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-   -   bare bones SLR and 400 to 500mm (

Mystery Bob Dec 8, 2009 3:25 AM

bare bones SLR and 400 to 500mm
Can one of you kind folks suggest a replacement for my Canon S3IS which is nice but too short for shooting surfers and windsurfers at Ho'okipa or Kanaha on Maui. I hope for match needle or better metering and 5.6 is fast enough, it's sunny here. I'm on a limited budjet.

Thank you very much. The Hawaiians might say, "Mahalo nui loa" or "T'anks eh!"

Mystery Bob Dec 8, 2009 3:27 AM

Hi, it's me again. I had to find notification. Solid!

mole Dec 8, 2009 6:28 AM

Bob -

Several possibilities for you to consider. You can get an adapter for your S3 that allows you to add a teleconverter, to nearly double your zoom with only small loss of image quality. An example of an adapter:
An example of a teleconverter:
(I have used a similar adapter, and a close-up lens, with the S3 and had some fine results. Have read of others who used this teleconverter with good results too.)

Another possibility is to get an entry-level DSLR body that is compatible with older lenses. For example, you can get a Pentax K2000, and then shop around for an old pentax-mount long telephoto (I use this combination for bird photography...)

Hope this is of some help!

TCav Dec 8, 2009 6:37 AM

For long lenses, you can't beat a catadioptric (reflex, or mirror) lens for size, weight, cost and image quality. While there are a number of inexpensive catadioptric lenses available, Sony has the only one that autofocuses. It costs more than the others, but it costs a lot less than refractive lenses of the same focal length, and gives much better results than anything with a teleconverter. And Sony dSLRs also have sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, so you can shoot handheld without motion blur due to camera shake.

Mystery Bob Dec 8, 2009 11:26 AM

Thanks Mole and T-cav.. The Sony looks nice
but the $750 before I find an SLR body puts it out of my reach. It is a start in my research though.
mahalo, Bob

Mark1616 Dec 8, 2009 12:08 PM

There is a general equation that quality = $$$$

This is even more true at the long focal lengths so if you want to shoot at 400 or 500mm then you are going to spend a lot. The Sony is one of the cheapest options available.

As a guide a Canon 400mm lens will set you back $1200 etc so you won't get anything for less than the Sony.

I would have a try of one of the teleconverters for your current camera as it might do the trick. I've not used one to know how much loss of quality you will experience.

Hards80 Dec 8, 2009 12:17 PM

a couple other choices available for many different mounts.

the sigma 50-500 (Bigma) and the Sigma 150-500 OS

but, both are about 1000$

JimC Dec 8, 2009 12:21 PM


but the $750 before I find an SLR body puts it out of my reach. It is a start in my research though.
I see one for $379 in bargain condition right this minute, and I would not hesitate to buy a bargain condition lens from keh (as any problems should be cosmetic and they have a reputation for very conservative ratings).

JimC Dec 8, 2009 12:55 PM


Here's a review of one (note that Sony just reused the Minolta Maxxum design, as they did with some of their other lenses).

It looks like has a Sigma 135-400mm in Maxxum mount for less (I see one for $245 in bargain condition right this minute). It gets mixed reviews, and is probably not going to be as sharp on it's longer end).

It's going to be larger and heavier lens compared to the 500mm Mirror lens. You'll see some specs for it here, along with links to reviews, etc.

JimC Dec 8, 2009 1:17 PM

I see this in the review conclusion for the Sigma in it's review over at (tested on a Canon body):

"At 400mm @ f/5.6 the quality is quite soft but from f/8 and up the quality is very respectable. "

So, it probably shouldn't be too bad shooting at f/8.

That would give you the same angle of view you'd have using a 600mm lens on a 35mm camera (with stabilization on a Sony body), with more flexibility compared to a non Zoom lens, if you don't mind it's size and weight.

I see Sony A230 bodies for $429.99 right now at some vendors (in a kit with an 18-55mm lens). B&H has them for that now, and so some others vendors probably have it at the same price.

So, a used Sigma 135-400mm lens at $245 and a Sony A230 kit at $429.95 would get you in at around $675 plus shipping if you're on a real tight budget.

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