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04-15-2010, 11:25 AM   #1
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Pentax FA 100-300mm f/4.7-5.8 or DA 55-300mm?

I'm sure the dead horse has been beaten when it comes to tele zooms in this range. I'm a newbie but am trying to decide between a used DA 55-300mm (or maybe new if I decide to stretch) the Sigma 70-300mm APO Macro or the Tamron 70-300mm.

It's common knowledge the Pentax is much better and probably worth the price difference. However, I have come across what I guess is a much older lens, the Pentax FA 100-300mm f/4.7-5.8. Any thoughts as to how that would compare to these newer lenses? The review or two I've seen, it looks like it's a solid lens with optics presumably as good as the newer Pentax lens. Its price is comparable to the Tamron, at the cheap end.

I've got a trip out west in a couple months to yellowstone, and I'd like to pick me up one sooner rather than later to get familiar with it and put it to use. I got a k-x a couple months ago but only have the 18-55.

Any advice would be appreciated.

04-15-2010, 12:00 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by ncrecordkeeper Quote
I'm sure the dead horse has been beaten when it comes to tele zooms in this range. I'm a newbie but am trying to decide between a used DA 55-300mm (or maybe new if I decide to stretch) the Sigma 70-300mm APO Macro or the Tamron 70-300mm.
Everyone seems to speak well of the DA 55-300, it's a very good lens by all accounts. But the FA 100-300 4.7 is a sleeper if you ask me, an excellent lens at a dirt cheap price - I have one and think quite highly of it. Certainly you can't argue that the FA1-300 4.7 isn't a good value - for a hundred bucks you can't ask for more in a lens than sharp lines and great color Here's some samples from it - hopefully they're helpful (shooting with a K-x as well)




















04-15-2010, 12:06 PM   #3
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Heh, I've asked this in every FA 100-300mm f4.7 thread I've seen without answers. Or maybe I asked for it to be compared to one of the 70-300mms because I felt that it probably wasn't as good as the 55-300mm. Ultimately, I think I will pass on the f4.7 in favor of the wide end of the 55-300mm.
04-15-2010, 01:00 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eruditass Quote
Heh, I've asked this in every FA 100-300mm f4.7 thread I've seen without answers. Or maybe I asked for it to be compared to one of the 70-300mms because I felt that it probably wasn't as good as the 55-300mm. Ultimately, I think I will pass on the f4.7 in favor of the wide end of the 55-300mm.
Yeah, I worried I'd miss having middle focal length possibilities in my telezoom, but I just haven't. I'm finding I either like tele or WA, and am not much interested in the in between

04-15-2010, 04:17 PM   #5
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Oh definitely the 55-300mm, the best telephoto digital lens that Pentax and probably any other brand has for the price. Besides, the extra reach on the short end will help out in a lot more situations. The 100-300mm is also a lot bigger, older, and more clunky. You probably won't like it.
04-15-2010, 06:09 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jct us101 Quote
Oh definitely the 55-300mm, the best telephoto digital lens that Pentax and probably any other brand has for the price. Besides, the extra reach on the short end will help out in a lot more situations. The 100-300mm is also a lot bigger, older, and more clunky. You probably won't like it.
Oh my - my FA 1-3 is gonna feel bad if you keep talkin' about it that way! Seriously though, I sold my DA 55-200 (not nearly as good a lens as the 55-300 according to folks, but a very similarly built lens in feel to the 55-300) to buy my FA 100-300 4.7, and I like the build-feel of the FA1-300 just as well

I won't argue that the FA 1-3 is a better lens than the DA 55-300 - it's probably not But it's much much less expensive (it sound like the OP has a money crunch) and it does produce beautiful photos









04-15-2010, 06:52 PM   #7
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I currently have the 55-300 ED and am very happy with it. I got it because I too am going to Yellowstone in June. I have had 70-300s in Sigma, Tamron, and Promaster, all similar but the Promaster (made by ?) was the best. But the 55-300 is significantly better. Read all of the reviews for the 70-300 and they all say you lose sharpness in the long end. Well the long end is why you want them, and that's where the 55-300 shines, plus the 55 can keep you from having to change out as much as a 700 or 100. I'm sorry I can't help you with the 100-300, I would have liked to try but they don't show up in auctions as much. Whether that's because they never sold many, or nobody wants part with them, I don't know. But I'm ecstatic over my 55-300, and mostly shoot at 300 with it. Good luck in Yellowstone!

04-16-2010, 04:07 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jct us101 Quote
Oh definitely the 55-300mm, the best telephoto digital lens that Pentax and probably any other brand has for the price. Besides, the extra reach on the short end will help out in a lot more situations. The 100-300mm is also a lot bigger, older, and more clunky. You probably won't like it.
Don't you go dissing the 100-300 now! I overpaid at US$120 but I'm not weeping. The optics are fantastic, the build is decent. Looking at the user reviews here, virtually all it gets dinged on is the cosmetic appearance. It looks cheezy on a black SLR. It looks fine on my silver-and-black-plastic SZ-M, but it works quite well on my K20D. What the hell, a finicky person could always paint theirs black.

Faster lenses exist. But they cost rather a bit more. Yes, it would be nice to have a wider low end, and a longer top end. But then you'd have a Bigma, which weighs about 5x as much. Color rendition is superb, distortion and aberrations are nil, it's easy to tuck into a kit bag, etc. I don't much like shooting birds, but my best bird shots have come with this lens. A sleeper indeed. I rate its IQ right up there with my SuperTak 200/4 and TeleTak 200/5.6, two of my favorites.

