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06-01-2020, 09:36 AM - 6 Likes   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
My only observation for the OP is that birding at distances of 50 meters requires a longer lens
I typically use 600mm K-1 or 510mm K-3 at distances of around 10 meters or less.

This being a typical image.


50 meters would need to be a pretty big bird.

Here is a fairly big merganser at about 30 meters, 340mm on a K-1.


My guess is for 50 meters a 600 ƒ4 with a TC might be good, but I've only seen this combo used at far less than 50 meters. You have to understand there's a lot of room between the lens and subject for atmospheric effects to interfere. Shooting at 50 meters is almost a recipe for more failures than successes, not to mention how tough it is to find your subject in a 1000mm lens.

Here's 420mm, less than 50 meters but more than 30, it's a nice environmental image, but somewhat lacking in detail.


You really need to find a way to get closer.

The biggest challenge in birding is not buying long lenses, it's understandings where your opportunities for good images will come from, knowing enough about the birds and their behaviours to get close. So dam shots for eagles, migration shots for warblers and many other birds, a backyard blind was my solution. You actually have to work at creating opportunities. Better than average opportunities gets you better than average images.

Even a DA 55-300 PLM can be awesome if you create opportunities.



Last edited by normhead; 06-01-2020 at 10:03 AM.
06-01-2020, 09:36 AM - 5 Likes   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
My only observation for the OP is that birding at distances of 50 meters requires a longer lens
Yup. For typical "backyard birds" like sparrows, jays, etc. I personally wouldn't go beyond 20 meters with a 500mm lens, unless it was an unusual bird or there wa some activity I was eager to catch.

But, people frequently incorrectly estimate the distances they are shooting at.

For the sake of examples, here are 2 photos shot from about 15 meters with a 500mm lens on a K-3. The first is cropped, the second is heavily cropped.
Attached Images
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PENTAX K-3 II  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K-3 II  Photo 
06-01-2020, 10:32 AM - 2 Likes   #18
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just remember

subject size = image size x focal length / distance

using a full frame camera in vertical format a great blue heron which is about 1 meter tall, when shot with a 500 mm Lens needs to be within 13 meters, i always said big birds are easy, but a songbird which may be less than 150mm high needs to be within 2 meters

you can see that heavy cropping from 20 meters or more (filling less than 1/10 of the vertical frame is required)
06-01-2020, 10:39 AM - 4 Likes   #19
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A big key part to bird photography is proximity... even with a shorter lens, you can still get great shots... though often they are less like the bird is the photo, and more like the bird is part of the photo. For example, with the kit 50-200 @ 200mm:


That being said, now all my birding is done with the A 400, which is a great compromise of weight, reach, speed and IQ (and price!).
Again at greater distances, it's more of an 'environmental' shot (which I slightly prefer):
[

Of course, for little birds around the yard, you have to get in a bit closer:


Don't forget about cropping too. Even with my 'lowly' 16mp K-50, I have plenty of cropping room for a bird to fill the frame, especially for web images:


I think you'd be well served with the DA* 300 and the HD 1.4x TC giving you a 420/5.6 - I wouldn't worry about lack of zoom range, as for birds and other wildlife I very rarely (if ever) want to go wider than my 400. Advantages to the DA* (IQ aside, as I can't speak to that) would be the lighter weight and also a closer minimum focusing distance, which is beneficial for shooting small yard birds. Also it is WR if you find yourself shooting in those conditions...


Last edited by bertwert; 06-01-2020 at 10:49 AM.
06-01-2020, 11:16 AM - 1 Like   #20
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The big issue with the 100-300 F4 (both versions, and I have the 2nd)) is the almost complete lack of spare parts - so it's a great lens if you have a good one (had mine for best part of 9 years) but there's always the "wondering" of what to do if it does go wrong (had an autofocus issue 4 yrs ago and it needed a new AF module, and was very lucky to get it repaired by Sigma Imaging UK when they got probably the last such module from Japan!)

I also have the PLM (and a very good copy, even at 300mm), and there's not a huge difference in IQ IMHO, but it works better on the K-70 than than the K-3 II because the latter seems to cause it to "rocket" off-focus at times.

Not had a DA300 as most of my wanted "targets" require a zoom lens.
06-01-2020, 01:03 PM - 1 Like   #21
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I have the sigma, had the old pentax pre-plm version. The pentax is weather resistant, smaller/lighter, focuses faster and silently. I don't think the pentax will work very well with a TC especially at the long end. The sigma works great.
06-01-2020, 01:11 PM - 5 Likes   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
I think you'd be well served with the DA* 300 and the HD 1.4x TC giving you a 420/5.6 - I wouldn't worry about lack of zoom range, as for birds and other wildlife I very rarely (if ever) want to go wider than my 400. Advantages to the DA* (IQ aside, as I can't speak to that) would be the lighter weight and also a closer minimum focusing distance, which is beneficial for shooting small yard birds. Also it is WR if you find yourself shooting in those conditions...
+1

For price, size, mobility, reach, pure IQ, usability I have yet to see anything better on the K mount than DA*300 ( +/- HD 1.4x TC)

If there is something better that I missed that checks all those boxes then let me know



06-01-2020, 01:42 PM   #23
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Original Poster
Thanks for the great examples!
Probably I am a bit naive when I shared my thoughts about the >50m range. Thanks for the good response on that.

