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Old Jun 3, 2014, 5:20 PM   #1
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Birding is one part of photography that has interested me for a while - but one that I have never actively pursued. There is plenty of wildlife near my home and in the region surrounding it. Since so many people on the Pentax board shoot wildlife, I'd like some advice.

Given the skittish nature of wildlife and especially birds, I've always thought that one had to shoot from quite a distance. I've also thought that my current longest lenses - my Pentax DA 55-300 (450mm equivalent at the long end) and my Panasonic 100-300 for micro four-thirds (600mm equivalent at the long end) aren't quite long enough to get the job done with birding. But I could be very wrong about this.

So what works for my fellow Pentaxians who shoot birds and wildlife? I've seen results from some of the latest small-sensored superzoom bridge cameras and I've been pleasantly surprised. But is that route necessary? Somehow, I think it may not be. Your advice and thoughts?
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Old Jun 3, 2014, 6:35 PM   #2
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I shoot with the K-3 and Bigma MkII (500mm racked out). I also shoot with the Fujifilm HS-50EXR (1000mm racked out). While you can "get by" with a bridge camera, they still have a ways to go before they truly equal image quality of a DSLR with good glass. The rate they are improving, it won't be long, though. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Both have their place. GOOD bridge cameras are like any other camera. You have to work within it's capabilities and limitations. Step over the line, and you've got crap. Good PP software is invaluable... with either one. Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know... we should strive to take it correctly in the camera and not rely on PP software. Sorry, if that were the case, I'd only have 9 or 10 really good shots. On the other hand, I don't "overcook". At least, I TRY not to. I edit judiciously and frugally.
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Old Jun 3, 2014, 8:39 PM   #3
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Hi, Gary. Yes, the Bigma has occured to me as well as the Sigma 150-500. But we're talking about essentially $1000 lenses, which is out of the question for me, at least right now.

I wish that 135-400(ish) lens that has been on Pentax's roadmap for a while would finally be introduced. But even that would only take me out as far as my Panasonic 100-600 and it'll probably be $1000, given Pentax's modern pricing.

That's why your Fuji HS50 has caught my attention. For $350, it punches above its weight as does the Canon SX50. I'm sure I can still get a fair amount with the DA 55-500. But a good bridge camera might be worth it for the real reach - at least for a while.
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Old Jun 3, 2014, 9:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biro View Post
Hi, Gary. Yes, the Bigma has occured to me as well as the Sigma 150-500. But we're talking about essentially $1000 lenses, which is out of the question for me, at least right now.

I wish that 135-400(ish) lens that has been on Pentax's roadmap for a while would finally be introduced. But even that would only take me out as far as my Panasonic 100-600 and it'll probably be $1000, given Pentax's modern pricing.

That's why your Fuji HS50 has caught my attention. For $350, it punches above its weight as does the Canon SX50. I'm sure I can still get a fair amount with the DA 55-500. But a good bridge camera might be worth it for the real reach - at least for a while.
I like Fuji's S series because their zoom control is EXACTLY like a DSLR. It doesn't have that stupid little toggle around the shutter button that you can never get exactly where you want. And, Fuji truly improves their stuff. Not like a lot of others that add a bunch of gewgaws that you'll rarely (if ever) use. The improvement in power-up time and autofocus speed over the previous model is amazing and blazingly fast. Don't get me wrong. It takes some getting used to. But, everything new does. And, it ain't perfect. But, then... NO camera is.

