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Old Nov 4, 2012, 4:48 PM   #11
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It's not often I want to shoot small birds and other critters so I can't justify spending to much. I am looking at several solutions, old manual focus 600mm but I hate using a tripod, 500mm Mirror lens, and Scott (snostorm) has a neat thing going with a k mount 300mm on a Pentax q that gets him up to 1650mm EFL. I just picked up a Super Tak 200 f4 43mm at a estate sale for $10 that's quite sharp and would get me up to 1100mm on a q body and they say you can hand hold it with good results. Check out this link

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/p...-handheld.html

Hans
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Old Nov 5, 2012, 11:40 AM   #12
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It's not often I want to shoot small birds and other critters so I can't justify spending to much. I am looking at several solutions, old manual focus 600mm but I hate using a tripod, 500mm Mirror lens, and Scott (snostorm) has a neat thing going with a k mount 300mm on a Pentax q that gets him up to 1650mm EFL. I just picked up a Super Tak 200 f4 43mm at a estate sale for $10 that's quite sharp and would get me up to 1100mm on a q body and they say you can hand hold it with good results. Check out this link

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/p...-handheld.html

Hans

Wouldn't that just technically get you 200mm in distance only a much tighter crop on the Q rather than APSC DSLR? I hear people say this a lot but I tend to disagree. You could replicate that just by cutting the sides off of your DSLR images so to speak.

I wouldn't think the smaller sensor size would actually be increasing any kind of magnification. If anything, the pixel density might make you able to crop more but then again, from what I've read the overall resolution won't quite rival regardless.

Please let me know if I am missing something.

Excellent price on the lens by the way.
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Old Nov 5, 2012, 12:10 PM   #13
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I think they look good.

As for the frustration I not only see it but share it. Shooting birds in the wild handheld is a hard thing to do. They move quickly, they tend to prefer late afternoon when the light is lower for coming out, and like all most wild animals they have adopted themselves to blend into the background. All in all it makes for a challenge.

Solutions in my experience are to move to some kind of fixed location where you know the birds will be and then set up a blind and a tripod. A feeder is an obvious choice but not all birds come to feeders and many people are put off by bird feeder shots as staged. For that reason a natural looking bird bath might be a good alternative. Nothing quite as funny as a bird playing in the water if you can catch them.

Obviously it is tempting to go longer but longer means less light and then you start battling with high ISO vs longer exposure and neither is ideal... or you can shell out big bucks for a fast and long lens, as a hobbiest and without unlimited budget this is rarely a real option.

So yeah I feel the pain but my only solutions may not be ones that work for you.
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Old Nov 5, 2012, 12:14 PM   #14
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Wouldn't that just technically get you 200mm in distance only a much tighter crop on the Q rather than APSC DSLR? I hear people say this a lot but I tend to disagree. You could replicate that just by cutting the sides off of your DSLR images so to speak.

I wouldn't think the smaller sensor size would actually be increasing any kind of magnification. If anything, the pixel density might make you able to crop more but then again, from what I've read the overall resolution won't quite rival regardless.

Please let me know if I am missing something.

Excellent price on the lens by the way.
As someone who shoots micro four thirds (2x) crop sensor I wholeheartedly agree that you are absolutely not going to get a 600m equivalent image out of a 300mm lens mounted on a crop sensor body. I shoot a 300mm lens on mft and it is not the same.


I will say that if you're considering another camera as an option the Panasonic Lumix Super-zoom FZ200 is a really good camera from what I have seen for this exact type of application. It's not going to do the same things as your Pentax or a mirror-less but as a camera for shooting wildlife it is seems to be very good.
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Old Nov 5, 2012, 4:10 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by NMRecording View Post
Wouldn't that just technically get you 200mm in distance only a much tighter crop on the Q rather than APSC DSLR? I hear people say this a lot but I tend to disagree. You could replicate that just by cutting the sides off of your DSLR images so to speak.

I wouldn't think the smaller sensor size would actually be increasing any kind of magnification. If anything, the pixel density might make you able to crop more but then again, from what I've read the overall resolution won't quite rival regardless.

