Pentax-DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW
It is quite difficult to establish the value of this lens. At US $7,000 it is an expensive lens, and certainly not a feasible option for many shooters. On the other hand, a comparable lens for the 24 x 36 mm format (800 mm for the same reach) costs more than twice as much so here we have a significant advantage of the APS-C format. But then there is also the Pentax Q which with a K-mount adapter and a 100mm lens can be had for about US $1000 (this combination still has the same reach, but is manual focus and you get a very small sensor).
The value must be assessed by you, the ultimate end user, and must be based on how often you need this kind of reach and the size and quality (web or print) of images you want.
As for ourselves - we were at first intimidated by the size of this lens and the challenges in handling of it, but during the testing period we warmed to it and would not hesitate to recommend it to those for whom birding or wildlife photography is a key activity. What really makes this lens shine is the ultra-accurate auto focus which is a must-have when photographing subjects that won't sit still for long!
With all that said we nevertheless list some alternatives below with links to user reviews where available (we do not recommend any manual focus solution for wild life photography):
|Lens (with link to user reviews)||WR||Weight||Price|
|Pentax DA 560 mm F5.6||Yes||3 kg (6.7 lb)||US $6,999|
|Pentax-F* or FA* 250-600mm F5.6 (second hand)||No||5.4 kg (11.9 lb)||US $3,000 - $7,000|
|Pentax-F* or FA* 600 mm F4 (second hand)||No||6.8 kg (15 lb)||US $5,700 (average)|
|Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO||No||3.1 kg (6.8 lb)||US $4,999|
|Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3||No||1.9 kg (4.2 lb)||US $1,070|
|Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3||No||2 kg (4.3 lb)||US $1,660|
|Other camera systems|
|Nikon 500mm F4 ED VR II||Yes||3.9 kg (8.5 lb)||US $7,999|
|Canon 500mm F4 IS II USM||Yes||3.2 kb (7.0 lb)||US $10,249|
Note that some alternatives are a dark F6.3 at 500mm which may impact auto focus speed and accuracy. Also note that the ratings in the user reviews do not match the ratings we use in the in-depth reviews.