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12-28-2013, 02:03 AM   #1
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300mm vs500mm

Hi there,

Thanks for reading. I am wondering what gives a better result for wildlife photography a better quality 300mm lens or a mid level / entry level 500mm like for instance the sigma 150-500

I don't mind cropping but I find on my current 200mm wr pentax lens I am just out of range for clear detail most of the time when it comes to wildlife

Thanks for any input!

12-28-2013, 03:19 AM   #2
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I think I`m qualified to answer that...

Get the hi-end 300mm.
12-28-2013, 03:32 AM   #3
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The cheapest you can do is the K-3 + 55-300. The 300's magnification combined with the resolution of the K-3 will give you the most reach for the lowest price (for a lens that isn't manual).

12-28-2013, 05:19 AM   #4
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I find the 55-300 sufficiently good for my wildlife needs (and noticeably better and longer than the 50-200 WR, which I also have). A DA*300 is better still, but also a lot heavier. And less versatile.

If you go for a Sigma zoom I believe the 50-500 is the better of the bunch.

"My wildlife needs" mainly consists of driving and walking safaris around Africa, btw, but not birding. For (small) birds I'd go for a good 300/400/500 mm prime. Or try to find a FA*250-600. That one's huge and expensive, though!

12-28-2013, 05:38 AM   #5
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Hi, I owned the Sigma 150-500, the old Bigma 50-500, the DA*300/4 and curently the DA*200/2.8, the new Bigma 50-500 HSM plus the Sigma 500/4.5 - let me tell you:
It's never enough reach... Just a few instances - For bad weather conditions and closer distance (e.g. wild birds close to car) the DA*200 is about right... for walking around (in nature) in good (dry) daylight conditions the Bigma 50-500 is a wonderful performer, but the (high quality-)reach ends at ~400mm... almost same with the Sigma 150-500 that I liked a lot, but no real close shots possible... if it's getting a bit wet and dull outside the DA*300/4 will cope with most situations when attached to at least a K-5 / K-30 body, but the reach ends at 300mm... for situations where you need extra long reach the Sigma 500/4.5 will be the (much more expensive) solution to go for...even with the Sigma 1,4xTC it works pretty well, HOWEVER, not meant for real wet conditions...
When I had the DA*300 in use I finally worked with the 1,5xTC Pz-AF Teleplus SHQ Kenko (the only one to work with SDM). A bit of pre-focus and let the AF do the rest. A solution for not too wet days and good daylight conditions. Hope this helps a bit along the way...
12-28-2013, 05:39 AM   #6
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If you can afford it, I'd do both. Get the 55-300 and locate a nice copy of the Tair 3M5CA 500mm mirror lens, or the Tamron 55BB. I use the Tair for birding & wildlife & like it a lot. It's just a hair sharper & more contrasty than the Tamron, but both are very good. The Pentax 55-300 is positively a gem of a lens, and it's affordable.
12-28-2013, 05:46 AM   #7
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I have the DA 55-300, DA*60-250 and Sigma 150-500 OS

My choice for nature/birding is without a doubt the Sigma. It's quite decent at 500mm f7.1 and the in lens OS makes it easy to handhold down to 1/200 or even 1/160


It's a heavy beast of a lens. If you plan on hiking it may not be the best choice.

12-28-2013, 06:10 AM   #8
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The Sigma 150-500 is an excellent starter wildlife lens if you need the reach and have good light.
If you buy one used you can always re sell without much loss if you decide you need something better.

I have a 50-500 and shooting with a friends 150-500 there is really no difference at the long end.
All these do best at least f8-f11 so are good for bright days.

I also have a DA*300 which I love. The image quality is amazing and I can shoot it wide open for lower light use.
If you don't mind cropping it can work well and has the WR advantage if you need it.

12-28-2013, 09:03 AM   #9

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I depends on the light. The sigma 150-500 is pretty good at f8-f11, but you need lots of light to get a decent shutter speed at those apertures. 500mm is very nice. But I leave it at home except for June to September on sunny days. I use the DA*300 for most shooting. It is sharp wide open at F4 and works very well with the K3.

The DA*300 with the K5 is very touchy to focus, the sigma focuses much better.
12-28-2013, 09:19 AM   #10
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If you can close the distance (cropping no more than half the photo off) with the 300mm then get the 300. There is that Sigma 500mm F/4.5 as an option also if you feel like spending more cash.
12-28-2013, 09:36 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chicop;:
what gives a better result for wildlife photography
Depends on your standards and objectives. If wanting to document encounters with wildlife is sufficient, then a relatively cheap super-tele zoom that hits 500mm should suffice.

If, however you seek to create more artful, isolated interpretations of those encounters, which often entails a de-focused background, then you need to pony up the money for higher end glass. 300mm f4 is a start, but in wildlife photography, focal length is insatiable. Unfortunately, the supply of money is not. So plan a lens growth savings plan over many years.

12-28-2013, 09:44 AM   #12
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The 55-300 has served my need quite well for the last few years. It's shortcomings become all too evident when I shoot at Montezuma NWR, but even a 500 wouldn't be long enough there.

As for isolation, if you get close it's not a problem.

12-28-2013, 10:41 AM   #13
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I have both the DA*300 and Sigma 150-500.
I feel it may be a little camera dependent. With the K-5 I found it hard say which I liked better.for wildlife with a slight edge to the DA*300 for its sharpness. With the K-3 I feel the DA*300 is stellar, better cropped than the Sigma at 400 from my experience, and it also provides a larger aperture since the Sigma is already at 6.3 long before 400. The DA*300 is very sharp even at f4. I feel the 400 was the max for the Sigma to get print quality shots.
Another plus for the DA*300 is that it is a great hand held lens, compact and while not light weight, easily hand held for good periods of time. The Sigma 150 - 500 also gets longer as you zoom and there is also a tendency for the zoom to creep.
I bought the 150-500 first and still use it for youth sports where I like the composing ability. For wildlife I would highly recommend the DA*300.
You can rent the DA*300 to try it out and see how cropping works for you. You should be able to find a store that sells the 150-500 and try it with one of your memory cards even if it isn't on a Pentax.
My guess is that its sharpness, bigger aperture (especially good for birds in flight) and superior handling quality will rule the day.
12-28-2013, 11:31 AM   #14
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Great info every one! Thanks so much!

I use a pentax k-30 ..
12-28-2013, 05:23 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Chicop Quote
Hi there,

Thanks for reading. I am wondering what gives a better result for wildlife photography a better quality 300mm lens or a mid level / entry level 500mm like for instance the sigma 150-500

I don't mind cropping but I find on my current 200mm wr pentax lens I am just out of range for clear detail most of the time when it comes to wildlife

Thanks for any input!
I know how you feel. With one of my cameras (a non-Pentax), I try to shoot wildlife photography with my 75-300 but many times, I am still too far away. I think for right now, I will have to invest in a teleconverter just so I can have the reach that I would like.

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