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06-26-2011, 01:33 PM   #16
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Pentax K-5 Telephoto's

The 500mm was a 50th birthday present from my mum, the 400mm I managed to get for 195 boxed as new and the 300mm I picked up secondhand for 1400
Seven months old and I registered it online and got 3 years extended warranty.
I had a Sigma 150-500mm HSM lens which I have since sold] and to get best results I found that it had to be stopped down to f8,
The three primes I have now are awesome.

06-26-2011, 09:11 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ducatigaz Quote
The 500mm was a 50th birthday present from my mum
Can I have your Mum, the only decent 50th B/day present I got was a BBQ.

Interesting on the 150-500 - a lot of Canon users in Aus are using this with good results. I have been toying mainly for HSM & the longer reach, my 100-300 f4 is quite noisy which scares the birds I find.
06-26-2011, 10:14 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by bluemoo Quote
Hi, just bought my new Pentax K5, and wanted to get a telephoto lens for it. I love to shoot wildlife, and was thinking about a 70-300. What do you think is the right lens, and why?
There are so many, I'm really confused. Will be heading to Alaska, and really interested in shooting the animals! Thanks so much for helping a beginner!
QuoteOriginally posted by Ranitomeya Quote
Hi!

Sooner or later (which means sooner, if I know myself sufficiently well), I will get a decent telephoto lens for my K-5 as well. I have researched for quite a while, and have already made a decision. It is going to be the DA 300 f/4. Sufficiently fast, small and light, very good image quality, and appropriately priced (in contrast to the even better alternatives, that are four times as expensive as the body they would be attached to).

What works best for you depends, of course, on your shooting habits, but my personal experience is that I do not go out without knowing beforehand what kind of photo I would like to take. If it is wildlife, birds, or close-ups of insects that are easily scared, even with a zoom I would rarely use anything else than the 300 mm, so why not have a prime with a much better image quality, whose photos I can easily crop to mimic the maximum focal length of, e.g., a Bigma? The one thing that could make me revise my decision is Pentax/Sigma/Tamron make a 400 mm prime in the same quality and price range, but that seems to be a daydream.

Just my 2 cents.

Regards,
Frank
I have a few longer lenses . Every lens has a drawback so a few answers will help.
  • Will you be heading out on foot hiking in Alaska?
  • Would you like to shoot handheld?
  • What is you budget?
  • Do you mind manual focus?
  • Are you looking for a lens that can deliver a few amazing shots or one that provides consistently good shots? (some can outperform others but they are tricky to use)
  • Do you need to be fairly close to the subject?
06-27-2011, 08:14 AM   #19
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I have had a Sigma 70-300 for 4 years and shot a lot with it. It does a good job in bright light and stopped down to f8 or more. My best shots with it are in the f11 range. It does a good job considering the price and the macro/close up feature is very good. I have moved to an M300/4 for most of my telephoto shooting but the Sigma still gets a lot of use for close ups, especially from my kayak where I can't get all that close to the subject. It's a lot sharper in the 70-220 range than fully extended to 300. If your budget is under $200, then the Sigma or similar Tamron will do the job. The DA 55-300 is a little more and users are generally happy with it. There are a lot more telephoto solutions if you are able to plunk down some more cash. If I was making an Alaska trip, I would most likely buy the 50-500 Bigma. It's a big, heavy beast but it will get you those wildlife shots if you get the chance and you can always sell it after the trip if you won't be using it. The DA 300 is very sharp and lighter and 100% crops will look very good. If you are willing to manual focus then there are a lot more options.

