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07-04-2022, 04:55 AM   #1
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What lens - zoom around 300mm

I have moved to a K1 and only have a Pentax DA 4.5/6.3 55-300mm ED PLM WR RE (which I know is not a full frame lens and indeed has severe vignetting)

This lens has always been soft over 200mm both on my K-70 and now K-1, in fact I would describe it as very soft almost unusable at 300mm unless very great care is used to set up the picture

I want a lens that performs well at 300mm whilst still being a zoom if possible. Must be noticeably sharper than my 55-300 and quicker to use to get the sharpness ie usable on wildlife

However as always it also has to be full frame, portable and cost effective.

Any recommendations ?

07-04-2022, 05:20 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by mlines Quote
Must be noticeably sharper than my 55-300 and quicker to use to get the sharpness ie usable on wildlife
QuoteOriginally posted by mlines Quote
it also has to be full frame, portable and cost effective
I think you are going to struggle with any Pentax offerings on that criteria. The DA* 300mm is FF compatible (despite being a DA), and is excellent optically, but is no speed demon on AF speed. Same goes for the DA* 60-250 zoom.

The DFA 150-450 is maybe too heavy and expensive, although it focusses fast and is excellent quality.

Hopefully someone can come up with some 3rd party lens suggestions for you.
07-04-2022, 05:22 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by mlines Quote
I have moved to a K1 and only have a Pentax DA 4.5/6.3 55-300mm ED PLM WR RE (which I know is not a full frame lens and indeed has severe vignetting)

This lens has always been soft over 200mm both on my K-70 and now K-1, in fact I would describe it as very soft almost unusable at 300mm unless very great care is used to set up the picture

I want a lens that performs well at 300mm whilst still being a zoom if possible. Must be noticeably sharper than my 55-300 and quicker to use to get the sharpness ie usable on wildlife

However as always it also has to be full frame, portable and cost effective.

Any recommendations ?

none - the three requirements you've listed above will cross off every zoom out there.... you have the sharpest consumer zoom available for Pentax at 300mm....

if you want cost effective, you're going to lose sharpness at 300mm

if you want a zoom that's sharp at 300mm (or beyond), you'll lose cost effective....

I always suggest a prime lens at 300mm or beyond....
07-04-2022, 05:26 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by mlines Quote

I want a lens that performs well at 300mm whilst still being a zoom if possible. Must be noticeably sharper than my 55-300 and quicker to use to get the sharpness ie usable on wildlife

However as always it also has to be full frame, portable and cost effective.

Any recommendations ?

Perhaps one important aspect you got to upfront mention, is "budget".

How much are you willing to go to?
USD300? USD400? USD500?
Or more?

It might be quite difficult to have this trinity of "it also has to be full frame, portable and cost effective".

It is like, kind of, that perennial problem of designing main battle tanks, balancing that trinity of "mobility, firepower, protection (armour)" (and naturally, also the factor of "cost")

Usually, it will always be a case of "can have two aspects better and one will have to be lesser".

In terms of lenses, (i) full frame, (ii) portable, (iii) cost effective.

Perhaps a Sigma 100-300 f4?
It is full frame.

As for "portable", to me, that lens is definitely portable.

For "cost effective", that really depends on a number of things and how one sees "cost effective".

There's also the Pentax FA 80-320.
Full frame. Extremely portable.

As for "cost effective", again, depends.
If you aren't going to be happy with the results you get from it, even if it were to cost just USD50, it cannot be considered "cost effective".

Or the Pentax FA 100-300?
Same comments as above for the 80-320.

And cuz you mentioned "portable" and preferably "zoom", that effectively rules out any prime lens.

but yeah.
Think you got to indicate "budget".

That will help narrow down things quite a bit.

---------- Post added 07-04-22 at 05:32 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
none - the three requirements you've listed above will cross off every zoom out there.... you have the sharpest consumer zoom available for Pentax at 300mm....
....
Plus+10.

Indeed, the 300PLM is as good as one can wish for, for a "consumer zoom".

07-04-2022, 05:36 AM - 1 Like   #5
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The DFA150-450 is magnificent. If you're serious about shooting wildlife and want to stay in the Pentax ecosystem, there is no other realistic choice.

Personally, I find the 55-300PLM to be an excellent lens (within its obvious compromises), even at the long end. "Almost unusable" is pretty harsh; can you show some examples?
07-04-2022, 05:47 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mlines Quote
have a Pentax DA 4.5/6.3 55-300mm ED PLM WR RE

I would describe it as very soft almost unusable at 300mm unless very great care is used to set up the picture
I agree with Sandy, I have only heard good things about the 55-300.

