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03-01-2021, 10:13 PM - 3 Likes   #31
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I was in Costa Rica 5 years ago. I also had a K-3 with both a screw drive version of the Pentax 55-300 and a DA 300 mm with the 1.4x Pentax teleconverter. I have to say for much of the wildlife including birds you are in the forest with poor lighting so the the I almost never used the 55-300. It had a hard time getting good focus. You really need the 420mm that you get with DA 300 mm with the teleconverter at wide open or close to wide open. I used my K-3 with telephoto for all the wildlife photos. I had a Canon G1xii with me that I used for closer up photos and landscapes, so I would not have to stop and change lenses. Also we spent a lot of time in and around the water where I used my Pentax WG-3, Here is a link to some photos on Flickr that shows he use of all the equipment above.

Costa Rica April 2016 | Flickr

03-02-2021, 02:34 AM - 1 Like   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by aslyfox Quote
would that involve a " flash extender " ?
It depends on how far away the bird is, what flash you have have and how much light you want the flash to contribute (fill or key light). Also depends on whether you are going to use HSS, because it greatly reduces the throw.

For a little fill (1-2 stops), where the subject is within say 10m, and not using HSS, even my little Godox TT350P is adequate without an extender.


If you start to use HSS, however, you need a flamethrower to get any significant contribution above about 6 or 8m.

I had a JJC which was lightweight and folded up small, but was fragile. I now have a Magmod wildlife extender. It folds up in a concertina to a fairly compact size but it's a bit heavy.

Last edited by Des; 03-03-2021 at 04:15 PM.
03-02-2021, 03:19 AM - 3 Likes   #33
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QuoteOriginally posted by leheath8 Quote
My main focus is this kind of photography
If that is really the case, I would suggest restricting yourself to an obsolete camera and a slow consumer zoom is doing your hobby a disservice.

At the very least, upgrade your body to the KP. You might lose some buffer depth and a few frames per second, but the high ISO performance will allow you to get much more out of your 55-300.

On the lens side, the DA*300 is in another league optically, and a stop and a bit faster than the 55-300. It's not a new lens by any means now, and can be found at quite reasonable prices second hand.

But there's really no getting past the DFA150-450. The convenience of a zoom when shooting wildlife in the field can not be over-estimated; framing at the wide end before zooming in is incredibly useful. It is totally worth the price.
03-02-2021, 04:26 AM - 2 Likes   #34
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When I started with digital, I used a Snoot on the AF500FTZ on my *istD

I would set the camera to 1/150 (max shutter sync) and stop the lens down in manual exposure to about -1 to -2 stops, this left a partially exposed but darkish background, and a bright subject.

I got away from flash when Pentax discontinued TTL support and went for the p-TTL because of the preflash on the K10 Later bodies with improved high iso, left me using only natural light and pushing the iso, although I still think flash under the foliage is better, (not just quality but also white balance). Also the 540FGZ used preflash for focus assist not the red focus assist of the AF500FTZ.

I have better beamers for my 540FGZ but personally a snoot is better.

The advantage with flash is of course the sharpness, flash durations are typically well below 100 microseconds, and not only does this freeze the image but the harshness and point source nature of the lighting generates high contrast on the feathers.


Last edited by Lowell Goudge; 03-02-2021 at 11:56 AM.
03-02-2021, 09:44 AM - 1 Like   #35
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F* 300mm 4.5 fixed , easy to crop in to 600mm equivalent, amazing quality optic, small, light and on budget.
03-02-2021, 10:44 AM - 4 Likes   #36
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I think everyone covered the bases. But I just want to re-iterate how dark it can be in the rain forest.
I spent quite a bit of time down there in Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, Guatemala. At the time I didn't have the gear I have now.

- The KP will buy you 1-1.5 stops over the K-3
- The DA*300 will buy you 1.5-2 stops over the 55-300
- Good noise/sharpening post-processing will buy you at least 1 stop equivalent.

Depending on how much time you will be hiking through rain forest, it can be incredibly muddy and rough going.

With the humidity it can be tiring too. So gear/pack weight can be a real factor.

I'd recommend a good strap or harness system, preferably one that attaches to your pack rather than having the camera swinging around on a strap.

For a $1000 budget I think the best option would be a used DA*300 + HD DA 1.4TC

A used 150-450 is also a possibility as long as you can live with the weight.
The 60-250 + 1.4 TC is another option, but that is not quite as sharp wide open as the 300.

Good luck and have a great time!
03-02-2021, 10:56 AM - 1 Like   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by caliscouser Quote
I think everyone covered the bases. But I just want to re-iterate how dark it can be in the rain forest.

I spent quite a bit of time down there in Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, Guatemala. At the time I didn't have the gear I have now. . . .

