A*300 vs DA*300

Started Oct 15, 2012 | Discussions thread
snostorm
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Re: A*300 vs DA*300
In reply to audiobomber, Oct 15, 2012

audiobomber wrote:

I've been using an A*300 f/4 with and without a Kenko PZ 1.5X TC as my main telephoto (my 55-300 is pretty much retired). I recently purchased a DA*300, but I'm a little underwhelmed at the "upgrade". Yes, I have AF now, but honestly my keeper rate hasn't gone up. AF with the TC is frustrating, lots of hunting and focus stutt

I shoot a lot of birds in trees. I've only had the DA*300 out on one short jaunt, but the AF was as much a handicap as a boon. It had a lot of trouble finding a dark brown sparrow among the leaves and branches. Some shots I would have nailed with the A*300 and missed with the new lens (e.g. a seagull standing in the middle of a field, the camera focussed on the grass just behind the bird, a flock of ducks too far away to be separated from the background).

Other considerations: The DA*300 is signicantly larger. WR is a welcome feature. PF is lower with the modern lens, especially with the TC. Sharpness, I see no difference so far. SDM is slow compared to screw drive and DC (on my 18-135). It all adds up to a feeling that I'm wasting $1000. If you have had both of these lenses, what do you think?

The PZ AF TCs were not designed to work with SDM AF since they predated SDM and were discontinued at about the same time the DA* lenses were introduced. Some claim that they work, but not in my experience. Try this with the TC-- manual focus to very close with Quick Shift, and then actuate AF to gain critical focus. Maybe not a great solution, but if it works, it should be faster than MF alone.

It takes more use than a short jaunt to get used to a lens im my experience. It should be no harder to acquire a subject with this lens than with the A*300 since they're both the same max aperture and FL. Sounds like you've changed your technique, totally relying on AF to do everything for you. I can imagine that with the A*, you were manually changing the focus while trying to acquire your subject, why not do the same with the DA*, using QS, then use the AF to gain critical focus. Using AF, you don't throw away MF techniques because you're now using an AF lens. You must still verify focus with your eyes before you trip the shutter. Don't allow the Point and Shoot mentality take over just because you're shooting with AF.

I would think that the better CA/PF control would be enough to make the purchase worthwhile. I found the DA* a tad sharper than the FA*, which I found a tad sharper than the A*. The DA* also focuses closer than either of the old models @ 4ft compared to 6ft for the FA* and 13ft for the A*. This is a very significant advantage IMO.  This might sound stupid, but why not turn AF off at either the lens or the body, then shoot the two side by side using MF only. There should be no real functional difference in use, except perhaps the smoothness and extra precision in the longer focus throw for the A*. The optical performance differences won't blow you away, since the A* is still a premium lens, but I have to think that the DA* should be a definite step up.

Give the lens a chance -- there are a lot of satisfied users out there, and they all can't be wrong. . .

BTW, what body are you shooting? The K-7 is noticeably faster than the K20, and the K-5 is noticeably faster than the K-7. The newest bodies are touted to be faster still. Is it possible that a newer body might make the lens more usable? If you're thinking of upgrading bodies, this might be something that should be considered. . .

Scott

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