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01-22-2015, 06:20 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kameko Quote
Like everyone else who's ever posted one of these threads, my reasons are "different" (sarcasm) from everyone else who's posted the same. In all seriousness I'm very much on the fence about whether I should stay with my current setup, or sell it and invest in a different system.

I've found my niche in wildlife (bird nerd) photography. A lot different from the street photography that I started off doing. I'm looking at my current lenses and find myself getting frustrated with the lack of reach. What I have for wildlife is my K-3, the FA* 400mm and the DA* 60-250 which sits unused nowadays. What I want is 600mm at f2.8 or f4 so I'm able to use a 1.4x or 2x TC. When I had the Pentax 1.4 TC with my 400, it was difficult shooting birds hiding under the shadows of trees at f8.

I've invested a bit of $ in my current system, that being the 14mm, FA 31mm, F50 1.7, DA* 60-250mm, FA* 400mm, 540 flash, K-3 Limited w/grip. I realize to sell it off and reinvest in Canikon I'd only be able to afford bare bones right now. However, I'd be able to walk into any camera shop and pick up whatever lens it is I want. On the flip side, if I could find a clean copy of the F or FA 600 f4 when finances permit, I MAY be happy enough with my set-up. Or in a years time I may decide that 600 isn't long for me. Thoughts?
Can't you get a telescope adapter and mount your body onto one of those 600mm to 1000mm telescopes? Something like this :

http://www.fieldtestedsystems.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/TelescopeDSLR2.jpg

If you could detach that system from the tripod you would be all set to walk around with a large focal length lens.

01-22-2015, 06:45 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
A fast 135-200mm on the Q7 will give you your mythical 600/2.8
No it won't... it won't be an equivalent 2.8 on the Q any longer...
01-22-2015, 06:54 AM   #18
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Love birding too...You can find a SMC Pentax A* 600mm f/5.6 (~$2500), F* 600mm f/4 (~$7000), FA* 600mm f/4 (~$6000), or A*1200mm f/8 (~$10,000)...B and H, Adorama, Ebay, KEH. Adam makes a great point of renting or borrowing different equipment before you "switch". It really comes down to what meets your needs and makes you happy. Wish you well in your quest.
01-22-2015, 07:37 AM   #19
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Obviously, you have already "almost" made up your mind and, if you can afford the gear which you mention, I see that you will likely switch altogether to another system.
Some members here offered great ideas and provided seasoned opinions and the final choice is yours.

Carrying around a 600mm lens with the tripod and a much heavier camera adds up at the end of a "trekking day" ...
If your are going for the smaller birds and have to walk in narrow trails in the bush ... you will be having a tough time with the heavy gear.
If you just "sit there" and take shots at farther away birds or a decent size, then the gear in question will probably work for you.

You mention having the K3 and a FA*400mm lens .... then why not add the new HD 1.4X TC with that and try it before investing in a very expensive kit? Just a thought.

My opinion (for what it's worth): follow some of the advice provided earlier here ... rent first and see if that is exactly what you want/need/can afford.

JP

01-22-2015, 07:37 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kameko Quote
it was difficult shooting birds hiding under the shadows of trees at f8.
As clackers mentions Better Beamer
01-22-2015, 07:46 AM - 5 Likes   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by calsan Quote
Sigma makes a 500mm f/2.8. I would say the hazards outweigh the benefits.


At only $743/pound it's a bargain.
01-22-2015, 08:46 AM   #22
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Beside the fact that a lens faster than the DA 560mm or Sigma 500mm f4.5 will cost a little fortune, keep in mind that the Pentax gives you basically the best APSC camera. And crop sensor gives you a little "extra reach" compared to FF. And since the K-3 has 24MP and no AA filter, you can crop a lot.

And yes, bird photography has a lot more to do with the "stalking" than with having great gear to shoot from afar. Birds often move in predictable patterns - they have a couple hunting spots, some places where they rest, and so on. Once you figure these things out, you need to move from spot to spot (according to which one has good light and chances of sighting the bid).
I also remember talking to one owl photographer, who basically figured out a bird's routine, and then secretly set up cameras and triggers. So when the owl landed on one of its favourite spots, the camera was triggered. What I am saying is there are many ways that bird photographers get good photos, and for decades they have been doing it with gear far inferior to what we have today. A 500mm+ lens is not needed, except for some very specific types of photos.

