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03-04-2014, 05:30 PM   #1
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How much better Is the DA* 300mm than the DA 55-300 for cropping bird pics in PP

I just recently started getting into birding and I currently have the DA 55-300 (actually the DA-L version). I have been using it on the K3 and so far all the shots I've taken have been cropped in post. I realize that getting closer to the birds is a skill that I need to master, but I was wondering if it was worth it to upgrade to the DA* 300? Will it deliver better cropped photos? I have a Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 that I never use, so I guess I could sell that and get the 300. I figure in a year I could pick up the new TC and I would then have more reach in addition to the better IQ. But I am still thinking of other uses for the 300mm prime - maybe my son's sporting events and/or indoor plays etc. (although he is only 15 months so that is a way off!). I would be interested in users' input on either question (better for crops? other uses?).

Here are some the first shots I took using the 55-300 on the K-3 that were cropped in PP.

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03-04-2014, 05:39 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Assume that the DA* 300 is slightly sharper than the DA* 60-250mm, then take a look at the comparisons in this review:
HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR Review - Introduction - PentaxForums.com

I'd say it's worth upgrading to the 300 or 60-250 if you do a lot of birding.

Adam
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03-04-2014, 05:42 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I know nothing... but the question I would be asking is , is your Tamron 70-200 better than your 55-300. I never advise people to ditch a 2.8 lens in favour of a slower lens... but that lens has had quality control problems, maybe you should have it serviced before you write it off. I'm thinking with the new TC it could solve your problems, and having a zoom for telephoto work is much easier cropping than with a prime. People say frame with your feet, but with a long lens, sometimes you'd have to walk 100 meters.

That being said, I can't answer your question, I don't have either lens, and you need someone who has both, and has taken some side by side images to compare. That might be a tough assignment. I wouldn't take my opinion with a rain of salt, or anyone else's that is in speculation mode. The only opinion that matters is the one of someone with both lenses.
03-04-2014, 06:11 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Of course I have no examples to prove it, but the DA* 300 is a large difference and well worth selling the 70-200. I own both the DA-L 55-300 and the DA*300. Absolutely love the 55-300, just not at 300. I try to keep it under 250, mostly restrict it to f8 and 190mm.

03-04-2014, 06:37 PM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by calculator01 Quote
Of course I have no examples to prove it, but the DA* 300 is a large difference and well worth selling the 70-200. I own both the DA-L 55-300 and the DA*300. Absolutely love the 55-300, just not at 300. I try to keep it under 250, mostly restrict it to f8 and 190mm.
It's hard to provide a side-by side comparison, but although I have been really happy with my DA 55-300, the results from the DA*300 are noticeably better and will stand cropping more. I also have a Promaster 70-300 which I believe is a rebadged Tamron - the colour and contrast from the Promaster is not as good as the DA 55-300 let alone the DA*300. However, the Promaster is quite sharp and the focussing is quicker than the DA 55-300. Of course the Promaster can't come near the DA*300 in any respect.

With reference to the above I have taken plenty of photos at 300mm on the DA55-300 and on my copy it's surprisingly good. I'm not expecting to make poster prints from the results. The DA 55-300 is far more convenient as a travelling lens than the DA*300 simply due to the weight. I am still using it when I travel.
03-04-2014, 06:57 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Since you are new to birding i would wait a year or two for several reasons. First, allow your skills to develop and see where you are headed photographically. Most bird photographers desire longer focal lengths than 300mm as they grow skills. I'd also wait until Pentax releases longer lenses. This will coordinate with any sports shooting requirements as your son grows. For all of his sports until he hits 10-12, your existing lenses are quite sufficient.

M
03-04-2014, 07:09 PM - 1 Like   #7
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I've had a DA55-300 for quite a while and just go the DA*300 a couple months ago. I haven't had the chance to take a lot with the 300 yet, but I've already seen that I can get results at F4 in low light.. The 55-300 is sharp at at f7.1 or f8 with good light, but it has to be good light. I think the difference is significant unless conditions are perfect, then it may be a little closer.
03-04-2014, 07:12 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
Since you are new to birding i would wait a year or two for several reasons. First, allow your skills to develop and see where you are headed photographically. Most bird photographers desire longer focal lengths than 300mm as they grow skills. I'd also wait until Pentax releases longer lenses. This will coordinate with any sports shooting requirements as your son grows. For all of his sports until he hits 10-12, your existing lenses are quite sufficient.

