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12-30-2007, 07:28 PM   #1

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Zoom telephoto for animals/birds

What would you recommend. I don't want to get too expensive and would prefer to stay with Pentax, but will consider other brands.

I have a K10D, with a 16-45, A 35-105 and want a longer lens to complement my system and to take out of reach pix of birds and wildlife. Mostly in the sunshine, but there will be some cloudy days.

Looking for:

- at least 300 mm that would convert to 450 or so digital
-zoom lens preferable, but prime if reasonable price, ok too
- fast f stop great but willing to go higher
-want to avoid softness
-want sharp, clear pix
-not averse to using tripod (Leitz Tiltall) but would also like to snap pix , handheld

I don't know if the 80-320 Pentax is still available. I do know the Pentax 75-300 is available, but not sure of the quality of pictures with these lens.

Thanks, Les

12-30-2007, 10:30 PM   #2
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Don't overlook some of the used equipment on reliable sites, such as Henry's, Galaxy, McBain's, Vintage Visuals, Dunne and Rundle. (A list of Canadian stores I am familiar with).
12-30-2007, 10:41 PM   #3
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What's your budget for this? There are a couple of options I'd consider if you can afford them. An FA*300mm F4.5 or the Sigma 50-500mm but in both cases you're looking at $1000 +
12-31-2007, 12:34 AM   #4
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Tamron has 70-300, which has some good reputation, considered it's price. Sigma is doing 70-300 and 70-300 APO, but I'd go with Tamron (well, I did actually). Then you have Sigma/Bigma 50-500. Pentax FAJ 75-300 or you can try to get some older used glass..
I believe that's the choices, your turn

12-31-2007, 05:28 AM   #5
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I have the Pentax FAJ 75-300 ... not meant to be the best lens for that length ... but I have got some decent images from it ... what I am finding though ... is i want more reach though (doesn't everyone).

After seeing some great shots from the Bigma though ... I'd love to get myself the bazooka ... but at around $1000+ ... it's not going to happen soon.
12-31-2007, 06:28 AM   #6
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I have both the Sigma 70-300 APO DG and the Sigma 50-500 (Bigma). Although the latter is undoubtedly the better of the two (at $750 more one would certainly hope so), I am still very fond of the 70-300. It's much, much more portable, gets decent pictures at 300mm, and also very sharp macros. Every picture I've taken with it has been hand-held, and this is difficult, to say the least, with the Bigma. I have no experience with the Tamron 70-300, but many in this forum use it and like it. From what I've read, it's more prone to purple fringing than the Sigma, but on the other hand it may be a bit sharper at 300mm. Hey, it's not a perfect world. You give and you get. I realize that many (most?) who post in this forum prefer primes, but today's zoom lenses are capable of producing very good results, and their convenience more than outweighs any difference in quality in my opinion. Yours FWIW.

12-31-2007, 07:10 AM   #7
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I have 2 good working set-ups at present.

for my *istD i generally shoot with a SMC - 300mm F4 and 1.7x AF TC, this gives autopfocus and TTL flash capability with the *istD using an AF500FTZ flash

With my K10 I use the Sigma 70-200 F2.8 and 1.4 x TC. I have just reciently gotten a sigma 2x TC to give a little more range, but not really done a lot yet with it. I use the AF540 FTZ flash with this set-up

I would really like a longer lens for the K10D but there is not much available that is longer and significantly faster that still allows P-TTL flash. I am really looking out for a good 300mm-F2.8. I decided against the tamron after trying one out and getting really bad CA.
01-01-2008, 10:26 AM   #8
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300 mm is a bit short for birds. I personnaly use a A* 300 mm f2.8 (definitively NOT a budget lens) most of the time with 1.7 X converter (which gives me autofocus) or 2X converter for birds, thus giving me a 500 to 600 mm range. 300 mm is used for deers, elk, small mammals or sometime birds when they don't fly away as I'm approaching them.
The issue of zooms is that they are weak at their longest focal length, which is precisely the focal length at which they are used for birds and wildlife. I'll recommand the DA* 300mm F4 with a 1.4 teleconverter.

01-01-2008, 06:55 PM   #9
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For a consumer zoom with range 70-300mm, I suggest Tamron.
I used to have Pentax F100-300mm and FA80-320mm with results not so impressive above 200mm range (the pics at 300mm are useable but soft).
Pentax is weak for those consumer zooms.
I think Sigma 170-500mm is a great choice. Cheaper/lighter than the Sigma 50-500mm but the IQ is not worst than it. With this one, you don't have to bother to get another one with longer focal length unless you really want to upgrade to Pentax big glass.
01-02-2008, 07:09 AM   #10
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for those who want to see results I redirect you to the following link, to show what 300mm Can get you and also 500mm (with flash) can get you.

Regardless of focal length, for shooting birds, a flash will be a necessity, since a lot of time you are in shaded areas.
01-02-2008, 08:07 AM   #11
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I may be an exception, but I have never used a flash for bird photographs. I don't even own an external flash.

I try to keep everything as simple as possible - a flash would just add another variable...

Then again, I have never used a tripod either. I've got 100's of photos of birds and beasts, taken with my K100/FA*300, handheld, at shutter speeds down to 1/30th with no blur. Mind you, I'll always shoot at the fastest shutter speed possible, while maintaining ISO 200 if it can be done.

I guess everyone develops methods they are comfortable with.
01-02-2008, 09:07 AM   #12
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I've got a Tamron 70-300 which I generally praise. It's decently sharp, very light and very portable. The shortcomings of it really came to light a few weeks ago though, specifically for birds.

The scenario was that there were some pine grosbeaks that came to town (not common visitors to Guelph). I figured I'd scout out the location on the Sunday and then do the real shooting on Monday. I used the Tamron for scouting purposes and left the tripod & 400mm lens at home. The Tamron's aperture blades stuck for about half the frames I fired (it was about -10 celcius at the time). Although the Tamron is reasonably sharp, I'd hate to have to crop. And being a dim optic and not having brought my tripod, I was stuck using a higher ISO and flash for most of the shots.....and I'm personally not a fan of flash where bird shots are concerned. lastly, the AF with the tamron is dreadfully slow in comparison to my 400mm prime lens.

For the $200 or so that I paid for the Tamron, I can't complain and it's got a lot more benefits that weaknesses regardless of the price. That said, I'd recommend a 300 (at the minimum) or longer prime for birds. It's worth the investment.

As for the results of my adventures with the Pine Grosbeaks; I managed to squeeze off a couple of good frames while scouting, which was a good thing because they were gone the next day.
01-02-2008, 10:27 AM   #13
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Agree with Tom, if possible avoid using flash to get more natural light. Birds are not afraid by flash most of the time but you get a flat image with dark or event black background, instead of having the nice bokey of a long tele.
As Tom, I use a good 300 mm with a teleconverter if I need longer focal length, instead of a zoom
01-02-2008, 10:33 AM   #14
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Great pictures on your link

Did you crop any of the 300mm much?? It seems that you are patient and have a knack to approach without scaring off your subject.

I did not think that you could get such pictures using a 300mm; I use a 400mm Tak 5.6 and it is probably bulkier and and w/o AF it is rather slow in light and use speed.

I hope a new DA* 300mm 4 gets produced

01-02-2008, 01:27 PM   #15
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I guess it is really a question of personal taste.

I have shots both with and without a flash, shake reduction helps a lot on the K10D as seen by my blue jay

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