Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

Started Jul 24, 2022 | Questions
gkreth Veteran Member • Posts: 3,128
Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6
1

Hi, everyone!

I have dreamed on and off about getting a Pentax 150-450 f/4.5-5.6, mostly for birding and wildlife.

But it's expensive. Really, really expensive. (For me, anyway.)

I bought a Sigma 50-500 many years ago, and I was disappointed; it seemed very soft at the long end (I know most zooms are softer at the long end, but this copy was just too soft to be acceptable). It also had, well, kinda lousy contrast.

I was wondering about the old Tamron Adaptall 200-500 f/5.6.
I realize that it is MF.
But, it's also, like, one-fifth the price of the Pentax 150-450.

There aren't a whole lotta review on the Tamron, but what I have read seems to indicate that it is pretty sharp, even wide open.

Anyone here ever shoot with one?
Did you like the results?

Oh, I would be shooting this with a K3, and probably with a straight PK adapter. (I have a PKA, but TBH, it's kinda fiddly with the electronic contacts to the body.) I'll probably be shooting it wide open for the most part, because, well, at f/5.6 and where/when I'll be shooting, I don't think I'll be able to stop down much if at all.

Thanks for your opinions, comments, and advice!

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Greg

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kypfer Senior Member • Posts: 1,084
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

gkreth wrote:

Hi, everyone!

I have dreamed on and off about getting a Pentax 150-450 f/4.5-5.6, mostly for birding and wildlife.

But it's expensive. Really, really expensive. (For me, anyway.)

I bought a Sigma 50-500 many years ago, and I was disappointed; it seemed very soft at the long end (I know most zooms are softer at the long end, but this copy was just too soft to be acceptable). It also had, well, kinda lousy contrast.

I was wondering about the old Tamron Adaptall 200-500 f/5.6.
I realize that it is MF.
But, it's also, like, one-fifth the price of the Pentax 150-450.

There aren't a whole lotta review on the Tamron, but what I have read seems to indicate that it is pretty sharp, even wide open.

Anyone here ever shoot with one?
Did you like the results?

Oh, I would be shooting this with a K3, and probably with a straight PK adapter. (I have a PKA, but TBH, it's kinda fiddly with the electronic contacts to the body.) I'll probably be shooting it wide open for the most part, because, well, at f/5.6 and where/when I'll be shooting, I don't think I'll be able to stop down much if at all.

Thanks for your opinions, comments, and advice!

My Tamron 200-500mm is the earlier f/6.9 … it's fine on a tripod but not really ergonomically suited to hand-held work.

My Sigma 150-500mm is superior in virtually every respect and is my "go-to lens" for general "birding and wildlife". Personal experience, along with on-line recommendations, suggest the in-lens stabilisation is superior to the in-camera Shake Reduction, especially at the longer lengths, but you do need to give it a second or so to steady itself, on occasion.

I've used Tamron Adaptall-2 lenses since the '70's. My 90mm macro has followed me through four changes of mount and is permanently in my bag. The only reason(s) the PKA mount can be "kinda fiddly", in my experience, is that if it's in need of cleaning and/or lubrication, (all of the rotating "bits and pieces" need to be free in respect to each other) and/or the mount is being fitted incorrectly. The lens aperture needs to be set wide open, the mount aligned and fitted, then the aperture ring set to AE using the little button for the purpose. Do note, there is a drop of sealing varnish on some PKA mounts just clockwise from the electrical contacts, about at the "6 o'clock" position. This can/will interfere with the communication to the camera and needs to be scraped off for reliable operation. This is because the PKA mount was designed before a/f was available and there were only a total of six connection points, including 'ground'. The drop of varnish coincides unfortunately with the seventh contact, that was introduced with a/f cameras, that is required and needs to be grounded for successful "catch-in-focus" operation with m/f lenses.

I'd have no reservations about using a Tamron SP lens if that was all that was available, they were of superior quality in their day, and the f/5.6 aperture should make confirming focus quite easy, even giving scope for a 1.4x teleconverter in good light, but, given a choice, on one of my 24mpixel bodies, the Sigma every time

Hope this helps.

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xmeda
xmeda Senior Member • Posts: 2,133
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6
1

Get Sigma 100-300/4 and be happy With K3 you have same reach as 150-450 on FF
Btw what is wrong with Sigma 50-500? It is not that bad, but eats light quickly, needs F8+ and fast shutter speeds...

K3 + 50-500/4-6.3

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PentUp
PentUp Veteran Member • Posts: 4,373
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

I know nothing about the Tamron 200-500, so can’t help you there. And I agree that the Pentax 150-450 is outrageously expensive (for a 3x zoom).

But which version of the Sigma 50-500 did you have? I am very happy with my  50-500mm DG OS HSM version. It is my go to lens for wildlife ‘Big’ and ‘Small’.

