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Old Sep 29, 2006, 1:41 AM   #11
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Hi Wayne,

Wayne -- Thanks! The FA*300 is unfortunately a prime. The * (green star) series lenses for Pentax are their Premium line of primes and zooms that started with the M*300 f4 (IIRC), and seems to be continuing with the newly announced DA* zooms. I've been told that the * lenses were hand assembled from hand-matched parts, and I tend to believe this. Unfortunately just about all of them have been discontinued and are highly sought on the used market, and pretty expensive. The Pentax roadmap mentions new DFA 300 and 200 primes, so this might change by the end of next year, depending on the specs and prices of those new ones.

It's rare for any zoom to match a prime for sharpness, but from what I've seen, the 100-300 f4s from Sigma and Tokina are very good. The Sigma is still made, and pretty expensive (some have reported AF problems, but some love it). The Tokina's been discontinued for a while, so is only available used, but if you can find one, it'll probably sell for significantly less than the Sig. If you're looking for something relatively inexpensive, I'd probably look at the Tamron 70-300 f4-5.6 Di LD Macro 1:2.

The problem with the less expensive route is that the lenses haven't been that sharp wide open, and that they are relatively slow, so extending the reach with TCs will cost you a lot of lens speed. You can, however use an add on TC, like your N 1.7x, which I understand is a very good one. You have to be careful though. Extra weight of the TC might overwork the AF motor of the camera if you use it on a non IF (internal focusing) lens , so I would only use manual focus. I also have an FZ30, but only have the Oly Tcon 17. I have used this a on a number of Pentax and 3rd party lenses, and have not been that pleased with sharpness, CA, and PF with the combo, but you may find that yours works better. If you choose a Pentax body, and whatever long lens, I'd give it a try to extend the reach, but remember to take it easy on your AF motor.

As far as a mid-range zoom, I have the both the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 SP XR Di. . .and the Pentax 28-105 f3.2-4.5. Both are very good. I also have the kit lens and the Pentax DA 50-200, and they make a great compact travel combo. It really depends on what you plan to shoot, and under what conditions. There are a lot of other lenses with wider zoom ranges, you just have to decide what you want.

For macros, I bought a Pentax DFA 100 2.8 macro with the rebate mainly for its weight, but one of the beauties of the Pentax system is that you can use any of the older lenses and save some significant money. AF is not that important for macros, and any of the f2.8 macros from Pentax are at worst very very good. Choose one of the 50mms if you want to work close, any of the 100mms if you want more working distance, or a 200mm if you've got very deep pockets and want the best. It's been said that there aren't any really bad dedicated macro lenses, and this is pretty much true. The Sigmas and Tamrons are also very good. I also use a Vivitar 2x Macro Focusing TC, which although MF, acts as both a standard 2x TC or a variable magnification macro adaptor. Used with a fast prime, like any of the f1.4 or 1.7 50mm Pentax primes, and you've got a very serviceable 100mm macro lens. Use it with a macro lens and it increases the macro capability from 1:1 to about 1.5:1. Unfortunately, these are also out of print, but can often be found on the used market.

If you buy the K10D, stop by here or any of the other Pentax forums with specific ??s and you'll be sure to get a lot of good alternatives. Pentax users are known for having a wide range of gear, and are very generous with their experiences.

Scott
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Old Sep 29, 2006, 2:11 AM   #12
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Hi Tom,

Thanks.

I've never heard a complaint about this lens, doubt if I ever will -- it's just world class IMO, and my favorite lens. I had read so many good things about it that when I got the chance to get one for significantly less than the current market, I didn't even think twice since I had just decided to bite the bullet and to go as much as $1200 for a E grade F* or FA*300/4.5.

I'm also curious about the new DFA versions of the 200 and 300. I hope they use the same optical formulae, and keep the prices down so many more Pentaxians can enjoy using a lens like this. This might be possible if their new lens plant expansion and possible new production techniques allow for significantly lower costs than hand assembly in Japan. If they make them SSM and weather sealed, I doubt they'll be inexpensive, but I'd have to consider one.

I'm jealous that you've had the opportunity to use one of these for so long, but I'm, determined to make up for lost time :-). I've only had mine since Feb of this year, and already can't imagine being without it.

Scott
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Old Sep 29, 2006, 6:18 AM   #13
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Both the FA* 28-70 f/2.8 and the FA* 80-200 f/2.8 are very sharp wide open, but are even more expensive than the FA* 300 when you can find them. As Scott said, hopefully the new line of lenses will allow the prices to fall on the older ones and new users can afford to buy them and enjoy their performance.

Once again Scott, the photos are just amazing.

Tom
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Old Sep 29, 2006, 7:33 AM   #14
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It would certainly be nice if the price dropped. I'd love to own one of these gems. Unfortunately, it's doubtfull at best. I've had my DL about two months now and the prices on used lenses has gone through the roof. 50mm M's in 1.4 are going for close to or over 100 US. There are still deals out there of course, but it is getting pretty competative on some of these used lenses.Wish I had taken up this hobby sooner and gotten some of the deals you guys talk about on occasion.
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Old Sep 29, 2006, 10:25 AM   #15
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Tom

As you know the ebay price is crazy. Both FA* zoom have competition from the new DA* to be on the market soon. Price drops as a result. I recall a FA*28-70 was sold around $800 in Henry ebay site 3 weeks ago and that was it.
The *300mm are entirely different story. No new lens not even on the roadmap in 07. Each newly listed *300mm got more than 10 bids at least and the final price is , well. through the rooftop.
Maybe we stress too much about the pricing. We should concentrate on taking pict.

Daniel

ennacac wrote:
Quote:
Both the FA* 28-70 f/2.8 and the FA* 80-200 f/2.8 are very sharp wide open, but are even more expensive than the FA* 300 when you can find them. As Scott said, hopefully the new line of lenses will allow the prices to fall on the older ones and new users can afford to buy them and enjoy their performance.

Once again Scott, the photos are just amazing.

Tom
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Old Sep 29, 2006, 4:32 PM   #16
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"FA*28-70 was sold around $800"

Actually that isn't a bad price for that lens and I expect the new DA* will be that much or more. The FA* 80-200 is also very sharp, but extremely heavy and difficult to hand hold, which is an issue that I hope the new K10D will solve with its SR. That lens too is selling for over $1,500 (US) and becoming harder and harder to find.

The more Pentax is seen as an alternative to N&C, the worse this problem will get with all the new people wanting lenses, and I don't think you have seen the worst of the used lens prices yet.

OT-
I am looking for a replacement for my 17mm Pentax Fisheye lens, as it is only a Fisheye on my MZ-S and far less than that on my DS with the crop factor. My problem is, I want it to be as sharp or better than the 17mm and so far I can't find anything like that.

Tom
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Old Sep 30, 2006, 3:56 AM   #17
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ennacac wrote:
Quote:
OT-
I am looking for a replacement for my 17mm Pentax Fisheye lens, as it is only a Fisheye on my MZ-S and far less than that on my DS with the crop factor. My problem is, I want it to be as sharp or better than the 17mm and so far I can't find anything like that.

Tom
You are right. That will be hard. Comparables maybe. There are Zenitar 16mm or DA14mm 2.8.



Daniel
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