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07-16-2012, 08:15 PM   #1
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Hi all..is K5 a good choice for wildlife/birding work

Hi just joined here,thinking of switching to Pentax from Oly 43 ..need good IQ in low light and want to do wildlife,nature, and bird shots...would the K 5 be a good choice with say Sigma 120-400 lens or? Bit of tight budget under $2K ,and the K5 is so cheap now compared to N/C or Oly E5. Need a 600mm reach,so a 400mm lens would do,maybe with tc if possible,
any help is appreciated...the fact the K5 is WR is a must as I live near the Danish west coast and love to shoot in bad weather
Thanks
shanti

07-16-2012, 11:28 PM   #2
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Gee....I think that posing your question to this forum will net you a lot of "yes". Check out the birding, wildlife and comments with super telephoto and K-5 (and others) here:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/lens-clubs/55946-300mm-plus-lens-club-dis...ml#post2022203
07-16-2012, 11:37 PM   #3
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The K-5 is a very good choice with fantastic low-light capabilities. If you don't mind having no battery grips, the K-30 is also a good choice, especially with its upgraded tracking AF system. As for the lenses imtheguy linked the right thread already
07-16-2012, 11:56 PM   #4
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K5 + DA*300 should be close to $2K ? Used if not new. And fully WR (both camera & lens - I've been out in a typhoon with that pair). Add the Tamron x1.4 PZ or Pentax AFA x1.7 later if you want extra reach but the DA*300 is very very sharp and crops well.

07-17-2012, 10:08 AM   #5
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Hi Thanks for the help people..
>I wonder is the 120-400 Sigma better than the 150-500 IQ wise? also it seems Sigma for Pentax is about 20% more than for CanNikon..is that normal? is there a TC that is available now? seem to have trouble finding where they are
or what about the Pentax 55-300 w/ TC is that a possibility or is IQ not so good
and for WA I think of the Pentax 16-45,even though not WR ,the tests here say its a bit better..& much cheaper..
have been using 200 F4 & 70-300 Oly lenses which give a nice crop factor,but miss alot of detail..so I hope the K5 or K30 will solve that..
Cheers Shanti
07-17-2012, 11:12 AM   #6
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The 16-45 is a good lens, the IQ is nice for that basic zoom. The 18-135 might be a better choice for you - more rugged. The 16-45 is pretty inexpensive, though, so you may just pick one up to have a short zoom.
07-17-2012, 11:27 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Shanti Quote
Hi Thanks for the help people..
>I wonder is the 120-400 Sigma better than the 150-500 IQ wise? also it seems Sigma for Pentax is about 20% more than for CanNikon..is that normal? is there a TC that is available now? seem to have trouble finding where they are
or what about the Pentax 55-300 w/ TC is that a possibility or is IQ not so good
and for WA I think of the Pentax 16-45,even though not WR ,the tests here say its a bit better..& much cheaper..
have been using 200 F4 & 70-300 Oly lenses which give a nice crop factor,but miss alot of detail..so I hope the K5 or K30 will solve that..
Cheers Shanti
The Tamron 17-50 is a superb lens for the money, and amazingly sharp. I'd take that over the 16-45.

The Sigma 120-400 is definitely not better than the 150-500. Price tells you a lot here. The 150-500 is a class above. For good prices try BH / KEH / Adorama / Amazon in the USA and SRS in the UK.
07-17-2012, 11:47 AM   #8
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like the 24mm wide on that one..main reason to get it..now a 16-135 that would be nice...

07-17-2012, 11:59 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Frogfish Quote
K5 + DA*300 should be close to $2K ? Used if not new. And fully WR (both camera & lens - I've been out in a typhoon with that pair). Add the Tamron x1.4 PZ or Pentax AFA x1.7 later if you want extra reach but the DA*300 is very very sharp and crops well.
it seems the 150-500 is $965 and 120-400 $1095 here in the database..am I missing something........ also does a TC work on the 150-500? I see you have that lens as well.
07-17-2012, 12:11 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Shanti Quote
it seems the 150-500 is $965 and 120-400 $1095 here in the database..am I missing something........ also does a TC work on the 150-500? I see you have that lens as well.
The prices in the database should not be used as a guide. They reflect the price when the review was written, not what the current street price is.

