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02-24-2015, 09:26 PM   #16
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I shoot wildlife with Pentax, have friends who shoot Nikon and Canon. We all get great shots. We all blow opportunities as well.

The K3 and DA*300 is an amazingly compact combination. Add the WR flash unit and you are ready for monsoon conditions. 300mm is short, the 560mm or the new long zoom would give more length. Or the TC.

I regularly get my gear sopping wet. If you are in a location where high humidity is constant, a humidity controlled storage may be worth it, they are not very expensive.

We three have been out shooting a few times and all of us complain about focus. Oddly I've been getting the better shots. The DA*300 is slow, i'm hoping we will see an update. I suspect the next version will be DFA.

There is no perfect gear. The challenges are low light and being able to shoot wide open. The long 2.8 or ultra long f4's are beautiful instruments but heavy. A flash extender is far cheaper and portable compared to a stop on a long lens.

I shoot either with the DA*300 or Sigma 500 f4.5. I have the waterproof flash, and the K3. I would love another two stops better noise, better AF as well. We are never happy. But what I have can get almost any shot that I want, the limit is my technique.

02-24-2015, 10:08 PM   #17
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Welcome to the Forum,

You can also get the DA 1.4xTC that is all weather and works perfectly with the DA300 - they are a really nice pair. It adds very little weight.

02-25-2015, 12:18 AM - 1 Like   #18
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As a native Costarican and die hard Pentaxian since 45 yrs ago, I can tell you that so far, your gear needs criteria is pretty on target, considering your idea about wildlife shooting. But more on this later...

Do you have any idea about where in Costa Rica are you planning to go? For how long? (days) Are you traveling by yourself or is there someone locally to guide you or your group?

Do you have any clue about weather conditions by this time of the year? Let me give you a fast report on weather during March: March is on the second half of our dry season. Northern (Alissian) winds are gone so there is no breeze to keep temp "under control. March-April marks our hottest time of the year (95 to 105 F at sea level and 75 - 85F up mountains). Along the entire Pacific Basin side, no rain should be expected ever, except probably in upper land towards the mountains, but only on the South Pacific. Guanacaste, upper half of Puntarenas will be dry but as the rest of the country, no blue skies should be expected, due to the fact that the atmosphere will be loaded with dust (no wind) and some humidity buildup (greenhouse effect).

If aiming towards the Caribbean Basin side, weather in another story. High humidity and scarce rains can be expected. Some days the sky may show clean blue, but this would be an exception and not a condition to take for granted.

This time of the year rain will not be the "natural enemy" to care about. It will be AIRBORNE DUST. So plan on avoiding much lens changing in the middle on nowhere. A dusty sensor is something you do not want away from your air conditioned hotel room. Think about quality zooms intead of primes. Think also that this time of the year (dry season), the forest and jungle foliage will be at its lowest density, not like in November that you will need flashlights to go under the tropical canopy.... at noon!

Back to the gear: Considering the weather facts, then I believe now its easier to choose gear. IMHO, the K3 is a great performer almost noise free up to ISO 1250 and the SR system works great. So instead of aiming for a fixed long tele, I would advice on trading an a bit of focal length towards better flexibility an a lot less lens changing: The DA* 60-250 f/4 is IMHO, a more intelligent choice. Next, for the wide to short tele, you can go for the DA*16-50 f/2.8 or the new DA16-85 with a significant cost reduction. Top those two fine lenses with a DA 100 f/2.8 MACRO and you will have the perfect holy trinity for wildlife, jungle, dusty and murky conditions anywhere in the world. All WR, all DC or SDM....

Besides the obvious camera and lenses gear, you will need certain gadgets that may well save your day... many times during your visit:

Rocket blower
Good monopod
Gorillapod (the large one!)
Lens pen (at least two)
Soft bristle 1.5 inch brush (dusting away heavy builups)
At least, two extra batteries. B&H sells good traveling chargers to plug on cigarrette lighter connecters (cars) or wall plugs , also good generic batteries. ask for PEARLSTONE chargers and batteries.

A good modular hip pack or case system to fit all the above (sans chargers) that can let you carry everything, leaving BOTH hands free for hiking into the forest and jungle. Use monopod as walking stick.

Remember you will be traveling abroad. You will become a target for thiefs and muggers. Keeping a low profile will be your best defense, along with proper care for your stuff and gear. Carrying lots of gear will only make you an easier target and it will be more difficult to keep an eye ALWAYS on your things.

Good luck at your B&H visit an may you find the right tools and toys for your visit.

Let us know your decisions!

