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Old May 17, 2010, 5:30 PM   #1
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i pulled all my lenses out of my camera bag today and had a look through them and noticed i have a hole in my lens lineup

the only telephoto zoom i have got that isn't a cheap and cheerful kit zoom is my bigmos but 150-500 which being not a bad range its huge and except in fantastic light - a tripod only lens as far as i'm concerned (just got the manfrotto gimbal head for it sooooooo much easier to use on that as apposed to my ball head)

so any recomendations for a good quality (sharp and not much ca - fast lens is always welcome but i realise that fast telephoto tends to need the tripod for the sheer weight of all the glass and also tends to be rather pricey) mid range telephoto zoom?
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Old May 17, 2010, 9:02 PM   #2
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How fast are you looking for? What's your budget? Do you want to go as far as 300 mm? Would you consider a prime instead of a zoom?

Both the Sigma and Tamron 70-200 f2.8 lenses are well thought of. I seriously considered the Tamron, but it's still pretty heavy. If you are looking for a zoom, those would be two I'd look at.

Since I was mainly looking for something around 200 mm, I ended up buying the DA*200 f2.8. It's much lighter and just an incredible lens, I'm very happy to have bought it instead of the zoom. But that's probably because I already have the DA*50-135 - otherwise I'd probably own the Tamron.

If weight and budget aren't an issue, and you want something longer than 200 mm, then look at the DA*60-250 f4. It's quite the lens quality-wise, but way heavier than I can manage. There are other options, but that's what comes to mind.
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Old May 18, 2010, 3:38 AM   #3
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ideally i would like to spend less than 1000 - for speed i'm willing to compromise abit - i did consider the pentax 200mm prime but i want it mostly for zoo trips etc so want something flexible and something that can be hand holded

i'll have a look at the 70-200's sounds like they might be what i'm looking for if they aren't to heavy
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Old May 18, 2010, 6:19 AM   #4
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Hi, Seems weight might be an issue with you, but if not then I'd recommend this one ...
http://www.adaptall-2.com/lenses/19AH.html
70 - 210mm f3.5 constant aperture, 800 + grams , but a superb performer, and doesn't suffer from zoom creep, like a lot of lenses of this type, I prefer this to the well liked series 1 vivitar, you'd certainly find one way under the 1000 you mention on Ebay. ... Jack
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Old May 18, 2010, 2:34 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by jachol View Post
Hi, Seems weight might be an issue with you, but if not then I'd recommend this one ...
http://www.adaptall-2.com/lenses/19AH.html
70 - 210mm f3.5 constant aperture, 800 + grams , but a superb performer, and doesn't suffer from zoom creep, like a lot of lenses of this type, I prefer this to the well liked series 1 vivitar, you'd certainly find one way under the 1000 you mention on Ebay.
Hi John,

Jack's recommendation is a very good one if MF lenses are being considered, but I have not found this model very easy to find, and then you have to get a PK/A adapter, and they have become relatively rare and pricey in the past few years. A good alternative, usually priced @ $100 is the Pentax A 70-210 f4. It's usually very commonly found, and probably the best bang for the buck in this class of lens. I have one of these, and can easily recommend it, especially for the price.

If MF and the Adaptall 2 concept is not a problem for you, then there's another lens that should be considered, the 80-200/2.8 (30A) is the best fast MF lens in this class, IMO. It's considerably better than the Tokina version of the same spec that is relatively frequently available.
http://www.adaptall-2.com/lenses/30A.html

It's heavy, and a push-pull zoom that a lot of people don't seem to like (I actually like it better because it's faster) but it stands up IQ wise with the currently available AF models from Sigma and Tamron. I have one, and can recommend it highly. I got mine for close to $200, though it seems to have gotten a bit pricier since, but it's usually still available for less than the AF versions.

If AF is a priority, the original Sigma EX 70-200 f2.8 APO (pre DG, pre macro) is generally considered the best variation of this model, but they're all pretty good, IMO. Unfortunately, it's usually not offered for much less than you can buy a new Tamron 70-200 f2.8, so if this were the case, I'd probably just get the new Tamron for the benefits of a warranty and exchange privileges.

