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10-13-2013, 01:05 AM   #1
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DA*300 vs 150-500 birding

Hey everyone!

Im wondering what lens would be better for birding between the DA*300 and sigma 150-500? Also wondering what the IQ would be like on the 300 with the 1.7x tc on. I really dont like the aperture of f6.3 on the sigma but i could live with it. I do quite a bit of rainforest shooting so I like the lighter DA*300 for that and also the fact that its completely weather sealed. I like the 150-500 for the reach. I think im leaning towards the 300 but im really not sure becuase most people say that 300mm isnt enough for birding.

Thanks

10-13-2013, 01:36 AM   #2
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Well consider that I have bought a 1200 cause a 600 is not always long enough for birding.... I was kidding, most of the time the 600 is great. The DA300 is too short for birding apart for large birds, or the ones which are not shy (dépends where you live). I would go with the Sigma
10-13-2013, 02:38 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by goubejp Quote
Well consider that I have bought a 1200 cause a 600 is not always long enough for birding.... I was kidding, most of the time the 600 is great. The DA300 is too short for birding apart for large birds, or the ones which are not shy (dépends where you live). I would go with the Sigma
Interesting - my understanding that that the better IQ of the DA*300 made up for the shorter focal length. From the reviews I've seen, the IQ of a photo taken with the Bigma at 500mm is no better than resizing an image taken at 300mm with the same lens. Another consideration is weight - not everyone is prepared to carry around a very heavy lens. I have some quite nice bird photos taken with the K5iis and DA55-300. It very much depends on the size of the birds and how close you can get. I wish someone would make an AF mirror lens!!
10-13-2013, 02:41 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobG Quote
Interesting - my understanding that that the better IQ of the DA*300 made up for the shorter focal length. From the reviews I've seen, the IQ of a photo taken with the Bigma at 500mm is no better than resizing an image taken at 300mm with the same lens. Another consideration is weight - not everyone is prepared to carry around a very heavy lens. I have some quite nice bird photos taken with the K5iis and DA55-300. It very much depends on the size of the birds and how close you can get. I wish someone would make an AF mirror lens!!
Do you know if a 1.7x tc on the DA*300 would still make kt better IQ than the 150-500?

10-13-2013, 02:52 AM   #5
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The DA300 works really good with the 1.7x and probably holds it's value if you ever decide to sell. I don't know about the sigma. F4 is nice to have when you need it too. With the 1.7x and cropped:


Last edited by borno; 10-13-2013 at 03:02 AM.
10-13-2013, 03:17 AM   #6
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Wow thats awesome! What aperture does the lens endup being with the tc on? Is it something f6.8? (I think i read it somewhere)
10-13-2013, 03:21 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reptilezz Quote
Im wondering what lens would be better for birding between the DA*300 and sigma 150-500? Also wondering what the IQ would be like on the 300 with the 1.7x tc on. I really dont like the aperture of f6.3 on the sigma but i could live with it. I do quite a bit of rainforest shooting so I like the lighter DA*300 for that and also the fact that its completely weather sealed. I like the 150-500 for the reach. I think im leaning towards the 300 but im really not sure becuase most people say that 300mm isnt enough for birding.
I use the DA* 300mm f/4 and the Sigma 500mm f/4.5 APO EX DG. I have a 1.4x teleconverter for the Sigma which gives autofocus. (But it won't give autofocus on the 300mm). So I have 300mm, 500mm, and 700mm.

I've used the 300mm most, because: it is All Weather, and I've shot birds in flight in stormy weather; and because I can hand-hold it for long periods, which I can't (yet) for the 500mm.

I've sometimes shot large birds in flight (Gannets, Red Kites) with the 300mm so close I failed to get them all in the frame! It is impossible to generalise about the reach needed for birding, but I think mostly I will need my 500mm, with or without a 1.4x teleconverter.

For interest, I am trying to see if I can make my Sigma 500mm weather resistant. (At least for light showers). This is obviously high risk - if I get it wrong, I'll lose the lens! I'm trying insulating tape around various gaps. By sacrificing manual focusing, I can seal both ends of the focusing ring. By sacrificing use of the polarising filter, I think I can seal the drop-in filter assembly. Since I don't need the aperture ring, I'm not sacrificing anything by using insulating tape on that. That leaves the lens-body join - I'm pondering that, but may be able to seal that with a rubber band.

(I have a "proper" cover for the Sigma which I've used in the rain, but found it very inconvenient).
10-13-2013, 03:31 AM   #8
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Reach will depend a lot on whether you operate from a hide or not. If you don't, 300mm is very short indeed, although this may greatly depend on your local birdlife. For urban birding in Amsterdam, it's only good for gulls and herons, it seems. Even the shots I take at 500mm I usually end up having to crop quite radically, unless I shoot bids that aren't shy and sit still.

I tried the DA* in (well, just outside) a shop with and with and without my 1.7x converter with SDM contacts. I brought my old Sigma 170-500 along for a comparison. I was rather unimpressed by the performance of the DA*, TBH. It was a rather cloudy, rainy day, and the DA* was very erratic with getting a focus lock in this bad light; with the TC on I couldn't get a proper lock at all - it just kept hunting. In contrast, the K5/Sigma combo had no issues whatsoever locking on immediately, although the effective F stop is about the same. Since most of the year the days are cloudy and rainy here, that's a rather big issue for me; YMMV.

