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12-07-2009, 12:18 PM   #1
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Should I trade/sell my 55-300mm?

Hi everyone!

I recently purchased a K-x with the kit lens and the DA 55-300mm. I haven't used the 55-300 that much at all yet. I've taken some photos of the moon which turned out great, but other than that I haven't found much of a use for it. One reason is that I live in Minnesota and I won't be spending a ton of time outside taking pictures until the Spring. I also now have a Pentax-M 50mm 1.7 which I really love! (Although it is challenging getting things in focus, but a challenge that I've enjoyed) I am a youth leader at my church and just got to try it out last night. I also used it to take some engagement pics of my friends. So here are my questions:

1) What are some good uses for my telephoto lens? What do you use it for, if you have it or a similar lens?
2) I really enjoy taking low-light shots and would like to take more engagement pics for people. Is their demand enough for a possible trade of my 55-300 for a Pentax SMC FA 50mm 1.4?
3) Should I just keep the telephoto and save up for a faster lens down the road?

Thanks in advance for your advice!

12-07-2009, 12:27 PM   #2
emr
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QuoteOriginally posted by lattyday Quote
Is their demand enough for a possible trade of my 55-300 for a Pentax SMC FA 50mm 1.4?
If you got it with the K-x, is it actually the 55-300 mm DA L with the plastic mount? In that case I'm afraid its market value won't be quite on the same level as the metal mount sans-L model.
12-07-2009, 12:45 PM   #3
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The range of the 55-300mm lens just may not be ideal for you. That is why companies produce a bunch of different lenses in different focal lengths. Personally, when I bought my first Pentax DSLR a few years ago, I bought the DA 50-200mm lens to complement my kit lens. Since then, I have probably used the 50-200 just a handful of times.

I simply don't need that range all that often. The bulk of my photos are of my family at home, outside our house, at playgrounds and parties, etc., generally in the 28mm to 75mm range. Hence why my Tamron 28-75mm/2.8 lens gets so much use. And I have a bunch of great primes in that range as well, including the Pentax FA 50mm/1.4 that you mention. Based on your description, it sounds like a trade of your 55-300 for an FA 50/1.4 would be a useful trade for you. The FA 50/1.4, or frankly any of the Pentax fast fifties, are wonderful lenses.

Good luck.
12-07-2009, 01:50 PM   #4
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I have a 55-300, and I didn't use it much ... until I was called upon to shoot my son's marching band. While I would use my short zoom for anything that had me within 25 feet of my subject, the 55-300 became required for anything beyond that... I could stand on the sidelines and shoot full length shots of individual marchers or sections of marchers, then go to 300 and get artsy compositions as the kids were whizzing by each other.

The 55-330 is not what I would call a fast lens, and shooting under football lights meant I had to often push the ISO to 800-1600. But I would say if you're ever planning to shoot people and or things more than two or three car-lengths away and want to have some fun, I'd say the 55-300 is worth keeping.

Just my 2 cents.

germar

12-07-2009, 02:30 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jeffrey r Quote
The range of the 55-300mm lens just may not be ideal for you. That is why companies produce a bunch of different lenses in different focal lengths. Personally, when I bought my first Pentax DSLR a few years ago, I bought the DA 50-200mm lens to complement my kit lens. Since then, I have probably used the 50-200 just a handful of times.

I simply don't need that range all that often. The bulk of my photos are of my family at home, outside our house, at playgrounds and parties, etc., generally in the 28mm to 75mm range. Hence why my Tamron 28-75mm/2.8 lens gets so much use. And I have a bunch of great primes in that range as well, including the Pentax FA 50mm/1.4 that you mention. Based on your description, it sounds like a trade of your 55-300 for an FA 50/1.4 would be a useful trade for you. The FA 50/1.4, or frankly any of the Pentax fast fifties, are wonderful lenses.

Good luck.
Yeah, I feel like most of my photos will be in a similar range. I'd love to get a normal zoom lens (18-55 or so) with a large aperture, but I don't have the money right now for that. What I CAN afford is a trade for something like the FA 50/1.4. I may end up posting in the marketplace to see if anyone is in need of the 55-300. And yes, emr, it is the 55-300 L lens, the plastic mount.

germar - I feel like I would have use for it down the road, but I'm sure I'd get a lot more out of fast prime, with autofocus.

