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View Poll Results: If you could have only 2 lenses in the 400mm+ range, which two would you buy?
Pentax DA* 300mm F/4 Pentax 1.7x AF Teleconverter 1313.98%
Pentax DA* 60-250mm F/4 with Pentax 1.7x AF Teleconverter 1010.75%
Pentax-FA* 400mm F5.6 ED 88.60%
Pentax-FA* 600mm F4 ED 2526.88%
Pentax-FA* 250-600mm F5.6 ED 1920.43%
Pentax-A* 400mm/2.8 ED 1819.35%
Pentax-A* 600mm/5.6 ED 77.53%
Pentax-A* 1200mm/8 ED 66.45%
Pentax-A 400mm/5.6 11.08%
Pentax-F* 600mm/4 ED 44.30%
Pentax-F* 250-600mm/5.6 ED 55.38%
Pentax-M 400mm/5.6 11.08%
Pentax-M 2000mm/13.5 Reflex   00%
Pentax-K 400mm/5.6 22.15%
Pentax-K 500mm/4.5 33.23%
Pentax-K 1000mm/8 11.08%
Pentax-K 1000mm/11 Reflex 11.08%
Pentax-K 2000mm/13.5 Reflex   00%
Pentax-K 400-600mm/8-12 Reflex   00%
Asahi Pentax Tele-Takumar 400mm f5.6   00%
Asahi Pentax Tele-Takumar 500mm f4.5 11.08%
Sigma 1000mm f/13.5 Mirror   00%
Sigma 600mm F8 Mirror   00%
Sigma 500mm f8 Mirror   00%
Sigma 400mm Mirror f5.6   00%
Sigma 400mm f5.6 AF Tele (Non APO)   00%
Sigma 400mm f5.6 APO Tele-Macro AF 55.38%
Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO EX 77.53%
Sigma 135-400mm F4.5-5.6 DG APO   00%
Sigma 120-400mm F4.5-5.6 DG APO OS HSM 11.08%
Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM 44.30%
Sigma 200-500mm F2.8 APO EX DG (3 Wolf Moon Lens) 33.23%
Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG HSM APO 11.08%
Sigma 170-500mm F5-6.3 DG APO   00%
Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 APO (Bigma) 11.08%
Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 EX DG HSM APO (Bigma) 11.08%
Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 EX DG HSM OS APO (Bigma) 88.60%
Sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG IF HSM APO with 1.4x Teleconverter 44.30%
Other Sigma Teleconverter Combination 22.15%
Tamron 500mm f/8 SP 55BB (mirror) 22.15%
Other Tamron Teleconverter Combination   00%
Rokinon / Kenko / Bower / Samyang / Vivitar 500mm F/6.3 DX Mirror   00%
Rokinon / Kenko / Bower / Samyang / Vivitar 500mm F/8 DX Mirror 11.08%
Rokinon 800mm f8.0 mirror   00%
Rokinon / Kenko / Bower / Samyang / Vivitar 650-1300mm F/8-16   00%
Tokina 400mm f/5.6 SD 11.08%
Tokina 400mm f5.6 ATX AF   00%
Tokina 500mm f8 Mirror   00%
Tokina AT-X 80-400mm F1: 4.5-5.6 44.30%
Vivitar 400mm f/5.6 11.08%
Vivitar Series 1 100-400mm f 4.5-6.7   00%
Vivitar Series 1 100-500mm F5.6-8   00%
Vivitar 120-600mm f/5.6-8 Zoom Lens   00%
Sakar 500mm F/8 Mirror M42   00%
Five Star 500mm 1:8 Mirror   00%
Leitz 560mm f/6.8 Telyt-R   00%
Soligor 500/8 Reflex   00%
HQ Optics MC 500mm F8   00%
Phoenix 100-500mm   00%
Other teleconverter combination 11.08%
Other 400mm or greater lens not listed above 33.23%
I'd only buy one lens 44.30%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 93. You may not vote on this poll

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04-06-2010, 11:55 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
Based on the Poll so far Pentax should make a batch of Pentax-FA* 600mm F4 ED and Pentax-FA* 250-600mm F5.6 ED. However, while I'd love to have the FA 600mm f4, coming up with the cash for it much less both would be next to impossible at the moment.
that's why I asked if I could change my vote.