Please let me know if I am missing something.

Excellent price on the lens by the way.
You have to remember that the smaller Q sensor still has 12mp's and an image cropped from a APS-C sensor down to the size of the Q would only be using .67mp of the 12mp on the APS-C sensor. The crop factor or our Pentax DSLR's is 1.5 and we all understand how that works, the Q has a crop factor of 5.5. Plus you only use the center (best part) of the lens and the DOF is increased by the same factor. I realize I can't achieve the same IQ of a 1000mm lens on a APS-C but my Can** S100 can get very close to my Kr using a small sensor. The reviews of the Q are quite good for IQ but I know it's still a compromise.

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Old Nov 5, 2012, 6:15 PM   #16
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You have to remember that the smaller Q sensor still has 12mp's and an image cropped from a APS-C sensor down to the size of the Q would only be using .67mp of the 12mp on the APS-C sensor. The crop factor or our Pentax DSLR's is 1.5 and we all understand how that works, the Q has a crop factor of 5.5. Plus you only use the center (best part) of the lens and the DOF is increased by the same factor. I realize I can't achieve the same IQ of a 1000mm lens on a APS-C but my Can** S100 can get very close to my Kr using a small sensor. The reviews of the Q are quite good for IQ but I know it's still a compromise.

Hans
I do get all this, but again you can crop a 16 MP aps-c down and only use the dead center part of the image as well. You will have to crop the APSC to mimic that same EFL the Q is generating but in the end it will produce the same image except less of a dynamic range amongst other various benefits that the DSLR produces.

I guess maybe what I am trying to say is if you are having to cut a DSLR image down to rival the Q's frame of focus, than it can be said that using the Q isn't really adding anything, but rather just taking away in a sense. I mean in the end, its the same magnification.

Sorry if I am sounding redundant I guess I still don't understand your side of the argument.
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 8:33 AM   #17
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I do get all this, but again you can crop a 16 MP aps-c down and only use the dead center part of the image as well. You will have to crop the APSC to mimic that same EFL the Q is generating but in the end it will produce the same image except less of a dynamic range amongst other various benefits that the DSLR produces.

I guess maybe what I am trying to say is if you are having to cut a DSLR image down to rival the Q's frame of focus, than it can be said that using the Q isn't really adding anything, but rather just taking away in a sense. I mean in the end, its the same magnification.

Sorry if I am sounding redundant I guess I still don't understand your side of the argument.
You need to check out the Q as a tele threads (there are two I believe) on PF. There is no doubt that they can outperform a crop from an APS-C (and 300mm lens) when we are talking about 1,650mm equivalents (Q+the same 300mm).

My beef with them is that at those focal lengths it is near impossible to keep vibration out of the equation (I have a Q and have tried a variety of lenses on it) thereby introducing blur and spoiling most images (very very low keeper rate) in addition the tiny FoV means I can never find the bird I have just spotted either ! Thereby, IMHO, making them totally impractical for birding.
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 10:30 AM   #18
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Hi Rodney,

Nice shots of some beautiful and unusual birds (for me in NA, at least)!

As far as lens choices, here's what I've found. . .prices are guesstimates and realize that I don't follow the market for this class of lens much, so I may not be up to date.

300 f5.6 class

As far as zooms, you probably already have the best in the DA 55-300. Others might give you semi "macro" close focusing, but probably won't be as good overall at 300mm.

The Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 300 f5.6 won't give you much over your 55-300, and it's metal construction makes it heavy.

300mm f4 class:

Pentax K 300 f4 -- MF and MA relatively big and heavy (but about the same as the DA*300/4), good sharpness, but not much CA/PF control. MFD is @ 13 ft. It's about the least expensive model in this class at maybe @ $250-350 USD

M* 300/4, A* 300/4 These lenses are optical and almost physical twins the A* has auto aperture and weights almost an oz more. Both are MF. Build quality is very nice for both, and these are the smallest, lightest lenses in this class, probably from any mfg. They don't use ED glass (this has been disputed, but with no "ED" in the official designation, I feel that this dispute is questionable) so CA/PF is not really well controlled. These lenses are sharp wide open, and if it weren't for the 13 ft MFD, I'd still own one. Figure @ $400 for the M* and $500 for the A*.

