Every photographer I know appreciates finding a low-cost lens that performs like it cost ten times what you paid for it. The Sigma 70-300 mm f/4.0-5/6 APO DG is one of those.
I’ve been a Pentax shooter since 1976 (first with the K-1000 fully manual camera, and later the *ist series of Pentax DSLR cameras). I’ve owned Canon and Nikon cameras, too, but I always return to Pentax for a multitude of reasons.
In recent years third party lenses have been harder to find. Manufacturers are dropping the bulk of lenses they made for Pentax from their line-up. That is really unfortunate, because Pentax shooters are fiercely loyal and many of them refuse to switch to other brands.
I have a Sigma 70-300 f/4.0-5.6 APO DG lens in my camera bag. I recently discovered that combined with the Tamron 2x teleconverter, this inexpensive lens becomes a powerhouse piece of glass that still auto-focuses really well, gives me superb clarity and the lens and converter combination comes in at a little over $300 (USD).
Now, the Bad News
It seems that Sigma has dropped this lens from their current line-up for Pentax mount lenses. Please, say it isn’t so. This is the single BEST low-cost lens ever made for Pentax mount. I am serious!
I’ve enjoyed getting fantastic results, no sign of purple fringing, relatively fast auto-focus, and when paired with my Pentax KP, I have absolutely no complaints. This camera and lens combination yields professional caliber images for a fraction of the cost of my Pentax 200 mm f/2.8 prime focus lens (a thousand dollar piece of glass).
Here are some shots I took over the weekend at the Columbus Zoo in Mid Ohio.
It would be very unfortunate for Sigma to drop this lens from their current line of lenses for Pentax given the quality and value it brings. Like I said, there is nothing that matches it in the current consumer market.
Having a long list of photo credits to my name, including Who’s Who in America, it’s a big disappointment to see fewer third-party lenses available every year for my favorite camera brand. Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina have all dropped most of their Pentax k-mount lenses.
Manual-focus 3rd Party Lenses
A couple of recent entries into the market are providing manual-focus lenses, but my sixty-year-old eyes can really appreciate auto-focus lenses these days. They are all coming from China or South Korea, and they might perform well; however, many shooters need auto-forcus lenses and there are no other options.
Gone, but Not Forgotten
One of the best lenses ever made, the Sigma 135-400 mm APO DG, was dropped from their roster several years ago. I enjoyed shooting hundreds of images with that lens.
I wrote an article on photographing amusement parks using that lens. Having to hand-hold a lens that size, I was not sure what results I would get, but, only one image of the hundreds I shot was blurry.
I photographed an air show for another how-to article. I captured the Blue Angels flying across mid-field at a little under the speed of sound while panning my Manfrotto tripod and clicking away as the crowd roared with delight.
What a great lens. Alas, it is gone for good.
Don’t Kill This Lens
Sigma, don’t drop the 70-300 mm f/4.0-5.6 APO DG lens from your Pentax mount line. It’s too good a lens to kill. I’ll be your ambassador for this lens, just keep it on your roster.
I posted a bunch of images shot with this lens on Facebook and I’ll be posting even more.
Pentax users, buy this lens. You might only be able to find it used, but, it will end up being a go-to lens for many of you. If you’ve never used one, you owe it to yourself to get your hands on one and give it a test drive.
If you can manage to find the MC7 2x teleconverter, grab one of those, too, and give this combination a test drive. You’ll be glad you did.