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04-07-2008, 11:50 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Derridale Quote
Hi m80 Yes, of course under good circumstances, a longer lens will be better. It really does depend, as you correctly point out, on what type of safari he will be on. If there is a very good driver who understands the needs of photographers, then the car will stop and be a good stable foundation for a long lens.

I was merely making the point that a good, sharp pic taken at 250 or 300 is likely to crop and blow up better than a pic taken at 500 that's a bit blurry. Horses for courses...

I have a friend who went on a safari to the Serengetti and to Ngorongoro Crater, but he had a problem with:

(a) poorly maintained old Land Rovers with bad suspension,

(b) 6 people in the vehicle apart from the driver, so they were all jostling to get good views and the vehicle moved around quite a bit, and

(c) they drove right past several good photo opportunities that he was able to grab with his Tamron 18-250 (which he keeps on one K10D body) and would have missed completely if he had been relying on his other K10D with the Sigma 170-500 on it. The results were more than acceptable when cropped and blown up.

So yes, you're right. It depends on the type of safari, the driver, the vehicles, and the person's budget. And I certainly agree re the monopod and/or beanbag. If all else fails, I've used a sock stuffed with sand and tied off - worked just fine But be sure to use a clean sock, as it will be right under your nose.....
if I were to buy the Sigma 70 - 300 ( which is a nice lens ) would it be advisable to just leave it on the camera for all around shots as well ( portraits of my group, etc.) I really want to travel light and use one all purpose lens.

04-07-2008, 12:47 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by m8o Quote
And the Tamron... There is a Tamron 70-300 (75-300?) appreciation thread kicking around recently that maked me sorry for selling mine w/o ever trying it...
There is both a Tamron 75-300 and a Tamron 70-300.

I think the 75-300 may be discontinued. Either way, it's the 70-300 that is popular.

I have one and really like it.
04-07-2008, 12:51 PM   #18
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I have had the 50-500 and the tamrons 18-250 and 70-300. The bigma will fit better the task but it is quite heavy. My tamron 18-250 is soft in the long end so I dont know if I would recommend it for wildlife shooting. The tamron 70-300 that I had was sharper at 300mm that the 18-250 at 250 hands down. The only problem that I can find to the 70-300 are the chromatic aberrations.
04-08-2008, 09:53 AM   #19
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My two cents...don't even consider the wide to tele zooms for animal work, they are too slow for dawn and dusk and image quality just doesn't measure up--trying to cover too wide a range of zoom length. Fine for family photo fun, but don't play safari with such lenses!

Be wary of the Takamar 500/4.5. It's a very simplistic 4 element design and without ED elements, the color rendition is pitiful. I owned this lens before I stepped up to ED glass tele's. Don't bother with any non-ED tele (or APO in other brands), you would regret the decision. BTW, I did side by side tests on an Osprey up close with both the 500/4.5 and FA*300/4.5. I sold the 500 the next week. Rough learning curve...

You have time to wait for the new Pentax DA*300/4 which would be my top recommendation if you can swing it. It's clear you aren't going to spend the big bucks for longer or faster glass so don't tease yourself...this lens should be a very useful alternative to the big 500 or 600mm superteles. Of course, it's so new that the full tests are just starting, but I'd trust it and intend to trust it and buy one myself soon.

A low cost alternative would be the Sigma 300/4 APO lens which is now discontinued. You should be able to find it on the used market (I'd even sell mine as I'm coveting the new Pentax 300/4). I have used one for several years with good success--it's the only non-Pentax lens I have ever accepted into my arsenal. It isn't as crisp as the Pentax F* or FA* 300/4.5, but does have a tripod collar, which is something I require of that size glass. I actually sold the Pentax 300 mentioned above and replaced it with the Sigma 300. I think you'd be satisfied with such a lens.

The Pentax F* and FA* 300/4.5 lenses are not that uncommon on the used market. They produce magnificent colors and clarity with sharpness of a razor. They ain't cheap, but they get the job done very well. F* has tripod collar FA* does not.

Whatever you choose, make sure to keep it in a lens bag or pouch and be very careful when changing lenses. The amount of dust on a vehicle safari with open windows and roof hatches is problematic if you don't take measures to stay clean.

Have a blast! Whatever equipment you choose, the trip will be memorable for the rest of your life!

