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01-11-2008, 08:11 AM   #1
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Telephoto lens

I own the digital pentax istDL. I have the quantaray 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 tele-macro (1:2)lens. I mostly photograph wildlife, particularly birds. This lens does fine for large birds. When it comes to sparrows and birds smaller than a sparrow like chickadees this lens does not give me the performance I'm looking for. I am in search of a telephoto lens that can photograph small birds from a distance. With all the lenses out there it's hard to know which lens would be the right one. I would appreciate if anyone out there knows what would be best to give some tips or even links to sights. Thanks so much.

01-11-2008, 08:21 AM   #2
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Note that there is nothing that can give you the image size you get, for example when photographing a heron, when you try to photograph a sparrow at the same distance.

If you think about it a 40 inch bird, with a 300 mm lens, to get the same image size with a 4 inch bird at the same distance would take a 3000mm lens.

The only solution is to get closer. That is the challenge.
01-11-2008, 08:37 AM   #3
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Oh yes wish I could get closer without scaring them away. Perhaps somehow hanging a little bird feeder bag on the lens would do it. LOL. I'm pretty patient at waiting for that right moment but I would like to expand on what lenses I own.
01-11-2008, 09:00 AM   #4
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OK I understand, presently th ebiggest problem you have is lens speed. at F5.6 your lens is too slow to add a teleconverter.

You need to look at a faster prime lens, and obviously this means a bigger diameter.

As a minimum, this means something equivelent to 300mm F4.0 (77mm filter diameter)

I have 3 such lenses all of which have given good results. My principle lenses are an SMC 300mm F4, which I use with my *istD, and a sigma 70-200 F2.8 which i use with 1.4x and 2x TCs with my K10D.

results from my combinbations can be seen in the link below:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/general-pentax-photography/13308-do-you-a...tly-blurr.html

The third lens is a vivitar MC 400mm F5.6 manual focus.

There is the "bigma" 50-500mm F6.3 but it gives you only 1/2 a stop faster at the effective 500mm length.

I am looking also for a faster lens, and the next real option is a 300mm F2.8, but these are rare and expensive.

If you can you might find some of the older pentax 400 mm F2.8 and the 600mm F4. but you are looking at about twice the cost of a 300mm F2.8


Last edited by Lowell Goudge; 01-11-2008 at 09:06 AM.
01-11-2008, 09:25 AM   #5
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Hi Tina, I'm no expert and at the moment I'm in the same boat as you. I've been struggling to do bird photography with a Sigma 70-300. If you have the cash there's nothing that can match the IQ of a prime. People get superb shots with even a 300mm plus a 1.4 TC. You can find plenty of examples on the forum. A 400mm or 500mm would give even more reach but the lens gets a lot heavier and a lot more expensive. Even a 300mm is heavy. I guess there are some reasonably priced used primes out there if you can find them.

I can't afford a prime at the moment so I have to compromise. I've been looking at either a Bigma or a Sigma 100-300 with a 1.4TC (the latter has a good reputation for IQ even with a TC on, though there is some loss of IQ) The Bigma can produce very good results as can be seen from examples on the forum. I found this guy's site useful also as he has a lot of bird images taken with the Bigma:

Equipment used by Lincsbirder

At the moment I'm leaning to the Sigma 100-300 because of its slightly lower weight, and F4 capability. I'll need to combine it with a 1.4 TC to give me any kind of a chance with smaller birds. A x2 TC would be better but the IQ will suffer and I'll only get manual focus (not that I find AF much use in the woods where I take many photos).

All these lenses need a tripod or monopod or something to keep them steady. They aren't walkaround lenses in the same way the 70-300s are. As Lowell said there's no substitute for getting closer or positioning yourself where the birds will come close to you. People get some of their excellent shots in part by making use of a blind/hide.

Let us know what you decide on.

Paul

Last edited by channeler; 01-11-2008 at 10:01 AM.
01-11-2008, 09:39 AM   #6
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One additional point,, and you can see this with the photo of my chickadee, is a good flash, and a flash extender or snoot. Lok in the february issue of popular photography.

