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04-27-2011, 12:17 PM   #31
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while I cant make an absolute statement about the bigma (as I don't own one) there have been reports that it softens a little towarads 500mm.

this is along the same lines as people report the sigma 70-200FR2.8 macro as a little soft at 200 compared to the non macro.

I don't know about the HSM version, but yes the BIGMA could be a candidate for 500mm, as well as the 150-500. It all depends upon what is viewed by some as "acceptably sharp"

04-27-2011, 01:57 PM   #32
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I'm wondering about about the IQ of the Bigma. I'd need to do some pixel peeping.

QuoteQuote:
It all depends upon what is viewed by some as "acceptably sharp"
This is acceptably sharp. Completely sharp at 100%, Detail right down to pixel by pixel. This image is about 8 times the size the bird is in real life, taken from about 5 feet away.. My standard is pretty much the DA* 60-250.



I did write to Pentax... they were very helpful. $1500 canadian for an extra 50mm... thank you Pentax.

QuoteQuote:
Thank you for contacting Pentax.

At this time the longest lens PENTAX makes in either telephoto zoom or prime is 300mm. The best quality long lens would be the DA* 300mm f/4 ED (IF) SDM. This lens has a built-in supersonic focus motor for quick and quiet autofocus but it does add to the weight of the lens. The lens weighs in at 37.7 oz. For complete specifications on this and all our current production lenses you can visit http://www.pentaximaging.com/camera-lenses/smc_PENTAX_DA_Star_300mm_F4_ED%28IF%29_SDM/

Last edited by normhead; 04-27-2011 at 07:28 PM.
04-28-2011, 08:08 AM   #33
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QuoteOriginally posted by dadipentak Quote
I'll take your word on the technical analysis, Falk, but as a practical matter, I still think that, without shelling out very large sums, the best way to 500mm is with a DA*300mm and AF 1.7x or A 2x-S TC.
While I agree, all I wanted to say was that a true 500mm can be combined with an 1.7x converter too.

Therefore, I don't personally consider 300mm+1.7x and 500mm to be equivalent options.

However, I would then drop the K500/4.5 mentioned before from my list. The 4 elements/4 groups tele lenses are not apochromatic and are not sharp enough for this. I'll guess a DA*300+1.7x outperforms the K500/4.5.
04-28-2011, 08:36 AM   #34
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My first stab at a large lens was a Sigma 135-400mm. Its IQwas very disappointing to me and I sold it after about 6 months. 2 years later I bought the Bigma and found out that most of the issues with the 135-400mm was my technique more so than the lens. I have had the 50 500mm Bigma for over a year. It takes some great shots but you have to really use a monopod or tripod and watch your shutter speed in order to get the sharpest images. 500mm is in a different ballpark from 250mm when trying to get the sharpest shots. You also still need to be as close as possible to your subject to bring out the details. Bird feathers are a good example of detail at very close range with a big lens vs same bird and lens at 2-300ft. I like the Bigma and it will serve as my ultimate large lens since I have no intention of ever spending $4000 or more for anything better. It is heavy and a little slow at times but the K5 makes up for some of its slowness with decent high ISO IQ.
I also have the DA*300 which I just bought and am getting used to. It has awesome IQ and feels very light compared to the Bigma. I use a Kenko 1.5x with it at times and find the IQ very good but its focusing capabilities with the converter are pretty lacking. My 60-250 does much better at focusing with the Kenko 1.5x. I have found the DA*300 to be my favorite lens when I want to go out without the tripod and extra weight. It is a nice lens for BIF shots and again the IQ is awesome. Handling the lens is a dream.

I do not know how much you are willing to spend on longer lenses but, I would suggest using the 60-250 with a TC for awhile to see if that satisfies you before going for something bigger. If you end up with a prime someday, you will probably like to have a TC for it too. Right now, the 60-250 is my favorite lens for a two lens travel kit along with the TC. I am getting a little more range than the 300mm offers with the converter while maintaining great IQ.

