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02-11-2015, 01:13 AM   #1
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Telephoto lens help

Hello, I am a new member and hoping you can help me out!

I just bought a Pentax K50 kit which includes a 50-200mm 2nd lens. Upgrading from very good Olympus point and shoot. The 200mm will not get up in trees to shoot birds, which you all already knew! I have 30 days to return. QVC also has a Canon kit which includes a 75-300mm 2nd lens. I like that Pentax is WR and also capability to use AA batteries. If I ever did buy a 300mm is there a need for the 200mm also? How about the 1.4x Pentax teleconverter added to 200mm? I just bought this expensive camera and it is not doing what I want, other than focusing way faster than my Olympus. Which I know is huge! A lot of time the birds at my feeders would fly away before point and shoot would focus. Pictures are comparable. DSLR cost 3x more.

I am using AUTO and when I crop picture loses sharpness.
Any advice?

New to DSLR. Had an Olympus OM-10 film camera in 80's and loved it.

Thanks, Sammy

02-11-2015, 01:51 AM - 1 Like   #2
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The Pentax 55-300 would probably be your best bet, as a kit it is usually not much more expensive over a 50-200 but the quality and reach improvement is worth it for most people.
02-11-2015, 02:27 AM - 1 Like   #3
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The 55-300mm is definitely the way to go IMO:
HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm F4-5.8 ED WR Review - Introduction | PentaxForums.com Reviews

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02-11-2015, 02:37 AM - 1 Like   #4
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I have both the 50-200 and 55-300. Even though my 55-300 isn't WR I never use the 50-200. The 300 is better in every way (except being bigger, but it's still small for a 300).

I would not recommend the 1.4x converter on any of these lenses. IMO you will need something like the DA*60-250 to make good use of a converter, but then we are talking a lot more money. It's a killer combination, though.

For cropping you would do well to start shooting raw. JPEGs are fine if you get everything perfect in camera, but as soon as you need to adjust anything there just isn't enough information left. It's more work post processing the raw files, in particular in the beginning, but as you get your workflow settled you won't spend too much time, and you will get a lot more out of your camera.

Of course, for cropping your image has to be sharp to begin with. Good shooting technique and the best lens you can afford helps a lot. So will a good tripod, depending on what you shoot.

02-11-2015, 03:55 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sammy Quote
Hello, I am a new member and hoping you can help me out!

I just bought a Pentax K50 kit which includes a 50-200mm 2nd lens. Upgrading from very good Olympus point and shoot. The 200mm will not get up in trees to shoot birds, which you all already knew! I have 30 days to return. QVC also has a Canon kit which includes a 75-300mm 2nd lens. I like that Pentax is WR and also capability to use AA batteries. If I ever did buy a 300mm is there a need for the 200mm also? How about the 1.4x Pentax teleconverter added to 200mm? I just bought this expensive camera and it is not doing what I want, other than focusing way faster than my Olympus. Which I know is huge! A lot of time the birds at my feeders would fly away before point and shoot would focus. Pictures are comparable. DSLR cost 3x more.

I am using AUTO and when I crop picture loses sharpness.
Any advice?

New to DSLR. Had an Olympus OM-10 film camera in 80's and loved it.

Thanks, Sammy

If I were you I'd go for an old manual 300mm lens instead, there are a lot of cheap and good lenses out there, the tamron adaptall II, tair, pentacon, all good quality lenses that can be found for around $150 or so. If you are comfortable with manual focus that is. but with CIF you should be fine and many times faster than the screwdrive AF.
02-11-2015, 04:48 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I would also recommend the 55-300mm. You could sell the 50-200mm and use the funds towards the purchase of the 55-300mm. Used versions can be purchased for a moderate price. Be advised there have been three versions of the 55-300mm. The DA-L and the DA are identical in optical quality, but the DA-L is the economy version, lacking quick shift focusing and a lens hood and it has a plastic mount. The current HD DA version has weather sealing and new lens coatings.
02-11-2015, 04:49 AM - 1 Like   #7
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With some practice and taking more control of your settings, the quality of your pictures will improve steadily with the SLR and you will soon leave the point and shoot behind.

If birds are your passion and you can afford it, what you really want is the DA* 300mm F4 and then the 1.4X teleconverter some time later.

You say you are shooting on AUTO. Do you mean auto aperture/ shutter speed/ sensitivity (ie: AUTO on the setting wheel on the left top of the camera)? That won't give enough control of shutter speed for photographing birds. If your camera has the TAV setting, use that. 1/800s and F8 is a good starting point for bird photography.

AUTO can also mean AUTOMATIC focus point setting for auto-focusing. What will happen with that setting is whatever is closest to the camera will become the focus point. I suggest using centre point, single point auto-focusing (the symbol is a white square with a white dot in the middle). Wherever possible, that point goes over the bird's eye in your viewfinder (or, if it is not close enough, over its head or chest.)
02-11-2015, 05:25 AM - 1 Like   #8
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You did not buy an expensive camera.You bought an inexpensive entry level DSLR camera with a cheap kit lens. "Learn" your camera to really know it inside and out, then listen to these smart people and get yourself a quality lens you can take pictures you can be proud of.

02-11-2015, 06:31 AM - 1 Like   #9
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you can get a used DA 55-300 (older version, not HD) for under $250 now. I think it's the minimum lens for any birding. It does have the advantage of being compact for its reach.
02-11-2015, 06:48 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sammy Quote
Hello, I am a new member and hoping you can help me out!