In the mean time, I'm still having fun with my M-50mm 1.7!
12-07-2009, 02:33 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by lattyday Quote
Hi everyone!

I recently purchased a K-x with the kit lens and the DA 55-300mm. I haven't used the 55-300 that much at all yet. I've taken some photos of the moon which turned out great, but other than that I haven't found much of a use for it. One reason is that I live in Minnesota and I won't be spending a ton of time outside taking pictures until the Spring. I live in Manitoba, which as you know is directly north of Minnesota and we have the same cold, maybe colder winters that Minnesota enjoys. I retired about 18 months ago and was never much of an outdoor guy, but I've found that I've been taking daily walks, usually in a little urban forest not too far away. I usually go by myself , when doing the nature photography (quieter that way) and tend to look up into the trees. Since Feb./08 I've got some great photos of Barred Owls, Northern Hawk Owls, Great Horned Owls, Pileated Woodpecker, River Otters, etc...plus the usual Canada Geese, Deer and Squirrels and small birds.

In some cases this is the first time I've ever seen theses species of animals. I take my Pentax K10D and my Pentax 55-300. I'm loving my nature walks with my long telephoto 55-300 Zoom. The pix are very clear and with this long lens I'm amazed how close I can get to the animals. I'm quiet and not aggressive in my actions, so they seem not too scared when they see me, camera/lens in hand.

My suggestion, find a little urban forest with a trail, get your exercise and motivation by taking your KX and 55-300. You never know what you will see if you look carefully and quietly.
I also now have a Pentax-M 50mm 1.7 which I really love! (Although it is challenging getting things in focus, but a challenge that I've enjoyed) I am a youth leader at my church and just got to try it out last night. I also used it to take some engagement pics of my friends. So here are my questions:

1) What are some good uses for my telephoto lens? What do you use it for, if you have it or a similar lens?See above. I find I use my 55-300 for nature walks, generally in the winter and my 16-45 wide angle zoom in the summer when I go to outdoor car shows (hot rods, vintage cars) and take many pix of automobilia...it's a passionate hobby. I've learned an awful lot by just doing, what camera settings work best with what lens.
2) I really enjoy taking low-light shots and would like to take more engagement pics for people. Is their demand enough for a possible trade of my 55-300 for a Pentax SMC FA 50mm 1.4?The 50 F1.4 is a lens I received last Xmas as a gift. I use it for indoor shots. It's about $ 249-299 Canadian, would be less in the states. Rather then trading, you may want to get a 50 F1.4 new or check out ebay for a good used example. They're both good lenses.
3) Should I just keep the telephoto and save up for a faster lens down the road?My advice yes. I see you're involved in church activities, you may find your 55-300 great for outdoor church activities to take candid , telephoto pictures of church members having fun at various activities, etc. The 55 mm part of the zoom at F4 is not that fast, but in the outdoors, especially when sunny you could use it for close ups, etc...just as you could with the 50 F1.4. The other advantage of the 55-300 is that this is quite a range and with a 50mm using it as a portrait lens (good idea-good portrait lens) although fine, the vast range of 55 to 300 and every focal length in between gives you a lot of options to use as a people photographer...out doors...more candid shots. Using a telephoto for a person shot gives a bit of a comfort zone...person is further way, doesn't feel the lens is right there. Of course in your church group, people would know you're photographing them, which is important.

Thanks in advance for your advice!
Your KX and 55-300 have lot's of potential. Enjoy.

Last edited by lesmore49; 12-07-2009 at 02:56 PM.
12-07-2009, 02:42 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by lattyday Quote
Yeah, I feel like most of my photos will be in a similar range. I'd love to get a normal zoom lens (18-55 or so) with a large aperture, but I don't have the money right now for that. What I CAN afford is a trade for something like the FA 50/1.4. I may end up posting in the marketplace to see if anyone is in need of the 55-300. And yes, emr, it is the 55-300 L lens, the plastic mount.

germar - I feel like I would have use for it down the road, but I'm sure I'd get a lot more out of fast prime, with autofocus.

