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My first Birding lens?

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Old Tuesday 30th June 2009, 02:54   #1
Quillink
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Question My first Birding lens?

Hi guys, it's been a while since I posted, but here I am again. I've finally saved up some money, and I think I'm ready to buy my first birding lens. :)
I have a few limitations, of course:

Budget: <$1000* (australian)
Camera: Pentax K200D
Better than the 'SMC Pentax DA 18-55mmF3.5-5.6 AL' ..!

* I have more than that, so please don't hold back suggesting pricier lenses. It's just that I can see the look on my parents faces if I opted to spend any more. =S

I'm mainly after a good amount of zoom. The birds in my area are very shy, so maybe 16-18x optical zoom? Waterproofing would be a great bonus, since the K200D's virtually made for rainy days. I'm really just looking for suggestions, but I plan to buy the lens tomorrow or on the weekend so speak now if you have anything to say.

Last edited by Quillink : Tuesday 30th June 2009 at 03:01. Reason: Woops, only just realized there was a Pentax subforum. X|
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Old Tuesday 30th June 2009, 03:18   #2
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Right now I'm eying out the Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.6. It's nice and cheap and apparently good for wildlife photos. Anyone out there using this lens? I'd love to hear more, especially from birders. The only issue is that it's 'loud'..? =\

P.S. If a mod sees this, please move this to the Pentax subforum. My apologies. :)

Last edited by Quillink : Tuesday 30th June 2009 at 03:27.
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Old Tuesday 30th June 2009, 13:37   #3
njlarsen
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I have no idea about pentax, but as a rule, a non-zoom lens (for example fixed 300 or 400 mm lens) is sharper than a zoom.

Niels
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Old Tuesday 30th June 2009, 13:46   #4
Cristian Mihai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
I have no idea about pentax, but as a rule, a non-zoom lens (for example fixed 300 or 400 mm lens) is sharper than a zoom.

Niels
..and more expensive too .
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Old Tuesday 30th June 2009, 14:12   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quillink View Post
Right now I'm eying out the Pentax DA 55-300mm f/4-5.6. It's nice and cheap and apparently good for wildlife photos. Anyone out there using this lens? I'd love to hear more, especially from birders. The only issue is that it's 'loud'..? =\

P.S. If a mod sees this, please move this to the Pentax subforum. My apologies. :)
Hi Quillink is this the kind of lens your looking for its a Pentax 300mm?
http://www.pentax.co.uk/en/product/2...to_Lenses.html
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Old Wednesday 1st July 2009, 13:57   #6
Quillink
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Hi Quillink is this the kind of lens your looking for its a Pentax 300mm?
http://www.pentax.co.uk/en/product/2...to_Lenses.html
Nope not that one. The one I was looking at was the 55-300mm, not the fixed 300mm one. I'd prefer a more versatile lens anyway since I'm paranoid about dust and the like, and only have one other lens anyway.

However, if the sharpness is that much better, I'd happily reconsider. Are there any tests on the internet? Comparison photos..? :\
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Old Wednesday 1st July 2009, 20:13   #7
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Look at the used market to get the best bang for the buck. A prime is usually sharper and are usually faster; look for a f stop f f/4 or wider which will still auto focus with a 1.4 TC

Sharpness with wide f stops and long focal length is everything for birding.

Last edited by Jonathan Farmer : Wednesday 1st July 2009 at 20:15.
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Old Thursday 2nd July 2009, 14:09   #8
Quillink
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Everything? That's convincing enough. I'll go to our camera store on the weekend and see what they have for sale.

