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04-21-2009, 06:58 AM   #16
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the big problem I see for the OP is that there are lots of different approaches to this issue, all of which are a function of origonal budget.

I consider myself as a serious amature with respect to wildlife in general, and birds specifically, yet I have not ventured into the stratosphere (yet) and joined the 100mm+ club (lenses more than 100mm in diameter)

if you consider that you want something in the 400-500mm range, but still retaining good sharpness, I see realistically about 4 price thresholds, I have put them somewhat arbitrairly

<$250
manual focus 400mm F5.6 lenses such as SMC and Takumar or third party like Vivitar. There are also mirror lenses in this category.

Note that these lenses are not internal focus, and as a result donot close focus, and also suffer from CA.
Note all of these lenses are slow to focus, but accurate, due to the large rotation required to go from infinity to minimum focus.

$600-$800
In this range are many used zooms, like the first generation Sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX and you can add a TC for ~200. You can also find some SMC or Takumar 500mm F4.5 lenses, but see all the notes in the <$250 range they all apply. You would also find in this range any of the pentax 300mm F4 lenses (Super Tak up to A mount) combined with the SMC-F 1.7x AF TC

$800-$1200
Look for new BIGMA and other up to 500mm Zooms from sigma, plus used Tamron 300mm F2.8 lenses (to which you would add the SMC-F 1.7x AF TC. Depending upon what TCs are available, new 70-200F2.8 lenses would also be in this range when you add 1 or 2 teleconverters

>>$2000 all the new lenses with 112mm filters or larger (sigma 300F2.8, 500 F4.5) plus used pentax A, F, FA mount super teles.


You need to decide how much the extra speed for the last category is worth, in terms of weight and hand holding

04-21-2009, 07:00 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by xxDavexx Quote
Have you considered the DA 55-300? IQ is incredible for a lens in that focal range at that price point (about $300 new):

I see the result, but is your lion any better than my tiger, shot with a vivitar MC 400mm F5.6 (bought new in 1981 and which now sells for <$100) Note this was shot on ektachrome 400
04-21-2009, 07:10 AM   #18
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Some have mentioned but it seems to get forgotten...on a digital Pentax like my K10D or my KM (K2000) when I rack the 55-300 out to 300 it is the equivalent of a 460 mm on a 35 mm...like my Pentax ES ll.

Wow...a 460 mm ...that's an extreme zoom telephoto in my books and with shake reduction in the body...I'm still astounded how low a shutter speed I can use...or the fact that on the spot I can increase ISO from 200 to 400 to 600 and still get little grain...or noise as it's known now. or photographers like me these are advantages I never thought possible when I was shooting with my S1a with a 230 mm telephoto back in the late '60's. Without shake reduction back then we always used a formula...if we were shooting with a 300 mm...well then shoot at 1/500th of a second..it was supposed to be the fraction of a second equivalent to the lens length. 500mm= 1/500th of a second to avoid shake and blur.

Also it's relatively light...I find it focuses fast...too many branches..why then I switch the old K10D to manual focus and I'm surprised how fast it focuses with my old 'be-glassed' 60 year old eyes.

The clarity under good lighting conditions and really aren't detailed pix ....those with a lot of good light shed on them...are to my eyes...excellent.

And finally the price...pretty good if you ask me.

Last edited by lesmore49; 04-21-2009 at 07:18 AM.
04-21-2009, 07:41 AM   #19
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I just got the 55-300 Pentax Zoom for my K200D. It is fantastic. Sure a prime might be a little sharper, but much less versatile. That is the first lens I would pick up and try before anything else. If you are not happy with it, sell it and get most of your money back.
I am still learning to use it, but attached are a couple of shots from it.


Last edited by julianactive; 05-16-2009 at 11:41 AM.
04-21-2009, 07:43 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I see the result, but is your lion any better than my tiger, shot with a vivitar MC 400mm F5.6 (bought new in 1981 and which now sells for <$100)
Yes, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

Assuming equivalent IQ in these two lenses, the DA 55-300 offers the benefits of:

1) Zoom capabilities (down to 55, with IQ equivalent to many primes)
2) Auto-focus w/ quick adjust
3) Av and Tv modes and proper metering (does the Vivitar have an 'A' setting?)

While the a MF 400/5.6 lens like the Vivitar offers:

1) more reach (400mm vs 300mm)
2) less money

Either choice would be a nice addition to the OP's current lenses, and either would cost less than those on his wish list.
04-21-2009, 01:52 PM   #21
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I Bought today the Sigma 28-300mm f3.5-6.3 Compact Hyperzoom IF and have not even fitted it to the camera as yet as I have been all day with a Sigma 10-20 and am now having fun with that in post edititing!!. Will be going out tomorrow with the 28-300 but obviously I can not make any hard and fast coments as I have not used them enough but will post a thread with some pics. All I can say about the 10-20 is a bit soft at 10 and at 20 but as I say I am still trying all focul lengths and f stops. Best regards. Kevin
04-21-2009, 04:49 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by julianactive Quote
I just got the 55-300 Pentax Zoom for my K200D. It is fantastic. Sure a prime might be a little sharper, but much less versatile. That is the first lens I would pick up and try before anything else. If you are not happy with it, sell it and get most of your money back.
I would have to agree with the DA 55-300 suggestions. The IQ for a "consumer zoom" is absolutely outstanding, including at 300mm (and most zooms get mushy at their long end, but not this baby).