I re read the OP and it said you didn't win the lotto as one of the criteria

04-06-2010, 12:44 PM   #17
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With the feedback in this thread, I'll set up a separate poll with the popular teleconverter combos, so keep that feedback coming!
04-06-2010, 01:56 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
Based on the Poll so far Pentax should make a batch of Pentax-FA* 600mm F4 ED and Pentax-FA* 250-600mm F5.6 ED. However, while I'd love to have the FA 600mm f4, coming up with the cash for it much less both would be next to impossible at the moment.
I suspect some people picked dream lenses rather than ones they could buy.

Last edited by Clinton; 04-06-2010 at 02:36 PM.
04-06-2010, 05:05 PM   #19
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I voted for the K500/4.5 & K1000/8.0 and I also have the K400/5.6.
These are manual diaphragm lenses, have decent optics and weight & cost ways less than the newer A* or F* versions. An all-around good value for the focal length.

Phil.

04-06-2010, 07:32 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
snostorm

Great shots, and lens selection is similar in concept to mine, one hand held and one tripod based lens,

The only difference is hand held zoom over fixed, but I have both 300F4 with the 1.7x AFTC and 70-2--F2.8 with 2x TC so I am covered there, now just for something big and fast for me. You indicate you have the sigma 300F2.8 and adaptall 300F2.8.

what are your feelings between the 3 different 300's, and would you want to sell one of those that you don't use?

Of course what none of us mention is that regardless of lens, getting close is the real secret.
Hi Lowell,

Thanks!

I started to write a response, but it was getting lengthy, so I decided to answer your questions in a PM rather than sidetrack this thread.

Scott
04-06-2010, 09:49 PM   #21
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ive voted for the other sigma teleconverter combo, id go for the sigma 300 f2.8 + 1.4x TC + 2x TC

300mm f2.8, 420mm f4 and 600mm f5.6 options, all good enough for me
04-07-2010, 11:49 PM   #22
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i will get the sigma 150-500 and a a* 400 2.8. hah hah
04-09-2010, 07:23 AM   #23
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This thread has touched a nerve for me!
I have been watching discussions on the forum about Pentax and birding photography for the past 6 months with great interest. I am new to Pentax and digital photography but not new to birding or photography in general. I got a used K10D about a year ago, and have enjoyed getting to know it. When I thought about combining photography and birding I was quite inspired by the beautiful work of Scott and others on the forum, and his suggested lens/TC combos make sense to me for flexibility and portability. However I am slowly realizing that choosing 2 favorite long lenses for Pentax, and actually finding them (apart of course from the current DA*300/4) are two different things! Finding a 1.7x AF TC is a bit of a challenge too but at least I have managed that.
Bottom line: any tips for actually finding a FA*300/2.8? I have been following the forum here, KEH, eBay with no sightings yet! Also is the DA* 300/4 a good choice in place of the FA*300/4.5?

04-09-2010, 07:54 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by gmargo Quote
This thread has touched a nerve for me!
I have been watching discussions on the forum about Pentax and birding photography for the past 6 months with great interest. I am new to Pentax and digital photography but not new to birding or photography in general. I got a used K10D about a year ago, and have enjoyed getting to know it. When I thought about combining photography and birding I was quite inspired by the beautiful work of Scott and others on the forum, and his suggested lens/TC combos make sense to me for flexibility and portability. However I am slowly realizing that choosing 2 favorite long lenses for Pentax, and actually finding them (apart of course from the current DA*300/4) are two different things! Finding a 1.7x AF TC is a bit of a challenge too but at least I have managed that.
Bottom line: any tips for actually finding a FA*300/2.8? I have been following the forum here, KEH, eBay with no sightings yet! Also is the DA* 300/4 a good choice in place of the FA*300/4.5?
Tha FA 300/2.8 is regularily brought up on ebay by two or three reputable secondhand sellers (Matsuyastore, Ian Hobday).

