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Old Feb 1, 2009, 9:24 PM   #1
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Hi All,

10/07 I got the Tamron SP 300 f2.8 LD Adaptall 2 as a bargain priced entry into this class of lens to see if I'd actually use something this big -- it became my most used lens. . .:O At @ $700, it was a steal.

7/08 I got the Sigma EX 300 f2.8 APO because I thought I'd never find a used FA* 300/2.8 for what I consider reasonable money. . . The added versatility of AF at 300mm and 420mm with a 1.4x TC made this my most used lens after getting it. At @$1700 for an Ex condition used lens, a good deal, but man, that's a lot of money for a lens . . . :crazy:

1/09 Since I had the 300/2.8 class covered, I figured I'd look at the possibility of a Sigma EX 500 f4.5. I was thinking that @ 7 lbs wouldn't be that much more to carry, and this lens should mate well with the 1.7x AFA to give me an 850mm/7.7, so I started to casually scout the usual suspect sites to see what might be available. I was following Ron Brand's (brandx on DPR) acquisition of the Sigma 500, but when he said that the AFA didn't work well with the 500, that put a damper on my plans, but I continued to check out the used sections of ebay, KEH, B&H, and Adorama, if nothing else, out of habit. I'd started seeing some premium teles showing up -- maybe it's the economy. . . There were actually two A*400/2.8s available for quite a while, both under $3000 USD, which was pretty remarkable for this lens, but at 13lbs, it's just too much a beast for me. . .

Scrolling down the AF Pentax section, I spied a "bargain" grade FA* 300 f2.8 ED(IF) for under $2600 USD. In over a year of looking, I'd never seen this model for under $3200, so I was surprised when I saw it still posted a day later. I started thinking about this lens seriously at this point. . . KEH grades conservatively -- if any of the originally supplied accessories are missing, it's reason to downgrade the lens, and scratches in the finish will do the same. Most "bargains" have very clean glass -- certainly nothing that would effect IQ --

Hmmmmmmm! " but that's a lot of money. . .I already have two 300/2.8s (and pretty good ones at that). . . but the FA* is hand built to order, only available new at full retail ($4799 USD), and (strangely, I'll admit) it would match my FA*300/4.5 in color and general look. . .besides having a rep as being in a different class IQ-wise. . . if it's really that good, I could sell the other two. . .nah, I hardly ever sell anything. . . but the FA* has a focus limiter and focuses down to 2m, and it would look pretty cool with the 2.8 on one body and the 4.5 on another. . . and I would be doing my own little part to stimulate the economy:?. . . -- okay I'll buy it!

That's a peek into the LBA "thinking" process. . .:shock:



The Fedex guy delivered it over a week ago, but the weather has not been good -- snow, <-0 wind chills, more snow, and more frigid cold. I've been testing the FA* against the other 300s indoors, but have only impressions of how I think it'll stack up -- good enough to make the decision to keep it, not enough to give a real informed impression.

Here's what I know so far. . .

It's a big heavy lens. This might seem strange coming from someone who's been using this class of lens for over a year, but this guy really feels bigger by some margin.

The actual figures for weight of the three are:

Tamron : with hood = 2446g/86.2oz @5.4 lbs
lens alone w/adapter = 2096g/73.9oz @4.6 "
Sigma : with hood = 2555g/90.2oz @5.6 "
lens alone = 2400g/84.8oz @5.3 "
Pentax: with hood = 3010g/106.2oz @6.6 "
lens alone = 2495g/88.2oz @5.5 "

It's interesting to note that with all of these lenses, in their respective spec sheets, show the weight of the lens without the hood.

Both the Sigma and Pentax come supplied with multi coated protective front filters. The Pentax unscrews easily, the Sigma does not. All 3 have rear filter drawers. The Pentax and Tamron use 43mm filters and the Sigma uses 46mm. All three hoods have a a thick rubber bumper on the front -- this is very handy as the best way to put the lens down is to stand it on the end of the hood, with the camera attached or not.

The diameter of the Pentax at the focus ring is easily the largest (it's very difficult for me to control with just one of my little hands) the Sigma is in the middle, and the Tamron is the smallest -- I can hold both of these with confidence one-handed.

The size and weight of the FA* is going to force me to look into a good gimbal head -- I'm leaning towards the Wimberley Sidekick. I've already contacted them with some questions and they suggested I take advantage of their 60 day trial. I can have them ship all the different pieces I think that I might need, with the ability to ship back any items I decide not to keep within 60 days with no restocking fees or penalties -- they just bill you for the items you keep. This confirms what I've heard of this company -- very nice to deal with (but the stuff IS expensive. . .)

The Pentax is the only one that has a focus limiter. There are three settings: 2m-4m, [email protected], and @15m-∞. This should make a very fast focusing lens even faster. The Pentax focuses down to @2m while the other two have 2.5m as the minimum focusing distance (the Sigma actually focuses a few inches closer). The Pentax focus ring rotates to ∞ in the opposite direction as the other two (that'll be a little confusing).

