Longer focal length for wildlife


Link Posted 12/05/2011 - 21:19

Need some feedback please on a telephoto topic.

I have a Pentax Kx DSLR and want to do some Butterfly/Moth/Insect photography. This isn't necessarily macro shots I want to make, but mainly at distance (500mm to 10m or so) for the purpose of species identification.
Currently I use a Tamron SP 70-210 f/3.5 with an adaptall. It is a good quality lens and I can get to less than a metre from the subject.
However, I need greater focal length for image scale. My options I have considered are -

1. A good quality 2X teleconverter or maybe a 1.4X or 1.5X with a spacer to increase to about 2X should I need it. I can also use a 2X converter on my Tamron SP 90mm f/2.5 manual lens, as 180mm with macro facility would be very useful.

2. Putting hands deep into my pocket and go for a Sigma 120-400mm APO lens with K fitting.

First question.

Is my current telephoto zoom of high enough quality to take a 2X converter and still produce sharp results at 420mm? If so what is the best converter I should be looking for, bearing in mind it is image quality I am after.

Q2. With a converter in place, can I still get to the same level of close focus at one end and infinity at the other?

Q3. Will I see a momentous difference at 400mm with the Sigma APO, over the Tamron 210 + converter at 400mm?

The advantage of the Sigma may be image quality and exposure time at 400mm, against the advantage of the converter being its usefulness on both Tamron lenses and the macro facility of the 90mm SP.

Anyone have experience of either of these choices, or even both?

Many thanks for your help.



Link Posted 12/05/2011 - 21:43
I would forget the converter, if you dont want frame filling shots then buy the best quality 300mm lens you can afford. 300mm should allow you to keep your distance and still get a reasonable sized image of the creature in question.
My Names Alan, and I'm a lensaholic.
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Link Posted 12/05/2011 - 22:14
This was taken with a Sigma 400 f5.6 non apo from about10 metres away;

They can be picked up on ebay for around 200 for a good one.
Might be worth a try, but the minimun focus might be a bit long, cannot remember what it is off hand but I think around 1.6 Metres seems to come to mind.
If it does not work for you can probably sell it on without a loss,

K5 + 8mm-500mm zooms and primes
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Link Posted 12/05/2011 - 22:17
I second that (fatspider's post). The DA* 300mm is a great lens and focusses fairly close (for a 300mm) at just under 1.5m closest focus I think; and it gives some undoubtedly splendid results when used to take pics of butterflies/hoverflies etc. However it does come at a price.

As an alternative, there are both sigma and Tamron 70-300mm zooms which also have something akin to a macro function (closest focus about a metre I think) and actually work rather well for a lot less money. I think each are available in Pentax fit brand new for under 130 on amazon - might be worth a look I have an earlier incarnation of the sigma 70-300 and for the money I think it is great value, and smaller and lighter than a DA*300

Mat W

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Last Edited by matwhittington on 12/05/2011 - 22:18


Link Posted 13/05/2011 - 00:18
The 10M shots are going to be a challenge.

I used a 70-200 Sigma EX Mk1 with a short tube from about 1.5M for this:

If you looking to get sharp results at 5M plus on "Butterfly/Moth/Insects" a have my doubts as to whether a 300mm will do the job. The focus alone will be hit and miss.

Best regards


Link Posted 13/05/2011 - 02:13
K10D wrote:
The 10M shots are going to be a challenge.

I used a 70-200 Sigma EX Mk1 with a short tube from about 1.5M for this:

If you looking to get sharp results at 5M plus on "Butterfly/Moth/Insects" a have my doubts as to whether a 300mm will do the job. The focus alone will be hit and miss.

Best regards


I'm not normally into Wildlife and Flower shots.

.... but that is just an amazing snap!!!!!

highly impressed!!!
[i]Bodies: 1x K-5IIs, 2x K-5, Sony TX-5, Nokia 808
Lenses: Pentax DA 10-17mm ED(IF) Fish Eye, Pentax DA 14mm f/2.8, Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8, Pentax-A 28mm f/2.8, Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.2, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.4, Pentax-FA 50mm f/1.4, Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7, Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8, Sigma 135-400mm APO DG, and more ..
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karma mechanic

Link Posted 13/05/2011 - 08:33
I've usually got the Sigma on the camera.

