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10-29-2020, 04:42 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Depending on what the op wants to shoot I recommend committing the following to memory

Image size = subject size x focal length / distance
In the same units? So mm/mm/mm etc?

10-29-2020, 05:34 PM   #17
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It's a very expensive business, Nativeson, bird photography. The standard for a National Geographic kind of photographer is a 600mm f4, I'll leave you to google the cost.

In any case, you're starting out without career objectives, why not dabble? The 55-300 PLM is probably the cheapest way that yields acceptable image quality.
10-29-2020, 05:54 PM - 2 Likes   #18
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You want a lower cost solution, the 55-300 PLM is the one you want, The PLM is very fast at autofocus and silent. The other 55-300s are slow and noisy, noisy enough to scare birds, I know I had one. The Pentax 1.4 rear converted does work well with the 55-300 PLM, but realize the rear converter costs more than the lens. I also have the DA*300 which is a better and much more expensive lens. But sometimes I will use the 55-300PLM because the autofocus is so fast, and I don't really lose that much quality, especially in good light. These sanderlings were taken with the 55-300PLM and 1.4 rear converter on a KP yesterday. I was about 50-70 feet away and this is not cropped.
10-29-2020, 06:37 PM - 4 Likes   #19
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A K-3 with the DA 55-300 PLM





If you can get close anything is possible. These less than 20 feet, and very habituated birds.

The Tamron 300 2.8 with the 1.7x AF Adapter for 510mm





Further away but 500 is sort of the minimum.

For smaller birds you need 500mm even for 15 feet.



But from a blind, 420 is pretty useable. Tamron 300 2.8 ad 1.4 TC.




And of course some birds are so friendly 120mm is good


This last one is an unhabituated bird I coudn't get close to so maybe the long end of your range. You can identify the bird but you have to compose to keep what's around it relevant, it's not going to be a head shot.

Again with the DA 55-300 PLM.


Smallish bird, DA 55-300 PLM on the camera. No chance to get closer or for a retake. Sometimes you love the PLM just cause it's so small i's on the camera when you need it (like when you're just going for a walk with a camera) for a quick shot. So far this one is a once in a lifetime capture. It's not great, but it's all I have.




Last edited by normhead; 10-30-2020 at 10:08 AM.
10-29-2020, 07:30 PM - 4 Likes   #20
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Welcome to PF! This is a subject that often draws a range of responses, as you have seen already.
QuoteOriginally posted by nativeson Quote
I would greatly appreciate advice for a new lens to shoot bird/wildlife pics. I'm not talking a multi thousand dollar, huge lens, just one that will take crisp pics at the 20 - 50 foot distance range.
I would say yes, although as other posts have pointed out, the closer you are the better. The key is to be realistic about what to expect. As Clackers said, there are a lot of zeros in the cost of lenses used by NatGeo photographers. But you can still get enjoyable results from entry-level gear, if the subject is fairly close.

Here are some photos taken within the 20-50' (6-12 metres) range with a cheap DA-L 55-300mm zoom. All of them are cropped.








QuoteOriginally posted by nativeson Quote
I have looked at Pentax 55-300 lens, and I see there are two models, the more expensive PLM WR RE, and the cheaper ED WR. My questions: 1. Will I be happy with the image quality from these lenses?
These lenses are a good entree to wildlife photography, provided you can get close enough to the subject. They are relatively light-weight and compact, so easy to carry on a walk. They are also useful for a range of other subjects, such as portraits, landscapes, flowers, sports, crowds and pseudo-macro.
QuoteOriginally posted by nativeson Quote
2. What is the difference between the two, which one would you go with?
Go with the PLM, unless it is out of your budget. Its advantages are: (1) very fast and quiet autofocus; (2) it retracts to a more compact size; (3) it has a shorter minimum focus distance (0.95 metres v 1.4m); (4) the bokeh is more pleasant (due to rounded aperture blades); (5) its resolution is a little better wide open at the long end. The advantages of the screwdriven AF model are (1) it is cheaper; (2) it can be used on bodies older than the K-50, unlike the PLM; (3) it has slightly faster maximum aperture across most of the range (e.g. f4 v f4.5 at 55mm; f5.8 v f6.3 at 300mm). The screwdriven models have less focus-breathing (that is, more magnification at close focal distances), but my comparison shows that the difference is not field-relevant (One or the other need help on a 55-300 zoom lens?? - PentaxForums.com).