About the DA 300/4 the general consensus seems to be, that it is even slightly sharper than the previous F/FA 300/4.5 - so, considering the relatively high price the older versions still achieve secondhand, the DA seems to be the better value.

Ben
04-09-2010, 12:08 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by gmargo Quote
This thread has touched a nerve for me!
I have been watching discussions on the forum about Pentax and birding photography for the past 6 months with great interest. I am new to Pentax and digital photography but not new to birding or photography in general. I got a used K10D about a year ago, and have enjoyed getting to know it. When I thought about combining photography and birding I was quite inspired by the beautiful work of Scott and others on the forum, and his suggested lens/TC combos make sense to me for flexibility and portability. However I am slowly realizing that choosing 2 favorite long lenses for Pentax, and actually finding them (apart of course from the current DA*300/4) are two different things! Finding a 1.7x AF TC is a bit of a challenge too but at least I have managed that.
Bottom line: any tips for actually finding a FA*300/2.8? I have been following the forum here, KEH, eBay with no sightings yet! Also is the DA* 300/4 a good choice in place of the FA*300/4.5?
not that I am a seller on E bay but there is an 300F2.8 listed there presently.

There is usually one 300F2.8 each month that appears on Ebay. sometimes also a tamron.

you say you have the TC already, why not save your back and look at a00 f4
04-09-2010, 12:38 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by gmargo Quote
This thread has touched a nerve for me!
I have been watching discussions on the forum about Pentax and birding photography for the past 6 months with great interest. I am new to Pentax and digital photography but not new to birding or photography in general. I got a used K10D about a year ago, and have enjoyed getting to know it. When I thought about combining photography and birding I was quite inspired by the beautiful work of Scott and others on the forum, and his suggested lens/TC combos make sense to me for flexibility and portability. However I am slowly realizing that choosing 2 favorite long lenses for Pentax, and actually finding them (apart of course from the current DA*300/4) are two different things! Finding a 1.7x AF TC is a bit of a challenge too but at least I have managed that.
Bottom line: any tips for actually finding a FA*300/2.8? I have been following the forum here, KEH, eBay with no sightings yet! Also is the DA* 300/4 a good choice in place of the FA*300/4.5?
Hi gmargo,

Thanks for the compliment

The best tip I can give to finding an FA*300/2.8 is to be patient, have the funds available, and when you find one that meets your purchasing criteria (condition, price, and reliability of source), do not hesitate -- just be wary of the myriad of possible scams that the rarity of long Pentax glass seems to promote. For lenses in this class, I've chosen to limit my searches to KEH, B&H, Adorama, ebay sellers with very high and extensive feedback and good return policies, and local sellers (very few and far between) where I can inspect the lens before money changes hands.

It took me well over a year to find mine. I had arbitrarily set my price limit at $2700 USD for a user grade (cosmetics don't matter much to me, but the glass had to be EX).

In the meantime, I had purchased an EX Sigma EX 300/2.8 APO (pre DG version) as I really wanted an AF lens in this class so I could shoot AF at 300mm and 420mm (with a 1.4x TC). AF is important to me because my vision varies quite a bit during the course of a day, and with the MF Tamron, I could only really effectively use it at 510mm with the F 1.7x AFA, and 714mm with the AFA stacked on the Tamron 140F 1.4x Adaptall 2 TC.

Of course (for me at least) buying the Sigma meant that an FA*300/2.8 at my price would become available within a few months, and that's exactly what happened -- saw a "bargain" grade FA*, missing the filter set only (which I didn't have any use for), at KEH. Risking only the shipping both ways, I bought it. Optically and mechanically perfect, with some scratches on the barrel and hood, this lens was perfect for me -- I'm a shooter, not a collector -- cosmetic perfection is nice, but not at all necessary -- all I require is that I have the capability of selling the lens to recover the purchase price, and I'm cheap enough to set my price limits low enough to ensure this.