06-05-2015, 07:01 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by bluemoo Quote
Hi, just bought my new Pentax K5, and wanted to get a telephoto lens for it. I love to shoot wildlife, and was thinking about a 70-300. What do you think is the right lens, and why?
There are so many, I'm really confused. Will be heading to Alaska, and really interested in shooting the animals! Thanks so much for helping a beginner!
I bought the Promaster 28-300 lens at a very reasonable price and found it to be quite competent.
07-04-2015, 06:58 AM   #21
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Jeez this thread sure made me feel good about my purchase yesterday of the DA 55-300 from B&H! FYI Bluemoo they had another there used as well
07-07-2015, 02:22 PM   #22
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I have a PENTAX-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8 and Sigma 170-500.
I bought both secondhand and have been very happy with them.
The 100-300 doesn't get as much use since buying the 170-500. That's mainly due to the extra reach from 300 - 500mm.
This is one thing to factor: will 300mm be long enough for the wildlife?
The cons of having the bigger lens is the weight.
Both lenses seem to have a sweetspot at around f8 making them not the fastest.
07-08-2015, 12:41 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jule Kame Quote
I bought the Promaster 28-300 lens at a very reasonable price and found it to be quite competent.
QuoteOriginally posted by jonn46 Quote
Jeez this thread sure made me feel good about my purchase yesterday of the DA 55-300 from B&H! FYI Bluemoo they had another there used as well
QuoteOriginally posted by mickey Quote
I have a PENTAX-FA 100-300mm F4.7-5.8 and Sigma 170-500.
I bought both secondhand and have been very happy with them.
The 100-300 doesn't get as much use since buying the 170-500. That's mainly due to the extra reach from 300 - 500mm.
This is one thing to factor: will 300mm be long enough for the wildlife?
The cons of having the bigger lens is the weight.
Both lenses seem to have a sweetspot at around f8 making them not the fastest.
I'm not sure op is still with us ! This thread was opened in 2011 !!

07-08-2015, 06:03 AM   #24
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Don't feel it was a waste, I actively read it front to back thanks to the recent activity. I had the same question so the recent responses are probably more valuable then the older ones, to me anyway. I can't help but question if a 4 year old response still holds true.
01-03-2016, 09:48 AM   #25
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Hi all. I will be buying the K-3 in few months (most probably a kit with DAL 18-55 WR). I'm mostly interested in planespotting, so telephoto lens is a must for me. I'm thinking if the HD DA 55-300 is the best option, or I should take a look at some Tamron/Sigma equivalent? I know that question was answered before, but you were talking here about little bit slow AF in the Pentax lens, and AF speed is quite important in that type of photography. What do you recommend? My budget is approx. 1500 USD/1400 EUR for both camera and lens.

Also, since we are here and I don't want to start another topic. Maybe it will be better to buy body only with better short lens than the one in the kit, like Sigma 17-70 for example? Thank you for all answers.
08-17-2016, 02:58 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ahab Quote
While the Pentax 55-300 is a great lens, if you are strapped for cash the Tamron or Sigma 70-300 can get you started without pain. I think the Tammy has a slight edge. If you can be patient and stealthy you do not need a 500mm. I've gotten some great nature shots with the DA* 200.

I was backpacking in Yellowstone for a few weeks with my DA200 and got some serious photos of bison, grizzly bears, and a pack of wolves. I do not recommend it but if youre quiet, smooth, and slow you can get insane photos.
08-17-2016, 03:15 PM - 1 Like   #27
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Remember that you need to be 25 yds from non predator animals and 100 yds from predators like wolves and bears. The NPS is getting tough about violations and jail time for even minor offences like 3 days in jail for defacing/writing on the Roosevelt Arch plus $250.00 for restitution and $40.00 for court costs. There are also a dozen or more injuries caused by bison and elk when people get too close. And NO, you cannot out run them!
08-17-2016, 10:23 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by wtlwdwgn Quote
Remember that you need to be 25 yds from non predator animals and 100 yds from predators like wolves and bears. The NPS is getting tough about violations and jail time for even minor offences like 3 days in jail for defacing/writing on the Roosevelt Arch plus $250.00 for restitution and $40.00 for court costs. There are also a dozen or more injuries caused by bison and elk when people get too close. And NO, you cannot out run them!