Good Luck

04-28-2011, 08:44 AM   #35
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Yes GaryH pretty much what I''m thinking. Really, if I could find a Smc 1.7 TC I'd go for it. Especially since I have a line on an Smc M 400. It's my understanding the Smc 1.7 TC would turn this into an autofocus lens. (First manual focus, then let the autofocus in the TC do the finishing touches.) The more I think about carrying a second lens, the more my body objects strenuously.. I'd use the 400 in the car. We drive through 80km (50 miles) of parkland. 160 km round trip, on a regular basis. We've seen foxes, moose, lots of ducks and birds. If I do get the 400 it will live on the back window of the car, it won't be a carry around lens.
04-28-2011, 10:00 AM   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Yes GaryH pretty much what I''m thinking. Really, if I could find a Smc 1.7 TC I'd go for it. Especially since I have a line on an Smc M 400. It's my understanding the Smc 1.7 TC would turn this into an autofocus lens. (First manual focus, then let the autofocus in the TC do the finishing touches.) The more I think about carrying a second lens, the more my body objects strenuously.. I'd use the 400 in the car. We drive through 80km (50 miles) of parkland. 160 km round trip, on a regular basis. We've seen foxes, moose, lots of ducks and birds. If I do get the 400 it will live on the back window of the car, it won't be a carry around lens.
Note that while the AF adaptor MAY work from time to time on the M400/5.6, my experience with this adaptor for the last almost 20 years is that while it works reliably on any F4 lens, even in marginal lighting, when I tried it on my vivitar 400/5.6 it only occasionally on very bright days achieved focus lock. This was with my PZ-1, but I have not seen any real improvement since going digital.

some claim it works OK on the 500/4.5 but I have no good experience personally above F4.0 where it works well
04-28-2011, 11:42 AM   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
some claim it works OK on the 500/4.5 but I have no good experience personally above F4.0 where it works well
I did claim so and I tried a K-5 + 1.7x + 500/4.5 APO combo at daylight where AF works flawlessly and with amazing speed. The combo was reported to work with a K-7 too. I assume a certain lens quality is mandatory as otherwise, the AF modul may lack contrast as it must be partly obstructed at f/4.5. So, I'm not sure it works as well with the K500/4.5.

Effectively, the prefocus requirement acts like a focus delimiter making AF pretty fast even if you've shot into empty sky before. The only problem is that 500+1.7 APSC is a 1300mm equivalent focal length (i.e., 26x magnification) and finding your subject in the VF is ... challenging. I think about adding a finder scope

P.S.
Everybody thinking the Bigma rivals a prime, may want to have a look here:

tloader

(go to the long end ...)
04-28-2011, 12:26 PM   #38
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QuoteOriginally posted by falconeye Quote
I did claim so and I tried a K-5 + 1.7x + 500/4.5 APO combo at daylight where AF works flawlessly and with amazing speed. The combo was reported to work with a K-7 too. I assume a certain lens quality is mandatory as otherwise, the AF modul may lack contrast as it must be partly obstructed at f/4.5. So, I'm not sure it works as well with the K500/4.5.

Effectively, the prefocus requirement acts like a focus delimiter making AF pretty fast even if you've shot into empty sky before. The only problem is that 500+1.7 APSC is a 1300mm equivalent focal length (i.e., 26x magnification) and finding your subject in the VF is ... challenging. I think about adding a finder scope
Ill have to try this some time, at present my max limit is 500mm (300 *1.7) I have no problem at all finding things. I have not yet really used my celestron 1000mm scope, on a DSLR due to vibrations in th etripod mount on the scope, but then again it has a 25x finder scope also, just to get me sort of on target

04-28-2011, 12:41 PM   #39
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Hey Norm - couldn't you just put a "good" 2x teleconverter on the 60-250? Sure, it'd be manual focus and rather slow (maybe f8 max?) but easy to carry around for whenever you need the reach!

