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01-11-2014, 12:59 PM   #1
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Telephoto prime suggestions wanted

I'm using a Pentax K-5 II and am shifting from a FA-35 F2.0 to DA* 55 F1.4 as my walk about. I'm looking for a DA 15 to use for wide, but now I'm wondering what to get for far?

I travel personally and for work. Currently I'm in the US, but next month, I'll be in Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and India for meetings and wondering about. I've done these trips in the past with my Canon point and shoot, but now it's the first time with a DSLR.

Can you please suggest a prime telephoto to work with? I'm not sure to do a fixed 100, 135, 200, or something else?

I'm open to new or used Pentax or other and even willing to spend $ 1,000 on something for the long haul. Further, I'd give consideration to a manual focus lens as I want the experience.

Most of the time, I'll be walking around, but I do have a MeFOTO RoadTrip tripod coming to help with stability.

Thank you for your help.

01-11-2014, 01:09 PM   #2
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If manual focus is OK take a look at the Pentax-A 135mm f/2.8 and the Pentax-A 200mm f/4 both can be found for quite reasonable prices, they are small and relatively light.

For auto-focus things get a little more expensive. One of the best is the DFA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro, which is an excellent lens all around and a macro. The only downside for general use is that the focus throw is very long so if you miss focus it will go all the way out and back. Not often an issue but something to be aware of. There is an F 135mm f/2.8 which is good but hard to find and expensive. Then you have the DA*200 f/2.8 and the DA*300mm f/4 both will be in the $1,000+ range. You can also look at FA*300 f/4.5 but usually the price is not a lot different than the DA* version.

There are third party lenses as well but I have no experience with any of them so I'll let someone else comment on that.

Edit: and I see you are relatively new here so if you have not found the lens database go here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/
01-11-2014, 01:34 PM   #3
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If you have nothing.. I'm wondering why you aren't going for an 18-135... if you insist on primes for under $1000 new, honestly, I'm at a loss. Used lenses tend to be way overpriced. I recently offered someone $750 for an FA* 300 ƒ4.5, I had a refurb DA*300 lined up for $1000, I figured $750 was a fair price, but he was asking $950 and he never got back to me. The second hand market today is such that you can get a better, water sealed, faster version of the same lens for $50 more if you shop carefully and wait for sales.

So, I don't know what you have, but just from the sound of things as presented, I'd suggest the DA 200 ƒ2.8. Short enough you aren't as likely to over-reach what you're shooting, long enough it can give you decent telephoto images if you crop. But honestly for travel, I'd take the 18-135 making my unit water resistent, and dust proof, and whatever primes I own to use when I need low light large aperture images.
01-11-2014, 01:52 PM   #4
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Is the DFA 100mm long enough? Its a macro lens, so its very sharp even in corners, projects FF image circle, has long focus throw, comes with a hood, true 1:1 macro, its WR, has QS.. pretty compact, well-built.. only downside is the AF might hunt, due to the very long focus throw and lack of focus limiter. So a lot of people use it almost as an MF lens, with AF at the end for fine tuning. OH, and its "only" f2.8 (which is pretty standard for modern macro lenses, but not super bright)
In terms of rendering it has very good colours, sharp, captures a lot of detail (maybe almost too much for portraiture ).. might be a little too good - it might not have as much character as some other Pentax lenses. I have been using it a lot lately, if you follow the link in my sig you can see some of my shots with it (just scroll down)


Last edited by Na Horuk; 01-11-2014 at 02:02 PM.
01-11-2014, 02:02 PM   #5
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I had boughten the 18-135WR for these and other travels, but was unhappy with the results outside of daytime f11 or smaller and center sharpness while up in North Vancouver for New Years. As such, I'm replacing it with the DA* 55 and am on the hunt for a DA 15 and a telephoto. I need some low light ability, but it's not imperative as the DA* 55 works for the night time action I'm interested in.

I know the DA* 200 is almost a no brainer. I'm open to the DA 100WR, but am concerned about that focus hunt. The bonus here is the macro capability for which I don't have a lens for yet.

