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Old Feb 24, 2011, 2:35 PM   #1
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Default Down to the Wire - with the 60-250 still ahead.

As the title says.

Now just a week to go to my new lense and I've dropped the idea of the Sigma 120-400 (IQ and speed), of the Sigma 150-500 (IQ, weight and hand-held shooting difficulty) and of the Sigma 50-500 (weight and hand-held shooting difficulty) .

Still in the race against the 60-250 is the DA*300 and the Sigma 100-300/4. Anything else I've missed ?

You can see what lenses I have already below in my sig. but are there any last minute thoughts re. one of those two (or something else) over the 60-250 ? I must say I've been thinking more and more about the 100-300, as I believe the DA*300 doesn't offer any advantage in IQ or AF speed over the 60-250 and the extra 50mm seems to mean very little at those lengths.

Whilst AF speed is important, IQ is paramount. It is for birding and general use (replacing the 55-300). I will be using the new lense with the Tamron x1.4 Pz version and the AFA x1.7 (compatibility issues with the Sigma I think).

BTW : price differences here are minimal ; US$1,285 for the 60-250 & DA*300 and US$1,365 for the Sigma 100-300/4.

Any and all thoughts appreciated !
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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

Last edited by Frogfish; Feb 24, 2011 at 2:39 PM.
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Old Feb 24, 2011, 3:12 PM   #2
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Kevin, I'd be interested to hear about the difference in IQ between the 60-250 f/4 and the 55-300mm. I've heard many positive reports on the latter and wonder if there would be a discenible difference. Of course you'd have a faster lens with the fixed f/4 aperture.

Have you considered the Sigma super telephotos with a monopod? It will give you a substantially longer reach and using the monopod would mitigate the weight issue (to some degree).

BTW, sounds like you have money burning a hole in your pocket

Jehan
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Old Feb 24, 2011, 11:09 PM   #3
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If that's the one I end up with I'll surely post up a comparison along the line Jehan !

I think there is a great difference in IQ when it comes down to cropping or at the long end. The 55-300 doesn't crop very well (but it's still a very sharp consumer lense) and softens up a little over 260. I have just seen a cropped shot taken with the 60-250 of an owl at 400yds .... not printable but amazing nevertheless, certainly the 55-300 can't do that.
I tried cropping some bird shots taken at ca. 50 yds with the K5 in low light last week .... total failure. The frustration has been building because of these two pairs of kingfishers I've found that I can't get really top quality shots of !

Ha Ha money always burns a hole in my pocket. I have a system that seems to work well (especially since I told my wife about it - I have fewer guilt pangs now ) I put $50 a week into a kitty and supplement it with the proceeds from lenses, other kit or golf equipment sales, Xmas and Birthday money (my wife knows what I want so a get my Chinese Red Envelope - the traditional way of giving money in China) and any other small bonuses that come along. This way I can get maybe 3 good lenses a year and not feel guilty in the slightest !!
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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 Feb 25, 2011, 5:58 AM   #4
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Can't give specific advice, since I do not own any of the lenses you are considering.

Will give some (hopefully slightly helpful) input. I have the Tamron 18-250, which is much too soft at the 250 end for decent bird shots. Also have the Sigma 70-300, which is fine in the macro mode at 300 for dragonflies and such, but does not do well for more distant (eg bird) photos. My (very old & scratched up) Pentax A*300 takes very sharp bird photos that look quite nice even if cropped a bit. The only disadvantage of a long prime lens for birding is that it can be a bit harder to quickly aim it at your subject. I find my Pentax 135-600 can be easier to use than the A*300 (although a lot heavier to handle, have to use a tripod) because I can find the "critter" at 135mm, and then zoom on in.

Perhaps you can translate some of these lens ramblings to your situation. Hope you enjoy whichever one you decide to purchase!
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 10:38 AM   #5
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Thank you for your insight & thoughts Mole !

I just can't make my mind up on this. I have had another idea : go for the DA*300 now and then add the Sigma 70-200/2.8 HSM in 3 month's time. A two lense solution rather than one - what do you guys think ?

.... and there is a FA 300 going here for just under US$1,000 too ! *pulls hair out*
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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 Feb 25, 2011, 4:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frogfish View Post
Thank you for your insight & thoughts Mole !