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KentG Veteran Member • Posts: 4,842
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

I had one for a time. This was during the time I owned all the bigger Tamron Adaptall-2 lenses from the 180/2.5 up thru the 400/4. the 200-500/5.6 was an acceptable lens, a little better than the Tokina AT-X 150-500/5.6 SD in sharpness although the Tokina had lower distortion.

Personally I like the Pentax 150-450 better than either of those. I sold all the Tamron lenses during a short period 4 or 5  years ago.

Kent Gittings

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KentG Veteran Member • Posts: 4,842
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

3x zooms are way more expensive than 5x or more zooms in general because they can be made much better. Its way easier to make a top 3x zoom because the limited zoom range means you can make it outstanding at the long end unlike super zooms which tend to fall apart at the high end. One reason I never bought a Bigma. Already had a Sigma 100-300/4 and now I have a Sigma 120-300/2.8 (Canon) plus the Pentax 150-450.

Kent Gittings

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PentUp
PentUp Veteran Member • Posts: 4,373
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

KentG wrote:

3x zooms are way more expensive than 5x or more zooms in general because they can be made much better. Its way easier to make a top 3x zoom because the limited zoom range means you can make it outstanding at the long end unlike super zooms which tend to fall apart at the high end. One reason I never bought a Bigma. Already had a Sigma 100-300/4 and now I have a Sigma 120-300/2.8 (Canon) plus the Pentax 150-450.

Kent Gittings

The reason that the Sigma 50-500 is more valuable to me than a 150-450 (or 150-600)  would be, is because with the 50mm wide end I can actually get images of big wildlife that come close that I could never get with a 150mm wide end.

Value is not just about the priice tag on the box.

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OP gkreth Veteran Member • Posts: 3,128
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

xmeda wrote:

Get Sigma 100-300/4 and be happy With K3 you have same reach as 150-450 on FF
Btw what is wrong with Sigma 50-500? It is not that bad, but eats light quickly, needs F8+ and fast shutter speeds...

K3 + 50-500/4-6.3

Well, yes, a 300mm on a K3 has the reach of a 450mm on FF, but 450mm on a K3 has the reach of a 675mm!
Just looking for more reach, without dropping $1500....
Greg

OP gkreth Veteran Member • Posts: 3,128
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6
2

PentUp wrote:

I know nothing about the Tamron 200-500, so can’t help you there. And I agree that the Pentax 150-450 is outrageously expensive (for a 3x zoom).

But which version of the Sigma 50-500 did you have? I am very happy with my 50-500mm DG OS HSM version. It is my go to lens for wildlife ‘Big’ and ‘Small’.

I have an older version, no HSM (screw drive), no OS, 86mm filter size.

My complaints about it:

  • Slow AF, hunts and often fails to lock if not bright sunlight.
  • Low contrast
  • Soft, almost gauzy

I don't know if it was just my copy, or because it's the older version, but I'm hesitant to get a newer copy, in fear of being disappointed, again.

Update: Hmm, KEH has a bargain version for $534.24... Well, hell, now I'm re-considering...
Greg

PentUp
PentUp Veteran Member • Posts: 4,373
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6
1

xmeda wrote:

Get Sigma 100-300/4 and be happy With K3 you have same reach as 150-450 on FF
Btw what is wrong with Sigma 50-500? It is not that bad, but eats light quickly, needs F8+ and fast shutter speeds...

K3 + 50-500/4-6.3

I find F/7.1 to be the sweet spot with the Sigma 50-500 DG OS HSM, but it has no issues with wider apertures and of course not all wildlife requires a fast shiutter speed...

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PentUp
PentUp Veteran Member • Posts: 4,373
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

gkreth wrote:

PentUp wrote:

I know nothing about the Tamron 200-500, so can’t help you there. And I agree that the Pentax 150-450 is outrageously expensive (for a 3x zoom).

But which version of the Sigma 50-500 did you have? I am very happy with my 50-500mm DG OS HSM version. It is my go to lens for wildlife ‘Big’ and ‘Small’.

I have an older version, no HSM (screw drive), no OS, 86mm filter size.

My complaints about it:

  • Slow AF, hunts and often fails to lock if not bright sunlight.
  • Low contrast
  • Soft, almost gauzy

I don't know if it was just my copy, or because it's the older version, but I'm hesitant to get a newer copy, in fear of being disappointed, again.

Update: Hmm, KEH has a bargain version for $534.24... Well, hell, now I'm re-considering...
Greg

The HSM OS version is good!

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Rod Herdman Veteran Member • Posts: 3,522
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6
1

As some replies have said, Sigma do a 150-500 but prior to that they did a 135-400 which I have. I use it on my K5II and well it's good for me but I don't tend to be as demanding as some users might be. They might be found at a decent price too.

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xmeda
xmeda Senior Member • Posts: 2,133
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

gkreth wrote:

xmeda wrote:

Get Sigma 100-300/4 and be happy With K3 you have same reach as 150-450 on FF

Well, yes, a 300mm on a K3 has the reach of a 450mm on FF, but 450mm on a K3 has the reach of a 675mm!
Just looking for more reach, without dropping $1500....
Greg

You can always slap 1.5x  TC or 2xTC on it and get 150-450/6.3 or 200-600/8

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KentG Veteran Member • Posts: 4,842
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

That is why I also have a Sigma 50-150/2.8 in Pentax. I don't find much use for a regular standard 50mm prime outdoors, especially when I have 50, 105, and 180 1:1 macro lenses which are useful to me.

