Long fast prime choices?

Discussion in 'Pentax' started by mattb.net, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. I have the DAL 55-300 and something like 95% of the shots I have taken with it are at 300mm. So this makes me think a ~300mm prime, preferably fast-ish (or at least not super slow) would make a nice addition to the collection and improve the IQ of my long shots. AF would be nice but not a necessity, but at least being an A lens is required.
    What would you guys suggest?
    The DA* 300mm F/4 looks very nice but it's a bit pricey for the amount of use this lens would get from me.
    Is there a cheaper/older/off-brand option that might work well enough to improve IQ over the DAL 55-300 at 300?
  2. stemked

    stemked Moderator

    Well, a 500mm f4.5 Takumar or Pentax is likely the cheapest way to get long and cheap. No Autofocus (or A) of course and it doesn't focus especially close. Fairly easy to find
    Sigma 400mm f5.6 A, several versions. The non-APO verions aren't so hot; version I is very light but poorly constructed. Version II (macro) is much better. Uncommon
    Tokina had a 400mm f5.6 but they are very rare.
    Pentax also had a 400mm f5.6 A, but it is very expensive (and rare)
    Sigma 500mm f4.5 auto focus. Very expensive (+$4,000)
  3. Not a prime, but the Sigma 100-300 might be an option. Faster, better optically.
    The 300mm f/4 is excellent, just not as good as it's Nikkor counterpart, or it's 200mm Pentax sibling.
    Forget Pentax FA teles, they sell for way more than they should. If there is a DA alternative go with it.
    I think Dougs list is pretty extensive, but I'm sure there is a 300mm f/2.8 tokina that should be on that list...good luck finding it!
  4. I'm a great fan of the DA*300--it's sharp & quick and works well with Pentax TCs. The A*300mm is almost as good optically, more compact and less expensive. The Tokina 400mm f5.6 is also a nice lens but I was disappointed by results when I tried it with TCs.
  5. The K 300/4 is supposed to be good. I have a Rikenon XR 300/4.5 that might be - it is tricky to manually focus such a long lens, even with a relatively bright max aperture. So I have a few decent shots with it, nothing great yet and a lot of fuzz.
  6. Matt,
    I'd second Justin in seeking a Sigma 100-300mm f4. I know it's not a prime, but it is good and the flexibility would serve you well.
    I think that for longer focal lengths you really have to define your requirements and then find the right lens. With APS-C, I've never found 300mm to be all that satisfying a focal length. It seems too short--400mm is more right for birds and some field sports. It also seems too long as I find 200mm to be more accomodating for closer in action.
    So consider:
    -finding a rare decent 400mm prime to complement your existing DAL;
    -the Sigma 100-300 f4 with a 1.4x TC
    -the hard-to-find Tokina 80-400mm, perhaps f4.5-5.6; I ran into a Pentax shooter in Arizona with one and thought the smaller size was very valuable. The images he sent me were good, not great, but worth the convenience. 400mm is rare on K-mount these days.
  7. Thanks for the info. I'm in no hurry but I like to consider the options while the gear fund gets built back up.
  8. I am seriously considering the DA*200mm f/2.8 at the moment in lieu of the the Tamron or Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 for sports such as lacrosse and football. It offers faster focusing and a more compact design. If I could find a TC perhaps that would give me the extra reach for some cross field action.
  9. A lot of people consider the DA/DAL 55-300 the best budget zoom going up to 300mm. So that makes it tough to find a 300mm lens that is both cheaper and better. I don't think there is any better 300mm - there are 300mm lenses that are cheaper, but I don't think they would be significantly better, even if they would be better. But if you lower your focal length expectation, you could find 200mm lenses that could be better as far as IQ goes and that would still be relatively cheap compared to the DA* 300/4. For example, the Tamron SP 80-200/2.8 - with a teleconverter you could make it longer and it might still beat the DAL in terms of IQ. The biggest issue with older lenses, however, is CA - compared to them, the 55-300 will be hard to beat.
  10. I owned the K 300mm f/4 a long time ago. It was about $300 used when I got it off of a precursor to Craigslist in 1997.

