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02-25-2009, 09:19 AM   #1
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Pentax DA* 300mm & Bigma Lenses

There has been a lot of discussion about the merits, or lack thereof, of the Pentax DA* 300mm and Sigma 50-500mm lenses for wildlife photography. All the pictures in the Birds Gallery on the below link were shot with these two lenses on a K10D or K20D. All the 300mm shots were made hand-held; the Bigma shots either hand-held or mounted on a Manfrotto tripod with the Jobu Black Widown gimbal. In the Critters Gallery, the alligator pictures were shot with the Bigma. I think both lenses are good for wildlife. What are your opinions?

Dane PhotoImagery's Photo Galleries at pbase.com

e_hutchinson
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02-25-2009, 02:23 PM   #2
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I have seen great wildlife shots from the DA* 300mm, so no doubt that it is very capable.
02-25-2009, 03:28 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by e_hutchinson Quote
There has been a lot of discussion about the merits, or lack thereof, of the Pentax DA* 300mm and Sigma 50-500mm lenses for wildlife photography. All the pictures in the Birds Gallery on the below link were shot with these two lenses on a K10D or K20D. All the 300mm shots were made hand-held; the Bigma shots either hand-held or mounted on a Manfrotto tripod with the Jobu Black Widown gimbal. In the Critters Gallery, the alligator pictures were shot with the Bigma. I think both lenses are good for wildlife. What are your opinions?

Dane PhotoImagery's Photo Galleries at pbase.com

e_hutchinson
Edwin D Hutchinson Nature Photography

First of all, welcome to the forum. Secondly, the DA*300 and Bigma are both nice wildlife lenses, especially for the price. Thirdly, I'm right up the road from you (literally). I'm in Clear Lake on the other side of JSC from you. We should get together for a shoot. Not many Pentaxians in this area, though there are a fair number in Houston.
02-25-2009, 03:38 PM   #4
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The closest I've come to the Bigma was seeing it on a shelf.

I did the Galapagos with an 80-200/2.8 + TC and established that I clearly either wanted a shorter walk-around long, or for the serious wildlife stuff (when it wasn't at my feet--as is often the case in the Galapagos) I wanted maximum reach.

As such I opted for the more portable DA50-135 for the walkaround long function (not expecting it to be used for wildlife) and the DA*300 when I want reach. I don't think I'll miss the zoom, the f/4 should be nice, and I can still use a TC to compete with Bigma length (and I believe the 300 has the IQ to handle adding a TC while still producing shots to compare with a TC-less Bigma). And I expect it to be more hand-holdable than Bigma.

Only got it a short time ago, though, so I can't comment yet. Except to say that when I spotted some ducks that hadn't migrated south while skiing (I live across the river from Ottawa), I shot with the 300, didn't bother with the TC, and the ducks were just too far away. I've often heard it said that 300 on its own is not enough reach for wildlife. But had I used 300 + TC it should have been fine, and again the lack of zoom wouldn't have mattered.

02-25-2009, 03:43 PM   #5
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If can get close to wildlife, the DA*300 is excellent, and adding a TC can give you that extra bit or reach without sacrificing too much quality. 300mm is the bare minimum for wildlife so if you're not close enough, the Bigma is probably a better bet.
02-25-2009, 04:23 PM   #6
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i've been playing with both bigma and da*300 last summer, and both lenses are great - razor sharp, fast AF, great IQ. but i tested them under almost ideal conditions - summer high-noon sun, lots of light, so i can't really comment on their quality under not-so-ideal conditions.

i liked da*300 more - it's faster and smaller than bigma, and i generally like primes more than zoom lenses. i kept bigma contantly at 500mm.
02-25-2009, 04:49 PM   #7
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Good to hear from another Pentax user in this area! Whenever I'm out shooting birds in Galveston or the Bolivar Peninsula I keep looking for another Pentax being used. So far I haven't seen one. Getting together for a shoot sometime is a good idea.

Ed Hutchinson
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02-25-2009, 05:05 PM   #8
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Thanks for your comments. A lot of the photos in my PBase galleries were shot with the 300mm (without a TC) and IMO were sharp enough to severely crop and still have a usable image. Check, for example, the Long-billed Curlew and Reddish Egret pictures and see if you agree. I have checked the lens using a 1.5x TC and thought it produced good results. The Bigma is also a sharp lens. I wouldn't want to hand-hold it very long, but it can be done. Look at the picture of the Spoonbill in flight. It was taken while hand-holding the Bigma.

Ed Hutchinson
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02-25-2009, 05:16 PM   #9
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I agree with your assessment of the DA* 300mm and Bigma. The 300mm is of course much better in low light environments. It has become my favorite lens. As I said in the initial post, I primarily use these two lens when taking pictures of wildlife ... hand-holding the 300mm setup and using the Bigma on a tripod.