Both the Pentax and the Sigma allows switching from AF to MF by pulling the focus ring back at any point in its rotation, but the Pentax also disengages the screw-drive gearing while the Sigma keeps it engaged, so you also have to switch the body to MF to disengage the AF motor in the body. This interferes with using the Sigma with a stacked 1.4x on the 1.7x AFA. Something tells me that I'll be looking for a reasonably priced Pentax Rear Converter A 1.4x L sometime in the future.

The FA* sharper wide open than either the Tamron or Sigma, both of which are very good at f2.8 -- some of this is due to what I think is better contrast at f2.8 with the FA*. All three show some PF, but so far I think the Pentax controls it the best, followed closely by the Sigma, and the Tamron easily shows the most.

I've only been able to try the FA* on a couple of geese who are probably thinking that sticking around for the winter has been a major mistake so far. . . This one is a bit underexposed, but was taken on a pretty dim day, at f2.8 and a distance of @ 10 ft. It's just resized for the web, no PP.

I'll have more when/if it ever warms up. . .

Scott

Edit: I replaced the image as it looked horrible. . .just adjusted levels a bit
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Old Feb 1, 2009, 10:18 PM   #2
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Wow! What a purchase, and I'm jealous. On the other hand, I don't think I'd be able to manage any of these lenses, no matter how good they are. But I'm still jealous. Congrats on a wonderful buy.
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Old Feb 1, 2009, 11:45 PM   #3
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Congratulations, Scott. That's a whole lot of lens. Makes me almost green with envy.
Look forward to seeing more shots with it.

Paul
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Old Feb 2, 2009, 11:23 PM   #4
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Well...I'd given it up....but looks like I'll have to get my Cat Burglar togs and tools out of moth balls.....Now what was that address?

Dawg
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Old Feb 3, 2009, 2:01 AM   #5
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mtngal wrote:
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Wow! What a purchase, and I'm jealous. On the other hand, I don't think I'd be able to manage any of these lenses, no matter how good they are. But I'm still jealous. Congrats on a wonderful buy.
Hi Harriet,

Thanks! This is really about as big as I can imagine going. I'm pretty sure that the Sigma 500/4.5 (which is a bit bigger and heavier) would be too big for me to practically use, so I'm satisfied with this.

Believe it or not, I'm pretty sure that this will be my last lens. . .

. . . well maybe a 12-24 would be nice. . .:evil:

Scott
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Old Feb 3, 2009, 2:05 AM   #6
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Trojansoc wrote:
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Congratulations, Scott.* That's a whole lot of lens.* Makes me almost green with envy.
Look forward to seeing more shots with it.
Hi Paul,

The groundhogs have spoken, and it's likely that there's going to be six more weeks of winter. . .:twisted:

I'm REALLY looking forward to it getting a bit warmer here -- the weather's been pretty brutal this year -- and now they're predicting more snow. . .:angry: This is the first winter in a long time where I've really hardly seen any birds -- even the house sparrows have been laying low. . .

Scott
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Old Feb 3, 2009, 2:09 AM   #7
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bigdawg wrote:
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Well...I'd given it up....but looks like I'll have to get my Cat Burglar togs and tools out of moth balls.....Now what was that address?

Dawg
Hiya Dawg,

Best bring the truck:-) This sucker's heavy! I'll be looking out for that camphor smell. . .:?

Scott
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Old Feb 3, 2009, 2:46 AM   #8
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snostorm wrote:
Quote:
Tamron : with hood = 2446g/86.2oz @5.4 lbs
lens alone w/adapter = 2096g/73.9oz @4.6 "
Sigma : with hood = 2555g/90.2oz @5.6 "
lens alone = 2400g/84.8oz @5.3 "
Pentax: with hood = 3010g/106.2oz @6.6 "
lens alone = 2495g/88.2oz @5.5 "
Scott

Congratulation . Can't wait to see the weather clears out and you do some comparison. I would love to own just one of them. Call me envious

Daniel
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Old Feb 3, 2009, 8:53 AM   #9
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Congratulations Scott...I think we just saw the bottom to this recession:-)
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Old Feb 3, 2009, 10:55 AM   #10
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hey scott,
i use a knock off of this..
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ty_Gimbal.html
it works just fine. i get clear and sharp images with tammy300/2.8 with the 200f/2x (600/5.6) converter installed.. here's another link also.
http://www.nikonians.org/html/resour...393/393_1.html
i'm sure it's as good as the kimberly at less than 1/2 the price.. i bought mine from a copier at $75.. it had problems tho.. basicly they were design flaws but i fixed them and it's good as gold now.. i don't think they are selling them any more..
here's a link to a DIY link.. it would not be hard to do this.. i've probably got most of the parts onhand and may give it a try..
http://www.chem.uky.edu/xray/people/...ad/gimbal.html

roy
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