The 120-400 has a current street price of $899. The 150-500 has a current street price of $969. Both reflect a $100 rebate.
07-17-2012, 01:00 PM   #11
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Just a few comments.... first, I had 2 copies of the 120-400 and sent them both back. Like the Sigma 70-300 which I also still own, they were just too soft at the long end to pay for. Also, a, TC ( Teleconverter) makes it very difficult for an F4 lens to focus in low light... or even average light. My F4 60-250 with a the 1.7 TC is F 6.7 wide open, and that definitely isn't optimal for the K-5. Given that I bought the 60-250, you don't really notice 50 mm all that much. If you have the 60-250 you probably don't need a 300mm lens. You just don't get that much more. SO, if you plan to use a TC, I'd definitely go with the Tamron 70-200 2.8. That extra light is huge for efficient auto-focus when using a TC on a K-5.

Another consideration... in my opinion, even the 120-400 that I sent back was probably better than the DA* with a TC. SO if you are going to get one lens for birding, For me it would be the 50-500 or the 150-500, which ever is sharper.

Another consideration here is that if you were shooting FF, you'd be probably cropping within the APS-c sensor size anyway.. how is this important? 500mm APS-c is likely to give you the same final images as 500 mm FF. The usual crop factor won't apply unless the FF image is the same MP as the APS-c image. So , the equivalency conversion, 500 mm APS-c = 750 mm FF may or may not apply. If you're comparing with a 24 mp FF system, your images will be exactly the same size and the whole FF equivalency thing is off the table.

SO I guess what I'm saying is.... the more reach the better, don't depend on a TC to boost your image and maintain IQ.. Pentax has a 560 mm lens on it's roadmap that is probably closest to what you want, but who knows how much that will cost.

ANyway... a few shots for your inspiration..

Close in , any lens will do.. this one from about 10 feet away. When I shoot the birds at my bird feeder, even so-so lenses give me good images.





From a distance, you don't want to be using a TC, or a cheaper lens. Their lack of resolving power is more noticeable for shots taken from a distance.



As much as I've grown to be leery of Sigma lenses, one of the ones that goes to 500mm is probably going to work out best for you.
07-17-2012, 02:54 PM   #12
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Thanks @normhead it still confuses me abit as many wan the 1.5-2X cropfactor for birding etc.. but if for ex. I use a 300mm on the D800 with 36M pixels it will be much better than on any Aps-C camera then? Have been using Oly 70-300 or 200mm and can get some good shots in between,but miss alot of detail... also coming from 25yrs of film cameras I always shoot/compose to fill the frame(maybe bad habit these days??) so somehow its easier if my subject can fill most of the frame.... I'd post some shots but there from my Oly gear and maybe that's a big no-no here...
07-17-2012, 03:08 PM   #13
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QuoteQuote:
I use a 300mm on the D800 with 36M pixels it will be much better than on any Aps-C camera then?
That's correct. In terms of magnification, you'd have to have a 24 MP APS-c to even match a D800 with the APS-c crop. A 300mm lens on a D800 will have more magnification of a bird than a K-5 with a 300 mm lens. At birding range, it's as much about the pixel density as it is about the sensor format. If you go to a 1:1 crop, the D800 image will be larger. On a 24 Mp FF sensor they'll be about the same. Compared to a D700 (12p) the K-5 will be larger.
07-17-2012, 08:59 PM   #14
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A couple of interesting points have come up here, and I don't want to just be contrary but maybe these are valid.

