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12-11-2014, 01:36 PM   #16
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I'd try to pick up a 2nd hand DA 300. The 55-300 is a good lens, but like other posters have mentioned, I outgrew it pretty fast and wish I'd started with the 300. If you can get a DA300 for $1000-1100 and later decide wildlife photography isn't for you, you can sell it and recover most, if not all, of your investment. If you decide you really like it, you can pick up the HD 1.4 TC later to get more reach. Check KEH. They usually have at least one in excellent condition for a fair price.

12-11-2014, 01:54 PM   #17
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Also keep in mind that the DA*300 isn't very heavy, so you can hand hold it when you need to. And its predecessors, the FA* and F*, are even lighter, having less weight and (arguably) slightly better IQ as you go older in the linage.

The *300s have the best IQ - which produces attention-grabbing photos - if the FL works for you. Your K-3 will focus very well with any of these. If true focusing silence or WR is critical then you need the DA*, of course. If focusing speed/ability matters the most, the older screw-drive lenses (F* and FA*) usually focus faster and better, though most DA*300 owners find focusing to be adequate enough.

---------- Post added 12-11-14 at 01:50 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by nomadkng Quote
Count me in the corner of the anti 55-300 club. It's a decent lens at a decent price, but it does not age well. As you get more experience with tele work and start expecting better results, you very quickly learn that its IQ and functionality ... is lacking.
I agree. It's a very good $200 lens. Probably worth more than it costs. But I eventually realized that I didn't have a single compelling shot from it over 135mm. So I sold it and got the DA*50-135 and F*300. A completely different price range, I realize - but also dramatically different results. Virtually nowhere to upgrade from there - but seldom a need to, either! It's not difficult to be satisfied with the results from these * lenses.

Last edited by DSims; 12-11-2014 at 03:07 PM.
12-11-2014, 05:48 PM   #18
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I started by getting a Sigma 70-300, which, while isn't the worst lens ever, is not at all sharp beyond 200, so it isn't helpful for wildlife photography. I was trying to get some pictures of birds in the backyard and realized that I needed something better. I found a real gem in the Pentax m 200mm f4, which worked relatively well for capturing pictures of birds. Moreover, using the relatively short (for birding) manual focus lens with no zoom forced me to think much more about how I took pictures. I have the Pentax 55-300 now, which is what I use when I being lazy, but the 200 is a much, much sharper lens. If you are interested in thinking a bit more about how you take pictures (and don't mind missing a lot of shots as you learn), check out some of the old manual focus lenses too, which have the added benefit of being really cheap.
12-11-2014, 06:48 PM   #19
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Also consider the Sigma 300mm f4 tele-macro and its sibling the 400mm f5.6 tele-macro (with 77mm filter size, not the earlier models which took 72mm filters). Arguably better than any of the Sigma zooms and considerably lighter.

Both very hard to find, but considerably cheaper than the Pentax F*300, FA*300, DA*300 or FA*400 f5.6 ($2500+). Maybe not better IQ than these but in the same league.

Having said that, if you happen to find a used DA*300 and the 1.4x WR teleconverter within your budget, go for it. The SDM focusing is a big advantage over screw drive, not because it's faster (it isn't) but because it won't scare away the wildlife like screw-drive focusing does. And it will hold its value pretty well (even if Pentax does come out with a FF camera, APS-C will still appeal to enthusiast wildlife photographers).

12-11-2014, 07:38 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by gastch Quote
Hey guys and gals I've been looking at getting a wildlife lens and have been looking through various options and reading reviews and looking at sample pics. As background I'm new to photography but have had a long time passion to start. The lens will be going on my new K-3. Most of my picks will be sitting in bushs taking pics of deer,moose, bears,fox,coyotes etc or sometimes nearby ponds waiting for heron's, ducks etc or the local park or corn field for geese.I should be able to get within 70-80 yds of all these animals easily but 100-150yds shot would be takin at the far end of field I see deer in.
What are your thoughts on the options I've been looking at? Any others I should be lookig at?
Pentax DA* 300 f4 - this would be at the high end of the budget at just over $1400 new here in Canada. The used one in the buy and sell is tempting if still available in late jan when I plan on buying.
Pentax DA 55-300 - Budget wise this would work best as I have some other items I'd like to get fornmy set up but I can work around getting those right now.
Sigma 120-400
Sigma 150-500
Pentax 60-250
If all you can afford is the DA55-300 at around $350 get it. If you have good light it will produce good images, get the DA version because it has quick shift, you learn how to quickshift to get the focus close and then hit the AF to finish it. If you don't use that technique it will be noisy and it will hunt, and wildlife will flee. I had this lens and it served me well, but you have to learn how to use it. A couple years ago I rented a Sigma 50-500, I got some nice photos, the extra reach was nice, but it is slow (It is supposed to be better than the 150-500). About a year ago I was fortunate enough to be able to buy a DA*300 and I could not be happier with it (well the AF could be faster). Right now you can get the lens for $1100 in the US, NEW. If you can afford it you will be better off in the long run with the DA*300, it has the best IQ (even at F4) and is faster. I've never used a 60-250, I hear it is a very good lens.
12-11-2014, 08:15 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by waterfall Quote
The 55-300 has trouble locking on hummingbirds ten feet away.
Sorry, but I could not resist,
I just got this lens in the beginning of November,
This was Thanksgiving at my parents on the North Olympic Peninsula of Washington, (what are these guys thinking), we had a dusting of snow the next morning
There are a lot of frames I should just toss, the light was bad, and I had more tossers than keepers
but I was able to stand on the deck about 10-feet away and get this shot, about a 50% crop from the frame,
The birds were not bothered by me or the lens noise,
Even with all that against me, you can count the feathers on this little lady, the lens is capable,

K5, 55-300mm HD/WR ISO10,000, 8, 1/800
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