It's a great grab-and-go, keep-in-the-car camera, too. Especially, when you don't want to lug around all your "stuff"!
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Old Jun 3, 2014, 9:47 PM   #5
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When I need more reach than my DA 55-300 on my K30 I put the DA on my Q with an adapter and that gets me to 1650mm equiv. The other option is to shoot larger birds from a golf cart (blind) at a golf course. The wildlife there is used to people ignoring them and you can get closer so the K30 and DA55-300 work quite well.
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...It is better to burn a roll of film than curse the darkness. Equip. K30, Q7, DAL 55-300, DA 35 f2.4, DA 50 f1.8 DA 18-135, SMC-M 28 f3.5, SMC M 50 f1.4, Canon P&S S100 w/CHDK Beta, Panasonic DMC-GM5, Flickr:
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Old Jun 3, 2014, 11:01 PM   #6
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Since I mostly shoot birds I think it's best to know where and what you would like to shoot since that will influence lens choice. If you plan on shooting the little guys in the wild, not from a blind then I'd say you really want nothing shorter than 400mm to get really good shots. Sigma made a 135-400 as well as a 175-500 in the PK mount and if you can find one of those it should be under $600. Other than that it's the lenses you listed above or using something that is MF unless you can find an older 400/5.6 that is AF (have seen a few around). The Tokina 80-400 zoom is decent for birding as well. Or you can get an AF 80-200/2.8 and put a 2X converter on it for a 400/5.6. If the lens is sharp enough it will likely be as good as a 400/5.6 AF lens at least ( I know my old Tamron 80-200/2.8 with a 2X TC is as sharp as my Tokina 400/5.6 but not as sharp as my Tamron 400/4). Just to throw out another option, an AFA will give you 1.7X the reach and AF on older MF glass which makes getting longer reaches more affordable. But I have found that it doesn't play well with all lenses, or at least mine doesn't.

Because you can really never have too much reach in bird photography I have gone a similar route to Hans though instead of the Q I bought a Nikon 1 series V1. 2.7X crop factor makes it about 1.8x the reach of my Pentax. From what I have seen so far the pics are better than I can get from the AFA and a lens on my Pentax which is about the same focal length as the lens alone on the V1.

Depending on where you live, there is an easier way to get into shooting birds and that is to start feeding them. Set up some feeders and a few nice perches for the little guys to wait on and you will have tailor made bird shots. Put up a crude blind and you will have plenty of reach with the lenses you have.

Hope this helps some. If I were to choose one affordable lens for birding ( I won't count the Sigma 300/2.8, 500/4.5, 300-800 or any of the 400mm+ Canikon lenses) I'd go for the Tamron 120-600. Alas it isn't available in a Pentax mount.

John

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Old Jun 4, 2014, 6:18 AM   #7
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Thank you everyone for the reponses so far! The irony is that I sold off my Pentax Q kit several months ago because I wasn't using it. Great timing, eh? I have some research to do now. But any other suggestions are welcome.
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Old Jun 4, 2014, 7:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biro View Post

So what works for my fellow Pentaxians who shoot birds and wildlife? I've seen results from some of the latest small-sensored superzoom bridge cameras and I've been pleasantly surprised. But is that route necessary? Somehow, I think it may not be. Your advice and thoughts?
I have shot my daughter's SX50 (1200mm)and my wife's SX280 (500mm) and they do not provide the IQ of my Pentax Q7 with it's slightly larger sensor. They don't have a eye level finder and it is hard to track birds in flight. The only time I have had some success with birds in flight without a finder was my Q7 shooting pelicans from a pier and I got lucky but that was with an AF lens not an adapted lens. For birds in flight I need a AF DSLR.

For shots of a feeder from behind glass you can get away without the finder.

I have been interested in M4/3's but don't want to get into a 3rd format.

For water birds ducks etc... I have had good luck with my Q and Q7 with a manual focus adapted SMC F 80-200 zoom. The SMC can be had for under $50 and can be shot hand held on a Q it goes to 1000 mm

Check my flicker link below for my bird shots.
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...It is better to burn a roll of film than curse the darkness. Equip. K30, Q7, DAL 55-300, DA 35 f2.4, DA 50 f1.8 DA 18-135, SMC-M 28 f3.5, SMC M 50 f1.4, Canon P&S S100 w/CHDK Beta, Panasonic DMC-GM5, Flickr:

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