    Anyway, it was a good lens, but the lack of an A setting was a killer. I can live without AF, but the A setting on digital SLRs is really important to me. I'd avoid any non A lenses.
  11. I was looking for something in the 300-500 fast primes I narrowed it down to pentax 300F4, sigma’s 300 2.8, sigma 120-300 2.8(not in pentax mount until recently released ) or the sigma 500 4.5. I went with the current sigma 300 2.8 APO DG added sigma 1.4 & 2.0 apo ex dg convs. This covers 300mm, 420mm & 600mm in a smaller package that i find comfortable and able to pack all day long.
    One of the overlooked battles with large primes is getting the equipment into the locations that you’re going to shoot.
    I went with the 300mm 2.8 for this reason, below are some samples with the 300 2.8 many with the 1.4 conv
  12. Ian,
    I totally agree with you. Even a 300mm f/4 with a 1.4X on a APS DSLR is a good option. Bigger lenses really become a burden if you are carrying them into the backcountry.
    It's another reason I really like the 200mm f/2.8 + 1.4X TC over the 300mm f/4. The 300mm is not a big lens, but it's not nearly as compact as the 200mm!
  13. It would be interesting to see how the sigma 120-300 2.8 pans out, from what I have read about it by N & C owners it’s a wonderful zoom
  14. Ian, I'm sorry I looked at your beautiful photos! I think that Sigma is a little out of my league at the moment.
  15. Matt --
    I was much like yourself. The second I received my DA 55-300 f/4-5.8 I started shooting at 260-300 f/5.6-5.8, sometimes around 200mm f/4.5 for a bit of speed. But I wanted f/2.8. I finally decided to eat the almost $1K for the DA* 200 f/2.8. I considered the DA* 300 f/4, but decided that I already had the DA 55-300 f/4-5.8 for reach, and I wanted some reach with speed.
    I do not regret the decision.
    The DA* 200 f/2.8 is barely 5" and allows me to take it into any sporting event as a spectator without issue. That right there is gold. It's a solid build, without being too heavy. I really think it's worth dropping sub-$1K on, or trying to find for sub-$700 used, if you can (most owners, like myself, won't give it up).
    Today I still shoot with my DA* 200 f/2.8 on my new K-5 Silver Limited and keep my DA* 55-300 f/4-5.8 on my K-x red as a backup. I still shoot with the red and have fun, but the DA* 200 f/2.8 is my primary. You can consider spending a few hundred more on a DA* 300 f/4 if you so desire, or 3x more for the Sigma 300 f/2.8 for the ultimate reach and speed.
    But for sub-$1K, it's hard to beat, even if it's not quite as much reach. As PopPhoto says,"If there's a downside to this lens, we couldn't find it."
    • PopPhoto test: http://www.popphoto.com/Reviews/Lenses/Lens-Test-Pentax-SMCP-DA-200mm-f-2.8ED-IF-SDM-AF
  16. Yes Bryan, I'm starting to lean that way, not that the money is burning a hole in my pocket or anything. The sample images and reviews are pretty much all stellar.
    Is there an available TC that works well with the DA* 200?
  17. Matt --
    I've flirted with getting a TC for some time. I believe the Pentax 1.7x TC out there is beloved, but good luck on finding one (at a decent price).
    I also thought there was a recent Pentax roadmap with a new TC coming out? I haven't checked in awhile. In any case, I haven't made the move yet.
  18. Based on my experience with the DA*300, I'd assume both the AF 1.7x & A 2x-S would work well with the DA*200.
    I also thought there was a recent Pentax roadmap with a new TC coming out?​
    I don't follow such things very closely but I'm under the impression that it wasn't all that recent. The lack of same is a serious source of frustration among long-lens Pentaxians.

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