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02-25-2010, 02:36 PM   #1
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55-300mm vs F* or FA* 300mm 4.5

The 55-300 is about the limit of my price range, but assuming I could afford and find an f or fa 300 4.5, would it be worth the extra $$$? Are there any other 300mm+ lenses that would be faster or sharper than the kit zoom, at a moderate price?
Thanks.



Edit: I would use the lens almost exclusively for sports and wildlife.


Last edited by Gregor; 02-25-2010 at 02:41 PM.
02-27-2010, 10:56 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gregor Quote
The 55-300 is about the limit of my price range, but assuming I could afford and find an f or fa 300 4.5, would it be worth the extra $$$? Are there any other 300mm+ lenses that would be faster or sharper than the kit zoom, at a moderate price?
Thanks.



Edit: I would use the lens almost exclusively for sports and wildlife.
Yes, it is all worth it for your purpose.
02-27-2010, 11:51 AM   #3
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Depends

Wildlife shots like these are taken on relative short distance (with a P&S)

The first one is with a focal length of 190mm (full frame equivalent, so about 120mm for APSc), the second one with a focal length of 81mm (full frame equivalent, so about 55mm for APSc) and the distance was only 3 or 4 meters or so.

So it depends on how you see wildlife For me the flexibility of a zoom is more important; I definitely would have missed a shot if I had to change lenses as the lion disappeared shortly after I took the second shot. It also shows that you do not always need a long lens for wildlife.

The third one (elephant) is taken with the same P&S and a focal length of 64mm (APSc). In this case, we were on foot when the elephant decided to visit our campsite (estimated distance 30 or 40 meters, but I'm bad in these things).
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02-27-2010, 12:02 PM   #4
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The 55-300mm is a super lens but the F/FA* 300mm lenses are better imo. Saying that it depends on how much you value having a zoom lens.

02-27-2010, 04:43 PM   #5
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I have both the DA 55-300 and the A*300 (not the F or FA) - the difference in image quality is very noticeable. The DA is a really nice little lens and I do use it out to 300, but I don't take comparison shots, they make me want to put it away. And that's not fair for a lens that's significantly cheaper, has really good quality, is light and has a useful zoom range. But it isn't as good as the *300 lenses.
02-27-2010, 06:31 PM   #6
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I have ta DA 55-300 and a F* 300.
The F* 300 will win in the photo clarity, sharpness and AF department.

DA 55-300 win in the versatility and weight department. It can be a bit slow if your subject changes from close to far, and a bit noisy too. Your animal might run away due to the noise.
02-28-2010, 12:16 AM   #7
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I have both the F*300/4.5 and the DA 55-300/4.5-5.8. When size or weight is not a problem, I always use the F*300, because its image quality is better and because it's almost 1 stop faster. Wide open at F/4.5, it's better than the 55-300 at F/5.8. Oh, it's not miles ahead of the 55-300, because the zoom is quite good and manages to retain acceptable image quality at 300mm. You don't have to take my word for it, here are a few comparison shots I made this morning with the K20d on a tripod, with stabilization off and 2 sec. delay -- sorry for the lack of wildlife in the pictures, but none was available at the time (just click on a picture to view it full size):

55-300 at 300mm F/5.8:



55-300 at 300mm F/8:



55-300 at 300mm F/11:



F*300 F/4.5:



F*300 F/5.6:



F*300 F/8:



F*300 F/11:



As you can see, the sharpness on the DA 55-300 is quite good, at least in the center of the frame. The main drawback in my opinion is the lateral and especially longitudinal chromatic aberrations. Just have a look at these unsightly fringes on this 100% crop from the image taken wide open at F/5.8 (and the longitudinal chromatic aberration is still present at F/11):



Cheers!

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02-28-2010, 11:53 PM   #8
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Thanks for the replies and those samples! I'll probably pick up the zoom first since I can afford it, and decide from there.

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