Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
12-26-2009, 05:01 AM   #1
Veteran Member
Caat's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Photos: Albums
Posts: 897
Telephoto Lens Advice

Hi All,

First of all Merry Christmas. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves yesterday

I'm in a quandry.

I mainly take wildlife photographs and I've tailored my lens collection to this genre. Relevant lenses being:

- Bigma
- M* 300mm f/4
- M 400mm f/5.6
- K135 f/2.5 (to a lesser extent)

I also recently picked up a Tamron 1.4 x convertor (with power zoom/SDM contacts)

The Bigma is a great lens and I don't think I'll ever sell it or tire of its flexibility. However it is extremely heavy and tough to handhold in all but glorious sunshine. It's AF is also a bit suspect.

To this end I am keen to get a telephoto lens that would work better a) when I am tired! and b) in more challenging lighting conditions. Basically I would like a lighter alternative which doesn't have to be as long or as flexible.

I really love the bokeh of the M* 300 but its tough to use due to its well damped MF feel.

Anyway I was thinking about the following lenses:

- DA* 200 f/2.8
- DA* 300 f/4
- DA* 60-250mm f/4
- F/FA* 300mm f/4.5

Now with the 1.4 convertor all these become quite flexible and as I understand it the Tamron is one of the better convertors available in the K-mount. I would be happy to part-exchange/sell my 300 and 400 primes to help subsidise the cost because the replacement lens and the convertor would have these two focal lengths covered.

I just can't decide what to do though. My thoughts:

1) The F/FA* lens is now reasonable value given the extreme (ridiculous?) prices of the DA* lenses on the UK market. With my part-exchanges I wouldn't have to spend too much more (maybe around 150) to get the F/FA* lenses at the current prices. Granted finding them is tough!

2) The DA* 300mm is more flexible than the F/FA*, weather-sealed, with much shorter minimum focus distance (I do a lot of close-up work). But its far more expensive and slightly larger. I would imagine it performs a touch better with the convertor because of its f/4 aperture.

3) The DA* 60-250mm is very flexible but the most expensive - its also larger and more fiddly to use than a prime. BUT a lovely, lovely lens.

4) The DA* 200 f/2.8 sounds like an excellent lens but on the APS-C sensor size seems a bit of an odd-ball focal length and I am not sure how useful it would be for me without the convertor. However the speed is tempting.

I would be grateful for any advice people could give me or if they can suggest any alternatives - I have also considered the various 70-200 f/2.8 zooms......

Cheers in advance

12-26-2009, 05:50 AM   #2
Veteran Member




Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: The Untied States
Photos: Albums
Posts: 1,882
I would personally sell the M*300 and the K135 and get the DA*200. There's nothing "oddball" about turning into a 300mm lens on APS-C, and with your teleconverter it's just like a 420mm in 35mm film equivalent, which is a very good amount of reach. I also have a feeling you're not going to find *that* big of a difference between your 135 and the 200, in scenarios where you can use it. Maybe invest in a prime around 100mm to cover the gap. And of course, you are looking for a lens that is lighter and smaller by multiple times than the Bigma, and the DA*200 fits that bill nicely. It's also fully weathersealed like you are looking for. And I think it would hold up well to a 2x teleconverter if you decide to get one in the future, making it equivalent to a 600mm reaching lens. Very versatile.
12-26-2009, 06:17 AM   #3
Loyal Site Supporter
dadipentak's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 10,411
My feeling is that you have to get to at least 400mm for wildlife. I do this with the DA* 300 and either the Tamron 1.4x or AF 1.7x TC. The DA* is a very nice lens but if I were in your shoes (that is, if I had a 300mm "do-over") I'd go for the SMC Pentax-A* 300mm F4 because 1) it's less expensive, 2) I don't find SDM all that wonderful and worry that it's going to fail at some point, and 3) AF is useless in many wildlife situations anyway.
12-26-2009, 01:40 PM   #4
Pentaxian




Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Chicago suburb, IL, USA
Posts: 1,535
Hi Caat,

I'd think about giving the Pentax F 1.7x Auto Focusing Adapter a shot. With your M*300/4, it would give you a very competent AF 510 f6.8 (close to the same spec as the Bigma at the long end) that is very light and compact. Compared to buying ultra tele lenses, the investment is small, and there are other advantages.

The downsides are CA/PF characteristics of the M*, its long minimum focusing distance of @ 13ft, and the drill of having to combine a little MF technique with the AF to focus since the AFA has a limited focusing range (which I feel is a benefit*, but others find fiddly). IQ is, IMO very good, with the main effects of the TC image degradation seen in the bokeh (might get a bit more frantic for close to focus plane fore and background) and the inevitable magnification of the CA/PF. Sharpness and resolution are not really a problem, IMO.

