Pentax 560mm lens now listed on Adorama...any takers!

Started Nov 5, 2012 | Discussions thread
falcon_wizard Regular Member • Posts: 316
Re: Overpriced product - just buy Sigma 500/4.5

Awaldram, you bring a good point: Pentax developed a niche for outdoor people. Those who regularly shoot with fixed super teles know that there is no free lunch there... Once you have invested to buy the lens, you need to buy a heavy enough tripod and head to squeeze the maximum IQ out of the lens, and then carry all that gear on location. For those like me who hike and travel internationally with their equipment, you quickly realize that weight and size can become a pretty limiting factor.

On a birding trip in the Amazon in Bolivia, there was a guy with his Canon Mk 1 and 500/4, who actually had left his kit in his room, because he did not want to carry it all day, as we were going on a 5-6 hrs hike, and he was a bulkier man than me... Whereas I can hike with the Sig500/4.5 all day. Size wise, you don't want to check those lens in when flying, so having a compact lens that can fit in a carry on size bag (and leave so some room for other stuff) is a huge plus. When I go to popular birding spots, I often see shooters with big heavy teles use carts/roller bags to carry their kit. That is all fine and dandy if you are going to a paved/outfitted location not too far from your car. But that does not cut it if you want to hike all day long in the bush on even on a trail.

Today's sensors make a f/5.6 tele a perfectly usable reality, especially since most people will stop down from say f/4 to get DOF and also sharpness in most cases. If the 560 is tack sharp wide open, which is what you''d expect from such a design, then it strikes a very useful focal length/size/weight combo. In my experience, 500mm is the minimal requirement for wildlife and birding photography, except for birds in flight where it's a bit long, 400m is probably the sweet spot there. But 700mm (500 + 1.4TC) is often too constraining, as you end up having trouble finding your subject, thinner DOF and so more difficult in achieving critical focus, and a lot less margin for having sufficient shutter speed for having a critically sharp image. From my perspective and experience, I would say 500-600 is just about the sweet spot in general wildlife photography on an APS-C body. Those shooting with a full frame sensor and a 500mm lens will find themselves married to their 1.4 TC quite a bit. Being closer to 600 on APS-C will give you better subject isolation and creamier bokeh, which all the cropping in the world won't give you. In wildlife photography, there really is no substitute for focal length. Cropping on say a full frame 36MPix sensor still will not give you the subject isolation. and creamy bokeh that takes an image from nice to superb. in most cases on APS-C, I find 400 is not enough and 700+ is too much as it constrains your shooting margin quite a lot.

So back to the 560, I'm very glad they put a silent motor and weather sealing. The focal length is just about perfect, the max aperture is definitely adequate, the weight is good, the size it a bit long, but still perfectly workable and the width is perfectly fine. I do have very high expectations regarding its IQ wide open, and I am eager to see the results when the lens is out. I wished the MDF would be shorter, but that can be worked around by moving yourself off a bit. So it is the "perfect lens" ? probably not, but Pentax certainly seems to have gotten a lot of things right on this lens. There definitely is a market for lighter-more compact high quality super teles. Regarding price, with a MSRP 1000$ higher than a third party manufacturer older design and 3k less than the canon 500, it's in the ball park. Now we have to let the market do it's thing and let the street prices settle down. But For those who want to be early adopters, then as always there is a premium to pay for it.... Like you said, there's no free lunch (like a 600/2.8 that costs 1000$, is tack sharp wide open, weighs 3 pounds and fits in a carry on bag...)...

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Stephane Neron

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