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04-23-2010, 07:59 AM   #1
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Time to buy a telephoto zoom...

I've done some extensive research but have hit the perverbial paralysis by analysis.

The DA 55-300mm is more than I'm willing to currently spend as a newbie, though it looks like it's around 350 or 375 currently.

I can get a DA L 55-300mm for $230. Same optics (best) as the DA but minus the quickshift (sounds helpful) and the lens hood.

I think I'm leaning towards the Tamron 70-300mm Di LD Macro over the Sigma APO macro, but it sounds like opinions are split 50/50 between those two.
Tamron can be had for around $160, Sigma for $210, both new.

I've also come across a FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8 silver version used for $130. Sounds like it has good optics but no lens hood and 130 may be a reach for that.

I'm basically weighing the better optics of the Pentax at 230 against the tamron or sigma with lens hood and macro option. As far as the quick shift, maybe some of you can let me know if the sigma or tamron has a similar function that works well or not. I notice the tamron has a 6-year warranty but not sure how useful that really is or whether that should help sway me.

Any advice is appreciated as I near pulling the trigger on one of them.

04-23-2010, 08:05 AM   #2
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Actually, I can throw in the DA 50-200mm. I hadn't really been considering it because I'd like the reach, but it sounds like the reach between 200 and 300 isn't all that much. I have also read the IQ isn't as good from the 50-200mm, but I haven't ruled it out. It can be had for $175. I haven't seen many comparing it to the third-party 300mm zooms, so I'm not sure where it falls. Lends hood and quickshift are a plus but no macro.
04-23-2010, 08:10 AM   #3
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I love my Tamron 70-300 Di (Promaster re-badge), you can see pictures on my flickr. Very sharp upto 250mm and still great in 250-300mm range. It's f4 till 120mm and f4.5 till 220mm (well, I can say just 1 stop slower than 50-135mm and almost as sharp for the price paid)

It has CA problem but which tele doesn't in this range and it's in rare situation only.
04-23-2010, 08:12 AM   #4
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The Sigma and Tamron do not have quick shift - only Sigma's HSM lenses do.

04-23-2010, 08:16 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by ncrecordkeeper Quote
I've done some extensive research but have hit the perverbial paralysis by analysis.

The DA 55-300mm is more than I'm willing to currently spend as a newbie, though it looks like it's around 350 or 375 currently.

I can get a DA L 55-300mm for $230. Same optics (best) as the DA but minus the quickshift (sounds helpful) and the lens hood.

I think I'm leaning towards the Tamron 70-300mm Di LD Macro over the Sigma APO macro, but it sounds like opinions are split 50/50 between those two.
Tamron can be had for around $160, Sigma for $210, both new.

I've also come across a FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8 silver version used for $130. Sounds like it has good optics but no lens hood and 130 may be a reach for that.

I'm basically weighing the better optics of the Pentax at 230 against the tamron or sigma with lens hood and macro option. As far as the quick shift, maybe some of you can let me know if the sigma or tamron has a similar function that works well or not. I notice the tamron has a 6-year warranty but not sure how useful that really is or whether that should help sway me.

Any advice is appreciated as I near pulling the trigger on one of them.
I remember seeing the FA 100-300 when it was still for sale. Got awful reviews everywhere from what I remember.

Tamron prices must have gone up. You used to be able to find it for under $150. It's a great lens for its price, although with the DA L at $230 I guess it can potentially compete with the Tam... (However, I can't find any 55-300s at that price...)

Short summary of the Tamron - sharp for its price, but prone to purple fringing in high contrast situations.
04-23-2010, 08:25 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ncrecordkeeper Quote
Actually, I can throw in the DA 50-200mm. I hadn't really been considering it because I'd like the reach, but it sounds like the reach between 200 and 300 isn't all that much. I have also read the IQ isn't as good from the 50-200mm, but I haven't ruled it out. It can be had for $175. I haven't seen many comparing it to the third-party 300mm zooms, so I'm not sure where it falls. Lends hood and quickshift are a plus but no macro.
The DA 50-200mm can be had for less than that. I bought mine new on eBay for $145 Buy It Now. Used should be just under $100. My 55-300mm will be here tomorrow, and I'm planning on doing a side-by-side comparison for IQ with the two lenses. I got it from Amazon for $332, so I can easily return it if I don't think the IQ difference is worth the doubling of price.

