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Help required for Pentax K-r lens selection

Discussion in 'Pentax Chat' started by hluw12, Jun 1, 2015.

  1. hluw12

    hluw12 New Member

    Hi there,

    I'm in some desperate need of help for choosing a new lens for my Pentax K-r, for which I have a standard kit lens for (DA 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 AL II).

    I really want to get back into photography so that I can photograph air shows and wildlife but I also want to do more macro (e.g. flowers). My current lens is ok enough but I want something that will allow me to take sharp photographs at long distance.

    At the moment I'm thinking of a telephoto zoom lens or a macro zoom lens that's not prime... Is that an accurate description for the photography I want to do??

    I am aware that I might be asking for too much from a single lens but from hunting around, these are the lenses that have been detailed as potentially suitable on other sites:

    Sigma 70-300mm F/4-5.6
    Sigma 50-500mm
    Sigma 150-500mm F/4-6.3
    Pentax 55-300mm SMC DA f/4-5.8 ED zoom
    Sigma 100-300mm F/4 EX
    Tamron 200-500mm SP F/5-6.3 Di
    Pentax FA 300mm F/4.5

    I really have no idea where to go with this now... If you could give me some advice as to why I should choose one over another/what you have that would be great!

    Thank you (in advance)!!
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
  2. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    We like spending other people's money, probably safer to indicate a budget limit... ;)

    From reviews I've read and comments and pictures on another forum Sigma's new 150-600mm Sport is very good at wildlife and sport with good resolution and sharpness even out to the maximum length. On the downside it's rather heavy and at £1500 not cheap though definitely cheaper than a decent 600mm prime. ALternatively there's a cheaper 'Contemporary' version which seems to be almost as good and rather lighter - price is similar to the Tamron 200-500 in your list. Both the Sigma's are supposed to be a bit sharper than the older 150-500.
  3. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Hi H_Luw,

    If you're looking for a lens, with quite good macro capability and, I would say, average tele capabilities. Here is a s/h Tamron 70-300/4.5-5.6 (w/ 1:2 Macro -- will fill your K-r LCD from about 25-30 inches IN Macro Mode) for about £60 and, new, they're maybe £100-120.


    and, pretty much the same specs from a s/h APO Sigma 70-300 for £90 .. although, the APO signification is supposed to offer better image results … although, it has been my experience (in retail) the APO lenses, generally, cost much much more than regular lenses(??).


    And, here's an "average condition" big boy Sigma 150-500 lenses for £450


    and, here's a cracker, IMHO, and if you're comfortable with Manual Focus and using the "aperture ring" thing manual focus/exposure lenses where you select the aperture and press the green button to get the appropriate shutter speed :) -- I have Pentax, including the K-r, IST*Ds, K-50, but never remember how to explain it until I do it myself with my stuff :eek: ….. :) Here's a Pentax K 400/5.6, obviously s/h ;), for £250 and, truth be told, if I were in the UK I would, probably, pick this puppy up :)


    Hope this helps a wee bit and let us know how things progress. :)


  4. Ffolrord

    Ffolrord Well-Known Member

    If airshows are your principal interest then I think the Sigma 100-300/4 is an excellent choice. If you can find one.

    I think you might find problems with the longer zooms. They will be unwieldy and you will be shooting airshows handheld. Plus f4 will be a real bonus in lower light and also the longer end may not be so useful when you are shooting into hazy conditions which will often prevail for the more distant subject. If you want a longer option then I would personally add the excellent 1.4 teleconverter to a 300mm f4 option, which gives you 450mm f5.6.

    I think a zoom gives you much more flexibility at airshows where you will want more than just close ups of a single subject so I'd rule out a 300mm prime.

    Budget wise then the 55-300 is a really good option for the money, nowhere nearly good as the Sigma but nowhere near the price either. It performs best in its mid-range and it gives you a very useful airshow zoom range. It won't take a converter well though.

    I would forget about a do everything macro zoom. You can use any of the above mentioned lenses very successfully for flowers and larger pseudo-macro work for butterflies. I have seen some very good pseudo macro images with the 55-300. You can add a Raynox too to get closer. For smaller subjects like flies then simply use something like a reversed old manual lens like a 50mm f1.7. It will take a heck of a lot of practice to get decent results but once you get the hang of it then a cheap set up is capable of top quality images.

    The one factor you have omitted to mention is budget and that will be the biggest determinant on your options.
  5. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    I think you need to decide where your priorities are - macro or airshows - 'coz you're not going to find a single lens that's good at both. Most of the telezooms that are reasonably good at longer focal lengths only have reproduction ratios of around 1:5 - i.e. something about 5" long will fill the frame.

    The Sigma & Tamron 70-300s are better at macro, reaching 1:2 repro, but at 300mm their optical performance leaves a bit to be desired - the APO Sigma is a bit better. The Pentax 55-300 is a bit better optically, but only gets to 1:3.6 repro.

    You've certainly got a broad shortlist - not quite chalk to cheese, but certainly Brie to Parmesan!

    Personally, I have the Pentax 55-300, which does quite well for my relatively infrequent long tele shots, including aircraft (slowish airliners), and a Tamron 90/2.8 macro lens, which I've also sometimes used for portraits.

    By the way, there are at least 3 versions of the Pentax 55-300 - the original, and the cheapo "L" version, with plastic mount, and no quick manual focus or lens hood. If at all possible, avoid the "L" - I see the new version is now weather resistant.

    Ffolrord's suggestion of using a close up conversion lens for macro is good - the Raynox ones are, I believe, reasonable quality (I've seen some good results using them), and Marumi also make reasonable good ones - I use one on a Fuji bridge camera for some macro work when I need more depth of field.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015

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