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12-16-2009, 04:47 PM   #1
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Sigma 50-500mm vs 150-500mm or Pentax DA 55-300mm with 1.4 TC?

I'm looking to add a longer zoom to my K-7 for wildlife and bird photo's and am considering both the Sigma 50-500 and 150-500 (difference in price is only around $75). Reviews on the web seem mixed as to which is better in the 500 range. I already have a Pentax DA 55-300 and can use it with a Tamron 1.4 TC, so I can go to 420mm. Any thoughts or first hand experiences? Thanks

Mike Justice

12-16-2009, 05:12 PM   #2
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The 55-300mm is a nice lens but you're not going to get very high IQ using it with a TC, I'm afraid.
12-17-2009, 08:55 AM   #4
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Sigma DG EX 100-300mm f4 and matched Sigma 1.4x teleconverter.

I have had the 55-300mm, I have the 50-500mm and also this setup and the lens/Tc combo is sharpest of the lot.

12-17-2009, 12:09 PM   #5
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Mike,

First let me say I've seen your photo's both in this forum and on the Pentax Website and I am in awe of your work and thus give great credence to your thoughts. I was concerned as to the sharpness of both Sigma lenses, although I was leaning toward the 50-500 based on some of your previous posts. comparative testing on the web, and shots you took at an Airshow.

Since you feel that the Sigma DG EX 100-300 with the matched Sigma TC is the best way to go, do you also feel that that the Sigma EX 100-300 is superior to the Pentax DA 55-300mm? in which case I might sell the 55-300 to help pay for the new lenses. Thanks

Mike
12-17-2009, 12:28 PM   #6
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Mike J,
The 100-300/4 and the 55-300 are in different leagues.
The 100-300/4 is a very large, heavy, solidly built lens that is simply the best in its class, and priced as such.
The 55-300 is a consumer lens that is much smaller, much lighter and plasticky, also priced accordingly. Whilst you may not think f/4 to f/5.8 is not much of a difference, there is a lot more to optical quality than that and these lenses exemplify this notion.

TCs are suited to lens with a maximum aperture of f/4 or larger. The TC will work on other lenses but will struggle in anything less than optimal lighting conditions. I've tried the Tamron 1.4x TC on the DA 55-300 and its performance is abysmal. The slowest of slow AF function and significantly flatter and less bright results - it's just not worth it.

I'd hazard to say that if you wanted 500mm of reach, get a lens that offers that without the need for a TC. So a Bigma (50-500) or the 150-500 are both good choices. Which of them is better? Not sure - I've never tried them, but have a look at this forum's lens review database for first hand opinions about these lenses.
12-17-2009, 01:24 PM   #7
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I would agree with Ash to some extent and disagree in others.

I agree that a TC on the DA 55-300 is a waste, since AF if it works will be a miracle, and image quality may be poor even if the TC works.

But I disagree in going to a bigma or 150-500 necessairly,

THese lenses are not reall all around good choices if they are you r only tele zoom.

A 1090-300 F4 or 70-200 F2.8 plus a teleconverter or two is a better overall option due to the much faster speed of the lens without the TC for shorter focal lengths.

I have a sigma 70-200F2.8 and both 1.4x and 2X sigma TCs. the image quality is excellent. Note though sigma has not yet released a TC for the HSM lens so you will be on the used market.
12-17-2009, 01:53 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikejustice Quote

Since you feel that the Sigma DG EX 100-300 with the matched Sigma TC is the best way to go, do you also feel that that the Sigma EX 100-300 is superior to the Pentax DA 55-300mm? in which case I might sell the 55-300 to help pay for the new lenses. Thanks

Mike
The 100-300mm walks all over the 55-300mm. Don't get me wrong, for the price I would say the Pentax is easily the best lens in its class and worth every penny (or is it cent ) but the Sigma is just a beautiful piece of glass .. so much so that I don't use my DA* 60-250mm, F* 300mm f4.5 or Sigma 50-500mm any longer. IMO even with the Sigma 2x teleconverter (giving 600mm) the lens is sharper than the Bigma.

The 55-300mm and tamron TC is a non starter though.. terrible match.

The other night we had a clear sky and a good moon so I thought it would be a good time to compare the 2 lenses, the Bigma on its own and the 100-300mm with the 2x Sigma teleconverter ... both lenses were used handheld and using the same settings.

BIGMA 500mm

100-300mm & converter 600mm

See what you think.

12-17-2009, 01:57 PM   #9
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Lowell's right.
I'm personally quite apprehensive about IQ losses using a 2x TC on any lens.
Although I don't have any experience with 2x TCs to justify my assertions.
12-17-2009, 02:03 PM   #10
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I would also add that the big Sigmas need a LOT of light to get the most out of them. if its a bad day then you are basically stuffed. The 100-300mm on the other hand f4 and is sharp at that aperture so you can shoot in more difficult conditions with the knowledge that you can crop if needbe.
12-17-2009, 03:29 PM   #11
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Mike - you say that the 55-300 on a Tamron TC is a non starter and that would fit with my experience, but do you know how the Sigma 100-300 gets on with the Tamy?

Last edited by Oggy; 12-18-2009 at 02:38 PM. Reason: typo
12-17-2009, 07:59 PM   #12
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Thanks to all, I'm leaning to the Sigma 100 - 300 F4 option, in part because it's quicker, & from Mikes shots of the moon, and other tests, it seems to give sharper images. But to save some $, I'm curious as to Oggy's question, how would it match up with my Tamy 1.4 TC?
12-17-2009, 08:27 PM   #13
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I've mentioned it above - the Tamron TC will work well with any screwdrive AF lens that is faster than f/4. The TC 'works' with the DA 55-300 fine (i.e. it operates the AF correctly) but the lens's speed at the long end makes AF function very dubious. With the 100-300/4, you are more assured that AF function will be only slightly slower but just as reliable as if the lens did not have the TC attached.
12-18-2009, 07:03 AM   #14
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If you are considering a TC on a screw drive Sigma lens, you should seriously look at the sigma TCs.

They are specifically designed for sigma's long lenses, and in fact their design makes them non compatible with a lot of other lenses as a result, because the front element of the TC sticks into the rear of the lens, BUT they are excellent on the fast sigma zooms like the 70-200.

I have posted tons of shots in the past with the 70-200 and a 2x TC
12-18-2009, 07:26 AM   #15
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I would think if a 100-300 + TC is under consideration it brings into play another option that hasn't been discussed; the DA*300mm + TC.
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