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01-25-2019, 02:45 AM   #1
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Pentax-FA 645 400mm F5.6 ED [IF] Lens Use for Wildlife Photography

Greetings...

I am heading to Masai Mara in August 2019 for a 6 day safari. This will be the very first time that I will be trying my hand at wildlife photography. Otherwise, I am into landscape photography, which I shall of course be doing at the Mara.

I have the Pentax 645Z and the MF lenses that I intend taking along are the 35mm, 28-45mm and 400mm. The lenses that I do not intend taking are the 55mm and 90mm Micro.

The problem is I have only one Pentax 645Z body and I am afraid that I might miss the opportunity to make a good wildlife image while photographing the landscape and vice versa.

I still own the Canon EOS-50D with the 10-22 EF-S lens.

I have the following questions:-

(a) Can I use the Pentax 400mm MF lens on the Canon EOS 50D? If yes, where can I get the adapter? Any image quality issues? What will be the effective focal length (35 mm equivalent) for this lens? What is the conversion factor?

(b) Can I use the Pentax 400mm MF lens on the Pentax K1 (II) body (which I would need to buy additionally)? If yes, where can I get the adapter? Any image quality issues? What will be the effective focal length (35 mm equivalent) for this lens? What is the conversion factor?

I can of course use the Canon EOS 50D with 10-22 EF-S lens attached for landscapes and use the 645Z with 400mm for wildlife. But then, this Canon camera-lens combination is no match for the Pentax 645Z & 28-45 lens (or even the 35mm lens) combination.

Buying another Pentax 645Z body (or even the K-1 II body) is something I would like to avoid.

Please advise.

01-25-2019, 04:03 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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Since it sounds as if the wildlife photography will be a secondary pursuit to your landscape work, I'd probably recommend renting a long focal length AF zoom lens for your EOS 50D. Focusing is going to be more critical and potentially time-limited for wildlife, so AF will help considerably here.

If you can't rent lenses locally, then it might be worth buying a used lens, then selling it when you return home.
01-25-2019, 04:12 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by leonine Quote
. . .

I am heading to Masai Mara in August 2019 for a 6 day safari. This will be the very first time that I will be trying my hand at wildlife photography. . . . Can I use the Pentax 400mm MF lens on the Pentax K1 (II) body (which I would need to buy additionally)? If yes, where can I get the adapter? Any image quality issues? What will be the effective focal length (35 mm equivalent) for this lens? What is the conversion factor?. . . .
is this the one you are talking about?

SMC Pentax 400mm F5.6

SMC Pentax 400mm F5.6 Reviews - K Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

or is it SMC Pentax-A 400mm F5.6

SMC Pentax-A 400mm F5.6 Reviews - A Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

or is it SMC Pentax-A* 400mm F2.8 ED [IF]

SMC Pentax-A* 400mm F2.8 ED [IF] Reviews - A Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

any should work with the K 1 II

________________

these charts and article might be of interest:

Pentax Lens Compatibility Chart
Copyright 2006-2018 Mosphotos.com. All rights reserved.

The Pentax Camera Lens Compatibility Chart

___________________________

Pentax K-Mount Lens Series Explained: The differences between various Pentax lens series

Pentax K-Mount Lenses Explained: The differences between various Pentax lens series
___________________________________________

How to Use Manual Lenses on Pentax DSLRs
Virtually all K-mount and M42 lenses are compatible!


Read more at: How to Use Manual Lenses on Pentax DSLRs - Tutorial Videos | PentaxForums.com

no adapter needed, they should be fine for the full frame sensor of the K 1 or K 1 II.

________________________________________________________________________

however if your budget allows the purchase of a K 1 II, I join with BigMackCam's suggestion of looking at an autofocus lens
01-25-2019, 05:05 AM   #4
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I agree with BigMack that wildlife will be easier with autofocus. I shoot a lot of nature and landscapes, if I'm anywhere with wildlife possibilities the long lens stays on the camera, landscapes can wait for a lens change. Of course if you carry two cameras you're covered.

01-25-2019, 05:14 AM   #5
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400mm is 400mm. The lens will give the same results in terms of field of view as any 400mm on each platform.