If you want to control CA/PF better, then you'd have to get a later model lens. The F*/FA*300/4.5 and DA*300/4 all offer ED elements not present in the M*(or optically identical A*), and do a very good job at this, plus they are a bit sharper (really just a touch) and focus to 6 and 4 ft respectively. The AFA, which does the focusing, is perfectly compatible with the SDM focusing DA*300, while the PZ enabled TCs are functionally questionable IMO, but they do work well with the screw-drive F* and FA*.

* I find focusing with the AFA a benefit for two reasons:
1. It's very quick. The focusing elements of the AFA are very small and light, so there's virtually no resistance to the AF motor in the camera.
2. It acts as an automatic focus limiter, and is very useful for birding where speed and dead on accuracy are important. A full lock to lock hunt, while rare, is very quick, almost instantaneous.

The drill I use is to first actuate the AF with a half-press and hold it. If the lens isn't within the range of the AFA AF is put on hold without an AF lock failure (blinking green hex), I rotate the focus ring (you have to be very aware of the rotation direction to infinity in the lens), and when the focus setting of the lens enters the AFA's range, the AFA will take over and fine adjust the focus to give a lock. It's like using an MF lens without having to do the fine adjustment by sight. This sounds fiddly, but once you get used to it, it's actually pretty easy.
With a focus limiter (like the one on the FA*300/2.8 for example) I have to decide which of the 3 ranges is appropriate (2-4m, 4-15m, and 15m-infinity), pull back the focus ring to MF, adjust the focus into the desired range, actuate the focus lock by sliding the switch, and then push the focus ring back to AF (or deactivate the focus limiter, focus on the new subject, then reactivate the limiter) , then actuate the AF with a half press. IMO, THAT's fiddly. In situations where there are a lot of opportunities at widely varying distances, this gets pretty frantic for me. The AFA makes it comparatively easy, IMO.

There's also the benefit that the AFA turns all lenses into Quick Shift lenses with the immediate ability to really fine tune focus after obtaining a lock by just turning the focus ring.

The AFA opens up a lot of possibilities with other lenses. Combine it with a 50/1.4, and you get a very competent 85/2.4. With a 100/2.8 Macro, you can either get magnifications beyond 1:1, and more importantly, at 1:1, you have significantly more working distance for skittish creatures, possible use of the pop up flash, and easier use of an external flash.

If you have a K-7, with it's greater AF sensitivity, there's a chance that your M400 might AF with the AFA in good light (don't have the lens, but some other f5.6 max lenses have worked for me). If you really want to go long, get a 300/2.8 and stack TCs. Add the AFA, and you have a 510mm f4.8, add a 1.4x to this, and you have a 714mm 6.7 ( I use this a lot). With 2 AFAs, you get 867 f8.1 which will AF with the K-7, but might struggle with previous bodies. I've successfully achieved an accurate (but slow) lock with my FA*300/2.8 +two 1.4x TCs + 1.7x AFA 1000mm f9.3) on the K-7, but you need pretty good light, that's really stretching things probably a bit too far.

I posted a few samples in this thread -- not with any of your present lenses, but you'd get an idea (my post is the last on the page):

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/72199-lens-wildlife-birds-2.html

and here for the extreme TC combos:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/74530-pentax-1...nverter-2.html

Scott

12-26-2009, 04:59 PM   #5
Veteran Member
Caat's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Photos: Albums
Posts: 897
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by wallyb Quote
I would personally sell the M*300 and the K135 and get the DA*200. There's nothing "oddball" about turning into a 300mm lens on APS-C, and with your teleconverter it's just like a 420mm in 35mm film equivalent, which is a very good amount of reach. I also have a feeling you're not going to find *that* big of a difference between your 135 and the 200, in scenarios where you can use it. Maybe invest in a prime around 100mm to cover the gap. And of course, you are looking for a lens that is lighter and smaller by multiple times than the Bigma, and the DA*200 fits that bill nicely. It's also fully weathersealed like you are looking for. And I think it would hold up well to a 2x teleconverter if you decide to get one in the future, making it equivalent to a 600mm reaching lens. Very versatile.
Thanks. What I meant by odd-ball is just that 200 is too long for most portraiture (although no necessarily candid street shots) but not long enough for wildlife in most cases. But I do understand what you mean.

I actually have a Pentax 2x convertor as well....
12-26-2009, 05:04 PM   #6
Veteran Member
Caat's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Photos: Albums
Posts: 897
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by dadipentak Quote
My feeling is that you have to get to at least 400mm for wildlife. I do this with the DA* 300 and either the Tamron 1.4x or AF 1.7x TC. The DA* is a very nice lens but if I were in your shoes (that is, if I had a 300mm "do-over") I'd go for the SMC Pentax-A* 300mm F4 because 1) it's less expensive, 2) I don't find SDM all that wonderful and worry that it's going to fail at some point, and 3) AF is useless in many wildlife situations anyway.
.