Last edited by rburgoss; 02-25-2015 at 04:36 AM.
02-25-2015, 07:59 AM   #19
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I have the 60-250 mentioned above and have used it with the HD Teleconverter it works great with or without it. The IQ is fantastic. The DA* designation means it is dust sealed like the DA* 300. The 300+ lens club guys who include a lot of bird shooters say the 60-250 suffers from focus breathing and is not nearly long enough in terms of FOV and magnification for most people for birds due to the loss of effective focal length at short ranges. I have minimal experience with bird shooting and cannot compare.

It is a heavy lens and bulky but not compared to other camera systems (FF). The image quality is amazing.

02-25-2015, 09:10 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
I have the 60-250 mentioned above and have used it with the HD Teleconverter it works great with or without it. The IQ is fantastic. The DA* designation means it is dust sealed like the DA* 300. The 300+ lens club guys who include a lot of bird shooters say the 60-250 suffers from focus breathing and is not nearly long enough in terms of FOV and magnification for most people for birds due to the loss of effective focal length at short ranges. I have minimal experience with bird shooting and cannot compare.

It is a heavy lens and bulky but not compared to other camera systems (FF). The image quality is amazing.
I dunno the 300+ lens guys are talking about. Side by side comparisson, both this lenses (DA*300 and DA*60-250) are about the same size, being the 300 about 1/2 inch longer. About the same weight and in practical terms, produce about the same magnification (9x vs 7.6x using fl or 33 mm as base "0" magnification). Of course the 300+ guys will always demand the last bit of magnification "juice" available, completely forgetting other advantages over "reach" even if those advantages are invaluables under the shooting situations.

The 60-250 will save you not only lots of lens changes in the middle of nowhere, risking dust in your sensor. It will also save you at least the hazzle of carrying at least another two lenses to cover the short and mid tele focal lengths. It will let you shoot closer too (110 cms vs 140 cms). Besides, remember that when shooting wildlife not even a turtle will wait for you to change a lens. Also, not all wildlife is composed by bird sitting on high branches or flying low 200 ft. away. It means coatis, wild hogs, deer, jaguars, monkeys, gators, sloths, racoons, iguanas, snakes, huge insects, tarantulas, nests, crabs, lizards, otters, and so on... that make wonderful frame filling subjects at close distance. But one thing they all have in common: they are very elusive! Not even a sloth will wait for you to change lenses....

Just as a fast reference:

Wildlife of Costa Rica - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Costa Rica Biodiversity, Flora and Fuana - Anywhere Costa Rica

Photographing The Biodiversity of Costa Rica

Don't forget to bring a good macro... you can expect around 300 THOUSAND insect species!

No wonder there are next to no zoos here in Costa Rica. Want some wildlife close by? Just leave your door open!
02-25-2015, 09:19 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote

No wonder there are next to no zoos here in Costa Rica. Want some wildlife close by? Just leave your door open!
Sounds great! :-)
02-25-2015, 03:06 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote
I dunno the 300+ lens guys are talking about. Side by side comparisson, both this lenses (DA*300 and DA*60-250) are about the same size, being the 300 about 1/2 inch longer. About the same weight and in practical terms, produce about the same magnification (9x vs 7.6x using fl or 33 mm as base "0" magnification). Of course the 300+ guys will always demand the last bit of magnification "juice" available, completely forgetting other advantages over "reach" even if those advantages are invaluables under the shooting situations.
Focus breathing is a consequence of the lens design - but honestly I would think the 300 might suffer from it also. Any internal focus lens can suffer from it - suffer is a bad word - let's say exhibit the characteristics?

What it means is that at shorter distances the lens behaves like a smaller focal length than what it says on the lens. The DA 18-135 is like this - I have a comparison somewhere on the forum between it at 3' and my Takumar Bayonet 135 f/2.5 at the same distance the difference is pretty striking. The same two lenses at 30' show the same image size which is what the expected behavior is.

However - with the conditions you describe I would certainly prefer keeping just the 60-250 on the camera and maybe missing some image magnification on a few shots vs. not being able to get any shots other than the 300 without a second body without risking dust infiltration. I shot my DA* 60-250, my DA* 50-135 and my A* 85 side by side all at roughly 85mm at short range at a bookcase with colored book spines and found very little difference between them. I'm aware that in more varied shooting there are big differences but from a sharpness and color rendering perspective they all were spot on and they were all very good.

My point being the 60-250 is an amazing lens.
02-25-2015, 07:48 PM   #23
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Thanks for the responses everyone. I went to the used department and they had a da 300 but no k3. I tried it with a k5. I absolutely love the lens. Not too big, and I really liked that the tripod collar clicks in place in portrait or landscape orientation. I went to the other desk where they had a k3 display model for me to check out. The k3 felt very nice in my hands, seemed to be pretty fast af, especially in the terrible lighting in that store. So for ergonomics I don't think there will be a problem at all. One thing I noticed, is that I prefer lens stabilization over shake reduction, since it stabilizes the viewfinder, I guess I could get used to that. Also, at least in the k5, the stabilization appeared to be about 1 stop worse than my 70-300's vr. Mirror slap however seemed less noticeable when pressing the shutter compared to the D7000.

