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09-12-2013, 08:24 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by GibbyTheMole Quote
ISO 100 is very low when shooting handheld with a long lens. Just a thought: If your other lens is giving you better results, it might be that it's because it's a shorter focal length, and just under the usable handheld shutter speed threshold. I usually stick to "safe" shutter speeds of at least 1/whatever the focal length I'm shooting at. For what it's worth, I've never had a problem with my 55-300, ever. It's a superb performer and one of my all-time favorite lenses.



What AF mode are you using? If you're using a multi-pattern mode, it might be that it's focusing on something other than your subject. Use center point AF for awhile & see how that works. Otherwise, you might try adjusting the autofocus, That could also be your problem.

If you want to verify whether your focus is working correctly, stick a piece of newsprint to a well-lit flat wall, put your camera on a tripod several feet away, directly facing it (not at an angle), use center point AF, open up the lens all the way, and take some photos at various focal lengths. If you have a remote it would be a good idea to use it to eliminate the possibility of camera shake. If the pics are in focus, the lens is fine. If not, you need to adjust the AF.

You could have a bad copy of the lens, but I'd try to rule out other things first.

Good luck,
Bob :-)
Thanks.

I have my AF set to center. Again, I don't really use it though. On occasion, I let it focus, then fine tune it using the switch on the body, but that's pretty rare and was more to try and get better shots.



I'm leaning towards my shutter speed and shake being the primary problem now.


Still, nothing but Pentax can fix it going past infinity as far as I know.


I will do some experimenting, including what you suggest. Going to put it up against my 50-200 and my Tele-Tak for some comparison.

09-12-2013, 08:43 AM   #17
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Yeah, 1/30 at 300mm is way beyond what most people can handle without a tripod or similar. Even the subject itself often moves way too much to freeze its movement.
QuoteOriginally posted by Noskovus Quote
Still see more softness than I do on other lenses, though at similar settings and lengths (I'm considering the Tele-Takumar a similar length because it's 200mm for Full Frame and the 55-300mm is for crop, right? - Still not totally sure on that.)
The focal length of the lens is a lens characteristic and has nothing to do with sensor size, so 200mm is always 200mm and 300mm is always 300mm no matter what you put it on and even when you look through the lens with your eyes it stays the same.
QuoteOriginally posted by Noskovus Quote
And then there's still the infinity issue as well.
Almost all AF lenses goes past infinity to give some extra room for the AF to adjust within.
09-12-2013, 08:50 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by VisualDarkness Quote
Yeah, 1/30 at 300mm is way beyond what most people can handle without a tripod or similar. Even the subject itself often moves way too much to freeze its movement.

The focal length of the lens is a lens characteristic and has nothing to do with sensor size, so 200mm is always 200mm and 300mm is always 300mm no matter what you put it on and even when you look through the lens with your eyes it stays the same.

Almost all AF lenses goes past infinity to give some extra room for the AF to adjust within.
All very good info. Thank you.

I have been very confused by the whole full frame vs crop sensor difference in focal length stuff I've read. Still pretty new to this. Just got my camera back in late May. Been trying to read up and learn as much as I can.
09-12-2013, 08:50 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by VisualDarkness Quote
Almost all AF lenses goes past infinity to give some extra room for the AF to adjust within.
+1 to that - and manual focusing a lens built for AF can be persnickety because the throw is much shorter - making it more difficult to fine tune.

09-12-2013, 08:54 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattt Quote
+1 to that - and manual focusing a lens built for AF can be persnickety because the throw is much shorter - making it more difficult to fine tune.
I have noticed that.
09-12-2013, 09:07 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Noskovus Quote
have been very confused by the whole full frame vs crop sensor difference in focal length stuff I've read.
Unless you're using the same lens on both an APS-C and a FF camera, just ignore all that crop factor gibberish. If you were, they would "feel" different on the two cameras because the crop factor of the sensor impacts the overall field of view kind of like cropping a picture does. That's why people that have used a 50mm on a FF camera say it's like a 75mm on an APS-C (or whatever math is right)... what they're really saying is that they'd need a 75mm on their FF camera to get the same shot from the same place as a 50mm on an APS-C.

For those of us that have only ever known APS-C, maybe just keep it in mind if your getting lens advice from a FF user. Like if you love their portrait work and want to emulate it, you might actually use a different focal length on your APS-C to get a similar result... or you might just stand further away
09-12-2013, 09:35 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Noskovus Quote
I am probably overly critical of my photos, but I always think they look grainy when I shoot over 100. Probably just me being picky.
You are being picky. I've been there, too, coming from a film background.

Ramp up the ISO to 1600-3200 and use AF. At long FL's I have found AF very usable in many scenes.

Experiment. It sounds like you are trying to over think the camera. The read-out noise at ISO 1600 on this sensor is almost indistinguishable from ISO 200 if properly RAW-engined or JPEGed SOOC.

