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03-10-2018, 11:08 PM   #16
Des
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QuoteOriginally posted by honey bo bo Quote
Do you end up cropping your shots a great deal?
I see in your shots here and on Flickr you shoot the 55-300 @ f8 or above quite a bit and let the ISO run above 400 during good daylight and the lens is at 300 quite often. You produce some excellent quality shots. I find that a learning experience for me because I've always been hesitant to shoot daylight nature above f5.6 / f5.8 , ISO 200 and try to keep the reach just a bit below the f300. Some of it due to listening to others and some of it my own making instead of looking at results. I do like the way the 55-300's bokeh at wider f stops eliminates the cover you find the critters in most of the time. To me bokeh front & back eliminates the distraction nicely; something like selective hearing around a nagging wife. The shots of the Bucks fighting caught me by surprise as I had been going to shoot some Ice Surfers and my Camera was preset at f8 and I hadn't adjusted my speed yet with an ISO limited to 200. The surroundings are badly cluttered; the deer were moving fast and the forest was darker than the open lake but all in all I got the shots (50) and most were in focus & exposed fairly. I think now that I think a little harder about it I'll set my ISO to 3200 and set the fstop to f8 or f9 keep a little more in focus and be prepared for action. The 55-300 is terrific lens and I use it a lot more than my Bigma.
Thanks for your comments Bruce. I figured some time ago that I would get better results with this lens stopping down at least one stop, and compromising on the ISO and/or shutter speed if necessary. I try to keep the ISO range capped at 1600 or 2000 wherever possible. You've mentioned the other advantage of f8 - more scope for getting the subject in focus.

You'll notice that most of the birds in these samples are perched. There's generally at least a moment when birds are absolutely still when perched; I try to capture that moment, which means that if the stance is right it is possible to drop the shutter speed if necessary. And if the light is good, it doesn't seem to matter a lot whether the image is at 800 or 1600 ISO - DxO does a good job of cleaning up. The priorities might be different when the subject is moving. (And my approach is different when I'm using the FA*300 f4.5. I can open up with confidence with that lens. It's very good at f4.5-5.6 and outstanding at f6.3. I only go to f8 if I need to for DOF, and try to keep the ISO as low as possible.)

I take your point about eliminating distraction by using a narrower DOF. I guess it depends on the scene. Often you get pretty good subject isolation just from having a clear background and/or foreground, but if you've got a critter in the grass or a bird in tree branches (or bucks fighting in the woods) yes the wider aperture may be an advantage.

As for the choice of using 300mm or zooming out a little for better resolution, I haven't done any comparative testing but my sense is that it's better for the subject to fill the frame more. Especially if I am going to crop - which I do most of the time, often heavily. But I've got an open mind about this - interested if someone has done a comparison.

I agree with your point about how much gain can be made from a little judicious PP. I'm no expert but I find that a little tweaking of the tone curve, increasing micro-contrast and a light touch on the clarity slider make a world of difference - especially with a cheaper lens.

Here's a before and after example, comparing a straight conversion from the DNG with a processed and cropped image. K-3 + DA-L 55-300, 260mm (so I did back off a bit!), f8, 1/500th, ISO 1600 - and probably underexposed by at least a stop. (I think the galah chick was off centre in the original because I was using centre-spot AF and concentrating on getting the eye in focus, and I didn't wait to recompose.)

For @Knightyo I should point out that the original image was 6016 x 4000 pixels; crop (to portrait format) is 1869 x 2811. So from about 24mp to about 5.2mp. That's about par for the course, or better, for bird shots with this lens - the galah is a medium-large bird, and the distance was about 7 or 8 metres (say 22-26 feet). If I had been using my old K-30 I would have started with only 16mp, so the same crop would have been only about 3.4mp. With a smaller bird at the same range, the difference would have been even greater. This was one of the biggest gains when I went from the K-30 to the K-3.



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Last edited by Des; 03-11-2018 at 02:41 PM.
03-10-2018, 11:31 PM - 1 Like   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by knightyo Quote
Hello! For my inaugural post, I thought I'd post a topic which has already probably been covered about 300 times. I just can't find a definitive answer, so broke down and will post this.....

I have a K-50, and a DA 55-300mm lens.. I just can't get close enough to wildlife to obtain satisfactory shots. I've experimented with cropping/enlarging, but the IQ just isn't there. I would really like to drop $1500+ on a lens in order to zoom in on my subjects, but for now, my budget is about 10% of that. I'd love to hear options in this ballpark!

