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11-20-2014, 05:44 PM   #1
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Hello from New England Needing zoom advice

I am reentering photography. I enjoyed it in the late 70s & early 80s with a Pentax K1000 & Ricoh XR-7. Needless to say I'm a little lost with all this electronic stuff.
I bought a K5 IIs w/ Pentax 18-55 & 50-200 zooms and just recently a Sigma 150-500mm. The Sigma is too big & heavy so I am going to return it. I would like larger than 200mm but more into the shape & size of the zooms I have now. I see an 18-300 but it is redundant to my current lenses and I don't think the difference between my current 200 & a 300 justifies the purchase. I have seen 200-400 but not in Pentax mounts. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? I enjoy wildlife & nature close ups.

11-20-2014, 06:17 PM   #2
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Buget?

The da 55-300 is about as good as it gets in consumer zooms.

18-300 is going to be a lot of compromises.

To get better you need to look at da*60-250. Or da*300. Either of those plus the hd 1.4x rc will get you into wildlife territory.

There is also the Sigma 50-500 but it will be heavy.

Sorry but long zooms are also big and heavy.
11-20-2014, 06:55 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Buget? The da 55-300 is about as good as it gets in consumer zooms. 18-300 is going to be a lot of compromises. To get better you need to look at da*60-250. Or da*300. Either of those plus the hd 1.4x rc will get you into wildlife territory. There is also the Sigma 50-500 but it will be heavy. Sorry but long zooms are also big and heavy.
I agree with everything Jatrax has said above. I have the DA55-300 and I understand that the current HD version is even better, while also being weather sealed. My travel kit currently consists of a Tamron 17-50 f2.8 and the Pentax DA55-300. This covers most of the circumstances I need without excessive weight. At home I use my DA*300 which is an amazing lens, but at the limit (for me) of what can be hand held. I'm not sure how well the Pentax HD 1.4x TC performs with the DA55-300 but it would be a good option to get more focal length if you really need it. I am currently planning to get the TC myself, since all the photos I'm seeing in the forums suggest that it is the perfect companion for the DA*300. Pentax also has a long zoom in the wings, with a zoom range of around 100-450mm. If you can wait for up to another six months, it may be worth seeing this lens when it arrives.

If you really want to buy something now, I think the DA55-300 will give you the best balance of quality with light weight. I have some photos in this album on Flickr which demonstrate the results from the pre-HD version.
11-20-2014, 07:16 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobG Quote
If you really want to buy something now, I think the DA55-300 will give you the best balance of quality with light weight.
+1. Get a used 55-300 and try it out, if Pentax produces a longer lens in 6 months or then you can sell the 55-300 on at little loss and upgrade. Or you might just like the 55-300.

I think in very good light it would work with the HD 1.4x, maybe not in low light.

11-20-2014, 07:28 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
(the 55-300) in very good light it would work with the HD 1.4x, maybe not in low light.
I may buy the TC in the next few weeks (waiting for possible Black Friday discounts) and I could test it - although of course I plan to use it on the DA*300.
11-20-2014, 07:32 PM   #6
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Thanks for the quick reply & insight. So ... That's it?
I guess I'll have to buy a crane so I can suspend the 150-500 I bought OR lug my tripod everywhere OR return it and focus on the bugs at my feet. Maybe I'll take it for a walk tomorrow in the daylight (I got it this afternoon at about 3:30) Maybe it won't be as bad as it seemed in my den taking pics of my bookcase.
As for budget, there really isn't one other than a balance between want/need vs. common sense.
Thanks again for your help.
11-20-2014, 07:42 PM   #7
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If you come from pre AF, do you want AF? If not I suggest following, A longer mirror (e.g., tamron
350 mm or 500 mm Adaptall-2) may work well--it will be light weight and short. Or possibly a longer regular prime--e.g., 300mm, but that will be generally larger and heavier. For longer primes (non AF) I would look at Tamron Adaptall-2. There were some excellent non-AF lenses zooms (f/2.8 or f/2.8-4) in the 70/80-200/210mm range (e.g., Vivitar series 1 and Tamron Adaptall-2) but this focal length is already covered by what you have.
11-20-2014, 07:51 PM   #8
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Thanks for the suggestions. I had a 2X I used w/ an 80-200 long ago. It was tough then (up hill both ways etc) because what ASA (yes I was before ISO) was in the camera was what was available. So if you were using 100 ISO outdoors but wanted a long shot w/ the 2X it cut that 100 ISO so a 1/500 was almost impossible to get with any DOF. 1/250 was so-so & 1/100 was hard to hand hold.