The crop factor of your Canon body is 1.6x so any 400mm on it will be similar to using a 640mm on 35mm film camera. Mounted on a k1 it would be like any 400mm on 35mm film. Mounted on the 645z the 400 will give you a 0.79x equivalent or approximately similar to a 316mm on 35mm film.

Only the 645z will offer auto focus with this lens.

Options that make the most sense to me:
1) buy or rent a Canon compatible telephoto (ef 400 f5.6, Tamron 150-600, etc.)
2) see number 1...

---------- Post added 01-25-19 at 07:21 AM ----------

FYI... For an all pentax solution that should outperform the Canon in resolution and ISO performance, buy a k70 and the dfa 150-450 lens.
01-25-2019, 08:46 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by leonine Quote
I have the Pentax 645Z and the MF lenses that I intend taking along are the 35mm, 28-45mm and 400mm. The lenses that I do not intend taking are the 55mm and 90mm Micro.
You are bringing a lot of gear. It is going to slow you down. The 400mm on the 645Z or the Canon is not long enough for wildlife. As was suggested in another response, I would buy a used 150-600 and use it with the Canon. When it comes to wildlife, especially in Africa you need a loooong lens! With the 400mm, you are going to bring the extra weight without much benefit when it comes to reach. With the Z, try to cover the wide to mid-range. I would bring the 28-45 and the 90. The 35mm is already covered in the zoom. If anything try to bring a 80-160 to get mid-telephoto for the Z.
01-25-2019, 10:52 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
. . . The 400mm on the 645Z or the Canon is not long enough for wildlife. As was suggested in another response, . . . When it comes to wildlife, especially in Africa you need a loooong lens! With the 400mm, you are going to bring the extra weight without much benefit when it comes to reach. . . .
in my experience, [ one trip to Tanzania in 2016 ] I found opportunities to photograph wildlife from right next to the vehicle to too far away [ try and pray time ]

I had a K 5 II and my telephoto lens on the trip was a Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 LD Tele-Macro [1:2] (Model 772D)

Read more at: Tamron Lenses for Pentax: Legacy Zoom Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database

If the OP's budget would allow it, I would recommend a good telephoto zoom so lens changes could be kept to a minimum

Last edited by aslyfox; 01-25-2019 at 02:51 PM.
01-25-2019, 12:45 PM   #8
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Personally, I've rarely (never?) found that I got anything useful trying to use two radically different camera systems simultaneously. I guess it depends on what you are after in your images, but I would just stick to the 645z and make a conscious decision to focus on only one of either wildlife or landscape at a given time.

If you are willing to buy and resell something and don't need to make massive prints, you might want to look at fixed lens superzooms (like the Nikon P1000 or Panasonic FZ2500). They will be much more compact and run circles around trying to manual focus a 400mm on a 50D (or, for that matter, autofocus a 400mm on a 645z).

01-26-2019, 09:48 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Since it sounds as if the wildlife photography will be a secondary pursuit to your landscape work, I'd probably recommend renting a long focal length AF zoom lens for your EOS 50D. Focusing is going to be more critical and potentially time-limited for wildlife, so AF will help considerably here.

If you can't rent lenses locally, then it might be worth buying a used lens, then selling it when you return home.
Thanks Mike. Yes, renting a lens is a good option.

A question though - is the Canon 50D good enough with say a 150-600 lens? If it is, I would need to rent only the lens. If 50D is not good enough due to its cropped sensor, which one would be better - the Canon 1Dx or the 5D Mark IV? The 1Dx is more expensive to rent though (approx 30% more) compared to the 5D.

Besides, if I need to rent both the camera and the lens, what would be a better camera-lens combo? The Canon or say a Nikon? Much as I would love to use Pentax, most rental agencies in India do not rent the Pentax.

I intend to use my iamges some day for fine art prints, exhibitions, a travel blog and a coffee table book :-)

---------- Post added 01-26-19 at 10:00 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by aslyfox Quote
is this the one you are talking about?

SMC Pentax 400mm F5.6

SMC Pentax 400mm F5.6 Reviews - K Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

or is it SMC Pentax-A 400mm F5.6

SMC Pentax-A 400mm F5.6 Reviews - A Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

or is it SMC Pentax-A* 400mm F2.8 ED [IF]

SMC Pentax-A* 400mm F2.8 ED [IF] Reviews - A Prime Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

any should work with the K 1 II

________________

these charts and article might be of interest:

Pentax Lens Compatibility Chart
Copyright 2006-2018 Mosphotos.com. All rights reserved.

