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07-12-2018, 12:59 PM   #1
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Type of Lens for Bald Eagle?

I'm trying to photo a Bald Eagle in our hay field, he at a distance of about 1/8 to 1/4 of a mile. I really don't a a zoom len. What does anyone suggest?

07-12-2018, 01:14 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marnie642 Quote
I'm trying to photo a Bald Eagle in our hay field, he at a distance of about 1/8 to 1/4 of a mile. I really don't a a zoom len. What does anyone suggest?
Why not a zoom lens? Zooms give you a lot more versatility, since they can be used for more than just a very distant subject. My OTOH recommendation there would be the D FA 150-450mm.


But if you really want a prime, this one will get the job done:
Pentax DA 560mm f/5.6 ED AW Lens 22180 B&H Photo Video

If that's too expensive, you can get one of the manual 500mm's:
Excellent++ Pentax SMC 500mm f/4.5 for K mount Manual Lens w/ Case Made In Japan 4003915052047 | eBay

You may need to remove some CA in post, but it should be plenty sharp!

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07-12-2018, 01:15 PM - 1 Like   #3
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See 300mm lens club as the main telephoto thread here. Serious birding lenses cost $$$$ but decent results can be obtained with surprisingly cheap lenses. Consider something like a tamron 500mm mirror or a soligor/vivitar/tokina 400mm f6.3 as something you can set up on a tripod or a windowsill with a bean bag and with practice get some satisfying results. Of if AF is important then the DA 55-300mm is best value/performance, and this lens does ok with a 1.4x tc in good light ie sunlight, giving you 420mm.

The simplest and most convenient way to get real telephoto reach is with a "bridge" camera, these have 20x/30x/40x etc...zoom lenses that can match, or more, what the lenses I've just cited would do on a pentax apsc dslr in terms of field of view ie telephoto reach. These are small sensor cameras, so they are limited by the spec of the sensor. They work best in ideal light.
07-12-2018, 01:28 PM   #4
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A suggestion but it will cost a little $

there are companies in the US that rent lenses for Pentax

I have used LensRentals.com with good results

there is at least one other

perhaps you might want to consider renting a lens or two to do your own experimentation and if you find something you like you can then try to find that lens at a good price

the forum's market place has been a good source of " experienced " lens

07-12-2018, 01:32 PM - 1 Like   #5
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This seems like a good time for normhead to show up and offer suggestions. Myself I'm seeing some kind of vintage 300mm prime and an F 1.7 AF tele/AF converter.
07-12-2018, 01:37 PM   #6
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or some one could link to the review of lenses here at the forum

for Pentax

Pentax Lenses - Pentax Lens Reviews & Lens Database

for third party lenses


Pentax Lenses by Sigma, Tamron, Zeiss, and more - Reviews and Specification Database - Pentax Lens Review Database

in depth reviews of lenses

Pentax Lenses | PentaxForums.com Reviews

in case the OP might be interested
07-12-2018, 01:47 PM   #7
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They're big birds, but that's really far. What kind of quality are you hoping for? e.g. a 'record' of the birds existence, or some large gallery worthy print? Action shots? Any chance you can setup a blind closer to the birds?
07-12-2018, 01:48 PM   #8
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A Sigma 50-500 or if you can go manual focus, the A-400mm F5.6 is a pretty decent lens that's often underrated, it won't break the bank and does work well with a teleconverter.

07-12-2018, 02:46 PM - 2 Likes   #9
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What field of view are you after at the distance away the bird is? Let's say (all rough figures) the wingspan is 2,000mm and you want to frame the bird in the environment, say a view 5,000mm wide.

The APS-C frame is 24mm wide, so to fill that width with 5,000mm, the reduction is 5,000 / 24 = 208 to 1.

To get that width at 1/8th of a mile, you need a lens of a focal length which is 201,168mm / 208 = 967mm. (201,168 is the number of mm in 1/8th mile)

So a 1,000mm lens would do the job. Of course at a 1/4 mile, you would need a 2,000mm lens to do the same job.

As Marcus says, a bridge camera would be a good way to get a decent sized image of the bird. Their lenses are very often described by the 35mm camera lens equivalent so the above example is still a help. Of course an actual 35mm camera would need a 1,500mm instead of a 1,000mm lens in this example.

There's a new Nikon P1000 bridge camera that zooms to the equivalent of 3,000mm. It's about $1,000 dollars, I think, but it might mean that the previous model, the P900, might now be available more cheaply. It "only" zooms to 1,000mm equivalent. I don't know how sharp it is.

I hope this is of help.
07-12-2018, 02:59 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Just to add to that analysis Robot camera, an additional factor is how many MPx the sensor is. Most bridge cameras are 12MPx or so, the nIkons you mention are 16MPx. That means that the eventual image size of the bird from that 1000mm equiv is no bigger than from a 500mm/660 odd mm lens on my K3. Or to put is another way, you can crop more on the dslr.
07-12-2018, 03:12 PM   #11
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I"ve tried to get good portrait pics of Eagles and haven't had much luck, even the 500mm focal length of the Sigma 50-500 hasn't been nearly enough. They have a distance from people that they feel safe and approaching them doesn't seem to be an option, at least not in my area. Maybe a wildscape photo would work for you, include the Eagle in a landscape type photo and make it the point of interest.
07-12-2018, 03:13 PM   #12
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I would also suggest the Pentax 150-450.
07-12-2018, 03:20 PM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by bschriver11 Quote
I"ve tried to get good portrait pics of Eagles and haven't had much luck, even the 500mm focal length of the Sigma 50-500 hasn't been nearly enough. They have a distance from people that they feel safe and approaching them doesn't seem to be an option, at least not in my area. Maybe a wildscape photo would work for you, include the Eagle in a landscape type photo and make it the point of interest.
Even the 55-300 is enough lens if you get close enough. But it works better with juveniles who aren't as concerned with people. It also helps to be at a national wildlife refuge where they are used to people in cars...



Sigma 150-500


You can get lucky when they fly over too.


Or they are distracted by Black Terns...


Or when they are hunting.


But when they are really out there, 500 isn't enough...
07-12-2018, 03:40 PM   #14
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Another possibility is "digiscoping" - using an optic like a spotting scope to provide the magnification. At its simplest this can be just putting the camera on your phone to the eyepiece. In practice getting good results takes time and effort, and a top level 'scope - my results from my middle of the road opticron were not great. Fun to try in any case.
07-12-2018, 04:06 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
Any chance you can setup a blind closer to the birds?
This.

That's too far, the cropping will be brutal.

Otherwise, Marnie, you have to buy a lower end telescope with a so-called T mount on it, and a T to K mount adapter for your camera.

Ugly situation, for all wildlife the aim is to get as close as possible with the longest lens.
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