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Old Apr 10, 2011, 8:08 AM   #1
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Default Lenses & TCs Test @ 300mm + x1.7 + x1.4 etc.

Recent debates on the virtues or otherwise of certain lense & TC combinations had me resolve to at least check what I have to hand - I need to know, when I go birding in particular, what is going to give me the best results (even though I don't shoot on a tripod very often). This was not designed to be a scientifically perfect test - only to give me real world results under real world conditions.

Methodology
K5 on a tripod + ball head, Manual Exposure (1/250, f8, ISO 200), timer : 2 second delay, SR off, AWB, AF-S, Spot Focus, Centre Weighted Metering. AF or MF (when AF unable to lock focus) : Shot taken on camera focus confirmation (beep).
2 shots per lense per combination - best shot selected, inferior shot deleted.
Subject was a broken white plant pot with blue floral design placed at 15 metres (ca. 16.5 yards or 50 feet).
Note - the camera will not display the exact f stop for some lenses with TCs attached (when the minimum exceeds f8) so you can calculate the exact stop yourselves from the camera max f stop + TCs. I don't find this particularly relevant for two reasons :
a) you can't reduce this minimum f stop for the lense + TC combination
b) I wouldn't be using faster lenses at those smaller apertures.

Post Processing
Auto Curves all shots to make viewing easier for darker shots.
Resizing for upload to online storage (1250 x 1080) + Forum compression.

Conditions
Bright but overcast. Sun directly behind the tripod (early afternoon). No wind. Sheltered garden. Dog was not permitted to chew, bury or otherwise molest the photographic equipment. A cup of tea was consumer after 1 hour. No toilet breaks.

Lenses Used.
S150 = Sigma 50-150 / f2.8 (this was the lense currently on the camera so I added it to the test anyway) @ 150mm
F210 = Pentax F 70-210 / f4 - f5.6 @210
DA55300 = Pentax DA 55-300 / f4 - f5.8 @300
*300 = Pentax DA*300 / f4
T500 = Tamron BB 500 Mirror / f8
SMC300 = SMC Takumar 300 / f4 - NB. No TC shots taken as I didn't want to risk the adapter getting stuck on one of them ! Also note an error in exposure settings (mistakenly f6.3 instead of f8).

Teleconverters Used.
P17 = Pentax AFA x1.7
T14 = Tamron Pz x1.4

Combinations Tested.
S150 (no TC) (+T14) (+P17) - NB. Stacked TCs unresponsive so no shot taken.
F210 (no TC) (+T14) (+P17) (T14+P17)
DA55300 (no TC) (+T14) (+P17) (T14+P17) - NB. Focus lock achieved with P17 only 1 in 5 attempts. MF used for T14+P17 as no focus lock could be achieved in AF.
*300 (no TC) (+T14) (+P17) (T14+P17)
T500 (no TC) (+T14) (+P17) - NB. Stacked TCs - focus lock unresponsive so no shot taken.
Various 300mm @ 100%
Various 500mm @ 100%
Various 700mm @ 100%

Draw your own conclusions !
____________________________











@300mm



@500mm



@700mm

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Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC

Last edited by Frogfish; Apr 10, 2011 at 8:26 AM.
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Old Apr 10, 2011, 9:37 AM   #2
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wow, nice test! as I see it the Tamron 1.4 converter seems quite good with most lenses?!
even the DAL 55-300 that I have seems to do fairly well in these tests...

thanks for sharing it!
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Old Apr 10, 2011, 7:58 PM   #3
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Very nice test. Thank you for sharing the results of all your hard work. I agree with CyberTron -- the Tamron 1.4 appears to perform very well with all your lenses.
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Old Apr 10, 2011, 8:30 PM   #4
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Hi Kevin,

Good test! I admire your patience and organizational skills. I don't have the patience to do stuff like this, all the lens changes, documentation, keeping track of which shot, which lens etc. I just shoot the lens combo out in the field, shoot as many shots as possible, pick the best images, and trust that I've gotten lucky with at least one. If the first try gives me some results with promise, I just set the bar at the best of these and see if I can, with this combo raise the bar again the next time out. Usually after a few sets, I can pretty much know what I can get out of a lens and the manner in which I plan to use it. Sounds pretty haphazard, but it works for me, and is a lot less frustrating and considerably more fun.

We finally got some sun today, and with no interference by marauding scouts, I had some chance to try the FA*300/4.5 +Tamron 1.4x and 1.7x AFA stacked. It still struggles a bit locking focus in the conditions that I used it, but in direct sunlight looks like it might be alright, especially considering that my alternative for 714mm AF weighs over twice as much and really needs a tripod to give significantly better results. . . but it is faster and sharper. . .

