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04-27-2008, 05:34 AM   #1
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Lens for birding/wildlife

I want to get a good telephoto lens for birding and was wondering what is a good range and speed.
I don't have a lot of money to spend so keep this in mind. maybe looking to spend around $500. New vs. Used, any suggestions. Thank you.

04-27-2008, 11:54 AM   #2
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If this is your budget look out for an AF400mm F5.6, or 300mm F4 lens or zoom with this apature at the longest focal length.

If you are OK on Manual focus, you might find a 500mm F4.5

its big and heavy but reasonably sharp
04-27-2008, 12:41 PM   #3
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Anybody know anything about the Tamron Adaptall 200-500. Or how about the Sigma 135-400 APO

Last edited by OrenMc; 04-27-2008 at 01:23 PM.
04-27-2008, 02:10 PM   #4
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The Sigma 135-400 is a decent lens for the price. Honestly I don't think you can get better with your budget...not new anyway

04-27-2008, 02:29 PM   #5
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I would suggest the 300-500mm range. the Sigma 135-400 fits your budget and is decent. I would suggest accumulating a few more $'s and get a 300mm pentax or 400mm sigma prime. There is a 135-400 on ebay now:

Pentax Sigma Zoom Telephoto 135-400mm f/4.5-5.6 APO - eBay (item 220228651045 end time May-01-08 14:00:00 PDT)
04-28-2008, 05:13 AM   #6
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Thanks ivoire for the link. Thats why I was asking because I seen that and was wondering if it woud do. I looked at some MTF charts for it though and it was pretty low. I'm still trying to figure out the value of one of those charts and how to read it well.
Anyway, I'm going back and forth with that one.

How much should one have to pay for a FA* 300 without going over the top?

Last edited by OrenMc; 04-28-2008 at 05:22 AM.
04-28-2008, 06:02 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by OrenMc Quote
Thanks ivoire for the link. Thats why I was asking because I seen that and was wondering if it woud do. I looked at some MTF charts for it though and it was pretty low. I'm still trying to figure out the value of one of those charts and how to read it well.
Anyway, I'm going back and forth with that one.

How much should one have to pay for a FA* 300 without going over the top?
I went thru your dilemma 2 years ago. bought and sold two 400mm lenses. when i realised i wanted to shoot birds with excellent resolution and auto focus, saved some money and went for the f*300mm. have never regretted the purchase as the pics are always outstanding. The new DA* 300mm is selling for around $1100-1300. the f* and fa* were in the same $ range. i haven't seen a price drop in the f* or fa* but would think the DA*pricing will have an effect (why buy old for the same price). there may be a fa* here:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographer-s-marketplace/22899-fs-fa-30...5-a.html<br />

if he still has it, make an offer of $700 US (due to its condition) and expect a counter offer. i would not go more than 800 US

shot with 400mm sigma: "Back at You" Wall Art by Michael Wolf - RedBubble

shot with 300mm f*: "Great White Heron Landing" Wall Art by Michael Wolf - RedBubble

shot with phoenix 100-400mm: "Ibis and Heron" Wall Art by Michael Wolf - RedBubble

Last edited by ivoire; 04-28-2008 at 06:32 AM.
04-29-2008, 07:01 AM   #8
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Thanks again, I like the owl shot. Maybe some day after quite a bit more experience.

Anyway, whats a good going price for the Tamron SP Adaptall 300mm f 2.8. What would be too much?

You got me looking at the DA* 300

04-29-2008, 04:18 PM   #9
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I would be extremely surprised if yo can get an f2.8 300mm anything for double your budget.

I still think you should look for a used zoom that goes to 300mmF4 or 400mmF5.6

Even that will be difficult emough
04-29-2008, 05:09 PM   #10
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The $500 is the low end of the budget. I will stretch it for the right lens. Refund is on the way so who knows I may end up with the new DA* 300.

Did I just smoke something?

I'm the one selling the Tamron 300 5.6 on ebay. That goes to the funds also. I guess I should have mention that in the market place. I'm new here so not sure how everything works.
04-29-2008, 05:21 PM   #11
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Just a quickie side question - maybe it is the slow focusing lens (a cheap 80's Tokina with low contrast) - but when I went on my first on-purpose birding expedition, I thought manual focus would be more useful more times than AF. Apart from situations where there are a lot of branches etc in the way, I suppose a fast AF could keep up with the birds...

