DA 55-300 or sigma 120-400


Link Posted 03/03/2011 - 16:14
Right then folks i know the subject seems slightly odd as the sigma is twice the price of the pentax but as still fairly new to all of this i'm wondering if for someone who's wanting to do more wildlife photography its worth saving a bit longer and spending the extra on the sigma?
I've read on here the pentax stays sharp at the long end and wondering if this is the case would i be better off just cropping in photoshop to makeup for the shorter focal length (I'm not trying to print A1 images or anything!)
i currently only own the dal 18-55 and dal 50-200 (kit lenses with my KX)so with the da 55-300 i could really get shot of my longer kit lens as i'd still have a full range of focal lengths covered. (All makes perfect sense from a budget point of view)
But hopefully people in the know on here can tell me if i'd really reap any advantages having the Sigma? I just dont want to end up in 3-4 months time kickin myself that i should have saved and gone for the sigma...

Right apologies for the essay look forward to hearing your thoughts
Pentax K-x, Da-L 18-55mm, Da-L 50-200mm, Tamron Di Ld 70-300mm


Link Posted 03/03/2011 - 17:56
There is a big price difference between the two lenses. You have to ask what you need the longer focal length for. I was in a similar position to you and have recently got the 55-300mm only had it a week and used in fairly bright light, so far am impressed with the quality. The shot below is taken at 300mm, and although sharpened in photoshop, I think it is really a great value lens.

Not bad for a lens of 145
My piccies.


Link Posted 03/03/2011 - 18:22
That's very good male Mallard's usually don't photograph too good due to the type of feathers they have. Females photograph a lot better.

The 55-300mm is an excellent lens and quite small and light. From what I've seen of it the 120-400mm is huge by comparison.
Half Man... Half Pentax ... Half Cucumber

Pentax K-1 + K-5 and some other stuff



Link Posted 03/03/2011 - 21:27
From what I've seen of it the 120-400mm is huge by comparison.

You're not wrong, I've had to buy a new camera bag to fit mine in.
My Website


Link Posted 03/03/2011 - 21:56
I've got the 55-300 and as far as i'm concerned it's a great lens and does'nt act like a budget lens. Maybe it's because i don't know enough of what else is availiable, but then if i am satisfied with what i have then why spend more. I don't know anything about the Sigma but what i do know is that if there is something in particular that you would rather have then you will have it.

K5 + Penta DA 18-135, Pentax 55-300, Pentax A-50mm F1.7, Sigma 10-20, Tamron 17-50, Tamron SP90 DI Macro
Manfrotto 190XPROB-804RC2 Head,
Samsung Flash Unit.

link Flickr
link PPG


Link Posted 04/03/2011 - 00:20
Price vs quality. Don't you just hate it! Always difficult. If you are at the beginning of your wildlife journey I would go for the DAL 55-300. Not because it's better but because you will be very happy. In fact I would even say the saving of the DAL over the DA is worth it on a cost effective basis, bearing in mind they are optically the same. I have used the DAl 55-300 on my KX for over a year and have enjoyed the lightness and the quality (but not the slow and hunting autofocus) but find myself wanting more, but also wondering if the next step up like the Sigma 120-400 or 150-500 really will be worth the extra weight and cost. Then of course the DA* 300mm raises it's head. Dunno - but if you want to see what the first part of my journey has been like with the DAL 55-300 then go here and have a look:-
Taken with DAL 55-300 and K-x unless it says otherwise.


Link Posted 04/03/2011 - 08:39
I have a Sigma 50-500mm and 100-300mm f4 but recently bought a 55-300mm to take on holiday along with my 18-135mm. Purely down to weight restrictions but having had the Pentax lens before I am happy in the knowledge it will perform very well.
. My Flickr


Link Posted 04/03/2011 - 08:55
I posted some sample pics with the 55-300mm on here last August.
Half Man... Half Pentax ... Half Cucumber

Pentax K-1 + K-5 and some other stuff



Link Posted 04/03/2011 - 08:57
The DA is a lot easier to live with, and the extra bottom range will be very useful when you feed the ducks, although it`s not the sharpest below 100mm.
As regard to the extra range of a 400mm, you are only a crop away from that, the DA at 300mm is good enough to handle it.
This was taken through bars with the DA, not the sharpest but could you handhold a 400mm zoom to the same quality?

if you do get a big siggy zoom will you be able to handhold it at 400mm? if not then you will find using it a pain, tripods,beanbags,etc.

K5 + 8mm-500mm zooms and primes
Please feel free to play with any images I post.
My flickr: link


Link Posted 04/03/2011 - 10:17
I would be very surprised Dave if you couldn't hold a 120-400 to the quality of the shot posted

I have had the Pentax 80-320, the Tamron 70-300 and then the Pentax 55-300 before i bought the Pentax DA*300 yesterday. Today I went birding and the difference is amazing, I can crop 1:1 shots from the *300 and still get quality as good as, or very close to, uncropped shots from the 55-300. However look at the price difference - I'd be very disappointed if I couldn't ! And even at well over 1kg I didn't find it too heavy to hand hold shots - I think the 120-400 is a similar weight - neither of them are 150-500 or 50-500 monsters !

IQ wise the 120-400 falls somewhat in between, as it's price would indicate, but closer in quality to the *300 than the 55-300. It really depends on you and how 'serious' you are with regard to your birding. If you know this is not a whim and you are going to be 'relatively' serious about it - then I'd save your money and go for the 120-400.

Experienced photographers will always tell you 'buy the best glass you can afford rather than the best camera you can afford' and there's a reason for that. If I'd listened to that good advice when given instead of going through 4 lenses to get where I wanted to be when I started then I'd have saved a few hundred and in the interim have got some brilliant shots instead of some 'meh' shots lost because the lenses I was using couldn't resolve fine detail from the distance I was shooting at.

The 55-300 is a great bit of kit for the money (as is the Tamron - though not quite at the 55-300 level) but doesn't do too well cropping. The depth of resolution is just not there.

IMHO if you are not sure what you want then get a used Tamron (60 - 75 GBP) or used DAL version of the 55-300, that way you won't lose much (if anything ) when you come to upgrade, and upgrade you will if you are really into birding. If you are already sure - then get the 120-400, I've seen some great shots posted from it across the different fora.
http://frogfish.smugmug.com/ Pentax. Pentax DA*300/4, Cosina 55/1.2, Lens Baby Composer Pro & Edge 80, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.
Nikon. D800. D600. Sigma 500/4.5, Nikon 300/2.8 VRII, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 35/2.0, Sigma 50/1.4, Nikkor 85/1.8, Nikon TC20EIII, Nikon TC14EII, Kenko x1.4, Sigma 2.0
Last Edited by Frogfish on 04/03/2011 - 10:20


Link Posted 07/03/2011 - 12:42
Thanks for all the comments. I think i'm gonna go down the route frogfish mentions with a 2nd hand DAL or Tamron 70-300 to see me through till i can afford the sigma, or sell an organ and stretch to a DA*300 and teleconverter ooh that would be nice!!
Pentax K-x, Da-L 18-55mm, Da-L 50-200mm, Tamron Di Ld 70-300mm
Add a Comment
You must be registered or logged-in to comment.