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Old Nov 10, 2009, 11:12 AM   #1
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Default PENTAX FA* 300MM F2.8: one available, need opinions

There is 1 FA* 300mm f2.8 available on eBay, but it has a few bumps and the area where it mounts to the camera seems like it has some strange wear. The seller sells a lot of lenses, has perfect feedback and a 7 day return policy. Here is the link with lots of good pics:http://cgi.ebay.com/SMC-PENTAX-FA-30...#ht_500wt_1182

My question for those with experience buying used, big glass: is it worth the $3500 to $3800, or would you recommend holding out for another listing or just going with the Sigma 300mm APO f2.8?

Thanks,
Jerry

Last edited by jnanpentaxfan; Nov 10, 2009 at 12:09 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 1:25 PM   #2
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I've bought a few used, big glass items...

It certainly appears to be a lens that was dropped a short distance with the hood taking part of the impact. The tripod collar marks showing the possible landing spot of the barrel.



I'd ask him to clarify the following items of note:
  1. did you notice the tilt on the rear drop in filter holder's locking knob in picture #4? There might be no functional damage to the locking post under the filter holder's collar but I'm not sure. See further comments below.
  2. what is that white speck on the lower left quadrant of the front element in image #3?
  3. the hood has a dent, but is the back where it threads onto the lens, are they OK. (Note that it's finicky to thread onto the lens when all is good.)
BTW, the FA* 300/2.8 has a metal hood, in case it isn't clear or obvious. I am not even sure you can buy a replacement filter holder unless ordered from Japan. It's the same drop in 43mm filter holder for the following lenses: FA* 300/2.8, FA* 600/4, FA* 250-600/5.6.

To give credit: he is documenting the issues very well. The notable cosmetic exceptions are listed above. I'd suggest a lower price due to the cosmetic damage. IIRC, the MSRP was around $4500 so take that for WIW.

My initial impression on this lens, given it's condition is that it's BIN price is too high - I think you can do better by waiting or choosing Sigma unless he's willing to drop it down a decent amount... it's a shame, since if the lens' optics are fine as is the AF being bang on (no BF/FF issues), then it's a lens that's hard to beat in terms of top shelf optics.

As you stated, he offers a 7 day return policy, which is a good thing. As you many already know I own an FA* 300/2.8 in much better condition - it's in excellent shape.

Regards,
Marc
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 1:32 PM   #3
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Hi Jerry,

It's always a dilemma when talking about ultra rare super premium lenses that have been discontinued. Do you jump on the chance, or wait for the deal that might never show up?

I'll say this much about this listing --

1. The pic of the lens mount looks like it suffers more from downsizing the pic (the outer surfaces look jagged instead of smoothly round) than damage to the mount.

2. This lens looks to be in considerably worse cosmetic condition than the "bargain" grade lens that I bought from KEH this year for about $1000 less than this lens, which only had a few scratches on the hood.

3. The pricing of this lens would be more fitting for an "EX" example, and EX or better is usually the average condition for lenses of this type -- they are usually really well cared for by those who have them.

That being said, the market for this model is difficult at best to judge. You can purchase a new Sigma for less, and the difference in IQ is not that great, IMO.

The pros for the Sigma are that it's lighter and smaller by quite a margin, its removable tripod collar makes it more convenient to handhold (if that's a consideration), the bayonet hood is easier and faster to mount than the screw on hood of the Pentax, and it's obviously less expensive (a used one in comparable condition will be about half that of the Pentax).

The cons for the Sigma in comparison are that it doesn't have a focus limiter, it lacks strap lugs on the lens or tripod mount, and the IQ is not quite on par -- not bad by any means -- just not as sharp by a hair. I do not feel handicapped when using the Sigma, I just feel better when using the Pentax -- probably not enough reason to justify the price difference. . .

The one way to ensure that you find a great deal on an FA* is to buy a Sigma -- that's what happened to me -- a couple of months after I found a good used Sigma, the KEH deal on the FA* popped up. . . -- and I just couldn't bring myself to pass up the chance to own the best of the best. . .

