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04-01-2015, 11:48 AM   #1
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Lens for birding...

I don't really know what I want, or need...
So let me know if you have an item you're looking to part with and I'll figure out if it's gonna fit the bill and the hobby!

I'm looking for a walk-around birding lens. Something relatively inexpensive and lightweight; but also with enough reach to beat out my 18-135mmWR.

Right now I walk-around with the 18-135, and at 135mm I'll snap a shot, go home and crop it 100%... It's ok for my use; I'm not selling these pictures and I don't pixel peep much.
But still, I'd like to be able to reach to 300mm or beyond and have even more reach when cropping, if need be.



I've thought about the 55-300mm WR, as well as some of the older 400 or 500mm lenses, but don't really know much about them at all.

Let me know what you've got,
all items considered!

Thanks!

04-01-2015, 03:00 PM   #2
Des
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There is a tension between walk-around and birding lens. Portability for one, reach for the other.

Sigma make a 50-500mm zoom lens which covers a very wide range, but it is known as the Bigma for a reason - 2kg and lots of bulk. Carrying around a lens like this (or the 150-500) soon becomes a chore. You have to be pretty committted.

The 55-300 is light weight (about 450g) and portable. It provides sufficient reach and IQ to meet the needs of most casual wildlife shooters. And it's cheap too. The current version has WR, but if you can live without that the earlier DA-L and DA versions are optically identical and outstanding value second hand. The DA-L goes for around $150 and the DA about $50-70 more.

The jump from there is a hefty step up in weight and price, either to one of the primes you mentioned or one of the longer zooms. Or a 300mm prime (Pentax F*, FA* or DA*, or the Sigma 300mm f4 tele macro) or the Sigma 100-300 f4 with a teleconverter. The F*300 is the lightest of these at around 800g; it costs upwards of $800 on the used market. Add another $150 or so for a 1.4x teleconverter.

My advice would be to get the 55-300 and try it for a while. It's a really handy lens, and pairs well with the 18-135. You might find that it is all you need.

To put this in perspective, 300mm on an APS-C camera gives a similar field of view to 450mm on a film camera. In the days of film, a light-weight affordable 450mm autofocus lens would have seemed like a dream come true.

Last edited by Des; 04-01-2015 at 03:10 PM.
04-01-2015, 03:14 PM   #3
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Pm sent on a 55-300
04-02-2015, 08:31 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Des Quote
There is a tension between walk-around and birding lens. Portability for one, reach for the other.

Sigma make a 50-500mm zoom lens which covers a very wide range, but it is known as the Bigma for a reason - 2kg and lots of bulk. Carrying around a lens like this (or the 150-500) soon becomes a chore. You have to be pretty committted.

The 55-300 is light weight (about 450g) and portable. It provides sufficient reach and IQ to meet the needs of most casual wildlife shooters. And it's cheap too. The current version has WR, but if you can live without that the earlier DA-L and DA versions are optically identical and outstanding value second hand. The DA-L goes for around $150 and the DA about $50-70 more.

The jump from there is a hefty step up in weight and price, either to one of the primes you mentioned or one of the longer zooms. Or a 300mm prime (Pentax F*, FA* or DA*, or the Sigma 300mm f4 tele macro) or the Sigma 100-300 f4 with a teleconverter. The F*300 is the lightest of these at around 800g; it costs upwards of $800 on the used market. Add another $150 or so for a 1.4x teleconverter.

My advice would be to get the 55-300 and try it for a while. It's a really handy lens, and pairs well with the 18-135. You might find that it is all you need.

To put this in perspective, 300mm on an APS-C camera gives a similar field of view to 450mm on a film camera. In the days of film, a light-weight affordable 450mm autofocus lens would have seemed like a dream come true.
Well said.

04-03-2015, 11:01 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Well said.
PM sent on Pentax-M f5.6 400mm
04-04-2015, 08:16 PM   #6
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I have the HD 55-300 WR ED lens and I do use it for birding. Since it is not too heavy it is to shoot handheld. I have a Tokina 400mm 5.6 manual focus lens that I could sell. This would be an inexpensive investment. I bought it to try out and ended up buying the AF version. The two versions are identical except for AF.
04-29-2015, 10:21 AM   #7
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Still looking for a birding lens... 300mm+ zoom or prime...
Let me know what you have!
04-29-2015, 11:02 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by UserAccessDenied Quote
Still looking for a birding lens... 300mm+ zoom or prime...
Let me know what you have!
I'd suggest you buy a FA 80-320 for knock around purposes. They are dirt cheap, not too bad optically and reasonable reach. You will also learn more about what focal length would work best for you in a more capable lens. Check the reviews in the data base and prices on ebay. Best of luck in your search.

04-29-2015, 11:08 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by onlineflyer Quote
I'd suggest you buy a FA 80-320 for knock around purposes. They are dirt cheap, not too bad optically and reasonable reach. You will also learn more about what focal length would work best for you in a more capable lens. Check the reviews in the data base and prices on ebay. Best of luck in your search.
Disclaimer - My FA 80-320 is no longer autofocus or "A". I have to use mine like an "M" lens.

I disagree. I have shot with the FA 80-320 and I found it to be fairly mediocre. The DAL 55-300 seems like a better choice in terms of cost vs. image quality. I have the DA 55-300, the FA 80-320, the DA* 50-135 the DA* 60-250 and the DA* 200 and while the 60-250 is clearly sharper than the 55-300, the 55-300 is clearly less bothered by abberations than the 80-320. The cost difference between a used 80-320 and the DAL version of the 55-300 seems like a no brainer - both lack quickshift and both aren't WR. Also the 80-320 lacks an easy to use, reverse storing, bayonet hood.
 

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