A similar thing happened when I was looking for an affordable FA*300/4.5 @ 5 years ago, after this lens had been discontinued. Prices were in the $1200-1500 USD range, and I didn't want to pay more than the last "street" price of $899 that I'd seen at B&H. After searching without success for over 6 months, I "settled" for an A* 300/4 from a local pro, then found an appropriately cosmetically challenged FA* in my price range a month later. One good thing about premium grade lenses is that they are usually appreciated by their owners and the optics are rarely abused, but I have see two A*300/4s that looked like they were last cleaned with a cinder block, so this is not a hard and fast rule. . . The weird thing is that both of these lenses -- horribly scratched front elements -- still take good pics when stopped down some -- unbelievable!

From these experiences, I'd be tempted to suggest that you buy a Sigma EX 300/2.8, and wait for the inevitable "right" FA*300/2.8 to be offered soon after the purchase -- just kidding. . .

About the FA*300/4.5 vs the DA* 300/4 -- I compared these two soon after the DA* was introduced. I found the DA* was a tad sharper, the silent focusing was nice, but I've never had a problem with the screw drive sound, the extra 1/3 stop in max aperture was nice (but it's only 1/3 stop), I liked the closer Minimum Focusing Distance (@4 ft vs @ 6 ft)and the Quick Shift focusing was a very useful and convenient feature (allows manual prefocusing to get close, and let AF take over from there in difficult focus situations -- I can do this with the FA*'s focus clutch, but it's not nearly as fast or convenient -- I have to pull the focus ring back to its MF position, prefocus, then push it back to the AF position).

In the end, I chose to stick with the FA*, and the possibility of SDM problems had no bearing in the decision, since this controversy had not surfaced yet. Personally FWIW, I'm not one who considers this, or the question of Viet Nam vs Japan QC, reasons to not buy new Pentax lenses. I just like the FA*, with it's smaller size (67mm vs 77mm front element, more robust hood (even tho it's a bit fiddly to mount) -- and it matches my FA*300/2.8 with the silver paint and big Pentax logo on the hood -- but that's just being silly. . .. I also like the fact that it doesn't have a tripod collar, but the DA*'s is removable, so this is really a non issue for the most part (I have found that finding a way to carry a loose tripod collar is a PIA, and it's inevitable that if I leave it at home, I run into a situation where I wish I'd had it -- Murphy's Law is a virtual birthmark on me).

Many get frustrated looking for long Pentax glass, I'm pretty much done, but I actually enjoyed the hunt, and found the added satisfaction of finding these relatively rarely offered lenses a plus (once I got what I wanted that is). . . but I guess I'm a little weird. . .

Good luck in your search!

Scott
04-09-2010, 10:12 PM   #27
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Is the FA* 300mm/f2.8 really that much better of a choice for a TC than the Sigma 200mm f2.8?

With the Sigma, you could get matching TCs from Sigma as well. Would the IQ be be better Pentax or Sigma?
04-10-2010, 10:07 AM   #28
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Hi cgoudie,

Personally, I'm not necessarily a believer that the Sigma TCs are necessarily "matched" to Sigma tele lenses. In theory, a TC with an extending front element is preferable because the glass is closer to the rear element of the lens it's used with, but this alone doesn't make it better, and the fact is that the front element is only a little closer on the Sigma than, let's say the Tamron F 1.4x AF TC, whose front element doesn't protrude. The fact that Sigma only shows their own lenses on their "TC compatibility chart" reinforces this feeling that their TCs are matched, but do you really expect Sigma marketing to allow any other brand lenses to appear on their chart?

My experience is that the Tamron performs a hair better on all the lenses I have, but they are so close to equal that I usually prefer to use the Sigma with any of my 300/2.8s because of the difference in perceived build quality. The Sigma (I have the pre-DG APO 1.4x) has a metal barrel, compared to the very lightweight shiny plastic (and rather cheap appearing/feeling) Tamron. Also, the Tamron screw drive shaft is a bit looser than the Sigma's. You can feel and hear this when rotating the focus ring of a lens with the TC mounted, but not mounted on a body. Some might argue that the tighter tolerances would result in better focusing accuracy, but bearing play or wobble in the shaft should not effect accuracy, but the extra drag slows down AF speed a tad with the Sigma. I will say that I've had the Tamron for over 5 years, have used it extensively, and it's still kicking, so appearance/feel isn't everything in build quality. Still, when I go to hang a 6+ lb, multi thousand dollar lens on a TC, I'll grab the Sigma first -- just because it feels so much more solid.