Here's one of those "test" FA* 300/4.5 + stacked TC shots taken at @ 10 feet. Obviously the pose doesn't matter, and this is a 100% crop with no PP. The AF system pretty much nailed the focus, and there's good detail in the body and back feathers, but most of the wing feather fine detail is lost (it's trying, but it just can't do it). I'm sure that ISO 2000 robbed some of the really fine detail, but I'd usually need higher ISO with an f10.7 max aperture anyway. Also, 1/250 is pretty slow for handholding 714mm, camera shake is probably a component, but I'd want to shoot this handheld anyway. The f16 aperture indicated in the exif is converted by the AFA, so it's f9.4 at the lens, so this should not throw any if much diffraction into the equation.

My initial impression is that if this combo has enough light to AF, then I can use it, but I'd get consistently better results shooting the big glass off a tripod. . .

Scott
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Old Apr 11, 2011, 5:09 AM   #5
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Thank you Michael & Mtnman : The Tamron x1.4 is a great little TC but so is the AFA x1.7. Don't forget these are 100% crops and the x1.7 is delivering almost twice the added magnification of the x1.4. When viewed at normal size the majority of these are more than acceptable.
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Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC
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Old Apr 11, 2011, 5:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snostorm View Post
Hi Kevin,

Good test! I admire your patience and organizational skills. I don't have the patience to do stuff like this, all the lens changes, documentation, keeping track of which shot, which lens etc. I just shoot the lens combo out in the field, shoot as many shots as possible, pick the best images, and trust that I've gotten lucky with at least one. If the first try gives me some results with promise, I just set the bar at the best of these and see if I can, with this combo raise the bar again the next time out. Usually after a few sets, I can pretty much know what I can get out of a lens and the manner in which I plan to use it. Sounds pretty haphazard, but it works for me, and is a lot less frustrating and considerably more fun.

We finally got some sun today, and with no interference by marauding scouts, I had some chance to try the FA*300/4.5 +Tamron 1.4x and 1.7x AFA stacked. It still struggles a bit locking focus in the conditions that I used it, but in direct sunlight looks like it might be alright, especially considering that my alternative for 714mm AF weighs over twice as much and really needs a tripod to give significantly better results. . . but it is faster and sharper. . .

Here's one of those "test" FA* 300/4.5 + stacked TC shots taken at @ 10 feet. Obviously the pose doesn't matter, and this is a 100% crop with no PP. The AF system pretty much nailed the focus, and there's good detail in the body and back feathers, but most of the wing feather fine detail is lost (it's trying, but it just can't do it). I'm sure that ISO 2000 robbed some of the really fine detail, but I'd usually need higher ISO with an f10.7 max aperture anyway. Also, 1/250 is pretty slow for handholding 714mm, camera shake is probably a component, but I'd want to shoot this handheld anyway. The f16 aperture indicated in the exif is converted by the AFA, so it's f9.4 at the lens, so this should not throw any if much diffraction into the equation.

My initial impression is that if this combo has enough light to AF, then I can use it, but I'd get consistently better results shooting the big glass off a tripod. . .

Scott
Thank you Scott !

I also use your 'on the job' testing most of the time, but after a debate on the merits / otherwise of TCs on some Pentax lenses I wanted to prove to myself which performed best under near real world, but also near identical, conditions.

I also found the DA*300 struggling to acquire focus with the x1.4 & x1.7 stacked. But it does get it in the end (and easier, for me - YMMV, than trying to MF with those TCs on board). The problem with your excellent test shot of the stacked TCs is that it's at 10 feet - whereas I'd be lucky to get my wife to come within 10 feet, never mind birds, when I have a camera in my hand !

Most of the birds I'm shooting are a rather nervous bunch (can't blame them in China where they are all looked upon as food - even sparrows !), absolutely nothing under 10 metres and most in the 20 - 40 metre range. That would see an unacceptable degradation in the IQ at 714mm and I'd prefer to go with the Tamron BB 500 and x1.4 which as can be seen above has the better IQ at 700mm - though not if there are going to be unacceptable levels of specular highlight artifacts of course.
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Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC
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Old Apr 12, 2011, 6:31 AM   #7
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Thanks so much for taking the time to try out all these combinations! Very informative!!
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Old Apr 14, 2011, 8:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mole View Post
Thanks so much for taking the time to try out all these combinations! Very informative!!
Thank you Mole - I'm glad it was of interest !
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Pentax : 15 Ltd, 77 Ltd, 43/1.9 Ltd, Cosina 55/1.2, DA*300/4, Contax Zeiss Distagon 28/2.8, Raynox 150/250, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.

Nikon : D800, D600, Sigma 500/4.5, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 - 35/2.0, Nikkor 85/1.8G, Sigma 50/1.4. Nikon x1.4 TC, Sigma x2.0 TC
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Old Apr 14, 2011, 8:27 AM   #9
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mole and others,
i really think you have a horrible copy of the SMC tak300/4. i get better results from my super let alone the K smc.. your shot with it is simply horrible, not your fault but the lens. if you can try someone else's and see if there's a prob w/yours. i'll try to get out and shoot something with mine and post back.
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