Im sorry but that was rude. I may take risks but that doesnt mean I dont know these animals.
08-18-2016, 08:44 AM   #29
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I agree with frogfish. The DA* 300 is a great lens and since I bought it the 55-300 ( which I enjoyed a lot ) is not getting any use. I use it for birds, landscapes and whatever with the K5. This with the K5 handheld and cropped. If zoom range is important, the 55-300 should be fine, but image wise, the DA*300 is tops
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10-22-2016, 08:04 PM   #30
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Why not another bump for an old thread? The question keeps getting asked.

The key questions for anyone buying a wildlife lens for using with a Pentax DSLR are:
1. budget?
2. zoom or prime? If a zoom, would you use it often at shorter than the maximum focal length? What else is in your kit that might affect the choice?
3. What about focus? Can you live with manual focus (and if so, can you also live with manual exposure)? If you need autofocus, does it need to be quiet and fast?
4. Is weather-resistance essential? (If the answer is yes, you will rule out many fine lenses. Maybe a protective sleeve will suffice?)
5. How much reach do you really need? 250mm? 300mm? 400mm? 500mm? (In other words, how big and how far away will your subjects be?)
6. How fast do you need the widest aperture to be? (Speed matters particularly for low-light shooting and use with a TC. Bumping up the ISO and/or dropping shutter speed is often going to compromise results.)
7. How important is absolute IQ? (This is tied to the previous question.)
8. What minimum focus distance (MFD) is acceptable?
9. How much weight and bulk can you cope with? (Will you mostly be using handheld? Do you plan to take it on walks? Do you plan to travel with it?)

For me, the last question is really important, and under-rated. If your experience is limited to <500g consumer zooms, you are in for a shock when you want more than 300mm. The 170-500 I had was about 1.4kg - light for a 500mm lens, but still quite a burden to carry around. Good luck to those people who happily cart around a 2kg lens like the Pentax DFA 150-450, or the Sigma 150-500 or 50-500 on a walk, especially if they are also carrying a 700g-1kg camera, spare batteries, a flash and extender, and another lens or two and some filters, not to mention a tripod. And don't forget your water bottle, food, jacket, phone, etc etc. I'm not that fit or dedicated, and I can't afford a Sherpa.