That being said, I've gotten better results with the FA* with extreme TC use (stacking), and have more confidence with it (which actually makes a difference, IMO). There's another reason -- Last year, I started carrying two bodies, one with my FA*300/4.5 (usually with the F 1.7x AFA) for handheld shooting, and one with the FA*300/2.8 (with either an AFA or the AFA stacked on a 1.4x) to use with a tripod/gimbal. A major reason I would choose the FA*300/2.8 is that both lens' focusing rings rotate to infinity in the same direction (Sigma and Tamron rotate in the opposite direction). Since I need to prefocus with the AFA, having the focus ring act the same between two lenses being used leads to less confusion in the heat of battle, so I standardized on using the two Pentax lenses together.

This year, I've recently acquired a Sigma EX 180/3.5 Macro, and it plays well with the AFA for a very sharp f6 306mm tele and a 306mm @1:1.5 (or 1:1 at @ 2 ft) dedicated macro in one lens. If this works out as my handheld camera for both birds and macro critters, I'll choose the Sigma 300/2.8 (with TC(s)) to pair it with to avoid the disadvantage of opposite-rotating focus rings without any reservations.

There are two features missing on the Sigma (remember mine's older, so they might have changed this): It has no focus limiter, and there are no strap lugs on the lens. The FA* has a three stage focus limiter, 2-4m, 4-15m, and 15m-infinity. It's easily actuated with a switch, but a little fiddly in application -- but better than none. I feel for this weight class lens, there should be strap lugs on either the tripod mount (like the FA* has) or on the lens barrel. No strap lugs on the lens puts a lot of stress on the camera body and lens mount. The Sigma does have a removable tripod collar which can be convenient, and the FA*'s collar is not removable.

To finally try to answer your ? -- I feel the FA* is a better lens, and though I don't shoot resolution charts, but rather test my lenses in the field, I'm pretty confident that it would score a better MTF rating, but not really significantly higher. CA/PF control is close to equal, but I think the FA* is a touch better. I'm a small person (5'6", 160 lbs) with small hands (8" span), so the Sigma is a much easier lens for me to handle -- the Pentax's barrel is so large in diameter that I need to handle it with two hands to feel any measure of security -- I can grab the Sigma with one hand without much concern. Is it over $1000 better? -- being totally objective, probably not, but I've gotten to the point where knowing I have the best possible lens for the purpose just makes me feel good, and that's a really big part of why I do this photography thing, so it's worth it for me. . . You've got some great lenses -- think about how you feel when you mount your FA*85 on the body -- I think you know what I mean. . .

Hope you can get something out of this rambling. . .

Scott
04-10-2010, 10:28 AM   #29
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I found it a bit hard to pick from the list as I haven't tried many of them so I can only pic the ones I know (or think I know). I've avoided the "A" line of lenses over time but yes, I do have a couple of the A*. It's much more "usable" than I had presumed, the optics seem to be better than expected from that era, and the build quality is at a stage that I don't think we will ever see again due to the cost of manufacturing. I find the quality to be at a higher standard due to the materials used than the F*/ FA* (and I don't care about auto focus) . Here is the issue though...I haven't spent time using a FA* so I can only presume that I prefer the A* line. I can compare Ks, A*s and DA*s but really nothing else unless I borrowed one from a friend. Anyways, that's probably a good thing as I can't justify/afford a FA* anyways....
04-10-2010, 10:41 AM   #30
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I have a A300 f2.8.. Next upgrade woould prefer FA 600 f4 down the road. Hopefully pentax could come with a better design with sharpness at f4 for better isolation of subjects, just like the competitor canikon. Maybe named it as DFA 600 f4

marcus
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