I've been very happy with the 55-200mm, but I'm a noob, too. Actually, check out this page of pictures. They were all taken with it.
04-23-2010, 08:30 AM   #7
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I've picked up an FAJ 75-300 and a 50-200mm on craigslist in my local area very reasonably. If I wasn't about to head out on a two week trip I'd offer up either for sale. as I'm about to step up to a 2.8 70-200mm
04-23-2010, 08:41 AM   #8
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I have the Tamron 70-300 and I can say with full confidence that it is well worth the $. It will be the cheapest lens of all your options and it will perform pretty much just as well. Images are very sharp at widest to sharp at longest zoom. The macro function is a bonus, not really practical but cool to have.

There are also two down sides to the Tamron (these may also be found in the other lenses but I cannot say since I do not own them).
1. Slow autofocus. It's not too bad but can get a little annoying
2. CA (purple fringing). This doesn't happen all the time but it is evident when shooting birds against a clear sky, but it also can be fixed in Photoshop but you do have to shoot in RAW to be able to fix it.

Bottom line, the Tamron is a great long zoom lens for a beginner. I plan on using mine for a while then selling it for an upgrade down the line.

04-23-2010, 09:15 AM   #9
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QuoteQuote:
The DA 50-200mm.... My 55-300mm will be here tomorrow, and I'm planning on doing a side-by-side comparison for IQ with the two lenses. I got it from Amazon for $332, so I can easily return it if I don't think the IQ difference is worth the doubling of price.
The 55-300 has significantly better IQ (plus 50% more reach) than the 50-200 which is now sitting on my closet shelf :-)

But the 50-200 was better (only slightly) than the sigma 70-300 APO...never had a Tamron.
04-23-2010, 10:08 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Entropy Quote
I remember seeing the FA 100-300 when it was still for sale. Got awful reviews everywhere from what I remember.
That might be the black version (4.5-5.6) you are thinking about. The silver version (4.7-5.8) is much higher regarded (at least now--maybe not back in the day). I recently picked up the silver version used (about $70, so keep your eyes open OP), and while it feels like a toy, it is a strangely good lens. Pretty darn sharp, nice colors, nice bokeh. Because of how the FA 100-300mm silver lens looks and feels, you just don't expect the kind of output it produces--but it does "produce".

Last edited by jeffrey r; 04-23-2010 at 10:20 AM.
04-23-2010, 10:29 AM   #11
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I had the Tamron 70-300mm (Quantaray rebadge) and it was sharp till about 250mm. It was slow on focusing.

I replaced it with the 55-300mm. I think the IQ is better and it has the pentax coloring. I find it sharp even at 300mm. It is also much faster at focusing.
04-23-2010, 11:00 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ncrecordkeeper Quote
Actually, I can throw in the DA 50-200mm. I hadn't really been considering it because I'd like the reach, but it sounds like the reach between 200 and 300 isn't all that much. I have also read the IQ isn't as good from the 50-200mm, but I haven't ruled it out. It can be had for $175. I haven't seen many comparing it to the third-party 300mm zooms, so I'm not sure where it falls. Lends hood and quickshift are a plus but no macro.
You find find one for about $100, trust me. I think this is one of those under-appreciated lens, it is very good and very versatile in my opinion.
04-23-2010, 12:09 PM   #13
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Get the DA 50-200mm since you don't have that much money and need a telephoto zoom, it's not a bad lens at all, sometimes people just get clouded by how much stronger the optics are in the DA 55-300mm that they forget that the DA 50-200mm isn't really that bad at all, just not as good.
04-23-2010, 12:32 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by ncrecordkeeper Quote

I've also come across a FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8 silver version used for $130. Sounds like it has good optics but no lens hood and 130 may be a reach for that.
I can vouch for excellent sharpness, color, nice bokeh and very low CA on the FA 100-300 4.7, and the going rate is around 100, so your price isn't excessive. I spent 4 bucks on a 3-stage collapsing rubber lens hood for mine and it's 100% effective - and easier to store to boot! It's *really* light weight for the length. It's by far the least expensive option, and from what I've seen the extra money for the DA 50-300 doesn't make enough difference to justify the cost. The FA1-300 4.7 is my favorite sleeper lens find so far - I'll never sell it

Links to some of my FA1-300 4.7 pics:
Portrait of my youngest (in a dark cafe)
Female Mallard w/lots of feather detail
Flying duck
A Canada goose bathing in the lake
a Canada goose surfacing while feeding
04-23-2010, 12:40 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Entropy Quote
I remember seeing the FA 100-300 when it was still for sale. Got awful reviews everywhere from what I remember.
There's 2 different FA 100-300 lenses - the black one f/4.5-5.6 (mediocre reviews here at P-Forums) and the silver one f/4.7-5.8 (very good reviews here at the forums).

Hmm. I'm becoming a lens evangelist for this lens, it seems
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