---------- Post added 11-20-14 at 10:03 PM ----------

I really do not want to give up AF. I enjoy close ups and AF is a God send for an old man with old eyesight. For me these days MF is ok for long landscapes (crank the focus to the end - back off a touch - set an f11 - push the button) and you can even change the ISO between shots for a little help. Why not go for f22? Life is good.

11-20-2014, 09:02 PM   #9
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Has anyone pointed you to the lens database?
Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Here you can lookup the weight and find out what people think of a lens. I concur with the suggestions so far but there may be some value in browsing as well. A fixed 200, 300, or 400mm and a 1.4x tc might be an alternate approach.
11-21-2014, 04:52 AM   #10
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If you want a lightweight AF lens, the Pentax 55-300 is very good. Excellent value in any of the 3 versions (DA-L, DA and DA WR). This lens is sufficient to meet most people's needs. This could replace your 50-200 - the IQ is better, especially at the long end.

Next step up is the DA*60-250. This is a premium lens. Images will tolerate a fair bit of cropping, so even though it is only 250mm you wouldn't lose much. As mentioned above, it will work well with a TC.

Another option is the Sigma 100-300mm f4, which is another premium lens, but heavy, expensive and hard to find.

There are several excellent 300mm f4 or f4.5 primes which will give significantly better IQ than the 55-300: Sigma 300mm f4 APO tele macro (affordable but very hard to find), Pentax F*300 f4.5, FA*300 f4.5 and DA*300mm. Each will work with a 1.4TC for the equivalent of 420mm f5.6 or so. The F* is the lightest weight of these at about 900g. All but the DA* have screw drive AF (reasonably fast but noisy).

In longer AF zooms there are a bunch of Sigmas, including the 150-500 which you have. They include 120-400, 135-400, 170-500, 150-500 and the Bigma, 50-500. All roughly in the same weight division. Some people contend that the Bigma provides the best IQ, although not by much.

In 400mm+ primes with AF there is a Sigma 400mm f5.6 lens with a 72mm filter and a Tokina equivalent which are relatively cheap. Better quality long primes are mostly rare and/or expensive. (Mirror lenses are all MF.) The Sigma 400mm f5.6 APO tele macro with a 77mm filter is high quality and affordable, but very hard to find. A big jump in price from there: e.g. FA*400 f5.6, Sigma 500mm, Pentax DA 560mm are more than $2500.

Many Pentaxians are eagerly awaiting a long zoom lens which Ricoh Pentax have on the drawing board, said to be about 100-450mm. Don't expect it to be cheap or significantlly lighter than the long Sigma zooms.

Last edited by Des; 11-21-2014 at 05:00 AM.
11-21-2014, 08:19 AM   #11
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I have a "bad" copy of the Sigma AF 400mm f/5.6 lens (the cheapie one) it's low contrast and soft. But my copy has something inside that is either fungus or the deterioration of the glue that some of these lenses suffer. It's light, easy to hand hold, has a tripod mount, and my only lens longer than my broken 80-320 or my 50-200 so I keep it around for now.
11-22-2014, 04:45 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by skipdesro Quote
Needless to say I'm a little lost with all this electronic stuff.
Welcome to the forum, just think no film and mechanical with batteries and you'll be fine.
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