Good luck and have a great time!
go with advice from the guy with actual experience

[ hint - that ain't me ]
03-02-2021, 11:27 AM - 2 Likes   #38
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
I would still suggest upgrading the 55-300 to the PLM though - the images are nicer than you get with the old screwdriven AF versions. It's a very good landscape lens too.
Absolutely agree!! I use a K-3 for bird and wildlife photography. I used an HD 55-300 for travel but could not resist getting the PLM when it was introduced. Yes, they are both 55-300 but the fast, quiet and accurate autofocus has made a world of difference photographing anything that moves. I have seen comments that it is slower but it is only f 6.3 right at 300 mm. Back it off slightly and it is f5.6 and barely a noticeable difference in the image. I also have the DA*300 and the 1.4 TC. For car travel I bring both the PLM and the 300 DA* + TC combo. No question if I am shooting birds or wildlife at a considerable distance such as across a lake the DA*300 + TC is my go to, but for travel by anything but my own car I just bring the PLM. This includes a trip to Costa Rica and Panama I went on before the pandemic grounded me. Even when in the rain forest I was just fine with the PLM and did not wish I brought along the DA* + TC combo.
Nevertheless having both the PLM and the DA* + TC is the best of both worlds and whichever way you go enjoy what you have and get, you can always save up for the other, either new or used up the road as you get more experience with your gear.

03-02-2021, 11:45 AM - 1 Like   #39
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For hiking around in the rain forest you'll probably want to make sure any lens and/or TC you use is rated as weather resistant. The earliest 55-300s weren't. The same is true for older generation 300mm primes.
03-02-2021, 12:12 PM - 1 Like   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by leheath8 Quote
I have a K-3 with a DA 55-300 lens that is my primary lens for travel wildlife photography. I do not generally travel with a tripod so while I am generally OK with the 300mm length, I find the speed too slow at that range.

I really don't have more than $1K budget.

So, should I consider the 300 f4 prime? A 200 f2.8 prime with teleconverter? A Sigma 100-300 f4 APO (only available used?)? Sigma 150-500 f5-6.3? Some other lens? Or would a body upgrade be better? Or is there really nothing that would be better for my stated budget?
For $700 you can get a new KP which IMO gives you acceptable ISO up to 1600.

For just under $1000 (over with tax) you can get a Pentax SMCP-DA* 300mm f/4.

Normally I'd recommend the lens before the camera as an upgrade. But because of your budget, I believe the KP will deliver what you want more effectively than the best optic solution.
03-02-2021, 12:45 PM   #41
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QuoteOriginally posted by Apet-Sure Quote
For hiking around in the rain forest you'll probably want to make sure any lens and/or TC you use is rated as weather resistant. The earliest 55-300s weren't. The same is true for older generation 300mm primes.
This is another reason I was considering an upgrade. The K-3 is weather resistant, but my lenses are not. While I've never had problems, it is always been a concern in the back of my mind.

QuoteOriginally posted by jddwoods Quote
This includes a trip to Costa Rica and Panama I went on before the pandemic grounded me. Even when in the rain forest I was just fine with the PLM and did not wish I brought along the DA* + TC combo.
Nevertheless having both the PLM and the DA* + TC is the best of both worlds and whichever way you go enjoy what you have and get, you can always save up for the other, either new or used up the road as you get more experience with your gear.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I am leaning towards the DA* + TC and just hoping the weight isn't a significant annoyance. I am also considering grabbing a 18-135 (also WR) to replace my current second lens DA 18-55 (no WR), to partially "fill in" the 55-300 gap. I don't really want to lug around more than 2 lenses if I don't have to.

Last edited by leheath8; 03-02-2021 at 02:05 PM.
03-02-2021, 02:23 PM   #42
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
But there's really no getting past the DFA150-450. The convenience of a zoom when shooting wildlife in the field can not be over-estimated; framing at the wide end before zooming in is incredibly useful. It is totally worth the price.
That is right.
03-02-2021, 03:09 PM   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by leheath8 Quote
I am leaning towards the DA* + TC and just hoping the weight isn't a significant annoyance. I am also considering grabbing a 18-135 (also WR) to replace my current second lens DA 18-55 (no WR), to partially "fill in" the 55-300 gap.
How are you going to get a DA* 300mm + TC + 18-135mm for $1000? Or was the budget just wishful thinking?
03-02-2021, 03:13 PM - 1 Like   #44
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
How are you going to get a DA* 300mm + TC + 18-135mm for $1000? Or was the budget just wishful thinking?
By buying used. Based on what I see in the Marketplace, it will probably come out to less than $200 over budget for all 3.
03-02-2021, 03:14 PM - 3 Likes   #45
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I'd suggest improving your post-processing skills, learning to carefully balance noise-reduction and sharpening. It can really extend the useful ISO of your camera.

This photo of a mink on the move was snapped on a cloudy evening in wooded area - so dim I could barely make out the mink through the viewfinder, fortunately his dinner was bright enough to track. ISO 1600, pushed 3 stops in PP.
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