Bird Photographer Question (55-300 & DA550mm)


Link Posted 09/02/2012 - 18:49
Hi Guys

I have been on and off viewing and posting on this site but have to admit having used it a lot more the last couple of days - it really is the bee's!

Most of my photography is "birding". I shoot with the K-x, the 50-200 and Sigma 150 500.

Having used this combo now for over a year, like many photographers I am yearning for better optics and more length!

I am told all the time that I get the most out of the K-x, but the difference between the Sigma and the Pentax lenses is apparent at times.

My question is, does anyone have any experience of using the 55-300 and is the plastic cheap version ok to use?

The DA*300 is the obvious choice but too much.

While i am here does anyone know how much the new DA 550mm might be????

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Link Posted 09/02/2012 - 19:09
While the 55-300mm is a very good lens (and the cheap version is fine as it has exactly the same optics as the metal mount) I don't think it is better than your 150-500mm and of course it's quite a bit shorter.

The better bet would be to sell the 150-500mm and with some extra cash buy the newer 50-500mm OS lens which is very good indeed. The other choice is sell the Sigma and buy a used DA* 300mm and 1.7x TC.

TBH you aren't going to get anything better than the Sigmas without spending a LOT of cash.

As for the new DA 560mm, no one but Pentax know the exact specification or price so far .. everyone is working on pure guesswork.

Personally I reckon (guess) 2.5k.
No equipment list here but thanks for taking an interest. My Flickr


Link Posted 09/02/2012 - 21:35
What Mike said .... forget the 55-300. Pentax. Pentax DA*300/4, Cosina 55/1.2, Lens Baby Composer Pro & Edge 80, AFA x1.7, Metz 50 af1.
Nikon. D800. D600. Sigma 500/4.5, Nikon 300/2.8 VRII, Sigma 120-300/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 21/2.8, Zeiss Distagon ZF2 35/2.0, Sigma 50/1.4, Nikkor 85/1.8, Nikon TC20EIII, Nikon TC14EII, Kenko x1.4, Sigma 2.0


Link Posted 09/02/2012 - 21:59
55-300 is a very good lens and as Mike says the plastic version is identical optically to the metal mount version. I have this lens and use it a lot, BUT NOT for my bird pictures. I have a very old and mint Tamron Adaptamatic 300mm prime which is far better for the bird pics as it is slightly sharper, a joy to use and focus and renders details and colour more naturally. It cost me 20 from ebay. Clearly it's not a 500mm lens, but for 20 who cares? I agree with the comments above - stick with your Sigmas or wait and see how much the Pentax will cost. BTW I don't think it will be anywhere near 2500 as it will not be a DA* lens, but just a DA. Pentax have to compete with the likes of Sigma so it will have to be realistically priced.

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Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs


Link Posted 09/02/2012 - 22:00
I'm not sure of any benefits of going to the 55-300 from the 150-500, but here's pretty much the best I can extract from the 55-300 - I don't take many bird shots so I'm sure others can do better. The AF on the 55-300 isn't great and quickshift on the DA version is useful:

You can see some of my photos here if you are so inclined


Link Posted 09/02/2012 - 22:05
DR. O, they are fantastic shots for the 55-300 - I can't squeeze anything like this quality from mine even when monopod mounted. I agree that the AF on this lens is not good for wildlife shots and I find it easier to focus manually with my old Tamron which has a very long focus throw and is buttery smooth.

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Some cameras, some lenses, some bits 'n' bobs


Link Posted 09/02/2012 - 22:11
Without spending oodles of cash I don't think you'll improve much on the Bigma in terms of IQ...

Might be better off upgrading your body to the K5 (or even K7 if birding is your main shooting thing)
Pentax K5- Vivitar 19mm 3.8; FA35mm f2; D-Xenon 100mm macro f2.8; DA50-200mm WR...
Yongnuo YN-560; Vivitar 285HV; Cactus V4 triggers...
Pentax-MX & M50mm f1.4; Spottie & 55mm f1.8; MG & M40mm 2.8...


Link Posted 10/02/2012 - 03:50
I think Dr Orloff has has made a pretty convincing point.



Link Posted 10/02/2012 - 08:38
Aero wrote:
I think Dr Orloff has has made a pretty convincing point.


In what respect?

No one has said the 55-300mm isn't a decent lens, in fact I carry one around with me all the time. The original question was about more reach and better quality which, when compared to the 150-500mm, it hasn't got.
No equipment list here but thanks for taking an interest. My Flickr


Link Posted 10/02/2012 - 09:31
I'd sooner use the 150-500 at 300mm than the 55-300mm.

I had the 55-300 less than 2 months when I decided I needed something longer, and after buying the 150-500 last Feb, I think the 55-300 was back on the camera about twice until I parted with it a couple of months ago.

I now have the 60-250 too, thinking I would use that in preference to the 150-500 in poor light as its f4. I use it when walking in woodland, or in poor early morning light. But as soon as I can use the 150-500 at decent ISO (less than 5000) I put it back on for flexibility

Last Edited by Blythman on 10/02/2012 - 09:35
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