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06-22-2010, 09:50 PM   #1
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K7 + Bird/Wildlife lens (My first lens)

Hi guys,

I just purchased my first DSLR in the Pentax K7 and although i did get the kit lens for cheap, it's now time to look at my first lens to go with it. I came from a Panasonic FZ30, and do a lot of bird and wildlife shots and I generally shoot at around 300-420mm (35mm equiv) So I'm looking for something to match or better that FL.

The following is my shortlist:
Pentax smc DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED = $500
Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO = $980
Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO = $1800

I was thinking of having the Pentax DA 55-300 as my standard walk around lens, and then getting Bigma in a month or so. However I'm wondering if it's not better idea to skip the 55-300 and just get the 55-500?.

I think they will provide similar results? Would Bigma be sharper @ 300mm than the Pentax? The 150-500mm seems a bit softer than Bigma, but I'm not sure... The price is however a lot better and i don't need the wide end at all.

Has anyone used the new OS 50-500 or 150-500 on a Pentax and can anyone give some advice or some experiences and better share some photos with similar setups?

Cheers!

06-22-2010, 10:17 PM   #2
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Sigma 100-300mm f4, at the longer end it might be a little short, but with 1.4X teleconverter it would definitely be a good combo.
P.S. might be selling my Sigma 100-300mm f4 when I get back from my vacation on the 14th. of July
06-22-2010, 10:49 PM   #3
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I tried the Bigma for a month and just decided it was a little too much bulk for walking and birding. (You may be stronger than me though) So I settled on the Pentax da300/4 for walking and in my pocket, the Pentax AF 1.7x TC, which gives me a 510mm lens for birding. Its about as much as I can handle for long periods w/o a monopod. Like you, I have little need for the wide end so my da55-300 stays at home all the time now.
06-22-2010, 10:54 PM   #4
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just got my hand on a 50-500mm, that thing is a beast, not sure if you want to carry that all day...

06-22-2010, 11:33 PM   #5
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Agree with Bigma being heavy. If you are like walking and shooting birds, Bigma will be too much. I ended up with lots of shaky photos. If you are the kind waiting in one place (say near a watering place or a fruit tree), you can get excellent photos with Bigma on a tripod.
06-23-2010, 04:28 AM   #6
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The Bigma is my prferred lens for wildlife, if I don't want to carry the much heavier and bulkier faster primes with me. It can be handheld, if it is really bright and you get short expsoure times, but you will get the best quality out of it, when using a monopod (at least).

So, if you are looking for a real "walk-about" lens and do not wish to use a monopod, I would go for something shorter. The Sigma 100-300/4 would be the best solution, I think. BUt a 70-200/2.8 plus 1.4x and 2x tcs comes close and is more versatile.

Nevertheless when you are approaching 300mm focal length, getting critically sharp images is getting harder and a monopod or tripod is certainly very(!) helpful. I think, that the incremental image quality improvements between a good and an excellent lens (including all of those mentioned in your initial post and in subsequent follow-ups), can only be discerned, when you have a tack sharp shot, taken with the help of something to steady your lens (x-pod or bean bag etc.) So, you should take that into your account, too.

Ben
06-23-2010, 05:16 AM   #7
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save some money and put the pentax DA 300 on top of your list

+ it is one off the best pentaxlenses / imagequality
+ you can use it handheld too, but it is good to have a monopod with it
+ weatherproofed, good to have in wildlife and no need to buy extra gear

and you gone buy it anyway sooner or later
06-23-2010, 05:36 AM   #8
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I use 2 different long lens combos, both lighter and just as fast as te bigma, but much more useful

I have an SMC 300mmF4 coupled to a 1.7x AF TC, and also a Sigma APO70-200F2.8 EX which I use with the sigma TCs.

The sigma zoom is an old one but is highly regarded as being perhaps the best performer optically. Using it withoug TCs gets you speed at shorter focal lengths, something neither of the big sigma zooms can do, and with the TCs the IQ remains very very good (IMO) it is easy (perhaps easier is the more accurate word) to carry compared to the BIGMA. Same with the pentax lens.

