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05-02-2014, 05:03 AM   #1
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Action lens recommendation

hi all
I am completely new to pentax camera's and I have a K500 (bought accidentally, wanted k5 for the WR, but never mind) and still a real beginner with DSLR
Anyway, I have been looking at a few lenses, as I am into bird watching and also motorsport and other sports, so need something with some range. (did have a canon DSLR and a 200mm lens which wasn't long enough)
I have a budget of 250, might be able to squeeze to 350, but that would be a real push.
I have got my eye on
  1. Sigma 28-300mm DG Macro F3.5-6.3DG
  2. Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO DG MACRO
  3. PENTAX SMC DA 55-300mm f4-5.8 ED

Would anyone recommend any of these, or recommend others? I need something with a bit of range

05-02-2014, 05:14 AM   #2
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I would also consider the Tamron 70-300mm.
05-02-2014, 06:04 AM   #3
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I have not tried the Sigma 28-300, but I've used all the others, including the Tamron. Truthfully, they all perform so closely to one another that it almost doesn't matter which one you buy. Just look for the best deal. They are all mushy wide open. They all get significantly better when stopped down to F/5.6 or 6.3. I've compared shots from all 3 of these lenses and it's virtually impossible to tell which one took which picture. The Pentax is a little smaller, which may count for something, but it is also the most expensive. All of the lenses that go to 300mm in this price range suffer from the same issues with sharpness and CA. They are all "budget" telephotos and none of them are stellar performers, especially when you start pixel peeping. Fortunately, they can produce good results under the right circumstances and as long as you don't try to print the images too large.

Since you said you're new to this, just remember: Motion blur becomes a major issue with longer focal lengths. People will often be tempted to blame the lens, saying it's not sharp, when in fact their camera was not steady enough and they are actually looking at motion blur. This false accusation is so common it's almost hilarious. If you're going to buy ANY of these lenses, make sure you also get a decent tripod AND a monopod. It's difficult to shoot moving animals or race cars with a tripod, but a monopod is no problem at all. It's easy to carry and really helps to keep the camera steady.
05-02-2014, 06:40 AM   #4
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I forgot to mention tamron

I was shown a couple yesterday in a shop
28-300mm f3.5-6.3 XR DI LD
70-300mm F4/5.6 DI LD Macro

05-02-2014, 07:46 AM   #5
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I have the 70-300mm F4/5.6 DI LD Macro. It's a good lens, especially for the price. As I mentioned, the photos it produces are very much comparable to the DA 55-300, Sigma, even an old Quantaray 70-300 I bought for $15 for my daughter's camera. They're all pretty much indistinguishable, IQ-wise.
05-02-2014, 09:58 AM   #6
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When the lens designer tries to cram everything into one lens, they compromise. In general, a 28-300 will be worse than a 70-300 because of that. If you mostly want the 300mm end, don't make the lens do everything. Also, look at lens tests for the 28-300s. I know Tamron often only zooms to 270mm or so, allowing themselves a 10% error. Again, that's because the lens is already doing a lot. The more complex designs fall even shorter at close distances, because the focal length is only rated at infinity focus. At minimum distance, some of these lenses only get to 120mm. If you don't mind swapping lenses for wider angles, you gain some quality.

Just on reputation, I'd get the Pentax. I don't have it because I agree with the above advice: it's hard to avoid motion blur at 300mm handheld.
05-02-2014, 12:59 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Action Zoom?

Hello TAZY, welcome to the Forum!
Along with the good advice you've already received, and a 'look and try' at your local camera shop (remember to bring your own camera), I'd suggest you do more online research, here at PF would be a good start. Click 'Lenses' on the header, then check out the user reviews for a few of your choices.
I'm not suggesting the reviews here (or anywhere) are perfect, but a little critical reading, along with a dozen user reports, is very helpful.
One thing I read is that there are 2 distinct versions of the Sigma 70-300 f/4-5.6; One's APO and rates a 7.88, which is slightly better than average.
The non-APO version rates a woeful 6.57. Disclaimer; I don't own either one.
The Tamron 70-300mm AF DI LD Macro scores 7.37.
The DA 55-300 f/4-5.8 rates 8.88. Take that with a grain of salt, this is Pentax Forum, after all.
To provide some overall perspective, most legacy lens users and new-lens buyers won't even consider anything below 8.0 and the nines are the real objective. A 9.0 is so much better than a 6.57, it magically turns the lesser zoom into a doorstop. You'll see.
Joking aside, that's just the first reason for more research.
You'll also find that 28-300mm zooms aren't the way to go for long-tele zooms. As Dave points out, these wide-range zooms (called 'SuperZooms') make too many compromises to really excel at anything.
Nope, stick with the 55-300 or 70-300 for best results, and a monopod..
JMO, Good luck!
05-02-2014, 10:55 PM   #8

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Most of the posts and ratings you see are talking about image quality. My experience with the 55-300 Pentax (WR and DA) and the 70-300 Tamron is that if you have a good copy of both, they're very, very close. Getting a good copy is much, much more important than any theoretical difference in the performance of the lenses. The Pentax (DA and WR, and to a lesser extent the DA-L) has several useful features (non-rotating barrel, quick shift, hood window, etc.) vs. the Tamron 70-300, and of course has those 15mm that are useful to those of us with no other coverage in that range. The Tamron has a macro range, but at the less-useful longer lengths (180-300mm.) There are other ways to achieve close-focus, however, so I wouldn't prioritize that, even though it can be handy.

