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01-12-2011, 09:59 PM   #1
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300mm lenses vs each other VS SuperZooms

I have a bit of a dilemma. I recently got a k-r (which I love!),The kit I got came with a 50-200mm zoom lens because for what ever reason I didn't think to get the 50-300m zoom kit instead. I basically regret this now.

I live in a surf town and I want to be able to take pictures of surfers, who sometimes are around a quarter mile or so out from where I would be taking pictures. I also like to take pictures of birds and deer and other nature, and do so from a distance. I am not looking to go pro with any of this just to have some fun. 400mm+ bigma's and the like are way out of my budget.

So there are several lenses that reach 300mm available for the k mount. I believe there is a Tamaron that goes for around $100. I am curious what the consensus is about which of these lenses looks the best at 300mm? I would like to get that one

My other question is would it be more practical to get a bridge/superzoom like the Pentax x90 or the Canon hs20? The Hs20 has 800mm or greater, cannot recall exactly, focal distance and would seem to have much greater zooming power than a 300mm on my k-r.

It would also cost more than most of the 300mm and make me betray my k-r to a small sensor having dslr wanna be.

What would you do if you were me?

01-12-2011, 10:29 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Metalwizards Quote
...

I live in a surf town and I want to be able to take pictures of surfers, who sometimes are around a quarter mile or so out from where I would be taking pictures. I also like to take pictures of birds and deer and other nature, and do so from a distance. I am not looking to go pro with any of this just to have some fun. 400mm+ bigma's and the like are way out of my budget.

...
A 300mm will make your subject 50% larger on the sensor/photo (compared to 200mm). Will that be sufficient? If not, start saving up.

And forget about getting one surfer filling the frame at 400 meters You need a lens whose focal length is expressed in meters
01-12-2011, 10:42 PM   #3
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If you do desire a 300mm, buy the DA-L 55-300. It is the same optically as the DA version, but a lot less expensive. Or check out some legacy lenses, such as screw mounts, K's, M's, etc.

Edit: I love my DA-L55-300
01-12-2011, 10:45 PM   #4
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I am impressed at the "1/4 mile" issue. The last (and only) surf contest I shot was 2 months ago and with 510mm of lens and APS-C sensor I cropped most shots by 30-50% to isolate the rider and that was at 60-80m typical distance. That meant my feet were getting wet at times too.

if it helps, here is what 510mm looks like, cropped, at that range on surfers -
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stilltheguy/sets/72157625435086444/

01-12-2011, 11:03 PM - 1 Like   #5
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The DA* 300mm f4 is very nice, I hear. But if you're asking, like me you can't afford it.

You'll have to give up something to get a better price. I got the SMC Pentax 300mm f4 - manual focus, manual aperture, 77mm filter and over 2 pounds. This lens and the older screw-mount variations are the only non-* Pentax 300s, so it's cheap (sort of). It's faster than the zooms with better image quality. You may get some CA in high-contrast edges, also a problem with the zooms. It has an integral hood.

I liked the Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6. It's not as good as the Pentax but you get a zoom, AF, auto aperture, even 1:2 macro. And it's a convenient size and weight. I tested these two and some others I didn't like as much here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/98808-300mm-le...p-options.html

The only other lens I've used is an older Sigma 100-300mm, I think f4.5-6.7, 55mm filter, plastic mount. It's small but kind of sucks. There's an equivalent Quantaray, still bad, except with a metal mount.

I think birds are difficult in many ways. Here's a small bird with the K300/4, right at its minimum focus distance. The photo is uncropped, through a window, f5.6, 1/125, ISO 1600, on a tripod.



The window hurts contrast a lot. Anyway, although you might have a brighter day, small birds are rarely going to fill the frame even at 300mm. Surfers might be far away, but conveniently are larger and probably in better light.
01-12-2011, 11:22 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by calculator01 Quote
If you do desire a 300mm, buy the DA-L 55-300. It is the same optically as the DA version, but a lot less expensive. Or check out some legacy lenses, such as screw mounts, K's, M's, etc.

Edit: I love my DA-L55-300
I did not know that! I think I will be picking one of those up after all. Found them for $220 on ebay which I would say is with in my budget.

Any clue how much I could get for a Pentax DA-L 50-200mm?

