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02-28-2009, 06:19 PM   #31
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I've also found that in wildlife-shooting situations (and other situations where I can't get close to subject), I tend to shoot most everything at longest reach. That was my reasoning to go with 300 prime (and skipping the 200, which had been my cheaper first thought) and only counting on zoom for 50-135 (prime-like quality at a range of distances & framings). I hope I won't miss the 80-200 too much (sniff!).

03-01-2009, 06:34 AM   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by David Whiteley Quote
I've also found that in wildlife-shooting situations (and other situations where I can't get close to subject), I tend to shoot most everything at longest reach. That was my reasoning to go with 300 prime (and skipping the 200, which had been my cheaper first thought) and only counting on zoom for 50-135 (prime-like quality at a range of distances & framings). I hope I won't miss the 80-200 too much (sniff!).
And yet you keep your photos at a site called ZOOMR!

I do understand your reasoning. That's why I was fighting with myself while bidding on a Sigma 135-400 that I've wanted ever since they became scarce while there was a good price on an A*300 f4 in the marketplace. I ended up winning the bid and staying with the variability of the zoom (the same day that the prime sold).
Brian
03-02-2009, 11:03 AM   #33
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Thanks for the insights so far. Sorry for not getting back to anyone the last few days as I have been on a snowmobiling trip. (hopefully I'll get some photos up from that tonight...)

I wish I could afford all the different options that have been given to me on here.

So far, I have the following options in my head:

1. Get the DA 55-300mm and:
a. keep the kit lens and supplement with an FA 50/1.4 for street shooting and have something that can handle low light
b. sell the kit lens and replace it with a sigma 17-70 (or similar) to gain a little speed and a little width

2. Get the Sigma 135-400 and keep the kit lens. From what I've read in the reviews, I won't gain much in low light, but at least have the 300-400mm range covered. This leaves a fair amount of coverage gap, and I'd have to do some looking to see what could affordably fill in that gap... Maybe pray the lens fairy puts an FA 77ltd under my pillow???

3. The Tokina 800-400mm baffles me, some of you are saying it'd be a great fit, others don't think it'd be ideal. I haven't been able to find enough on this beast to figure out why other than it is hard to come by.

I'm headed down to Chicago in the next couple of weeks in hopes that some/one of the camera shops there have more of a selection for me to learn (and hopefully purchase) from. The more I look for lenses, the more frustrated I've become with shops in WI. I travel most of the state for work, and anytime I stop somewhere, I search for local dealers, who end up possibly carrying a body or two and the kit lens. About the only place I've heard thats ok for Pentax in WI is Madison, but someone said the shop there was dropping stock on Pentax equipment. I like supporting local business and paying extra for it because of the service and the people behind them in general, but its hard when the common tune is "Well, we don't carry it, but if you really want it, we can special order it for (about $50-200 more than an online shop) plus shipping."
03-02-2009, 11:10 AM   #34
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wrong way to plan a selection of lenses

It is unfortunate but the necessity of a trip is not perhaps the best way to plan out your lens collection.

time and money are short, and you might wind up with disappointing compromises.

The biggest thing I still see of concern is the need to get to at least 400mm.

I would want that at F5.6.

The other concern is being somewhat low light limtied, below 200mm.

Although you may not have the funds, what you spend on the trip will be perhaps a little lost if you can't get some of the shots.

You really need to try and get from about 20mm (maybe as high as 28) at F2.8 all the way to 200. It really is useful.

03-02-2009, 09:34 PM   #35
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Lowell,

I completely agree with you, but unfortunately the opportunity of this trip came up before I was adequately prepared for it, so now I'm just trying to come up with the best possible setup as I can afford and be able to carry by mid-year so I have a chance to become familiar with my equipment before going over there...

My initial plan when deciding to make the jump into the DSLR world was to get a decent consumer zoom for convienence walkaround stuff and experiment with some older Takumar primes to figure out what best suited me for more "planned" shots. I intend on doing some long shooting, so a 400 or 500 Tak prime was in the plans. I just don't see that as being an easy lens to be backpacking around Africa for 2-3 weeks because from my understanding, its about the size of a baseball bat, but heavier.

I've read through all the responses again, and after the bulk of different lenses have softened me up to spending more, looking at the Sigma 70-200 + TC's looks like a setup I might be able to swing. Lowell, you appear to have a fair interest in the wildlife photography and seem very pleased with swapping in TC's as needed. Without experiencing it, it looks like I threw that option out too fast thinking that would create too many "opportunities" of the negative sort.

