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04-03-2010, 09:21 AM   #1
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Would Pentax SMC 100-300mm f4.7-5.8 be a good airshow lens for a Canon T2i?

Briefly, I'm on a shoestring budget, but I really want to start shooting with a DSLR. My primary use for a camera is aviation photography, be it 787s taking off and landing out here in Seattle or warbirds at EAA AirVenture, so the vast majority of my subjects are distant (1/8 mile to 1/2 mile) and fast-moving (60mph to 500mph), but well-lit in a sunny sky. I shoot about equal parts photos and videos.

I'm looking at getting a Canon T2i body and kit lens for general shooting, and then using the old Pentax SMC 100-300mm f4.7-5.8 (silver) (Pentax Lens Review and Specification Database - 100-300mm F4.7-5.8) lens via an adapter with AF confirmation circuitry as my "airshow lens". I like that it is lightweight, but even more I like that the majority of owners say it is extremely sharp, especially on an APS-C sized camera. I'm a little worried that squeezing 18 megapixels out of it might soften it up a bit, but I can always shrink/sharpen the photos.

So my primary question is this: Do you think I will have any trouble with this lens/body combination at an airshow? I'm assuming that in the morning I'll be able to zoom in to 300mm or so, set the aperture wide open, focus on infinity, stop down the aperture for the lighting conditions, set the camera in Av mode, and then just be able to shoot airplanes, without having to constantly refocus (aside from some minor tweaks now and then)?

The action at an airshow can get fast and furious, so if I would need to open up the aperture, refocus, close down the aperture, and then shoot each time my subject changes, then that would pretty much be a deal breaker. Likely/unlikely?

Thanks very much for your help

04-03-2010, 10:12 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by ImperfectSense Quote
My primary use for a camera is aviation photography, so the vast majority of my subjects are distant (1/8 mile to 1/2 mile) and fast-moving (60mph to 500mph)


I'm looking at getting a Canon T2i body and kit lens for general shooting, and then using the old Pentax SMC 100-300mm f4.7-5.8 lens via an adapter with AF confirmation circuitry as my "airshow lens".


The action at an airshow can get fast and furious, so if I would need to open up the aperture, refocus, close down the aperture, and then shoot each time my subject changes, then that would pretty much be a deal breaker. Likely/unlikely?


I'm assuming that in the morning I'll be able to zoom in to 300mm or so, set the aperture wide open, focus on infinity, stop down the aperture for the lighting conditions, set the camera in Av mode, and then just be able to shoot airplanes, without having to constantly refocus (aside from some minor tweaks now and then)?

So my primary question is this: Do you think I will have any trouble with this lens/body combination at an airshow?

04-03-2010, 02:00 PM   #3
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Not the most helpful response, I'm not sure how to interpret it. Do you believe I will have trouble keeping the lens in focus throughout the day?
04-03-2010, 02:04 PM   #4
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Why don't you just get one of those cheap Canon lenses that are out there -- 70-200 f2.8 and shoot with that. It would be a lot easier.

Focus is only the start of your difficulties. If you plan to use a Pentax lens, it probably would be a lot easier to shoot it on a Pentax camera. Even a Sigma with a Canon mount would be easier for moving objects.

04-03-2010, 02:23 PM   #5
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Well, budget for one thing, my lens budget is about $200 (yes, I know, sounds stupid, but I plan on getting a better lens next year, just gotta make due for THIS year). I can find this Pentax lens for under $100 pretty easy.

The other reason I don't go with a Canon 70-200 is that that's a pretty short lens for airshows. I'm used to shooting with a 520mm (53mm equivalent) right now, and I'd like to stay in that range. That pentax lens on the t2i will give me about 480mm (35mm equivalent) which is close enough.

I understand that I'll have no IS or AF, and no control of the aperture or focus through the camera itself. So basically... it'll be like the camera I grew up with, an old Pentax all-manual 35mm SLR. I also understand that I'll need to get in a lot of practice with the lens/camera combination, so that I can focus track and get shots quickly when I have to. I'm willing to put in the "work"
04-03-2010, 03:23 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ImperfectSense Quote
Well, budget for one thing, my lens budget is about $200 (yes, I know, sounds stupid, but I plan on getting a better lens next year, just gotta make due for THIS year). I can find this Pentax lens for under $100 pretty easy.

The other reason I don't go with a Canon 70-200 is that that's a pretty short lens for airshows. I'm used to shooting with a 520mm (53mm equivalent) right now, and I'd like to stay in that range. That pentax lens on the t2i will give me about 480mm (35mm equivalent) which is close enough.

I understand that I'll have no IS or AF, and no control of the aperture or focus through the camera itself. So basically... it'll be like the camera I grew up with, an old Pentax all-manual 35mm SLR. I also understand that I'll need to get in a lot of practice with the lens/camera combination, so that I can focus track and get shots quickly when I have to. I'm willing to put in the "work"
I think, what Mike-P was aiming at is: Why do you buy a Pentax lens AND a Canon body at all? If you think, this lens is the solution to your photographic challenges, then buy AND a Pentax DSLR. That would make photography much easier and more successful. Your endeavour may make some sense, if you'ld already possessed the Canon body, but not, if you start out completely new.

