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07-15-2010, 09:05 AM   #1
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Opinions on the DA 55-200mm f4.5-5.6 For A Student Nature Photographer


I'm a hobbyist who really loves photography and spends hours and hours on photos, I'm a PP fiend and computer nerd.

I am happy with my very basic set up (18-55 kit and 28mm 2.8 prime), and I think to round out my set I would like to find a reasonable telephoto (nothing extreme) to take pictures of animals.

Would the DA 55-200 fit the bill in a price/performance respect? Is there anything else I should consider that would be good for shooting animals, in the low price range?

Thank you

07-15-2010, 09:35 AM   #2
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If you are going to shoot animals, go for the DA 55-300mm. 200 is a bit on the short side for those subjects. It is more expensive, but you will probably regret if you buy the 50-200 later on anyway.

Not that the 50-200 is bad, I like my lens very much. Small, reasonably good IQ, but for animals a 55-300 is much better. And they say it has got even better IQ.
07-15-2010, 09:48 AM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply. The longest focal legnth I've used was my 55mm kit, and I have gotten some reasonable shots, but the cropping is pretty severe. It really would only matter if I decided I was going to go print on of these things, but even still, I doubt I would be printing that large.

Last edited by paperbag846; 10-27-2010 at 11:55 AM.
07-15-2010, 10:20 AM   #4
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Note there is no DA55-200. There is the 50-200 and the 55-300. The latter makes more sense for wildlife - you almost always want all the length you can get. Plus it's just a better lens. The 50-200 is great for the price, and significantly smaller & lighter. but if you're looking to save money, and your specifi goal is wildlife, the Tamron or Sigma 70-300 makes more sense, because again, focal length is everything when shooting wildlife. See the dozens of the threads comparing those two lenses, read the reviews, then flip a coin to decide like everyone else does.

07-15-2010, 11:12 AM   #5
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I have the 18-55 / 50-200 lenses and also shoot a lot of wildlife...not literally of course, just photographically. I'm not pleased with focusing at distances with the 50-200mm. I often have a hard time locking in to smaller animals...birds especially. You may want to try getting your hands on a manual zoom lens with a good focus ring. I don't know what the DA is going for now, but I got a Vivitar 70-150mm for about $15 and shot this one at full zoom w/ manual focus.
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07-15-2010, 11:20 AM   #6
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I like that picture! Very dreamy.

I tend to be good with larger mammals... I can get rather close to them before they get suspicious. Birds are another story... but you did a good job with 150!

I think the above advice is correct. I`m in no rush, the sigma 70 - 300 is a macro, which will open me up to a whole other world, and in the meantime I can keep my ear to the ground for a cheapo manual telephoto. 15 dollars, that`s fantastic!

I`m not impressed with the AF on the kit 18-55 lens. I think it`s the lens itself, because the focus indication works very well with my 28mm prime. I think it would be worthwhile to wait for the proper 300mm lens, or save myself a bunch of money buying manual.

I know this is all rumor blah blah, but I dont like the idea of buying a lens that won`t work on a full frame camera. I really believe that in 10 years these APS-C lenses will be very fustrating. I like the fact that the Sigma works on full frame cameras.

Thanks everyone!
07-15-2010, 02:36 PM   #7
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A proper 300mm will cost an arm and a leg, DA 55-300 does a good job, specially if you get very close to your subject.
This was about 15 feet away, hardly any cropping, jpeg out of K-7.

Last edited by Ex Finn.; 11-11-2014 at 05:51 PM.
07-15-2010, 03:02 PM   #8
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The macro/closeup mode works very well on the Sigma. IMO it's the best option if your budget is under 200$. If you can come up with the extra cash, then go for the DA 55-300. Others also speak well of the Tamron 70-300. I own the Sigma and have used a friends 55-300. A recent shot with the Sigma 70-300.

Last edited by reeftool; 12-29-2016 at 04:42 PM.
07-15-2010, 03:17 PM   #9
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Here's a related, yet unrelated question.

In my experience with computers, I would believe that one day ASP-C will become a sort of obselete technology. If not totally obselete, I do think that full frame cameras will become much more afforable in say, 5 years.

Now I realize I should be buying my tools for now, not for 5 years rom now. In 5 years I will likely be able to afford much nicer lenses then I am scrounging for right now anyways! However, something rubs me the wrong way about buying an ASP-C optimized lens. I realize the quality/price and size advantage, but considering how well my manual film lens works on my digital body (I assume by cropping the lens, I am cutting out many of the quality issues at the edges), I am hesitant to invest too much into something that may be rather fustrating on a full frame sensor.

I went with pentax for reasonable quality at a fair price, and I am very satisfied as such.

So if I see a sigma 70-300 lens for 300 ish that is compatible with full frame cameras, and a pentax xx-300 lens for 300 which would only be good for an APS-C sensor, what reasons would I have for buying the potentialy obselete version, assuming neither are top quality anyways.

This is assuming they are the same price. I understand then pentax costs a little more. But the used market may even the playing field there.

PS Both of those shots look incredible, but I think it has more to do with you guys than the lens .
07-15-2010, 03:38 PM   #10
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Agreed with the other posters on here. I would spend a little extra $ to get the 55-300. The 55-300 is a far better lens than the 55-200, and who knows when you will need/want the extra 100mm.
07-15-2010, 03:48 PM   #11
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Agree regarding the DA 55-300--it's worth it (but watch out for lba--soon you'll be wanting longer, faster, sharper ;~)

Also, if you're into nature photography, keep an eye out for a used MF 50 or 100mm macro (a real one--not some zoom labeled as such by the marketing department)
07-15-2010, 03:53 PM   #12
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Agreed with the other posters. Pay the little extra $ to get the 55-300. It is a far better lens and who know when you will want/need the extra 100mm.
07-15-2010, 04:59 PM   #13
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If Pentax builds a full frame camera, the Sigma will work as it is a FF lens. Not sure about the Tamron. A few people have used their DA lenses on their film cameras and some work perfectly with no vigenetting. I don't know if the 55-300 was one of them but a little searching should find you the answer. As Dadipentak mentioned, buying used lenses is an option many of us take. I wouldn't worry about Pentax making their aps-c sized lenses obsolete as they have said again and again that FF isn't in their plans.
07-15-2010, 05:26 PM   #14
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If Pentax builds a full frame camera, the Sigma will work as it is a FF lens.

... Pentax....said again and again that FF isn't in their plans.
That's clear :-)

If you are going to fork out $1,500 on the FantasyFrame body, I think you'd want to put something a tad better on the front of it than the Sigma (which I have, though it died.)
07-15-2010, 06:41 PM   #15
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Yep, if you are going to spend big money on a body, get a tele prime, or the Sigma 100-300mm f/4 of Pentax DA* 60-250mm f/4, or one of the various f/2.8 zooms.

In the budget category, the only ones I have used are the Pentax 50-200mm which I do not recommend. And the Sigma 70-300mm non-APO and APO. That is a list from worse to best. But for a budget zoom, the Pentax 55-300mm sounds like your best bet.

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