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Old Nov 5, 2006, 9:35 PM   #1
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Hi All,

I spotted some Dark-eyed Juncos hanging out with the ever-present song sparrows, so I threw out some seeds to see if I could attract them close enough to shoot from inside since it's been pretty cold lately. This is not a formal comparison, just wanted to get some shots of the Juncos, and since these were just outside my back door, I had the luxury of having both lenses on hand (I probably wouldn't be carrying both very often).

The lenses: Tamron SP300/2.8 LD IF Adaptall II (MF) and the Pentax FA* 300/4.5 ED IF, both taken through a relatively clean window. Both were stopped down @1 stop from max. and handheld with a DS, as it was the only way I could follow these quick little guys around.

Here's how the Tamron saw it. f4, 1/125. ISO 400:

And this one wiht the FA*. f 5.6 (ok a half stop!) 1/125, ISO 800.

They are different birds, so the coloring is different, the second being a "slate" variation. Actually, the Tamron is a touch warmer in rendering colors, comparing shots with the same background elements.

Surprisingly, for close subjects, the 4lb 14oz Tamron 300/2.8 is not as bad to handhold as I had anticipated. I just can't stand there with the camera up to my eye for nearly as long as I can with the 2 lb FA*300/4.5. For more distant subjects, I find handholding the Tam not advisable, even at significantly higher shutter speeds. I get a higher percentage of keepers so far with the Pentax, but SR might change that a bit.

After seeing a bunch of shots from these two lenses, I find the Pentax a little sharper wide open, and obviously easier to handle, but the Tamron is 1 1/2 stops faster and no slouch -- and appears to be a great alternative to the A*300/2.8 ED IF, at least for me (That lens might be a nice dream, but at significantly over $2k, I'm not likely to be seeing one in my future). The reason I got the Tam was that it gives me a pretty sharp 510mm f4.8 limited AF lens with the PF1.7x AFA at about 1/4 the cost of a used Pentax A*300/2.8, but it is a real monster of a lens.

All in all, two very very competent long tele lenses for Pentax DSLRs. Can't wait to see what they'll do with the K10D!!!!!

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Old Nov 5, 2006, 10:00 PM   #2
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My FA*300 will be arriving this week and I'm looking forward to testing it out on the many birds that are migrating through my region now.

For a through-the-window shot, that junco looks pretty good to me!
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Old Nov 6, 2006, 8:04 AM   #3
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Well, I'm certainly impressed! Somehow I can't imagine handholding a 4 lb. lens, no matter how close!
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Old Nov 6, 2006, 8:37 AM   #4
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th etam looks very sharp. i think a better comparrison would be with both at f4. the FA* would probably still beat the tam even wide open.

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