Like it or not, every lens is a compromise. (Otherwise we would all have 12-600 f2.4 superzooms that were WR, had fast and silent AF, weighed 400g and produced images like an FA Ltd.) Here are some observations on the various telephoto lenses I have had. I offer these as they are probably representative of particular classes of lens:
- Superzoom - Tamron 18-250 (same as Pentax DA 18-250) : The superzoom was good for what it was, and the versatility and portability were great. Short MFD made it good for close shots. But the reach was insufficient (not only because 250mm often wasn't enough, but also because focus breathing meant the real magnfication was considerably less). At f6.3 at the long end, it was slow - especially when it needed stopping down one or two stops for best results. Images benefit a lot from post-processing. Not a patch on the 55-300 at the long end. The latest Sigma 18-300 might be better, but don't expect the same performance as the 55-300 at 300. (If someone proves me wrong about this I'll buy one immediately.)
- Consumer tele zoom - Pentax DA-L 55-300 : Cheap, lightweight, versatile. Outstanding value. Excellent for travel and hikes. Images benefit from PP. Not an IF lens; really good magnification at 300mm regardless of distance to subject. MFD about 1.6m is ordinary. Faster (ie wider maximum aperture) than the 18-135 across their common range, but the 18-135 is much more pleasant to use. Surprisingly good at the long end, when stopped down. At a pinch, f5.8 at 300mm is useful, but aim for f8-f11 whenever possible. (A flash and extender are good for this.) Slow AF, hunts like crazy, sounds like a coffee grinder. (The new PLM is obviously much quieter.) Not a great option for moving subjects. Better on the K-3 than on the K-30 because of the faster AF motor, and better resolution.
- Consumer long tele zoom - Sigma 170-500 : Affordable, and the extra reach was great. Light for a 500mm lens; later iterations of the xx-400 or xx-500 are all heavier. Still something of a beast to carry. Usable handheld, but better on a tripod. Slow f6.3 at the long end; at it eats light at 500mm. Slow and noisy AF, like the 55-300 - maybe a little better. A frustrating 3m MFD. Good images within its limitations: subject not too far away, good light, stopped down. Better at the wide end; at 300mm (maximum aperture f5.6) performance would be roughly comparable with the 55-300. Of all lenses I have used, this produced the most vignetting, and the dullest colours and least contrast. Photos benefit from a lot of treatment in PP. From what I have seen, the IQ from later versions like the Bigma and little Bigma is significantly better, but at the price of much more weight.
- Long prime - Sigma 400 f5.6 Tele macro (same as the one shown by @Ducatigaz above): A nice lens, but hard to find. About 1.4kg (about the same as the 170-500, but not as bulky). A step up in image quality from the 170-500. Resolves more detail than the 55-300 (I suspect mostly because of the extra magnification). Has a focus-limiter, which is useful. AF seems a little quicker than the other screw-driven lenses mentioned. It has a ring to switch to MF. I have used it a few times with my Kenko 1.5x TC (really 1.4x - it's the same as the Tamron 1.4 pz), for 560mm f8. For that it needs very good light and a tripod - and I'm not certain results were better than would have been obtainable just by cropping on the K-3.
- Premium 300mm prime - Pentax FA*300 f4.5: This is just a superb lens, optically. Sharpness, colours and so on are in the class of the DFA 100 WR Macro - which is saying something. Virtually no CA, pleasant bokeh. Images need little PP; OOC jpgs can be very good. It's compact (barely longer than the 55-300), but dense (it weighs about 900g, roughly double the 55-300). This is the Goldilocks lens. Not too heavy, not too bulky, fast enough and really sharp - so that images can take a lot of cropping. Screw-drive AF is faster and quieter than the other lenses mentioned (although noisy compared to a DC lens). MFD is about 2m, which can be frustrating. No focus limiter. No quick-shift, but it has a clutch to switch to MF. Doesn't come with a tripod foot (there are cheap options), which says to me that the makers expected it to be used handheld. It balances nicely on the K-3 and is easy to use handheld. Excellent from wide open - f4.5 is handy in low light, and lets you use a faster shutter and/or lower ISO. This has become my most used lens. I have only used it with the TC a few times (420mm, f6.3), and haven't properly compared it to the 400 f5.6, but I suspect that it is comparable if not better. I expect that the more recent DA*300 f4 would have many of the same virtues, with the bonus of quieter AF, WR, 1/3 stop faster, and shorter MFD. But the downsides are that it is bulkier, heavier, more expensive, and the SDM AF has been known to fail.

Other categories of lens not represented here include MF lenses (e.g. K 300 f4, A 400 f5.6, Tair 300 f4, the Tokina 100-300 f4 and various mirror lenses), premium tele zooms (e.g. Sigma 100-300 f4, DA*60-250 f4), very long primes (e.g. Sigma 500 f4.5, DA 560) and very long premium tele zooms (e.g. DFA 150-450, FA*250-600 f5.6).

Had I known at the start what I know now, I would have just got the F/FA*300 f4.5 and a good TC, and the best of the 55-300 lenses for walks and travel, and left it at that. The FA*300 cost about $A850 (say $US600), which seemed like a lot at the time; but it was definitely worth it. The DA*300 f4 would be very a nice option (especially with the DA TC), but I would worry about SDM failure.

If you are photographing birds within say 15m or so, with the 24mp sensor, 300mm is long enough, IMO, if the lens is really sharp. Sure 400 or 500 is better, particularly in a zoom, and particularly if the MFD is <2m, but for me the FA*300 f4.5 is a better package. For birds further away, more reach is invaluable: 300 + TC is good, but 150-450 or xx-500 would be better. So it depends a lot on what you are shooting.

One more thing to throw in. If you can use a flash, it can really help. I love this with the K-3: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/22-pentax-camera-field-accessories/256288...-extender.html

Some samples from each lens I have had.
Tamron 18-250


Pentax DA-L 55-300:



Sigma 170-500:


Sigma 400 f5.6 tele macro:


Pentax FA*300 f4.5:

Last edited by Des; 10-25-2016 at 09:54 PM.
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