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03-10-2018, 02:54 PM   #1
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Pentax-DA L 55-300 mm.... Can't quite "reach" far enough

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

03-10-2018, 03:08 PM   #2
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don't look to a zoom - buy a 300mm or 400mm prime and get the IQ you're after...

FA* (or even a DA) 300mm f4.5 ED (IF) and a good quality 1.4x teleconverter - but not for $150...
03-10-2018, 03:23 PM   #3
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If you want noticeable change in magnification look for a 500mm. Some tips.....act like a hunter, know where your subject is and wait. Also birds and animals are use to cars and trucks, shoot from the window.
Good luck.
03-10-2018, 03:24 PM   #4
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Welcome to PF.

I can relate you your frustration. I had the same issue with my DA 55-300mm. Was great for the kids at the playground but was falling behind for wildlife photography. Pepperberry Farm is correct. difficult to do much with $150. A good TC is probably your best bet, which is the route I initially followed. Then a few years later, moved to the F-300mm F4 lens, sharp! Amazing images. A joy to use. But still expensive and ultimately lacking reach. Finally, a few more years even later, I broke down and got the D-FA 150-450mm. Pricey, heavy, excellent IQ. And an excellent reach. Next step... DA-560mm or FA-600mm. Just need to find the funds. So, maybe in a few years.

03-10-2018, 03:36 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Iíve bought an old Pentax 300mm f4, Tokina 400mm F5.6, and a couple of 500mm f8 mirror lenses.

They all offer something over what you have now, be it speed or reach, but none has been completely satisfying.

Cheap mirror lenses are, well, cheap mirror lenses...

Old film era telephotos typically suffer a great deal from purple fringing. Though that can be mitigated in post, itís one more step...

But if youíre willing to put up with their foibles, they can be coaxed into some good results.

That said, good results with more modern (read costly) gear seems to take less effort...

So youíre in a place with a lot of us, looking for an excellent, inexpensive, modern long telephoto... we may be waiting a while 🙂

-Eric
03-10-2018, 03:51 PM   #6
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I replaced the da-l for a sigma 70-300mm f5.6 apo. ~ Twice as sharp or more wide open (so you can crop twice as hard), better contrast and bokeh. Also twice as fast AF - still feels a bit slow

I got mine for £60 on an ebay bid.
03-10-2018, 04:01 PM - 2 Likes   #7
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Your best plan is to work on improving your results with the DAL 55-300mm. I have one, and it delivers resolution as good as the majority of MF 300's/400's such as vivitars, tokinas etc. Move away from AF point-and shoot habits. Think like you're using an MF lens and concentrate on focus, and stability to reduce/eliminate shake. Also stop down a bit, f8, f9.5. Really nail these and the images will stand a lot of cropping. My dal does ok with a 1.4x tc, still auto focusses in good light on my K5, but losing a stop when you're already at f5.8 tends to be too much.

If you do decide to try for a longer focal length, you have to look for the top echelon of the vintage repertoire to get any real gain over the DAL eg Pentax *'s. One of the better options is try to find a good example of a sigma apo telephoto in PKA mount, either the 400mm f5.6, or the 500mm f7.2. You can get lucky and pick one up cheap(ish) because its paint has deteriorated. But watch out for hazed groups with these.
See my posts in the 300mm lens club...

Last edited by marcusBMG; 03-10-2018 at 04:25 PM.
03-10-2018, 04:42 PM   #8
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The pentax SMC-A 400mm f5.6 isn't really a hand holdable lens, but is a nice lens and can be gotten for a decent price used. Its not AF, but its the kind of lens you have to use on a tripod anyway. Combined with the matching 1.4xl teleconverter its not a bad introductory long lens setup. I doubt I will ever be able to buy a Pentax 500mm or 600mm options, but this is obtainable for the average hobbiest.

03-10-2018, 04:42 PM - 2 Likes   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by knightyo Quote
Can't quite "reach" far enough
I don't think that Hardware is the problem ! Lens is DA HD 55-300mm WR . All versions have excellent IQ & Bokeh; differences in price ,WR ,& AF drive. These and many more are shot from the window of my 1/2 ton truck and PP with Picasa for cropping , contrast & sizing.

Last edited by honey bo bo; 08-07-2018 at 04:29 AM.
03-10-2018, 04:46 PM - 1 Like   #10
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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
Get a KP. 50% more resolution, less noise, and better color should allow you to squeeze the most out of the lens and focus on the technique.

If you crave faster AF, also consider the 55-300mm PLM, which focuses almost instantly.

Adam
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03-10-2018, 05:35 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by knightyo Quote
Can't quite "reach" far enough
OR this one Sigma 150 - 500 mm APO DG OS - YOUR $150.00 PLUS 1 KIDNEY. Little more reach but Nature shooting abilities still required and Picasa PP stuff about the same.

---------- Post added 03-10-18 at 08:27 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by honey bo bo Quote
OR this one Sigma 150 - 500 mm APO DG OS - YOUR $150.00 PLUS 1 KIDNEY. Little more reach but Nature shooting abilities still required and Picasa PP stuff about the same.
By the By welcome to the Forum

---------- Post added 03-10-18 at 08:30 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by honey bo bo Quote
OR this one Sigma 150 - 500 mm APO DG OS - YOUR $150.00 PLUS 1 KIDNEY. Little more reach but Nature shooting abilities still required and Picasa PP stuff about the same.

---------- Post added 03-10-18 at 08:27 PM ----------


By the By welcome to the Forum
By the way the first 2 shots are what a Hummer looks like with a Fur Coat in the Great North West

Last edited by honey bo bo; 08-07-2018 at 04:29 AM.
03-10-2018, 06:55 PM - 6 Likes   #12
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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
Welcome to PF Alan.

You've got lots of good advice already. I'll just add what I can from my own experience.

I have the DA-L 55-300 and it's quite capable if you can get close enough. I agree with what @MarcusBMG said about getting the best from it. Here are some samples with it.

















Going beyond 300mm is generally expensive. Especially if you want AF, which I think is invaluable for wildlife. I used to have a Sigma 170-500 (non-DG version) and while it was fun to learn with, it didn't really add anything to cropping from the 55-300. The more recent Sigma xx-500 lenses are probably better, but they are a lot heavier (about 2kg) and way more than $150, even second hand.

I have ended up with a FA*300 f4.5 and a Kenko 1.5x TC, which gives me the equivalent of 420mm f6.3 in a compact and fairly lightweight package. That works for me, and it's great value for the excellent optical quality, but you are still looking at something like $US750 for the combination.

I used to have a K-30, which has the same sensor as the K-50. Sweet camera, but going to a K-3 was a big improvement for wildlife shooting - much better AF, better metering and more pixels for cropping. With a tight budget, I think that would be your best value as an upgrade. Used K-3 bodies have become quite affordable, and they are very robust. Add a cheap Rogue Safari flash extender (Rogue Safari Flash Extender - PentaxForums.com) and you should get some better results.

Last edited by Des; 03-10-2018 at 07:09 PM.
03-10-2018, 06:59 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Shot today with a K-3ii and HD DA 55-300.

Last edited by bschriver11; 03-31-2018 at 08:10 PM.
03-10-2018, 09:24 PM   #14
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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
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.

Last edited by honey bo bo; 03-10-2018 at 09:30 PM.
03-10-2018, 09:35 PM   #15
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The quickest way to get better results is:
1) get closer
2) use a tripod (or monopod at least)

Post some images to give us an idea of where you might best improve.
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