F* 300 f4.5. This is the first of the Pentax AF 300mm * primes. 1/3 stop slower than the f4 models, it's smaller and lighter using takes 67mm filters element compared to 77mm on the f4s. The F* has a removable tripod foot, integral hood, and though it has a focus clutch (so you can change to MF on the lens), the clutch on the lens does not disengage the screw drive motor connection, so you need to turn to MF on the body also to focus without manually turning the in-body AF motor. A minor point, but the F models don't have chips in the lens that transmit distance or MTF information to the body. They are painted white withe great Al body construction. If you find an F* without the tripod foot, it's close to impossible to find these offered by themselves on the used market, so I wouldn't get one unless it was a bargain, and I didn't plan on using it on a tripod. It's possible that an aftermarket tripod ring might fit, but I've never seen anyone mention this. Optics are exemplary, sharp wide open, very good CA/PF control with the ED elements -- MFD is @ 6 ft. Probably $650-1000 on the used market. This would be my 2nd, or maybe 3rd choice in this class.

FA* 300 f4.5. This is the one I own, and I'll probably be buried with it. There is no tripod ring, but some rings for other lenses will fit. The hood is a separate item, made from Al, and a bit fussy to mount both in working position and for storage reversed. It's one of the most substantial hoods on Pentax ultra teles. The focus clutch not only switches the lens from AF to MF, but also tells the body it's an MF lens, so there's no need to also switch the body. FA lenses have chips to transmit distance and MTF info. Same optics as the F*and same 6 ft MFD, and AF is very fast for a screw drive lens because of the great contrast. The weight is almost 2 oz heavier. Even with a max aperture of f7.7 with the F 1.7x AFA, this lens will AF reliably in all but about the dimmest daylight conditions for me, and this has been with every body since the DS (The AF sensors have gotten progressively more sensitive as time has gone on). One big advantage of the screw drive AF Pentax 300mms is that just about any AF TC will work as intended. The SDM and HSM drive lenses might be fussy with anything but the Pentax F 1.7x AFA, with which this doesn't matter since the range limited AF is accomplished in the AFA. It's probably in about the same price range as the F*.

DA* 300 f4. This is an exemplary lens in every way, except for TC compatability. It's a tiny bit sharper than the F*/FA*s, seems to control CA/PF a tad better, MFD is further reduced to @ 4 ft, and has silent SDM. It is bigger and heavier, has a plastic hood, has quick shift focusing with an MF/AF switch on the lens, so AF/MF switching is easier, it's WR, and has (I think) the new protective coatings on the front element, and a removable tripod ring. Pentax has been promising a 1.4x SDM compatible TC for some time, but has yet to deliver. . . The F 1.7x AFA works as it does on any K mount lens though. For me, it would be a tough call between this lens and an F*, but I'd probably choose the DA* for the WR and closer MFD. Prices seem to range from over $1000 used to over $1300 new. This is obviously the most available of the lenses in this class.

Sigma EX 100-300 f4 APO. This lens was available in both screw drive and HSM, with Digital coatings and without, but all of them are considered easily the best of the xxx-300 zooms. It's big and heavy because of the speed and internal zoom and foxusing, but optically, it's essentially a pro grade multi focal length prime. At over 3 lbs, it's at least 1.5 times the weight of any of the primes, and though handholdable, not nearly as easily so IMO. It's at least close to as sharp as the primes, and CA/PF is controlled well with the APO lens elements. It includes a removable tripod collar and deep plastic hood. I have one of these that I bought at a super bargain because it won't focus past about 50 ft. I've been meaning to send it in to see if it can be repaired, but have been putting it off because it's usable for my purposes, and I'm a very bad procrastinator. . .plus I have 2 other alternatives that I can use. All of these have been discontinued, but usually fetch @ $1000 or more on the used market. MFD is just under 6 feet and AF is very fast in my screw drive model.

