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09-04-2009, 05:57 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
Most of you probably know this already, but internal focusing zooms don't deliever on the long focal length if they have to be focused close.

For example, my Tamron 18-250 only delivers 188mm FL when its focused 20 feet away or so. So the DA300 at 34 ounces, actually delievers a bigger punch over a similarly rated zoom. And because it is a prime, you can use it with a 1.4X Tamron TC and still get excellent image quality. The local bird photographers i know of, generally pick out places to photograph that aren't too far from their car with their heavy zooms and 600mm lenses. A 300mm lens is as much as i would want to take on a day hike.
Unfortunately, the Pentax DA*300, as well as the F*300/4.5 that I have, use internal focusing as well, so they do experience shortening of their focal length when focused close. But it is only noticeable when focused below 3m, in which case the focal length doesn't matter much IMHO.

Concerning every lens above 300mm being too much for a day hike -- or for traveling for that matter-- I agree 100% (except maybe my lovely Telyt 400/6.8, which is so light and compact). And for those who doubt 300mm is a very capable focal length for birding on a crop format camera, here are a few pictures taken at Jurong Bird Park in Singapore with my Pentax F*300/4.5 (some birds were in captivity, some in semi-liberty and a few other were free birds like Nos. 6 & 7):

1.


2.


3.


4.


5.


6.


7.


8. Juvenile Bird of Paradise:


9. Bird of Paradise:


10 The only species of carnivorous Hornbill:


11. And here's the proof:


12.


13. What's more silly than an ostrich?


14. An ostrich crying at you!


15.


16.


Cheers!

Abbazz

09-04-2009, 08:36 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
Initially, LR did get the name of the lens right however, recently it has been suffering from a case of mistaken identity.

and as for my use of flash; I get as close as I physically can get, to get the best range out of the flash and to keep the ISO down..but I always end up at ISO 400 which isn't all that great on the K10D. However, the shutter on My K10D is so loud it will scare off some of the smaller birds which is annoying.

WR is overrated, I have used my sigma in rain, and light drizzle, and dusty environments...and I haven't experienced even a hint of trouble. SDM is a good idea but from what I have heard it isn't as fast as it is chalked up to be.
bear in mind: I commonly use the Canon 1Ds MK III with a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L IS USM and a EF 200mm f/1.8 USM and both are absolutely superb lenses. so when I say the Sigma focuses fast, then you know what kind of speed I'm accustomed to.

As for flash, and long lenses, SMC-300F4 and SMC-F 1.7x AF TC on *istD with AF500FTZ flash
I have posted this many times, it is one of my favourites. It shows what an old lens can do, under good circumstances

As for noise, both *istD and K7 are very quiet compared to K10.

09-05-2009, 03:04 AM   #18
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Abbazz – some great shots there!

I agree weight can be a factor with the longer focal lengths but that is just part of the price you pay to be in the club. When I’m shooting with my M 400/5.6, whether it is an all day shoot or just and hour or so, it is the only lens I take. I mount it to a tripod or monopod and over the shoulder it goes. Depending on the length of the march it can be a bit fatiguing but you get shots that just aren’t possible with a shorter lens and isn’t that what these optics are all about?

Which lens for wildlife or birds was Axl’s initial question. For myself my answer is the best and longest one you can afford. Sadly, that may not always be the one you really want. I would love to have an A* 400/2.8 but that is just not happening any time soon. In my case, like Lowell, among other lenses I use an old SMC Pentax K 300/4. It has issues which have been explored at length in the following thread:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/29940-pentax-smc-300-4-a.html

but if you are patient it can deliver some pretty good images.



OrenMc and others have suggested 200mm is too short for wildlife/birds and in most cases I would agree. From time to time a 200mm can be used if the wildlife is in a cooperative mood. Some waterfowl will permit you to get quite close. My SMC K 200/2.5 gets hauled out for some wildlife from time to time:



For birding, however, for all intents and purposes 200mm is just too short and 300mm is not a whole lot better. At best 300mm is entry level for would be birders.

My current “go to” wildlife/bird lens is the SMC Pentax M 400/5.6. Like the K 300/4 it is old and fully manual but from time to time is gives me something special.



If you don’t mind manual focusing these lenses are worth considering. Now, are they the "best" for wildlife ~ of course not. Wildlife is a challenge even with the fastest AF lens. However, that doesn't mean you can't get in the game with an older manual focus lens. It's a lot more work but if you don't mind the extra effort it might be even more gratifying when you get that great image.

Tom G

Last edited by 8540tomg; 09-05-2009 at 02:52 PM. Reason: typo
09-05-2009, 03:43 AM   #19
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though if you really want the best lens for wildlife get a FA*600mm f/4 - borrowed this one from my uncle who is unsurprisingly, an aviation photographer. the FA*600mm ED IF is an unforgiving lens requiring meticulous long lens technique, but if you get everything right, the results are breathtaking.


Last edited by Digitalis; 08-31-2010 at 05:22 PM.
09-05-2009, 03:46 AM   #20
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just for a comparison here's the same subject shot with the sigma 100-300mm f/4 APO

09-05-2009, 06:08 AM   #21
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Lovely photo's Mr Abbazz and Mr Tom...

I have to say... the ostrich was a little... ... lol

Luv.. Jaz.
09-05-2009, 10:56 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
though if you really want the best lens for wildlife get a FA*600mm f/4 - borrowed this one from my uncle who is unsurprisingly, an aviation photographer. the FA*600mm ED IF is an unforgiving lens requiring meticulous long lens technique, but if you get everything right, the results are breathtaking.
Nice shot! It must be a real treat to try a lens of that length.

