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  1. #1
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    Question AF tele-zoom/tele-prime recommendations...?

    Well, I am looking at a couple of PENTAX-mount lenses; tele-zooms and a tele-prime. With the 300mm f4 MF-only I currently have, sharp shots of not-so-still wildlife are extremely hard to accomplish. I'm not planning to get the new lens anytime soon, perhaps early next year. I just completed two photographic assignments, and can now afford a TAMRON 70-300mm, (or the SIGMA) but have read several negative reviews complaining about their sharpness at 300mm.

    What I want is to "set my sights" on the right lens, and start saving up enough money.

    I'm not so worried about macro-focusing distances or tripod-collars, these would essentially be "icing on the cake", so to speak. What I'm more concerned about is the following:

    • Focal length. (200mm+, preferably 300mm+).
    • If zoom, sharpness at longer focal lengths.
    • Sharpness wide open and stopped down.
    • Chromatic aberrations. (CA).
    • Distortions. (Barrel and/or pincushioning).
    • Vignetting issues.
    • Bokeh quality.
    • Aperture size. (f4 is OK, f5.6 would be OK too. I don't think I really need f2.8).

    Wide-to-tele "super-zooms" would definetely be out of the question. (e.g. 18-250mm).

    Something like 75-300mm's, 70-300mm's, 55-300mm's, would be better. Prime lenses would be all right too, so long as they aren't "monsters". I will be shooting mostly hand-held, perhaps occasionally with a Canon monopod 100, and very rarely with a Velbon CX-540 tripod. Lighter, compactish AF lenses are what I need.

    Also, has anyone had experience with PENTAX's SDM AF-motor? Does it really help with bird photography or would a non-SDM lens work just fine?

    Here are the optics being considered, along with a few reasons why and a few reasons why not-so-sure:

    PENTAX SMCP-DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED Autofocus Lens.

    Why maybe yes:
    - Good zoom range.
    - PENTAX-branded.
    - 300mm focal length.
    - On average, receives positive reviews.
    - Smallish and compact.

    Why maybe not:
    - f5.8 max aperture at 300mm.
    - Vignetting issues.
    - CA issues.
    - Sharpness issues.
    - Distortions.

    TAMRON AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro Autofocus Lens for Pentax AF.

    Why maybe yes:
    - CHEAP! I could buy it right away...
    - 300mm focal length.
    - Macro focusing ability. (Icing-on-the-cake).
    - Smallish and compactish.

    Why maybe not:
    - People complain about poor image quality at 300mm.
    - f5.6 max aperture at 300mm.
    - CA issues.
    - Vignetting issues.
    - Distortions.

    Sigma Zoom Telephoto 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro Autofocus Lens for Pentax AF.

    Why maybe yes:
    - CHEAP! I could buy it right away...
    - 300mm focal length.
    - Smallish and compactish.

    Why maybe not:
    - Complaints about quality at 300mm.
    - f5.6 max aperture at 300mm.
    - Complaints about ugly bokeh.
    - CA issues.
    - Distortions.
    - I don't reallly like it's looks...
    - Vignetting issues.

    Pentax SMCP-DA* 200mm f/2.8 ED (IF) SDM Autofocus Lens.

    Why maybe yes:
    - "Star quality", PENTAX-branded.
    - SDM AF motor.
    - f2.8 max aperture.
    - Better image quality, since it has a fixed focal-length.

    Why maybe not:
    - PRICE! Expensive!
    - 200mm is a bit on the short side for photographing small birds.
    - Heavier and larger than the others.

    I will be shooting mostly perched birds – but also BIF's, squirrels, wild bunnies, etc..

    The D-SLR I currently own: *ist D

    If anyone here has used these lenses, I would really appreciate it if you could share your experience. If you think that another lens would work well for me, please feel free to mention.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Member Snapac's Avatar
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    Re: AF tele-zoom/tele-prime suggestions...?

    I've been happy with my Sigma 70 - 200mm, but haven't used it much, because of work :cryin: It's 100mm less than what you're looking for but sharp, quiet and has HSM



    critics are welcomed to make comments
    Pentax K10D w/battery grip
    Sigma 10-20mm F4-5,6 EX DC, Pentax smc P-DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 - Pentax DA 50mm f/1.4 - Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 - Sigma APO 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG HSM Macro -Pentax AF 540 FGZ - Gary Fong "Lightshpere" (cloud & clear)


    www.johnrender.com

  3. #3
    Kentucky Wildlife
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    Re: AF tele-zoom/tele-prime recommendations...?

    I've been using the Pentax 200 F2.8 for a few months now and am amazed at the quality. I've sold three covers already and have promises of a few more next year. I've been a professional for quite a while, and some of the shots I've gotten with this lens are among the best I've ever seen--period. I use it on a K20D and have been able to get sharp shots hand held at surprisingly low light. The IS technology in the camera helps, too, but the biggest reason is the F2.8. The AF is very fast and quiet, but because I use it outdoors, I rarely use AF. Invariably it will focus on a blade of grass or some twig instead of the intended subject. Beside, there's now something wrong with my camera and the AF doesn't work with any of my lenses.
    I highly recommend this lens. It is heavy and expensive, but if quality and versatility is what you want in hand-held situation, I don't think you can do better. The expense and weight, to me, is well worth it. For small birds, you do have to get within a dozen feet or so to fill frame, but when you do, what you'll get will knock your socks off.

  4. #4
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    Re: AF tele-zoom/tele-prime recommendations...?

    Thanks for your input, guys!

    Ron, I see you're still quite new to this site – welcome. I was just reading about the 200mm f/2.8 lens, and it seems to be known for heavy chromatic aberrations. What do you think about this? Is it really as big a deal as several online review sites claim?

  5. #5
    Kentucky Wildlife
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    Re: AF tele-zoom/tele-prime recommendations...?

    No, AM, and I have taken pix in all kinds of light conditions without even a hint of chromatic aberration. Because I shoot for publications, and the process of printing naturally loses a little color and contrast, especially when blowing up for covers, I bumped the saturation and contrast just a bit to compensate. The colors are true and vivid, with no aberration.
    I'm having some problems with Pentax (the company), but I love this lens and am taking better pix than I have during more than 30 years of trying. I wouldn't be surprised if Pentax hasn't pissed other people off and they are bad mouthing their products to spite them.

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