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05-12-2019, 09:27 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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Pentax-A* 600mm F5.6 ED - thoughts? Anyone actively use it?

Inquiring mind(s) want to know!

I've been considering a K 500/4.5 since last year, but recently I've been feeling a strong pull from the A* 600mm F5.6. I realize the K 500/4.5 is more "play" and the A 600/5.6 is more "serious".

I consider myself experienced with long legacy tele lenses... A 400/5.6, 400/4, 300/2.8, 200-500/5.6 are all part of my regular rotation. The real eye-opener among that group is the Tamron 400/4 Adaptall. Not only is it sharp wide open - and very sharp stopped down just a little - but when coupled with the Pentax Rear Converter-A 1.4x-L it is still decently sharp wide open and gets quite sharp again just 2/3 stopped down.

I think what I want to hear is, "the A 600/5.6 is amazingly sharp even wide open."

But I'd really like to read opinions from folks who have used it, and how it compares to other lenses (K 500/4.5, DFA 150-450?) I do welcome and appreciate all ruminations, though

05-12-2019, 09:58 AM - 13 Likes   #2
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Good day, I have had the A*600mm for many years and I loved it. It is sharp wide open and with the rear converter A1.4 XL it works like a charm. The only problem for a 70 year old user it the weight because you will need a solid Tripod and a Gimbal head, so it becomes a heavy system that my shoulders could take anymore. Here are some shots with it :









With the 1.4XL

05-12-2019, 10:25 AM   #3
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You're not helping me save my money!
05-12-2019, 11:20 AM - 5 Likes   #4
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It is certainly sharp. I get some purple fringing shooting white birds, especially wide-open, but nothing unexpected. At one point I had both the A*300/2.8 and the A*600/5.6 but I couldn't afford to keep both of them. The A*300 was better all around (it is just an out-of-this-world fantastic lens) but I decided to keep the 600 because I wanted it mostly for the reach and comparing the 300/2.8 + 2x-L TC (making it 600/5.6) and comparing them head-to-head, then 600mm had the 300+TC beat on sharpness (but only just). And of course I can put TCs on the 600mm for even more reach so I went with that. If you do get the 600, find yourself some extension tubes with A-contacts if you can -- the MFD is something like 5.5 meters which is often too far for smaller birds (or whatever) you might be closer too, but with extensions you can get that down to 10-15 ft I think -- works nice if you know you are going to be close.

The problems with the lens are purely in the handling. The placement/balance point of the tripod collar is "not modern" -- you've dealt with the unbalanced Tamron SP 200-500/5.6 so kinda like that (although it is IF so the the balance is fairly static at least). So if you want to use an arca plate it has to be a long one. Except if you use one that is appropriately long, it will not leave room for the little thumb screw focus lock thing on the focus ring. I'm pretty sure my copy was damaged this way by a previous owner (the included the plate they were using when I bought it) -- they screwed in a long wimberley plate tight to the tripod mount probably not noticing that the front of the plate was pressing on that screw and they ended up binding something in the focus ring. My copy has a hitch where it gets harder to turn the focus ring near minimum distance -- a repair guy was able to mostly unbend whatever was bent so it works pretty good now but it still is not perfect. So to avoid all that I ended up semi-permanently attaching a small plate to the tripod mount to act as a spacer so I could put a nice long plate attached to that but removing the possibility of hitting the stuff in the front while still being able to balance it. That works, but I actually ended up with something even more complicated for most usage that involves a double-sided clamp and a *really* long plate with a cushion for the front half to take some weight and reduce vibrations. I've got options now anyway. (I can give you more details if you are interested.)

So...bottom-line is it takes some doing and probably some extra cost to get it set-up well to use it productively.

05-12-2019, 11:34 AM   #5
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This is excellent information! Thank you.
05-13-2019, 07:33 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
...and comparing them head-to-head, then 600mm had the 300+TC beat on sharpness (but only just).
When you say this, are you comparing the A600 wide open with the A300 + TC wide open, or was the A300 stopped down? When I use my Tamron 300/2.8 360B with the 2x-L, I need to stop down to at least f/4 to get decent sharpness, but usually I want a little more DOF.

300/2.8 @ f/4 + 2x-S
05-13-2019, 08:55 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
When you say this, are you comparing the A600 wide open with the A300 + TC wide open, or was the A300 stopped down? When I use my Tamron 300/2.8 360B with the 2x-L, I need to stop down to at least f/4 to get decent sharpness, but usually I want a little more DOF.

300/2.8 @ f/4 + 2x-S
Well, it's been a while, but yes -- degradation was very slight and can be attributed completely to the TC. There was nothing to complain about -- but pixel peeping vs the 600 without any TC, the 600 was slightly better. If I had kept the A*300/2.8, I'm sure I would have been quite happy with that too. I've not used the Adaptall SP 300s (60B or 360B), but I did have the 400/4 (65B) for a while, and while that was an impressive lens the A*300 blows it away in terms of image quality, and that's probably true of the 360B too. The A*300 is just perfection.
05-13-2019, 09:20 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
Well, it's been a while, but yes -- degradation was very slight and can be attributed completely to the TC. There was nothing to complain about -- but pixel peeping vs the 600 without any TC, the 600 was slightly better. If I had kept the A*300/2.8, I'm sure I would have been quite happy with that too. I've not used the Adaptall SP 300s (60B or 360B), but I did have the 400/4 (65B) for a while, and while that was an impressive lens the A*300 blows it away in terms of image quality, and that's probably true of the 360B too. The A*300 is just perfection.
STOP TEMPTING ME!!!



06-10-2019, 03:27 PM   #9
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Luftluss, what was your decision?
06-13-2019, 01:14 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jcdoss Quote
Luftluss, what was your decision?
Heh, I just saw this after noticing K500 f4.5 vs A*600 f5.6 - PentaxForums.com

In the end, I just couldn't pull the trigger on the A600. A K500 is on the way, probably will arrive next week from the Land of the Rising Sun.
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