Q + DA 55-300. . . Some early spring practice at 300mm hand held

Started Mar 12, 2013 | Discussions thread
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snostorm
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Q + DA 55-300. . . Some early spring practice at 300mm hand held
Mar 12, 2013

Hi All,
A lot of people seem to assume that the Q will need premium (* class or equal) lenses do well, and that they would need to be faster than f4 to prevent some disastrous diffraction effect. I tend to disagree with both of these assumptions.

Here, I'm shooting the Q with the Pentax K2Q OEM adapter and DA 55-300, Chinese 2.8x hood loupe for the Nikon J1 modded to move the frame left to clear the buttons on the Q, NoStar Red Dot sight. The Q is set up to shoot jpeg ***, in-camera sharpness at -4, Hi ISO NR set to "Low", some tweeks to the colors to match what I see, single shot mode fired from the shutter release button, handheld, but leaning back against a wall, shooting at a small tree @ 15 feet (5m) away, so the birds are anywhere between 12 and 18 feet (3-6m) away. I set up Ev comp to -1 to prevent blow outs (which I should have changed for the second day, but forgot) and set Auto ISO to 125-1600, Tv priority (which is actually Av priority with an adapted lens), center-weighted metering, lens wide open at f5.8 at 300mm except for the single 200mm shot I'm posting. I used Focus Peaking with no magnification to focus. I should get better at this as time goes on. SR was set to activate at time of exposure only.

In PP, I adjusted for brightness and contrast and used Topaz DeNoise for NR and Topaz InFocus to sharpen, downsized in 4 steps, and only cropped about 10 pixels from each side of the downsized image to eliminate some artifacts left from the sharpening. I like a very clean background and am something of a sharp freak, so the two Topaz plugins are always part of my PP workflow.

The first day was clear, so the birds were in direct sunlight for the most part.

This is the best shot of the day for feather detail. 1/640, f5.8, ISO 250. This shows what the lens is capable of on the Q if everything goes right

1/640, f5.8, ISO 250

1/640, f5.8, ISO 250

1/640, f5.8, ISO 160


1/640, f5.8, ISO 320

1/640, f5.8, ISO 250. This is a good illustration of the DOF gained by shooting at longer distances with the crop factor of the Q. If I shot this with my K-5 at 510mm from a much closer distance, the tail (and probably the feet) would have been out of focus.

These last four are from the second day when it was medium bright overcast (could see shadows)

1/640, f5.8, ISO 800. This one shows that the DOF is still pretty thin, as the head is not really in focus.

1/640, f5.8, ISO 640. There's a bit of lateral CA (green/red) on the branch in the upper left, but downsized it's hardly noticeable.

This one's at @ 200mm. 1/640, f4.5, ISO 400. This one shows that the bokeh can get a little busy if the background is at the wrong distance.

Same guy, same place, at 300mm. 1/640, f5.8, ISO 1250 !!!. There's a bit of PF at and under the nose and around the white spot on the branch, but downsized, it almost disappears. This one was really a surprise. I would not have expected ISO 1250 to yield this much detail with the tiny sensor, especially with the image a bit underexposed. Other than the K-5s, I've never trusted any of my DSLRs to shoot birds or animals at 1250.

Bottom line, this is going to be my default long to super tele zoom for handholding with the Q. At 440g, the DA 55-300 less than half the weight of the lightest of my premium 300s, and so far, this trumps the superior glass for handholding at 1674mm (35mm) EQ. Just for reference, my other 300mm lenses are:

Canon FD 300 f4 L converted to K,
FA* 300 f4.5,
Tamron SP 300 f2.8 mod 60B,
Sigma EX 300 f2.8 APO,
FA* 300 f2.8,
Tokina 100-300 f4 AT-X SD (MF),
and a Sigma EX 100-300 f4 APO.

. . . so the kit long tele zoom is beating out some pretty impressive company to get the call for this purpose.

With the DA 55-300 CA/PF is well controlled by the ED elements, and though more evident at full size, is only a minor concern, and can be easily fixed in post if wanted. If I could design the perfect long zoom for handholding with the Q, it would have the size and weight of the DA 55-300, be a parfocal zoom (same focus point for all FLs), and it would be a one-touch (push-pull) zoom. That lens doesn't exist, so the very impressive DA 55-300 will have to do. . .

Scott

 snostorm's gear list:snostorm's gear list
Pentax K-3
Nikon 1 J1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-F5 Pentax K-5
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