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03-22-2012, 07:55 PM   #1
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Is the Da 300mm long enough for birds??

I thinking of picking up the da 300mm but am worried it wont be long enough for birding?? I own the sigma 120-400mm which ive been generally happy with ,but would like something sharper.. are there any birders out there happy with this lense or are you always wishing it was longer?? any input would be great..

03-22-2012, 08:05 PM   #2
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Longer [lenses] is a birders best friend - a 1.4 TC attached to that *300 would give you a 420 and it will still be 5 times sharper with better IQ than the sigma...
03-22-2012, 08:54 PM   #3
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DaneDawg
If you're around Willies Puddle you can check mine out. I have both the Pentax 1.7 and Kenko 1.5 to hook on to the DA 300.

Regards Frank
03-22-2012, 10:06 PM   #4
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Lets be real; it depends on how big the birds are and how close you are shooting.

Out the open window at a feeder 4m away its big enough for gnats. Egrets/Herons 25m away also. But unless you enjoy tight cropping, or shoot Condors, you need a lot more for 50m+ shooting. i shoot birds with the da*300 almost every afternoon. my feeder is 12m out the back and other than sparrows, everything is sized pretty good so I dont have to rotate to portrait mode when a Red Belly drops in. But when walking the river bank i always keep the pentax 1.7xTC in my pocket....just in case.

For BIFs, i much prefer the da*300 with no TC and even over the Sigma 150-500 HSM and Bigma as their focus is so s-l-o-w at 500 due to their maxd aperture that its tough to get focus. Just rented the Sigma 150-500 for 7 days to try that and found dropping it back to 400mm made focusing tolerable. Since I shoot only large BIFs (osprey, eagle, egret, etc.) going back to the da*300 (w/o TC) felt better than the Sigma's. But the Sigma 150-500 OS HSM is a whole 'nuther story.

Last, I took many test shots comparing the da*300 + 1.7x TC to the Sigma 150-500 OS HSM at 500mm. interesting results and hopefully repeatable more than by just me but found the Pentax combo @510/f6.7 to be sharper than the Sigma 500/f6.3 or f7.1. As I made it to f13, the Sigma looked better. I have read other posts claiming 2nd hand knowledge that the new Sigma 150-500 is sharper than the 120-400 but have not personal experience with the later.

Hope any of this random info is useful.

03-23-2012, 04:55 AM   #5
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I use the DA*300 both with and without teleconverters. With the AFA 1.7x, it was about as sharp as my Sigma 50-500mm EX in a much lighter package. I now have the new Sigma 50-500mm OS and I am getting very good results with that. But the Sigma is a large lens that I always use on a monopod. There are times that I do not want to haul it around and I take the DA*300. It will give you some amazingly sharp images without the converter and does a very good job with. The cost of the 300+AFA 1.7x is about the same as the new Sigma 50-500mm OS. I did own the 135-400mm Sigma at one time and both of these lenses are much better than that one.
03-23-2012, 05:00 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Tamron 500/8 model 55BB, or Tamron 300/2.8 model 360B with TC
No AF then, but on budget with quality.
03-23-2012, 05:58 AM   #7
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i have the f 300 4.5 and the bigma 50-500...i love both lens for different reasons...the bigma has given me so many awesome shots but i do tend to shoot small birds or ones that are far away...i have been eyeballing the 500 f4 and then adding the tc but can't justify the cost...no matter what you decide you will either have a lens that is too short or too long when something unexpected comes alone...i had to buy 2 camera bodies but still don't feel i have everything covered other than myself
03-23-2012, 06:16 AM   #8
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Do the Math

As others have eluded to, the issue is one of subject size and distance

for far away (distance >> focal length)subjects, the general lens equations can be simplified


Image size (on sensor) = Subject size x Focal length / subject distance

I find it difficult for example, to fill the entire frame of a chickadee using my K300/4 and a 1.7x TC even at the minimum focusing distance of about 14 feet.

herons, and other large and relitively tame birds (ducks geese, etc...), are easy with a 300mm lens, and in these cases you will not have any issue, but raptors specifically drive me nuts because although they are large, they are simply NOT all that approchable in the wild.

I have multiple options, starting with my SIGMA APO 70-200F2.8 EX (first version non DG non macro) coupled to Sigma's 1.4x and 2x TCs. this is a very good all round solution, that is still within the hand holdable weight and size. I then have my K300/4 and 1.7x AF TC which gives me 500mm F6.7 and is at the limit of hand holdable in terms of focal length. I also have a tamron 200-500F5.6 which at 2.7 kilos, is tripod bound.

