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Old Oct 9, 2010, 3:52 PM   #1
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Default Sigma 120-400mm lens- what do you think ?

I like to buy Pentax lenses for my K10D and KM (K2000).

My wide angles are well covered with a 12-24mm, 16-45, 18-55, 10-17mm fish eye.

Telephoto wise I have the Pentax 55-300mm which on the digital bodies is the equivalent of around 460mm, I think.

The 55-300mm takes superb quality pictures even at the extreme long [email protected] 300 mm.

But lately....I've wanted more reach.

As we Pentaxians know that although Pentax had a great telephoto range before digital....nowadays as far as modern lens go....the DA 300 is as far as it goes in focal length.

The DA 300 is one great lens....but not long enough for me.

I recently tried a Sigma 120-400 F 5.6 and although I didn't take any pix I was very impressed with it's apparent build quality.

It is very heavy and I'm happy to see a tripod mount on the lens...strictly tripod or mono pod ....mostly...I would think.

I have heard that the 120-400 is one of Sigma's best lenses.

Does anyone have any experience with one...what are the pluses and minuses...how does the final product the picture quality, compare to a Pentax 55-300mm or DA 300 ?

Thanks, Les

Last edited by lesmore49; Oct 9, 2010 at 3:58 PM.
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Old Oct 10, 2010, 5:26 AM   #2
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if you want more reach get the 150-500mm - not much between them in image quality as far as i have heard and is only 100 difference in price for an extra 100mm reach - very happy with my one and its not got the os that newer pentax version has and in lens stablisation works better at longer focal lengths than in camera stablisation
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Old Oct 10, 2010, 12:48 PM   #3
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The AFA x1.7 works great with many lenses (AF & MF) and will extend your reach considerably. It's OK on the 55-300 (I have both the AFA & the 55-300) but I've read that it works much better on other lenses (Pentax & 3rd party). Some of the guys on here have it and use it with DA*300, DA*60-250 etc.
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Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC
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Old Oct 10, 2010, 10:40 PM   #4
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The AFA x1.7 works great with many lenses (AF & MF) and will extend your reach considerably. It's OK on the 55-300 (I have both the AFA & the 55-300) but I've read that it works much better on other lenses (Pentax & 3rd party). Some of the guys on here have it and use it with DA*300, DA*60-250 etc.

I have a Takumar 2 X TC that I've had for about 20 years...but never used....it's in new condition....after reading your post....I'm going to try it...could give me the equivalent of 900mm !!!!
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Old Oct 10, 2010, 10:42 PM   #5
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if you want more reach get the 150-500mm - not much between them in image quality as far as i have heard and is only 100 difference in price for an extra 100mm reach - very happy with my one and its not got the os that newer pentax version has and in lens stablisation works better at longer focal lengths than in camera stablisation
I've thought of the 150-500 Sigma, but heard mixed reactions about this lens. However I've seen many a pix posted by wildlife photographer par excellence...wacky Roger, using his K10D and 150-500mm Sigma and his pictures are phenomenal.
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Old Oct 11, 2010, 12:47 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by lesmore49 View Post
I have a Takumar 2 X TC that I've had for about 20 years...but never used....it's in new condition....after reading your post....I'm going to try it...could give me the equivalent of 900mm !!!!


I think you'll find quality drops, sometimes considerably, with any x2. The best that I've heard of are the Pentax AFA x1.7, Tamron x1.4 and Kenko x1.5. There's also another Pentax (x1.4/x1.5 ?) but I rarely hear/see it being used.

The AFA is optically superb (but expensive, new (now sold only in Japan) it's US$375 and even used it goes for similar prices because it's quite difficult to find) and can be used to turn MF into 'semi' AF lenses and so works with all Pentax lenses (M,A, etc).

Why Semi ? Because you have to MF to close to in-focus and then the AFA will snap into the sharp focus - and it is really fast. I've found it works really well on the Tamron 90 macro as Infinity on the T90 is not far at all and therefore it becomes a tack-sharp 153 with very fast AF !