I can't really substantiate this but my subjective impression is that my copy of the PLM produces overall nicer images than my DA-L 55-300 did. (The DA-L has the same optical formula as the ED WR model, except it lacks HD coatings.) I think the colours and overall rendering are better.






QuoteOriginally posted by nativeson Quote
3. Are there other lenses, including non-Pentax, that I should consider?
If you want a single do-it-all lens, there is the Sigma 18-300, although it is unlikely to provide images as good as those from the PLM.

If you need more reach than the xx-300mm zooms, your main options in an autofocus lens are:
- F*300mm f4.5 or FA*300mm f4.5 with a teleconverter. (You can use a third party teleconverter like a Kenko or Tamron - they are cheaper than the Pentax ones.)
- DA*300mm with the Pentax DA 1.4x teleconverter. High quality, but slow autofocus. The Pentax TC is expensive (about $US600).
- Sigma 50-500mm ("Bigma") or 150-500mm. These are affordable on the second-hand market. But they are big and heavy (2kg+).
Other premium lenses (like the DFA 150-450 or DA 560) take you into the "multi thousand dollar" class (about $US2000 for the 150-450 or $US4000 for the 560).
QuoteOriginally posted by nativeson Quote
4. Would you recommend using a doubler lens?
I suspect you mean a tele-converter. Using a 1.4x teleconverter reduces light by 1 stop, so it's not ideal for a slow-aperture lens like the PLM. I have a Kenko TC that works with the PLM, but I never use it with that lens (but I do with the FA*300). Don't even think about a 2x teleconverter.

Last edited by Des; 11-01-2020 at 03:41 PM.
10-29-2020, 07:32 PM   #21
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The 55-300 was great for walking around, but as I evolved beyond feeder shots I went to the Sigma 150-500...Then from the K-5 to K-3...

Some albums fromnthe K-5 DA L 55-300 days. Some are with a Vivitar Series 1 1.4x TC.
Great Bear Jun 01, 2013 | Flickr

Beaver Lake Jun 08, 2013 | Flickr

When I became addicted to warblers...
Great Bear Jun 12, 2013 | Flickr

Great Bear Jun 15, 2013 | Flickr

Beaver Lake Jul 29, 2013 | Flickr

Aug 11, 2013 - Montezuma NWR | Flickr

Montezuma Aug 31, 2013 | Flickr

Montezuma - Sep 15, 2013 | Flickr
10-29-2020, 11:51 PM - 1 Like   #22
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The DA* 300mm F4 plus 1.4X teleconverter will give you great reach and IQ at the cost of slower autofocus than you want.

It is a good tradeoff IMHO. You will have some frustrating misses from slow AF but when you nail shots, you will really nail them.
10-30-2020, 04:12 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
In the same units? So mm/mm/mm etc?
Yes.

A professor once told our class work the units first, the solution will follow

---------- Post added 10-30-20 at 07:59 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
A K-3 with the DA 55-300 PLM
Snip........

Smallish bird, DA 55-300 PLM on the camera. No chance to get closer or for a retake. Sometimes you love the PLM just cause it's so small i's on the camera when you need it (like when you're just going for a walk with a camera) for a quick shot. So far this one is a once in a lifetime capture. It's not great, but it's all I have.
This is another aspect of birding, what I call a reference shot. Itís proof you actually saw the bird,

For the OP. As you get more into taking shots of birds and bird watching, you may be inclined to keep a list of observations. Many people (self included) have migrated away from apps that track your sightings and use EBird.

This is good and bad, the bad the good is that if you spot something really unusual, the photo is proof, and is important to Back up your observation. The bad is that sometimes you are wrong in your identification, and they will correct you

10-30-2020, 09:41 AM - 1 Like   #24
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A picture is worth a 1,000 words. These are two shots I just took today using the DA 55-300mm PLM with the Pentax DA 1.4X HD WR Rear Converter. It's a grey, snowy day, so exposure was F9.5 (the widest F-stop for this lens + TC at 300 mm) for 1/200 sec at ISO 3200 using my K-70. The photo's were taken with the zoom at 300mm (420mm with the TC).


These are uncropped JPEG's straight off the camera (except for resizing to post here). The bird feeder is almost exactly 20 feet away, so this should give you a very good idea of the suitability of this lens combo for your needs.