04-08-2008, 11:08 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gerrys Quote
if I were to buy the Sigma 70 - 300 ( which is a nice lens ) would it be advisable to just leave it on the camera for all around shots as well ( portraits of my group, etc.) I really want to travel light and use one all purpose lens.
... "probably".
o I used the 50mm f/1.4 only for milkyway shots. If you aren't interested in doing that, not needed.
o I used the 28-75mm f/2.8 only for travel between park to park shots. 70-300 mostly @ the short end would have done just fine plus the ability to zoom more when needed.
o I used the 12-24mm f/4 for landscape & sunset shots of & in the Serengeti, and when traveling in-&-out of Ngorongoro crater. You'll be giving that up.
04-08-2008, 02:01 PM   #21
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You are spending thousands for a great trip and safari, don't let a few ounces of lens weight reduce your efficiency. Bring a kit lens type set up or a 16-45 type lens that only weighs a few ounces. Add that to a 300/4 mini safari lens for critters and you'll have a two lens kit that doesn't require a compromise on what you can accomplish. A 50-200 zoom plus a 300 might work too, but I think for your group travel photos and such, the wider zoom will serve better. I'm scared for you just thinking of being all the way to Africa and as deep in finacially as you will be but only having one lens to try to do everything.
I guess if your goal is simply to have photos to document what you saw, then a single wide angle to tele zoom could work. But if you'd like to have photos for framing on your wall or to produce some stunning images, the one lens approach is fairly unlikely to please you.
04-14-2008, 11:46 AM   #22
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Ron which 300/4 lens are you referring to? is that a fixed lens like the 500 samyang/phoenix?
04-14-2008, 08:51 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ron Boggs Quote
Be wary of the Takamar 500/4.5. It's a very simplistic 4 element design and without ED elements, the color rendition is pitiful.
This is not fair. The big Takumar is one of the best long 500mm lenses not featuring ED glass. As it is essentially a long focal and not a telephoto, the absence of ED glass is not a big drawback and chromatic aberrations are kept to a minimum, except when used wide open. As a consequence of the long focal design, it's huge and bulky, so this is a tripod only lens. As for the 4 element design, some of the highly renowned Leitz Telyt and Novoflex long lenses were consisting only of an achromatic doublet, that's 2 elements in one group! As far as I know, nobody ever complained about the "simplistic design" of Leitz lenses

QuoteOriginally posted by Ron Boggs Quote
The Pentax F* and FA* 300/4.5 lenses are not that uncommon on the used market. They produce magnificent colors and clarity with sharpness of a razor.
Agreed. There is no doubt that the Pentax 300/4.5 lens is one of the best modern telephoto lenses. It's small and versatile and the increased magnification on a crop format camera makes it even more useful. Unfortunately, it is an expensive lens.



Last edited by Abbazz; 04-15-2008 at 12:20 AM.
04-15-2008, 09:01 AM   #24
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The Sigma 300/4 is/was a prime rather than a zoom.

My dislike for the 500/4.5 is not based on the theory of lens design, but rather on the horrible photos that it produced. I used it on Eagles, Ospreys, Antelope, Deer, Elk, Mountain Goats etc. and without exception, it proved to produce unacceptable washed out color. Yes, it was pretty sharp, but both contrast and color rendition were unsellable. I only have one "keeper" photo that I shot through that lens--a close up of the face of a mountain goat that was hanging around near my house. Of course, that image is almost a black and white photo--white fur and black horns. Shoot green grass with that lens and then with any other lens--ED or not--and you'll see what I mean about terrible and washed out color rendition. By the way, pink or red colors aren't as bad with this lens, but greens and yellows and the brownish plumage colors of birds are the worst colors. Shoot in dawn, dusk or shade without the color enhancement of sunlight and the low contrast and color problems are magnified. Note that I'm exceptionally picky--if it isn't publication quality then I don't like it or accept it. And my experience with this lens was using very unforgiving transparency film (slide film) before the digital era.

Which brings up the question...with digital capabilities you can punch the color back up and fix chromatic abberations and add contrast...perhaps a post production whiz can have some fun with the 500/4.5 using modern technology. The lens is exceptionally inexpensive and as I recall it was only about 7 pounds which is pretty light for a super tele--yes, of course only suitable for tripod use.