The Pentax Camera Lens Compatibility Chart

___________________________

Pentax K-Mount Lens Series Explained: The differences between various Pentax lens series

Pentax K-Mount Lenses Explained: The differences between various Pentax lens series
___________________________________________

How to Use Manual Lenses on Pentax DSLRs
Virtually all K-mount and M42 lenses are compatible!


Read more at: How to Use Manual Lenses on Pentax DSLRs - Tutorial Videos | PentaxForums.com

no adapter needed, they should be fine for the full frame sensor of the K 1 or K 1 II.

________________________________________________________________________

however if your budget allows the purchase of a K 1 II, I join with BigMackCam's suggestion of looking at an autofocus lens
Thanks Allen.

Well, the lens in question is Pentax-FA 645 400mm F5.6 ED [IF].

Other lenses are as follows:-

HD PENTAX-DA645 28-45mmF4.5ED AW SR

HD PENTAX-D FA645 35mmF3.5AL[IF]

smc PENTAX-D FA645 55mmF2.8AL[IF] SDM AW

HD PENTAX-D FA645 MACRO 90mmF2.8ED AW SR

Are all these lenses compatible with the K-1 II with an adapter? Does the use of these lenses reduce image quality fundamentally if used with the K-1 as compared to if a K-1 mount lens was used on the K-1? And any links to the best adapter out there?

Thanks for all the links. I will go through in detail.

---------- Post added 01-26-19 at 10:09 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
I agree with BigMack that wildlife will be easier with autofocus. I shoot a lot of nature and landscapes, if I'm anywhere with wildlife possibilities the long lens stays on the camera, landscapes can wait for a lens change. Of course if you carry two cameras you're covered.
Thanks Tom. That's a valuable suggestion - if I take only one camera body, I will leave the Telephoto on as a default option. But as it looks, it would be better to carry two cameras. Fumbling with lens change when an opportunity presents to make a good image may not be wise.
01-26-2019, 11:07 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
400mm is 400mm. The lens will give the same results in terms of field of view as any 400mm on each platform.

The crop factor of your Canon body is 1.6x so any 400mm on it will be similar to using a 640mm on 35mm film camera. Mounted on a k1 it would be like any 400mm on 35mm film. Mounted on the 645z the 400 will give you a 0.79x equivalent or approximately similar to a 316mm on 35mm film.

Only the 645z will offer auto focus with this lens.

Options that make the most sense to me:
1) buy or rent a Canon compatible telephoto (ef 400 f5.6, Tamron 150-600, etc.)
2) see number 1...

---------- Post added 01-25-19 at 07:21 AM ----------

FYI... For an all pentax solution that should outperform the Canon in resolution and ISO performance, buy a k70 and the dfa 150-450 lens.
Thanks UncleVanya for the valuable inputs. I will actively consider options suggested by you. The all Pentax solution is tempting, except the money part? But in this option, would it not be better to go for the K-1 rather than the K-70? Or is it that the better Dynamic Range of a larger sensor is not an important factor for a close-up kind wildlife photography?

---------- Post added 01-26-19 at 11:13 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
You are bringing a lot of gear. It is going to slow you down. The 400mm on the 645Z or the Canon is not long enough for wildlife. As was suggested in another response, I would buy a used 150-600 and use it with the Canon. When it comes to wildlife, especially in Africa you need a loooong lens! With the 400mm, you are going to bring the extra weight without much benefit when it comes to reach. With the Z, try to cover the wide to mid-range. I would bring the 28-45 and the 90. The 35mm is already covered in the zoom. If anything try to bring a 80-160 to get mid-telephoto for the Z.
Thanks btnapa. What about the 400mm with the 2X teleconverter? What are the trade-offs?

I think, to restrict weight, I would carry the 28-45 and then the 55mm one with f2.8 for low light photography. I am not sure what use the 90mm would be except for animals coming very close to the safari vehicle. I guess renting a 150-600 for the Canon 50D or Canon 1Dx would be better. And since most of the photography would be from the vehicle, the weight shouldn't be much of an issue. Or am I missing something here?

