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05-22-2011, 08:51 AM   #1
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SMC 300 f4

Any experience using this lens to shoot kids soccer / amateur ladies? I'm considering picking one up, it would be my first full manual lens. I've read the forums here about lacking a collar, and viewed the posted sample pics which look wonderful, but are primarily wildlife shots.

Any thoughts / feedbacks for sports - The biggest concern is speed to focus (since I utterly lack technique) and if f4 is going to allow hand held shots for my wife's evening matches.

Cheers

05-22-2011, 08:56 AM   #2
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with 300mm and f4 you'll need good light and/or high ISO. If you are talking about the K series (SMC PENTAX) then it's OK performer but as any other long lens of the era it requires to be stopped down for best performance and that makes it what 300/5.6? Tad slow IMO. As well, K series lenses are serious lumps of glass and metal (I used to have K400, K55, K50, K24) and are quite heavy compared to newer lenses. And they have pretty huge MF throw.

All in all, in experienced hands in the right situations K300 can deliver stunning shots, but if it's your first foray into long glass and MF glass, I'd skip it and get some better regarded long zoom....
05-22-2011, 09:10 AM   #3
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Your speed on focus will depend of your skill to determine distance of the subject and "how much" you need to turn the focusing ring.

I have a "bad" 80-200 F4.5, and i do most of my shots when people move. When you know how much you have to turn the focusing ring, you become a "real killer".
05-22-2011, 11:07 AM   #4
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I've had the SMC K 300/4 for many years and have written a review of it in the forum lens area. It has its flaws but I think it may be the best bargain 300mm out there.

I couldn't tell from above but what camera are you using? I'm currently using a K10 which forces me to shoot at ISO 400 or lower to get acceptable images at least acceptable to me. Sadly, this means often shooting wide open which brings out the worst in the old K 300/4 (CAs/PF).

I don't have a K5 but I suspect the 300/4 would really shine with that camera. Shooting you wife's matches at night wouldn't be a problem either.You could use a quite fast shutter speed and still use f 16 of higher which would take care of a lot of technique issues. If anyone out there has a K5/K300/4 combo please share your experience.

In any case if you can get it a good price I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the K 300/4. Be prepared to work on your manual focusing skills. It takes a while and a lot of trial and error to master. Fortunately on digital practice is pretty cheap.

Tom G

05-22-2011, 02:49 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input. K-r, which I'm pleased to shoot to 3200 and find 6400 ISO acceptable. The ladies soccer is under artificial lights. It is the Pentax SMC (I assume that's K version). Price wise, i don't have $1500 to blow on an AF, or F2.8 for that matter. I thought I might have found a reasonable upgrade from the DA50-200 WR I have.
05-24-2011, 06:16 AM   #6
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I agree with the posters above who advice not to buy it. It is a good performer when the background behind the subject is dark but as soon as it is bright its awful. Since it is a very simple design chromatic aberration (blue and purple fringing) is very strong and the background rendering is ugly. It is quite sharp at f4 but the colors are somehow muted - which gives nice effects - but probably not in soccer. You should also consider that with an AF zoom its much easier to frame the picture, since you can find the subject wide and then zoom in.
05-24-2011, 01:21 PM   #7
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Considering DA 55-300 has a maximum aperture of 5.8 at 300 mm and none too sharp at that combination makes the argument K300/4.0 being too slow a moot point. The disadvantage of K300 is that it's MF and ME. Exposure is not much of a problem; set the optimum aperture you want to shoot at, and adjust the ISO and shutter speed to suit your need for speed and the amount of noise you are willing tolerate. Press the green button once and the exposure is set, and should remain so since lighting in the pitch is more or less constant.

Depending on your wife's playing position, divide the pitch into 4 to 9 zones and try to limit your shooting to one of those zone. You don't want to be racking the long focus throw on the K300 from one extreme to the other. Narrower the range, quicker you can achieve focus to shoot, and if the aperture is at the 'sweet' spot of the lens there will be some DOF to offset small inaccuracies in focusing.

Having said all this, you still need lots of practice to shoot sports with manual lenses. Cropped format DSLRs with a smaller viewfinder and a focus screen that shows far more DOF than there actually is, are all detrimental to quick and accurate MF. You can get aftermarket focus screens and tripod ring to aid your MF efforts but only practice and lots of it will make your shoot successful.

Thanks,
05-24-2011, 03:04 PM   #8
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I pretty much agree with excanonfd. Your main problem will be focusing. The 300 can be hand held, I've done it many times, but I wouldn't want to be doing if for more than 2 hrs. I have to totally disagree with chse, I have had very little problem with purple fringing or CA.







NaCl(I'd practice before the match if you have the time)H2O

05-24-2011, 03:49 PM   #9
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Again thanks for the input, and especially NaCL(you've always got great tidbits)H2O for the photos.
05-24-2011, 07:54 PM   #10
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I find the K300/4 is a good performer, and to set the record straight on CA, the real issue is the OOF areas where the lateral CA really becomes apparent

I use mine with the SMC-F 1.7x AF TC and have posted many good results

To deal with the weight I made my own tripod mount for the lens plus TC combo and that can be used with a monopod for sports
05-24-2011, 09:28 PM   #11
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I'm not sure what the current going price is; I'd think $200 wasn't out of line. Sure, better lenses are out there. All the other Pentax 300s are better, but they aren't $200 either. If you really need 300mm, I'm not sure what else would be as good for that price.

Focus throw is about 270 degrees, BTW.

I might try a DA 55-300mm instead, because that lens is likely to be close enough and offers AF, zoom, compatibility and portability at a reasonable price.

Another point for the SMC Pentax 1:4/300 is that you can probably sell it for what you paid, if it doesn't work out.
05-24-2011, 10:02 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by 8540tomg Quote
I've had the SMC K 300/4 for many years and have written a review of it in the forum lens area. It has its flaws but I think it may be the best bargain 300mm out there.

Tom G
Im curious to hear more about this
05-25-2011, 11:15 AM   #13
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just to give you an idea of what the K300/4 can do, all of these are shot with the lens plus the SMC-F 1.7 X AF TC

note the following home made tripod mount for the lens plus TC



shots with the lens & TC



here is a 100% crop of a shot at 1/40th hand held with the K7 yes there is a little CA but not that bad.







05-25-2011, 11:21 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by yeatzee Quote
Im curious to hear more about this

The lens has its supporters and detractors. Check my and other reviews in the K series lens area. Things are summed up pretty well there.

Tom G
05-25-2011, 11:43 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by yeatzee Quote
Im curious to hear more about this
Size/weight - It's a rear lens cap shorter than my 400mm f5.6, 77mm filter, 1020 grams. It doesn't set records, in fact pretty close to the DA* 300/4, but you'll know it's there. Not a casual travel lens.

MFD - Only focuses to 13 feet.

Compatibility - like any other K, but with the size/weight to make pressing the green button more challenging.

Optically, look to others to pick it apart. I think it's great. At this price level, the competition is a handful of consumer zooms, many of which are not that great past 200mm and none of which go to f4.
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