Kent Gittings

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PentUp
PentUp Veteran Member • Posts: 4,373
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6
1

KentG wrote:

That is why I also have a Sigma 50-150/2.8 in Pentax. I don't find much use for a regular standard 50mm prime outdoors, especially when I have 50, 105, and 180 1:1 macro lenses which are useful to me.

Kent Gittings

Yep I have that same Sigma 50-150 f2.8. It is a fantastic lens... but I never change lenses on an open landrover out in the bush... I'm just too adverse to dust on the sensor ... or droping lenses where I can't retrieve them (without being trampled or ripped to shreds)

With the 50-500:

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OP gkreth Veteran Member • Posts: 3,128
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6
1

xmeda wrote:

gkreth wrote:

xmeda wrote:

Get Sigma 100-300/4 and be happy With K3 you have same reach as 150-450 on FF

Well, yes, a 300mm on a K3 has the reach of a 450mm on FF, but 450mm on a K3 has the reach of a 675mm!
Just looking for more reach, without dropping $1500....
Greg

You can always slap 1.5x TC or 2xTC on it and get 150-450/6.3 or 200-600/8

Wait, is that correct?

  • A 1.5X TC decreases the aperture by one full stop; so a f/5.6 would be f/8, not f/6.3.
  • A 2X TC decreases the aperture by two stops; ; so a f/5.6 would be f11, not f/8.

Am I missing something?
Greg

paulkienitz
paulkienitz Veteran Member • Posts: 5,461
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

kypfer wrote:

gkreth wrote:

I bought a Sigma 50-500 many years ago, and I was disappointed; it seemed very soft at the long end (I know most zooms are softer at the long end, but this copy was just too soft to be acceptable). It also had, well, kinda lousy contrast.

I was wondering about the old Tamron Adaptall 200-500 f/5.6.

My Tamron 200-500mm is the earlier f/6.9 … it's fine on a tripod but not really ergonomically suited to hand-held work.

My Sigma 150-500mm is superior in virtually every respect and is my "go-to lens" for general "birding and wildlife".

I haven't tried a Tamron 200-500 but this is consistent with the general word of mouth, that the Sigmas are better.  And I have tried the 150-500... I ended up sending it back.

For birds and wildlife, my finding was that the best way for me to reach 500mm is to use a DA* 300/4 and crop it, or add the 1.4x TC and crop just a little.  Nothing else I have ever tried has ever matched it.

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PentUp
PentUp Veteran Member • Posts: 4,373
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

paulkienitz wrote:

kypfer wrote:

gkreth wrote:

I bought a Sigma 50-500 many years ago, and I was disappointed; it seemed very soft at the long end (I know most zooms are softer at the long end, but this copy was just too soft to be acceptable). It also had, well, kinda lousy contrast.

I was wondering about the old Tamron Adaptall 200-500 f/5.6.

My Tamron 200-500mm is the earlier f/6.9 … it's fine on a tripod but not really ergonomically suited to hand-held work.

My Sigma 150-500mm is superior in virtually every respect and is my "go-to lens" for general "birding and wildlife".

I haven't tried a Tamron 200-500 but this is consistent with the general word of mouth, that the Sigmas are better. And I have tried the 150-500... I ended up sending it back.

For birds and wildlife, my finding was that the best way for me to reach 500mm is to use a DA* 300/4 and crop it, or add the 1.4x TC and crop just a little. Nothing else I have ever tried has ever matched it.

Optically speaking you are probably right, but a prime fixed at 500mm or 300mm... while fine for small birds or general wildlife that stays in the distance... isn't a lot of use for big wildlife that isn't afraid to walk up to you. Zooms have their uses too.

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paulkienitz
paulkienitz Veteran Member • Posts: 5,461
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

PentUp wrote:

Optically speaking you are probably right, but a prime fixed at 500mm or 300mm... while fine for small birds or general wildlife that stays in the distance... isn't a lot of use for big wildlife that isn't afraid to walk up to you. Zooms have their uses too.

If a hungry lion walks right up to you, you can take its picture with your phone.

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PentUp
PentUp Veteran Member • Posts: 4,373
Re: Tamron 31A (200-500 5.6) vs Pentax 150-450 4.5-5.6

paulkienitz wrote:

PentUp wrote:

Optically speaking you are probably right, but a prime fixed at 500mm or 300mm... while fine for small birds or general wildlife that stays in the distance... isn't a lot of use for big wildlife that isn't afraid to walk up to you. Zooms have their uses too.

If a hungry lion walks right up to you, you can take its picture with your phone.

I don’t take my phone out with me. There’s no reception out there anyway

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