Also, I really like the Q7 idea. Buy a used Q and K-mount adaper, it will cost you much less than any 200mm+ lens or switching systems, and give you a very new angle. Sure, the Q7 doesn't allow the same image quality that the K-3 might, but with good settings and PP, the results can be quite great. I've seen plenty of Q7 photos posted on these forums that look DSLR quality. And if you buy these things used, you won't lose much if you decide its not for you.
01-22-2015, 09:59 AM   #23
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Thanks for all the input so far everyone. When I was thinking 2.8, my head was thinking a 400. A 400mm 2.8 + TC is another route I was considering.
QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I would recommend renting an alternative setup to see how well it works for your particular needs. All systems have their pros and cons, and while competing autofocus systems are still ahead of Pentax for moving subjects, and you may well end up discovering something about your current system that could outweigh the cons.

Without spending at least several days with a different system I would consider it a fairly big gamble to switch, especially given your current investment.
I really like that idea, don't know why I didn't think of it in the first place! For me autofocus is a non-issue as I shoot manual. Maybe if I'd started w/a system that had a more reliable AF I'd have used it?
QuoteOriginally posted by Imp Quote
personally, for my birding photography, I find that my 300mm is barely enough. I would want 400mm. But beyond that, I couldn't see myself REALLY needed something above 600mm! What are you shooting?
When I had the 60-250 as my only "big" lens, I didn't think I'd need much more. Then I found the FA 400 and fell in love with it. Since I've had the opportunity to see what a 600 + TC gets you, I'm really itching for more reach. I shoot tons of birds, not just massive raptors... sometimes I shoot mini raptors
QuoteOriginally posted by Another dyemention Quote
Can always buy the 645z. Take a picture of the tree the it'd is in and crop it to whatever you need
That is tempting, and my partner is already on board with the idea of me either switching systems or getting the 645z. The fps is what's stopped me from looking at it more though.

My mind really is not made up. I love Pentax and how compact my 400 is. I mostly shoot handheld, which is how I'm able to get into muddy places other photogs w/their big systems can't. I do realize that switching systems means it will no longer be handheld, I'll have to invest $1k into a heavy duty tripod, gimbal head... I think I'll take Adam's advice and rent or borrow canikon gear to try it out for a few days, meanwhile checking the lens database here for alternative combo's that would work.

01-22-2015, 10:03 AM - 1 Like   #24
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The Pentax DA 560/5.6 is half the cost of the Canon 600. You have a K3 body, which is about as good as it gets for image quality. AF is much over-rated for bird photography, so the Canon extra for AF isn't worth it. AF focuses perfectly on the branch, not the bird, I find. If you really need the best AF out there, Nikon seems to be out front this week.

The ISO can be raised one extra stop to compensate for the f/5.6 lens with almost no effect on the image quality.

Don't spend a whole lot of money to switch systems to pick up one stop of lens speed.

Send a PM to Travis "DaneDawg" - he just switched from Pentax to Nikon. He can give you a real life help.
01-22-2015, 10:33 AM   #25
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Hi Kameko,

I'm primarily a birder, and though I could easily afford to switch systems, I've never been seriously tempted. The main reason is the very unique-to-Pentax F 1.7x AFA (yes, I am aware of the Nikon version which is not nearly as easy to use nor as universally compatible). Most of my ultra tele lens choices have revolved around using them with the AFA, so f4-f4.5 is about as slow as one can go in max aperture to get useful AF -- as you've noticed f8 is about where Pentax AF starts to really struggle in other than optimal light.

For every day walk around shooting (I don't use hides or camo) I use my K-3 with my well used FA* 300/4.5 + the AFA for 510mm f7.7. This might sound pretty slow, but it works fine in most daylight conditions, and it's a very compact and lightweight AF 510mm for handheld shooting. It's very sharp with good contrast wide open, so I shoot it that way much of the time, and only stop down a stop or two if I have enough light to keep shutter speeds up.

If I want faster, I'll go with one of my 300mm f2.8s (I started with the Tamron 60B Adaptall 2, moved up to a used Sigma EX 300 f2.8 APO, then found a used FA* 300 f2.8 at a very reasonable price, and kept them all since they can each serve well for different situations. With any of these, I can use the AFA to get 510mm f4.8 in a smaller package that focus much closer than the Sigma EX 500 f4.5. I can also stack either my Tamron F 1.4x AF PZ MC4 or Sigma EX 1.6x APO TC on the AFA to get 714mm f6.7. With the Sigma and FA*, since they are screw drive AF, I can also just use one of the 1.4x AF TCs to get 420 mm f4 if I want that FL, or shoot them bare for 300mm f2.8 if I need the speed and can sacrifice the reach.