What's the opinion of the experienced birders here - I see some use AF, do others do MF?
04-29-2008, 05:24 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Just a quickie side question - maybe it is the slow focusing lens (a cheap 80's Tokina with low contrast) - but when I went on my first on-purpose birding expedition, I thought manual focus would be more useful more times than AF. Apart from situations where there are a lot of branches etc in the way, I suppose a fast AF could keep up with the birds...

What's the opinion of the experienced birders here - I see some use AF, do others do MF?
I tried AF (Sigma 170-500) and found it focused more on branches than feathers. I returned to my SMCP-M 400/5.6 - but on the K10D it is giving me the dreaded CAs. LBA anyone?
04-29-2008, 07:09 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Just a quickie side question - maybe it is the slow focusing lens (a cheap 80's Tokina with low contrast) - but when I went on my first on-purpose birding expedition, I thought manual focus would be more useful more times than AF. Apart from situations where there are a lot of branches etc in the way, I suppose a fast AF could keep up with the birds...

What's the opinion of the experienced birders here - I see some use AF, do others do MF?
Was wondering the same thing, thanks for asking it.
04-29-2008, 07:34 PM   #14
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For birds in flight i use the afc setting and for large birds in nesting, wading, water shots or those in open marsh, afs. It does require manual focus in some instances where lots of brush and small branches are in the way.

afc = "Great Blue & White Herons in Flight" Wall Art by Michael Wolf - RedBubble

"Weids Crested Flycatcher Landing" Wall Art by Michael Wolf - RedBubble

afs = "Is It for Me" Wall Art by Michael Wolf - RedBubble

m = "Fledgling" Wall Art by Michael Wolf - RedBubble

Last edited by ivoire; 04-29-2008 at 07:43 PM.
04-30-2008, 05:03 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by OrenMc Quote
I want to get a good telephoto lens for birding and was wondering what is a good range and speed.
I don't have a lot of money to spend so keep this in mind. maybe looking to spend around $500. New vs. Used, any suggestions. Thank you.
As you probably have figured out this is the current hole in the Pentax lens lineup. If your semi-serious about birding/wildlife I think 400mm is the absolute minimum (at least IMO ). Now it is just how do you get there and stay within your budget (or close to it). I think you mentioned in a previous post that you would stretch it out so I'll assume $1000 US dollars is about the limit. If you want to buy new (with quality) I think your options are as follows:
  • Sigma 50-500 EX (Bigma)
  • Pentax DA* 300 plus 1.4x TC
  • Sigma 100-300 EX plus 1.4x TC
  • Sigma 70-200 EX +2xTC (I've used this combo and it is good)

There are a couple of options in the 400mm range (auto-focus) on the used market, hard to find because everyone with long glass is keeping it. Two primes, Sigma 400mm f/5.6 and the Tokina AT-X 400mm /f5.6. Both of these lenses come in multiple variations so you have to be careful which one you get (some are good some aren't). I don't have the Sigma so maybe someone else can chime in on that. As far as the Tokina it is the Tokina AT-X SD f/5.6 (with the tripod collar). I have this lens and really like it, if you can find one on ebay they go from $450 to $650.

Here is an example of an eagle with this lens:
Bald Eagle photo - palmor photos at pbase.com

Check out other shots in my birds gallery for more examples and some examples with the 70-200EX with 2xTC.


QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Just a quickie side question - maybe it is the slow focusing lens (a cheap 80's Tokina with low contrast) - but when I went on my first on-purpose birding expedition, I thought manual focus would be more useful more times than AF. Apart from situations where there are a lot of branches etc in the way, I suppose a fast AF could keep up with the birds...

What's the opinion of the experienced birders here - I see some use AF, do others do MF?
I use AF 99% of the time. The only time I use manual focus is if I'm using a TC in low light (which I normally don't do). Unless it is some rare bird not normally seen I don't take shots where there are so many branches that I can't AF.. just because all the branches will block the bird and it wouldn't be a keeper anyway .

Hope that helps, not sure if I added new info or not
John
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