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04-09-2013, 05:54 PM   #16
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I use a DA L 55-300 mm and really happy with it's performance. Little slow to focus but IQ is very good.

Wildlife - a set on Flickr

04-09-2013, 07:14 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob from Aus Quote
Bluestinger

did you use fill in flash? I found with cheaper lenses fill in flash makes a big difference


Yes, I use flash sometimes. The robin was shot using flash.
04-10-2013, 02:22 AM   #18
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I take the mirror lens any time, have 3 of them.
DA55-300 is ok, but too short.

Also have 3 zooms that can cover 400mm, and 3 primes in this range.
400mm still might be too short.
04-10-2013, 06:24 AM   #19
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The extra reach of a 500mm lens does come in handy for wildlife. Rather than buy the Vivitar 500mm mirror lens for $130, I'd take that money and look for either a Tair 3M-5CA or Tamron 55B (or 55BB) 500mm mirror lens. These are both excellent mirror lenses and will far outperform the cheap ones. I have the Tair & it's sharp, lightweight, compact, easy to shoot handheld, and because it's a mirror lens, there's zero CA. F:8 is also a good shooting aperture for wildlife, so the fixed aperture isn't a problem. Here's a few I've shot with the Tair:

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/402941_296722250370692_1751149096_n.jpg

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/381401_296722027037381_1605248524_n.jpg

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/293995_236211143088470_2677331_n.jpg

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/296953_236211599755091_5499152_n.jpg

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/296754_245493732160211_7310068_n.jpg

All except the moon shot handheld.

I've tried many of the cheaper mirror lenses before settling on the Tair, and they all varied from poor to abysmal. Confine your choice to the Tair or the Tamrons & you won't regret it.

The 55-300 is an excellent lens. It's one of my favorites. It just doesn't have quite the reach of the Tair.

04-10-2013, 07:14 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by GibbyTheMole Quote
The extra reach of a 500mm lens does come in handy for wildlife. Rather than buy the Vivitar 500mm mirror lens for $130, I'd take that money and look for either a Tair 3M-5CA or Tamron 55B (or 55BB) 500mm mirror lens. These are both excellent mirror lenses and will far outperform the cheap ones. I have the Tair & it's sharp, lightweight, compact, easy to shoot handheld, and because it's a mirror lens, there's zero CA. F:8 is also a good shooting aperture for wildlife, so the fixed aperture isn't a problem. Here's a few I've shot with the Tair:

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/402941_296722250370692_1751149096_n.jpg

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/381401_296722027037381_1605248524_n.jpg

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/293995_236211143088470_2677331_n.jpg

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/296953_236211599755091_5499152_n.jpg

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/296754_245493732160211_7310068_n.jpg

All except the moon shot handheld.

I've tried many of the cheaper mirror lenses before settling on the Tair, and they all varied from poor to abysmal. Confine your choice to the Tair or the Tamrons & you won't regret it.

The 55-300 is an excellent lens. It's one of my favorites. It just doesn't have quite the reach of the Tair.
KEH seems to have the Tamrons in lots, they either have 0 or a bunch but seldom just 1.
04-10-2013, 07:26 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Docrwm Quote
they either have 0 or a bunch but seldom just 1.
Yeah, I've noticed that myself. Weird.... :-)
04-10-2013, 07:44 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by GibbyTheMole Quote
I'd take that money and look for either a Tair 3M-5CA or Tamron 55B (or 55BB) 500mm mirror lens.
I was wondering if someone would bring this up. The 3M-5CA and 3M-5A are supposed to be the best of the bunch when it comes to mirror lenses. I've read that it beats the Tamrons by an ever so small margin, but it's kind of subjective.

If you really want reach, there's a 1000mm russian mirror called the MTO 11CA. There's also a larger, older 1100mm version called the MTO 1000a. They only cost about $300. I have one, but atmospheric distortions have killed every shot I've tried so far. Granted, these were distance shots. Birding doesn't involve such long distances. I'm talking miles here. I'm not sure I'd reccomend these, though. They're huge, and extremely difficult to use. The aperture is fixed at f/11.