---------- Post added 01-26-19 at 11:30 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by jspillane Quote
Personally, I've rarely (never?) found that I got anything useful trying to use two radically different camera systems simultaneously. I guess it depends on what you are after in your images, but I would just stick to the 645z and make a conscious decision to focus on only one of either wildlife or landscape at a given time.

If you are willing to buy and resell something and don't need to make massive prints, you might want to look at fixed lens superzooms (like the Nikon P1000 or Panasonic FZ2500). They will be much more compact and run circles around trying to manual focus a 400mm on a 50D (or, for that matter, autofocus a 400mm on a 645z).
Thanks jspillane. This is my first time ever in Africa. I think I would repent not making images of the wildlife even if my primary love remains the landscapes. And I understand that light is just magical ion the Mara in August.

I agree with the complexities of handling two camera systems together. Thankfully, I have used the Canon 50D for most of my life (albeit with the 10-22mm and not with any telephoto) and am conversant with its functions. I am getting used to the 645Z since the last few years. Even then, I guess you kind of forget which control is where when you use different camera makes and that could make all the difference in making (or not making) just that one great image. Having said that, landscape photography is a more deliberate and slow process compared to wildlife photography (which needs fast reflexes and hence a much higher level of dexterity with the camera controls). So maybe the Pantax 645Z coupled to the 28-45 and a Canon with a rented telephoto could be an optimal and cost-effective solution.

It may so happen that once I am done making the landscape images in the golden hours using the 645Z & 28-45 combination, I could simply replace the 400 mm (with or without the 2X teleconverter) on the 645Z body and continue to shoot the wildlife for most of the day. And just in case a unique landscape scene presents itself, I could have the Canon 50D with the 10-22 standby for a quick shoot. This could be a bit of a compromise from the point of view of image quality (as compared to the medium format results), but might just save the additional expense of buying/ renting additional equipment.
01-27-2019, 12:14 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jspillane Quote
Personally, I've rarely (never?) found that I got anything useful trying to use two radically different camera systems simultaneously. I guess it depends on what you are after in your images, but I would just stick to the 645z and make a conscious decision to focus on only one of either wildlife or landscape at a given time.

If you are willing to buy and resell something and don't need to make massive prints, you might want to look at fixed lens superzooms (like the Nikon P1000 or Panasonic FZ2500). They will be much more compact and run circles around trying to manual focus a 400mm on a 50D (or, for that matter, autofocus a 400mm on a 645z).
As an out of the box solution, the Panasonic FZ2500 is really tempting. Great fps and buffer in both RAW and JPG. A Leica lens. And I won't be making massive prints of wildlife photos (but I will for the landscapes). But is the 480mm practically adequate for wildlife in the Mara? What about image quality for printing a coffee table book some day? And what is the biggest print size it could get from the FZ2500 for exhibitions? Between the Panasonic and the Nikon superzooms, the only major advantage the Nikon has is its 3000mm telephoto range. But do you really need that kind of focal length under most circumstances in wildlife photography?
01-27-2019, 07:43 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by leonine Quote
Thanks btnapa. What about the 400mm with the 2X teleconverter? What are the trade-offs?

I think, to restrict weight, I would carry the 28-45 and then the 55mm one with f2.8 for low light photography. I am not sure what use the 90mm would be except for animals coming very close to the safari vehicle. I guess renting a 150-600 for the Canon 50D or Canon 1Dx would be better. And since most of the photography would be from the vehicle, the weight shouldn't be much of an issue. Or am I missing something here?
I suppose the 400 with 2x combo would work with the Z. You have to test to see if the combo gives you acceptable results in terms of focus speed and image quality.

The purpose of the 90mm was to have something longer than the 28-45 on the Z just in case you needed to go a little longer. This was not a replacement for a long lens on the Canon.

If it were me going on this trip, given that I want to bring minimum gear, a K1 with a 15-30, 28-105 and 150-450 with a 1.4 extender would have been sufficient.

