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09-03-2009, 02:37 PM   #1
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which lens for wildlife/birds?

I know this has probably been discussed in some threads but:
I can't decide what to go for. I still have 4 months of my moratorium to go but I don't think there will be anything else worth looking at. And I just can't decide what should I save for. Before I start, my wife said she'll get me TC (most probably Kenko 1.5x).
So what I'm thinking?:
DA*200 -
smallest, lightest, but shortest. Even with TC only 300/4. Good IQ plus WR, SDM. And it's the cheapest.... but would it be long enough???
DA*300 -
daydrem for me. With TC = 450/5.6. Still WR, SDM. Great IQ and not too big and heavy. Downside? cost!!
DA*60-250/4 -
a good option. WR, SDM. Decent range (375/5.6 with TC) + flexibility of the zoom. Downside - super expensive.
Sigma 100-300/4 EX DG -
I had one for a week. Stunning IQ IMO. Great range, but no WR and SDM. And bigger than the others.
Pricewise it's from 700 (DA*200) to 1200 (DA*60-250).
And big tempters are: used Sigi 100-300 can be have localy (relatively) to me for 799 at the moment and used DA*200 can be have localy (much more) for 599 at the moment. Both mint.
So will the 200 be long enough? Or even 250?
Any advices?

BR
Peter

09-03-2009, 02:46 PM   #2
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DA*300, save and buy once the good stuff
09-03-2009, 02:51 PM   #3
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200mm is definately too short. I have the Sigma 100-300 and love everything about it except the weight but that doesn't stop me from handholding which I do most of the time. But it is too short at times also.
The DA* 300 most definately has its advantages weight wise and WR along with IQ.

If your serious about wildlife/birding go as long as you can. 500mm and up is typically best.
09-03-2009, 03:50 PM   #4
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Whether or not you ultimately choose them or not, the Sigma 500mm zooms shoul be on the list of consideratins, because no, 200mm is not nearly long enough for birds most of the time, and really, neither is 300mm.

09-03-2009, 05:22 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by axl Quote
So what I'm thinking?:
DA*200 -
smallest, lightest, but shortest. Even with TC only 300/4. Good IQ plus WR, SDM. And it's the cheapest.... but would it be long enough???
DA*300 -
daydrem for me. With TC = 450/5.6. Still WR, SDM. Great IQ and not too big and heavy. Downside? cost!!
DA*60-250/4 -
a good option. WR, SDM. Decent range (375/5.6 with TC) + flexibility of the zoom. Downside - super expensive.
Sigma 100-300/4 EX DG -
I had one for a week. Stunning IQ IMO. Great range, but no WR and SDM. And bigger than the others.
Forget about the DA*200mm, because of the bad purple fringing. 200mm is not that much for wildlife either.

Among the lenses in your list, I would go for the DA*300 because it will offer you the best image quality in a relatively small package. As this is a top quality lens, you will be able crop your pictures if you need more reach, or to use a 2x teleconverter.

From a practical point of view, my personal limit to transportability is a 300/4 lens. Anything bigger will not fit in a normal photo bag and will require a large tripod, which means that it will not get carried more than a few hundred meters from the car. So, yes, in theory the longest lens is the better one for wildlife but to me a good 300mm is much more usable than anything longer. And with the resolution offered by modern digital cameras, I can zoom 3X by cropping into a picture while retaining more than acceptable quality.

I can walk all day long with the Pentax F*300/4.5 or Leitz Telyt 400/6.8 in my bag, because they are reasonably small and light. On the other hand, my Tamron 300/2.8, Tamron 200-500/5.6 and Takumar 500/4.5 only get used for the occasional moon shot or for shooting birds across the yard. And I won't ever try crossing an airport checkpoint with my Novoflex 640/9 in the bag! For your info, here's a picture of its little brother the 400/5.6, the 640mm being much longer:

Photo credit: Horst Neuhaus

Cheers!

Abbazz
09-03-2009, 05:26 PM   #6
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300mm plus a tc will get you started.
09-03-2009, 05:54 PM   #7
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I would agree with Marc.

you need a plan to get to between 400 and 500mm.

I have 2 combos, SMC 300mmF4 and SMC-F 1.7X AF TC and Sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX with 1.4 and 2 X TCs

The sigma is marginally better on IQ with the 2X than the 300 + 1.7x, BUT due to a quirk of pentax spftware, SR is not optimum with the sigma because the FL is set to 200mm for SR. The SMC 300F4 is prone to CA but it is controllable if there is not strong backlighting.

Look at the use market, but IMO forget any lens with less than 77mm front diameter. they are just not fast enough
09-03-2009, 07:34 PM   #8
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I'll point out that along with a telephoto lens you will want a flash to go along with it.. I use the AF540FGZ and i'll let the results speak for themselves...
though LR seems to read my sigma 100-300 f/4 APO as a sigma 70-200 f/2.8 APO which is an irritating quirk.


Last edited by Digitalis; 08-31-2010 at 05:22 PM.
09-03-2009, 08:03 PM   #9
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The DA*300 plus Kenko tc is a good combo (as long as you get the correct kenko TC that works with SDM). I will say that it can hunt a little bit so don't surprised if you miss some shot of fidgety birds with it.

Here are the examples of this combo I posted when I sold the lens: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/sold-items/69046-sale-sold-pentax-da-300mm.html



John
09-04-2009, 01:27 AM   #10
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here is a more recent image...basically fresh off the memory card.
taken with the Sigma 100-300 f/4 APO - ISO400 f/8 1/180s AF-540FGZ

Last edited by Digitalis; 08-31-2010 at 05:22 PM.
09-04-2009, 03:13 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
here is a more recent image...basically fresh off the memory card.
taken with the Sigma 100-300 f/4 APO - ISO400 f/8 1/180s AF-540FGZ
Great picture. Keep them coming!

Cheers!

Abbazz
09-04-2009, 03:21 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
I'll point out that along with a telephoto lens you will want a flash to go along with it.. I use the AF540FGZ and i'll let the results speak for themselves...
though LR seems to read my sigma 100-300 f/4 APO as a sigma 70-200 f/2.8 APO which is an irritating quirk.
I agree on both points, flash is very useful with wild life, also either a better beamer or a snoot to extend the range, because you need to get out to 50 feet at least with the flash unless you are very patient.

as for the lens, sigma lenses do not always report the correct lens code back to the camera, it is a sigma issue not a lightrroom issue
09-04-2009, 05:42 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
As for the lens, sigma lenses do not always report the correct lens code back to the camera, it is a sigma issue not a lightrroom issue
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.

some more images from the Sigma 100-300mm f/4 APO


Last edited by Digitalis; 08-31-2010 at 05:22 PM.
09-04-2009, 08:22 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by netuser Quote
DA*300, save and buy once the good stuff
I have tamron 70-200 and also TC 1.4 (with SDM) and 2x (7 elements) so I went to DA*300 and I'm happy with the option since with the tc 1.4x (when needed) I get a good focal lengh.

I'm I happy ? Yes but I will on the long run buy something longer. Will wait to see with what Pentax come out, the so talked "LONG TELEPHOTO LENS" and then decide if I will go with them or with 3rd party like sigma etc.

Make you own brainstorm
09-04-2009, 01:54 PM   #15
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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.
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