In Costa Rica, I'm going to palo verde, cerro de la muerte, rancho naturalista, monteverde, and arenal. Flying in and out of Liberia. We won't have a rental car. Except for rancho naturalista, we're traveling on a very tight budget. The main focus is hummingbirds.

For Costa Rica, I'm absolutely certain I want a 300 f4. I've used many lenses to figure that out, and the only focal length I'll miss from my 70-300 days is 135mm. I don't have the budget for any other lenses for this trip. The da 300 would essentially be glued to the k3. I'll be bringing my D7000 anyway for macro and other stuff.

Here's what's holding me back now: I need to find a ttl flash to use that costs no more than $200 and has similar power and t.1 times to an sb800. This seems to be a challenge. Also, it was brought to my attention that although my D7000 can meter non-cpu lenses (such as a reversed lens), Pentax can't do this. This isn't a huge deal, but is it true? And how do you work around this?

Something the sales rep mentioned, is that there's not much availability for service support when it comes to Pentax. How true is this and is it a big deal? The only time I ever got my camera serviced wasn't even through nikon, since my D7000 was out of warranty at that point. And furthermore, do you find it difficult to buy and sell used Pentax gear?

02-25-2015, 08:34 PM - 1 Like   #24
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The DA*60-250 ƒ4 is a great wildlife lens, especially coupled with the 1.4 TC. The 300 while not as flexible (obviously) also works really well with the 1.4. There are lots of sample images in this thread to show you what people use....

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/122-lens-clubs/55946-300mm-plus-lens-club...ng-lenses.html

My own usual hiking or tripping gear.. DA 18-135 WR, usually on the camera. Then The DA*60-250 in a waist holster. I'll carry a 21ltd and 40 XS in a small pack, along with extra batteries etc. The one issue with my set up, would be low light. A 70-200 ƒ2.8 would help in low light situations. So far I don't want the extra weight. But the 200 ƒ2.8 to go with my 1.4 TC is certainly an attractive option, and is a half pound lighter than any other long lens combination save the 55-300. If I think there's an chance of it getting dark, I sometimes take a 50 1.7 but that's my only really fast lens. The DA*60-250 is definitely the lens in the 100-250 range, and is a stack of primes type lens, but, the magnification is weak, sure it's 250mm at infinity but it's more like 135mm at 12 feet, because of the internal focus.

I also have an A-400 5.6 manual focus, so some of these images are taken with it. Most are the DA*60-250, a few are the DA 18-135, and an even fewer are an old Sigma 70-300, the very last one of the young moose in the ice was taken with the FA 50 1.7.

Wildlife Slideshow by Norm_Head | Photobucket

Last edited by normhead; 02-26-2015 at 07:42 AM.
02-25-2015, 09:53 PM   #25
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Be-mused at the salesmans comment about Pentax service support. In Australia we get great service from the importer and I would be very surprised if that wasn't the same in the US....the trick maybe to do some homework on Pentax US and see if you can access their service directly.
No doubt Pentax US would keep an eye on sites such as this so I would not be surprised if some post pops up that will give you some clarity on that one. As for sales etc, check out the market place on this site.
Not sure about your flash requirements, will let others have a go at that one.
Goodluck with your decision.
02-25-2015, 10:03 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mallee Boy Quote
Be-mused at the salesmans comment about Pentax service support. In Australia we get great service from the importer and I would be very surprised if that wasn't the same in the US.

I think they've had 'issues', Mallee Boy. The US repairers are contractors.
02-25-2015, 10:33 PM   #27
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I took a DA*300 and DA18-135 to Costa Rica last time I was there.
They both worked great and the 300 worked spectacularly on my K-5 at the time.
It works great on my K-3 now.

A couple of shots with the DA*300 from there



02-26-2015, 12:30 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
I took a DA*300 and DA18-135 to Costa Rica last time I was there.
They both worked great and the 300 worked spectacularly on my K-5 at the time.
It works great on my K-3 now.

A couple of shots with the DA*300 from there



Great stuff, Larry!

