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Old May 27, 2011, 8:36 PM   #21
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Thanks Scott, as always your posts are very informative. I think I have settled on the DA 70 Limited and the DA* 300 as my target over the next two years. O have looked at the Photozone reviews but not the survey so I will take a look. Thanks
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Current equipment
Pentax K5, K3:
FA 35mm f2, FA 50 f1.4, FA 28-70mm f4, FA 28-80mm f3.5-5.6, FA 80-320mm f4.5-5.6, F 50mm f1.7, Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8 Di, DA 10-17 f3.5-4.5, DA 14 f2.8, DA 16-45mm f4, DA 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 WR, DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 WR, AF-540FGZ

Olympus E-P2, E-P5, OM-D E-M1: 9mm to 150mm lenses

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Old May 28, 2011, 2:30 PM   #22
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One question for anyone who has experience with longer lenses. Is there any third party equivalent to the DA* 300mm f4? Although I have been sticking with Pentax branded lenses (sold my only Sigma to a friend who is all Sigma) I am willing to try any QUALITY lens of about 300mm with AF and a maximum aperture of at least f4. Any suggestions?
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http://aicphotography.blogspot.com/
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Current equipment
Pentax K5, K3:
FA 35mm f2, FA 50 f1.4, FA 28-70mm f4, FA 28-80mm f3.5-5.6, FA 80-320mm f4.5-5.6, F 50mm f1.7, Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8 Di, DA 10-17 f3.5-4.5, DA 14 f2.8, DA 16-45mm f4, DA 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 WR, DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 WR, AF-540FGZ

Olympus E-P2, E-P5, OM-D E-M1: 9mm to 150mm lenses

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Old May 28, 2011, 3:48 PM   #23
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Cheaper than the DA*300 there is the Sigma 100-300/4 .... stunning quality for a zoom, almost as good as a prime ! Almost everyone rates it 5 stars. You will need to spend some time to find one though as they are discontinued but come up from time to time.

There was also a Sigma 300/4 that was thought well of. Plus of course F & FA 300/4s.

New lenses ... don't know of any under the price of the DA*300.
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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 May 28, 2011, 11:27 PM   #24
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Hi Ira,

Kevin pretty well covered the f4 300mm alternatives for AF. The Sigma EX 100-300 stands out as a quality zoom alternative as he stated, but it's considerably heavier in comparison to the primes (@1.5x the weight).

My favorite lens in this class is the FA* 300 f4.5. I did compare it to a DA* 300 f4 when they first came out, and found the DA* to be a bit sharper, and it focused closer (1.4m vs 2m), but it's also a bit heavier. I do like the QS focusing capability though, and the AF/MF switch which allows Focus Trap.

I chose to keep the FA*, and am happy with the choice. When the DA* was released, Pentax was promising a 1.4x SDM TC, but it hasn't materialized, so there is no AF 1.4x TC that is really compatible with the SDM of the DA*. The F1.7x AFA does work as expected though. With the FA*'s screw drive, I can use either the Tamron F 1.4x AF TC or the Sigma EX 1.4x APO TC to get 420mm f6.3 with AF or 510 f7.7 AF with the 1.7x AFA. The added versatility is important to me, but you might not find this a priority consideration. Other than that, I also like the metal OEM hood, though it's a little fussy to attach, and the fact that the AF/MF switch (pulling the focus ring back) disconnects the screw drive and essentially tells the body that the lens is MF so Focus Trap (Catch in Focus) works with this lens without any modifications needed (most AF lenses need you to short out the "Data" pin with foil or metal tape).

The F* does not allow this, and requires that you pull back the focus ring and switch to MF on the body to MF the lens. It has an integral hood that isn't as robust, but it usually includes a dedicated removable tripod foot. If you want a tripod collar for the FA*, you can get the Canon one that fits the 70-200 f2.8L that is pretty easily available from some ebay dealers. For the few times I want to tripod mount the lens, I use the one that came with my Tamron SP 80-200 f2.8 Adaptall 2.

Another alternative would be a 180 or 200mm f2.8-3.5 with a Pentax F 1.7x Auto Focusing Adapter. An A*, FA* or DA* 200/2.8 or Tamron SP 180/2.5 with the AFA would give you 340/4.8 or 305/4.3, and all of these are exemplary lenses (the A* or FA* 200/4 Macros would also work, but are considerably more pricey). The DA* + AFA would be smaller and about 4 oz lighter than the DA* 300, and the FA* would be about 2 oz lighter. Either would give you a very fast (f2.8) AF 200mm in addition to a slightly slower (1/2 stop) AF 340mm.

One of my currently most used combos is the Sigma EX 180 f3.5 APO DG Macro with the AFA. This gives me a 305mm f6 1.9:1 macro in addition to an excellent 305/6 telephoto. For me, the slower speed is an easy tradeoff for the macro capabilities. Like any dedicated macro, I can focus continuously from the max magnification to infinity without any gaps, and the long FL gives me 1.9:1 at @ 10" from the front element and 1:1 at @ 15". This, in addition to allowing me to shoot creatures without intimidating them, allows me to use the popup flash without the lens blocking the flash (without the hood mounted). I do usually use a Metz 15 MS 1 for macros, but the popup works fine if you don't mind the shadows. With Sigma lenses, there are some minor compatibility issues with the AFA when you use P-TTL flash, but they are very easy to work around.

