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04-13-2021, 06:31 AM   #1
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Where next after 55-300?

A tele zoom wasn't even on my radar until lock down. Then I spotted a mint HD 55-300 and decided to give it a go

Am really impressed with is abilities for wildlife / bird photographs - and its become kind of addictive to go for an evening walk on the hunt for something interesting. Mostly I shoot it wide open and 300mm

But - it isnt very fast (f5.8) and doesn't reach that far for little birds (450mm equiv on APS-C)

But what to get next? The 150-450 is eye wateringly expensive. Big Sigma zooms seem common(ish) but soft.

Pentax 400mm manual focus lenses aren't that readily available in UK (though I have looked at a couple of lovely ones on Ebay in Japan) and I wonder if a prime would be a nuisance. Older 500mm may also be a handful in the field

04-13-2021, 06:39 AM   #2
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If 300mm is enough reach for you, the DA 300 is just excellent
f/4 should be fast enough for most shots, and has enough reach.
Assuming you shoot with an APS-C camera.
If you have a FF camera, the DA 300 can still be used, but it would feel a tad short, so 400-500 would be about right, but then you're heading into some serious investment if you want good glass.
I have the Sigma 400/5.6, and although it may appear a little slow and needs good light to shoot with a decent shutter speed for birding, it is still a reasonable performer that is affordable.
04-13-2021, 06:39 AM   #3
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There have been a number of people here who have had good luck with 300mm primes with teleconverters, particularly the 1.4x. But the modern lenses arenít cheap, nor is the teleconverter.

I have the original ďKĒ 300mm f4, and while itís sharp and fairly fast, it is manual focus and has lots of chromatic aberrations, which is a bit of a pain compared with the 55-300ís cleaner output and autofocus.

Thereís at least one person here who likes the results of the 55-300 with the 1.4x, but that is a lot slower, optically speaking, if you need a faster shutter speed.

-Eric
04-13-2021, 06:44 AM   #4
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there was a similar thread recently and 300* seemed a front runner there

I think I am asking about - what are the 400mm out there worth getting? Manual Focus is fine.

Or is that a bad idea for this type of image making?

04-13-2021, 06:58 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by LittleSkink Quote
A tele zoom wasn't even on my radar until lock down. Then I spotted a mint HD 55-300 and decided to give it a go

Am really impressed with is abilities for wildlife / bird photographs - and its become kind of addictive to go for an evening walk on the hunt for something interesting. Mostly I shoot it wide open and 300mm

But - it isnt very fast (f5.8) and doesn't reach that far for little birds (450mm equiv on APS-C)

But what to get next? The 150-450 is eye wateringly expensive. Big Sigma zooms seem common(ish) but soft.

Pentax 400mm manual focus lenses aren't that readily available in UK (though I have looked at a couple of lovely ones on Ebay in Japan) and I wonder if a prime would be a nuisance. Older 500mm may also be a handful in the field
What body do you have? If you have a KP/K1/K70, f 5.6 shouldn't be a huge problem if you can put your "faith" in the accelerator chips these have. I did feel like I was pushing the PLM when I had my K-50 as I shoot in a maritime, sub-arctic environment which is often quite dark even in the middle of the day. For example, today is the first time I've even glimpsed the sun in over a week. Kick the max ISO up to 3200 (my preferred max) or even 6400 (where I go on occasion) and see what you think.

Last edited by jgnfld; 04-13-2021 at 07:05 AM.
04-13-2021, 06:59 AM - 3 Likes   #6
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If you're looking for wildlife and birds, I really wouldn't worry about a prime being a nuisance, if you feel you want more reach than the 55-300, then you'll probably want more reach even with a 400! I find I very very rarely want less reach than my 400 offers when out shooting, in fact I almost always want more and end up cropping a bunch! (Don't forget you'll still have the the 55-300 to cover stuff in that range.)