Ben
04-03-2010, 03:44 PM   #7
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Ahh, good point. Well, I looked at both the K-x and K-7, but neither of them can record 1080p at 30fps, and one of the few things I do occasionally get paid for is video coverage of first flights and other important aviation events out here in Seattle, so a good smooth movie mode is pretty key. I thought about waiting for the next generation of either of those cameras, because surely Pentax will give them 1080p, but that's likely more than a year off. Then, of course, there's image quality. Some of this comes down to personal preference of course, but in side by side comparisons, I felt that the t2i was pretty darn close to perfect (in my opinion), while both the K-7 and K-x seemed a little soft (comparisons are here: Imaging Resource "Comparometer" Digital Camera Image Comparison Page)
04-03-2010, 03:52 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ImperfectSense Quote
Ahh, good point. Well, I looked at both the K-x and K-7, but neither of them can record 1080p at 30fps, and one of the few things I do occasionally get paid for is video coverage of first flights and other important aviation events out here in Seattle, so a good smooth movie mode is pretty key. I thought about waiting for the next generation of either of those cameras, because surely Pentax will give them 1080p, but that's likely more than a year off. Then, of course, there's image quality. Some of this comes down to personal preference of course, but in side by side comparisons, I felt that the t2i was pretty darn close to perfect (in my opinion), while both the K-7 and K-x seemed a little soft (comparisons are here: Imaging Resource "Comparometer" ™ Digital Camera Image Comparison Page)
Then surely your questions would be better asked on a Canon forum. After all, the lens could be any make or model .. it just so happens you have chosen a Pentax 100-300mm (purely on cost).

Oh and yes, I agree that Pentax cameras are a little soft when compared to a Canon and would probably be no good for air shows.




Last edited by Mike.P; 04-03-2010 at 03:57 PM.
04-03-2010, 04:04 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ImperfectSense Quote
Well, budget for one thing, my lens budget is about $200 (yes, I know, sounds stupid, but I plan on getting a better lens next year, just gotta make due for THIS year). I can find this Pentax lens for under $100 pretty easy.

The other reason I don't go with a Canon 70-200 is that that's a pretty short lens for airshows. I'm used to shooting with a 520mm (53mm equivalent) right now, and I'd like to stay in that range. That pentax lens on the t2i will give me about 480mm (35mm equivalent) which is close enough.

I understand that I'll have no IS or AF, and no control of the aperture or focus through the camera itself. So basically... it'll be like the camera I grew up with, an old Pentax all-manual 35mm SLR. I also understand that I'll need to get in a lot of practice with the lens/camera combination, so that I can focus track and get shots quickly when I have to. I'm willing to put in the "work"

If you're stuck on the Canon, go for the Sigma 70-300 DG APO. $209. Probably the best value for your budget. You're not going to enjoy manual focus for shooting air shows.
04-03-2010, 04:19 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike.P Quote
Oh and yes, I agree that Pentax cameras are a little soft when compared to a Canon and would probably be no good for air shows.
Really? First I've heard this mentioned, do you have any examples?
04-03-2010, 05:43 PM   #11
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QuoteQuote:
Really? First I've heard this mentioned, do you have any examples?
That is known as sarcasm.

Nice shot Mike.PcircleR.
04-03-2010, 06:28 PM   #12
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Manual focusing a dark and not-super-sharp tele is going to be a pain. You will be shooting wide open unless you think you can manually stop-down in time since you won't have much luck focusing it at F8 or F11.

I think the Canon 55-250 is probably the best tele in your price range, plus it has IS.
04-03-2010, 07:49 PM   #13
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Manual focus and manual diaphragm at an airshow sucks bigtime, and is basically hopeless when trying to get close to jets. Get the Canon T2i or whatever (why not a T1i since it does video and it'd be cheaper picking up a used one), and buy an old film Rebel off Craigslist that includes the old 75-300. I see them on San Diego CL for $100-150 all the freakin' time.

Or, find a used copy of the 75-300 or whatever the cheapo IS lens is. KenRockwell reviews almost all of them.


Then get sick of the CA and softness wide open, come back here to find out how to use Takumars and other vintage M42 glass and you'll thank everybody later.

Cheers!
04-04-2010, 12:34 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eruditass Quote
Really? First I've heard this mentioned, do you have any examples?
Oh come on .. sarcasm can't be just an English thing surely.

I can understand some people saying Pentax being bit slow in the AF department compared to other makes, I can also understand them saying noise control may be a little lacking but picture quality ... not a chance.

QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
That is known as sarcasm.

Nice shot Mike.PcircleR.
Thanks
04-04-2010, 07:37 AM   #15
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Agree, Pentax is completely useless for airshows.

Last edited by Ex Finn.; 11-11-2014 at 05:51 PM.
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