Ed Hutchinson
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Pentax K10D, K20D; Pentax DA 12-24mm f/4, F 17-28mm f/3.5-4.5 Fish-eye, DA 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3, D FA Macro 100mm f/2.8, A Macro 100mm f/2.8, A* Macro 200mm f/4, DA* 200mm f/2.8, DA* 300mm f/4, 1.7x Teleconverter; Pentax AF540FTZ Flash; Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3, 180mm Macro f/3.5, 1.4x & 2.0x APO EX DG Teleconverters; Tamron 28-300 f/3.5-6.3mm; Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 tripod, 3249B monopod, 3229, 322RC2, 488RC2 ball heads; Jobu Black Widow Gimbal; CyberSync CSR & CST Remote Controls (2 sets); RPS Studio Wireless Shutter Release
02-25-2009, 05:19 PM   #10
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I've never used the Bigma but recently got the DA*300 to act as my new wildlife lens. I use the Kenko 1.5x TC and I have to say that the results are great (IMO). I've posted a few threads here with examples so I won't bore everyone and take up a ton of space with photos.. just some links of shots taken with the DA* and TC


Northern Cardinal photo - palmor photos at pbase.com
Snowy Owl photo - palmor photos at pbase.com
Bird_Star300_2.jpg photo - palmor photos at pbase.com
Snowy Owl photo - palmor photos at pbase.com
K20D5954.jpg photo - palmor photos at pbase.com

I actually sold my cherished Tokina AT-X 400mm f/5.6 the other day because I decided that I wasn't going to be using it anymore.



John
02-25-2009, 05:45 PM   #11
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Nice shots. I especially like the snowy owl pictures. I have the Kenko 1.5x TC too (not on the equipment list with the last post because it was recently acquired), but I prefer to use the Bigma instead of the 300mm + 1.5TC when I want something in the 400-500mm range. I wish Pentax would come out with a DA* 500mm and/or 600mm prime lens.

Ed Hutchinson
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Last edited by e_hutchinson; 02-25-2009 at 05:56 PM.
02-25-2009, 05:56 PM   #12
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Hi Edwin and Welcome!

I agree about your comments, although I own it's faster predecessor: the FA* 300/2.8. I've seen many excellent images with the DA* version, although it's hard to tell if a re-sized for web image is really sharp (no slight against anyone, just a fact).

As Russ knows, ultimately for me it's the final image, although I've taken some serious heat for stating that Canon or Nikon are not the only possibilities for wildlife work (for the price range of the K20D - unless you buy their pro bodies, which are generally class leading AF and FPS). Many other cameras and brands will do quite well in the hands of a skilled photographer.

@ David W.:actually you can use a 300 for wildlife work, but different technique is needed, and I've used it successfully. The only tough subject is small birds, for obvious reasons. Sometimes even 500mm is tough with the smaller subjects. BTW, where are you in the Ottawa area? I lived at several locales on both sides of the river during my 22 years there... Vanier, Ottawa, Aylmer, Kanata... I wish I could go nordic skiing again - went up to visit family at the end of January...

Cheers,
Marc
02-25-2009, 06:09 PM   #13
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Marc, I live in League City, Texas, about half way between Houston and Galveston Island. I usually don't have a problem shooting small birds while hand-holding the 300mm. See the PBase Bird Gallery (link below). The Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Killdeer, Loggerhead Shrike, Sanderling, and Mockingbird were all shot with the lens, then cropped quite a bit to obtain the posted images. Although not in the gallery, I have also shot a lot of sparrows with the 300mm.

Ed Hutchinson
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02-25-2009, 06:17 PM   #14
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When I'm not shooting real estate for cash, my main lens is the f*300mm for wildlife (mostly birds). I do find it a bit short for small birds (harder to get close) but with a kenko 1.5tc it manages to get decent pics. I've seen many of the DA*300 pics that are excellent and if i didn't have the f*300, it would be in my kit. I am still looking at that Sigma 500mm, but its just a bit out of my $ reach
02-25-2009, 06:20 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by e_hutchinson Quote
Nice shots. I especially like the snowy owl pictures. I have the Kenko 1.5x TC too (not on the equipment list with the last post because it was recently acquired), but I prefer to use the Bigma instead of the 300mm + 1.5TC when I want something in the 400-500mm range. I wish Pentax would come out with a DA* 500mm and/or 600mm prime lens.

Ed Hutchinson
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Dane PhotoImagery's Photo Galleries at pbase.com
I've seen some great shots with the Bigma and have never used one so I'm not really in a position to compare but I can't imagine it being any better then the 300+TC. I'm just curious what you find better in the Bigma (shooting mostly wildlife myself I'm interested.. not trying to start a debate or say it isn't better ).

QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Langille Quote
Hi Edwin and Welcome!

I agree about your comments, although I own it's faster predecessor: the FA* 300/2.8. I've seen many excellent images with the DA* version, although it's hard to tell if a re-sized for web image is really sharp (no slight against anyone, just a fact).


Cheers,
Marc
It is sharp enough for me

100% crop this one:Bird_Star300_2.jpg photo - palmor photos at pbase.com, WITH the 1.5x TC. Stopped down 1 stop to f/5.6. I didn't have any wide open shots to post.


Pentax K20D ,Pentax smc DA* 300mm f/4 ED (IF) SDM
1/640s f/5.6 at 450.0mm iso800 with Kenko 1.5x TC
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