If I need more reach, I also carry a Q body and a Pentax K2Q adapter which doesn't take up much space in the bag, but gives me a virtual 3.6x TC that I can use with a DA 55-300 for a 1080mm FOV EQ for handheld, or with the premium glass on a tripod to get a bit better IQ. The IQ doesn't compare to APSC, and of course, I lose AF and a real time VF, but it gets me reach that I can't get with the DSLR, and the IQ is easily good enough for ID shots, and I don't need over $1K in support gear to shoot it, a good CF travel tripod with a gimbal adapter (Wimberley Sidekick or Jpbu Micro Gimbal on a good ballhead) works well for me, and either of these can also give sufficient support on a sturdier tripod and head for 300mm f2.8 class lenses (with TCs, of course) and a DSLR.

The AFA isn't for everyone, as some don't like the need to manually prefocus somewhat, and this makes BIF shooting much more difficult, but I'm not in an area where there are enough species of interesting BIF candidate species, so this is not much of a concern for me. On the plus side, the AFA gives you very fast critical AF, and an automatic focus limiter, which is really useful for those small guys that always seem to perch in the middle of a lot of AF confusing branches and leaves. It allows me to experiment with a variety of MF lenses -- two of my favorites are the 80-200 f2.8 Adaptall 2 and a K mount converted Canon FD 300 f4 L, each of which cost me a bit over $200. IQ is not compromised significantly with premium quality glass, even with a TC stacked on top of it with the fast glass.

I also use the AFA for added magnification and so I can use AF with my 1:1 dedicated macro lenses (D FA 100/2.8 and Sigma EX 180 APO DG Macro. These give me close to 2:1, and the focus range at macro distances is only a few mm, so AF can actually be useful, especially for my favorite macro subjects, jumping spiders, who always seem to be on the move.

There is something to say for easy availability of long fast glass, but Pentax allows me to go long without the bulk and weight of carrying multiple ultra/super teles. From experience, I don't want to lug much more than one 6 lb lens for any distance. I also typically shoot at relatively short distances, almost always under 20 feet, and very frequently under 10 feet, and most, if not all of the lenses over 300mm can't focus that close, so I'd lose a lot of opportunities for the best shots because the birds happen to land too close. This doesn't really happen with a 300mm with TCs as the average MFD is around 6 feet, and it's very rare that I can occupy space within 6 feet of any wild bird. The Sigma EX 500/4.5 is light enough ar @ 7 lbs, but its 13 ft MFD is a deal breaker for me, and changing brands wouldn't be any advantage here because this lens is available in K mt. I've never considered the excellent FA* 600/4 or the FA* 250-600 f5/6 because of their long MFDs and 13 lb weight. All lenses in this class are out of the question for usability for me. Also consider that with the super teles, with all of their weight, need very stable support. If you're shooting a $4K+ lens, it doesn't make a lot of sense to go economy class with the support, and a very high quality set of CF legs with a premium gimbal is called for -- expect to add at least another $1K to the already expensive glass to get the most out of it.

I'll never be a NG photographer or even a pro bird shooter, though it's very satisfying to get a shot with fine feather detail, showing people views of birds that they've never seen. Pentax works well enough for me. Yes, it's difficult to get the fast long glass that's been discontinued, but if you're persistent, it's possible, and worth it. YMMV, of course.

Here are some examples:

The White Throated Sparrow was shot with a K20D, FA* 300/2.8, 1.7x AFA with a Sigma EX 1.4x APO TC stacked, from a tripod w/gimbal. This is from @ 8 ft, and cropped vertically from a landscape shot, sharpened with Topaz InFocus.

The Black Crowned Night Heron is with a K-5, FA* 300/4.5 + 1.7x AFA. This is from about 25 feet, handheld, slightly cropped to 8x10 for composition and printing, sharpened with Topaz InFocus, and with slight NR with Topaz Denoise.