And yes, it is snowing here today in southern New Hampshire!
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10-30-2020, 09:56 AM - 2 Likes   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by cdw2000 Quote
A picture is worth a 1,000 words. These are two shots I just took today using the DA 55-300mm PLM with the Pentax DA 1.4X HD WR Rear Converter. It's a grey, snowy day, so exposure was F9.5 (the widest F-stop for this lens + TC at 300 mm) for 1/200 sec at ISO 3200 using my K-70. The photo's were taken with the zoom at 300mm (420mm with the TC).


These are uncropped JPEG's straight off the camera (except for resizing to post here). The bird feeder is almost exactly 20 feet away, so this should give you a very good idea of the suitability of this lens combo for your needs.

And yes, it is snowing here today in southern New Hampshire!
i dont think there is any question that the 55-300 PLM can produce good shots, and please do not take this the wrong way, but feeder shots are easy.

yes it is a good all around lens, the issue will be more when shooting birds in the field, if that is the OP's intent, while300 mm may be ok for some birds, larger relatively stationary species like herons and some ducks, or shore birds on a beach if you sit still and let them come to you, birds in the wild are generally quite difficult to get close enough for 300mm to be enough.
10-30-2020, 10:23 AM - 3 Likes   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
i dont think there is any question that the 55-300 PLM can produce good shots, and please do not take this the wrong way, but feeder shots are easy.

yes it is a good all around lens, the issue will be more when shooting birds in the field, if that is the OP's intent, while300 mm may be ok for some birds, larger relatively stationary species like herons and some ducks, or shore birds on a beach if you sit still and let them come to you, birds in the wild are generally quite difficult to get close enough for 300mm to be enough.
I guess the big thing to take from this is those of us who have multiple lenses will use the PLM for preliminary work or unexpected work. But if there's something of interest I go back with one of the big boys.

On many of my trips the DA 55-300 PLM is the only option... because of it's size and weight. But I still carry the Tamron 300 2.8 and F 1.7x AF adapter or HDDA 1.4 TC if I have good reason to believe there will be something I really want.

I'm pretty cheap, but I paid over $2000 for my 300 2.8 and FA 1.7 to get a nice relatively light weight 510mm ƒ4.5 combo.

PLM images are more than acceptable.
My DA 60-250 with the 1.4, my 200 2.8 with the 1.4 or F 1.7x, Or my 300 3.2 with one of hose two adopters will always be preferred if it's arrive there in the car d don't walk far image.

This one shot at 500mm, Tamron 300 2.8 with F 1.7x AF adapter, just to show what you can do at a feeder with longer lens.


For wild, unhabituated birds 500mm is a minimum, and I've frequently seen Nikon shooters with a 600 ƒ4 and a 1.4 TC on it.

I'm all for praise heaped on the 55-300 PLM, but you have to understand it's limitations, and if you're going to impress other birders, you're going to need a lot more than 300mm.

Last edited by normhead; 10-30-2020 at 10:48 AM.
10-30-2020, 10:31 AM   #27
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another thing to remember

would a tripod or monopod be necessary for the telephoto lens used

I use my D FA 150-450 hand held

but a tripod/monopod could help

a " longer " telephoto most likely would not be useable without a tripod/monopod
10-30-2020, 10:54 AM - 2 Likes   #28
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I just measured my blind images... all taken between 12 and 25 feet. Most between 14 and 20.
622 images.. most then from my blind.
Feeder_Creatures | Flickr

One example... 500mm, 16 feet.


With reference to Aslyfox's post above. I always use a tripod when possible. It aids in steadiness to achieve the focus you want. But for birds, I never lock it or use the 2 second timer. You have remember, shooting birds, subject movement requires shutter speed of 1/1000s or more when possible. A long exposure on a tripod as in landscape shooting, is not really an option. And that 1/1000s shutter speed means a tripod is unnecessary, unless you are really pushing the limits. If you can steady it somehow, 300mm or even 500mm shot at 1/1000s plus gives you pretty good odds if you can even brace on a tree or something.

Last edited by normhead; 10-30-2020 at 11:05 AM.
10-30-2020, 11:11 AM - 1 Like   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
For wild, unhabituated birds 500mm is a minimum, and I've frequently seen Nikon shooters with a 600 ƒ4 and a 1.4 TC on it.

I'm all for praise heaped on the 55-300 PLM, but you have to understand it's limitations, and if you're going to impress other birders, you're going to need a lot more than 300mm.
10-30-2020, 11:20 AM - 2 Likes   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
I see your two and raise you 4....


You have to ask, are you ever going to be so insane as to try and fit in with these people?
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