This last is an oddball, but I include it because it's a possibility. . . I recently obtained a Canon FD 300 f4 L converted permanently to K mount. The barrel had to be cut to match the register distance for the K mount, and a flanged M42 to K mount adapter was used for the bayonet. The aperture ring had to be remounted on the lens and the linkage reattached. The aperture ring no longer has f stop detents, and there's a rough spot in the rotation. It's a fully manual lens, but the optics are very good -- close to the FA* IMO. Very sharp wide open with very good CA/PF control from ED elements. I bought it originally for use with the Q, but have found that it's very good with my DSLRs with the F 1.7x AFA. The two downsides are the fully manual aperture and the 10 ft MFD. These aren't really downsides for use with the Q though since all adapted lenses are fully manual and at 1674mm EQ, I have little need to shoot at less than 10 ft.

I'll be very brief with the 300 f2.8 alternatives. There are only 3, with one very unlikely 4th. In MF, the Tamron SP 300 f2.8 LD [IF] is the bargain. $600-900 used + you need a PK/A adapter, so figure another $75-100. It's a great lens, but even with the LD elements, CA and PF can be pronounced in high contrast shots. Add a P F 1.7x AFA, and it's by far the most affordable 510mm f4.8 AF lens for Pentax, and it works very well. It also stands up to stacked TCs for me, and 714mm f6.3 with AF is very workable. My Tamron did not come with a front protective 112mm filter, but I've seen them.

The Sigma EX 300 f2.8 APO has seen quite a few variants. It's a pro class AF fast ultra tele and is considerable lighter and easier to handle than its only competition in this class for Pentax, the FA* 300 f2.8 ED [IF], but it's not quite as sharp or contrasty, and the FA* controls CA?PF a tiny bit better. Used, the Sigma will go for between $1800-2500, and the FA* will go for between $3000-4000. With the extra stop of headroom, I use TCs to go longer with both of these, and the possibilities make these AF models more versatile -- 300 f2.8, 420 f4, 510mm f4.8, 600mm f5.6, 714mm f6.3, all AF. The FA* has a 3 position focus limiter and integral strap rings. The Sigma has no focus limiter, no strap rings, but a much thinner barrel that's a lot easier to handle. The FA*'s tripod ring is not removable, the Sigma's is. Both have very sturdy Al hoods, and both come with protective front filter. the Pentax on is easily removable, the Sigma is not. Hoods on all three have a rubber ring on the front of the hood so you can stand the lens on the hood, and it's very stable.

The very rare Tamron SP 300 f2.8 LD [IF] AF model can also show up occasionally. From what I know about it, it's essentially the Adaptall 2 lens with AF. Pentax examples are extremely rare -- I've only seen 2 in eight years, and the owners tacked on some "collector value" to the prices asked. . .

Beyond 300mm, there are other alternatives. The Tokina 80-400 f4.5-5.6, Sigma 135-400 f4.5-5.6, Sigma and Pentax 400 f5.6s and the Sigma 50-500, 170-500, and 150-500s.

Then there's the Q. . . some feel it's a viable way to get extreme extra reach, and obviously some don't. . . I'll try to do a test later this week when the weather gets better to see if I can illustrate why I feel it's a viable alternative. I'll post the results in this thread. . .

Scott
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 10:53 AM   #19
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Fantastic write-up Scott.

Just like to mention one more 300/2.8, the Tokina with LD glass, rated just a little better/sharper than the Tamron. I bought it and sold it for around the same price (US$800-900). Some CA but very sharp (not as sharp as the DA*300).
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 11:00 AM   #20
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My beef with them is that at those focal lengths it is near impossible to keep vibration out of the equation (I have a Q and have tried a variety of lenses on it) thereby introducing blur and spoiling most images (very very low keeper rate) in addition the tiny FoV means I can never find the bird I have just spotted either ! Thereby, IMHO, making them totally impractical for birding.
FYI the q just got a firmware update to enable SR on adapted manual lenses. I don't have a Q yet (mine comes Friday) but per the PF site it really helps with vibration. The FoV issue could be a problem that I haven't considered, I'll have to look into the red dot addition options.

Rodney9 your post and all those small critters just cost me, but now I have an additional use for all my old lenses.

Hans
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