You will note, all 3 of my solutions exceed 300mm...

WHat I like about the sigma and tamron zooms is the minimumfocusing distance is quite sshort, (about 6 feet) which makes small birds at a feeder or on flowers easier, assuming I can set up close.

When looking at birding solutions, consider the MFD as well as focal length. some long lenses especially older 400mm primes dont focus all that close. that is why I like a high quality zoom and a TC over some older primes. My vivitar 400F5.6 is a fine lens, but a 22foot MFD makes it useless for small birds without suing extension tubes. The K and Tak 500/4.5 is somewhat the same, it is I think either 35 or 50 foot MFD.

03-23-2012, 10:02 AM   #9
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Snide remark: Any lens will do, as long as you can get close enough. Drug the birds, maybe.

Polite remark: As mentioned, longer is better. But the terms long+sharp+light+fast+quality+cheap are mutually exclusive. I'm no birder so I don't face personal challenges here, i.e. I can't afford that stuff anyway. If I could afford it, I'd go for the Bigma 50-500 -- not cheap|light|fast, but flexible.

Cheap remark: Were I to go bird-brain, I'd just use my Sakar 500/8 mirror and see what happens. Or maybe stick a front-loading 1.5x TC onto my fastest long lens, an Enna Tele-Ennalyt 240/4.5, for a 360/4.5 optic. Or just drag my huge Lil'Bigma 170-500 around with me -- it's paid for.

My recommendation: Spend as much money as necessary to be happy.
03-23-2012, 10:16 AM   #10
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Big birds are easy, but they may want to eat you and your lens.

Actually 300 mm is a long lens on the Pentax. You can even catch smaller birds at decent magnification. Depending on your technique you can get closer... Also, birds in Europe tent to be more suspicious, here you need better technique or longer lenses.
03-23-2012, 10:44 AM   #11
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It's actually too big/long for birds. Very few of them can carry it.
03-23-2012, 10:59 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Snide remark: Any lens will do, as long as you can get close enough. Drug the birds, maybe.
there was actually a post once asking for the best lens for birding, my response was similar, the one you have on your camera at the time.

I have photographed a hawk with an FA28-105 F4-5.6, THis lens is neither long or fast, but the hawk was sitting on a fence post eating a mouse. He was more concerned about me trying to take his lunch than anything else.

Someone posted a grey jay (i think it was) with a 10-17mm fisheye. it is easy if the bird is eating seeds out of the lens hood at the time

but seriously, i think 300mm is a minimum, and if you are going to crop out of a 300mm lens, it better be a good lens. Otherwise, you get what I call record shots, enough to prove you saw what you claim, but not good enough to do anything else with

400mm at F5.6 is a reasoable starting point.

as zapp says big birds are easy, its the little buggers that are hard. for these you need technique as well, but if you can be patient, or stalk effectively cutting your distance down is always going to improve the image quality regardless of the lens you are using,
03-23-2012, 01:05 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I have photographed a hawk with an FA28-105 F4-5.6, THis lens is neither long or fast, but the hawk was sitting on a fence post eating a mouse. He was more concerned about me trying to take his lunch than anything else.
My best birdshot (not available at the moment) was taken with my ancient 1.1mpx Sony DSC-P20 P&S with a fixed 6mm f/4.5 lens (42mm equivalent on 135/FF). The subject was a hawk. The place was a butterfly refuge on Lake Atitlan just north of Panajachel, Guatemala. The refuge was a large netted enclosure stretching up a hillside, with a tourist path following the terrain. Near the top was a viewpoint with bench and split-rail fence. The hawk was stationed there, free to go but apparently digging the scene. I'll swear that when I pulled out the camera, the hawk posed for me, looking fierce from 1m away. A merry time was had by all.

My next-best birdshots were Guatemalan parrots, but they were mostly tied down, so they don't count. Too bad I never saw any quetzales (the birds, not the currency). One birdshot I missed (because I was driving, not poking the camera out the window) was a drive-by north of Veracruz, Mexico, as a girl walked down the road with a toucan on her shoulder. When I saw them, I knew we weren't in Kansas anymore.

Last edited by RioRico; 03-23-2012 at 01:12 PM.
03-23-2012, 04:01 PM   #14
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thanx for the input guys , but after looking threw my bird pics most of them are at 400mm ,some with 1.5 tc some without ,so i guess i should wait for the 560mm 5.6 to come out. I hope its under 3 grand..
03-23-2012, 04:25 PM   #15
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QuoteQuote:
I thinking of picking up the da 300mm but am worried it wont be long enough for birding??
For ostriches it will be fine.
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