The old 300F4 is subject to a little CA and fringing, but for a 30 year opld lens it performs very well.

If yoou search the threads on wildlife shots you will see many posts from me using both lenses.

Used you should be able to get either set up one for about $600-$800 in today's market.

If you don;'t want to venture into the used market, the DA300F4 has a good reputation, but I have not used one.

06-23-2010, 06:22 AM   #9
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Sigma 100-400mm/4 weights as much as my FA* 80-200mm/2.8, it's a little bit longer, it feels solid, very fast for wildlife, especially on K-7
06-23-2010, 07:42 AM   #10
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Hi Freak,

I advise you to read some of the lens tests.

You've got a very fine high res camera, you will see a lot of sharpness difference between different lenses.
A good place to start with is: Camera lens tests, user reviews, camera accessory reviews - SLRgear.com!
You'll see that most Sigma long zooms suffer from lack of sharpness at the long end.

Quote:
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Sharpness
The Bigma offers a mixed bag of performance; for the most part, between 50mm and 200mm, the lens offers respectably sharp images, with a few notable and problematic focal length / aperture combinations. Above 200mm, image sharpness degrades noticeably. I suspect our sample of the lens may have a slight issue with one or more de-centered elements, owing to the curious performance we occasionally found.

At 50mm, the lens performed admirably well on our D200 test body, showing an average of 2 blur units, skewed slightly towards the top of the frame. Stopping down the lens at this focal length improves image sharpness, until it reaches its optimal aperture of ƒ/8 where we note 1.5 blur units across the frame. Even fully-stopped down at ƒ/22 images didn't exceed 2 blur units across the frame.

Of course, you don't buy a lens like this to use solely at 50mm. The lens has a curious speed bump of performance when set to 100mm, where we note excessive corner softness wide open at ƒ/5 (specifically, the right-hand corner) - in the order of 8 blur units. This corner softness actually gets worse when stopped down to ƒ/5.6, then improves as the lens is stopped down further. This result may have something to do with the lens' configurable use with teleconverters, which can only be used with the lens locked to a minimum focal length of 100mm.

Wide open at 200mm we see some excellent results for sharpness - around 2 blur units across the frame - even though by this point we're reaching a comparatively slow minimum aperture of ƒ/6. Things here get a little better stopped down to ƒ/8 - a little better than 2 blur units - and a bit better still at ƒ/11.

Wide open at the 300mm mark (ƒ/6.3) we note significant corner softness, with one corner off the charts, and average overall image sharpness (around 3-4 blur units on average). It's marginally improved with wide open performance at 400mm and 500mm, but not much better. In all these cases stopping down the lens to ƒ/8 does little to improve sharpness, one needs to stop down to at least ƒ/11 if not ƒ/16 to get the sharpest results from the lens at these focal lengths. At these settings you'll see results of 2-3 blur units.

Performance fully stopped down is fairly good below 200mm, where the smallest aperture is ƒ/22-29. Smaller than that, and at longer focal lengths, the images produced become very soft - between 4-5 blur units across the frame.

Results for image sharpness are almost identical on the full-frame D3x, with perhaps slightly more exaggerated corner softness above 200mm.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
End Quote.

Also, you need to consider the weigth.

Other good options are: DA* 60-250mm + 1.7TC or the DA* 300mm.
The 300mm is very sharp! You will appreciate that.
Combined with a Tamron 90mm Macro you will be low weigth and versatile with very good IQ.

I did a lot of pixel peeping on the Internet and decided not to go for the Bigma.
I have the DA*60-250 + TC now, and it's very good stuff.

Here a quote on the DA* 60-250:
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Sharpness
Wide-open performance for the Pentax 60-250mm is very good generally, and between 80-200mm, excellent. Our copy of this lens was slightly de-centered towards the bottom of the frame, evident at ƒ/4. At 60mm and 250mm we note some corner softness, but the sweet spot of sharpness is fairly generous at 60mm. At 250mm at ƒ/4 the lens doesn't provide tack-sharp results, but it's still exceptional: just above 2 blur units.

