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Old Aug 19, 2006, 11:27 AM   #1
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Hello Everybody,

Bieng that I am a newbie and a proud owner of a DL, I have been looking at low cost lens options for beginners like me.

I found a pentax len at B&H Video for 99 bucks a pentax. Here are the specs:

Pentax Zoom Telephoto SMCP-FA 100-300 f/4.7-5.8 Auto Focus Lens.
I was thinking of adding this as a starter zoom lens for me. The price though sounds too good to be true. They do have the exact same (Model number and inventory number the same) listed also for $149.00 - Wierd huh?

I would like to hear your thoughts on this lens...and if it would be a gpood starter addition to my DL. I cannot affted a 50-200 DA lens right now!

F
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Old Aug 19, 2006, 12:54 PM   #2
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If you check Keh.com you can find the same lens used for even less, if you have any interest in used. I asked a very similar question recently and Ira said that lens is decent for an inexpensive zoom. The thread is here:

http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...mp;forum_id=80

Tim
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Old Aug 20, 2006, 12:51 AM   #3
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I'm assuming you have the kit lens? Keep in mind that 35mm specs for lenses need to be multiplied by 1.5x to get the digital equivalent. The DA 50-200mm would be the best choice, but if you're on a tight budget keep an eye on eBay and keh.com for used lens in good condition.

I believe Ira has the Sigma 25-135mm which Cameta Camera is selling for $99. That would be a good walk-around lens to start with. If you're just looking for something with zoom, RitzCamera online is sellinga 80-200mm Pentax branded lens for $85 in their clearance section.
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Old Aug 20, 2006, 8:52 AM   #4
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Fghouse2000 raises an interesting question in my mind. It appears one can spend anywhere from $99 -$5000+ for a Pentax lens. I wonder however forus asenthusiast (or pro-sumers) if there is a noticeable difference in the lenses at each price level? I have never owned a $1000+ lens and therefore have no experience with them. At the same time, us at this forum sing the praises of the Pentax DSLRs which seem to be every bit as capable as brands C and N but for several hundred dollars less.The onlybenefit may be that the name recogition of C & N are higher! Getting back to the Pentax lenses, I would be interested in comments re. the noticeable differences in the range of lenses by Pentax (besides promoting envy!!).

Jay
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Old Aug 20, 2006, 1:06 PM   #5
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I did a test between a Mitakon MC 80-200 f4.5, a Pentax SMC-F 70-210 f4-5.6 and a SMC-A* 200 mm f2.8. The zoom's were set to 200 mm of course, and I tried them at various apertures. I didn't save the pictures (very boring anyway, a pile of tree branches on the lawn)but i can assure that there was a difference. This regarding both sharpness and contrast. The Mitakon is crap, the Pentax zoom is very good but still there is a significant step up to the prime 200 mm.

The Mitakon is buried deep down in a drawer, and I'm happy with both Pentax lenses. The zoom is convenient and delivers good quality, the prime is a bit bulky but the image quality it delivers is just ooooh... (And then of course it depends on the photographer, but that's another story. I stillstrive to reach the level of my A* lenses:roll.

Kjell
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Old Aug 21, 2006, 5:19 AM   #6
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F, I own that particular 100-300mm f4.7-5.8 FA zoom, which I use on my DL. It is very lightweight and I find it more than acceptably sharp. This was a budget model with a plastic lens mount but still seems reasonably sturdy. I have used it for everything from near macro to bird pictures. It is not in the same league with the SMC* lenses but is more than acceptable as a low cost beginner lens (I have been at this for over 20 years and I like it). As for prices, I got mine used so I paid very little, check around, $99 isn't bad but if you can get it cheaper great.

Ira
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Old Aug 21, 2006, 10:59 PM   #7
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There are 3 different Pentax 100-300 lenses. The oldest is F100-300 in dark grey. Almost identical is the black power-zoom FA100-300. Last is the Silver version. None of them are "great." They tend toward soft at the 300 side. All of them are well worth the money.

KEH usually has a good selection of used 100-300s well priced.

Larry in Dallas
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Old Aug 22, 2006, 7:55 AM   #8
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Mine is the newer silver f4.7-5.8 version, the other two are much larger and heavier (also f4.5-5.6) and I believe they are optically the same (mechanically the power zoom is the only difference). My lens also has a plastic mount (not an issue considering the light weight of the lens) the other two are metal (which is necessary since they are reported to weigh 605g compared with 390 for my lens).

I have read that the power zoom model is the one to avoid because of mechanical issues, the f4.5-5.6 non-power zoom is the most mechanically robust, and the f4.7-5.8 silver (which I own) is an easy to handle lightweight that is the optical equal to the others but is not overly sturdy. The slight difference in aperture is not enough to enter into the discussion. Either would be a good deal new at $100. I personally love mine. Here is an interesting sample image of an icicle taken hand held at minimum focus distance and 300mm, looks pretty sharp to my eye (I think these lenses suffer from corner softness which is all but eliminated by the smaller image circle of the dSLRs which stay in the lenses "sweet spot".





Ira
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Old Aug 22, 2006, 2:41 PM   #9
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The silver is different from either of the other two. The black/dark grey versions have 12 elements in 8 groups. The silver 100-300 has 11 elements in 9 groups. None of them are world class lenses and they weren't priced that way. They work pretty well.

I've got the power zoom which I originally bought for a Z-1. I found it a little soft at 300 and replaced it with an 80-320 that works just a little better and has greater reach. However, Ira is right. On my D, both are improved lenses due to the smaller radius.

Larry in Dallas
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Old Aug 22, 2006, 8:48 PM   #10
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Well, I bit my teeth and orderd the 100-300 lens from K&H.
It is the silver lens. Lets see how it performs......
Thanks for all your words of advice.

F
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