Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
04-09-2013, 12:10 PM   #1
New Member




Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Binghamton, NY
Posts: 23
Budget bird lens: Reach vs. cropping

I currently make occasional stabs at bird photography using my manual focus Tokina 80-200 f/4.5-5.6. I know it's not a great lens, but I got it for $15. It's not the worst, but I'm sure I could do much better. I'm looking for a sub-$300 lens for bird and wildlife photography, somewhere in the 300mm to 500mm range. Options I am currently considering are:

Vivitar Series 1 500mm f/6.3 mirror lens
PRO:
Reach
Price (130 USD)

CON:
IQ?
Said to be hard to focus
Aperture not variable

Pentax DA 55-300
PRO:
IQ
AF
Handling
Usable at shorter lengths for portraits etc.

CON:
Would need to be cropped more heavily than with the 500mm


Does anyone with experience with one / both of these lenses have anything to add? I know that reach doesn't always mean better IQ at a given magnification; e.g. the DA 55-300 is known for giving better IQ when cropped than when using a teleconverter. Obviously, I do know that the 55-300 will handle a lot better (AF, zoom, faster aperture, auto aperture, etc.). The question I'm interested in is whether the difference in IQ between the 55-300 and the mirror lens might be large enough that the 300 might give better images when cropped to the equivalent of 500mm.

Thanks for any input you can provide!

04-09-2013, 12:22 PM   #2
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
jatrax's Avatar

Join Date: May 2010
Location: Oregon
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 10,772
A definitive test would require side by side testing. But in my experience, with an old 500mm mirror and the DA L 55-300, there is no comparison. The 55-300 wins walking away. But I'm not a big fan of mirror lenses, had one and hated it, maybe it was a bad one but I've no interest in trying another.

I have seen mirror lenses that folks say are fairly good, but they also cost quite a bit more than the Vivitar (and other branded) ones, which are usually in the $150 range.

To be honest, I am always skeptical of something that costs $150 claiming to do the same job as something that costs $4,500. It does depend on your image quality requirements, I've no doubt you can get images with a 500mm mirror, but are they going to be the images you want?

I would recommend the 55-300 over the mirror, or if that is not long enough perhaps a manual 400mm or 500mm will work.
04-09-2013, 12:27 PM   #3
New Member




Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Binghamton, NY
Posts: 23
Original Poster
I'm assuming that a large part of the price difference between a 500mm mirror lens and a refractive lens of the same focal length is due to the refractive lens having autofocus, a faster aperture, and the internal electronics to communicate aperture to the body. But the good things I hear about the 55-300 do seem to suggest it'd beat most 500mm catadioptric lenses. Thanks for your input!
04-09-2013, 12:39 PM   #4
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
boriscleto's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Liverpool, NY
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 12,874
Get a DA L 55-300 you will not regret it.

Beaver Lake Apr 06, 2013 - a set on Flickr

Mar 25, 2013 - a set on Flickr

Feb 23, 2013 - a set on Flickr

Jun 28, 2012 - a set on Flickr

Beaver Lake Jun 06, 2012 - a set on Flickr

Beaver Lake May 16, 2012 - a set on Flickr

Most of my bird photos get cropped from 16MP to anywhere from 5 to 8MP.

04-09-2013, 12:47 PM   #5
New Member




Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Binghamton, NY
Posts: 23
Original Poster
You make a compelling case with startlingly few actual words.
04-09-2013, 01:07 PM   #6
Pentaxian




Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 5,002
Do not get the mirror lens. You will regret that.
04-09-2013, 01:07 PM   #7
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
jatrax's Avatar

Join Date: May 2010
Location: Oregon
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 10,772
QuoteOriginally posted by Sicariphus Quote
I'm assuming that a large part of the price difference between a 500mm mirror lens and a refractive lens of the same focal length is due to the refractive lens having autofocus, a faster aperture, and the internal electronics to communicate aperture to the body.
Some of the difference is obviously but I think most of it is in the glass, which enables better IQ and the faster aperture too. Manual focus long glass is not cheap either, take a look at this one: Pentax A 300 2 8 | eBay admittedly f/2.8 and it has contacts.
04-09-2013, 01:12 PM   #8
Veteran Member
Docrwm's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Somewhere in the Southern US
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 11,275
How about a Q? Really extends your reach for a LOT less than some of the high end long glass.