Between the new models from Tamron and Sigma, my preference would be the Tamron for four reasons. It's a screw drive lens, so TC compatibility is not a problem, it's lighter -- this class of lens is pretty heavy for its reach, it's less expensive, and Tamron USA offers a six-year warranty to the assumed one-year Sigma warranty (I can't find anything on their site). The Tamron is generally conceded to be a tad sharper, but I can't say, having shot neither. . .

The Sigma is an HSM only lens, and though some of the PZ compatible TCs will AF with individual samples of each, I don't know if anyone's found a model that they can say with any certainty will AF reliably with HSM/SDM. Sigma's own TCs will only work in MF mode as they've not introduced an HSM/SDM compatible TC at this time (and neither has Pentax or any other mfg). If possible TC use is not a priority, then the Sigma is a good choice. Faster and close to silent AF can be a benefit, but I consider the added versatility of being able to extend the reach a bit with TCs a higher priority with fast tele primes and zooms. YMMV . . . BTW, the only "TC" that is solidly reliable with SDM/HSM lenses is the Pentax F 1.7x AFA, but there are limitations/advantages with this adapter.

Tokina also made their model 828 80-200 f2.8 AT-X Pro AF in two slightly different versions. These, when offered used, are usually less expensive (@ $400), so this might be one to be considered. I have one of these (the second model). At the time, it was the lightest, least expensive lens in this FL/speed class, but though it's a very good performer, the other two (Sigma EX 70-200 APO[pre DG, pre Macro] and the Pentax FA*80-200/2.8) were better, and the Pentax is still easily the best in class.

The Tokina is my primary zoo lens, and it serves very well for this purpose. It's built like a tank (a Tokina trait), but the non-removable tripod ring is something of a PITA since I handhold this class of lens much more often than use a tripod (my personal preference). I've not felt the need to upgrade although the new Sigma and Tamron are very attractively priced and seem to be very good performers.

This just isn't that useful a FL range for me, though I have 6 lenses with max apertures f4 and faster in this range (Pentax A 70-210/4 and A*200/2.8, Tamron SP 80-200/2.8 and SP 180/2.5, Tokina 80-200/2.8,, and my new Sigma EX 180/3.5 APO Macro). I also have 2 consumer class lenses in the range that I use. LBA acts in strange ways. . .

The FA* is one of those "legendary" lenses. From what I've seen, it's amazingly sharp and renders with some of the "pixie dust" qualities that Pentaxians sometimes talk about. It's rarely offered used, and usually priced at least 2-3x higher than the new Tamron currently sells for. It's the heaviest of any of the alternatives in this class, but if you could get one and stay within your budget, you'd be a happy camper indeed.

Scott
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Old May 18, 2010, 5:33 PM   #6
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wow thats a very informative post

i think autofocus is a must - even with the magnifying eyepiece manual focus on a k7 isn't easy to get spot on. So the tamron and sigma are probably the top runners. (would love the pentax but finding rare pentax lenses is usually expensive and hard work)

i hadn't really considered a tc for use with it since i had the sigma 150-500mm lens but then not always going to have that with me and a tc in my pocket with this lens would give me pretty good reach so the tamron might be the way to go - specially since the sigma on warehouseexpress is showing a new version with both hsm and OS which i admit i would like but weighing in at 1299.99 thats fair bit more than the tamron at 618.99

infact just typing those prices out would be insane to go with the sigma since k7 has inbuilt stablisation

yeah think the tamron is the way forward for lens in this focal range - its slightly heavy but at jsut over 1kg i think i should be able to handle it - hell i have hand held shots with my bigmos (little bit of shakebut not to bad) and its nearly 2kg

thanks everyone for your advice

John
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Old May 19, 2010, 9:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snostorm View Post
Hi John,