1. I hang out quite a bit on FM (because the quality of their bird shots is often astonishing) - those guys are very serious CaNikon shooters with most using 500/600/800mm lenses (or the superb 400/5.6 at worst), with e.g. 1Dx, 5Diii and D800 ! However most will agree (as this is often a point of debate) that for pure distance the 7D will out-perform for detail the files from those mega-cameras which have to crop (maybe a lot) to get the same FoV. I won't get into the 'pixels on the bird' debate, those guys have the cameras and know what they are talking about from side to side comparisons. Most will still use the FF cameras though in a trade off for the extra IQ jump and file quality.

EDIT. Just noticed this comment on FM from one of their most respected posters : Think of all the wildlife photographers with FF bodies that will be pi##ed off when and if Canon brings out a crop body with AF equal to that of the 5DMk3 or 1DX.

2. When shooting birds (unless from a hide) you are almost always going to have to crop a lot. On the two recent bird threads I put up on here, the Pied Falconets were cropped ca. 80-85% away (the birds occupied 15-20% of the photo real estate, which is not far off what you would view at 100%) and on the Laughing Thrushes I've cropped maybe 60-80% away (birds occupying 20-40%). You can see the difference that makes to the detail. These were both taken with the K5+DA*300 and AFA x1.7 TC. I tried the DA*300 alone and it was definitely not better. Just too short and to get closer I would have needed a snorkel and underwater housing !

Pied Falconets (one of two threads on these birds) : https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/192235-nature-worlds-sma...-part-2-a.html

Laughing Thrushes : https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/192601-nature-one-worlds...ng-thrush.html

3. IMHO anything under a 500mm (i.e. a 300 or 400mm) is just OK as a pure birding lens. And most need to take a TC well too (those 400/500/600 guys are sometimes adding x1.4 or higher TCs). An interesting tidbit, during shooting those Pied Falconets they were at one time too far away for photography, but the CaNikon shooters were telling me to have a try (K5, DA*300 + AFA x1.7 = 35mm equiv. 765mm) as their FF cameras with 500/600 and no TCs were too short, birds were ca. 100m away.

4. Read the reviews and look at the sample shots (esp. those showing the negatives of a lens and not just the positives) on here and elsewhere, the Sigma 120-400 (whilst capable of nice shots) is not in the same class as either the 150-500 or the (very slightly better optically) 50-500. Don't take my word for it, the reviews/opinions (inc. Norm's above) are pretty conclusive.

5. As Norm says the closer you can get the better your bird photography will be. At less than 3-4M all good lenses are capable of excellent shots. But you need to be in a hide, have suicidal birds or have SAS / Navy Seal sniper training to get that close.

6. With long focal lengths you must have good support. Which means at the minimum a sturdy monopod (which is what I use when out hiking for birds) or a solid tripod (used when I am staying in one/two places).

7. With Pentax I don't think (without smashing your $2k budget) you can get better than a K5+DA*300 and add a x1.4 TC later. The testing I did here shows that even though the DA*300 alone crops very well it can't beat the IQ at the cropped same FoV if you compare to that after having added a high quality TC such as the Tamron x1.4 Pz or Pentax AFA x1.7 : https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/139941-lenses-...-x1-4-etc.html

8. If not with Pentax then a 60D/D7000 with one of CaNikon's 400/5.6 is a nice starting point as a birding kit (and both of those work well with their TCs).

I hope this helps !

Last edited by Frogfish; 07-18-2012 at 02:43 AM.
07-18-2012, 08:28 AM   #15
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Hi Frogfish... so the 300 DA is by far the best..the 55-300 was an option but it seems very poor in comparison... the Sigma 150-500 is about the same price here as the 300DA..so between those 2 I guess, for CaNikon a similar setup with 300mm F4 costs alot more than the Pentax system,and neither are really WR.. can you still get the Pentax TC 1.7? can't find it new anywhere.... I know 2k is not alot for a birding setup,but this project is mostly for fun & learning so have to watch those $$$..boring I know.. they are alot of Buzzards here where I live and really want to get some good shots of them in flight if possible..
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