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Old Apr 26, 2009, 12:54 PM   #1
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What telephoto lens would one recommend for a Pentax K200D that will work fairly well in low light situations & that doesn't cost a fortune? I just bought a Pentax FAJ 75-300 lens but am now finding out that it is not the best for low light.

I'm not sure how much I will actually have to use it in low light conditions but my son is graduating this May & my daughter is graduating next year so those are 2 instances when I would want to be able to zoom in & won't have a lot of light. Is it worth spending a lot of money on a different lens if it is only something I may use a few times a year?

I am going on holiday on Wed. & planned to take the telephoto lens with me but there is a different one that would be a lot better for not much more money then maybe I will see if I can exchange it & just use my point & shoot on vacation. I paid $250 CAN for the above lens.

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Old Apr 26, 2009, 2:24 PM   #2
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Low light situations require "fast" lenses...i.e. lenses with max apertures of about 2.8. Unfortuantely, these are costly. For instance Pentax's 50-135 f/2.8 costs about $800. It is a superior lens in all respects. Sigma makes a 70-200 f/2.8 for about the same price. Typically, speed and cost are mutually exclusive:sad:

If you are not keen on spending that kind of money, I'd consider bumping up the ISO on the camera to about 800 and using an slower lens such as your 70-300. You will likely get some noise which can be post processed. For normal printing (i.e. 4 x 6's and 5 x 7's), the images turn out nice. Also, show up early and get a seat that is closer to the podium. This will enable you to utilize a shorter zoom length and benefit from a wider maxiumum aperture. Additionally, if you are close enough, the use of a decent shoe mounted flash would help as well. I've taken some decent pictures at ISO 400 with a shoe-mounted flash with the head set to maximum zoom and a Sigma 70-300 f4.0-5.6 lens with acceptable results. One other suggestion: use the shake reduction feature if you have it, or use a mono-pod to steady the camera.
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Old Apr 26, 2009, 3:44 PM   #3
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Anything that's both long and fast does cost a small fortune. The Pentax FAJ 75-300 doesn't have a very good reputation, but I don't know that any of the better thought of lenses in this class would give you significantly better results in low light (the 55-300 might give you better image quality, and if you can deal with the PF, the Tamron 70-300 is pretty sharp). I think they are both more than what you paid for the FAJ, if you can exchange it without losing money on it, you might think about one of those two. But neither are going to be better as far as AF in low light.

For better low light capability, the DA*50-135 is an outstanding lens, well worth it's high cost, but you'd need to be close to the platform. It's what I often use as my walk-about lens so it's not like it would be a single use lens. I don't have any experience with the Sigma 70-200 f2.8, but it would have a better focal length for you.

One thing you might think about, since all AF systems struggle to a certain extent in low light, is to get an older, fast manual focus lens. You just pre-focus on the podium before the lights go down and then just concentrate on the exposure. No need to wait for the AF to lock on.
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