For my purposes AF usually isn't critical, but it sounds like it is for you, and most of the posts and reviews don't address that as much as image quality. I have more experience with the 55-300 than the 70-300, and the 55-300 definitely isn't an autofocusing champ.

05-03-2014, 05:14 AM   #9
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Well, just been to another shop (with my camera) closer to home and tried Sigma 70-300mm APO DG and Pentax DA 55-300mm ED WR

Speaking to the manager/owner, i was surprised that he recommended the sigma over the other the almost 150 more pentax lens

is the Pentax DA 55-300mm ED the same as the WR (apart from the obvious)
I am leaning towards to pentax
05-03-2014, 07:22 AM - 1 Like   #10

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QuoteOriginally posted by TAZY Quote
Well, just been to another shop (with my camera) closer to home and tried Sigma 70-300mm APO DG and Pentax DA 55-300mm ED WR

Speaking to the manager/owner, i was surprised that he recommended the sigma over the other the almost 150 more pentax lens

is the Pentax DA 55-300mm ED the same as the WR (apart from the obvious)
I am leaning towards to pentax
The WR has newer coatings vs. the DA, however in testing 3 DA copies and 2 WR copies, I couldn't detect a difference in the results. Destructive testing (sandpaper) might have proven the newer coating superior, and maybe my limited testing ability just didn't show where the new coating had advantages, because it should have been better. Given the choice I would have preferred the HD, but the retailer ran out of lenses to exchange at the then-discounted price before I found a good enough copy to trade up from my DA. I might resume my search if prices drop again. Test at various focal lengths, apertures, and focusing distances, SR off, mirror locked, and use a hefty tripod, and view the four extreme corners at 100% for any variation: there shouldn't be any you can readily detect. That implies you need to photograph flat objects for your testing - you can print a test target for close-range testing, but you need a large flat object, like a distant building wall with detail on it, for longer distances. If you can't find an appropriate building, use something like a street sign, but place it in all four extreme corners in successive pictures (use manual focus and don't touch the focus between images.) Besides telling you if you have a good copy, the testing will tell you what you can expect from the lens - for example, how far you might want to stop down when possible to improve results. Tests you read or opinions from others, like the store owner, can be helpful more for pointing out features (quick shift, etc.) than for performance comparisons, since they're all swayed by the copy of the lens that the authors happen to have, and their ability to test, or possibly some other factor (profit for a retailer, for example, although that certainly might not be true in your case.)
05-03-2014, 08:26 PM   #11
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I've been pretty happy with my DA-L 55-300mm on my K200D. Here's a 7 shot sequence from last Saturday afternoon.

Hope this helps a bit.

Last edited by kkoether; 05-04-2014 at 01:39 AM.
05-04-2014, 04:19 PM   #12
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lol Hope you didn't pay K-5 price for a K-500!
If you can't afford an f2.8 tele lens (Tamron and Sigma both make a 70-200mm f2.8, used it might be affordable), the Pentax 55-300mm is probably the best bang for buck. Relatively recently, Pentax started selling a WR version, too, in case you decide to get a WR body. But the DA L version should be the cheapest and optically virtually the same as the HD WR version. Mosty its different looks. Great in-depth review here, it even has a chapter on "competition, prices, value":
HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR Review - Introduction - Pentax Camera Forums
HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR Reviews - DA Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

The reason I mentioned f2.8 is that having a faster aperture allows you to freeze action much better and it is very useful in low light situations, like indoor photography. OH, and sometimes you can find a Sigma 120-400mm at a fairly low price, used of course. Gives you a bit more range.

Last edited by Na Horuk; 05-04-2014 at 04:37 PM.
05-04-2014, 04:48 PM   #13
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i owned the tamron 70-300 when i was much younger :P , it did great on a nikon d50. i only had one major problem with it: chromatic aberrations, particularly at the long end, were horrendeous (really spoiled the fun when shooting concerts, or rally -- if sunny). CA can be corrected in post processing though, or so i heard.

when i ditched the nikon for my first pentax (k100d, yeah, i'm old :P ), i got the 50-200; my first impression was: 1. same image quality, smaller, nicer build 2. the almost inexistent CA (by comparison) can make up for many shortcomings 3. de missing 50-70mm range was more of a pain than having 200-300mm was a blessing (note: i still have the 50-200, and i still think it's a perfectly decent lens for what it is)

don't disregard the possibility of a good old manual prime if you're on a budget. you'll need more care and "think more shoot less", but personally i enjoy the results from such good lenses, and the process of shooting them, enough that i ended up shooting rally (when i was still doing that) only with manual focus. You can easily get a 200/f4 for under 100usd, it will only be challenged, as far as optics go, by a modern 70-200/2.8, but it will walk all over any consumer zoom.

if you'll get either of these consumer zooms, remember you'll not be shooting any birds (ahem, any-thing) unless it's sunny and bright (well, the awesome sensor in that k500 will help a lot though, so maybe partly cloudy might work too), and you shouldn't expect "premium image quality". and remember, with the camera you have, there's nothing preventing premium image quality to be put out, except the lens (i'm just sayin'...)

btw: the k500 is the greatest entry level dslr ever marketed, okay, so it has no weather sealing, but that's the only thing it's missing (i'll keep quiet about the focus indicators). it's a great camera, don't complain (sensor, build, viewfinder, ergonomics -- with dual controls!, almost a danger to the k-5 )

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