If I pull the trigger on that setup, I'm not sure if I'll be able to afford fast glass to cover all of the 18-80 range though. I do have the 50/2 pentax M, and with the summer's practice should be able to get handy with that. I do want to make sure I have a lens that can handle low light in the portrait range, so I'll have to see if my copy is up to the challenge. If not, I guess I'll keep it for the Super ME or sell it on ebay to put towards an FA 50/1.4.

Thinking about it more, the restriction I'm trying to keep to beyond cost is bulk. I'm certainly open to having more than two lenses with me, but I'll be living out of a backpack for up to a week at a time, and the camera gear needs to share this space. I'm not saying i must minimize weight, but a half dozen Takumars probably aren't going to fit the bill.

Again, thanks for the input, its been a great help having people to bounce ideas off of as I try to figure out what's going to fit me in this given situation.
03-04-2009, 04:28 AM   #36
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I'm certainly not meaning to push you in any direction, just making sure you know this. There is a Tokina 80-400 in the marketplace now.
No relationship with the seller or other interest in this lens or the possible transaction. Just pointing out an opportunity.
03-04-2009, 09:18 AM   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by tvfd911 Quote
3. The Tokina 800-400mm baffles me, some of you are saying it'd be a great fit, others don't think it'd be ideal.
I guess I was one to contribute to questioning the Tokina, so I'll elaborate:

--From the two links provided, the Pentax 55-300 shots looked to me more contrasty/punchier colours (but as I readily admitted, that might have to do with shooting conditions).
--I was also mindful that the Pentax was smaller and cheaper, which both seemed to fit your criteria.
--I noted that I lived with 300mm max in Africa but noted that I didn't go after birds (smaller than a secretary bird!); the extra reach to 400mm might make a critical difference, though 500-600 would certainly be more ideal.

I have not handled either, let alone used them, so don't give my opinion any weight.

Also, I observe now per the sale thread (https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photographers-marketplace/52893-tokina-atx-80-400mm-af.html) that the Toki 80-400 matches the size of the DA*50-135. For me, that represents a critical difference between "reluctant to carry around all the time" 70/80-200 f/2.8 size (7", 3 lbs) and DA* true walkabout size (5 1/2" 1.5 lbs). For someone else the threshhold might be lower or higher, and I thought for you maybe the DA55-300 would hit your threshhold--but in fact it's not that much smaller (4 1/2", 1 lb.) so it might not be the consideration I thought it was.

Also, I think the 55-300 has greater general usability with it's wider minimum zoom length, brighter short-length aperture, and I believe an edge on minimum focus distance (1.4m to I think 2m for the Toki).

However, if the 5.5" and presumably around 1.5 lbs is an acceptable size, if this is primarily for reach & wildlife (or you don't mind the weight, min focus distance etc. for a walkaround long/portrait lens), and if you'd rather have an f/5.6 zoom of this size than go with bigger pricier options, the Toki sounds like it could very well be an excellent choice to give acceptable reach at acceptable speed and good value optics & build for the price.

Plus there's the matter of it being available. As Lowell says it can be less than ideal to have contrainst push you into something that may not be the perfect long-term solution. But the opportunity is there, and if you find in the long term you'd like to go a different route, you can always sell & buy something else. That's what I did with my Toki!
03-04-2009, 11:41 AM   #38
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tvfd911,

along with the excellent advice you've been given above, might i also humbly suggest you also consider taking a small, waterproof, point-n-shoot camera, such as the pentax W10 (or it's more recent versions)? there are times, more than you might expect, when you want a picture but don't or can't have your main camera gear with you... such as during a dust storm, or in heavy rain, or in a big crowd, or for taking that macro shot of a strange bug that just bit you...

when traveling, i always have mine with me, and, though the IQ isn't anywhere near my k10d and nice lenses, i've got shots and memories i would have missed otherwise.

also, what are you planning to do for power? i know "AA" batteries were becoming available in remote regions the last decade or so, but since we deal mostly with rechargeables now, how do you plan to keep yours charged? do you know if there's an easily carried solar charger available?

anyway, just some thoughts. i know you'll have a great trip - please post some of your pics here when you return, ok?