Anyways, I figured to ask if there was something I was missing.

FYI - Borrow Lenses has Pentax 200mm f/2.8 ED (IF) SMCP-DA* SDM for $ 925 plus $ 12.50 shipping.
01-11-2014, 02:06 PM   #6
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If you want fast AF, don't get the DA*200.
01-11-2014, 02:18 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Oh ya, I forgot about that, that's why whenever someone suggests something you might be interested in, read the reviews. It does focus, it's just not fast, but people love the IQ. I read the charts and it's not as good as my 60-250 and I see that in the pictures as well, but, it's a prime, and it's 2.8, and it's the longest 2.8 you can get from Pentax.

QuoteOriginally posted by comprock Quote
I had boughten the 18-135WR for these and other travels, but was unhappy with the results outside of daytime f11 or smaller and center sharpness while up in North Vancouver for New Years
There was something wrong with your lens. The centre sharpness on mine is indistinguishable from prime lenses.

01-11-2014, 02:20 PM   #8
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The DA*200 is plenty fast and mine has been all over the world including Africa. It's even faster now on my new K3.

01-11-2014, 02:26 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ahab Quote
The DA*200 is plenty fast and mine has been all over the world including Africa. It's even faster now on my new K3.
And I'm still thinking I might like one... despite some of the comments. The more lenses you have, the more you realize, 2.8 is 2.8, and what's not as good as 2.8 a lot of the time is something that's less than 2.8, even if you're not shooting at 2.8
01-11-2014, 03:37 PM   #10
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Thank you for the feedback guys. I'm not quite so worried about super fast focus. Everything I'm doing now is faster than my old Canon P&S, so it's relative. Further, I'm doing more auto-focus lock shooting which has greatly helped defeat OOF images.

@normhead, I think you might be right about my now returned 18-135WR copy. I've checked out a few more 18-135WR shots from others again and realize that mine was soft. Oh well, I'm still finding myself preferring primes as they make me think more about what I'm trying to accomplish beforehand than winging it.

Even when I have a lens that's f2.0, it normally gets shot a stop or three higher like f2.8 or f4.0. I recognize that despite a lens being f1.4 or f2.8 capable, more than likely, you need to go down 1 to 3 stops to get sharpest images. For the telephoto, it'll probably be running f4.0 to f8.0 most of the time.

I do check out the reviews here and elsewhere on things.

We've discussed the Pentax lenses so far. Any other brands I should give some thought to? What about an older fixed 135?
01-11-2014, 03:38 PM   #11
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Fastest focusing lens I've ever had was the FA 135mm f/2.8… Sharp and the right focal length, albeit not available new.
01-11-2014, 03:46 PM   #12
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I'm fine with used given that there's nothing wrong mechanically or with image quality. The https://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/SMC-Pentax-FA-135mm-F2.8-Lens.html is a nice lens.

Last edited by comprock; 01-11-2014 at 03:52 PM. Reason: add link
01-11-2014, 03:57 PM   #13
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In looking at older, there's Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 1:2 Close Focusing Lens Reviews - Vivitar Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database. Any suggestions for getting going with older lens via manual focus? Worth it or not?
01-11-2014, 04:01 PM - 1 Like   #14
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I have seen recommendations for both DA* 200 and DFA 100 WR. I am fortunate to have both and wholeheartedly recommend either or both. Both are very sharp and you can crop images significantly without a loss of resolution. What I really like about the DFA 100 WR is that although it is screw drive autofocus it is quick and decisive with little or no hunting in the telephoto range, for macro range I pre focus manually then let autofocus fine tune the image using quick shift. Also the lens is very compact and light. The DA 200 has quiet SDM autofocus which helps when photographing wildlife. Both are exceptionally well built metal lenses. You may get a better buy on an older lens but you may not get quick shift which I consider important in a telephoto lens.
01-11-2014, 04:08 PM   #15
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A caution with the DA* 200. It is a bit front heavy and you need a strong stable tripod with this lens. No issue at all with the almost lightweight DFA 100 WR. I use my DA200 only handheld.
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