Good thing I don't shoot longer than 100mm, or I'd be lusting for that 60-250! Mmm...
04-28-2011, 12:50 PM   #40
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I think the Bigma is the best option. I used to have the 1.7x AFA and the SMC 300mm f/4. Autofocus worked but shots seemed a little soft to me. The Bigma just seemed to beat it, and it's a zoom to boot.

The Sigma 500/4.5 looks really nice, but then it costs significantly more.
04-28-2011, 12:52 PM   #41
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I can't speak for the lenses that I have not had, but for 35mm, I have (had) the following;
  • DA*300 (sold) - good - moderate price
  • K300/4 (sold) - OK - cheap
  • A*300/2.8 - good but heavy for it's size to a point I find it hard to use handheld but I am still able to walk around with it - ~2.5K
  • K400/5.6 - good but does not close focus. Light enough to pack around on your shoulder. - ~$400 to $500
  • A*600/5.6 - terrific but tripod mount poorly balanced (fixable with a "long lens support" or a long bracket) - Light enough to pack around on your shoulder ~ 2.5K
  • K135-600 - nice but more of a novalty. Tripod mount not balanced and not good until around 400mm and up.
  • A*1200 - terrific but expensive, very heavy, needing a studio tripod and can be very difficult to use.
  • The 1.4X-L, 2.0X-L and the Kenko converters - I find cropping may yeild better results than using a converter.

If there is one thing I can stress is to pay more attention to the percentage of the jump in size of a lens than the millimeter increase. If you are already at 250mm I can't see much gain in going for anything less than 600mm.

I quite like the A*600 expect for the horribly unbalanced mount, but there are workarounds for that and if you're OK with manual focus, it could be an option. I haven't tried the FA*600 but I expect it might even be better. As mentioned above, you can also add a teleconverter, but anything over 1.4 could show a drop in quality so I tend not to bother with them.
04-28-2011, 01:08 PM   #42
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SMC

re your list

you say the K300F4 is just OK, what is wrong with it other than the typical CA of the era,. I find it a workable long lens when coupled with the 1.7x TC?

As for the K 135-600, WHo really cares below 400mm any way but it looks terribly unbalanced on a tripod. Also didn't it come with a low diopter front attachment for close focus (i.e. reading glasses)

the K400, you don't mention it, but isn't it preset like the K500/4.5?
04-28-2011, 01:36 PM   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
SMC

re your list

you say the K300F4 is just OK, what is wrong with it other than the typical CA of the era,. I find it a workable long lens when coupled with the 1.7x TC?

As for the K 135-600, WHo really cares below 400mm any way but it looks terribly unbalanced on a tripod. Also didn't it come with a low diopter front attachment for close focus (i.e. reading glasses)

the K400, you don't mention it, but isn't it preset like the K500/4.5?
I didn't find the K300 to be as sharp as the others but I am definitely not implying that it is a bad lens. I've only rated it compared to the other lenses I have used.

The K135-600 did come with the attachment but to be honest I have never tried it. You're right, it is extremely unbalanced due to the way they have designed the control of the zoom. Here is a pic at about 500mm...



The K400 is not preset....here is a sample pic from it...



Here are a couple from the A*600.....





Cheers,
Steve
04-29-2011, 09:35 AM   #44
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I have 120-400 and 500

I like them both. The first 120-400 I sent back not sharp. Then got one with sr in it, I figured it would be new design. Much sharper. The 1st elk shoot at 400 f8 hand held. The other elk was with the 500. Eagle was 500 with 1.4. And cropped 45% I think in last picture.
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04-29-2011, 07:01 PM   #45
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OK, now I'm really peeved, I was looking at the Kenko site and their TCs for Canon and Nikon... guess who makes the glass for them? ya that's right... Hoya.. they can make the glass for Canikons, but they can't put together a metal tube and a couple of couplings for their own brand. What kind of company is this? IN the old days not only did they make every conceivable lens, you had to buy a Pentax body to use their glass. Now, you have to buy a competitors camera body to use their glass. This is backasswards with a capital B.
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