I'm fairly sure that a lot of the bad rep the Sigma gets when it comes to the long end of focal length simply comes from the fact that the chance of motion blur increases with focal length, especially considering the lens is a bit harder to handle when fully extended. From a tripod, it's not bad at all.

If at all possible, try if you can find a dealer allowing you do do some testing for comparison.

10-13-2013, 03:49 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by OJGoreng Quote
Reach will depend a lot on whether you operate from a hide or not. If you don't, 300mm is very short indeed, although this may greatly depend on your local birdlife. For urban birding in Amsterdam, it's only good for gulls and herons, it seems. Even the shots I take at 500mm I usually end up having to crop quite radically, unless I shoot bids that aren't shy and sit still.
Yes, it depends a lot on how close you can get. I took this the other day with the DA55-300. I could have got a lot closer with the DA300 and a TC.




I have a 500mm mirror lens but it's so hard to focus manually, and to hold steady. Any really long focal lengths (or a shorter lens with a TC) will need to be used with a tripod most of the time to get good results. Come to think of it, I've never tried the mirror lens on the K5iis. I should do that! I still really want that DA*300 f4 though...

PS It also depends on what sort of quality you want. Do you want to ge a record of seeing the bird, or do you want a print quality image? That makes a big difference.
10-13-2013, 03:51 AM   #10
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I should also add, the only TC I found to work with the da300mm was the 1.7x afa. I tried a couple of the 1.5x shq kenko's with the PZ contacts and they hunted way too much. The 1.7x afa uses the screw drive.
10-13-2013, 03:58 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reptilezz Quote
Wow thats awesome! What aperture does the lens endup being with the tc on? Is it something f6.8? (I think i read it somewhere)
I think that is about right and I really wanted faster aperture at times so I tried a tamron 300mm f2.8, but the fringing was bad, so it needed stopping down anyway. I got my hands on a FA300 f2.8 but it was a bad copy. (or I'd still be shooting Pentax)
10-13-2013, 04:02 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by RobG Quote
Yes, it depends a lot on how close you can get. I took this the other day with the DA55-300. I could have got a lot closer with the DA300 and a TC.

I have a 500mm mirror lens but it's so hard to focus manually, and to hold steady. Any really long focal lengths (or a shorter lens with a TC) will need to be used with a tripod most of the time to get good results. Come to think of it, I've never tried the mirror lens on the K5iis. I should do that! I still really want that DA*300 f4 though...

PS It also depends on what sort of quality you want. Do you want to ge a record of seeing the bird, or do you want a print quality image? That makes a big difference.
I print the images and will be printing posters on the good images
10-13-2013, 04:27 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by borno Quote
I should also add, the only TC I found to work with the da300mm was the 1.7x afa. I tried a couple of the 1.5x shq kenko's with the PZ contacts and they hunted way too much. The 1.7x afa uses the screw drive.
I've used the DA*300 with a Tamron 1.4 teleconverter, and the autofocus does work with that. It certainly does hunt more, but for a static subject it works well enough.
When I tested a 150-500, the autofocus on that was faster than the 300 plus teleconverter, but I find the image quality of the 300 is fantastic.
10-13-2013, 04:55 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by borno Quote
I think that is about right and I really wanted faster aperture at times so I tried a tamron 300mm f2.8, but the fringing was bad, so it needed stopping down anyway. I got my hands on a FA300 f2.8 but it was a bad copy. (or I'd still be shooting Pentax)
I guess if one really wanted a longer AF lens, it would necssarily mean going to Canon or Nikon. I don't have the time or frankly the inclination to set up hides. I know that means I won't get the sort of photos that people who use hides get, but so be it. It depends on what is appropriate for the person. For me, I'd prefer a lighter lens which I can hand hold. If you're seriously thinking of any long lens, it's worth reading the reviews here and elsewhere though.
10-13-2013, 06:24 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reptilezz Quote
Hey everyone!

Im wondering what lens would be better for birding between the DA*300 and sigma 150-500? Also wondering what the IQ would be like on the 300 with the 1.7x tc on. I really dont like the aperture of f6.3 on the sigma but i could live with it. I do quite a bit of rainforest shooting so I like the lighter DA*300 for that and also the fact that its completely weather sealed. I like the 150-500 for the reach. I think im leaning towards the 300 but im really not sure becuase most people say that 300mm isnt enough for birding.

Thanks
Like you I want to do bird photography. I've been reading a lot and have come to the point where it "appears" to me that for the highest quality autofocus pictures we Pentax users can get we really need the Sigma 300mm 2.8 lens AND teleconvertor. We can get very sharp, high quality pics with the Pentax DA300mm 4 but it needs more light. Once Pentax releases its new teleconvertor I suspect that the Pentax DA300 will be an excellent option at a very reasonable price. The Sigma 300mm 2.8 is around $3,400 plus the hard to find teleconvertor. I myself am holding out for the new Pentax teleconvertor and DA300mm 4. If you want to see beautiful bird photography done by one of our off and on members check out "Birds that Fart" on the web. He really likes Pentax and shoots Pentax some but had to switch to Cannon to get the very best birding lenses (like over $7,000 per lens!!). I'm never going to be able to play in that camera world but don't care as Pentax has cameras as good as any and fine optics. We just need a little more reach.... ;-)

Best of luck
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