I just can't make my mind up on this. I have had another idea : go for the DA*300 now and then add the Sigma 70-200/2.8 HSM in 3 month's time. A two lense solution rather than one - what do you guys think ?

.... and there is a FA 300 going here for just under US$1,000 too ! *pulls hair out*
Hi Kevin,

This is totally from my perspective, so get from it what you might.

I'd get the FA* or DA* 300, but keep the DA 55-300 as a lightweight alternative.

I have at least 8 lenses that cover 300mm. My most used is the FA* 300/4.5 with the 1.7x AFA. I've found that in most cases, when I am shooting long tele, I shoot at the longest FL available most of the time, and the zoom feature only contributes compromised optical quality, especially when combined with a TC. When shooting a long prime, I've only had a few instances when I wished for a wider field of view, but I've rarely had a shoot where I didn't wish for more reach. I don't own a DA*60-250, and I've seen enough to know that it's and exemplary lens, but with the 1.7x AFA, it'll only be 425mm, and I rarely shoot at this FL. Zooms rarely outperform primes, so even a great lens like the 60-250 would have some work hard to give you comparable IQ at the long end, and would give you 50-85mm less reach, so you'd be cropping more to get the same magnifications as with the 300, but probably with less resolution.

The DA* has a few advantages over the FA* 300. It's a half stop faster, focuses about 2 feet closer, and has Quick Shift Focusing. The FA* is smaller and lighter, and has a more robust hood. I tested a DA* when it first came out, and found it slightly sharper wide open, but I opted to stay with my FA*, and I have no regrets. Even at f4.5, the FA* works well with the AFA in all but the darkest daylight conditions, and with the K-5's better low light focusing, the slightly slower speed shouldn't be much of a factor.

With either of the * 300s, you'd get 510mm, and this works well for handheld birding. If you decided sometime in the future to go with a gimbal head, the Internal Focusing feature of these lenses allow for a constant balance point. With the 60-250, it extends when zooming to longer FLs, and this will disturb the balance.

About keeping the 55-300 -- I'm casually in the market for this lens. I've been cooped up indoors since getting the K-5, but have found the kit lenses to be very useful with this body. The increased low light AF sensitivity coupled with the high ISO performance has opened up a whole world of utility for the 18-55, 50-200, and 18-250. These lenses have been the my most used lenses for informal indoor shooting with the K-5 when I'm not looking for the ultimate in quality. The size makes them easy to take to family get-togethers, and they are much less intimidating to people when available light candids. To my thinking, the 55-300 would make an excellent BIF lens. very light and nimble handling, and the zoom capability would help you to quickly acquire a bird in the VF, then zoom in to shoot. . .Plus QS to quickly prefocus to infinity to start the next sequence.

70 or 80-200 f2.8 is a popular zoom, but I haven't found that much use for it.
Too short for birding and most wildlife. Too big and heavy for candid work, especially with a flash. Too big and heavy for a walk-around. Too intimidating and mostly too long for portrait work. This lens was the go-to long candids lens with 135mm film, but for me with APS-C, it falls short on utility. I do have a Tokina 80-200/2.8 AT-X AF2 that I like as a zoo lens, and if I shot sports, I might have more of a use for it, but even though there are better lenses out there in this range, I've not been able to rationalize upgrading it (and it doesn't take much to convince me to get another lens ). It's probably just me, but I have some excellent @ 200mm lenses (A*200/2.8, Tamron SP 180/2.5 and SP 80-200/2.8, and the Tokina), but rarely shoot them, except for the Tamron 80-200 and my Sigma 180/3.5 Macro with the 1.7x AFA.

BTW, you're correct that the Sigma 100-300/4 would probably have some issues with the AFA -- all my Sigmas need insulating of different pins to function correctly with the AFA -- there seems to be some incompatibility with their reverse engineering of the pin protocols. . .

Hope I didn't just add to the confusion. I probably don't work like most shooters, so my observations might just be personal idiosyncrasies. . .

Good luck in your choice -- You've really narrowed it down to some good lenses, so whatever choice you make should be a good one. . .