Jack's recommendation is a very good one if MF lenses are being considered, but I have not found this model very easy to find, and then you have to get a PK/A adapter
Hi Scott,
You know having got into photography in the era when AF lenses didn't exist, I personally have no problem with MF, and I'm afraid it's something I always forget to mention ... so I'm glad you chipped in with that point. I only have 3 AF lenses in my collection, they're very handy, but it wouldn't bother me if I had none at all.
The 19AH lens does appear fairly frequently on Ebay UK where I got my sample, and I do agree that PK/A adaptall 2 adaptors are very expensive. Since you put me wise to there existence, I've acquired a couple at reasonable prices, both were attached to lenses, and the sellers description in each case was such that it wasn't very clear just what was on offer, it pays off to study sales description and especially pictures for clues leading to picking up bargains, I've had good success with this approach. I also have several manual PK adaptors, I think you'll gather I'm an afficionado of Tamron lenses. ... Jack.
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Old May 19, 2010, 10:31 AM   #8
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A good alternative, usually priced @ $100 is the Pentax A 70-210 f4. It's usually very commonly found, and probably the best bang for the buck in this class of lens. I have one of these, and can easily recommend it, especially for the price.
I've seen these go for ~US$70 on the bay recently. Incredible deal. Also common and cheap and great (and heavy): Vivitar Series 1 (Version 1 or 3) 70/210 -- my US$35 version 1 (Kiron) is f/3.5 and only weighs 880g. Brilliant optics. And if that's too costly, I found a couple of Sears (Ricoh) f/4 zooms for US$9 each: PK 70-210 and M42 80-200, both quite decent. There are MANY MANY old MF ~70-200 zooms available cheap; those from the Kodachrome era are mostly quite sharp.

For those who dislike/fear MF lenses: yes, AF is nice, but there's a workaround called trap-focus or (Pentaxese) Catch-In-Focus. I use it extensively with MF lenses on my K20D, and I understand that Canon and Nikon bodies support it also. With CIF enabled and active, you aim the lens and start to focus, or wait for something to come into focus, and hold the shutter down. When focus is achieved, the shutter snaps. Think of it as cheap manual AF.

The downside: CIF often doesn't work with the aperture smaller than f/8. This is what I observe with my K20D, and what others report with a Kx.

Usages: Aim and slowly focus until SNAP! Or, aim and focus and change distance until SNAP! Or, aim and prefocus someplace you expect something to happen; when it does, SNAP! Or, mount cam on tripod with latching remote plugged in and drive mode set to Continuous; aim and prefocus where you expect the visitation of something (bicycle, bird, burglar, etc) and latch the remote; as subjects arrive, SNAP! and SNAP! and SNAP! etc.

But if AF is necessary, fine. It just costs more. Go ahead, boost the Japanese economy. See if I care.
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Old Jul 23, 2010, 1:11 AM   #9
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I've got a Pentax 55-300mm f/4-5.8 , it's cheap and much better then the 50-200mm.Still i do think it's not that sharp , thinking of buying a sharp tele.
Any ideas ? Tamron f/2.8 looks cool or maybe the Pentax 60-250 f/4 ?
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Old Jul 23, 2010, 3:02 PM   #10
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Does it have to be a zoom? Do you need 300 mm? My 55-300 is as sharp as any of the zooms in its class as far as I can tell, but it doesn't come close to the quality of the DA*200 or 300. The DA*60-250 is an outstanding lens, but it's heavier and larger than I can comfortably manage. It felt more awkward than the DA*300, which is about the most I can comfortably deal with hand-held. I looked at the Tamron 70-200 f2.8 and it's a lovely lens, but pretty heavy. I ended up opting for the DA*200 f2.8 because it's lighter and I find it easy to use.

My answer was to have both the DA 55-300 when I want to go light and then use the DA*50-135, DA*200, DA*300 (or a mix of them) when quality is more important. That has worked well for me up to recently. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of shooting some comparison shots with the DA*300 and 55-300. I said I wasn't going to do that, and I really shouldn't have done it, because the difference made me want to put the 55-300 away and never use it again, and that's just not fair to it.
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