affordable, handholdable supertelephoto

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paulkienitz
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affordable, handholdable supertelephoto
10 months ago

As a birder, I am very dubious and doubtful when it comes to the added utility you get from massive sports lenses that cost five or ten thousand dollars. Multiplying the size and weight of a lens by a factor of eight does less real good than the simple ability to walk to a better vantage point, and can hamper both the walking and the ability to be inconspicuous once you get there. So handholdability is often a lot more valuable than reach is, which means that paying thousands and thousands for a giant lens can easily leave you no better off than before. If I want tremendous magnification, I can get it with my Q, and using it has shown me just how severely limited the ability to see further with higher magnification really is. Air turbulence turns any good lens into a bad lens surprisingly fast, once you get beyond the reach of handheld lenses.

A lot of the perceived advantage of the C and N systems over the K-mount system in terms of lens selection comes down to these giant telephotos. But I think most of us don't need to waste time envying them. Those are mainly for pro sports journalists who don't even buy them retail.

I've just made myself a chart of all the supertelephoto options available, and I observe that lenses fall into two price groups with a wide empty gap between: lenses $1500 and under, and lenses $5000 and over. Virtually nothing sits in the middle, except some Sigmas that are priced around $3500 in order to undercut the $5000 name-brand equivalents.

If I compare the different systems while ignoring anything over five thousand dollars, things are pretty even. The one thing Pentax lacks compared to C, N, and Sony is a 100-400mm, and that's on the roadmap. Once that gets here things will be pretty even.  We'll be ahead Sony, which has a 300/2.8 but nothing like the 560/5.6 and no affordable 300/4. Canon has an affordable 400/5.6 which nobody else has, but it's old and unstabilized; they might not want to update it. In fact, I'd say that Sigma has a better selection in this area than any camera company... the main thing they lack being a 300/4.

I'd probably be ordering a DA* 300/4 this fall along with a K-3 if I hadn't just had to buy a car. As it is, maybe next year, and maybe a 100-400 instead, depending how that turns out.

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"A good photograph is knowing where to stand." -- Ansel

 paulkienitz's gear list:paulkienitz's gear list
Pentax Q Pentax K-3 Pentax smc DA 55-300mm F4.0-5.8 ED Pentax smc DA* 300mm F4.0 ED (IF) SDM Samyang 8mm F3.5 Aspherical IF MC Fisheye +4 more
Pentax K-3 Pentax smc DA* 300mm F4.0 ED (IF) SDM
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