Thanks for the interesting posts about your experiences with both lenses.
It doesn't make my choice easier as the two lenses, DA* 300mm and DG 100-300mm, look very much equal when it comes to sharpenes and clarity.
However, it is worth to safe some money for a future buy of one of these.

And yes, both lenses are for sale on ebay.
The 100-300mm is in the buy and sell section of this forum:
Sigma 100-300 f/4, FA*, FA Limiteds, DA Limiteds, converters - PentaxForums.com

06-01-2020, 02:21 PM - 1 Like   #24
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QuoteQuote:
For price, size, mobility, reach, pure IQ, usability I have yet to see anything better on the K mount than DA*300 ( +/- HD 1.4x TC)
It's almost a consensus on the forum. If you want to get into birding, that's how you start.

If you want to know what the best do, visit the 300 plus club.
300mm plus Lens Club: discuss your long lenses - Page 2245 - PentaxForums.com

Some of those guys have kit the rest of us can only dream about.

For myself, if I ever get another windfall, I'll probably go with the 150-450.

I'd also mention I use the DA*60-250 with the HD DA 1.4 TC quite bit. It's another great walking around combo, although since I acquired the DA 55-300 PLM, it's seen a lot less use.

Wow, the last time I used it was Feb. It used to be my goto.

Last edited by normhead; 06-01-2020 at 02:30 PM.
06-01-2020, 04:41 PM - 2 Likes   #25
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I'm a 'bird shooter', and up until the beginning of this year used the DFA 150-450, sometimes with the HD DA AF Rear Converter 1.4x AW, but shoulder surgery forced me to look for something a bit lighter, and chose the DA* 300.
Since using the DA* 300 for a while now I'm coming to the view that the IQ from this lens is somewhat better than from DFA 150-450.
I'm very happy with it, and use it a lot now with the 1.4x TC.
The only things that make it less attractive to me than the DFA 150-450, are the lack of zoom ability, and the slower auto focus, but I have learned to compensate for that. If you use the quick shift to ensure it's always set at infinity between shots, it will lock on quicker...the focus travel is much shorter from inf to (say) 10m, which is the common range, than from min focus dist to 10m.
I don't miss the size and bulk of the DFA 150-450, the DA* 300 is much easier to carry around.
I'm sorry I can't make any comparison with the Sigma, but offer the above for what it's worth.

Cheers,
Terry
06-01-2020, 06:29 PM - 1 Like   #26
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I'm not really interested in bird photography, although I have a friend who is crazy about this form of picture-taking, using a Nikon D750 + 200-500 f/5.6 zoom. I haphazardly caught this Blue Jay at my brother's bird feeder in winter with my Canon G3X superzoom but I don't have the patience to hide and wait for birds to appear, nor do I buy expensive Pentax super telephotos for this purpose. My Canon EXIF said this zoom's maximum 220 mm focal length was equivalent to 1200 mm in Full-Frame (optical + digital magnification) ...


Last edited by RICHARD L.; 06-02-2020 at 04:33 AM.
06-01-2020, 06:33 PM - 1 Like   #27
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Fifty metres? This is more digiscoping territory, even a 600mm f4 is going to get disappointing, you want to use that under 20 metres.

Two suggestions:

1. If for sport, go for the Sigma 100-300mm f4, because of the choice of focal lengths, if for birding, go for the 300 prime because you only use the long end and it's *still not long enough*. Both are f4 so you can put on a 1.4x TC and not breach the f5.6 autofocus module ratings.

2. Give up on the long shots as Norm points out, the details of the resultant shots will be terrible. Put all your intellectual and physical energy and cash into getting close to the birds!
06-01-2020, 06:59 PM   #28
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Just going to throw this out there...
I know a lot of people who get pretty impressive shots with bridge cameras.
Something like the Canon SX70 HS or the Nikon Coolpix P1000.
To get the equivlent focal length in 35mm format would be incredibly cost prohibitive.
They can shoot in RAW too. Not bad for birding at all..
Too bad Pentax stopped R&D in the XG1 series..
06-01-2020, 08:17 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
Just going to throw this out there...
I know a lot of people who get pretty impressive shots with bridge cameras.
Something like the Canon SX70 HS or the Nikon Coolpix P1000.
To get the equivlent focal length in 35mm format would be incredibly cost prohibitive.
They can shoot in RAW too. Not bad for birding at all..
Too bad Pentax stopped R&D in the XG1 series..
I had a Canon bridge camera, FF, it was appalling, the sensor was tiny.

When you look for 1/1000s, f8 when birding, unless there's direct sunlight, you hit ISO 1600 and above *very* quickly and the RAW images are shocking for their noise content. There's someone I birded with who found that their new expensive m43 system simply wasn't up to the job. They thought it was cool that their gear wasn't as heavy as ours, as if you could get something for nothing in a physics sense!

When you apply noise reduction, you get wax figures as a result, they lose all the texture, but that's what bird photography's about, the details.

Last edited by clackers; 06-01-2020 at 09:40 PM.
06-01-2020, 08:46 PM   #30
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Ones I got DA*300 I immediately wished to extend the range for 500mm ))). My limitation was weight for hand held "hunting", therefore I ended up with 300mm plus 1.4x TC. If you are ok with heavy set up, consider 500mm range also.
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