Bottom line -- I think you can find a better copy of the FA* for the money, but it's obviously a crapshoot. If I had it to do over, I'd still buy a good used Sigma -- if you can get one for significantly under $2000, then you can always sell it for what you bought it for if the right deal comes along for the FA*, and you'd have a great 300/2.8 to use in the meantime.

BTW, Tamron and Tokina also made a few AF 300/2.8s in the K-mount and either of these would also be very good for the right price, but they are VERY rare, so the chances of finding one of these is very slim.

Scott
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 2:28 PM   #4
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[QUOTE]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Langille View Post
I've bought a few used, big glass items...
A few?! You're my hero when it comes to big glass!


Quote:
To give credit: he is documenting the issues very well. The notable cosmetic exceptions are listed above. I'd suggest a lower price due to the cosmetic damage. IIRC, the MSRP was around $4500 so take that for WIW.
I think you're definitely right on this, which is why I was hoping to get your comments, given your Pentax glass experience.

Quote:
My initial impression on this lens, given it's condition is that it's BIN price is too high - I think you can do better by waiting or choosing Sigma unless he's willing to drop it down a decent amount... it's a shame, since if the lens' optics are fine as is the AF being bang on (no BF/FF issues), then it's a lens that's hard to beat in terms of top shelf optics.
Yes, my biggest concern is that I'm going to give it a pretty good workout and I'm concerned that something will come up in 6 months and I'll be stuck with a big repair bill, given the fact that it has obviously been dropped.
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 2:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
It's always a dilemma when talking about ultra rare super premium lenses that have been discontinued. Do you jump on the chance, or wait for the deal that might never show up?
Exactly my dilemma.

Quote:
I'll say this much about this listing --

1. The pic of the lens mount looks like it suffers more from downsizing the pic (the outer surfaces look jagged instead of smoothly round) than damage to the mount.

2. This lens looks to be in considerably worse cosmetic condition than the "bargain" grade lens that I bought from KEH this year for about $1000 less than this lens, which only had a few scratches on the hood.

3. The pricing of this lens would be more fitting for an "EX" example, and EX or better is usually the average condition for lenses of this type -- they are usually really well cared for by those who have them.
Good feedback. That's exactly the kind of information I was hoping to get just to try to determine a realistic market value.

That being said, the market for this model is difficult at best to judge. You can purchase a new Sigma for less, and the difference in IQ is not that great, IMO.

Quote:
The cons for the Sigma in comparison are that it doesn't have a focus limiter, it lacks strap lugs on the lens or tripod mount, and the IQ is not quite on par -- not bad by any means -- just not as sharp by a hair. I do not feel handicapped when using the Sigma, I just feel better when using the Pentax -- probably not enough reason to justify the price difference. . .
Do you find the focus hunt to be a real problem with the Sigma? My concern is that, without the focus limiter, I'll have too much focus hunt and not be able to use the lens very effectively for outdoor sporting events. I've seen some feedback around the web and there seems to be quite a few folks who are able to use this lens for sporting events, however.

Quote:
The one way to ensure that you find a great deal on an FA* is to buy a Sigma -- that's what happened to me -- a couple of months after I found a good used Sigma, the KEH deal on the FA* popped up. . . -- and I just couldn't bring myself to pass up the chance to own the best of the best. . .

Bottom line -- I think you can find a better copy of the FA* for the money, but it's obviously a crapshoot. If I had it to do over, I'd still buy a good used Sigma -- if you can get one for significantly under $2000, then you can always sell it for what you bought it for if the right deal comes along for the FA*, and you'd have a great 300/2.8 to use in the meantime.
Great suggestion. Wanna sell your sigma?

Quote:
BTW, Tamron and Tokina also made a few AF 300/2.8s in the K-mount and either of these would also be very good for the right price, but they are VERY rare, so the chances of finding one of these is very slim.
Wow, I had no idea that they made AF versions of a 300/2.8. I've never seen one. Good info!

Jerry

Scott[/QUOTE]
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