The 10-20mm though
The other day I saw an interesting bug and just for fun I tried to get a shot. You can see the bug, but most of the picture consists of the house, the drive, a couple of cars, some clouds...

K10D's picture is an amazing capture.
My own website is www.richardgaddphotography.com

Also on 500px


Link Posted 13/05/2011 - 08:37
The Tamron Adaptall 2x 01f is actually pretty good with the 70-210mm f3.5 if you dont want to spend big money. Not used mine much lately as I have other lenses but it does a reasonable job. Missed the focus on the eyes but the body will give you an idea of sharpness

Darter by Mike.Pursey, on Flickr

Pretty good on the 90mm macro as well.

Dragonfly by Mike.Pursey, on Flickr
No equipment list here but thanks for taking an interest. My Flickr


Link Posted 13/05/2011 - 08:38
A third vote here for the DA*300, it gets used more than my Tamron 90 Di, mainly because I can keep my distance, but often just the fact that it's on the camera when the opportunity arrises. Here's a recent one from Frodsham Marshes:

But it's pricey

I've had good results with the Tamron 70-300 LD Di, and it's as cheap as chips, well recommended.

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In LBA hiatus.


Link Posted 13/05/2011 - 10:39
I find you can get good results with pentax A 70-210 Macro with 2x,was playing around in the back-yard, here is an example, 210 with 2x at about 15 yds;

this is same lens at 70, set to macro mode, with 2x at 18in with flash ;

K5iis,K7,KM, MG, Super A, MZ50.
24f2.8; 28f2.8;31 limited; 35f2; 55f1.8; 135f2.8; 400f5.6:
Some zooms


Link Posted 13/05/2011 - 10:58
The DA*300 f/4 is a superb lens.

Poppy Due by Honourable Tyr, on Flickr

Hansom Robin by Honourable Tyr, on Flickr

Delicate by Honourable Tyr, on Flickr

Butteryfly Bokeh by Honourable Tyr, on Flickr

Don't Jump! by Honourable Tyr, on Flickr

Always get brilliant results with this lens.



Link Posted 13/05/2011 - 11:27
Wow, incredible images by all of you.


Cymru Am Byth


Link Posted 13/05/2011 - 11:59
K10D wrote:
The 10M shots are going to be a challenge.

I used a 70-200 Sigma EX Mk1 with a short tube from about 1.5M for this:

If you looking to get sharp results at 5M plus on "Butterfly/Moth/Insects" a have my doubts as to whether a 300mm will do the job. The focus alone will be hit and miss.

Best regards

You can get some fantastic shots of these "butterfly/moth/insects" with the 300mm, just like Tyr demonstrated. What you need is to perfect the technique and the great thing about the DA* 300mm f/4 is that the AF is pin sharp and rarely you need to use AF. Stick it on a tripod and use MF and you could pinpoint the eyes of the insect and get stunning images.
Amin Photo Gallery
Last Edited by aminstar on 13/05/2011 - 11:59


Link Posted 13/05/2011 - 12:13
Tyr, were your shots taken at 5M or more?

My shot was MF. I seldom use a tripod.

Lets assume an 8M shot of a butterfly on MF, image size in the viewfinder would be small, probably too small to see eye detail. I do have a Pentax 300mm * and it's a great lens.

My personal thoughts are that at 5M plus, for small subjects, 300mm is too short. Also, in lower light, it's going to be too slow as Hi ISO does not help AF or MF.

Best regards


Link Posted 13/05/2011 - 12:38
At its MFD which is 140 cm and MM of 0.24x I can assure you the eye balls of the insects can be fantastically clear and the shots are stunning. And insects such as dragonflies and butterflies look pretty good for AF even. You will not have any problems looking at them through the eye piece. They are big enough for you to even choose the areas you want to focus in.
Five meters seem to be stretching though, but if you are lucky to be between 2 and 4 meters you can see that lens come to life for shots of these insects
Stick a TC on it for extra magnification and you will start to forget the Macro lens at home. And if you are in a confined space where you don't need to chase the insects in the wild (a butterfly house for example) you will not even need the TC.
Amin Photo Gallery
Last Edited by aminstar on 13/05/2011 - 12:40
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