03-04-2009, 12:29 PM   #39
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Weight, size and cost are always factors. Since this trip is a unique opportunity, you can help the cost factor. Just sell the trip-specific lenses when you get back. Good lenses don't depreciate that much, and you should have some great example photos to show. Travel insurance for these lenses is also a good idea.
03-05-2009, 01:08 PM   #40
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300mm might be all right for animals but 400mm is the minimum for birds. After a goodish bit of the big five animals, there is a tendency to switch to birds. I liked what I saw on the net of the results from a Sigma 400mm 5.6 Apo, though I don't know if these are available in Pentax fit. An old SMCP-M 80-200 4.5 zoom can also come in handy for animals and certain landscapes. So vast are the vistas that the equivalent of 24mm in 35mm film format will be more than enough: a 16-45mm f4 should do the trick. Polarising filters may be needed. Lack of light ought not to be a problem but dust is a hazard. Heat haze can also be a problem.
Extra batteries will be needed as one can exhaust them easily in the excitement of burst shooting. Power in the game parks comes from generators which are switched off at lights out which is around 2200 hrs. So one must judge the best time for charging. Adapters for chargers are important as Tanzania employs flat pin plugs. Please check the net for the exact fit. Tanzanian game parks don't allow movement after sunset. The game drives usually last between meal times beginning with breakfast at 0600 hrs. A lucky few are independent of these limits on time if they have their own transport and driver.
03-08-2009, 12:06 AM   #41
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CalicoJack- thanks for the heads up. I've been on the road for work quite a bit, I'll see if I missed out on that toki.

David- I agree with you about the example pictures provided regarding IQ differences between the 55-300 and the Toki. As you stated, there could easilly be more than the lens contributing to the differences as well, so I won't write off that lens without trying it out. Thanks for giving reasoning to your suggestions. The extra weight/size is not a deal breaker for me. I just don't want to be lugging around 50 lbs of camera gear.

kauaiguy- Don't worry, my P&S has gone through a lot with me and I couldn't imagine not having it with. Not quite waterproof, but it is an olympus weatherproof.

Dave- I'm willing to consider temporarilly buying, but once I have such nice glass in hand, I don't know if I could bring myself to selling it back. I tend to get attached to equipment, especially stuff that proves its usefullness and durability to me.

Lowell has the gears turning in my head regarding the 70-200 f2.8. I really like the idea of having the fast glass and versatility, but I fear messing with the TC's in the dust in order to get beyond 200mm. The size is another con to me too. Seems like it would be awefully large for a handheld walkaround as well. I see myself using it a lot though considering it being 2.8 and quiet.
I'll probably get the 55-300 or the toki before investing in that level of lens to see where I shoot the most to make sure it fits me well enough to justify it.

chhayanat- Sounds like you've spent some time in Tanzania, thanks for the pointers.
03-08-2009, 06:19 AM   #42
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QuoteOriginally posted by tcom Quote
I will try on my upcoming trip to Zambia, to leave the Tokina 80-400 at home. Instead, I take a DA*50-135, DA*200 and DA*300 (and a 1.7x TC just in case I do need the extra reach). I do hope the decision to leave the Tokina 80-400 at home will be the right decision.
I spent a couple weeks in Florida in January, and much of the time (not enough, though - <g>) shooting some of the big birds there. I had with me a couple Tokina AT-X 80-400/4.5-5.6 AF-II lenses and a couple F* 300/4.5 lenses (I drove to Florida this year instead of flying, so extra backup lenses were not a problem). For bodies I had a K20D and an *ist DS (the latter intended only as a backup).

I ended up using one of the F* 300's probably 98% of the time, and only very rarely did I end up using an 80-400. I found that cropping from a very sharp 300mm prime's shots on the 14MP K20D was preferable to using an 80-400 zoom at 400mm (like most tele-zooms, the AT-X 80-400 is not its sharpest at its long end).

So, the bottom line, from my recent experience, would be that you might find your DA* trio without the Tokina 80-400 quite satisfactory, even giving up a nominal 100mm at the long end (especially if using a K10D or a K20D for the extra pixels).

BTW, in case anyone's interested, I do have a bunch of Florida bird images (from just four trips to two locations - I haven't processed the rest of the pix yet) at:

fredw : photos : STA-5 - January 17, 2009- powered by SmugMug

fredw : photos : Circle B Bar Preserve - Jan 2009- powered by SmugMug
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