M
Good answer, especially if Pentax comes out with a 150-400 or something similar.

03-04-2014, 07:50 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I have both and the 55-300 stays at home. The 55-300 is ok at f8, the DA*300 is sharp at f4. This opens up the opportunity to shoot on lower light days without having to push the iso.

The DA*300 really shines on the K-3. These shots are on the K-5.


03-04-2014, 09:05 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I do not own the 55-300 but I do own the DA*300. Simply put, it's a marvelous lens. I don't do birding myself but do love zoos; sometimes the lens has just a bit too much reach for that, but when that's not an issue, the lens's quality is impeccable.

Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of animals I can upload at the moment, but here's a bunch of photos from a high school hockey game I attended a few days ago. It was my first time to shoot sports ever. (And boy, it's hard to pick a bigger challenge than hockey!) These were shot wide-open at f/4 at 1/400 sec with ISO1600 on a K-5 IIs. All were handheld.

Please excuse the less than perfect framing. In addition to being my first time shooting such a scene, the lens had a little bit too much length for the small arena. I tried to back up a little, but that didn't help much (poor angle). 250mm would have been perfect, but all I have is 70-200 and 300. These are JPEGs straight from the camera.

You can get to a full-sized version by clicking on the image; feel free to pixel peep away.





03-04-2014, 11:00 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by calculator01 Quote
I try to keep it under 250, mostly restrict it to f8 and 190mm.

With apologies to James Coburn and Charles Bronson:
QuoteQuote:
Sedgwick: A 55-300mm only usable under 250mm and f/8? What bloody good is that?

Danny: I don't know, I wasn't going to buy one myself.
03-05-2014, 03:25 AM - 1 Like   #12
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I have sets in my Flickr collection where I've marked the DA*300 shots (not many yet) and the DA 55-300.

DA*300






DA 55-300



DA 55-300 at 300mm

03-05-2014, 04:25 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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I have owned both, and the DA*300 monsters the DA55-300 at the long end. It is sharp at f/4.0, renders colours beautifully, has buttery smooth bokeh and focusses *much* faster. It is a big lump of glass though. With the new teleconverter I expect it will be as much telephoto as I ever need.

DA55-300 in good light:


Kele @ Parklife


Washington @ Parklife


Dan Black @ ParkLife Adelaide

...and in not quite so good light:





DA*300








One Tree Hill sunset




Masked Lapwing (plover)


Crocosmia lucifer


Say cheese!


Daffodil


Where's the cheese?

And there's no way you could nail this with the DA55-300....


Ducks in flight 1

It kicks arse on the Q too....


Q Moon
03-05-2014, 11:46 AM - 1 Like   #14
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The sharper the lens the better the crops. Unsharpness gets worse in crops.

DA* 300 crops.. Not birds, but very related.



03-05-2014, 03:32 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by pearcemi Quote
I just recently started getting into birding and I currently have the DA 55-300 (actually the DA-L version). I have been using it on the K3 and so far all the shots I've taken have been cropped in post. I realize that getting closer to the birds is a skill that I need to master, but I was wondering if it was worth it to upgrade to the DA* 300? Will it deliver better cropped photos? I have a Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 that I never use, so I guess I could sell that and get the 300. I figure in a year I could pick up the new TC and I would then have more reach in addition to the better IQ. But I am still thinking of other uses for the 300mm prime - maybe my son's sporting events and/or indoor plays etc. (although he is only 15 months so that is a way off!). I would be interested in users' input on either question (better for crops? other uses?).

Here are some the first shots I took using the 55-300 on the K-3 that were cropped in PP.
I traded in my DA 55 - 300 for a DA* 200 and even though I lost 100 mm it actually works better for birding than the 55 - 300. Quietness of SDM helps but the faster aperture and better sharpness really helped. I do wish I went for the DA* 300 instead of the 200 though. More than likely instead of getting a 300 I will probably get the TC which will make my DA* almost equivalent to the DA* 300. Where did you take those duck pictures? I have lived in Brooklyn for 30 years of my life and never saw a Hooded Merganser or a Northern Shoveler there. I now live in Rockland County NY and these ducks are fairly common here. Good shot of the hoodie, they are very difficult to approach.

Derekkite: Nice shot of the Common Merganser and ducklings. They too are hard to approach.

Regards,
John
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