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06-13-2007, 11:48 PM   #1
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Cheap, long-range telephoto lenses any good (how about prime ones)?

I really don't have much money to spend, but I'm finding my DA 50-200mm isn't reaching as far as I'd like in a few cases. I should have picked up a Sigma 400mm f/5.6 prime on eBay when I saw it a month ago for under $300, but I didn't. I've looked at a few of the other options -- Pentax, Sigma, Tokina, etc... of varying 70, 80 to 300, 320, etc... zooms and most people say I will be disappointed by the image quality compared to the DA 50-200mm (i.e., most of what I've read say they will fair no better at 200mm and beyond 200mm they leave much to be desired).

As such, has anyone gone with one of the dirt-cheap, long-range telephoto lenses. You know what I'm talking about, those Phoenix, Quandry, Opteka (sp?), etc... lenses for $100-200. I thought I saw a few that were "primes" -- like 400 or 500mm, and not just zooms. I was hoping that something in a cheap "prime" might do decent enough, as I assume the zooms are rather pathetic in image quality.

Thanx in advance and sorry if this has been asked before.

06-14-2007, 02:07 AM   #2
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Whatever you do, do not waste your money on ANYTHING that has the name Opteka on it. Total crap.

I think you will find that the words "cheap" "good" and "telephoto" rarely belong in the same sentence, although I recently picked up a Sigma 70-300 mm lens for about a hundred bucks at a pawnshop that I have gotten good results with.
06-14-2007, 02:19 AM   #3
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The Pentax FA 80-320mm is pretty cheap (under $300), so try to go for it if you can find it. It's very sharp for such a consumer zoom, even at 320mm!

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06-14-2007, 06:11 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by bjsmith Quote
I really don't have much money to spend, but I'm finding my DA 50-200mm isn't reaching as far as I'd like in a few cases. I should have picked up a Sigma 400mm f/5.6 prime on eBay when I saw it a month ago for under $300, but I didn't. I've looked at a few of the other options -- Pentax, Sigma, Tokina, etc... of varying 70, 80 to 300, 320, etc... zooms and most people say I will be disappointed by the image quality compared to the DA 50-200mm (i.e., most of what I've read say they will fair no better at 200mm and beyond 200mm they leave much to be desired).

As such, has anyone gone with one of the dirt-cheap, long-range telephoto lenses. You know what I'm talking about, those Phoenix, Quandry, Opteka (sp?), etc... lenses for $100-200. I thought I saw a few that were "primes" -- like 400 or 500mm, and not just zooms. I was hoping that something in a cheap "prime" might do decent enough, as I assume the zooms are rather pathetic in image quality.

Thanx in advance and sorry if this has been asked before.
I saw a 500mmF8 tameron mirror lens for $250 cdn, and there are similar lenses on Adorama for about $150 us. they are light weight, can be hand held, have excellent close focus capabilities compared to normal lenses, and providing you don't mind out of focus donuts and no depth of field control they are a reasonable solution.

My own adventure into long lenses came when a store had a closing out sale in 1982 of a 400mmF5.6 vivitar for $160. Great lens but really big. Since then, I have added a celestron C90 telescope (1000mmF8) and a 300mmF4 SMC Pentax which I use with either 1.7x autofocus TC or 2xTC.

all have thier uses, but the 400 mostly sits at the present.

Shop around, you will find bargons

06-14-2007, 08:52 AM   #5
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I have a 500mm Phoenix, and in all reality it's worth every penny and then some. Whatever you do don't get their 2x teleconverter.
However I don't use it very often. It's a little tough getting good image quality on anything other than a perfect day.

This pic was taken on it on a cloudy day, and although the subject was fair the background had more noise than I like.
06-14-2007, 09:29 AM   #6
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A bit more expensive

QuoteOriginally posted by bjsmith Quote
I really don't have much money to spend, but I'm finding my DA 50-200mm isn't reaching as far as I'd like in a few cases. I should have picked up a Sigma 400mm f/5.6 prime on eBay when I saw it a month ago for under $300, but I didn't. I've looked at a few of the other options -- Pentax, Sigma, Tokina, etc... of varying 70, 80 to 300, 320, etc... zooms and most people say I will be disappointed by the image quality compared to the DA 50-200mm (i.e., most of what I've read say they will fair no better at 200mm and beyond 200mm they leave much to be desired).

As such, has anyone gone with one of the dirt-cheap, long-range telephoto lenses. You know what I'm talking about, those Phoenix, Quandry, Opteka (sp?), etc... lenses for $100-200. I thought I saw a few that were "primes" -- like 400 or 500mm, and not just zooms. I was hoping that something in a cheap "prime" might do decent enough, as I assume the zooms are rather pathetic in image quality.