Between 80 and 200mm, performance is excellent at ƒ/4 - around 1.5 blur units across the frame. Stopping down to ƒ/5.6 provides tack-sharp results at 1 blur unit, and there is a similar increase in sharpness at 60mm and 250mm as well. At ƒ/8 the lens is essentially as sharp as our tests can note, at around the 1 blur unit mark (there is some statistically relevant corner softness at 60mm and 250mm, but barely worth noting).

Diffraction limiting sets in at ƒ/11, but the effect is negligible until ƒ/22 where overall sharpness begins to surpass the 2 blur unit level across all focal lengths. I'd avoid using the lens fully-stopped-down at ƒ/32, where image sharpness becomes somewhat uneven and hovers between 3 and 4 blur units.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Sigma 70-200mm looks also Ok, but gives in a lot of speed and some IQ with the Sigma 2x TC.

A DSLR does a lot less sharpning with its in camera processing than your FZ30, so your pictures may look rather dull with standard out of the camera JPEG files.
You should either up the sharpness in the camera (see also firmware upgrade for the K-7 for additional settings), or shoot RAW and do this in Post Processing.

Whatever you decide, show us some picture when you've got your new lens!

- Bert

Last edited by bymy141; 06-23-2010 at 07:53 AM.
06-23-2010, 11:27 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Freak Quote
Hi guys,

The following is my shortlist:
Pentax smc DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED = $500
Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO = $980
Sigma 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM APO = $1800

Has anyone used the new OS 50-500 or 150-500 on a Pentax and can anyone give some advice or some experiences and better share some photos with similar setups?

Cheers!
Just got the 150-500 last night so not a lot of practice with it.

http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q78/KylePix/100622-8185FeedingBirds.jpg

Not as heavy as I expected but it's not particularly fast (the Tamron 70-200 is about the same weight).

The Pentax 55-300 is has a decent image but may be a tad short for small objects at a distance - i.e., birds.
06-23-2010, 11:51 AM   #12
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For IQ, portability and versatility, I think it's hard to beat the DA*300 coupled with TC's (I have several but if I had to choose just one, it would be the AF 1.7x)
06-23-2010, 12:00 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bymy141 Quote
Hi Freak,

I advise you to read some of the lens tests.

You've got a very fine high res camera, you will see a lot of sharpness difference between different lenses.

Whatever you decide, show us some picture when you've got your new lens!
Bert, I fully support your last sentence: the TO should view real world images, taken with the different lenses. I have seen loads of sharp and contrasty images with the Bigma at 500mm in this forum and on photo websites.

I don't give much on lab tests, especially, as they sometimes differ widely in their results from the images I then see. We had a recent discussion about that and my point is, that lab conditions will not do justice to longer focal length lenses, as usually the lens-to-target-distance is way too short to get any meaningful result. There are other things to consider, too.

And also, a test on an old Nikon D200 is not really indicative of the Bigma's performance on a K7. On a K20, it performs very good, given that it is a 1:10 zoom and is fairly low cost. And the K20 and K7 can be compared in terms of sensor performance.

The Pentax 50-260 is certainly a fine lens and on my personal list of possible future buys. But it is too short and adding a tc will bring the speed and IQ down.

Like Lowell I also advocate a combination of a 70-200/2.8 with two tcs. But the Bigma is in my personal opinion the easier to use lens (no tc swapping) andf also has a bit longer fl.

All in all, I think, that for really long glass, nothing in the world of zooms beats a good prime lens.

Ben
06-23-2010, 01:48 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote

All in all, I think, that for really long glass, nothing in the world of zooms beats a good prime lens.

Ben
Hi Ben,

Yep, a DA* 300mm is the best option for the OP. But lacks zoom capability.
Combined with a ~100mm macro and a TC he will be rather flexible and have a set of sharp options.

- Bert
06-23-2010, 02:54 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by iFoto Quote
save some money and put the pentax DA 300 on top of your list
I agree. It's an extraordinary lens: very sharp for its focal range, with an IQ comparable the other DA* and limited lenses. Consumer grade zoom lenses are not always a very good choice for those who have little use for the wide end, because it is precisely at the wide end that they perform at their best. At the long end, they tend to be slow and soft.
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