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09-02-2014, 09:34 AM   #1
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Yet another African Safari question

Okay, I've read and re-read all the related threads to pick out the equipment I need for my first African safari (in 2015). I have a K-5. I finally decided on the DA*55-300 with a HD Pentax DA AF rear converter for the reach (since the Tokina 80-400 is impossible to find) and a nice wide angle for landscapes. Then I read about the Q-S1 today and I think my mind just exploded. Getting a Q would solve the problem of having an extra body (to minimize lens changes in the field) plus give me plenty of reach without having to buy the teleconverter. So my question is, which set up would give me the best odds of the best quality images (in the zoom range specifically)? I'm still a beginner, but as I might not get another opportunity to go on safari again in my lifetime, I want to stack the odds in my favor.

09-02-2014, 09:52 AM   #2
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I dont have a Q but here are my thoughts :
Under daylight the quality of shots from the smaller sensor of the Q should work well, as long as you dont have to crop much later. A 300mm on the Q will have a tiny angle of view so you will need fast shutter speeds and a support like a tripod.
It is however always a tradeoff between price, size and quality. The best Quality would probably be achieved by the DA*300 with converter or the DA 560. Just sell your car and go for it
09-02-2014, 10:43 AM   #3
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Hello,
Just got back from my 2nd wildlife trip to South Africa. I used primarily 2 bodies and 2 lenses; a K200d with the DA 18-135 for all-purpose use and a K30 with DA 55-300 for further reach. This configuration allowed us to handle most situations and pass the cameras among family members who were positioned to make the shot. In hindsight, a bit further reach than the 300mm would have been useful for only 10% of the shots. If you're doing game drives, it is quite frequent to get very close to the animals and short reach is then sufficient. Also note that early mornings and evenings are typically when animal activity and sightings are greater, but with lower light available. I also brought the Fisheye 10-17 for some "fun shots" which was surprisingly useful in the bushcamps and various get-out points. Just my 2 cents worth...Have fun. Brgds.
09-02-2014, 11:02 AM   #4
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The Q + long lenses are a lot of fun, but you absolutely need a tripod, and it is VERY slow shooting - forget about capturing anything that moves. Remember it is manual focusing, and it is a DIFFICULT at long focal lengths to nail both composition and focus in less than 30-60 seconds. Here are a couple of shots I got yesterday at the zoo
Some shots with Q7/300mm DA*

Note i also use a Red Dot sight since it is otherwise impossible to target the DA* 300mm. A 55-300 would be a little easier, becaue you can zoom out but it gives you some idea of the magnification (and associated issues), but the the 55-300 also introduces a lot more cromatic aberrations,a nd is not nearly as well behaved on the Q as the DA*300mm

In short - I would NOT rely on the Q for those long shots. Between the Q-S1, the adapter, and your 55-300 you are rapidly approaching a the cost of a used DA* 300 - and the latter would provide you FAR better results in the vast majority of instances - again just my 2 cents....

09-02-2014, 12:05 PM   #5
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Ah! Awesome! Thank you so much for the help. I think I'll skip the Q-S1 and stick w/ my original plan.
09-02-2014, 12:37 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by K-dur Quote
Okay, I've read and re-read all the related threads to pick out the equipment I need for my first African safari (in 2015). I have a K-5. I finally decided on the DA*55-300 with a HD Pentax DA AF rear converter for the reach (since the Tokina 80-400 is impossible to find) and a nice wide angle for landscapes. Then I read about the Q-S1 today and I think my mind just exploded. Getting a Q would solve the problem of having an extra body (to minimize lens changes in the field) plus give me plenty of reach without having to buy the teleconverter. So my question is, which set up would give me the best odds of the best quality images (in the zoom range specifically)? I'm still a beginner, but as I might not get another opportunity to go on safari again in my lifetime, I want to stack the odds in my favor.
I went yo Kenya in 2008. I took my k10 and my pentax 55-300 lens with a bean bag I took about 1,400 shots which were the best photographs that I have ever taken I didn't use a converter. Take the 55-300; use a bean bag to mount camera on top of vehicle , and you will take the shots of your life.
09-02-2014, 12:38 PM   #7
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I'm currently still on safari in my own country, South Africa. Not sure where you are headed and how you are getting around because that might introduce some different requirements. We are self driving which allowed for more kit, but in most parks you cannot get out of you vehicle, so tripod shots are out. As others have advised, manual focus will not cut it for most shots of animals, and very long reach is not always required as you can often get close to animals.

My own trip is coming to an end, but most of my photos have been with DA*300 with 1.4xTC or FA*80-200. A few landscapes and sunsets with DA-15 or 35, and not much else. If you are focusing on animals, the FL range 55-300 is about perfect. You may need longer reach from time to time, but images at the reach often don't work out for many reasons such as heat haze, vibration, poor light, etc. If you are into birding then a good fast 400-500 is useful if not essential.

The only issue with the 55-300 might be noisy and slow/hunting focus. Not sure also if TC will autofocus well with DA55-300 especially in lower light.

As an alternative strategy to stack the odds in your favor, have you considered a good super zoom as a backup camera. This would give you FL range well beyond the 55-300 and everything in between. If you only have one body, even more reason for another camera as lens changing can be a pain in cramped and difficult conditions. And dust can be an issue in some areas and vehicles.
09-02-2014, 12:41 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by K-dur Quote
Okay, I've read and re-read all the related threads to pick out the equipment I need for my first African safari (in 2015). I have a K-5. I finally decided on the DA*55-300 with a HD Pentax DA AF rear converter for the reach (since the Tokina 80-400 is impossible to find) and a nice wide angle for landscapes. Then I read about the Q-S1 today and I think my mind just exploded. Getting a Q would solve the problem of having an extra body (to minimize lens changes in the field) plus give me plenty of reach without having to buy the teleconverter. So my question is, which set up would give me the best odds of the best quality images (in the zoom range specifically)? I'm still a beginner, but as I might not get another opportunity to go on safari again in my lifetime, I want to stack the odds in my favor.

I went on Safari to Kenya in 2008. I took my k10 with my pentax 55-300 and I took the best photos of my life. I used a bean bag to mount the camera on top of our vehicle for stability. In my humble opinion , that's all you need. Have fun and be prepared for the trip of a lifetime.

09-02-2014, 12:50 PM   #9
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One more thought for you: There have been a few DA* 60-250 sold for just over $1000. That is about what your 55-300 plus HD 1.4 will cost you. I am pretty convinced a cropped DA* 60-250 will perform better than a 55-300 with a TC - just sayin' And the DA* 60-250 will be both faster and much sharper across the rest of the range. You could also do a DA* 300 but loose some flexibility on the shorter end (I.e. No short end).

I realize the DA* 60-250mm is much bigger and heavier, but it is a sacrifice I am willing to do for you
09-02-2014, 03:42 PM   #10
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The DA 60-250 is brilliant on safari. However in my case I have my new pentax 1.4 TC, K3 and 60-250 being looked at as the 1.4 TC has serious back focusing issues. The reason for saying this is what ever combination you have test it before hand.

My last African trip in terms of lens use
500mm prime 50- 60%
60-250 - 30-40%
wide angle 5%

heavy use of the 500 is due to my interest in birds

my 60-250 did a very credible job

You can checkout some of my African pics on Educating Options for a Sustainable Future

Hope you have a great time and get some fabulous images.
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