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11-18-2009, 03:43 PM   #1
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A*300/4 or FA*300/4.5?

So, there am I. In about a month it's my birthday. And I can choose a long lens for my K20d. I know, there are many threads on long lenses, and people asking which to choose. But I did not find a recent one with the A*300.

So, this is my question: if I wanted a lens for wildlife and birding, and I had to choose between the A*300/4 and the FA*300/4.5, which should I buy? And why? Which teleconverters can be used with these two lenses? Or did you find a better one (at about the same price )?

Thanks!

11-18-2009, 06:46 PM   #2
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Between these two lenses, get the FA*. An autofocus tele lens is so much easier to work w/ when you are in the field.

After playing so many MF lenses (from 8mm all the way to 600mm), I won't keep any MF lens longer than 135mm. JMO.
11-19-2009, 01:23 AM   #3
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I had the FA* for a while, great lens IMO.
The only niggle is missing tripod collar. It felt bit unbalanced on monopod (or tripod for that matter) with camera mounted. On the other hand it's really handholdable lens, and beautifully small for what it is.
My recommendation 9/10 (if you can get F* which uses the same optics but has an oversized tripod mount and built in hood go for that one I'd say 10/10)

BR
Peter
11-19-2009, 03:42 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by axl Quote
I had the FA* for a while, great lens IMO.
The only niggle is missing tripod collar. It felt bit unbalanced on monopod (or tripod for that matter) with camera mounted. On the other hand it's really handholdable lens, and beautifully small for what it is.
Peter
Small? This is small





AF is selling like 40-60% more than its MF counterpart which is a fact in the marketplace


Daniel

11-19-2009, 08:42 AM   #5
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I have both the A*300 and the DA*300, but have never seen the FA*300. The A*300 is a very sharp lens and I didn't have much trouble focusing with it. But it does take extra time if you can't pre-focus. It's relatively small (easily fits in the Slingshot 200 bag with other lenses) and light, making it a lens that's easy to carry without much thought involved. It's also quite easy to hand-hold, a pleasure to use.

I'm guessing that the FA*300 is similar in size to the DA*300. I can hand-hold the DA, but not for that long. I ended up having to buy a bigger camera bag because it doesn't fit in the Slingshot 200 very well. But it's really nice to have the auto focus capability. Optically I think the DA is a bit sharper, but the differences are small.

Disadvantage to the A*300 is that the minimum focus distance is something like 11-15 feet. The DA (and from what I remember the FA also) can focus much closer.

My personal opinion is that it comes down to AF vs. size/weight. I'm not planning on selling my A*300 any time soon, though I haven't used it all that much since getting the DA
11-19-2009, 09:18 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by axl Quote
I had the FA* for a while, great lens IMO.
The only niggle is missing tripod collar. It felt bit unbalanced on monopod (or tripod for that matter) with camera mounted. On the other hand it's really
Peter Zack adapted a Canon (I believe) tripod collar to this lens. Both the FA* and the F* are very good. I've never used the A* but it is also well regarded.

Dave
11-19-2009, 03:04 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies! I will make up my mind soon...
11-25-2009, 05:04 PM   #8
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Excellent f*300 for $665 - check KEH here:

Pentax Autofocus 300 F4.5 SMC F ED INTERNAL FOCUS (67) WITH CAPS, CASE, 35MM SLR AUTO FOCUS TELEPHOTO LENS - KEH.com

11-25-2009, 07:44 PM   #9
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I'd like to add that the F*and FA* lenses have ED glass elements which reduce fringing.

When we shot film color fringing wasn't much of an issue and the A* 300 performed well, but digital sensors seem more "picky". I would go for a lens with ED elements.

You may find 300mm too short for birding. The FA* 400/5.6 is hard to find, but it is not impossible. It is a half stop slower but does have a tripod mount. It is an excellent lens just like the F(A)* 300mm.

The A* 400/2.8 and 600/5.6 do have ED glass but are unfortunately very hard to find.
11-25-2009, 08:54 PM   #10
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Are you sure it was there...dang! missed it.
11-25-2009, 09:47 PM   #11
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Hi rense,

I've owned both lenses in question. I still have the FA*300/4.5, and will probably keep it forever. Ole is correct about the advantages of ED glass in the F* and FA*, and mtngal is correct about the long minimum focusing distance of the A* -- so of the two, the FA* would be easily my preference. I don't feel that the absence of a tripod collar on the FA* is a problem. Both the Canon tripod collar for their 70-200/2.8 and the Tamron tripod collar for the SP 80-200/2.8 Adaptall 2 will fit the FA* 300/4.5. I have the latter, and rarely mount it since the FA* is pretty easily handheld, even with the F 1.7x Auto Focusing Adapter which I find to be a good match and gives you 510mm f7.7 (which sounds terribly slow, but seems to shoot a lot faster -- it autofocuses quickly in everything but the darkest overcast days.) This combination is my most used lens for birding, though in situations where I don't expect to move around much, I'll opt to use one of my 300/2.8s with either a single or stacked TCs. These last are really lenses that should be tripod mounted though they can be shot handheld effectively for short periods of time.

Another option that should be considered is the Sigma EX 100-300 f4 -- either of the variations (APO, APO DG) -- my understanding is that both of them are excellent. In MF lenses, the Tokina 100-300 f4 SD has a very good reputation for IQ, and is seen by some that I consider knowledgeable as a major sleeper in long glass for the K-mount. It usually goes relatively inexpensively ($250-400 USD) though it's pretty rarely offered.

A bit OT, but if you plan to shoot a lot of long tele, I would definitely recommend the Pentax F 1.7x AFA if you ever see one reasonably priced. This is my most used "lens", and I'd hate to imagine shooting birds without one. I'm sure that others will say that they are way overpriced at this point, but I've managed to find two in the last two years, the last just a month ago from KEH, and they averaged under $150 ea, both in EX condition.

Good luck in your search

Scott
11-25-2009, 09:59 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by pcarfan Quote
Are you sure it was there...dang! missed it.
Yeah, it was there when i posted the link. I see its no longer there, someone snagged a good deal.
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