(And thanks whoever moved the topic. )
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Old Saturday 4th July 2009, 03:42   #9
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Hi Quillink. have you considered a Sigma or Tamron lens? You could get a 150-500mm or 50-500mm 0r 200-500mm for just 5 hundred bigones more...maybe worth the wait..or check-out the 300mm f4 if you want fast focussing. 500mm is better for the shy birds you mentioned. I have several lenses for Pentax, including a Pentax 400mm F5.6 (no longer sold) and a Sigma 170-500mm, a 28-300mm Sigma. Try to get a 400mm second-hand if need be. I have examples in my gallery if you want to check.
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Old Thursday 9th July 2009, 10:08   #10
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The Pentax 55-300 has good optics but is painfully slow to AF and hunts a lot [I used one with a K20D but even for big birds like geese and swans it was really hard to get good flight shots]. The 200mm prime is a nice lens and I'd assume the 300mm is equally good [and weatherproof]. Best lens I had was the Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 - very sharp and the AF was'nt bad speedwise - the Nikon version was nowhere near as good which I think is due to the different AF mechanism.
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Old Tuesday 21st July 2009, 20:58   #11
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Hi, My better half uses the DA 55-300 (k10D) and is very happy with the results. I mainly use the the DA 300mm f4 SDM and extremly happy with the results, nice sharp and quiet lens, both lenses perform well for birding shots.
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Old Wednesday 10th February 2010, 16:06   #12
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Hi Quillink,
Before you spend the money on a new lense, I would upgrade my camera body first. If you look through the various user galleries, you can see a difference in the mega pixel rates. Until last year I have been a die hard film user. My first digital camera is a Pentax K100D. I am currently looking/saving for either a K7 or a K20D. Some will probobly argue that at screen resolution you won't notice a difference. I have used my lenses from my film days on the K100D and the resolution is just not there with the digital.
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Old Wednesday 4th August 2010, 11:39   #13
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Hi there. Am new to the forum, and new to birding as well. I am usisng a Pentax Kx with their kit 55-300mm DA L and it is a revelation. It is a fine lens and allows good images, even in low light - which we in eastern India face a lot. It is not in the league of the DA* 300mm f4, but is still quite good (Do check out two images I have posted today by this lens). I understand the DA 55-300mm is even better and comes with a focus limiter and hood.

If the DA* 300mm f4 is out of your reach, do consider what I did. i got myself a K 300mm f4- manual everything - but a rocking lens. I have posted an image of a Zitting Cisticola taken with this lens and you could take a look and form your opinion. A good piece should be available for USD 200 against the DA* which is USD 1000.

Last edited by ariban : Wednesday 4th August 2010 at 11:40. Reason: typos
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Old Thursday 5th August 2010, 09:22   #14
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Hi Quillink
I currently use both the DA*300mm and the Sigma 150-500mm, depending on what I am out to photograph. For a lot of the small birds, that I can entice closer with a bit of food, I'll often use the DA*300. For a lot of the waterfowl I'll use the 150-500 as they are often paddling about a little further away.

The DA*300 is a great lens, but the focal length can be little short sometimes. However, I have used it manual focus with a good Kenko 1.5x converter with very negligible drop off in quality.

The Sigma 150-500mm is a big lens but can, with a bit of practice, be used handheld a lot of the time. It has also given me a lot of great images since I have been lugging it around (that's another consideration!).

As has been stated prviously, a good prime lens will always get better images than a long zoom, but the costs are a lot higher. so, compromises have to be made and I find the Sigma a very satisfying compromise indeed!

I use a K20D most of the time - with battery grip which seems to nicely counter the weight of the big lenses when handheld.
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Old Saturday 25th September 2010, 17:52   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
I have no idea about pentax, but as a rule, a non-zoom lens (for example fixed 300 or 400 mm lens) is sharper than a zoom.

Niels
Some Pentax zoom lenses are as sharp as the best primes. The SMC Pentax-FA* 80-200mm F2.8 ED [IF] and SMC Pentax-FA* 250-600mm F5.6 ED [IF] are some the sharpest zooms ever made.
Here are links to some shots done with the SMC Pentax-FA* 250-600mm F5.6 ED [IF] by Marc Langille:
http://www.marclangille.com/Nature/H...bnqce-XL-1.jpg

http://www.marclangille.com/Nature/H...9_YFT3H-XL.jpg

His lenses:
http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a21...4_Umzhz-X2.jpg
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Old Monday 10th January 2011, 17:42   #16
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Realistically - is someone with a Pentax 200D looking to pay 5000 for a 250-600mm lens. Obviously lenses at this price will blow most people away and their life savings away as well!
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