I actually already have the M* 300 so the A* would only add auto-aperture. The trouble is I generally find AF of great help so I'd be looking for AF really.
12-27-2009, 07:29 AM   #7
Pentaxian
Lowell Goudge's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 15,400
since you have a 300F4 already, why not get an SMC-F 1.7x AC TC.

I use it on my SMC 300F4 and it works very well

see the linked post in response to a question of old lenses and new bodies. both shots with the 300F4 and AF TC

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/859027-post12.html

this gives you a mich lighter lens than the BIGMA, and is the reason I never bought a BIGMA or other long Sigma zoom
12-29-2009, 02:29 AM   #8
Veteran Member
Caat's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Photos: Albums
Posts: 897
Original Poster
If I could find a Pentax AF 1.7x convertor that would be great - but finding one is the problem - they aren't exactly common!!

12-29-2009, 04:23 AM   #9
Veteran Member
Abbazz's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Aotearoa
Posts: 531
QuoteOriginally posted by Caat Quote
1) The F/FA* lens is now reasonable value given the extreme (ridiculous?) prices of the DA* lenses on the UK market. With my part-exchanges I wouldn't have to spend too much more (maybe around 150) to get the F/FA* lenses at the current prices. Granted finding them is tough!

2) The DA* 300mm is more flexible than the F/FA*, weather-sealed, with much shorter minimum focus distance (I do a lot of close-up work). But its far more expensive and slightly larger. I would imagine it performs a touch better with the convertor because of its f/4 aperture.

3) The DA* 60-250mm is very flexible but the most expensive - its also larger and more fiddly to use than a prime. BUT a lovely, lovely lens.

4) The DA* 200 f/2.8 sounds like an excellent lens but on the APS-C sensor size seems a bit of an odd-ball focal length and I am not sure how useful it would be for me without the convertor. However the speed is tempting.

I would be grateful for any advice people could give me or if they can suggest any alternatives - I have also considered the various 70-200 f/2.8 zooms......
My 0.02:
- I have the F*300/4.5, which is a wonderful lens, as sharp as the DA*300/4 and definitely better than the M*300/4. I beg to disagree about the DA*300 being more flexible. In fact, in my opinion it's the other way round: the F* lens is more versatile because it has an aperture ring (I can use it on my Pentax film bodies or on my Olympus E-P1 with the help of a cheap adapter), it also has a tripod mount. If you can find one for a good price, go for it, you won't regret.

- I have never tried the 60-250, so I can comment on this option, except to say that 250mm seems a bit too short for shooting wildlife.

- Concerning the DA*200, it is obviously even shorter. Also, it might not be the best lens for shooting wildlife, since it exhibits very strong purple fringing when shooting against a bright sky, like for example capturing a bird perched on a branch.

Cheers!

Abbazz
12-29-2009, 04:53 AM   #10
Veteran Member
Abbazz's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Aotearoa
Posts: 531
QuoteOriginally posted by Caat Quote
If I could find a Pentax AF 1.7x convertor that would be great - but finding one is the problem - they aren't exactly common!!
Apparently, the AF 1.7x adapter is still made today (in the Pentax factory in Vietnam) and can be bought (at a price) from a few eBay sellers. See these threads:

Vietnamese made Pentax F AF 1.7x TC???? [Page 1]: Pentax SLR Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

Pentax F 1.7x AF converter

Cheers!

Abbazz
12-29-2009, 08:14 AM   #11
Pentaxian




Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: North
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 3,921
The 1.7x converter might actually be reborn..

I can sort of confirm this (by tomorrow or the day after that in fact).
My cousin stays in Japan and as he is coming back for the holidays, I asked him to pop by one of the camera stores to see if he could get me the tamron 1.4x teleconverter. I threw in the odd chance that he would find an old Pentax 1.7x so that was placed into his buy list as well. So I was rather surprised that he called me up saying that there was no tamron, but they had the Pentax 1.7x and it was NIB with warranty.