Alan
In my rough estimation, 50% of wildlife photography concerns the photography and the equipment. The other 50% is all about figuring out how to get close enough, knowing how to either approach the subject or lie in wait for it and choosing the best vantage point. It probably encompasses a degree of hunting and stalking skills and it helps if you know more about the species. And often times the feeling is that you can never get quite near enough, whichever lens you're using.
03-11-2018, 02:13 AM - 2 Likes   #18
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Welcome to the Forums. And welcome to the frustrations of telephoto lenses. Unfortunately the detail that you can capture drops off as distance increases because you are shooting through more atmosphere. Most of the manual 400/f5.6 lenses (Pentax, Sigma, Tokina) will do a pretty good job at reasonable cost. But there is no substitute for getting close - and that is the hard bit. Most of my "good" wildlife shots have been close, but lucky. You would be surprised (or maybe not) how many wildlife shots used in magazines are actually taken in wildlife parks which cater to specialist photographers.
03-11-2018, 03:51 AM - 1 Like   #19
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As others have said you need to get in close.These were mostly at f8

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03-11-2018, 04:05 AM - 2 Likes   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
I have the DA-L 55-300 and it's quite capable if you can get close enough.

My smc DA version is optically and focus-mechanics-wise the same, and after some training, it has given me quite a number of captive animal and even some pretty decent used-to-humans wildlife shots. Slow as it is, you can't expect a stellar keeper rate, but at close quarters and with sufficient light you can sometimes make it work.

That doesn't take away that in wildlife photography speed plus reach is definitely desirable and sometimes the only way to get the shot. But there is something to be said for pushing what you have to the limit, before writing it off and taking the easiest route over the next gear purchase. Any new longer lens that you might get, knightyo, will not immediately and automatically give you better results.

BTW, welcome to the forums.

QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
Here are some samples with it.

And some obviously capable ones at that. Some nice catches in there, I must say. Good showcase of what the DA55-300s can do.

Here are some of mine, all uncropped, from a single day trip to Langeoog, one of the East Frisian Islands. Admittedly, the gulls were anything but shy, yet the BIFs were quite challenging:
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Last edited by Madaboutpix; 03-11-2018 at 04:11 AM.
03-11-2018, 04:37 AM - 1 Like   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by knightyo Quote
Hello! For my inaugural post, I thought I'd post a topic which has already probably been covered about 300 times. I just can't find a definitive answer, so broke down and will post this.....

I have a K-50, and a DA 55-300mm lens.. I just can't get close enough to wildlife to obtain satisfactory shots. I've experimented with cropping/enlarging, but the IQ just isn't there. I would really like to drop $1500+ on a lens in order to zoom in on my subjects, but for now, my budget is about 10% of that. I'd love to hear options in this ballpark!

Alan
There appears to be a consensus od opinion that to 300mm budget zooms are generally lacking at the long end. My offer to you is to consider an old manual prime, this option will engender other image problems like CA and some loss of contrast but at least this can be a cheap option. I had a Vivitar 300mm F5.6 which I coupled to an old Vivitar 1.5x teleconverter, this image taken at 1/1000th of a second, ISO 1600 Aperture unknown. As you can see it has many problems but for a total of 30 GBP for both items, was worth my trying, it certainly gave me the distance!
The best option is as has already been mentioned may be to try and get as close as possible to your subject and then reduce the FL of your 55-300mm to around 200mm to improve your shots.
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03-11-2018, 06:52 AM - 1 Like   #22
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I own the DA 55-300 and an FA* 300 as well as the DA* 60-250 and the HD DA 1.4x - in my opinion and in my own comparison shots the FA* beats all of these followed by the DA*, in fact the 60-250 with the 1.4x on it beats the DA 55-300.

Like other have said however, getting closer makes a bigger difference as it allows less cropping and greater resolution.
03-11-2018, 07:59 AM   #23
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The advice in this single thread is incredible!! Thank you so much to those who have contributed so far.

Alan

03-11-2018, 09:01 AM   #24
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I'd say something but the $150 part has completely shut me down. The 55-300 is currently $400 USD. You want better for $150. I've answered this question enough times to not want to think I can come up with something.

Your best option is probably a used Sigma 150-500, but that's not going to happen for $150.
03-11-2018, 09:35 AM - 1 Like   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
The quickest way to get better results is:
1) get closer
2) use a tripod (or monopod at least)
I concur completely. A tripod will help a lot. Also, use back button focus. That makes a huge difference too.
03-11-2018, 10:05 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
I'd say something but the $150 part has completely shut me down. The 55-300 is currently $400 USD. You want better for $150. I've answered this question enough times to not want to think I can come up with something.

Your best option is probably a used Sigma 150-500, but that's not going to happen for $150.
Agreed. Even if the 55-300 was sold - it's not going to net the numbers needed for something better. At least not in my experience.
03-11-2018, 11:24 AM   #27
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Heck, I wouldn't even sell my old lightly used A-400 ƒ5.6 for $150 unless you were married to my sister,

She's a bit of a grouch, that sister... trust me, it's not worth it.
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