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12-31-2013, 08:58 AM   #1
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300mm zoom choices

Hi, Newbie here; I just got a second hand K10d for christmas with the basic kit lens. I want to add a 300mm zoom lens in the 55/70-300 range. I have a question, there is a Sigma lens for Pentax at 70--300 (macro) that is about a hundred dollars less than the DA 55-300 pentax version. Then there is another Pentax version HD DA for around $450 which is the most expensive.

It seems to me the Sigma w Macro is more versatile and less expensive making it the obvious choice.

But there must be a reason the Pentax brand lenses are so much more expensive? What am I missing ?

12-31-2013, 09:26 AM   #2
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The HD DA is brand new and WR. The DA has Quick Shift. There is also a DA L which is a kit version. It has a plastic mount and lacks Quick Shift but is optically the same as the DA. The Pentax isn't a "Macro" but it does close focus to about 1:3.5. The addition of a Raynox 150 makes it a macro lens.

The Sigma has a reputation as a Purple Monster.

Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO DG Macro Lens Reviews - Sigma Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

SMC Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED Reviews - DA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

SMC Pentax-DA L 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED Reviews - DA L Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED samples - PentaxForums.com

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/130-lens-sample-photo-archive/155042-sigm...le-photos.html
12-31-2013, 09:59 AM   #3
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The new Pentax HD DA 55-300 aside, I have to say that when I got my K10 in 2008, it came with the kit lens and a cheap Tamron 75-300 zoom (or something in that range). I found it slow, noisy, and frankly delivering poor image quality. I got another lens in that same range (can't recall what though) and was equally dissatisfied. At that point (more than a year had passed), I got smarter and learned a few things.

1. In camera gear, you generally get what you pay for, i.e., cheap cost = cheap quality.
2. Learn to read a lot of lens reviews. I never make my mind up to buy on just one. Usually the most interesting are the ones that say either the most incitefull things (bad or good) or from a reasonably neutral source like a photo magazine (make that some photo mags).
3. Finally, old manual focus glass can be quite amazingly good.

Ok, that said, my take on this now is that in the range provided by the DA 55-300, for the cost, you can't get a better lens period! It's not perfect but I believe it's the best option out there.
12-31-2013, 10:13 AM   #4
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I still have a Sigma 70-300 that I bought with my *ist, almost 10 years ago now. I still use to for images close to the camera, where it actually does quite well. The extending front element gives it a distinct advantage in magnification over almost almost every other lens I own. This bird is twice the size on your computer screen it is in real life.



Further away it's not as good...but still decent.



And once you get a real macro lens, the macro is too soft...but way better than not having a macro.



I'd show you images compared to better lenses at infinity, and you just don't want to go there. But very few telephoto images are taken at infinity. From 70mm to 150mm, this lens is actually quite strong, and at 90mm, is slightly less IQ that the DA*60-250 and Tamron 90 macro, which are as sharp as you can get. In that range it's actually quite amazing considering it's price.

For the money, the Sigma 70-300 does a lot of things good, and I've recently seen it for a cheap as $190. My personal feeling is, on a budget, you can't go wrong with this lens. But if you ever acquire better lenses, you aren't going to use it much. If it's the 300 thing you want.. like for pictures of the moon or anything else at infinity you want the DA 55-300. The DA-55-300 is sharper at 300mm than the 70-300. But as part of a 2 lens kit, it has a lot to offer.

Sigma-70-300 Photos by Norm_Head | Photobucket


Last edited by normhead; 12-31-2013 at 10:23 AM.
12-31-2013, 12:15 PM   #5
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Go for the 55-300, either old version or the new one of you want WR. I see loads of users keeping their 55-300 despite getting an arsenal of lenses. My Tamron 70-300 is great at collecting dust and isn't really worth selling as they go for peanuts so it just collects more dust.
12-31-2013, 01:38 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
The HD DA is brand new and WR. The DA has Quick Shift. There is also a DA L which is a kit version. It has a plastic mount and lacks Quick Shift but is optically the same as the DA. The Pentax isn't a "Macro" but it does close focus to about 1:3.5. The addition of a Raynox 150 makes it a macro lens.

The Sigma has a reputation as a Purple Monster.
I don't know what a Purple Monster is, but I gather it's a bad thing.

I looked through some of those samples, and saw many of your birds, wow! Nice work. Everything from Osprey to Hummingbird. How did you get so close? Great quality, even with the teleconverter.
12-31-2013, 01:39 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew Quote
The new Pentax HD DA 55-300 aside, I have to say that when I got my K10 in 2008, it came with the kit lens and a cheap Tamron 75-300 zoom (or something in that range). I found it slow, noisy, and frankly delivering poor image quality. I got another lens in that same range (can't recall what though) and was equally dissatisfied. At that point (more than a year had passed), I got smarter and learned a few things.

1. In camera gear, you generally get what you pay for, i.e., cheap cost = cheap quality.
2. Learn to read a lot of lens reviews. I never make my mind up to buy on just one. Usually the most interesting are the ones that say either the most incitefull things (bad or good) or from a reasonably neutral source like a photo magazine (make that some photo mags).
3. Finally, old manual focus glass can be quite amazingly good.

Ok, that said, my take on this now is that in the range provided by the DA 55-300, for the cost, you can't get a better lens period! It's not perfect but I believe it's the best option out there.
That seems to be consensus! Thank you, I will get one.
12-31-2013, 01:41 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
I still have a Sigma 70-300 that I bought with my *ist, almost 10 years ago now. I still use to for images close to the camera, where it actually does quite well. The extending front element gives it a distinct advantage in magnification over almost almost every other lens I own. This bird is twice the size on your computer screen it is in real life.



....