At long FL's on a front heavy zoom like the 55-300 (I have one) get the shutter speed up whatever it takes.
09-12-2013, 09:49 AM   #23
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And here I've been trying to shoot at less than 1/100 with my Sears 60-300 and Vivitar Series 1 (ver1 - Kiron) at full focal lengths and getting frustrated. Talk about front heavy....

I knew the shutter speed made a difference. I could see that. I guess I didn't realize how much it scaled up when you extended the range.

09-12-2013, 10:13 AM   #24
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Most lenses, if not all will focus past infinity - and that's by design to accommodate heat etc.

I have noticed on my 55-300 it's a bit soft at 300mm but I think that's normal. Here's something you may not consider though - haze. When focusing at long distances - at a passing airplane etc. I notice a LOT of atmospheric haze, particularly in the summer. Go figure....

The plane is focused fine, I can see that, but the image looks washed out. I have yet to see whether the nice polarizing filter I bought will mediate that at all.

I'll also say bump your shutter speed over 1/125 if you want to have better hand-held experience. Don't be afraid of higher ISO in the bright light, 400 or 800 are no problem but of course keep it as low as practical. Most of the time when out with the 55-300 in bright days if I'm shooting f8ish anything below 1/300 will start blinking ISO 80. That's without the polarizer. I'll bump that shutter speed as high as I like, the camera's fine with fast shutter.
09-12-2013, 11:12 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
I have yet to see whether the nice polarizing filter I bought will mediate that at all.
The polarizer has to be at itīs maximum effect to remove haze, but by then the sky will be quite darken and youīll have lost 1 and a half light stops. I think a color filter is better for haze though I couldnīt tell which one and how it would work with the sensor...
09-14-2013, 07:30 PM   #26
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So after taking your advice and messing around, I went back out the last few days and have been taking more shots, allowing my ISO to level up and keeping my shutter speed up. Here's one snag that I would have had some trouble with in the past. This was one of those where you catch it out of the corner of your eye and spin and shoot, so not bad for what it is. It's also cropped a bit, as I was not all that close.

09-14-2013, 07:36 PM   #27
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Also grabbed this the day before (the day I posted this and you all helped out) with the DA 50-200mm WR to start testing the higher ISO/Shutters you were suggesting.

Same hawk, same place. Still haven't gotten a good shot at this fella.

09-16-2013, 08:08 PM   #28
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One thing about the high ISO and wildlife, it's fine until you have to crop heavily. Also the 55-300 does much better when the subject is well lit, and for birds and such, use spot metering. And agreeing with everybody else, you need faster shutter speeds and the autofocus will be better on this lens than trying manually. It is a very capable lens under the right conditions, but you have to learn how to use it, it has a narrow range of success compared to many lenses.
09-20-2013, 07:06 AM   #29
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I do very well with my DA L 55-300. My advice, take pictures like you are a military sniper; slow, steady and deliberate. You have heard about 1/<focal length> as a minimum shutter speed? I would like to suggest that if you intend to crop your result, you have to adjust your thinking to 1/<focal length X magnification due to crop>. That or turn off shake reduction (SR) and use a tripod.

As for focusing. I always use AF to get me to the neighborhood. However, depending on the subject, there may be nearby objects that are tastier to your AF than your subject. Wildlife nestled in branches nearly always gets me really sharp twigs and almost sharp focus on my subject. Those AF selection points are much bigger than you might think. So, after using AF, I often do a manual tweak when there are distracting elements in the scene. With a DA L lens you have two options for performing this manual focus tweak:
A) flip the AF switch to MF
B) while simultaneously holding the shutter at half-press, press the lens release button. This disengages the AF screw drive and allows you to turn the lens' focusing ring. Yes, it takes some practice.

And my final advice - remove any filter you may be using and always, always, always use a lens hood. You can purchase a nearly identical hood for the DA 55-300 for your DA L 55-300 for very little cost through Amazon. The improved contrast in your images will be noticeable.
09-22-2013, 07:29 PM   #30
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I've not had many chances to get back out and take more shots yet. I found that I have trouble stomaching ISO above 400. I know that the K-30 is supposed to handle that fine, but I still get twitchy with the loss of detail.

I'm learning to work with the AF better, though I do have to often tweak it still (the "very sharp twigs" comment have me quite a chuckle in the 'yeah, that's it' way.). I'm trying to find my comfort zone/sweet spot. Definitely having better luck at the longer lengths, seems I get almost no shake blur once I have it over 1/150 or so. I've taken my ND filter off that I was trying to use for a while to speed things up. I also have a hood now. That was the case for my test shots I posted, but not before those.

I have done some tripod testing and still not getting the sharpness I would expect. I get it sometimes, but not as often as I think I should.

Anyway, still want a lot more tests, practice, and chances to take it out with new teqniques before I give up.


Thank you all for all of your help. It is very much appreciated.
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