm. I'm hoping for something like a 50-200 or a 70-200. I'm considering the Tamron 70-200mm 2.8 Di LD macro or the Sigma 50-150 2.8 APO. I know the Tamron has a good reputation in the review section, but i haven't seen anything about the Sigma. Any thoughts?

(Don't mean to hijack the thread, but I thought it would be redundant to start a new one as I'm looking for the same information as the OP.)

11-26-2009, 08:34 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
The Photozone DA 55-300mm test caused a calamity when it was published. Owners expected the Pentax to blow the Tamron out of the water, but the MTF scores were almost even. One theory is that the Photozone tested a defective 55-300, and this is supported by the mention of slight decentering in the test report. The other explanation is that Photozone's MTF test doesn't account for contrast, and that's where the Pentax really shines. A PopPhoto review showed the 55-300 as excellent on their Subjective Quality Factor scale, Their scale uses a combination of MTF scores and perceived IQ to rate the lens. PopPhoto SQF results are much more in line with how most people judge the image quality of a lens. The MTF scores at Photozone are again causing a furor in the new DA*55mm test, because it shows the 55mm as having the same MTF scores as the FA 50mm. People who have owned both swear up and down that the 55mm is sharper at f1.4-f2.8. My opinion is that the the Photozone MTF tests are accurate, but they only measure lines of resolution, not contrast, and it's contrast that is the more important criterion for IQ.

To get back to the original question, I have both. I had the Tamron, used it for a year, then bought the Pentax and used it for the next two years. My testing showed the Pentax was slightly sharper and the deeply saturated colours made my photos look better. Recently I went back to the Tamron for a few months and sent the Pentax in for repairs after a nasty fall. Once I got the Pentax back, the Tamron went back into storage. The Tamron photos are good, a bit too much PF, but just not quite as punchy. I imagine that anyone good at post-processing could level the playing field. One area where the Tamron wins out is in AF. The Pentax hunts once in a while and simply will not find focus. Quick shift focus with this lens is a almost a necessity. I've taken many photos I'm proud of with the 70-300, but IME it's not as nice a lens as the 55-300. Since the OP was considering a 70-200 f2.8, I assume price is not an issue, in which case the Pentax is the better choice.

The Tamron pseudo-macro is a nice feature, but I would not trade it for the 55-69mm range. If I need macro I use a real macro lens or pop a Raynox 150 on the 55-300. The 55-300/Raynox combo allows you to increase magnification from 1:2, all the way to 1.4:1 just by zooming (set focus at infinity). You have to stop down a LOT for DOF though, so you need bright light or a flash.
I second every bit of the post above. I basically did the same thing Tamron for a year and then got the 55-300. Haven't used the 70-300 since.

The primary reason is the sharpness at the long end and the availability of 55-70. The 55-300 is sharp all the way to 300 mm. The Tamron always left me wanting more beyond 200.

CA isn't much of an issue. PP usually handles it well for either lens.
11-26-2009, 09:24 AM   #10
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I've been back and forth on a long tele zoom myself. I've had some fast zooms for Pentax (Sigma 70-200 F2.8, Sigma 100-300 F4.0), but found two things. 1. I prefer primes for whatever reason 2. I like to travel light; small bag, small lenses. I have been back and forth quite a bit between the DA55-300 and the Sigma 70-300 APO DG. By all accounts the Sigma 70-300 is the same lens (optically, different body) as the Olympus 70-300. There are more user reviews and photo examples on the Olympus lens. In general, the Olympus community see this lens as an admirable alternative to the much more expensive Zuiko 50-200. Before committing to any lens, take a closer look at this choice.

Personally, I may go for the DA50-200 WR to match my 18-55WR. This may well coincide with a 300mm prime - autofocus or manual.
11-26-2009, 10:18 AM   #11
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I'll just throw this out if it hasn't been considered by the OP. The Pentax/Tamron 18-200 or 18-250 is a less expensive all-in-one lens perfect for travel without worrying about extra lenses or getting dust in the camera from lens swaps.

11-26-2009, 10:20 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by joeyc Quote
I have been back and forth quite a bit between the DA55-300 and the Sigma 70-300 APO DG. By all accounts the Sigma 70-300 is the same lens (optically, different body) as the Olympus 70-300.
The Sigma does seem to have nice IQ, but noted for softness at the long end. I'll be surprised if you find anyone to say that the Sigma APO matches the 55-300 at 300mm or wide open.
11-26-2009, 10:39 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by tomwil Quote
I'll just throw this out if it hasn't been considered by the OP. The Pentax/Tamron 18-200 or 18-250 is a less expensive all-in-one lens perfect for travel without worrying about extra lenses or getting dust in the camera from lens swaps.
I considered that, but the OP has a 16-45mm. I have a 16-45 + 55-300 and an 18-250, and the two lens kit simply outperforms the superzoom in every way. For a compact, convenient travel kit with good IQ however, an 18-250 with fast prime and Raynox 150 is an excellent way to go.
11-26-2009, 10:49 AM   #14
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Have you been to europe before?

IMHO you will rarely need serious telephoto, it's just cumbersome and not a common thing you will need.

Check out my galleries of croatia and malta, check the focal lengths. I used a 12-24, 18-250 and a 77 ltd. The 18-250 was rarely used past 100mm.
11-26-2009, 01:02 PM   #15
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Unless you are going to be shooting birds or wildlife I'd get the Sigma 105mm macro.... I use mine for a mid-telephoto and macro lens. Its faster and you will have a 1:1 macro lens which opens up a whole new world of photography. If you want the telephoto get the 55-300mm. I love mine, and it is indeed much better than the sigma/tamron 70-300mm in my own tests.
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