Best Pentax DSLR / lens combo for Wildlife photography


Link Posted 27/10/2016 - 08:23
No-one makes a camera that is best at everything, and we have to accept that and if there is a particular field in which you want to concentrate then get the best you can for that. It's no good complaining that your Range Rover doesn't corner as well as a Jaguar if you want to drive on a Swiss mountain road! K-1 has been described as the best DSLR around for landscape due to its dynamic range, sharpness and quality of colour rendering as well as the WR. The 645Z was specifically developed for the wedding photo market. There are reasons however why pro sports and wildlife photographers go first to Canon and then Nikon, and it's not just the massive support these companies provide; their top end bodies and lenses are designed for the money-earning shot. Maybe Ricoh have identified the fields in which they can excel and compete, and are concentrating on being the best there.

I should add that there are superb examples of wildlife photos around by Pentax users including on this site, so it is always worth checking what kit was used.
Last Edited by RobL on 27/10/2016 - 08:29


Link Posted 27/10/2016 - 09:48
Bad workmen always blame their tools

Real photographers like this guy just take photographs with a Pentax K-5 and stuff.

Get on with it

Half Man... Half Pentax ... Half Cucumber

Pentax K-1 + K-5 and some other stuff



Link Posted 27/10/2016 - 09:57
I use centre point only for all subjects as I'm the only one who knows where I want to focus. When using any of the DSLR marques I don't think it's possible to generalise about how good/bad they are as they all fail in certain respects and all succeed in others.

I suspect that part of the problem with being an existing Pentax user can be summed up by the experience of a friend of mine who bought into the syustem with a Samsung GX10 and then GX20. He also bought all sorts of low cost independent lenses. Then he moved to a very high end Canon with fast L lenses and concluded that Canon made better cameras and lenses. He could have upgraded his Pentax kit and achieved the same end result.

However, the essence of this thread could be that we already have Pentax cameras and lenses that we're happy enough with, so how do we shoot faster and better for those stunning bird pictures? My solution is centre point focus and the 150-450mm or even the 75-300mm FA lens, which is noisy but fast. Sue does very well with the HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm and the 1.4x converter. The alternative is manual focus, which is better in some situations.

I have found that the Pentax on centre spot focuses better through mazes of branches than most other marques.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 27/10/2016 - 09:58
Morning Algi

Those images on the link you supplied certainly reinforce the point and are inspiring. 😀

I'm sitting here camera in hand wondering if the sun may come out, then I remembered I live in Wales so it may not

Those images certainly suggest I should just go out anyway.

So I will use my normal ethos, brew first, act later☺


K10D, K5 plus plenty of clueless enthusiasm.

My Flickr site link
Last Edited by Stuey on 27/10/2016 - 09:59


Link Posted 27/10/2016 - 10:37
The best advice I ever received was from that famous wildlife photographer Ronnie Flapper he said " If it squawks like a bird and walks like a bird then it needs a bit longer in the oven"

Half Man... Half Pentax ... Half Cucumber

Pentax K-1 + K-5 and some other stuff



Link Posted 27/10/2016 - 13:34

Thanks for your responses, my main interest is in Wildlife and Nature Photography and bought the new 100mm Macro Lens at the Photo Show earlier this year. I have a collection of around 5-6 lenses so swapping to another system is not what I really want to do. Would/does the D*300mm lens be a good investment or replacement for the 170-500mm lens in terms of image quality/focusing?

Would that lens be most useful on a K5 or K3/K3II?

Most of my photographs are taken using aperture Priority Mode (f/16) with an ISO of 400-800.

Best Regards,
Pentax K5D, Pentax 16-45mm f4 DA ED AL, Pentax 55-300mm ED, Pentax 100mm Macro f2.8 D-FA, Tamron 28-200mm, Sigma 170-500mm.