The cool thing about this setup is that I can use AF for high magnification macros easily, and have found that I get considerably more keepers with AF than MF. The focusing range of the AFA is only a few mm at macro distances, so I don't get those frustrating lock to lock hunts. Using AF-C with the K20, K-7, or K-5 is really effective for me. There is some technique involved -- I use the "beep" for focus confirmation, and have trained myself to press the shutter when I hear the sound. All I have to do to shoot tele is prefocus the lens towards the other end of the scale and push the popup flash down. The full scale of the focus ring is only about 90 on this lens, so it's very fast to go from macro to tele.

Another advantage of this setup is added DOF due to increased working distance. At 1:1 and 15" from the subject to front lens element, I get @ 2-3mm of effective DOF as opposed to @ 1mm or less if I shoot without the AFA at @ f16-20 at the lens. Of course, the EX 180 by itself is a great medium tele, and though a bit long, makes an excellent portrait or candids lens with very good abilities to isolate subjects and pleasing bokeh if you have the space to use it's working distance reasonably. An added bonus is that for tele use, there is no minimum focusing distance, and this gives you some very unusual perspectives if you like that stuff.

I have the Tamron SP 180, A*200, and Sigma EX 180 Macro, and for tele use, the A* 200 is the sharpest, with the Tamron and Sigma about tied and only a hair behind, but the Sigma controls CA/PF better than any other lens I own, even when used with the AFA, and it's AF, and a dedicated macro. . . so for me, it wins pretty easily for usefulness for me.

The things that might make this last alternative attractive are that you get an exemplary fast 180-200mm tele and the AFA which is more useful than any other TC since it gives you AF capability with any lens. For example, with a nice MF 50 f1.4, you'd get a very good AF 85 f2.4 long portrait lens, and with a relatively inexpensive MF 80-200 f2.8, you could have an AF 136-340 f4.8 zoom. The best lens in this class is the Tamron SP 80-200 f2.8 Adaptall 2, IMO, and it can be gotten for @300 USD (and you'd need a PK/A adapter which would probably cost $50-100).

The A*200/2.8 should probably cost on the order of $400, and the SP 180/2.5 would probably be $400-600 since it's a limited edition with a vaunted reputation with possible multi platform appeal. The A* and FA* 200/4 Macros are priced out of range at about $2000+ for either, but they are considered among the best lenses ever made regardless of FL or mfg. My Sigma 180 Macro was about $600 for an open box new one (the "street price" was about $680, IIRC), but since they've been discontinued, used prices of @ $1000 are not unusual, especially since the only other alternatives for a long dedicated macro in K-mount are the Pentax 200 macros.

Add the $300-350 for the AFA, and most of these would actually be something of a budget alternative to the $1300 DA* 300. If you factor in the money that can be saved by using the AFA to get AF with considerably less expensive MF lenses, even the going price is not as offensive as it seems at first -- something to consider.

Scott
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Old May 29, 2011, 4:50 AM   #25
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Scott has now triggered my LBA again ...... looking for a Sigma EX 180/3.5 macro !

All I can find here so far are Canon / Nikon mounts around US$500-600
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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 May 29, 2011, 5:12 PM   #26
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Scott, Kevin (?) and Harriet, thanks for the input. I got a chance to try out Harriet's DA* 300 so I know the quality level I want. Kevin and Scott, thinks for the suggestions (I have even saved Scott's posts for future reference). Later I will post the reason why I need a good 300

The problem with the Pentax-F 1.7X AF TC is that it is very hard to find one, any suggestions?
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Riverview, NB, Canada
http://aicphotography.blogspot.com/
_______________________________
Current equipment
Pentax K5, K3:
FA 35mm f2, FA 50 f1.4, FA 28-70mm f4, FA 28-80mm f3.5-5.6, FA 80-320mm f4.5-5.6, F 50mm f1.7, Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8 Di, DA 10-17 f3.5-4.5, DA 14 f2.8, DA 16-45mm f4, DA 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 WR, DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 WR, AF-540FGZ

Olympus E-P2, E-P5, OM-D E-M1: 9mm to 150mm lenses

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Last edited by Monza76; May 29, 2011 at 5:33 PM.
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Old May 30, 2011, 6:19 AM   #27
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Hi Ira
Pentax 1.7X AF TC are readily available new via Amazon Japan. You need a Japanese mailing address to order these. Was someone on Ebay picking these up and onselling at one stage. Just google Amazon Japan hoya 1.7AF TC and you should find your way there. cheers
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PS I ordered one after setting up an account with tenso.com. I can certainly recommend Tenso. Excellent service
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Old Jun 12, 2011, 10:09 PM   #28
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Great posts! Really enjoyed the read.

Really got me thinking about . . . what's next. Time to learn more and do more for me! <grin>

Glen
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