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Old Oct 22, 2009, 10:16 PM   #11
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You may have satisfied your LBA for the time being, but all you've done is awaken mine in a new direction, lol. Congratulations, look forward to seeing images with this new lens.

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Old Oct 23, 2009, 6:07 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Marc Langille View Post
Thank you and I'll post a few here soon! I'm using to backpacking 40 pounds while hiking at higher altitudes (6,000 feet) without issue. I'm not worried - this is a light setup at 30 lbs, including backpack weight:

FA* 250-600/5.6 (13lbs)
Wimberley WH-200 gimbal head (3lbs)
Gitzo tripod (4-6lbs, depending on model)
A couple of light landscape lenses (DA 12-24, DA 50-200)

I am probably going with Gitzo since that was the only lightweight tripod with a load rating that was double the super telephoto setup. Feisols aren't tall enough for me nor do they have anything rated above 26lbs. Of course, that means extra $$$ for Gitzo, but they can hold a lot of weight and they are tall enough (I'm 6'3")...

BD: thank you and perhaps some day I'll take the plunge for the FA* 600/4! I agree with your points about the focal - most folks do shoot at the long end. That makes perfect sense since it's simply taking advantage of the extra length at 600mm. The only advantage for the 600/4 is the extra stop of light against the FL range and flexibility for cropping, framing, etc. that the FA* 250-600/5.6 can give the photographer. I've been very frustrated in the past when I carried my FA* 300/2.8 and the Sigma 500/4.5. Twice in 3 days I decided to pack it in and both times I carried the wrong lens back to the SUV first (hidden out of sight from the blind) and the Great Egrets swoop in... Once they landed further out and all I had was the 300/2.8 and the other time they landed really close and all I had with me was the 500/4.5 - it's a conspiracy!!!

The images I'll post can clearly demonstrate it's usefulness as a birding and wildlife lens, especially with the aforementioned points. I am not in any way, shape or form dismissing your suggestion - I'd love that lens too. However, for me the one disadvantage (max. F/5.6) is very much outweighed by everything else. Even F/4 is pretty tough to use in lower light levels, so it's a bit of a wash for me = YMMV.

For reference, I thought it might be an interesting comparison on the MFD (minimum focusing distance) for several super telephotos:

Nikkor 600/4 VR: 16.4 feet (only $10,299 )
Nikkor 500/4 VR: 13.1 feet ($8500)
Nikkor 400/2.8 VR: 9.5 feet ($8500)
Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM: 18 feet ($8300)
Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM: 14.8 feet ($6400)
Sigma 500/4.5: 13.1 feet ($4500)
Sigma 300-800/5.6: 19.68 feet ($10,000)
FA* 600/4: 16.5 feet (varies - up to $7000)
FA* 250-600/5.6: 11.5 feet (varies - up to $5500)

However, for the FA* 250-600/5.6, the lens' MFD is only 11.5 feet throughout the focal length. That's a huge deal for 600mm, especially when you are in a blind. Quite a feat for Pentax to do that with the FA* 250-600/5.6, given it's design date, etc. A friend who owns a Nikon D3 with the previous version of the 600/4 has mentioned that more than a few times he's lost shots due to the MFD being around 18-19 feet.

I know the FA* 600/4 is still available for special order - are you considering finding one on the used market?

Yes I am planning on the used lens market. Even though I am a year or so away from getting one I've been looking over the ones out there from time to time. From what I've seen they are available from time to time at around $3500.00 to $4500.00. I noticed your prices for the 250-600 and the 600 f/4 are reversed from what I've been seeing as the 250-600 usually goes for $2000.00 to $2500.00 more than the 600 f/4 and the 250-600 is more rare to find.

Most of my birding is done from my front porch right now and will be that way for the next 6 years or so. That being the case most shots are from 15 feet to 40 feet in distance and this lens should do good there. Of course I plan on getting pretty much the same group as you have unless Pentax offers a new alternative to some of them. I did not see a FA* 85mm f/1.4 lens among yours or a FA* 28-70. Are these some of the next ones you'll go for? I hear the 85 f/1.4 is a very very good portrait lens.

I must reiterate though that that is one very fine collection you have. Not seen a better group owned by one individual to this date. Congratulations and good luck using them my friend.
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