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10-15-2013, 10:50 AM   #61
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobG Quote
FWIW, it's really hard to get close to birds in rainforest areas except at the edges of the forest or the edges of breaks in the forest. If it's in the middle of mature rainforest - depending on the type - you can actually see a long way. Under the canopy in many types of rainforest, not much grows because of the poor light. The birds in those circumstances are usually on the ground or in the canopy; if the latter you won't get photos unless you climb up there. Yes the humidity is probably high, so a weather sealed lens would be a bonus. My old 80-200 ended up with mould on some of the elements. The OP said he wasn't setting up hides, so IMO the speed and portability of the DA300 would be better than a lens which would be best on a tripod.
Makes sense.. I remember now.

I agree on all your points.. The last sentence is very important!

10-15-2013, 04:32 PM - 1 Like   #62
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reptilezz Quote
Thats what i was thinking. And if i needed more reach and i have good ight at say a park i could always use a good tc.
Hi Preptilezz,

This is sometimes easier said than done. At present, there are no TCs that will reliably AF with an SDM lens. By reliably, I mean that the addition of the TC is essentially transparent, except for obvious difference that max aperture changes in proportion to the mag of the TC. The long promised (but still vaporware) 1.4x SDM TC could change that if it ever is introduced. This would add some flexibility to the DA*300 as you could also shoot it at 420mm f 5.6.

At this time, the only "TC" that will AF reliably with the DA* 300 is the 1.7x AFA, and this results in a max aperture of f6.8 (f4.5 x 1.7 -- about 1.5 stops difference) with this lens. IMO, this combo will probably yield better IQ than any of the Sigma xx-500 zooms and do it with less bulk and weight, but I have not compared them directly. My personal favorite ~500mm setup is the FA* 300 f4.5 + the 1.7x AFA (510mm f7.7). It's ultimately handholdable with good technique, and IMO sharpness and contrast trumps the fractional stop slower max aperture. Also, the AFA's AF is very quick, it will AF in all but the darkest daylight conditions, and the AFA acts as a natural focus limiter since it needs manual prefocusing to within its focusing range. This sounds like a PIA, but I find myself using the AFA for its focus limiting as much as for the added magnification. I had my FA* before the DA* was introduced, and I chose to stay with the FA* despite the 1/3 stop slower max aperture because the FA* is smaller and lighter, the DA* is only a touch sharper, and the FA*, being a screw drive lens, would give me the added flexibility of being able to use a good 1.4x TC. The DA* also has a shorter MFD, at 4 ft, but this would really add little to my utilization of the lens, except for maybe butterfly shooting -- just not enough to justify over $1K outlay and the replacement of an old friend.

The only 500mm lens that has interested me in the least has been the Sigma EX 500 f4.5 APO and APO DG, but the Minimum Focusing Distance at @ 13 ft, and the weight, bulk, and expense of the lens would just not be justifiable for me. I can get similar performance from a 300 f2.8 (I already have 3 different ones I use) and the 1.7x AFA (510mm f4.8), and the 300/2.8 + AFA combo also gives me a much closer MFD of 6-8 ft which is more useful for the way I shoot.

Scott
10-15-2013, 09:30 PM   #63
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
My personal favorite ~500mm setup is the FA* 300 f4.5 + the 1.7x AFA (510mm f7.7). It's ultimately handholdable with good technique, and IMO sharpness and contrast trumps the fractional stop slower max aperture. Also, the AFA's AF is very quick, it will AF in all but the darkest daylight conditions, and the AFA acts as a natural focus limiter since it needs manual prefocusing to within its focusing range.
How about AF-C ? Can the AFA Converter adjust focus automatically to track a subject? I too have the FA*300 f4.5 and love it but my results with TCs have not impressed me on the K5 (I have tried the Tamron 1.4, Kenko 1.5 and Promaster 1.7).
10-16-2013, 10:02 AM - 1 Like   #64
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QuoteOriginally posted by mgbirder Quote
How about AF-C ? Can the AFA Converter adjust focus automatically to track a subject? I too have the FA*300 f4.5 and love it but my results with TCs have not impressed me on the K5 (I have tried the Tamron 1.4, Kenko 1.5 and Promaster 1.7).
Hi mgbirder,

While AF-C works, I don't use it much with the AFA. Although I'm primarily a birder, I don't shoot BIF much because I live in a very large urban area, and there really aren't many ops to shoot interesting birds in flight.

For BIF, with such quick action, the manual prefocusing can make things a bit frantic, and I've never felt the need to develop the technique to shoot them. For this, I'd rather shoot a straight FL lens, and 300mm is about as long as I'd want to go for practical shooting as otherwise I have too much trouble spotting the subject in the VF. For distant subjects, where the range of distances covered are within the AFA's focusing range, AF-C works fine, and is very quick since the focusing elements of the AFA are very small and light compared to the focusing groups of a typical lens, and the throw from lock to lock in the focusing range is relatively short.

That being said, I do shoot macro using AF-C with a Pentax DA F 100 f2.8 macro and a Sigma EX 180 f3.5 APO DG macro. This works well for me with my shooting style -- handheld with flash. The AFA gives me almost a 1.9x bump in magnification (I assume because it allows a bit closer MFD) and the severe limit to focusing range makes a full lock AF hunt only cover a few mm. I'm pretty much a casual macro shooter, and nowhere as critical as the best that we can see here and elsewhere. . .