In the mean time, I'm still having fun with my M-50mm 1.7!
There's not much of a difference in a fast lens... between an F1.4 50 and a F 1.7 50mm. Also when using a 50 mm at F1.4 your depth of field will be very shallow and the pictures, I find are a bit soft. I usually set my 50mm F1.4 to around, at least F 2.2 to F 2.8 as a minimum, in order to get a wider depth of field and sharper pictures. F 2.2 to F2.8 is still plenty fast.

I also compensate for this slower F stop by setting the camera's ISO up to about 400 ISO...which gives me more latitude in shutter speed and F stop...indoors...but I find still provides very good quality with not much more photo noise.

Hope this helps.
12-07-2009, 03:04 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by lattyday Quote
Yeah, I feel like most of my photos will be in a similar range. I'd love to get a normal zoom lens (18-55 or so) with a large aperture, but I don't have the money right now for that. What I CAN afford is a trade for something like the FA 50/1.4. I may end up posting in the marketplace to see if anyone is in need of the 55-300. And yes, emr, it is the 55-300 L lens, the plastic mount.

germar - I feel like I would have use for it down the road, but I'm sure I'd get a lot more out of fast prime, with autofocus.

In the mean time, I'm still having fun with my M-50mm 1.7!
Whats up Mankato! (i'm just up the road in Savage myself).

I would suggest to keep your fingers wrapped around the 55-300 for now. The K-x works wonders in low light, and yes it may not be seeing much use indoors through the winter, but when you are out and about in the summer months it serves great duty as a walk around lens. Starting at 55mm it is in a very good portrait range, and is quite a sharp lens even with the aperture wide open. If you are looking to take engagement photos for friends it will serve you well when you get outside in the spring.

The f1.7 lenses are a tad sharper at f1.7 than the f1.4's are from what I have read. I also feel that when you deal with such a shallow depth of field that manual focus almost becomes an advantage over AF, since it gives you freedom to choose the focal point.

In the meantime, rather than trade for a fixed really fast 50mm, I would suggest keeping an eye out for a sigma EX DC 24-60mm f2.8 - I was lucky enough to grab one on ebay about a month back for a good price, but you should be able to find them in the marketplace occasionally for around $250 - perhaps offering the 55-300 for a trade to this lens is a little more of a fair exchange as well (if you are bent on getting rid of it!). The 24-60mm isn't as wide as the standard kit (which I would hold onto regardless), but it is still a very usable range with fast aperture for about as reasonable a price as you'll find for an f2.8 constant aperture lens!

12-07-2009, 03:26 PM   #9
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As a fellow Minnesotan, I can tell you how I use mine - and maybe that'll help. While not blindingly fast, in the Fall of 2008 I used it to shoot my daughter's high school (outdoor) soccer games. Since I was just shooting for us, the photos were plenty good - and while not fast enough for some of the action, I was able to get mostly keepers, at least on the less overcast days.
With the start of Winter last year, I assumed the lens wouldn't see much action - but I brought it to one of my son's high school basketball games, and was pleasantly surprised at the results. While stopping "game action" shots was difficult (I didn't want to try anything faster than ISO 800), I got a nice group of team meeting shots, taking the free throw shots, etc. throughout the season.
Once Spring rolled around, I took it to the Metrodome, and again was pleasantly surprised by the results. I got some very nice shots at some Twins games - even at the long end of the lense, and even with the Dome's whacky lighting. And even sitting about as far away from home plate as possible at Wrigley this summer, I think it did a decent job for what it is (see attached).


All that is to say - just because we Minnesotans have to move indoors for 1/3rd of the year or so - don't give up on the uses for that lens. I find it a great way to get candid shots at events like holidays, parties, etc, because of my ability to keep some distance between me and the subjects.

My 2 cents,

Tim

(Wow - The colors look like crap here on my work pc. At home on the Mac these shots really pop - so this lens does a much better job than it appears below!)
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12-07-2009, 07:26 PM   #10
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Hey thanks for all the tips! I think you've all convinced me of the usefulness of this lens...

I'll keep my eyes out for a good deal on a fast prime lens, or maybe one of those sigma 2.8 lenses, and in the mean time get out there and use my 55-300! Nice Mauer pics!
12-08-2009, 02:34 AM   #11
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All my published sports pics have been from its cheaper cousin 50-200... the 55-300 is the better lens It gets mounted maybe 2% of the total time I spent taking pictures.... but when the situation calls for it's hard to replace with anything else.
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