Link Posted 27/10/2016 - 14:11
A good lens doesn't have to be used stopped down to f16. In fact it's often best not to. Images may suffer from diffraction and with a wider aperture a faster shutter speed can be used which should lead to sharper photos.
Only normally use a small aperture like f16 when you want both close and distant things in focus. An aperture of around f5.6 to f8, depending on the lens, is often preferable.
Conversly, a large aperture can make the subject sharp with the rest of the photo out of focus, making the subject stand out more.
Really with a camera there are only three variables (beside focussing), aperture, shutter speed and ISO, so just set them to suit the subject.
John K
Last Edited by JAK on 27/10/2016 - 14:41


Link Posted 27/10/2016 - 14:18
The DA*300 is a cracking lens and would certainly beat the Sigma 170-500 for image quality. As for focusing, it lets more light in so accuracy could be better, but I don't know if it would be any faster. The disadvantage I found with the fixed focal length, is that sometimes things get too close to frame them as you want, so the alternative would be the Pentax 150-450.
Too Old To Die Young


Link Posted 27/10/2016 - 18:18
If you can afford it then the 150-450mm would be your best bet but if not then look at the Sigma 50-500mm OS. I sold my Sigma to buy the Pentax but if I'm honest the Sigma is not far off the Pentax in terms of IQ or AF speed and the extra length at the short end definitely comes in handy. It also focuses a lot closer and makes quite a good quasi macro lens.

SRS currently have the Sigma for 799 with a 3 year warranty.

As for body, the K-3II is the fastest focusing crop atm ... it's still not great compared to other makes but if you don't want to swap then it's the best you will find currently.
. My Flickr
Last Edited by Mike-P on 27/10/2016 - 18:21


Link Posted 28/10/2016 - 08:14
I use a Pentax k-3 and Pentax Da*300mm and Ive got some nice shots with this set up and also the Pentax 150-450mm more recently.

I had always maintained that Pentax AF wasn't that bad, especially when you considered they cost less than the equivalent Canikon set up, but my recent bad experience with Pentax Customer 'service' has given me a more objective look. I would still recommend Pentax to someone starting out, as I have only had 1 camera with a significant fault and they are still great value for money, but their AF is still not up to scratch. For action anything other than the centre point focus is pretty hopeless. The centre point is fine for tracking big slower moving birds like red kites, but a duck or cormorant swimming towards you at a reasonable speed it will follow but not quite be in focus or just completely fail to lock on. Daniel Bridge recently tried out the K-1 and found it wouldn't even track a couple as they walked towards him down the aisle!
The AF area on the centre point is rather large and will often lock onto the back/front of the head rather than the eye or the body rather than the head.
When it comes to sharpness and sheer picture quality the DA*300mm is my favourite ever lens and arguably best value at that length, but sadly Ive lost too many shots because the AF just couldn't lock on to a moving subject or it too to many attempts to lock onto the head/eyes of a near stationary one, and I've started weighing up the Pros and Cons of the Nikon D500 or Canon 7D mkII.
UK Wildlife blog ----- UK Wildlife Facebook page ----- UK wildlife Twitter
Last Edited by NeilP on 28/10/2016 - 08:15


Link Posted 28/10/2016 - 19:47
K3 with DA 300* with or without the 1.4 TC. Cuts the mustard
Enjoy life


Link Posted 28/10/2016 - 20:10
NeilP wrote:
Daniel Bridge recently tried out the K-1 and found it wouldn't even track a couple as they walked towards him down the aisle!

The AF area on the centre point is rather large and will often lock onto the back/front of the head rather than the eye or the body rather than the head.

In this video (about 4 mins in) Gary Fong explains how Sony handle this using eye-focus. It was one of the reasons he switched to using them professionally.

Pentax need to add something like that.


Link Posted 28/10/2016 - 20:43
I use other brands of kit for certain types of photography. The thread title says;

Best Pentax DSLR / lens combo for Wildlife photography

So what's the point of mentioning non Pentax kit?

Best regards


Link Posted 29/10/2016 - 10:49
The other man's grass is not always greener

Lot of AF Fails from Canikon and Sony here......

CZ Sonnar 55mm f/1.8 95% Failure

If photographers knew anything about focusing they would realize that accurate AF is impossible. Shots are usually rescued by the DOF of the lens.
Half Man... Half Pentax ... Half Cucumber

Pentax K-1 + K-5 and some other stuff

Last Edited by Algernon on 29/10/2016 - 10:52


Link Posted 29/10/2016 - 12:47
Maybe not impossible, but the precise point of focus is just a hair width. Any more than that is down to the DOF of the lens as Algi says.
John K
Last Edited by JAK on 29/10/2016 - 12:48
Add a Comment
You must be registered or logged-in to comment.