Some people use it with long lenses AND a Tamron x1.4 to give them a wide range of options, e.g with DA*300 : 300 / 420 / 510 and 714 or with a DA*200 : 200 / 280 / 340 / 476. It's not so good with zooms though as you need to input your FL when attaching any TC.
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Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC

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Old Oct 11, 2010, 7:56 AM   #7
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the 150-500mm seems to get pretty good reviews - won several awards too - i really cant fault this lens for what it is - its not overly fast but without spending ALOT of money thats to be expected - i love it personally - pretty sharp even at 500mm - virtually CA and no distortion to speak off

i just wish i had the OS version but i got mine before they did os for pentax but the built in shake reduction will have to suffice though though i doubt its as effective at 500mm as the built in OS
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Old Oct 11, 2010, 3:02 PM   #8
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the 150-500mm seems to get pretty good reviews - won several awards too - i really cant fault this lens for what it is - its not overly fast but without spending ALOT of money thats to be expected - i love it personally - pretty sharp even at 500mm - virtually CA and no distortion to speak off

i just wish i had the OS version but i got mine before they did os for pentax but the built in shake reduction will have to suffice though though i doubt its as effective at 500mm as the built in OS
John,

I've thought a fair amount about the Sigma 150-500mm. Some issues I have questions about, hopefully you can answer:

  • I've heard the lens at 400-500mm can be a bit soft...but on the other hand the photos I've seen from Wacky Roger with this lens+ K10D seem to be razor sharp. I'm assuming the secret to sharpness, is a solid tripod or at the very least a substantial Monopod because of the size and weight. Also for sharp do you always shoot at F 8 or more ?
  • Construction seems robust....but how is Sigma's consistency of quality from one lens to the another ? Is it mostly metal and glass in construction ?
  • I've got the Pentax 55-300 and I know this is a consumer quality lens...probably not at the 150-500 Sigma level....but I find the picture quality of my early 55-300mm is pin point sharp, under the right lighting. I see by your signature that you don't have the 55-300....but you do have the 12-24mm (which I also have)....just for sake of comparison...how does the actual picture quality compare with what the 12-24mm produces? I know the 12-24 is at the opposite end of the spectrum re; focal length, but I know the level of quality the 12-24mm can produce.
Thanks in advance,
Les

Last edited by lesmore49; Oct 11, 2010 at 3:09 PM.
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Old Oct 11, 2010, 3:10 PM   #9
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I think you'll find quality drops, sometimes considerably, with any x2. The best that I've heard of are the Pentax AFA x1.7, Tamron x1.4 and Kenko x1.5. There's also another Pentax (x1.4/x1.5 ?) but I rarely hear/see it being used.

The AFA is optically superb (but expensive, new (now sold only in Japan) it's US$375 and even used it goes for similar prices because it's quite difficult to find) and can be used to turn MF into 'semi' AF lenses and so works with all Pentax lenses (M,A, etc).

Why Semi ? Because you have to MF to close to in-focus and then the AFA will snap into the sharp focus - and it is really fast. I've found it works really well on the Tamron 90 macro as Infinity on the T90 is not far at all and therefore it becomes a tack-sharp 153 with very fast AF !

Some people use it with long lenses AND a Tamron x1.4 to give them a wide range of options, e.g with DA*300 : 300 / 420 / 510 and 714 or with a DA*200 : 200 / 280 / 340 / 476. It's not so good with zooms though as you need to input your FL when attaching any TC.
Thanks Frogfish....good info. I think I will give my 2 X a shot with the 55-300...but I'm prepared to be disappointed.
Les
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Old Oct 11, 2010, 9:26 PM   #10
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I think much of the reason the 400-500 end of the Bigma is soft is that people are using it hand held and don't understand that SR is not likely to be enough for sharp pics. However as the owner of a Sigma 135-400 that has front focus issues I'd want to buy one i could try out ahead of time. Unless you camera allows for focus calibration. As it is I've got a fairly useless lens unless i send it and one of my bodies in to have it serviced.

John
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