If you are considering mirrors, keep in mind that you'll get really wacky "donut" bokeh. Some people like it, but a lot of people don't. It's different, that's for sure.
04-10-2013, 08:09 AM   #23
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I have both lenses you are considering along with 3 other mirrors all at F8, Pentax-M 400 F5.6 and Tokina AT-X 150-500 F5.6. By far I use the DA 55-300 at 300mm (or sometimes at 270mm and F8 for better IQ) for most of my bird photography and crop as necessary.

Depending on the type of birds (big stationary, of small jumping around), autofocus may be the most important aspect for a successful photo. If you can setup a tripod, use live view and a long manual focus lens, you can get amazing results, but for handheld, autofocus becomes very important.

The other issue you will come across, is depth of filed. You can use the online DOF calculator to get an idea, but at 500mm and F6.3 is paper thin and in most cases you will not be able to have an entire bird in focus. Mirror lenses will give you a fixed F-stop which may not be ideal in many cases. On the other hand, mirrors can produce a very unique bokeh (some love it, some hate it) almost with a painterly quality.

Between the Pentax 400 and the Tokina (at 500) I tend to use the Tokina (although very heavy) primarily because it is an "A" lens and I can use TAv mode where I set the F stop at F11 and the speed to around 200 and let the ISO float.

Using a strong flash with a zoom head or telephoto attachment is also very useful with any lens. With proper settings you can eliminate motion blur and still get some background.

I also have the Q and tried with several long lenses with mixed results. The best so far was using the #2 standard zoom with an Olympus 1.9X front mounted lens.

04-10-2013, 08:51 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by scratchpaddy Quote
The 3M-5CA and 3M-5A are supposed to be the best of the bunch when it comes to mirror lenses. I've read that it beats the Tamrons by an ever so small margin, but it's kind of subjective.
The Tair 3M-5CA and 3M-5A (both optically identical) have been shown to have slightly better contrast and possibly sharpness than the Tamrons. But it's a very small difference, only noticeable if you're A/B comparing two identical shots from both lenses. I wouldn't hesitate to trust either one.

If I were buying a Tair, I'd probably go for the 3M-5CA. The older 3M-5A is physically larger to accomodate a slide-out hood & tripod collar. While those are nice to have, the increased diameter might be a problem with some Pentax DSLRs because of the front overhang of the viewfinder "hump".

About that donut bokeh: For whatever reason, I've found the donut bokeh more intrusive on other mirror lenses than on the Tair. Dunno why that is... It just seems more subdued and "better" on the Tair. In case you can't tell, I love my Tair 500mm mirror lens. It's one I will never sell.

QuoteOriginally posted by scratchpaddy Quote
If you really want reach, there's a 1000mm russian mirror called the MTO 11CA. There's also a larger, older 1100mm version called the MTO 1000a. They only cost about $300. I have one, but atmospheric distortions have killed every shot I've tried so far. Granted, these were distance shots. Birding doesn't involve such long distances. I'm talking miles here. I'm not sure I'd reccomend these, though. They're huge, and extremely difficult to use. The aperture is fixed at f/11.
I would think they'd be impossible (or at least nearly impossible) to handhold for wildlife shots. Plus, there's that f/11 aperture slowing down the shutter speed you can use. It certainly would be fun to play around with, though... :-)
04-11-2013, 01:38 AM   #25
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Tamron 55BB + 200F = 1000mm on K5, with SR on, SR set to max 800mm:









approx 3-4 meters distance:
04-11-2013, 01:58 AM   #26
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DA 55-300



04-11-2013, 08:19 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by hoanpham Quote
Tamron 55BB + 200F = 1000mm on K5, with SR on, SR set to max 800mm:
Handheld! I haven't tried that. I can report that 55BB plus TC (in my case the 01F) is not a good combo with the EE-S focus screen.

This is my best so far with the 55BB and 01F on a tripod, maybe a third of the original frame. The hawk is a regular and picks the same trees so I can see my progress over several years. Still have work to do.

04-12-2013, 07:13 PM   #28
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I like the DA55-300 ED, nothing wrong with a bit of crop here and there.
I have a bunch on flickr if the OP wants to have a look
DA55-300mm - a set on Flickr

My favourite from that set

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