Thanx in advance and sorry if this has been asked before.
I got the Pentax SMC 300mm F4 from KEH. I've found it to be a very good lens. Mine cost almost $300 tho, including shipping. It was EX grade, so you might find it cheaper in a lesser grade. I've found it's IQ to be quite good, many shots from it can be found here:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/5813-kites-lots-images-some-replies.html

NaCl(a little more that what you want to spend but a good lens)H2O
06-14-2007, 11:43 AM   #7
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If you want quality, then you'll have to go the prime route. But some of those may be quite expensive. I've heard good things about the Tamron 70-300mm. The only other lens I can think of is the Sigma 100-300 f4. I don't know if they make it in Pentax mount.
06-14-2007, 12:36 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by neighhoma Quote
The only other lens I can think of is the Sigma 100-300 f4. I don't know if they make it in Pentax mount.
They do, but it's not cheap: Sigma - Lenses

06-14-2007, 12:58 PM   #9
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BTW, in case you didn't notice my sig, this will be for a Pentax K100D dSLR.

QuoteOriginally posted by Mo Quote
The Pentax FA 80-320mm is pretty cheap (under $300), so try to go for it if you can find it. It's very sharp for such a consumer zoom, even at 320mm!
I looked at the FA 80-320mm f/4.5-5.6, but came away with several people telling me the image quality beyond 200mm left much to be desired.
At least that's what most said after having also used the DA 50-200mm and shooting at its 200mm extreme (which I do right now).
I.e., they said it won't give me anything I want to use beyond 200mm than the DA 50-200mm.

I don't need a zoom, a prime would be great, of which I was hoping the "cheap primes" might be "as good as" a "quality zoom." I'll be using the DA 50-200mm as my primary lens, and only pulling out when I'm going to be shooting at the long focal length consistently, so it can be a prime -- like 400mm or even 500mm. I think 250 or 300mm might be limiting, although I'm not against a solid 320mm.

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I saw a 500mmF8 tameron mirror lens for $250 cdn, and there are similar lenses on Adorama for about $150 us.
Not to ask you to do anything for me, but do you have any recommendations?
I.e., links to products at Adorama?

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
they are light weight, can be hand held, have excellent close focus capabilities compared to normal lenses, and providing you don't mind out of focus donuts and no depth of field control they are a reasonable solution.
I don't mind that at all.
It'll teach me a lot anyway -- since I can fire off 500+ shots and learn from them.

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
My own adventure into long lenses came when a store had a closing out sale in 1982 of a 400mmF5.6 vivitar for $160.
Yeah, there is a Vivitar 400mm f/5.6 on eBay right now -- $120 first bid with a $170 "Buy It Now" price.
Unfortunately the reviews I found on it sucks, and sucks hard.

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Shop around, you will find bargons
That's what I'm trying to do.

QuoteOriginally posted by little laker Quote
I have a 500mm Phoenix, and in all reality it's worth every penny and then some.
Is that sarcasm?
Or does the Phoenix 500mm f/8 prime actually do okay, as long as you realize it's f/8 limitations?
I was hoping a cheap, prime would be tolerable, as long as one realizes its f-stop limits -- like f/8.
QuoteOriginally posted by little laker Quote
Whatever you do don't get their 2x teleconverter.
I'm not doing a teleconverter period, I'll put a full lens on.
QuoteOriginally posted by little laker Quote
However I don't use it very often. It's a little tough getting good image quality on anything other than a perfect day.
I don't mind being at f/8 and will do it out in daylight or very well light stadiums.
That's all I want it for.
QuoteOriginally posted by little laker Quote
This pic was taken on it on a cloudy day, and although the subject was fair the background had more noise than I like.
What camera did you use?
I can't seem to bring up the photo -- are there shots posted elsewhere?

QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
I got the Pentax SMC 300mm F4 from KEH. I've found it to be a very good lens. Mine cost almost $300 tho, including shipping. It was EX grade, so you might find it cheaper in a lesser grade. I've found it's IQ to be quite good, many shots from it can be found here:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/5813-kites-lots-images-some-replies.html
NaCl(a little more that what you want to spend but a good lens)H2O
Well, it's still only a 300mm.
Yeah, I know, 50% more reach than the DA 50-200mm, but I was hoping for 400mm.
I guess I'm just wishing for a little too much?

QuoteOriginally posted by neighhoma Quote
If you want quality, then you'll have to go the prime route. But some of those may be quite expensive. I've heard good things about the Tamron 70-300mm. The only other lens I can think of is the Sigma 100-300 f4. I don't know if they make it in Pentax mount.
Yes, they make the Sigma 100-300mm and 100-400mm in a Pentax K mount, but they are either crappy ($200-400) or costly ($600-1,000+).