Saying it is soft and almost unusable unless very great care is taken has me a little confused. A lens is either soft or it isn't. If you post some examples with exif intact, we may be able to offer suggestions on camera settings or technique that may help you, and even save you the expense of a new lens
07-04-2022, 05:48 AM   #7
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Thanks - for budget I would be looking at perhaps up to $1200 which is around £1000 here although we end up paying "like for like" as something that is $900 is always £900 and not $740 which is what the exchange rate says

07-04-2022, 06:04 AM   #8
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My FA 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 works fine for me … cost £2
My Tamron 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6 is virtually indistinguishable in side-by-side tests, is 100gm lighter, but cost £5 more!
… more expensive options are available
07-04-2022, 06:15 AM - 1 Like   #9
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I also had soft images issues with 55-300 PLM when shooting airplanes. Unless weather was goo, there was not much air movement, subject was still etc - it was great. If something was not perfect - images were soft and mushy, as if lens amplified every imperfection and air disturbance. I have no such issues with 60-250 so I think my technique was at least acceptable


As for lens I think there is no perfect one. Change system to Olympus and get some long pro. Or live with compromises of Pentax. If you need fast AF and great image quality plus range I think 150-450 even if it is expensive and heavy. If you want portable and not so much range then 60-250 DA*, even if AF is slow and I think it needs some modifications for FF?
07-04-2022, 06:29 AM   #10
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If one is not satisfied with the 50-300 PLM and the 150-450 is to expensive, I would say the only possible solution is one of the Pentax telephoto primes with AF, used or new.
07-04-2022, 06:42 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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I think you have a bad copy of the 55-300 or maybe the focus needs adjustment. I could understand if lighting is not good, but with adequate lighting that should not be a problem with the lens.
07-04-2022, 06:44 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jersey Quote
I also had soft images issues with 55-300 PLM when shooting airplanes. Unless weather was goo, there was not much air movement, subject was still etc - it was great. If something was not perfect - images were soft and mushy, as if lens amplified every imperfection and air disturbance. I have no such issues with 60-250 so I think my technique was at least acceptable
Sounds like my issue as shooting similar targets (airplanes, birds).
07-04-2022, 07:02 AM   #13
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I noted that one need for the OP is being "portable", in addition to FF.
I will suggest a solution consisting of the Pentax FA*300mm f4.5 and a TC (e.g 1.4). The FA*300mm f4.5 is a great FF 300 mm lens, relatively light and easily handled by hand. When I use it, I often bring my HD DA TC1.4x. This gives me two focal lengths (300 mm and 420mm) with great IQ and light weight. I am very happy with the combo.
I appreciate that the Pentax HD DA TC1.4x is not FF, and other PF members might suggest alternative FF TC.
I hope that the suggestion may help.
07-04-2022, 07:23 AM   #14
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Lenses in this range that might work:

DA* 60-250
A very fine lens with excellent optics. Slower focusing than some lenses but not “too slow”. A baffle modification is needed to give truly good results on full frame but even unmodified it is useable. Pair this with a Tamron 1.4x autofocus teleconverter to give 90-375/5.6. This lens is heavy, it’s expensive (but likely a used copy is within budget), has slower but nearly silent autofocus, and it has seriously strong focus breathing making it much shorter than expected when used at close distances (the effect gradually fades out by roughly 10 meters).

FA 80-320 (multiple versions), FA 100-300 (also multiple versions )… these are lower optical quality on crop than the 55-300 various lenses I’ve used. None were terrible but, if your 55-300 PLM isn’t good enough then I doubt these would be. This assumes your lens is operating correctly and isn’t somehow under performing. These are light, noisy focusing, and ok quality. I don’t recommend adding a 1.4x TC to these both due to maximum aperture and optical quality.

Sigma 100-300/4 - I’ve never shot this lens but it has an excellent reputation. The lens is supposedly well matched to some 1.4x TC’s as well.

D FA 70-210/4 or 70-200/2.8 plus a Tamron or similar 1.4x TC (or really any autofocus 70-200 full frame autofocus lens. These are a little short compared to your stated needs. Some are heavy and expensive, some are close to what you’re asking for.

FA* 250-600, Sigma xx-500, etc - fall outside your criteria I suspect due to size and in some cases extreme cost.

In my opinion the best options are: the 60-250; a 70-200’ish lens; or the Sigma 100-400/4. All of these can be paired with a third party autofocus 1.4x TC to get you additional range. None are “cheap”, portability is debatable, but optical quality should be very good.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 07-04-2022 at 06:29 PM.
07-04-2022, 08:13 AM - 2 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by mlines Quote
This lens has always been soft over 200mm both on my K-70 and now K-1, in fact I would describe it as very soft almost unusable at 300mm unless very great care is used to set up the picture
This tells me what you need first is a tripod. Perhaps technique training.
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