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Old Aug 10, 2006, 2:48 PM   #11
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When I first started thinking about a 300mm lens, I looked at B&H, and they were selling a 300 mm 2.8 lens, new, for over $4,000 (don't remember how much over, but closer to $4,500 comes to mind - it isn't listed any more). From Pentax's web site, I think they still make this lens on a very limited basis.

I just wonder if I would be happy with the non-star manual lens or not. It's not like I'm a great photographer, but I have a "thing" about soft photos - prefer mine sharp. I'd love to know if anyone has ever had both versions of the lens and could tell me how much differences there is between them.
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Old Aug 10, 2006, 3:09 PM   #12
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"One of the main drawbacks of the A*or FA* 300/2.8 lens is related to its build quality - due to it's heavy duty construction it weighs all of 3kg (93.8 oz. w/hood) , making it the heaviest manual or auto focus lens of its type."

This thing is huge and heavy! You would be much better off with a FA* or F* or even a A* 300mm 4 or 4.5 lens that is much easier to use, which means you would actually use it on a daily basis instead of finding it too much of a prolem to set up and take photos with.

Tom

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Old Aug 10, 2006, 3:37 PM   #13
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ennacac wrote:
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This thing is huge and heavy! You would be much better off with a FA* or F* or even a A* 300mm 4 or 4.5 lens that is much easier to use, which means you would actually use it on a daily basis instead of finding it too much of a prolem to set up and take photos with.

Tom

I can confirm this. I have a A* 600 mm 5.6 that weighs about the same as the 300 mm 2.8. It's not something you put in your pocket just in case... On the other hand, when you plan to use it and set it up... I've never regretted buying it!:|
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Old Aug 10, 2006, 3:43 PM   #14
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This is how the lens itself looks.

Kjell
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Old Aug 10, 2006, 3:51 PM   #15
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Hi fogueira,

I'm primarily a birder, and use a DS which I bought in March of '95 (I thought) for its low light capabilities -- I figured that I'd continue to use my Panny FZs for long tele shots. Last year, I picked up used a Tamron 70-300 LD macro and a used P FA 80-320 just to see if I could hand hold long focal lengths (had gotten so used to relying on the OIS of the FZs). I started getting better results with the DS than the FZ30, and decided to take the plunge and search out premium teles for the DS.

In 2 1/2 months over the winter, I was able to find and acquire a LN Tokina 80-400 AT-X AFII, a LN Pentax A*200/2.8 ED, an E+ A*300/4, and a VG FA*300/4.5 ED IF. The last is the star (so to speak) of the bunch, and coupled with a Pentax F 1.7x Auto Focusing Adapter, is my default birding lens.

It took some diligence, since all are discontinued, reasonably rare, and are highly sought by Pentax owners, but I was able to get each of the 1st three for less than $500 ea, and the FA* for less than $700, so it wasn't a matter of just spending whatever it took to get them.

Two were from ebay, one from KEH, and one from a private seller who advertised on the Pentax Owner's Classifieds. You have to know what you want, know what you're willing to pay, and jump on the opportunity if it presents itself. Sounds like a PITA, but in the end, was very satisfying (if a bit expensive :O)

Here's a recent shot with the FA*300/4.5 + PF 1.7x AFA:



And a couple, not as recent:






All were hand-held, shot with the FA*300 + PF 1.7x AFA (so it's a @2 lb 510mm f7.7 -- the exif shows a corrected aperture with the TC, which I think is unique to this TC) The (on the lens) apertures used here were f5.3, f6.4, and f4.5 respectively, so all are at relatively large apertures (the beauty of * lenses is that they're so sharp wide open).

The A*200/2.8 is excellent and obviously fast, but doesn't really have the reach I usually need. The A*300/4 is very sharp, even wide open, but isn't quite as sharp (nitpicking) and exhibits more CA and PF than the FA*300, but it's by no means a real problem -- just needs a little more PP time. The Tokina 80-400 AT-X is a little soft past 300mm, and exhibits more CA and PF than the FA*300, but has the advantage of the zoom. The FA*300/4.5 just about lives on my DS. All are keepers for me.

I also have a Tamron 1.4x AF MC4 TC and a Vivitar KA 2x Macro Focusing TC which are both excellent, but the P F 1.7x AFA is my goto TC (I just bought a second one as I don't want to ever be without one). It's reasonably small and light, automatically converts the aperture for exif, and can turn a MF lens into AF (with limited AF range, so you might have to pre-focus the lens a bit to get within the TC's focusing range -- the lens also has to be reasonably fast for it to AF, but I've obviously found it to work with an f4.5 in reasonable light)

Birding with any system isn't inexpensive, and with a Pentax, it is a challenge to get the right glass, but it's not impossible -- and all the C and N guys always say -- "it's so small. . ."

I'm looking forward to using this lens combo with a new SR equipped Pentax.

Sorry for the long post, and please don't consider it bragging (okay just a little ) but I really just wanted to illustrate that the glass is out there and obtainable without having to sell your house or children -- and the results can be very satisfying.

Hope this might help you make your decision.

Scott

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Old Aug 10, 2006, 10:54 PM   #16
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Snostorm

All I can say is Holy Cow Batman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Those are without a doubt some of the best Birding pictures i have ever seen.
I have and still Do Marvel at "Toms" pictures, but IMHO these are incredable.

BK/PHIL


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Old Aug 10, 2006, 11:02 PM   #17
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I agree, those are extremely nice photos....

Tom
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Old Aug 11, 2006, 10:25 AM   #18
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I think you've answered my question about whether I should buy the couple of non star 300mm F4 lenses I've seen advertised, or wait to find one of the green star lenses - your photos are totally awesome! Think I'll wait. If anyone is interested, yesterday B&H, Adorama and KEH all had M 300mm f4 lenses for sale.
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Old Aug 12, 2006, 9:45 AM   #19
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I want to thank everybody for their help. We bought a K100D yesterday. You can see my initial comments here:

http://hruskova.blogspot.com/2006/08/plain-vanilla-tools-for-plain-vanilla.html.

The image stabilization thing sold itself. It's a crime not to have it in every camera in my humble opinion.

We'll start looking for bird lenses now.

f
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Old Aug 12, 2006, 10:42 AM   #20
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snostorm wrote:
Quote:
Hi fogueira,

I'm primarily a birder, and use a DS which I bought in March of '95 (I thought) for its low light capabilities -- I figured that I'd continue to use my Panny FZs for long tele shots. Last year, I picked up used a Tamron 70-300 LD macro and a used P FA 80-320 just to see if I could hand hold long focal lengths (had gotten so used to relying on the OIS of the FZs). I started getting better results with the DS than the FZ30, and decided to take the plunge and search out premium teles for the DS.







Scott
Scott,

All three are great pict particularly the last one. What did you tell the bird to do: to dance for you huh?
Both Tom and Roy are getting some very serious competition here.
Keep posting.

Daniel
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