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Old Oct 20, 2009, 7:31 PM   #1
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Default Newest acquisition: FA* 250-600/5.6 – images of the lens

I am thinking my FA* LBA is complete... maybe...

Received the super telephoto zoom lens last Friday, but I’ve been quite busy these last few days! The stars finally aligned and I have purchased the same lens you see in our own PF lens review database. I had the honor of meeting up with the owner (Jay) of this lens in October, 2008 for a shooting session. A sincere thank you to Jay for letting me spend some time with this lens last fall and come to the realization that it’s in a class of it’s own! Thank you again for packing it so well and shipping it to me...

It’s brilliant yet sharp wide open from 250mm through 600mm and really sharp stopped down just a bit. This is a larger lens at close to 13 pounds, but it’s literally as new! I already have a Wimberley MK Gimbal that I will test drive to confirm its place in my support system arsenal, alongside my Arca-Swiss Z1 head that I normally use in a blind. I’ll be getting either the Gitzo 5541LS or Gitzo 3541XLS as the tripod of choice.

Here's a teaser shot of lens in the trunk... This shot was taken at F/7.1... to intentionally hide the lettering on the metal badge on the trunk...



More images to follow!

Regards,
Mar
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Old Oct 20, 2009, 8:00 PM   #2
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Default Images of the lens

Here's the badge detail on the trunk:






I opened the trunk and I see a nicely padded interior, cutouts and of course the beautiful curved silver surfaces of the FA* 250-600/5.6:





I pulled out the lens and removed the lens hood (aka hood bonnet):


Closer details of the lens barrel:


For some reason I like this one a great deal - a little tighter and it's almost like a product shot:



Here's the scale test - from left to right: trunk and accessories, Wimberley lens plate (P-50, which I already had), FA* 80-200/2.8, FA* 200/4 Macro, FA* 300/2.8 and FA* 250-600/5.6.


That little black lens in front of the FA* 200/4 Macro is the DA 50-200...


Last image for now - this is much better at showing the physical size of each lens:


I hope you enjoyed them!

Regards,
Marc
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Old Oct 20, 2009, 9:38 PM   #3
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Wow! That's SOME lens collection! I can't wait to see some pictures taken with it - I would have loved to have had something that long when I was on vacation (of course, I wouldn't have been able to carry 13 pounds to where I was taking pictures, but I would have figured something out).
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Old Oct 21, 2009, 1:55 AM   #4
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I too am looking forward to owning a long FA*. I am going for the 600mm f/4 as I shoot mostly at those focal lengths. Great looking collection you have there. That would be the envy of most any good photographer. Congratulations and am looking forward to some photos with the 250-600.
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Old Oct 21, 2009, 8:17 AM   #5
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GREAT lenses, Marc! You have the lens that I covet most but can't find: FA* 300mm f/2.8. I want fast, 300mm lens for high school football. I have a 200mm, but I often need more reach. Do you find the 300mm fast focusing and do you think it's fast enough for sports (w/ K7)? From what I've read, it seems like it would do the trick. I scan the web & ebay every day hoping to find one. I missed the last one on ebay. I was traveling and it went for about $2400. My only other option that I can find is the Sigma APO 300mm DG f/2.8. If you ever run across another of the FA* 300's for sale, let me know. I'll probably want to snatch it up!

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Old Oct 21, 2009, 11:21 AM   #6
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Wow. thats an impressive collection. look forward to seeing some examples from that bad boy.
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Old Oct 21, 2009, 11:32 AM   #7
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Hi Marc,

Congrats on this super premium lens!!!!!

. . . but I'd hardly consider your LBA complete. Now that you know you can handle the size and weight, I'd think that the visions of an FA* 600/4 might start dancing through you head. . .

I realize that it would be a significant investment to gain a stop of max aperture, but this is the nature of the disease. . .

Looking forward to seeing some results. I know how awesome this lens is!

Scott
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Old Oct 21, 2009, 7:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
Wow! That's SOME lens collection! I can't wait to see some pictures taken with it - I would have loved to have had something that long when I was on vacation (of course, I wouldn't have been able to carry 13 pounds to where I was taking pictures, but I would have figured something out).
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")...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdawg View Post
I too am looking forward to owning a long FA*. I am going for the 600mm f/4 as I shoot mostly at those focal lengths. Great looking collection you have there. That would be the envy of most any good photographer. Congratulations and am looking forward to some photos with the 250-600.
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?

Regards,
Marc
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Old Oct 21, 2009, 7:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnanpentaxfan View Post
GREAT lenses, Marc! You have the lens that I covet most but can't find: FA* 300mm f/2.8. I want fast, 300mm lens for high school football. I have a 200mm, but I often need more reach. Do you find the 300mm fast focusing and do you think it's fast enough for sports (w/ K7)? From what I've read, it seems like it would do the trick. I scan the web & ebay every day hoping to find one. I missed the last one on ebay. I was traveling and it went for about $2400. My only other option that I can find is the Sigma APO 300mm DG f/2.8. If you ever run across another of the FA* 300's for sale, let me know. I'll probably want to snatch it up!
I have yet to test it with a K7 to really give you a fair answer. Sometime soon I think!

I shall let you know if I ever see one - mine's a stellar copy so I understand. However, the Sigma is an EX lens, which means it's top shelf - perhaps worth a look too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hards80 View Post
Wow. thats an impressive collection. look forward to seeing some examples from that bad boy.
Thanks Hards80! I'll post a couple of images in the near future.

Regards,
Marc
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Old Oct 21, 2009, 7:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snostorm View Post
Hi Marc,

Congrats on this super premium lens!!!!!

. . . but I'd hardly consider your LBA complete. Now that you know you can handle the size and weight, I'd think that the visions of an FA* 600/4 might start dancing through you head. . .

I realize that it would be a significant investment to gain a stop of max aperture, but this is the nature of the disease. . .

Looking forward to seeing some results. I know how awesome this lens is!

Scott
Hey Scott, hope you are doing well!?

The funny part is that I consider taking the FA* 300/2.8 as "packing light" for wildlife/birding excursions... Some day perhaps the FA* 600/4, but until I have a sizable cash flow again, that will have to wait - as you said, that's a lot of money for one f-stop!!! A friend of mine owns both and he varies the lens he takes on trips, so perhaps there is hope... I think...

Images coming soon.

Regards,
Marc
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