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12-24-2006, 04:24 AM   #1
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Review: Pentax SMC-A* 300mm F2.8

This is A* lens and it has been one of my "walk around" lenses ever since it has arrived in my posession. Believe it or not. This lens is addictive... I bought it as a demo item from US.









Construction

This lens is definitely short, sturdy and compact. It weighs 3.2 kg (apparently same as Fa 600mm f4 - how come??) and is attached with a tripod mount. There is a built-in lens hood, sliding back and forth with a small screw to lock in. Apparently over-use of the lens hood sliding back and forth would produce inevitable scratch to contribute paint loss...

It accompanies a aluminium silver box that I left it at home most of the time. A UV filter of 49mm can be inserted into a drawer close to lens mount - I had not yet bothered that at all.

Specifications

Mount: Bayonet

Lens Construction: 8 groups 8 elements

Angle of View: 8.2 degrees

Diaphragm: Fully Automatic

Min Aperture: 32

Min Focus Distance: 9.8 ft.

Filter Diameter: 49mm (rear)

Size Max Diameter Length: 5.2 x 9.3"

Weight: 104.8 oz.

Filter Size: 49mm (rear)

Lens Hood: Built-in

Lens Case: Trunk Case

Image Quality

With this lens, I have been using it in very dark environment. Aperture wide open has such a narrow depth of field, the subject needs to have the whole plane exactly parallel to the camera sensor in order to have sharp image all over. Using this lens wide open really requires a lot of technique as many of you maye be aware of how poor lighting can really give you little details in an image.

The images are sharp at all apertures (if i could focus accurately with my clumpsy hands). Image is really sharp after f4.

The bokeh quality does vary! Sometimes it shows up sigma style tubular matrix type bokeh sometimes it shows up 31mm style bokeh. It does not have 77mm bokeh CA - luckily. I personally like its bokeh most of the time.

Here are a few examples of images: (Forgive my lack of talent)


1/1000s f/3.5 at 300.0mm iso400 full exif



1/1000s f/4.0 at 300.0mm iso400 full exif



1/350s f/6.7 at 300.0mm iso400 full exif



1/180s f/4.0 at 300.0mm iso400 full exif



1/500s f/3.5 at 300.0mm iso400 full exif



1/125s f/2.8 at 300.0mm iso100 full exif



1/180s f/2.8 at 300.0mm iso800 full exif



1/350s f/2.8 at 300.0mm iso800 full exif



1/750s f/8.0 at 300.0mm iso400 full exif



1/3000s f/4.0 at 300.0mm iso400 full exif







Handibility

Thanks to k10d VR feature, I could use this lens just with a monopod attached (with the tripod head loosely tightened). This definitely improves my ability to maneuvre camera together with the lens for various angles at ease. While using this lens to track agile birds, the monopod can be easily adjusted with its height and move around easily locating spot for the monopod. I know using this lens is quite tough but this has been quite an addictive thing for me now. While I hike, I could use the monopod as a stick to frighten away the snakes. Tom Lusk might get annoyed with this as he wanted me to photograph these snakes if I saw them...

Tripod is a no no for this lens. It kills the whole purpose of getting this lens as the weight is just unbearable. Hard to go through the bushes up and down with branches coming out of everywhere. The height adjustment of the tripod would take decades to accomplish and miss million of shots altogether.

Conclusion

Great lens (too bad that I already bought it; I had to like it anyway). The only issue would be its weight and price. I think manual focus is not that bad once you got the hang of it. If you can find this lens, I would go and get it to do protraits and other low light environment shots.

I am getting my Pentax Rear converter 2X very soon and hopefully it would give me 600mm f5.6 to play around with. I will post my humble opinions regarding this combination later on.

James


Last edited by roentarre; 12-26-2006 at 05:32 AM.
12-24-2006, 06:59 AM   #2
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Very nice and wish there was a smiley that showed jealous or green with envy. nice review
12-24-2006, 12:48 PM   #3
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Hi Vievetrick, thanks for the comments. i will try to modify the review as time goes on.


I am one of the victims of LBA...

Cheers

1/250s f/3.5 at 300.0mm iso400 full exif



1/125s f/4.0 at 300.0mm iso100 full exif



1/500s f/4.5 at 300.0mm iso400 full exif


1/1000s f/4.0 at 300.0mm iso400 full exif



1/500s f/2.8 at 300.0mm iso800 full exif


Last edited by roentarre; 12-26-2006 at 05:33 AM.
12-30-2006, 05:13 PM   #4
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excellent!

Hey,

I know you've been hunting for a 300/2.8. Warms my heart to see you enjoying this big lens... Have you scared anyone away with it?

I wondered how things would pan out on this - I know you've been hunting for a while, and you've succeeded! That is fantastic.

BTW, welcome to the 300/2.8 club! Keep those photos coming!

I plan to journey down and photograph the Elk, now that I've got my own, and have multiple teleconverters!

Cheers,
Marc

12-30-2006, 05:25 PM   #5
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Thank you, Marc. I have been hunting down multiple teleconverters at present - costly and full of adventures :P

I scared a lot of beautiful girls with bikini at beach in deed who seem to mistake me as a pervert actually (I was trying to photograph people doing water ski). Otherwise not much drama at all.

I have been always envious of your Fa* 200 f4 macro and your gallery macro shots using this lens... Hopefully my dream can come true.

I will try to use this lens with teleconverters, for a birding trip that I even hired a local birder in northern victoria oz in late January. Time to show attitude to my roster guy at work ... hehe
12-30-2006, 05:36 PM   #6
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Unbelivable shots. Good eye, good lense, strong left arm.
12-30-2006, 06:00 PM   #7
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*sigh*

One of these days I'll be afford to hunt for lenses like these.

Until then, I'll just have to settle.

Hard to be LBA on $12 an hour
01-02-2007, 08:22 PM   #8
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Original Poster
Thanks for comments

QuoteOriginally posted by clarenceclose Quote
Unbelivable shots. Good eye, good lense, strong left arm.
No my biceps had not changed in size...

Thanks Clarence

QuoteOriginally posted by Artyste Quote
One of these days I'll be afford to hunt for lenses like these.

Until then, I'll just have to settle.

Hard to be LBA on $12 an hour
I am not any better with my income. But still worth while to hunt down lenses - to get my adrenaline going

01-22-2007, 06:08 PM   #9
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For sale on ebay:http://cgi.ebay.com/Pentax-300mm-f2-8-A-SMC-EDIF-lens-metal-case-236914_W0QQ...QQcmdZViewItem

Too expensive for me...but it is fun to dream.
01-22-2007, 06:30 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by roentarre Quote
It weighs 3.2 kg (apparently same as Fa 600mm f4 - how come??)
Half as long and twice as fast?
01-23-2007, 08:13 PM   #11
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i wish i could afford a lens like that. that photo quality is incredible
10-11-2007, 09:11 AM   #12
Syb
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Hey, I love your shots; but was wondering:

1. you mention a Sigma kind tubular bouquet. Is that what we see in your first pic?
2. In shot no 10 (first series) it looks like flare. Do you remember the lighting conditions? where was the sun?
3. I have the lens too, and use it combined with a SMC 1.7x AF TC, and just love the results.

Cheers, Syb
10-11-2007, 09:38 AM   #13
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You call this a walk around lens?

how about photo's of the trailer you use to carry it?
10-11-2007, 09:50 AM   #14
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oh man, I'm so unfit, I can sure use one of those lenses!
10-11-2007, 05:17 PM   #15
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Note to self:
<Quit reading these posts and looking at these beautiful pictures of these long fast lenses you cannot afford>
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