If you didn't see my other thread, I bought a Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Model 185D -- what a POS at image quality.
The DA 50-200mm absolutely roasted it at both 50mm and 200mm in image quality -- literally grainy v. sharp.
The DA 18-55mm "kit" and an FA 28-105mm also roasted it at 50mm and 50mm and 100mm as well -- worlds of difference.

I know the Tamron 70-300mm would be better than that Tamron 28-300mm superzoom, but it's still only 300mm in the end.
I'd really like to get to 400mm.

Last edited by bjsmith; 06-14-2007 at 02:01 PM.
06-14-2007, 01:29 PM   #10
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BJ

aside from giving me credit for someone elses posts,

if you go to the Adorama site and search for pentax mount 500mm you will find it.

regarding vivitar lens, I am not sure I agree with the other reviews, but everyone will have their own opinion.

like every lens I have good shots and bad shots with it.

Best performance is on a tripod,

I haven't used it much since I got the 300mmF4 and the 1.7x AF TC which I used extensively on film with my PZ1.

Although out of your intended price range, I really love the sigma 70-200 F2.8 and the 1.4x TC as this gives me 100-300 mmF4 autofocus.

given the crop factor and speed on digital it works pretty well
06-14-2007, 01:38 PM   #11
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Lenses
At Adorama in the used section there is a 400 sigma and a 500 tamron used for under 200 each. Might be what you are wanting.
Kenn
06-14-2007, 01:59 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
BJ
aside from giving me credit for someone elses posts,
Sorry about that. I think I've since corrected it.
QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
if you go to the Adorama site and search for pentax mount 500mm you will find it.
Yeah, I noted a pair of f/8 mirror lenses -- 400mm and 500mm.
Any comments on those specific lenses?
QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
regarding vivitar lens, I am not sure I agree with the other reviews, but everyone will have their own opinion.
like every lens I have good shots and bad shots with it.
Here's the $120/$170(Buy-It-Now) on eBay:
Pentax K Mount Vivitar 400mm F5.6 for K10D K100D

QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Best performance is on a tripod,
Of course.
Shake Reduction only goes so far at longer ends.

QuoteOriginally posted by KennJ Quote
Lenses
At Adorama in the used section there is a 400 sigma and a 500 tamron used for under 200 each. Might be what you are wanting.
Kenn
Yep, f/8 mirror lenses. Anyone have any comments on those specific lenses?

Conclusion: I'm thinking of just going with the Vivitar 400mm f/5.6 on eBay. The "haze" comment does scare me a tad though.
06-14-2007, 02:50 PM   #13
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The Sigma 400mm is a 5.6 and not a mirror lens. I have one and it is a workable model. Has a bit of CA and not the greatest bokha but for the price it aint bad.If you would like I can shot you a few pics from mine to check out. Just pm an addy if you want a few shots.
Kenn
06-14-2007, 03:02 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by KennJ Quote
The Sigma 400mm is a 5.6 and not a mirror lens.
Yep, that's why I'd rather buy it than the f/8 mirror lenses.
QuoteOriginally posted by KennJ Quote
I have one and it is a workable model. Has a bit of CA and not the greatest bokha but for the price it aint bad.
I don't expect or really need great bokha out of a telephoto (at least non-macro), and CA is not a killer.
Overall sharpness and image quality is more of a consideration.
QuoteOriginally posted by KennJ Quote
If you would like I can shot you a few pics from mine to check out. Just pm an addy if you want a few shots.
Oh definitely!
We've only got 3 hours left so if you're going to take a few shots, please do so soon.
If you can just crop out the center (or where ever you feel is best) at 1:1 pixel to give me an idea of that sharpness at that long range, that would be best.

Thank you very much for the offer regardless of whether or not you get back to me in time!

Last edited by bjsmith; 06-14-2007 at 03:28 PM.
06-14-2007, 03:47 PM   #15
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I was serious, the Phoenix is pretty good for it's money, it just doesn't compare to my Sigma 135-400 I got a few days later.
If I didn't have the Sigma I'd probably use it every time that I went birding.

I'm sorry about the link. I forgot that my server and this one don'e seem to be best friends, so my pic's don't always appear

Here's a link to the pic
http://www.bcscenicwonder.com/plantsanimals/animals/birds/IMGP8308.jpg

and a link to the full sized picture to give you a really good idea what it's like
http://www.bcscenicwonder.com/plantsanimals/animals/birds/IMGP8308fs.jpg

another full sized pic with it
http://www.bcscenicwonder.com/plantsanimals/animals/birds/IMGP8365fs.jpg

That was my first time ever using the lens, if I took some time I could probably better those images

Oh, I'm also using a Pentax K100D and love it

Edit, I had the Osprey in focus and snapped pic's until it flew behind some buildings until it flew behind a tall building. That's when I realized that it was over 1/4 of a mile away. I don't think that I could do that with my Sigma.
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