Last edited by Metalwizards; 01-12-2011 at 11:31 PM.
01-12-2011, 11:35 PM   #7
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I bought the K-R with the DA-L, lens was $160

I just picked up a lens for the DA 55-300 on eBay for $20.

Keep in mind it is a plastic mount (no big deal for me) and no quick shift (no big deal for me)
01-13-2011, 01:48 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by imtheguy Quote
I am impressed at the "1/4 mile" issue. The last (and only) surf contest I shot was 2 months ago and with 510mm of lens and APS-C sensor I cropped most shots by 30-50% to isolate the rider and that was at 60-80m typical distance. That meant my feet were getting wet at times too.

if it helps, here is what 510mm looks like, cropped, at that range on surfers -
surf - a set on Flickr
Nice shots. I especially like K5_A4618pp!

01-13-2011, 03:26 AM   #9
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The DA(L) 55-300 is a bit of a steal for the IQ IMO. It can double as a poor man's variable maginifcation macro lens in combination with the Raynox 150 close-up (for ~$50 the IQ is respectable and eminently bagable assuming one carries the 55-300 anyway) :-)
01-13-2011, 04:13 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jolepp Quote
The DA(L) 55-300 is a bit of a steal for the IQ IMO.
IMO, too.
01-13-2011, 09:33 AM   #11
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Learn a little math

If I were you, I would learn a little math. Specifically

Image size = subject size x Focal length / Distance

If you consider your DSLR sensor to be 24mm wide by 16 mm high this represents your image size.

Lets say you want a surfer, who crouched a little presents a subject 1.6 meters high, (I picked this because it divides nicely by the hight of your sensor)

To fill the frame, you need to have a Focal length to distance ratio of 1/100

what this means is you need 1000mm of focal length (1 meter) for every 100 meters the subject is away from you.

You won;t get this in any surfing environment,

The calculation will be the same for a super zoom bridge camera like the X90, it is just that the sensor size is much smaller.

No matter what you use you will be cropping in substantially, or will need some other way to get close.
01-13-2011, 09:41 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
The DA* 300mm f4 is very nice, I hear. But if you're asking, like me you can't afford it.

You'll have to give up something to get a better price. I got the SMC Pentax 300mm f4 - manual focus, manual aperture, 77mm filter and over 2 pounds. This lens and the older screw-mount variations are the only non-* Pentax 300s, so it's cheap (sort of). It's faster than the zooms with better image quality. You may get some CA in high-contrast edges, also a problem with the zooms. It has an integral hood.

I liked the Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6. It's not as good as the Pentax but you get a zoom, AF, auto aperture, even 1:2 macro. And it's a convenient size and weight. I tested these two and some others I didn't like as much here: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/98808-300mm-le...p-options.html

The only other lens I've used is an older Sigma 100-300mm, I think f4.5-6.7, 55mm filter, plastic mount. It's small but kind of sucks. There's an equivalent Quantaray, still bad, except with a metal mount.

I think birds are difficult in many ways. Here's a small bird with the K300/4, right at its minimum focus distance. The photo is uncropped, through a window, f5.6, 1/125, ISO 1600, on a tripod.



The window hurts contrast a lot. Anyway, although you might have a brighter day, small birds are rarely going to fill the frame even at 300mm. Surfers might be far away, but conveniently are larger and probably in better light.
Nice shot of the Junko Dave

considering uncropped, you are about at minimum focus distance for that lens. (10-15 feet)
01-13-2011, 09:49 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
...
what this means is you need 1000mm of focal length (1 meter) for every 100 meters the subject is away from you.
...
Quite correct I got to 3.5 meters and 5 meters focal length (depending on landscape or portrait) for 1.8 meter high and 400 meters distance (sorry, metric guy).
01-13-2011, 09:54 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by sterretje Quote
Quite correct I got to 3.5 meters and 5 meters focal length (depending on landscape or portrait) for 1.8 meter high and 400 meters distance (sorry, metric guy).
when you get one of these lenses let me know how many metric tones it weighs

Although many don't like math, it is sometimes very useful to know whether you are looking at a shooting situation that is realistic or not.

I use the formula to base decisions of what lens to take to venues like sporting events, knowing where I am sitting relitive to the action.
01-13-2011, 11:22 AM   #15
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At CES - I saw many 800mm Canon and Sony lenses (Pentax only had a small mtg room, as did Nikon).

Over at Celestron - they had a 2400mm telescope
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