So come tomorrow, I should be able to pick it up and see if its a made in Vietnam new item or old Japan stock. It will be good news if the former for everyone of course, though I would suspect that they may not be for worldwide distribution.
12-29-2009, 08:35 AM   #12
Pentaxian
8540tomg's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Waterloo, Ontario
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 4,454
QuoteOriginally posted by dadipentak Quote
My feeling is that you have to get to at least 400mm for wildlife. I do this with the DA* 300 and either the Tamron 1.4x or AF 1.7x TC. The DA* is a very nice lens but if I were in your shoes (that is, if I had a 300mm "do-over") I'd go for the SMC Pentax-A* 300mm F4 because 1) it's less expensive, 2) I don't find SDM all that wonderful and worry that it's going to fail at some point, and 3) AF is useless in many wildlife situations anyway.
I'm with Dave on this point. I used to think 300mm was entry level for wildlife but I've raised the bar a bit since getting the M 400/5.6. The extra 100mm makes all the difference in this category. I know a lot of folks like teleconverters but my experience with them have left me unimpressed. This is a personal preference so please don't flame me too much on this issue.

I also agree that AF, while wonderful in many cases, has its limits in many wildlife situations. If I were to do the 400mm thing over again I would look for the A 400/5.6. It focuses much close than the M 400/5.6 and has AE to boot. For my purposes the A 400/2.8 would be the ideal choice if my budget would permit it. Sadly, with two kids in university this is just not on the radar at this time. As I recall Dave has this lens. Any images you care to share with the A 400/2.8 Dave? You may have posted in another thread and I missed them.

Tom G
12-29-2009, 09:26 AM   #13
Loyal Site Supporter
dadipentak's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 10,411
QuoteOriginally posted by 8540tomg Quote
As I recall Dave has this lens. Any images you care to share with the A 400/2.8 Dave? Tom G
I do have that lens but I'm afraid I don't have images to share yet ;~( It's taking me a while to get on top of the technique and my time for that has been limited recently. I'll be sure to give you a heads-up when I finally produce something worth posting ;~)

Update: I found one of my first attempts. I'm afraid I'm not sure but I think this was with the 1.7x tc. It's also been cropped to 7.5MP.
Attached Images
 

Last edited by dadipentak; 12-29-2009 at 07:59 PM.
12-29-2009, 09:35 AM   #14
Veteran Member




Join Date: Aug 2007
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,563
QuoteOriginally posted by Caat Quote
I also recently picked up a Tamron 1.4 x convertor (with power zoom/SDM contacts)

3) The DA* 60-250mm is very flexible but the most expensive - its also larger and more fiddly to use than a prime. BUT a lovely, lovely lens.
I decided to go for the DA*60-250mm with a Kenko 1.5x TC and a Pentax 1.7x AF TC.
Both combinations work fine (the 1.7x TC with screw drive AF and fixed SR) and with excellent results. It is flexible and in low light having f4 and cropping is an option that often works well.

Success.
12-29-2009, 12:15 PM   #15
Veteran Member
Caat's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Photos: Albums
Posts: 897
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Abbazz Quote
My 0.02:
- I have the F*300/4.5, which is a wonderful lens, as sharp as the DA*300/4 and definitely better than the M*300/4. I beg to disagree about the DA*300 being more flexible. In fact, in my opinion it's the other way round: the F* lens is more versatile because it has an aperture ring (I can use it on my Pentax film bodies or on my Olympus E-P1 with the help of a cheap adapter), it also has a tripod mount. If you can find one for a good price, go for it, you won't regret.

- I have never tried the 60-250, so I can comment on this option, except to say that 250mm seems a bit too short for shooting wildlife.

- Concerning the DA*200, it is obviously even shorter. Also, it might not be the best lens for shooting wildlife, since it exhibits very strong purple fringing when shooting against a bright sky, like for example capturing a bird perched on a branch.

Cheers!

Abbazz
Thanks.

When I talked about the DA* 300 being more flexible I was only referring to its shorter minimum focus distance and weathersealing - more flexible in terms of its use on a Pentax DSLR. I can see why an aperture is important for some but for me it wouldn't be missed as I only use DSLRs.

I think perhaps I should have used the term nature rather than wildlife photography in reference to this potential lens purchase. I think the 1.4 convertor would bring the DA* 200 into wildlife territory but clearly a 200 is too short. What I would use the 200 for (without the convertor) would be shots of the natural world rather than wildlife per se (more parks and gardens and landscapes). My Bigma at 400-500 is enough reach for more wild wildlife shots. I have read about the purple fringing of the 200 which is a slight concern.
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
300mm, convertor, da*, f/2.8, f/4, k-mount, lens, lenses, pentax lens, prices, slr lens, telephoto lens
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Telephoto lens - need advice Jaroslaw83 Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 6 07-30-2010 12:42 PM
Zoom telephoto lens advice Gary G Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 13 04-17-2010 10:45 AM
Seeking advice on telephoto lenses ismaelg Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 15 04-29-2009 08:25 PM
Telephoto lens tina Pentax DSLR Discussion 18 01-14-2008 08:23 AM
Telephoto Advice kpfeifle Pentax SLR Lens Discussion 5 01-24-2007 09:18 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:05 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top