The Ruby Throated HB was with a K-5, Canon FD 300/4 L + 1.7x AFA. This is from 10 ft, off a tripod/gimbal, cropped for composition to eliminate some background, NR and sharpened with Topaz Denoise and InFocus.

The Screech Owl is with the Q, Pentax K2Q adapter, FA 50/1.4 from @ 4 feet, handheld. NR and sharpened with Denoise and InFocus.

Scott
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01-22-2015, 11:15 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kameko Quote
I do realize that switching systems means it will no longer be handheld, I'll have to invest $1k into a heavy duty tripod, gimbal head.
$1k is probably optimistic. I'd plan on $1.5-$2k honestly. Not that this is going to be a big deterent if you have the money for long, fast glass, but absolutely do not skimp on your tripod and head.
01-22-2015, 11:57 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kameko Quote
I've found my niche in wildlife (bird nerd) photography.
Not a facetious question, just an inquiry: how vested in shooting birds are you? Is this the most important kind of photography you see yourself practicing over the longer term (5+years)? Or is it just one type of a few others that have more or less equal weight?

Your answer should help guide your equipment choices and provide a more useful context for evaluating the financial impacts of those choices.

Thanks,

M
01-22-2015, 01:45 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kameko Quote
Thanks for all the input so far everyone. When I was thinking 2.8, my head was thinking a 400. A 400mm 2.8 + TC is another route I was considering.
As you're happy with manual focus think on the following: I was once loaned a Pentax SMC-A 400mm 2.8 for a while and it was really astounding. Take a look at the reviews in the database. That plus a decent 1.4x teleconverter could be a great reach extending combination.. There is also the F* 600mm F4. If you're patient then both of those do occasionally come up on eBay, and your bidding skills/budget/determination decide whether you get the lens.

Whatever you do it's going to weigh a lot, and be expensive.

As has been mentioned, there's also the option of waiting a few months to see what the forthcoming Pentax telephoto zooms are like. If they don't satisfy, having a Pentax kit and a Canikon is viable.
01-22-2015, 02:03 PM   #29
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The Sigma 500 4.5 is probably what you want. It's readily available in Pentax mount. And really compared to a 600 ƒ4, it's a bargain. Plus 4.5 should get you ƒ6.3 with a 1.4 TC, not shabby for a lens that long. There are tons of great images taken with it over in the 300 plus club...

I'd go over there and find what appeals to you. The 560 is really nice too. Remember that is the equivalent of 840 on FF.
So, Is this where you're thinking of going, up in this range?



Notice the Sigma 500 4.5 and Pentax 560 , don't even make this list, ranked most expensive to least....
01-22-2015, 08:02 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
Not a facetious question, just an inquiry: how vested in shooting birds are you? Is this the most important kind of photography you see yourself practicing over the longer term (5+years)? Or is it just one type of a few others that have more or less equal weight?
It's about all I do now. Birds, wildlife. It's definitely not what I thought I'd spend all my time photographing.... and yes, I do see myself 5 years, 10 years later shooting birds.

I've given it a lot more thought. If I was going to switch, it was to be the D810. However, it doesn't make sense because it would have to be the 600mm f4 + 1.4 TC to get me ahead at 840mm f5.6 since it's an fx body. It'd set me back around $16k and I'd have to learn a new system. Given the K3 is crop sensor, I could get either the 560mm to get me almost the same reach, or wait (not so) patiently for a F or FA 600mm to pop up, giving me the same as the Nikon equivalent mentioned... throw the 1.4 TC on it for when I'm feeling ballsy and I would only be compromising 1 stop. All for half the price of the Nikon package. I think someone had mentioned that on the first page.

QuoteOriginally posted by Fire Angel Quote
As you're happy with manual focus think on the following: I was once loaned a Pentax SMC-A 400mm 2.8 for a while and it was really astounding. Take a look at the reviews in the database. That plus a decent 1.4x teleconverter could be a great reach extending combination.. There is also the F* 600mm F4. If you're patient then both of those do occasionally come up on eBay, and your bidding skills/budget/determination decide whether you get the lens.
I also like that idea, waiting for an A 400mm 2.8 to pop up so I'm able to pair it w/the 1.4 TC. I don't have bidding skills, just money hoarding skills. Then when something I've been waiting for and wanting comes up (it's always camera related), the money hoarding is out the window

Thanks for being the voice of reason fellow Pentaxians! I knew you'd talk me out of making poor decisions
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