I have made my own snoots, and have a betterbeamer for both my flashes.
01-11-2008, 09:44 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
I have 3 such lenses all of which have given good results. My principle lenses are an SMC 300mm F4, which I use with my *istD, and a sigma 70-200 F2.8 which i use with 1.4x and 2x TCs with my K10D.
Would the 1.4x and/or the 2.0x work well with the SMCP 18-250?
01-11-2008, 09:54 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by mysterick Quote
Would the 1.4x and/or the 2.0x work well with the SMCP 18-250?
The sigma TC's that I use, I use specifically with a sigma zoom that they are intended to be used with.

Sigma TC's have a unique design, which has the element very close to the front of the TC, which can lead to interference with MANY lenses. On the sigma site there is a compatibility list.

I am pleased with thier performance but I only use them with one lens and the lens is on the list.

01-11-2008, 01:18 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for your input. It has helped.
01-11-2008, 04:41 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by tina Quote
... Perhaps somehow hanging a little bird feeder bag on the lens would do it. ...
Sparrows and Chickadees respond well to Feeders. If you don't mind using a feeder to bring birds closer and you don't mind not being there to push the shutter button then you might consider Trap Focus. This allows the camera to operate itself with you far away (or inside the house browsing PentaxForums). I recently started a thread called, "Trap Focus Setup for the K100D" when I needed better instructions on how to configure my camera. I ended up answering my own question.

I've seen some excellent Hummingbird photos using Trap Focus. Makes me want to buy one of those gaudy yellow and red feeders to attract those little guys.

If you really want to participate in the photo than an extended cable release will let you sit far enough away to not scare the birds. I have the Pentax cable release and two cable extenders from Radio Shack. Unfortunately the extenders use curly cables, but I can still get over 10 feet back.
01-11-2008, 06:46 PM   #11
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I use the Tamron 70-300mm with the 1.4x TC, it's good but not quite there so I am going to buy a Sigma 135-400mm and get a 1.4x TC for it as well. Hopefully that will do the trick. I am too big of a guy to sneak up on a little bird, I need all the reach I can get.
01-11-2008, 11:40 PM   #12
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I just started using an astronomical telescope as a lens for birds and got some chickadees in my first 2 weeks. I think they're the hardest of the birds I've tried to catch so far... very fast...
This is a maximum sized portrait crop from a landscape shot, resized to 480x600. Caught in a nearby tree about to jump to the feeder, 960mm from about 50-60 feet:




I'm using long, but not fast glass. The scope itself is 480mm f/6.3, and most of the small bird shots I've gotten were taken with the 2x Powermate teleconverter to make it a 960mm f/12.7. The scope is a 76mm aperture Televue TV-76.

I'd say you'll have a damn hard time getting birds in flight with this setup. I sure haven't even tried yet. But if you're as happy with perching birds as I am, you might be as happy as I am with this setup, which is to say pretty happy.

Drawbacks: It's more like using a telescope/spotting scope than a camera lens. But at 960mm, I think you need to get used to that, even with 800mm worth of shake reduction.... I haven't tried it yet on a monopod, but I don't expect it to be very useful. It really needs the tripod, MLU, and a bird that'll sit still, at least for a 1/30th plus time to aim and focus.. I also have to use M mode and stop down metering.

The viewfinder isn't "bright", just as one would expect at f/12.7, but I've found it useable so far. I added a fine focuser to the scope which has helped a ton with finding critical focus in the "brightness impaired" viewfinder.

I like the idea of using a flash, but I've avoided it so far, mostly because I've been shooting through an (open) window of my house, from inside to outside, and the flash reflections from the window frame would kill the contrast. But I love the idea of snooting the flash out the window. It might get me a extra couple stops of shutter, which I'm desperate for with f/12.7.

I installed a feeder about a week ago, and it took about 3-4 days to get the chickadees to come around.


Thanks for the ideas!

-Chris
01-11-2008, 11:58 PM   #13
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Can you post a picture of that setup please? I'd love to see it.
01-12-2008, 12:31 AM   #14
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Sure!

In fact I've been meaning to all week, at least since your post about the birdfeeders. But I've actually spent more time taking pictures and less foruming this week...

I'll open another thread before the end of the weekend with a pic or two of the setup and some more small bird shots I've gotten with it.

-Chris
01-12-2008, 05:52 PM   #15
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Forgot to mention, I have a celestron C90 1000mm F11 spotting scope with T mount.
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