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View Poll Results: Most Favored Inexpensive Birding Lens
Sigma 400mm f5.6 AF Tele 313.04%
Tokina 400mm f5.6 ATX AF 521.74%
Tokina AT-X 80-400mm F1: 4.5-5.6 313.04%
Other 1773.91%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 23. You may not vote on this poll

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01-23-2012, 12:44 PM   #16
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For about $200 you can get any of these lenses with great results:

Pentax DAL 55-300 - at 300 wide open (5.8) is good but if you stop down to 6.3 or 7.1 is much better.
Pentax M 400 F5.6 - Great lens if you get focus spot on. A monopod is very useful.
Tamron SP 500 F8 mirror - surprisingly sharp, very light and easy to focus. On a bright day you can use it handheld. Monopod improve things.

01-23-2012, 02:12 PM   #17
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The 70-200mm 2.8 I was considering buying is the Tamron. I know the Sigma is a better lens.

But using a TC might just be worth a try because for me to have 3 big serious telephoto lenses is probably overkill. And I obviously would get better results cropping images taken with a DA*300mm than I did with my beloved little FA100-300mm 4.7-5.8
01-23-2012, 02:15 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by demp10 Quote
For about $200 you can get any of these lenses with great results:

Pentax DAL 55-300 - at 300 wide open (5.8) is good but if you stop down to 6.3 or 7.1 is much better.
Pentax M 400 F5.6 - Great lens if you get focus spot on. A monopod is very useful.
Tamron SP 500 F8 mirror - surprisingly sharp, very light and easy to focus. On a bright day you can use it handheld. Monopod improve things.
I don't know anything about mirror lenses, I will have to read up on them a bit. I just got a nice tripod a couple weeks ago that I haven't had a chance to use yet. It's an Alta 263AP and it has a nice bag and strap so I can take it with me next I go out.
01-23-2012, 02:47 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Drom Quote
I don't know anything about mirror lenses, I will have to read up on them a bit.
Mirror lenses can be fun. They are not for everyone nor for every situation, but under the right conditions they can produce very unique results.

Their bokeh is very unique also, with certain highlights becoming donuts. If you figure out how to use it properly though the bokeh is just dreamy. Add to that just 595g for a Tamron SP 500mm F8 lens and you can shoot handheld all day long.

Besides the Tamron, I have the Sigma 600mm F8 and the Bower (Samyang) 500mm F6.3. By far the Tamron has better contrast, but the Bower being at F6.3 is a lot easier to focus under less than optimal conditions and it is quite sharp if focused properly. The Sigma suffers from low contrast, most likely I have a poor copy. It was only $99 and I had to have it just to play with it. It is build like a tank though with a tripod collar.

01-23-2012, 03:03 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
The Kenko I mentioned above does work with my HSM2 version, but note the inconsistencies I indicated.
your definition of work does not work for me. the 1.7x AF adaptor locks on reliably (within focus range) even onF4 lenses, and the old screw drive sigma lens and 2x TC only has issues when shooting through branches (it does not have the mindread.exe function to know Idon't care about branches)
01-23-2012, 04:24 PM   #21
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The thread title is a contradiction - good birding lenses don't come cheap.
Trust me, with long tele lenses, AF is extremely useful, especially with fast moving birds. If you work on technique, you can shoot birds with even a 300mm, like this uncropped shot of a small sunbird from a DA 55-300mm.

01-23-2012, 05:18 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Drom Quote
I don't know anything about mirror lenses, I will have to read up on them a bit. I just got a nice tripod a couple weeks ago that I haven't had a chance to use yet. It's an Alta 263AP and it has a nice bag and strap so I can take it with me next I go out.
QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
The thread title is a contradiction - good birding lenses don't come cheap.
Trust me, with long tele lenses, AF is extremely useful, especially with fast moving birds. If you work on technique, you can shoot birds with even a 300mm, like this uncropped shot of a small sunbird from a DA 55-300mm.
Depending on where you live, using a tripod and getting close to some critters can be difficult. By me, most animals - particularly birds - are flighty by nature. Sometimes thru good approach technique you can get closer to bolder species. I've yet to encounter a wildlife shooter in my neck of the woods who uses a tripod.

Last edited by luftfluss; 06-08-2016 at 08:24 AM.
01-23-2012, 05:27 PM   #23
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A good combination that will save you some money is:

- DA 55~300 (not the "L" version)
- Vivitar 1.4x Teleconverter (Vivitar 1.4x Teleconverter for Pentax VIV14XP B&H Photo Video)

the Viv'ee teleconverter has near zero IQ loss, a very nice piece! The combo will give you 420mm of focal distance on the long end...