Gotta be careful. This is the f/4.7-5.8 we're talking about. The sedate black f/4.5-5.6 is considerably less of a lens. Accept no substitutions.

04-16-2010, 05:28 AM   #9
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Hi there,

I own the 100-300, I replaced my vivitar sries 1 70-210 with it. that should tell you something.

On the performance aspect, it delivers. Sharp, good exposure, reliable. Sharper than my Vivitar now that I know how to use it. Contrast and saturations are not as good as the Vivitar if you ask me, but CA is much better controlled. I must stress that my lens needed focus adjustment with the K20D, however. It might not be the case with every lens, and it's easy to fix, but it's a reality. It is sharp equally at 100 and 300 mm, which cannot be said of every telezoom.

About handling : it's quite light, which is a good thing and a bad thing. Handholding a long lens is easier if the lens is heavier. For me at least. that being said, it's a nice thing to be able to handle the lens for a long time without feeling I'm lifting weigths. Handholding a 300 mm lens will ALWAYs present challenges, do not be surprised if your shots at the tele end are blurred at first, with any lens there's a learning curve. MF is easy when needed. The front element rotates when you focus, but many telezooms do that. I dig the silver and black look on my camera, for the record AF is reliable, not terribly fast but good enough. AF tweaking is fast, but if the lens has to rake through all the focus range it takes more than a second.

User opinion : I sometimes miss the wide end I would get with the 55-300. It sometimes forces me to step way back or switch lenses. Keep that in mind. The AF drive has a LOT of torque, and will surprise you at first. Contrast and saturations are not the strengths of the lens, but they are not flaws either, just neutral. Sharpness, control of aberrations and metering are the strengths of this lens.

What you loose over the DA : wide end, better contrast/saturation, quick-shift MF, green band around the lens. What you loose over the Sigma/Tamron 70-300s : nothing except a few mm, and you gain better optics.

For about 100$, it's a steal. For me the 55-300 is a better lens package, but the price increase is not really worth it. If you can find a 55-300 for under 250$ used and you can afford it, then it's worth considering (your call, I've told you the differences). I'm keeping my FA for now, which should tell you something.
04-16-2010, 01:27 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
Hi there,

I own the 100-300, I replaced my vivitar sries 1 70-210 with it. that should tell you something.[....]For about 100$, it's a steal. For me the 55-300 is a better lens package, but the price increase is not really worth it. If you can find a 55-300 for under 250$ used and you can afford it, then it's worth considering (your call, I've told you the differences). I'm keeping my FA for now, which should tell you something.
QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Don't you go dissing the 100-300 now! I overpaid at US$120 but I'm not weeping. The optics are fantastic, the build is decent. Looking at the user reviews here, virtually all it gets dinged on is the cosmetic appearance. [.......] A sleeper indeed. I rate its IQ right up there with my SuperTak 200/4 and TeleTak 200/5.6, two of my favorites.

Gotta be careful. This is the f/4.7-5.8 we're talking about. The sedate black f/4.5-5.6 is considerably less of a lens. Accept no substitutions.
I love seeing people champion this lens! It's way underrated When I have to switch from my DA35 to this tele, I don't cringe at some awful step-down in quality you know? A compliment indeed for the FA Reminds me - I should go add to the review thread for this lens!

03-30-2011, 03:44 AM   #11
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Nice thread.... I was looking for something like this too..

I own both an FA 100-300 f/4.7 and a DA 55-300 ED... but right now I'm quite short of cash and I'm gonna have to sell one of them

Problem is, IQ is both top-notch for these lenses.... and from what it seems here, the FA 100-300 really is getting a good win over the 55-300, in terms of support... I guess that's why it's rarely sold anywhere... must be lucky to get one.
03-30-2011, 05:02 AM   #12
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The 100-300 is so good it's a shame. It's about as sharp as the legendary Vivitar series 1 70-210 (I can attest to that) and has less chromatic aberrations. It's not very fast to focus but fine-tuning the focus is fast enough. It's not very bright either, but as bright as the competition.

It's clearly better than the Tamron of Sigma 70-300. Probably on par or slightly worse than the 55-300, but nothing I've seen from that lens convinces me I should replace my 100-300 with it.

The only limitation of the 100-300 is that its widest angle is not wide, which means you can find yourself in situations where you have to swap lenses fast. But honestly, that only happened to me once or twice.
03-30-2011, 05:13 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
The only limitation of the 100-300 is that its widest angle is not wide, which means you can find yourself in situations where you have to swap lenses fast.
True, true. The 100mm base is quite narrow for me too (but then again, there are other good lenses for the 35-100 range....). And for the price again... it really delivers beyond expectation.

I'm not sure about this sample shot of mine, but I do think it looks sharp enough...

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/eisenstrahl/5424841020/]
08-25-2011, 11:46 PM   #14
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Another strong point of 55-300mm

I have 55-300 and what I like about it is a very nice background blur that itproduces. Here you have few examples:
Art Photo - Sasha Kopestenski: Gallery , Art Photo - Sasha Kopestenski: Gallery , Art Photo - Sasha Kopestenski: Gallery
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