04-09-2013, 01:14 PM   #9
Pentaxian
Just1MoreDave's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Aurora, CO
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 4,864
I have one of the better mirror lenses and it works well, but current used prices make that lens cost as much as the DA 55-300 option. The DA is useful for other stuff besides birds and the moon. I don't know what the Vivitar is like but look at used prices. The DA retains its value and sells for just barely under retail. The L version would probably do that except isn't officially a retail lens.
04-09-2013, 01:19 PM   #10
Pentaxian
Sagitta's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Maine
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,939
Echoing the Q + a smaller, higher quality lens of some sort + the adapter.

I would of bought a Q10 along with my K-30 if the Bosslady hadn't vetoed it. ("What do you need a second camera for?"). So my Q became my Sigma UWA.
04-09-2013, 01:39 PM   #11
Pentaxian
bluestringer's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Cotton fields of South Georgia
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 2,438
Pentax FA 80-320, cheaper than either one of those, and does quite well.

Last edited by bluestringer; 04-17-2013 at 01:35 PM.
04-09-2013, 02:34 PM   #12
Pentaxian
Bob from Aus's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Australia
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,085
With long glass I can't manually focus anywhere near as well as autofocus. i would give myself 5% compared to autofocus.

I took all my bird photos for the first 30+ years nothing longer than a 200mm. Compared to what I had a 50-300 with double the reach is sensational. You will just need to outsmart the birds. Sometimes (a lot more often than you would think) people with the longer glass are no better than just point and shoot.
04-09-2013, 02:36 PM   #13
Pentaxian
Bob from Aus's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Australia
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,085
QuoteOriginally posted by bluestringer Quote
Pentax FA 80-320, cheaper than either one of those, and does quite well.
Bluestinger

did you use fill in flash? I found with cheaper lenses fill in flash makes a big difference
04-09-2013, 02:50 PM   #14
Pentaxian
normhead's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Near Algonquin Park
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 25,877
I use a manual focus A-400 and would recommend it. The thing with it is, once you lock focus, it doesn't continue to seek each time to push down the shutter release. The focus throw is so long it's pretty easy to lock focus. I guess for BiFs it would be different, for 90% of my shots I'd rate it as better than auto-focus.







It cost me $450, but I really can't say anything bad about it, except if I could get the A-200 F4 to go with it I'd be very happy.

Last edited by normhead; 04-09-2013 at 04:51 PM.
04-09-2013, 03:55 PM   #15
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
JimJohnson's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Lake Superior - Michigan
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,271
So long as you either manual focus or auto-focus, you can save even a little bit more with the DA L 55-300. The optics and IQ are the same. The only functional difference is the lack of Quick Shift ... a means to manually tweak your focus even if the camera is still set to do auto-focus.
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
500mm, af, aperture, bird, da, iq, k-mount, lens, mirror, pentax lens, photography, slr lens
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Lens Focus Calibration - Lens Align vs SpyderdeLensCal vs Focus Pyramid vs Free Stuff reivax Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 13 09-06-2013 01:29 AM
Budget vs MegaPixel A3M0N Pentax DSLR Discussion 21 03-23-2012 11:05 PM
Best budget or film lens to replace DA 18-55mm kit lens? amc654 Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 27 03-12-2012 02:33 PM
budget Zoo lens? mom2mny Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 9 05-07-2011 10:06 AM
Action Lens with decent reach Michelleans Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 5 10-10-2010 12:17 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:22 PM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top