01-23-2012, 05:45 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
The thread title is a contradiction - good birding lenses don't come cheap.
Trust me, with long tele lenses, AF is extremely useful, especially with fast moving birds. If you work on technique, you can shoot birds with even a 300mm, like this uncropped shot of a small sunbird from a DA 55-300mm.
Beautiful image-thank you for posting it! Of course you're right, there are no good inexpensive long telephoto lenses. My problem is that I had pretty much been planning on getting a 70-200mm 2.8 and one of the *300mm pentax lenses (either F, FA or DA) to capture sporting events and wildlife. But when I went out the other day on my first birding adventure, 300mm really didn't seem long enough for birds, so I started thinking maybe I need a third lens with some length. Anyway-that's a lot of expensive lenses.
01-23-2012, 05:53 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Depending on where you live, using a tripod and getting close to some critters can be difficult. By me, most animals - particularly birds - are flighty by nature. Sometimes thru good approach technique you can get closer to bolder species. I've yet to encounter a wildlife shooter in my neck of the woods who uses a tripod.
The small birds and hawks where I am are pretty shy. The Canada Geese are not and they fly very low too. Actually, I didn't realize it until my photog friend sent me some links that the area I am in has lots of wildlife preserves and bird sanctuaries.
That's a gorgeous image Luftfluss (!), but if you are hand-holding the Sigma lens you took that with, you are probably a little heartier than me
01-23-2012, 05:58 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by joe.penn Quote
A good combination that will save you some money is:

- DA 55~300 (not the "L" version)
- Vivitar 1.4x Teleconverter (Vivitar 1.4x Teleconverter for Pentax VIV14XP B&H Photo Video)

the Viv'ee teleconverter has near zero IQ loss, a very nice piece! The combo will give you 420mm of focal distance on the long end...
Ah! thank you. Can I ask a dumb question? Would that TC work on a Tamron K mount lens as well, or is it hit-and-miss with different lenses?
01-23-2012, 06:00 PM   #27
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Should work fine with any screw drive lens for pentax...
01-23-2012, 06:01 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Drom Quote
Beautiful image-thank you for posting it! Of course you're right, there are no good inexpensive long telephoto lenses. My problem is that I had pretty much been planning on getting a 70-200mm 2.8 and one of the *300mm pentax lenses (either F, FA or DA) to capture sporting events and wildlife. But when I went out the other day on my first birding adventure, 300mm really didn't seem long enough for birds, so I started thinking maybe I need a third lens with some length. Anyway-that's a lot of expensive lenses.
Indeed for little critters, you have to be real sneaky or real patient with a 300.

The poor man's solution to little critters is a good/fast 300 with a converter.
but alas there is no pentax star lens in the 300mm range that you can get
for $500, but the cheap zooms aren't suitable for a converter.

One combination that might shoot a couple birds with one stone
is the DA* 60-250 f4, plus a converter. that could be done with less
money than buying 2 lenses.
01-23-2012, 08:59 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Drom Quote
The small birds and hawks where I am are pretty shy. The Canada Geese are not and they fly very low too. Actually, I didn't realize it until my photog friend sent me some links that the area I am in has lots of wildlife preserves and bird sanctuaries.
That's a gorgeous image Luftfluss (!), but if you are hand-holding the Sigma lens you took that with, you are probably a little heartier than me
Yeah, handheld, but also braced up against a house. I try to brace myself against a tree or structure whenever possible. The tough facet of the Sigma is not the weight, but the length.

Something to consider: the DA* 300/4 @ 300mm might be nearly as good as the Sigma 170-500 @ 500mm. In other words, if you shot a hawk 100ft away with with each lens, and then either up-sampled the 300/4 or down-sampled the Sigma so the resultant images were the same size, you might find that the 300/4 resolves nearly as much detail as the Sigma, despite the Sigma being longer. Plus, the Pentax 300/4 is easier to handle, higher quality construction, less obtrusive, etc.
01-24-2012, 05:08 AM   #30
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My pennies worth is be wary of mirror lenses. I find the mirror lens I have (Centon 500mm f8 ) frustratingly soft & lacking detail. I find it very difficult to get a decent photo out of it (It was cheap). Cropping the images from my Tamron 70 - 300mm gives much better photos (more detail). I've tried to use a kenko 1.7x auto teleconvertor with the tamron zoom (70 - 300mm) and the images lack detail and the autofocus is painfully slow. I'm also on the look out for a good wildlife lens but I cant spend too much so its been interesting reading your views.
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