As far as a recommended 400mm, if you don't mind manual focus, I'd certainly recommend the Pentax A 400/5.6 - that's what I use for my super tele needs. On the other hand, manual focus can be a bit limiting, but think of it as a challenge. (An often recommended combo that's modern and AF is the DA*300/4 and 1.4x teleconverter, giving you a 420/5.6 - I can't speak to this, not owning it, but it is something I'm looking at acquiring in the future.)

Keep scouring Ebay and PF marketplace, among whatever other used sites you look at, and if you see an A 400/5.6 at a good price...







04-13-2021, 07:23 AM   #7
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thanks folks, I think a 1.4x is inevitable in my future

Combining that with a 400mm gives a lot of flexibility and longer reach - hopefully
04-13-2021, 07:51 AM - 4 Likes   #8
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The 150-450 is worth every penny...







04-13-2021, 07:53 AM   #9
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interestingly enough, i have written my return of experience in response to another post

hand held - PentaxForums.com
04-13-2021, 08:19 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by LittleSkink Quote
But what to get next? The 150-450 is eye wateringly expensive. Big Sigma zooms seem common(ish) but soft.
In Pentax world, perhaps everywhere, anything beyond 300mm quickly gets expensive and/or not very good and/or weird.

I have a 1000mm option that cost $40, in a 500mm mirror lens with a $5 2x teleconverter. It's pure crap, I get better results cropping the 55-300 at 300.

The Pentax 560mm costs $5000. You know about the 150-450 that costs $2000. The Bigma exists. There are some mirror lenses that are better than mine, but probably not great. And that's pretty much it, unless you are open to 20+ year old film era lenses that probably aren't great.

Canon now has an 800mm f/11 lens that's only $800. The fixed f/11 is a little weird. They also have an 800mm f/5.6 that's $8000.

The unfortunate truth is that if you want a high quality autofocus lens over 300mm in K mount there are no cheap options, and not that many options at any cost.
04-13-2021, 08:58 AM   #11
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I claim no photographic expertise

I just post a lot

I have both lenses and the DA * 300

I got an " experienced " 150 - 450 off ebay, it was like new and a slight discount

the DA * 300 was purchased from a forum member

I bought the PLM on sale

I prefer the 150-450

yes, it is big, heavy and expensive

but the length and quality is worth it

IMHO

[ I got the PLM for the occasions I didn't want to carry the 150-450 ]
04-13-2021, 10:23 AM - 1 Like   #12
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I have the *300/4 and the HD TC and have found it to be generally adequate for walk around birding. One thing most people arenít talking about here is your use case. The 150-450 is a great lens and it isnít huge by any means, but when at full zoom itís pretty long. It might be worth renting one to see if it works with your style of shooting. Iíve got one on the list for birding, but I intend to mostly use it for tripod based birding of eagles and waterfowl etc. the 300 is probably the sharpest lens Iíve ever used, even with a TC on. I have no doubt the 150-450 is equally impressive, but I mean I took this shot the other day and you can just about see the dander on this buffaloís face.

04-13-2021, 10:27 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ThorSanchez Quote
Snip......

The unfortunate truth is that if you want a high quality autofocus lens over 300mm in K mount there are no cheap options, and not that many options at any cost.
The unfortunate truth is that if you want autofocus over 300mm from any maker there are no cheap options
04-13-2021, 11:03 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by ThorSanchez Quote
Canon now has an 800mm f/11 lens that's only $800. The fixed f/11 is a little weird. They also have an 800mm f/5.6 that's $8000.
Close focus for the f11 is 6 meters...5.6 for the DA 560...

Last edited by boriscleto; 04-13-2021 at 11:14 AM.
04-13-2021, 11:55 AM   #15
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When my old FA 80-320 mm died on me, I replaced it with a used (but like-new bought from eBay in Japan) HD DA 55-300 mm f/4-5.8 ED WR that I use on a K3. Previously I had the original DA 55-300 mm that was surprisingly good on a K5 but proved not up to par (disappointing, really) on the K3. The newer HD lens performs differently from the old one, so much so that one would believe it's an entirely new design. I don't have the patience to stalk critters, so I do mosly landscapes and architecture, the new HD DA 55-300 mm really delivers when stopped down @ f/11.









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