Tom G
09-05-2009, 12:49 PM   #23
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Of the currently available lenses, I'd have to go with the DA*300. Have had this lens for a while now and the more I use it, the more I like it.

I also have the DA* 60-250 and a Sigma 150-500 and although both are quite capable lenses, neither can match the pure image quality of the 300.

Another thought - try comparing the quality of a crop from the 300 with a picture taken with the 300 on a TC. You might be surprised.

09-05-2009, 02:28 PM   #24
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I think anything <400mm is really too short for birding. I have the DA*300mm and use it with a 1.4x or 1.7x TC. For me, it's the best balance between cost, reach, IQ, and mobility and occasionally use it w/o a TC for other things. I also have a K-mount SMC f/8 1000mm (forget mobility!) and I'm putting pennies in a jar for high-quality 500 or 600mm (it's a very big jar ;~)
09-05-2009, 06:44 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by dadipentak Quote
I think anything <400mm is really too short for birding. I have the DA*300mm and use it with a 1.4x or 1.7x TC. For me, it's the best balance between cost, reach, IQ, and mobility and occasionally use it w/o a TC for other things. I also have a K-mount SMC f/8 1000mm (forget mobility!) and I'm putting pennies in a jar for high-quality 500 or 600mm (it's a very big jar ;~)

What 500mm lens do you consider high-quality in a Pentax mount? Not that I can buy it but at least I can dream.
09-05-2009, 08:28 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
What 500mm lens do you consider high-quality in a Pentax mount? Not that I can buy it but at least I can dream.
Don't mistake me for an expert but the Sigma 500mm f/4.5 has been recommended by people whose opinions I value. Like I say, I'll need to save a bunch of pennies ;~)
09-05-2009, 08:39 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by dadipentak Quote
Don't mistake me for an expert but the Sigma 500mm f/4.5 has been recommended by people whose opinions I value. Like I say, I'll need to save a bunch of pennies ;~)
Coincidence. I looked at that one today but at almost 7 lbs and $5k I would not use it enough to ever get my money's worth even if I hit the lotto. It would have to sit on a tripod at the back patio door and hope something came into view. Pretty limiting. I just tried out a Bigma for 8 days and at 4 lbs thats pretty much the limit for size as I need to take it for a stroll. Of course, 7 lbs would feel MUCH LIGHTER if it only cost as much as a Bigma. Thanks for the feedback.
09-06-2009, 01:26 AM   #28
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Save and get the 300mm f/4.... very nice optics and very sharp.... You may also wanna take a look at the Old Tokina ATX 80-400mm AF/AFII.... I have the old version... and its really good... I think the AFII version is better since it has a tripod socket... any way.. best of luck to you...
09-06-2009, 10:01 AM   #29
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A 300mm + 1.5 or 1.7TC + good stealth technique is affordable and very adequate. If you are taking a planned trip and need a long lens its probably a better idea to rent one. I've looked at the Sigma 500mm but it would sit in its case 300 days out of the year. $4600 buys a lot of other equipment/vacation/shooting time.
09-06-2009, 03:05 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by ivoire Quote
A 300mm + 1.5 or 1.7TC + good stealth technique is affordable and very adequate. If you are taking a planned trip and need a long lens its probably a better idea to rent one. I've looked at the Sigma 500mm but it would sit in its case 300 days out of the year. $4600 buys a lot of other equipment/vacation/shooting time.
I agree -- and stealth technique is important regardless of how long you're shooting. 300mm is about my limit for both portability and afford-ability. With a premium quality 300 f4(or 4.5), you can stretch it to 420 or 510mm and retain AF. This is about the optimum setup if you plan to walk around and take opportunities as they come either handheld, or with a light tripod or monopod.

Here's one from the summer with a K100DS+ FA*300/4.5 +1.7x AFA handheld


With a 300/f2.8, you have more versatility, but the size and weight can become restrictive, as can be the price. With the f2.8 max aperture, and the optical quality of any lens of this class available for the K mount, TCs can get you 420 f4 (1.4x), 510 f4.8 (1.7x), 600 f5.6 (2x or 2 stacked 1.4xs), or 714 f6.7 (1.4x stacked on a 1.7x). With the 1.7x AFA, and the choice of Tamron or Sigma 1.4x AF TCs, I have AF with all of these combos.

Here are a couple of examples at 714mm, using different bodies and 300/2.8s. These were both shot from a tripod w/Wimberley Sidekick

K-7, FA*300/2.8 + Sigma 1.4x APO TC + F 1.7x AFA


K20, same lens/TC combo at very close range, cropped to vertical from a landscape frame. I'd like to see a crop from a 300mm shot that matches this for feather detail -- and this is with stacked TCs. . . anyone?. . .



And one at 420mm at very close range and close to max aperture (f3.2), cropped to vertical from a landscape frame. This one's handheld.

K20, Sigma EX 300/2.8 APO, Sigma EX 1.4x APO TC


The hidden advantage of using this class of lens with TCs is the Minimum Focusing Distance. All the alternatives for the K mount that are reasonably available -- the Tamron SP 300/2.8 LD (IF), Sigma EX 300/2.8 APO, and the FA* 300/2.8 ED (IF) are 8', 8', and 6' respectively. The Sigma EX 500/4.5 has a MFD of 13 ft. The old K 500/4.5 has an MFD of about 30' IIRC!!! The F* and FA* 600/4 ED (IF)s MFD are over 15'.

IMO, any of the 300/2.8s are the best birding option if you can work with a tripod. If you're looking to go handheld, then a 300/4 or 4.5 with a TC is your best option -- compare the size and weight to a Bigma -- with the latter fully extended to 500mm

Just my couple of worth. . .

Scott
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