We all kind of jumped in and started suggesting all sorts of camera and lens combos. One of the first questions should have been to find out how big of a print you need from your landscape gear. If the print size is no bigger than a 20x30 or so, most APSc cameras will give you excellent results. In that case logging a Z outfit could be avoided. I am getting old and arthritis is kicking in fast and in a big way. So, I am forced to economize when it comes to weight. On a recent rip to the East Coast, I had to decide between a Fuji X-T2 (bought it for video use) with a 18-55 lens and a backpack full of K1 and six or so K-mount lenses. I chose the Fuji. It limited my shooting but it gave me enough lens and quality and super light, easy to maneuver camera. The image quality of the K1 is better in many ways but I have come to a point that I have to live with compromises.

At the end of the day, I have to remind myself that I shot (back in the days) tons of weddings with 6 and 8MP Canon camera with terrible high ISO performance. We made plenty of 20x30 and sometimes 24x36 prints for the clients out of those images with acceptable results. So now in the era of 24MP APSc we (myself included) feel like with do not have enough resolution!! I guess it is all relative.
01-27-2019, 08:48 AM   #13
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K70 has 24mp in 16x24mm area vs 15+mp on the k-1 in the same size area on the larger 36mp sensor. This provides an effective increase in detail if you need to crop. It is true the dynamic range isn't as good as full frame but this is largely due to the size pixels used. Unless you have massive lenses (600-800mm) for the full frame the 450mm on crop will yield the most detail on cropping. @normhead can explain this better.
01-27-2019, 11:55 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by btnapa Quote
We all kind of jumped in and started suggesting all sorts of camera and lens combos. One of the first questions should have been to find out how big of a print you need from your landscape gear. If the print size is no bigger than a 20x30 or so, most APSc cameras will give you excellent results. In that case logging a Z outfit could be avoided. I am getting old and arthritis is kicking in fast and in a big way. So, I am forced to economize when it comes to weight. On a recent rip to the East Coast, I had to decide between a Fuji X-T2 (bought it for video use) with a 18-55 lens and a backpack full of K1 and six or so K-mount lenses. I chose the Fuji. It limited my shooting but it gave me enough lens and quality and super light, easy to maneuver camera. The image quality of the K1 is better in many ways but I have come to a point that I have to live with compromises.
As I said earlier, I am basically hoping to build a good portfolio of landscape images which can be printed to really large sizes some day. The investment in the Pentax 645Z was because of this deeply felt need. At that timer, wildlife wasn't even being considered. But I guess we all change over a period of time :-)

For all other pictures including wildlife, I would use them essentially in a photo blog, or for a coffee table book or some exhibitions. So I think a 20 x 30 print would be adequate. Also, since I would be photographing whatever wildlife in broad daylight (close ups mostly), I may not require a very high dynamic range and ISO should be restricted to say 400 (or max 800). Now, at 1/500 sec (good enough to freeze animals in motion, except may be a high speed chase between a cheetah and its prey), I should be able to shoot at say f8.0 in broad daylight at ISO 100, and f5.6 in twilight times at say ISO 400 (at the most ISO 800). In such situations, the 50D (with 16 MP APS-C) with the Sigma 150-600 should perhaps be a more than adequate combination for the purpose stated above.

Maybe all this discussion is leading to an optimal, cost-effective solution which makes the best use of the available gear (with at most a 150-600 on rent for a few days) :-)

What about the Sony RX 10 Mk III or IV? 24-600mm range but with a 1" sensor at 20 MP. Can it yield equally good quality RAW images in the hands of a photographer compared to if the same photographer was using a Canon 50D (about 11 yrs old but working fine, by the way) with a Sigma 150-600? If the Sony results are adequate for my purposes stated above, it might be a better solution. On top of that, it shoots great videos (the Canon 50D doesn't shoot video of any kind), and these videos could also be used in my blog. The Sony rent is the same as the 150-600 lens rent per day (approx USD 100 for one week) in India.
01-27-2019, 10:14 PM   #15
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I intensely dislike the Sony user interface. However that is a very personal point. I wouldn't be happy with the Sony but I expect it might keep up with the Canon. Dxomark shows the Canon has a slight edge in ISO performance however the two seem very comparable. The Sony supposedly has better color depth and dynamic range.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX10 III : Tests and Reviews - DxOMark

Canon EOS 50D : Tests and Reviews - DxOMark
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