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12-21-2008, 05:01 AM   #1
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Help Needed: Lens Advice for Newbie for Trip

Hi,

My name is Beth, I'm new here, I'm 26, and recently into photography - I got my K10D last year - my first SLR and currently have the 18-55 and DA 50-200 lenses. I'm going to Costa Rica this spring, and wanted to have a better zoom for wildlife photos. Can you give any recommendations? I'd prefer not to spend over $500 if that. I thought about the 'Bigma' (which would be more than I'd really want to spend), but even though I'd like to have the 500 mm, I read that it may not be great in low light...and I'm assuming the rain forest may not have great light? (never been there). I also thought of the 300 mm F4 lens, but it's also a bit more than I wanted to spend and I wondered how much more reach a 300 mm lens would have over a 200 mm lens? I'd really appreciate any advice you can give me. My parents offered to pay for part of the lens as my XMAS present but I couldn't figure out what to buy in time, so it'll have to be a belated present.

Beth

12-21-2008, 05:59 AM   #2
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hi beth! welcome aboard!

it seems like you know you'llbe needing some reach.

The DA 55-300 fits the reach and budget but i fear it may not be fast enough, because of the lowlight situations you may find. I've been to the amazon and also in a rain forest in puerto rico, and when it gets dense, it does get a bit dark, but i cant recall if 300 f/5.6 is enough.


idealy the DA* 50-135 f/2.8 i sealed, slightly above your budget, FAST but not telephoto enough for you.

I think Sigma (or Tamron? I forgot) just release a 70-200 f/2.8 for pentax.. not sure about price either... but it's already an improvement over the 135mm in regards to reach.

One choice if you really want high quality IQ and speed around 300mm is to go for the MF lenses, as i expect them to cost a bit less... but that depends on how well and comfortable you are with MF.


Good luck!
12-21-2008, 10:24 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by beth_w737 Quote
Hi,

My name is Beth, I'm new here, I'm 26, and recently into photography - I got my K10D last year - my first SLR and currently have the 18-55 and DA 50-200 lenses. I'm going to Costa Rica this spring, and wanted to have a better zoom for wildlife photos. Can you give any recommendations? I'd prefer not to spend over $500 if that. I thought about the 'Bigma' (which would be more than I'd really want to spend), but even though I'd like to have the 500 mm, I read that it may not be great in low light...and I'm assuming the rain forest may not have great light? (never been there). I also thought of the 300 mm F4 lens, but it's also a bit more than I wanted to spend and I wondered how much more reach a 300 mm lens would have over a 200 mm lens? I'd really appreciate any advice you can give me. My parents offered to pay for part of the lens as my XMAS present but I couldn't figure out what to buy in time, so it'll have to be a belated present.

Beth
half the problem of travelling is keeping the weight of the freight down. This is profoundly the case if you are going hiking or biking.

You have to make some compromises abouth whether you
are going to traavel 'heavy' or travel 'light'. The problem with the 300's is that unless you are experienced and steady they often need a tripod for suitable results.----the 200 is easier to hand hold.

If there was one 'right' lens, then there wouldn't be 50 to chose from. Price -- weight -- zoom range --- performance --- aperature range.--- they are all trade offs. If you aren't going to have 2 big guys to carry your equipment, the 50-200 f5.6 zoom is good choice . the high speed primes tend to be heavy which makes them difficult to use. That said I use an now out of production 70-320 zoom for such work.---They show up on ebay--- never bragged about but fairly light weight. If you are going to take pictures of critters, the 300mm range is fairly essential. In the digital world you usually end up cropping the photos some anyway so if the lens is a bit quality constrained on the edges --- so what.

Last edited by rvannatta; 12-21-2008 at 10:35 AM.
12-21-2008, 10:57 AM   #4
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Welcome to the Forum. These are tough questions you ask, I'll throw in my .02... I have a Bigma, and it's great for the reach, and looks good at shorter focal lengths too, but it's REALLY HEAVY and pretty slow (aperture wise). The DA* 300mm is a little less than half the weight, faster and produces stellar images (from what I've seen on the web - I haven't gotten to play with one ever). The Sigma 100-300/4 is interesting in this range but I really don't know anything about it either.

A consideration in dense forests is that while you will get some opportunity to use 500mm (and even longer), often the vegitation will choke off your sight line in a short distance so you might not need that much reach (unless of course your subject is very small - lizzards or small birds etc...)

12-21-2008, 11:07 AM   #5
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when you say "better zoom", do you mean longer reach, faster, easier to carry, ?

I guess it depends on what your goal is and the realities of your trip. The longest lens I have is the 50-135*, and that has served me well as a hiking lens in Yosemite. But I'm not trying to photograph feather tips on eagles perched a mile away.

If you don't mind hefting a bunch of gear then you have a lot of choices (though not as much at your budget). If this trip is a one-off and you want to have good glass to use afterwards, you might want to consider the 50-135*. It is a significant step up in quality compared to what you have, is weather proof, not to heavy to carry around, and makes incredibly sharp pictures:

12-21-2008, 05:34 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice...my dad and brother are going too, so I will have 2 big guys to help carry my stuff if needed...but was really hoping not to spend more than $500 on a lens...and prefer auto focus rather than manual. How does Sigma compare to Pentax? In the situation of being in a rain forest, would you think the weather sealing would matter? My camera body has the seals of course....though I'd hate to spend hundreds on a lens and have it get damaged.

I would like more reach, not just for this trip, but I often like being able to zoom in, I like taking pictures of my dog and being able to zoom in from far away, so I'd really like a bigger reach...but I wasn't sure if the Sigma 135-400 or 150-500 lenses would be good enough in low light for my trip, where I'm assuming it's often low light. Any other advice would be appreciated - I'm feeling kind of overwhelmed, and it's especially hard with Pentax where you mostly have to buy online and can't try something out.

Would the Pentax 300 mm F4 be that much better than the 100-300 4.5-6.3? Those 70-300 mm lenses are so cheap, is there a reason why they are so much cheaper? I'm not sure whether to go with shorter reach but 2.8 aperture, or bigger reach...I'd really like at least 400 mm if possible. Does anyone know how Tokina or vivitar lenses are? And can anyone recommend any other sources than ebay or B&H photo? Someone recommended the tamron 200-400 lens, or the sigma/quantaray 135-400.

Beth
12-21-2008, 05:50 PM   #7
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I would suggest a Tamron or Pentax 18-250mm (same lens)...no need to carry more than 1 lens around and provides more reach than your current duo as well as in my opinion, a much better quality photo.

There is one for sale in the marketplace for $375 (mine)

Jason
12-21-2008, 07:20 PM   #8
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I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the DA55-300. It's great for wildlife and can be had for around $300, shipped from Adorama. If you're willing to sell your 18-55, I would also recommend picking up a DA16-45; between whatever you could get for your kit lens, plus $200, that would just about cover the cost of a new 16-45 and you would have a nice, fairly lightweight zoom kit. As for dealing with low light, that's what flashes are for; depending on how much you want to spend, there are several good options, ranging in price from budget to pricy.

HTH,
Heather

12-21-2008, 09:24 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by hwblanks Quote
I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the DA55-300
I agree this makes a lot of sense.

QuoteQuote:
As for dealing with low light, that's what flashes are for
Except I kind of doubt one would want to be carrying flash powerful enough to light up a bird far enough away that it required a 400mm lens to shoot...

I'd say a tripod is your best bet for making up for the relatively slow aperture of the 55-300 or similar lenses in a rainforest. Not that that' I've ever been...
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