Scott
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 4:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mole View Post
The only disadvantage of a long prime lens for birding is that it can be a bit harder to quickly aim it at your subject. I find my Pentax 135-600 can be easier to use than the A*300 (although a lot heavier to handle, have to use a tripod) because I can find the "critter" at 135mm, and then zoom on in.
Hi mole,

I've found that a Red Dot sight mounted to either the lens or to the flash shoe is a significant help to sighting birds in the VF. I've modified a Daisy air gun Red Dot to use with a Velcro strap to mount around a lens hood, and have used a Tasco Red Dot with a Photsolve Xtend a sight mount.

http://www.photosolve.com/main/produ...ght/index.html

There are some pics of my "ulimate setup" with this sight in a past post:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pe...-kjell-gw.html

There is a new alternative that seems to be considerably more compact --

http://gadget.brando.com/wildlife-ph...1c073d003.html

I just found this, and might consider getting one. . .

Scott
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 7:59 PM   #8
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Whatever lens you get just be glad you already own an AFA. The prices on them have reached absurd levels of late, over $500 on ebay.

John
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Old Feb 25, 2011, 11:29 PM   #9
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An interesting dilemma. While I found the 60-250 a bit awkward to handle (heavy for a zoom), I'm able to deal with the DA*300 most of the time (and it's heavier but not a zoom). For a long time I was perfectly happy with the DA*50-135 and A*/DA*300 combination. But then I found sometimes I wanted something at 200. I bought the DA*200 which I really love but sometimes I find myself either leaving it behind or else finding excuses/subjects just to use that particular lens (it really is spectacular).

For the most part, I agree with Scott - when looking for wildlife and birds I often want something longer but rarely shorter.

So I'm completely satisfied with my line-up of the DA*50-135, DA*200 (nice, but not strictly necessary) and DA*300. I don't have a TC though - would love an AFA but they've been beyond me for a long time, I wouldn't use it enough to justify the huge premium you have to pay for one.

As far as keeping the DA 55-300, I've kept mine. I use it occasionally and it's my hubby's favorite lens when he's shooting. It's a good walk-about lens when you want to go light since all my favorite lenses weigh a ton when put together. It doesn't compare with the DA*300, the IQ difference is significant. But it can still be quite useful.
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Old Feb 26, 2011, 5:07 AM   #10
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Thank you for that wonderful precis Scott ! It certainly helped me clarify my thoughts.

Jelow - I think you can still get the AFA for around US$350 - 375 if you care to go onto Japanese websites - however they probably can't export to the USA ? Not sure. Anyway you are right - I am pleased I've got it !

I was going to go and try out the DA*300 / 60-250 / 150-500 / 50-500 & Sigma 70-200 in hand next week. But I had a meeting downtown so took the opportunity to check them out today.

I've just been to this new electronics shop in downtown Shanghai to take a look at the lenses. They didn't have the Sigma 70-200 there but I was able to look at the larger Sigmas in CF mounts (too heavy and unwieldy for my intended use) and try the two Pentaxes on my K5.

BTW this shop had 43 DSLRs on display that you can handle and shoot (all with different lenses attached) of which 16 were Pentaxes (K5, Kr and Kx) - pretty good exposure right there, in fact I think there were even more Pentaxes than Canons. I really liked the D700 and also the D300s - they felt better in the hand than the 7D whose dials felt a little flimsy compared to the K5's. The D7000 felt awful as did the 60D, IMHO.

Anyway I'll put up some shots later but IMO the D*300 felt much nicer in the hand than the 60-250. I understand what a member on another forum meant when she said the Bigma was easier to hand-hold than the 60-250. I think it's the placement of the zoom ring, it could take some getting used too - that was it's only 'fault' though.

However I have to say I still loved the 60-250, the AF didn't feel slow and even in the shop at 6,400 ISO both the *300 and the 60-250 both locked focus quickly and surely without any drama. Both were easily hand-held.

The DA*300 was though, an undoubted step up, the AF was totally silent and a little faster than the 60-250. Shots were a little sharper too - tiny details clearly visible on small articles located on the other side of the shop (60 yds away - the shop is 5 floors of 3,000m2 per floor) ! It just called my name. Decision made. DA*300 it is. And the 60-250 goes to the top of my LBA list, instead of the Sigma 70-200, and can wait until the Summer to join it's brother
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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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