This is all just talk anyway as the original poster has made it pretty clear that carrying a big lens just ain't part of the plan. If anybody has a chance to play post production with this lens to try to rectify the color and contrast issues, I'd love to see a post so we can all learn something new!
04-15-2008, 08:06 PM   #25
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If weight and size are issues, then I'll add my 2cents to the discussion.

I have 2 long lens options, one for my K10D and one for my *istD.

I reference them by camera because that is how I shoot them.

For the *istD, I use an SMC 300mm F4, with the 1.7x AF TC this gives me 500mm F6.7 or something like that. I use it with the *istD because the *istD meters better than the K10D with manual apature lenses, and I can use flash since the *istD is TTL compatible.

see the first photo in the post below, there is perhaps 5% crop on this photo (i.e. almost full sensor image shown) and considering the bird is only 6 inches, I got pretty close, but in the shade needed a flash.

For the K10D I use the sigma APO 70-200 EX (origonal version) with 1.4x and 2x TCs. The 2X TC is a newly aquired toy. See following 2 posts

The merlin (small falcon) was shot at close range, the image you see is resized only but full frame), the whooping crane was shot at a great distance, and cropped to 1/4 the frame in each dimension. It was also cloudy and this was shot at ISO1600. I would say it is at the limit of my acceptance for a shot. Neither of the K10D shots were using flash

The advantage of the Sigma zoom, is if you want shorter focal lengths, just take of the TC and you have an F2.8. Great for bigger stuff, and low light. I prefer the TCs over something like a BIGMA because of the maximum apature possibilities when the TCs are not in use, for the shorter focal length ranges. Others prefer the BIGMA because there are no TCs to change, and are willing to give up the lens speed for convenience. It's your choice
04-21-2008, 10:21 AM   #26
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I've never been on safari, and my kit is noticeably 'long glass' deficient (as I'm now somewhat wallet deficient), but I'd strongly recommend that in addition to your primary (long) glass, you carry at least one backup lens. After all, if you have it, you might not need it. But then I take a backup lens even when just day kayaking.

I have the 18-250mm Pentax and IMO it's a very decent choice as a backup/supplementary lens. Partly because of it's range, and partly because of it's small size. And your primary glass is unlikely to be anywhere near that wide.

The Tamron 70-300mm is my longest glass, and while lacking the versatility and compactness of the 18-250mm, you'll have 50mm 'extra 'reach' and a decent macro. Like others have said, it can be a bit soft at 300mm, but in my images I haven't noticed it being softer than the 18-250mm at 250mm.

If you're considering the Sigma 50-500mm and haven't held it before I suggest you do. I've only played with one for an afternoon but it's very different from any consumer lens I had tried before.

I wish I knew more about Pentax's long glass selection. One disadvantage of all three above choices is that I don't believe any of them are dirt / moisture sealed.

Best of luck on safari, and I'm extremely jealous.

On the topic of long glass deficiencies. Does anyone here know anything about the manual focus Pentax SMC 135-600 F6.7? How it performs, sample pictures, what it should cost used? I've run across two of these in the last two months but have no useful knowledge of them. Any help appreciated. Thanks.
04-22-2008, 10:07 AM   #27
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I own the Bigma and use itregularly. I found that for its price it's a fairly amazing piece of kit. You do however need to learn to use it as it certainly isn't a point and shoot lens. I can now get pretty good results with it consistently if I have a tree to lean on or my monopode.
I wish I'd had it when I was in Tanzania (only had a 70-300 kit lens which was fairly crappy).

Last edited by Fredshome; 04-22-2008 at 10:08 AM. Reason: grammar
04-22-2008, 02:07 PM   #28
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We have been in 5 different parcs in Tanzania last September.
I "only" had a Tamron 18-250mm at the time.
We bought the K10D and the lens for that purpose.
It served us very well and we got some VERY nice pictures.

The 250mm is long enough for most situations.
The versitality is great: 18-250 without changing lenses.
Remember, there in some situations you will have a lot of dust around you.
No need to change a lens is great for avoiding in camera dust.

We will be returning to Africa in a year or two.
I will be bringing bigger and longer glass (300mm f4 + 1,5 TC), just to get the 5% extra.

- Bert

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