For the money, the Sigma 70-300 does a lot of things good, and I've recently seen it for a cheap as $190. My personal feeling is, on a budget, you can't go wrong with this lens. But if you ever acquire better lenses, you aren't going to use it much. If it's the 300 thing you want.. like for pictures of the moon or anything else at infinity you want the DA 55-300. The DA-55-300 is sharper at 300mm than the 70-300. But as part of a 2 lens kit, it has a lot to offer.

Sigma-70-300 Photos by Norm_Head | Photobucket
Love the eagle and the butterfly! Gotta get me one of these lenses.

12-31-2013, 01:42 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by VisualDarkness Quote
Go for the 55-300, either old version or the new one of you want WR. I see loads of users keeping their 55-300 despite getting an arsenal of lenses. My Tamron 70-300 is great at collecting dust and isn't really worth selling as they go for peanuts so it just collects more dust.
Thanks, I will get one!
12-31-2013, 03:54 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sam Dennis Quote
I don't know what a Purple Monster is, but I gather it's a bad thing.

I looked through some of those samples, and saw many of your birds, wow! Nice work. Everything from Osprey to Hummingbird. How did you get so close? Great quality, even with the teleconverter.
Purple Monster refers to purple fringing in high contrast situations. The 55-300 can fringe as well, but it tends to be green rather than purple.

Getting close to feeder birds is easy, I shoot most of them right out of my bedroom window. Others are at a local nature center. For the non-feeder birds it is mostly luck. I consider myself a guerrilla photographer. I just walk around and hope to find something to shoot. The close shots of the warblers were at a local recreation area where they cut a path right through prime warbler habitat. The rest was just being there at the right time.

I'm also lucky enough to live an hour's drive from Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. I drive there several times a month when the weather is good.
12-31-2013, 06:20 PM   #11
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Although I just got a DA*300, I'm not in a hurry to get rid of my DA55-300 because it was my favorite lens and workhorse lens for so long. I have owned about 9 different xx-300 zooms and none could match the 55-300 at the long end, and frankly, that's the length you buy it for.
12-31-2013, 06:45 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Purple Monster refers to purple fringing in high contrast situations. The 55-300 can fringe as well, but it tends to be green rather than purple.

Getting close to feeder birds is easy, I shoot most of them right out of my bedroom window. Others are at a local nature center. For the non-feeder birds it is mostly luck. I consider myself a guerrilla photographer. I just walk around and hope to find something to shoot. The close shots of the warblers were at a local recreation area where they cut a path right through prime warbler habitat. The rest was just being there at the right time.

I'm also lucky enough to live an hour's drive from Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. I drive there several times a month when the weather is good.
Speaking of luck, about twenty years back I had just purchased a 400mm lens for my Konica slr, and was pointing it out the bedroom window at the bird feeder just to get the feel of it. Literally within about thirty seconds of my sticking it out the window a Cooper's Hawk grabbed a sparrow off the bird feeder, and sat there on the ground posing for me while enjoying his meal. Never saw a Coopers Hawk around here before or since. True story.
12-31-2013, 06:45 PM   #13
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I am sorta in the same place you are, but several stumbles ahead on the path.

It is a good point ramseybuckeye makes, you are likely buying the lens for the 300mm end, and you will more than likely start to drool over even longer lenses the moment you get it.

Of the options above I would say they are steering you right in getting a used 55-300, they are sub $150 on ebay just at a glance and that's a handy range for a nature or even a city walk around lens to snipe people and whatnot.

That said if you plan to use a teleconverter to satisfy your inevitable urge to zoom more that this will create, you will eventually want something faster than a 55-300 due to TC light loss, which means more money. To go back up to ramseybuckeye's advice, you may want to look into long primes which are often faster can cost a fair amount more. It depends on whether this is just a long ranger sniper lens or if you want the zoom walkaround. Also remember teleconverters disable AF and any with the A contacts tend to be harder to find and can be expensive, I lucked out on the awesome one in my signature which most people have never heard of.

I had to have FF lenses so I can share them with my film cameras so I had to choose differently. Plus I am poor.
I can tell you the Tamron I have in my signature isn't very impressive but they are cheap.
I just bought one of these SMC Pentax-FA 80-320mm F4.5-5.6 Reviews - FA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database for $29.81 shipped off ebay because it has paint fingerprints on it and is dirty (used by a painter) and was listed strangely, but I can see in the auction it has a UV filter, both lens caps and even the original box so its likely in perfect shape functionally. Hopefully its an improvement on the Tamron (which will be on the trader if this new one works).

In general I have found variable aperture zooms to be cheap in price and cheap in quality. Newer stuff is much better simply because of tech advancements.

EDIT: with a K10D you will really want to consider lens speed and the effect of a teleconverter. Lenses are less than ideal wide open, and with 5.8 aperture at 300mm that DA will probably have you at higher ISO setting a lot more which is something the K10D doesn't do as well as something like a K5. One of the reasons I plan to get a used K5 to replace my K20D actually. K10D with the last of the CCD sensors is really a wonderful camera though.

Last edited by PPPPPP42; 12-31-2013 at 06:55 PM.
12-31-2013, 06:46 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
Although I just got a DA*300, I'm not in a hurry to get rid of my DA55-300 because it was my favorite lens and workhorse lens for so long. I have owned about 9 different xx-300 zooms and none could match the 55-300 at the long end, and frankly, that's the length you buy it for.
Wow, everyone seems to love this lens, must be a keeper.! Thanks
01-01-2014, 07:53 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
Although , and frankly, that's the length you buy it for.
This is where I say "Surely you jest."

And someone else says, "leave Frank and Shirley out of it."

Sorry, couldn't resist, back to our regular programming.
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