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03-07-2010, 07:25 AM   #1
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Recommended Lens For Birding & Wildlife?

I've been using the K7 & a 50-200mm WR lens for bird and small wildlife shots. Getting some nice pictures as I go through the learning process but now I'm considering stepping up to a lens that has more reach (300+ mm).

I'm considering the 55-300mm DA at around $349. Seems like it gets good reviews for what I need and the price is in line with what I can spend.
The only other lens I have is the 18-55mm WR kit lens.

Are there any other 300+mm lenses I should consider (prime or zoom) but under $400 or so?

By the way, down the road I'd like to get the DA F2.8 35mm Limited Macro.

Assuming I'll owned all four of these lenses at some point in the future, would there be any voids or redundancies in the mix?

Generally I like to shoot small wildlife, nature, flowers, insects & landscapes.

03-07-2010, 07:41 AM   #2
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Check your images of birds; if you want your birds to be twice as big, you need to multiply the focal length by 2 (so if your current shot is taken with 200mm, you need 400mm). I'm not a birder but with the DA55-300mm one still needs to get quite close to get birds about 50% of the picture (at 300mm).

With regards to what you might be missing:
Possibly a 100mm macro; with the 35mm you have to get close to the subject to get 1:1.
For the rest, only you can decide what you will be missing; personally 18mm is wide enough for me for landscape, but you might find that you need something wider. Or you might find that you need something faster; or you might find ...
03-07-2010, 08:07 AM   #3
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It depends on the birds. If you are going to shoot big ones, close up, the DA 55-300 will be OK, and it is a nice lens stopped down some to around F 8 or so. Acceptably sharp but hunts a bit in failing light. If you are going to shoot little ones close up, you're going to get specks with the DA 55-300 and have to crop a lot.

If your budget is around 400 or less, keep an eye on KEH.com for a used Sigma in the 170 500 range. They are old and slow, but not that bad. I would shy away from the 400 Sigma Zooms.

If you can swing it, Sigma just came out with a new Bigma 50-500 or you can shoot for a Sigma HSM 150 500 for about $1000 new. The aperture is slow on these lens but with the progress in higher ISO technology, they will work OK unless you are in really poor light.

I currently shoot a Sigma 150-500 and find it a very nice lens for the money. It is big, slow at 6.3 at the long end, and it is sharp enough for my needs. But even with this lens, smaller bird shots will need to be cropped. Sometimes a lot.
03-07-2010, 12:28 PM   #4
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If you can't afford primes, i'd go Bigma 50-500 + 2x

03-07-2010, 12:40 PM   #5
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.....and your image quality would be horrible, plus your auto focus would not work.

The 50-500 has been upgraded as I mentioned, and might be a good lens, but there have been no test of it yet that I am aware of. Still, of all the Sigma 500 zooms, the Bigma was the sharpest, not by a lot, but still the sharpest. Pputting a TC - any TC - on it would, however, be a bad idea.
03-07-2010, 02:20 PM   #6
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Do not put a TC on the Bigma ... its pretty good on its own but although the Sigma teleconverters fit the IQ is not pretty.
03-08-2010, 09:39 AM   #7
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Generally, the longer the better. The 55-300 will work but you may have to do some cropping. It's a good long zoom to start with. Under $400, you will be looking at used glass and manual focus.
03-08-2010, 10:19 AM   #8
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Can recommend both the DA55-300 and the Sigma 170-500 as very reasonable for wildlife without breaking the bank. IQ of Sigma is fairly good, but not fantastic.
Birds need more than 300 from my limited experience, so 500 is useful. Birds also often need faster shutter speed because of lower light (in trees and bushes) and movement.
Example of Sigma at 500mm, slight crop:


03-08-2010, 10:27 AM   #9
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Example of Sigma at 170mm end:

Example of Sigma at 430mm:


All with fairly high ISO400 and 1:500-1000s hand held shooting off a small speed boat.
03-08-2010, 12:55 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by KevinR Quote
Birds need more than 300 from my limited experience, so 500 is useful. Birds also often need faster shutter speed because of lower light (in trees and bushes) and movement.
I agree but long, fast, sharp lenses are expensive (often heavy as well.) I've seen very nice results with the 55-300 & a Tamron 1.4x TC. For best results, you'll need really good light (what's new? ;~)

Since I've found that I just have to go MF so often with wildlife (branches, etc), I've come to regard AF as really optional. I'd suggest that you an eye out for used 400mm lenses and don't shy away from MF. There are some nice Tokina 400mm f5.6 lenses which are quite good and reasonably priced.
07-04-2011, 05:43 PM   #11
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Manual Lens or Auto Focus

Hi,

For K-r Lenses, what will you guys recommend? This K-r has a built in AF and MF.

Thank you.
07-05-2011, 05:17 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by vampsy Quote
Hi,

For K-r Lenses, what will you guys recommend? This K-r has a built in AF and MF.

Thank you.
I would look at this thread: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/149460-who-tho...ml#post1556804

Lenses that are 300mm-ish and longer would basically come down to the Pentax DA 55-300, DA *300, Sigma offers the Bigma mentioned above and both they and Tamron have 70-300 zooms.

There are some older options, notably a 400mm f5.6 that was available in the M and A series, I believe.
07-05-2011, 05:28 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by dadipentak Quote
I agree but long, fast, sharp lenses are expensive (often heavy as well.) I've seen very nice results with the 55-300 & a Tamron 1.4x TC. For best results, you'll need really good light (what's new? ;~)

Since I've found that I just have to go MF so often with wildlife (branches, etc), I've come to regard AF as really optional. I'd suggest that you an eye out for used 400mm lenses and don't shy away from MF. There are some nice Tokina 400mm f5.6 lenses which are quite good and reasonably priced.

In total agreement with Dave on this one.

I have a K 300mm/4 and you can get good images with it but after working with the M 400/5.6 I now consider 400mm to be entry level for a birding lens. I've seen the A 400/5.6 selling on Ebay in the four to five hundered dollar range. The M 400/5.6 can be found for less. Both are good choices if you don't mind manual focus.

As usual the best advice for birders is to get a long lens and get close.


Tom G
07-05-2011, 02:45 PM   #14
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I think there are two specific points to consider. The lens can never be long enough and you can never be close enough

It is simple physics

Image size (on sensor) = subject size x focal length / subject distance

Check out the 300 mm plus club there are lots of suggestions. I like my 300/4 but use it with the 1.7x AFTC this is 500mm F6.7 or so

I also like my Sigma APO 70-200/2.8 when used with sigmas own 1.4 x or 2 x TC

I have also just acquired a tamron adaptall 200-500f5.6 but am not familiar with it yet to make a recommendation
07-05-2011, 05:06 PM   #15
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Lemme take a look at this. Thank you
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