Scott

10-19-2013, 03:52 AM   #65
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QuoteOriginally posted by snostorm Quote
At this time, the only "TC" that will AF reliably with the DA* 300 is the 1.7x AFA, and this results in a max aperture of f6.8 (f4.5 x 1.7 -- about 1.5 stops difference) with this lens. IMO, this combo will probably yield better IQ than any of the Sigma xx-500 zooms and do it with less bulk and weight, but I have not compared them directly.
Scott
Out of curiosity... I noticed you're located a bit more south than I am. How dependent is this reliability on bright light? Reason I ask is that with the K f/4 300mm (yes, a very different lens, but at least with the same maximum aperture) I invariably get horrible results with the AFA, the focus being completely off. I wondered if I just have a bad AFA, but with my faster, shorter lenses there's no problem whatsoever. So maybe the typical low-light cloudy Dutch conditions colour my perception about the viability of this combo.

While we're on the topic of comparison, yesterday I happened to take this one* with the old Sigma 170-500 (first version, aka the worst of them all), @500mm. Sharpness drops towards the corners, but still, it's not completely horrible for a lens that costs about 300 used. Indeed, it doesn't have the extreme detail of the DA*300, but you might wonder if the required cropping for the same framing wouldn't have negated most of that. This is a small bird (about 20 cm/8") sitting about 4 meters away; cropped to about 11MP (mostly by clipping off the right part of the image).

(* I'm linking to Flickr because I can't anticipate what resizing by the forum software will do to the IQ)
10-19-2013, 04:11 PM   #66
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QuoteOriginally posted by OJGoreng Quote
Out of curiosity... I noticed you're located a bit more south than I am. How dependent is this reliability on bright light? Reason I ask is that with the K f/4 300mm (yes, a very different lens, but at least with the same maximum aperture) I invariably get horrible results with the AFA, the focus being completely off. I wondered if I just have a bad AFA, but with my faster, shorter lenses there's no problem whatsoever. So maybe the typical low-light cloudy Dutch conditions colour my perception about the viability of this combo.
Hi OJG,

I don't have much experience with light conditions effected by different latitudes, so I really can't say (but it is a little strange to think of my location as a "southern" one ). With the f4.5 max aperture, I'm starting with about a 1/3 stop handicap from the lens. I've shot this combination (FA* 300/4.5 + AFA) for years though, and using 7 Pentax body models ( DS, K100DS, K10, K20, K-7, K-5, K-5 IIs) I've only felt the need to remove the AFA when it gets too close to sunset (about 1 hour) and darker overcast conditions (probably somewhere under EV 12). This is my default walk around birding lens combo, and it's on one of my cameras about 80% of the time during daylight hours, almost regardless of weather conditions.

Another member, Lowell Goudge, in Toronto, Canada, is closer to your latitude, has gotten good results with his K 300/4 and the AFA, so this might be a matter of lens sample variation.

I've also used the AFA with a relatively recently acquired Canon FD 300 f4 L that had been converted to K mount. What I found with this lens is that any deviation from wide open on the aperture causes AF with the AFA to become significantly challenged. It must be noted that the aperture control with this lens was a bit compromised with the conversion -- the ring no longer has detents and there is some roughness right off of wide open -- so there is no easy way for me to tell at what aperture this occurs, but this lens will only AF with the AFA reliably when wide open. If you're trying to shoot with your lens stopped down at all, this might be the problem. I'd also take a look at the aperture blades wide open to see if the blades are visible when the lens is set to f4. I'd assume that they should be retracted completely at this aperture, so if they are visible at all, then that could be a problem.

At these effective apertures (f6.8-7.7), the SAFOX AF sensors are at very close to their limits for what I consider acceptable AF performance. The Pentax AF systems have shown small increments of increased AF sensitivity with each generation, and I've tried pushing each successive body to see how far I can stretch the AFA's ability to supply reasonable AF performance with TCs.

It should be mentioned that the affordable ~500mm alternatives -- the Sigma xx & xxx -500 zooms are f6.3 at 500mm (and I've heard reports that at least some expose at more like f6.8 wide open), so are also in this speed class -- without the focus limiting aspect of the AFA -- so in marginal light, they can hunt, and for me that would be frustrating compared to the very brief lock to lock hunt of the AFA.

Here are some pretty good K-5 examples

With the FA* 300/4.5 + AFA -- 1/1250, lens wide open, ISO 800, +0.3 EvC, Handheld, cropped to 8x10 only from the sides, NR and sharpening applied and downsized for posting.


With the Canon FD 300 /4 L + AFA -- 1/1250, lens wide open, ISO 1600, -0.7 EvC, Tripod mounted, vertical 8x10 crop from a landscape frame, NR and sharpening applied and downsized for posting


K-5 IIs -- one of the first shots with this body:

With the FA* 300/4.5 + AFA -- 1/250, lens wide open, ISO 4500, Handheld, uncropped, NR and sharpening applied and downsized for posting.



Scott

Last edited by snostorm; 10-19-2013 at 11:48 PM.
10-20-2013, 02:51 AM   #67
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Scott,
Thanks for your elaborate reply! Hmm, yes, it might be sample variation indeed. Those images with the FA* look pretty spectacular, I have to say.
10-23-2013, 01:26 PM   #68
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BTW, I just came across this. The photographer lives in my neighbourhood and uses a K5 + modern Sigma 170-500. The results he gets are quite spectacular...

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