Below are three 300mm 100% crops (unprocessed except for cropping, "right out of the camera"), taken a few days ago while just sitting on the back porch, watching the "local wildlife". And, while the first two were shot at f/9, the third was taken wide open at f/5.8 (in the shade).







For the mosochistic pixel-peepers, I also have the originals, uncropped, online at:

http://www.allgeektome.com/pentax/fa55300f458/20090410_123439_np.jpg
http://www.allgeektome.com/pentax/fa55300f458/20090410_124736_np.jpg
http://www.allgeektome.com/pentax/fa55300f458/20090410_125802_np.jpg
04-22-2009, 09:28 AM   #23
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Got a spare 60k? and bulk muscles to carry around the 16kg!?

Sigma APO 200-500mm F2.8/400-1000mm EX DG Dirt Cheap Stores

04-24-2009, 07:33 AM   #24
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Like you I’m interested in wildlife photography but with two kids in university spare cash for my hobby is in short supply. I’m "making do" with the Pentax K 300/4, one of Lowell and Ben’s suggestions and the Pentax M 400/5.6. Making do is a bit strong. The K 300 is actually a very good lens. It has some issues which are explored in the lens review area but is a real bargain in this focal length. I have had the K 300/4 for some 20 years now and consider 300mm to be entry level for wildlife but it can deliver some good images if you are patient:

SMC Pentax K 300/4 - Goldfinch



The same is true of the M 400/5.6. I haven’t had it long but I like the results I’m getting. The extra reach is invaluable.



Common House Sparrow.


Both lenses are prone to CAs and purple fringe in high contrast situations. But if you keep this in mind and the sun at your back they work quite well.


Cheers,

Tom G

Last edited by 8540tomg; 04-24-2009 at 07:36 AM. Reason: typo
04-24-2009, 08:42 AM   #25
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Nice lens! Too bad the only one I saw on eBay is from a store seller in Japan...

smc PENTAX F * Star 300mm f/4.5 ED IF Exc+ - eBay (item 400044203012 end time May-18-09 22:00:00 PDT)

QuoteOriginally posted by Abbazz Quote
It's my marvelous Pentax F* 300/4.5. It is so small and light that I always take it with me on the plane when I go for a vacation -- and sometimes even for business trips. I can handhold it much easily thanks to its featherlight weight, so I also save the bulk of the tripod. I guess the newer DA* 300/4 is at least as good, so this would be the lens I would be after if I had to buy a long telephoto today.
04-24-2009, 10:32 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Abbazz Quote
In fact, you're quite close to the actual meaning, just forget about the Spaghetti-O's:
"There isn't something in the world that hasn't its decisive moment, and the masterpiece of good conduct is to recognize and to capture this moment."

The stunning part is that this sentence was written by Jean François Paul de Gondi, cardinal de Retz some 150 years before the invention of photography and some 275 years before Henri Cartier-Bresson published his famous "The Decisive Moment" book which, strangely, was titled "Images à la Sauvette" (Stolen images) in its French original edition.

Oh, by the way, learning a foreign language is never a waste of time

Cheers!

Abbazz
"There isn't something in the world that hasn't its decisive moment, and the masterpiece of good conduct is to recognize and to capture this moment."

In more colloquial English,
"There is nothing in the world that ... "
04-24-2009, 12:05 PM   #27
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I'd like to throw another lens in the pot !

I use a Tamron BBAR ADP1 70-350mm constant f4.5 - and sometimes i will sling on the BBAR 2x Flat Field TC, which gets me 700mm @ f8. Even better, if i could find one, would be the same Flat Field TC in 1.5x config, as i'd still get 510mm @ f6.3

350/510/700 is great for birds - they're just so skittish, one just cant get close enough with less than about 300 ( or less, but with a TC added )

PS the shots above are fantastic



Last edited by Squier; 04-24-2009 at 12:16 PM.
04-24-2009, 12:23 PM   #28
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go to ebay and look for 500mm f4.5 manual focus lenses

check out ebay for manual 500mm f4.5 lenses, either SMC or Taks
04-24-2009, 02:31 PM   #29
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Field of View at 680 mm (M 400/5.6 + AF 1.7X TC)

Here is an example of the field of view you can expect at 52 feet (approximately) or 15.8 meters (again approximately).

I got the snow blower out of its summer storage and blew the snow of my lawn and the neighbour's lawn to give the North American Robins someplace to find something to eat. We had a territorial war there all day. I saw as many as 8 on the lawn at the same time, fighting over the worms.

The snap is not the best, taken through the living room double paned window, 1/250 @ f/8 (f/13.6 with the converter) ISO 400. I should have bumped the ISO, but was rushing to make it to the last bowling for the winter.
Attached Images
 
04-24-2009, 09:29 PM   #30
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What about digiscoping? Use a spotting scope as your lens.
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