---------- Post added 02-25-15 at 11:53 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Thomas Cantwell Quote
Also, at least in the k5, the stabilization appeared to be about 1 stop worse than my 70-300's vr.
I found the K-5IIs' SR is about one stop better than the K-5's (or any previous bodies I've had). I imagine the K-3 will have the same SR performance as the K-5 IIs. I never saw this advertised, but I and and least one other forum member have observed through casual testing that SR can be effective at shutter speeds of 1/6s or faster (but not 1/5s): https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/287487-sigm...ml#post3137354. With all previous bodies I always had to stay at 1/13s or faster. This obviously requires proper hand-holding technique, and misses perhaps 30-40% of the time (if you're at the limit of 1/6s). But take 3 photos and you're sure to get 1 or 2 good ones. It appears to have little relationship to the focal length and is mostly a matter of absolute shutter speed, although I haven't tested it carefully on my F*300. Obviously you'll want to test this with your equipment and see what the lowest shutter speed is that provides an acceptable hit ratio for you.
QuoteOriginally posted by Thomas Cantwell Quote
Here's what's holding me back now: I need to find a ttl flash to use that costs no more than $200 and has similar power and t.1 times to an sb800. This seems to be a challenge.
Perhaps a used Metz 52 or used Pentax AF540FGZ? The Pentax was closed out recently, and it was being bundled for as little as about $200 new in some cases. So you might find some new or almost-new ones for sale on the Marketplace.

Last edited by DSims; 02-26-2015 at 01:07 AM.
02-26-2015, 09:27 AM   #29
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Listen to what rburgoss said about the weather. This time of year is not a big deal so due to the dry season and it can get dusty, but if you want to make future trips to the country during the rainy season, I recommend Pentax. I was in Costa Rica last year during the rainy season and I was the only SLR shooter who didn't put my camera away when it started to shower, but I was also there a few weeks ago and no one had to put their cameras away. During rains I did make sure to keep my camera mostly covered when I wasn't taking a photo since I didn't want to over-stress the weather resistance during the major downpours. I actually recommend visiting the rainy season (maybe not the peak of the rainy season) because some animals are just not as active without a recent rain, like many amphibians. Not to mention you'll get different bird migrations at different times of year.

I'm more of a macro shooter than a large wildlife one, but you did mention an interest in macro and I wholeheartedly recommend the D FA 100mm WR macro lens. It is a full-frame lens so you can upgrade when Pentax releases the body, it's weather resistant, and it is sharp across the frame in almost all apertures. It's a wonderful lens and I had so much fun with it in Costa Rica.
02-26-2015, 04:43 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by Thomas Cantwell Quote
Also, at least in the k5, the stabilization appeared to be about 1 stop worse than my 70-300's vr. Mirror slap however seemed less noticeable when pressing the shutter compared to the D7000.
Optical stabilization is better at long focal lengths per several tests - this is not likely your imagination.

QuoteOriginally posted by Thomas Cantwell Quote
For Costa Rica, I'm absolutely certain I want a 300 f4. I've used many lenses to figure that out, and the only focal length I'll miss from my 70-300 days is 135mm. I don't have the budget for any other lenses for this trip. The da 300 would essentially be glued to the k3. I'll be bringing my D7000 anyway for macro and other stuff.
Sounds like you have the right tool for the job picked out then.

QuoteOriginally posted by Thomas Cantwell Quote
Here's what's holding me back now: I need to find a ttl flash to use that costs no more than $200 and has similar power and t.1 times to an sb800. This seems to be a challenge.
I don't know much about that flash. Try here for some more info: The Definitive Guide - Pentax P-TTL Flash Comparison It isn't fully up to date but it might help. TTL isn't really that great a feature at least that's how most of us seem to be feeling. I have the Pentax AF540FGZ (not series II) and it works well enough. I have also used manual and auto flashes in the past and this flash in those modes just as well.

QuoteOriginally posted by Thomas Cantwell Quote
Also, it was brought to my attention that although my D7000 can meter non-cpu lenses (such as a reversed lens), Pentax can't do this. This isn't a huge deal, but is it true? And how do you work around this?
That doesn't make sense to me. Here's a link to how to use manual lenses with Pentax. The reverse adapters aren't going to allow metering except for stopped down. Of course you can meter wide open and then set your own exposure based on the open metering. Here are some details: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/58-troubleshooting-beginner-help/110658-u...x-dslrs-f.html

QuoteOriginally posted by Thomas Cantwell Quote
Something the sales rep mentioned, is that there's not much availability for service support when it comes to Pentax. How true is this and is it a big deal? The only time I ever got my camera serviced wasn't even through nikon, since my D7000 was out of warranty at that point. And furthermore, do you find it difficult to buy and sell used Pentax gear?
In the USA there is only one official service center and since a while ago Pentax stopped selling parts to anyone but authorized service centers it is true that mostly you have one and only one place to go in a given region. Asia may be different and honestly if the numbers were to grow the USA might be also. The current situation is a bit incomprehensible and doesn't set them up for much pro photographer love.
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