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03-21-2010, 02:23 PM   #1
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crop vs. longer tele zoom

Question: which is preferable for overall image quality at f 5.6-6.7:

1. Pentax 50-200mm, with image cropped as if 300mm;
2. Typical consumer 70/100-300mm AF zoom at 300mm

I guess the "typical consumer" lens might not include the 55-300mm Pentax, which (particularly in non-L form) is quite a bit pricier than the usual sub-$200 variety. And perhaps the answer might vary based on the megapixels of the body involved.

I'm only asking because it seems like most consumer-grade lenses have issues past 200mm.

Obviously, an upscale fixed length or zoom, or possibly even a fast fixed 200mm + 1.5x converter, might be preferable, but are also in a completely different price category. There have been some other discussions on this topic here, but they have seemed to focus more on the higher-end fixed+converter combo, which is not really in the economic picture here.

Thanks for any opinions.

Paul

03-21-2010, 03:01 PM   #2
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I find my plastic FA 100-300 (US$120 on eBay awhile back) to be quite good, all the way out. Reviewers agree: Pentax Lens Review and Specification Database - 100-300mm F4.7-5.8 -- the main complaint is that it doesn't look/feel 'serious'. But it's a bargain!

Another option, if you're not hung up on autofocus, is to get an old full-frame 200 or 300 prime, and use Catch-In-Focus to nail your subjects. Usually any softness / aberrations will be outside your sensor's frame, and some are tack-sharp. My favorites are my Vivitar Tele 200/3.5 (US$50 on eBay), Jupiter-21M 200/4 ($25), Super-Takumar 200/4 ($37), Tele-Takumar 200/5.6 ($29), and (Chinon) Alpa MC 300/5.6 ($27). These all have MUCH better IQ than my nn-200 zooms -- except the Vivitar Series 1 Version 1 70-210/3.5 ($32) and Takumar-A 70-200/4 ($9), which are pretty damn good.

Autofocus costs more. On the FA 100-300, not painfully more. For anything else of quality, probably painfully more. Good luck!
03-21-2010, 03:54 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
I find my plastic FA 100-300 (US$120 on eBay awhile back) to be quite good, all the way out. Reviewers agree: Pentax Lens Review and Specification Database - 100-300mm F4.7-5.8 -- the main complaint is that it doesn't look/feel 'serious'. But it's a bargain!

Another option, if you're not hung up on autofocus, is to get an old full-frame 200 or 300 prime, and use Catch-In-Focus to nail your subjects. Usually any softness / aberrations will be outside your sensor's frame, and some are tack-sharp. My favorites are my Vivitar Tele 200/3.5 (US$50 on eBay), Jupiter-21M 200/4 ($25), Super-Takumar 200/4 ($37), Tele-Takumar 200/5.6 ($29), and (Chinon) Alpa MC 300/5.6 ($27). These all have MUCH better IQ than my nn-200 zooms -- except the Vivitar Series 1 Version 1 70-210/3.5 ($32) and Takumar-A 70-200/4 ($9), which are pretty damn good.

Autofocus costs more. On the FA 100-300, not painfully more. For anything else of quality, probably painfully more. Good luck!
I'm satisfied with the 50-200 @ 200mm, so it would only be a 300mm that would do any good. I think the price of a good 1.5x + a 200mm/4 would probably rival a consumer 300mm zoom, and I'm not sure the convenience would be worth it. However it sounds like you're very happy with the FA, so that might be a possibility. Thanks

Paul
03-21-2010, 09:29 PM   #4
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I've tested my DA50-200 against my Tamron-made 70-300 (the older non-Di version) on my 10MP K200D, and found the 50-200 cropped actually beat the 70-300, in only by a little. It was close enough that I could easily believe sample variation would be the main determinant of which actually wins. My M200/4 with a Kenko 1.5X TC was ever so slightly better, but really only at f/9.5.

03-22-2010, 03:29 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
I've tested my DA50-200 against my Tamron-made 70-300 (the older non-Di version) on my 10MP K200D, and found the 50-200 cropped actually beat the 70-300, in only by a little. It was close enough that I could easily believe sample variation would be the main determinant of which actually wins. My M200/4 with a Kenko 1.5X TC was ever so slightly better, but really only at f/9.5.
Thanks for that info. I'm guessing the concept would strain my K100, but as long as I stick to the K200, it sounds like I might be better off saving for a future body upgrade than investing in a consumer-grade 300.

My impression from reading comments on the net is that the Di wasn't a significant performance upgrade to the 70-300, although I'm not sure if there were one or two previous generations of that lens, and what the difference were.

Paul
03-22-2010, 05:47 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
Thanks for that info. I'm guessing the concept would strain my K100, but as long as I stick to the K200, it sounds like I might be better off saving for a future body upgrade than investing in a consumer-grade 300.

My impression from reading comments on the net is that the Di wasn't a significant performance upgrade to the 70-300, although I'm not sure if there were one or two previous generations of that lens, and what the difference were.

Paul
I believe the Pentax 50-200 is still about $70 more than a Tamron 70-300 Di LD. Thats about the price difference of a popularly used M28 2.8, etc.

I am not so sure if it is worth the $ upgrade from the Tamron 70-300 to DA 50-200.... but if you already have the 50-200, your money should really be better spent else where.
03-24-2010, 07:04 PM   #7
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I have the 50-200mm, which when I bought it was about the same price as the Tamron, but would have an occasional use for something longer. I certainly wouldn't have given up the 50-70 range in exchange for the 200-300, however.

Paul
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