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10-11-2015, 03:05 PM   #1
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Which lens, F*300mm, FA*300mm, or DA*300mm?

Floridian winter is coming, and that means birding will be a pleasure again. I'm thinking about getting my long time wanted Pentax 300mm prime for birding.

Since the prices for older F* and FA* 300mm lenses are about the same as for DA* 300mm, and black friday is ahead, I need to decide which lens is the best for the money.

The weight difference is not an issue, I have Vivitar S1 70-210mm, which is 970g without hood, and I can shoot with that lens about an hour without hands pain. DA* is only 30g heavier.
The more I think about it, the more I'm moving toward buying DA*300mm brand new, with extended warranty. However, I'd like your suggestions, guys, before spending so much on lens.

10-11-2015, 03:27 PM   #2
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dcshooter,
thanks, it's good to know not to buy older lens in winter, the real winter from north.
10-11-2015, 03:28 PM   #3
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I have the DA*300, and excellent lens, but if I could afford I would think hard about the 150-450 zoom, I'm seeing outstanding results, although it is a lot more money.
10-11-2015, 03:30 PM   #4
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The pricing situation for those three lenses hasn't changed much in recent years. I appreciate your statement about not being worried about weight, but remember that weight distribution is probably significant, too, and a fixed FL lens has more of its glass at the front than a zoom lens of the same length and mass (ie the zoom will be less front-heavy), so the lighter the fixed FL lens, the easier it will be to balance while hand-held.

I bought the F*300/4.5 because it was lighter than either the FA*300/4.5 (and has the same optical formula) or the DA*300/4, it had a built-in retractable hood and a substantial demountable tripod foot. I've also found the balance to be good on a K-5 and K-3.


Last edited by RobA_Oz; 10-11-2015 at 03:44 PM.
10-11-2015, 03:36 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
I have the DA*300, and excellent lens, but if I could afford I would think hard about the 150-450 zoom, I'm seeing outstanding results, although it is a lot more money.
Unfortunately, my weight limit for the lens is around 1kg. I can't walk and chase birds with 2000g + lens on K5iis, that's too much to carry and to balance hand held. Tripod is not the option to chase birds the way I do it.

---------- Post added 10-11-15 at 03:45 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
I bought the F*300/4.5 because it was lighter than either the FA*300/4.5 (and has the same optical formula) and the DA*300/4, it had a built-in retractable hood and a substantial demountable tripod foot. I've also found the balance to be good on a K-5 and K-3.
F* 300mm sounds very good, I really like that lens, but it's old. I've lost money with old second hand lens a few times due to issues, but they were not around 1K to spend. New DA* 300mm with extended warranty sounds safe. For 200g weight difference I don't mind.

Last edited by micromacro; 10-11-2015 at 03:45 PM.
10-11-2015, 03:48 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Go for the DA*. Can't go wrong with a tripod mount and weather sealing!

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10-11-2015, 03:58 PM   #7
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Oh, Adam, weather sealing in humid climate must be a big plus.
10-11-2015, 04:54 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by micromacro Quote
Unfortunately, my weight limit for the lens is around 1kg. I can't walk and chase birds with 2000g + lens on K5iis, that's too much to carry and to balance hand held. Tripod is not the option to chase birds the way I do it.[COLOR=Silver]
.
Makes sense to me, I have to applaud those that shoot birds on a tripod, I can't do it either. I've carried the DA*300 for over 12 hours, much of that with a second camera at the same time. The weather sealing is great, here we have humidity in the summer, fog in Spring and Fall, and in Winter cold and snow. Probably the toughest is the snow when it's not that cold, it sticks to the kit and then slowly melts. You would think that colder temperature would shrink the seals, but I've had no problems

10-11-2015, 05:30 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
I've carried the DA*300 for over 12 hours, much of that with a second camera at the same time.
I wish I could do that. I could carry the camera with 1000g lens all day in bag, but carry and shot with that setup all day- nope. The first day my limit will be an hour, the second while hands remember that weight, I can do it longer but with care, changing hands while walking. The biggest problem are wrists. I also tend to forget about the weight while hunting birds , but always pay the price for that with wrist pain later.

Thankfully I don't need to deal with cold temperatures, but humidity is a killer.
10-11-2015, 06:00 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by micromacro Quote
I wish I could do that. I could carry the camera with 1000g lens all day in bag, but carry and shot with that setup all day- nope. The first day my limit will be an hour, the second while hands remember that weight, I can do it longer but with care, changing hands while walking. The biggest problem are wrists. I also tend to forget about the weight while hunting birds , but always pay the price for that with wrist pain later.

Thankfully I don't need to deal with cold temperatures, but humidity is a killer.
I could not do it without the Black Rapid strap distributing that weight over the shoulder, that has saved my neck and hands/arms. It is a big lens, not as big as my Tamron 70-200/2.8, but it seems to be balanced pretty well.
10-11-2015, 06:17 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
I could not do it without the Black Rapid strap distributing that weight over the shoulder, that has saved my neck and hands/arms. It is a big lens, not as big as my Tamron 70-200/2.8, but it seems to be balanced pretty well.
I regret now that being at BH I did not test DA*300, and Black Rapid. I use OpTech Pro strap, and it's really comfortable one, even for heavy lens.
At least I bought ThinkTank TurnStyle sling (medium 10) there. It's extremely comfortable for shoulders, especially when wearing it as a baby sling on front, and it will fit one camera with big lens easy. It fits two cameras with short lenses. The only drawback is lack of water pocket. Birding without water in Florida is impossible Most likely I will attach elastic mesh pocket myself.
At some point of doing photography I realized that comfort is not a luxury, but safety.
10-11-2015, 06:23 PM   #12
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I has a similar decision to make a few years back. Size and weight mattered to me a lot, especially size. The DA*300mm is a great lens by all accounts, but it size and weights were no-no for me. Thus I went for the FA*300m f4.5 and I love it. i was worried initially about low light (f4.5) but the FA* combined very very nicely with the K-3 for low light IMHO.

My 5 cents.
10-11-2015, 06:37 PM   #13
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Ive used the DA300 and have the F*300 - both very fine lenses.

The DA*300 was much longer but focusing was swift and silent. That was nice. Also WR ...

The F*300 was shorter, lighter. Focusing is swift, but noisy and no WR.

The FA* scratches very easily.

Despite its age I have settled with the F*300 - not much can go wrong with the crew drive mechanics. I just have to be careful with how I keep the lens to avoid fungus.
10-12-2015, 04:06 AM   #14
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I actually went with the Sigma EX DG 100-300mm, F4 and its 1.4 converter. Stellar image quality throughout the zoom and about the same price as the DA* with another 120mm of reach thanks to the converter. I really can't tell any difference in image quality of the standard 300mm of Pentax.
10-12-2015, 04:54 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by DHA Quote
I actually went with the Sigma EX DG 100-300mm, F4 and its 1.4 converter.
It's about 1.5 kg, and it's not a prime. Great images, but too heavy.

I'm torn between F* and DA*. F* is very compact, but DA* seems comfortable to hold as well, and it matches K5iis perfectly
And for about the same price I get warranty. If I only could test both lenses on my shoulder. To get steady position I tend to use big or long lens on shoulder while focusing with AF.
I can rent DA*, but can't rent F* to compare.
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