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Old Jun 6, 2013, 4:00 PM   #1
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Default Q + DA 55-300 handheld -- some more recent pics

Hi All,

Since this forum seems to have awakened again, I thought I should contribute. I've settled on the DA 55-300 f4-5.8 as my default lens for handheld super telephoto shots with the Q. It's sharp enough wide open and even stopped down a little to not give too much away to diffraction, and it's light enough to handle reasonably (it's still difficult) without resorting to a tripod.

The zoom range allows me to eliminate spotting with a Red Dot sight for larger birds at a distance. The incredible reach ( 300mm is EQ to 1080mm on my K-5IIs or 1674mm on a 35mm) allows me to get shots that just aren't possible with my APS-C DSLR and lenses that I could actually carry for any distance, especially since my leg joints have become troublesome.

For small songbirds, this allows me to shoot from a comfortable distance (for the critters) and still get some pretty amazing close ups (IMO).

From 15-20 ft. These are not crops!







I can get similar (and somewhat better IQ wise) results with the DSLRs, but I need to be shooting at less than half the distance, and I'd still have to crop to get similar framing. This makes for significantly fewer opportunities since the animals are intimidated and the slightest movement from me will scare them off. With the Q at greater distance, they tend to ignore me for the most part.

One of the reasons I wanted the extreme reach is for diving water birds like Grebes and Mergansers, and cormorants. They are very aware of everything on the shoreline, and do their best to keep their distance. 50-75 feet is about as close as I can usually get before they start swimming in the opposite direction. With a DSLR and 714mm, I can get some shots, but they require a heavy tripod and some serious long lens technique to get shots that are acceptable for the cropping needed. With the Q, it's still difficult, but again the reach gives me more opportunities.

For this shot, I thought to take a reference shot with the Q at 55mm (200mm on APS-C and 300mm on 35mm)



Here's the uncropped shot at 300mm



Here are a few more from a bit closer, again uncropped









Here's an old shot of the rig -- it's mounted on a tripod for ease, so drop the tripod ring -- and the Red Dot sight which I originally used, and still occasionally use for small songbirds since they're harder to spot, even with the zoom. I'm also using a different rubber band to attach the Hoodman Loupe and the OEM K2Q adapter. This pic was taken when I was using a JR adapter with aperture control.



Scott
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Old Jun 6, 2013, 10:22 PM   #2
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Wow! I'm impressed! I tried the DA 300 last night and had trouble either focusing or not having a fast enough shutter speed. The DA goes in and out of focus so fast, I had difficulty, and I wasn't all that impressed with the results when shooting something at least a mile away and 1500 feet higher. To be fair, the atmospherics were bad. I'm going to the beach tomorrow and think I will take the A also. It should be easier to focus. I hadn't planned on the 55-300, but looking at these, I think I'll include it also. I'm beginning to think that the DA200 will be a good choice for surfing, but the zoom might be better. I can see why people like using a scope, but I probably won't.

Do you have any tips for focusing an AF lens? I'm not sure I've ever tried it before, and was surprised at how different it is.
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Old Jun 7, 2013, 4:01 PM   #3
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Hi Harriet,

Thanks!

I've found that the relatively low resolution LCD makes MF with the Q and adapted lenses more of an art than a science. Personally, I've been shooting subjects that are moving, though slowly -- like the diving birds on the lake. For these, the best I can expect is to get as close as possible and hope for the best. Trying for precise critical focus gets really frustrating very quickly, and since these are shots that I couldn't really get any other way, I find this acceptable, even though the "keeper" percentage is lower than I get with my DSLRs and AF.

Here's what I do:

Keep the lens wide open or at least close. You want DOF to be relatively thin. With a sharp lens with Focus Peaking, you should be able to see the in-focus range move across the VF as you change focus. The Peaking will accentuate the contrast of everything within the DOF. I try to position the subject within the front half of the accentuated strip since critical focus is typically 1/3 of the way back from the frontmost distance that is within the DOF range. It takes some practice, but it's actually pretty fast and reasonably accurate. I'd say that at least half of the shots I take like this are acceptably in focus. I rely on Topaz InFocus in PP to make the image more crisp and bring out details. Since my backgrounds are usually relatively homogeneous, I usually run Topaz DeNoise first so I don't make the noise worse with the sharpening -- even at ISO 125 since there is always some noise with the Q.

For stationary subjects when there is no time issue, I will generally use Focus Peaking with magnified Focus assist to really nail the focus. For birds, which usually don't sit still very long, I trust Peaking alone, and try to approach the focus plane from near to far since critical focus will be closer to the front of the DOF. It's a matter of timing, but I watch for the Focus Peaking to start to appear, then take the shot while still rotating the focus ring from near to far. As I said, it's more of an art than a science. With faster lenses, the DOF is usually thin enough at relatively close range to just look for maximum peaking effect and take the shot at that point.

For both of these methods, practice is essential, as is examining the shots on a computer within a relatively short time from shooting. The LCD just doesn't have the resolution to allow me to really judge how well I did until I get home, so chimping on site is really only good for judging exposure, at least for me.

Looks like you're having a lot of fun with the Q. I'd have guessed that this would be the case since it seems that the good photographers are usually quicker to see the benefits of this little camera. It's a challenge to master, but the Q system as a whole has done more to expand my ability to capture shots that I want than any other photo gear (other than the 1.7x AFA, and maybe the high ISO capabilities of the K-5 series bodies) that I've invested in so far.

Scott
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Old Jun 8, 2013, 6:05 PM   #4
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Thank you very much for the tips, I'll have to read through them again a couple of times to get it all strait in my mind. I played a bit with adapted lenses this morning with mixed success - I was hand-holding and using too long a focal length to make that practical. I really need to go back out with the tripod.
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Old Jun 9, 2013, 7:59 AM   #5
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Snostorm,

These shots are amazing!

And that rig is pretty cool too! But handheld . . . that's too cool!

I haven't got a lot of money to toss at this right now, but I think I've gotten bitten by the bug to get a K to Q adapter. <grin>

Take care, Glen
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