I just bought a Pentax K50 kit which includes a 50-200mm 2nd lens. Upgrading from very good Olympus point and shoot. The 200mm will not get up in trees to shoot birds, which you all already knew! I have 30 days to return. QVC also has a Canon kit which includes a 75-300mm 2nd lens. I like that Pentax is WR and also capability to use AA batteries. If I ever did buy a 300mm is there a need for the 200mm also? How about the 1.4x Pentax teleconverter added to 200mm? I just bought this expensive camera and it is not doing what I want, other than focusing way faster than my Olympus. Which I know is huge! A lot of time the birds at my feeders would fly away before point and shoot would focus. Pictures are comparable. DSLR cost 3x more.
I have found that a 400mm lens starts to become useful for birds. For songbirds or more distant waterfowl, 500mm and up is necessary. Sigma's 150-500mm lens at about $1100 is a bargain, when compared to $5000 for the Sigma 500mm f4.5.
02-11-2015, 07:01 AM - 1 Like   #11
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A dslr is not like using a point and shoot. One can't pick it up, throw it on "auto" and expect it to take exceptional pictures most of the time. The more you learn your camera and when and how to use the various controls the better you will be able to set your camera up and "plan" your shots. That you will find with any dslr no matter what the brand. You can buy the top of the line professional camera and lenses and it will not produce better pictures if you still don't know how to operate the camera or know enough about photography to capture a photo the way you want it to look.This is the biggest mistake new dslrs users make, expecting more when knowing less. If this is what your expecting then you may consider going back to a point and shoot and/or you may also fall into the trap of brand chasing unless you decide to actually take the time to learn about photography, how to operate dslr cameras and how to get the most out of what you have. Your camera is capable of producing great pictures. I don't suggest new users running out and buying better lenses to replace what they have at first, even those better lenses take knowledge of ones cameras and photography or they won't perform as well as they can. Your kit lenses granted aren't the top of the line for sharpness but I will say this, what you have is capable of taking decently enough sharp photos that a little correcting in post processing is all it takes and have really sharp not over cooked photos as long as there was not a lot of uncorrectable motion in the shot. PS remember this, not all photos look their best super sharp that's where the creativity of ones photography comes into play, use your vision and create the look, It's not often it just happens. That's the fun part of photography.

I suggest you keep all of your current lenses while you are learning then decide when and what you want to upgrade to. I do have another wide angle zoom that's better than my kit but it is not WR so I switch between the two. I definitely suggest getting a 300mm or 300mm zoom or longer but if you do get a whatever to 300mm or so you may appreciate your 50-200mm or miss having it sometimes. Granted the whatever to 300mm or so covers the same focal range but they are usually are bigger, heavier and harder to control camera motion hand held vs the 50-200mm in the same range. Not that it can't be done without a tripod but I find it easier to just drop to my smaller lighter lens, depending on the situation. I suggest keeping all you have and use them when they suit your need while adding to them.

Last edited by Oldbayrunner; 02-11-2015 at 07:11 AM.
02-11-2015, 07:13 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by pete-tarmigan Quote
I have found that a 400mm lens starts to become useful for birds. For songbirds or more distant waterfowl, 500mm and up is necessary. Sigma's 150-500mm lens at about $1100 is a bargain, when compared to $5000 for the Sigma 500mm f4.5.
That must be in Canadian...the 150-500 is $869 in the US. Sigma has had a $200 instant rebate on it forever.

The 150-500 is total overkill for feeder birds. And it is a lot more lens than most people would want to carry on a walk in the park.

For a beginner just learning a DSLR get a DA L 55-300. You can get one for less than $200 now. Add to it a Vivitar Series 1 1.4x TC. They cost around $100. Then take your camera out of Auto mode. Set it to TAv, a mode which allows you to set your shutter speed and aperture while the camera chooses the ISO. Set you shutter speed to at least 1/500s and your aperture to F8. Set the shutter speed higher if the lighting conditions allow, set the aperture lower only if the light is dim.

I shot with the 55-300 almost exclusively before I got the Sigma 150-500. Paired with a K-x and later a K-5 it produced many photos accepted to the Pentax Photo Gallery. The only other long lens I've used much is the Cosina/Vivitar/Phoenix/ProMaster 100-400. Not as good as the 55-300, but very cheap. You can usually find it for less than $100.

Cosina (Phoenix, Vivitar, Promaster, Voightlander 100-400mm, f:4.5-6.7, AF Lens Reviews - Cosina Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED samples - PentaxForums.com
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/130-lens-sample-photo-archive/171934-sigm...g-apo-hsm.html
02-11-2015, 07:14 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Driline Quote
You did not buy an expensive camera.You bought an inexpensive entry level DSLR camera with a cheap kit lens. "Learn" your camera to really know it inside and out, then listen to these smart people and get yourself a quality lens you can take pictures you can be proud of.
An 'inexpensive ' camera and 'cheap kit lens' are not a bar to taking good photographs. You may need some practice but the K50 and the 55 300 are well able to take good photos (it may be a bit on short side for small birds at any distance though)
This photo was taken with a Kx which was even 'cheaper' than your K50
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02-11-2015, 08:39 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by mohb Quote
An 'inexpensive ' camera and 'cheap kit lens' are not a bar to taking good photographs. You may need some practice but the K50 and the 55 300 are well able to take good photos (it may be a bit on short side for small birds at any distance though)
This photo was taken with a Kx which was even 'cheaper' than your K50
Sorry, I didn't realize the 55-300 was also a "cheap" kit lens too. My bad.

I said to "learn" how to use his entry level DSLR so he can take great pictures not replace it
02-11-2015, 02:00 PM   #15
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Isn't the OP just being a little over ambitious trying to catch small fast moving birds? I don't do 'birding' but in my local park the other day I found it quite challenging trying to photograph the rather sluggish ducks on the pond.
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