DA* 300f4 or F 300f4.5


Anthony Lee

Senior Member
Feb 12, 2009
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#1
The K5 is an extremely fun camera for nature, especially "birding" and I have viewed enough of fantastic photos to be convinced to try a genre that I have never ventured. I don't intend to go big time, but am looking into a comfortable hand holding focal length, so I have narrowed down my choices to either the new DA* 300f4 or a used F 300f4.5. The DA* is lighter, 1/2 stop better, with SDM though this can both be good and bad in the long term. The F is legendary, and can only be found used.

If any of you here has experience with either lens, help me with your suggestions and opinions, hopefully with some supporting photos, especially those of birds and small animals.

Many thanks and cheers.
 

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pinholecam

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Staff member
Jul 23, 2007
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#2
Actually, 300mm is on the really short end of birding.
You might want to consider a Sigma 50-500 or 150-500.
For the best avaliable new lens, I think Ken Goh has plenty of nice shots with his Sigma 500/4.5

I think its 1/3 stops between the DA* and the F*. Not that significant anymore on the K5 with its high ISO performance. On the K7, I'd say every bit helps ;)
F* is very small and easily hand holdable. Unique and convenient built in hood. Bragging rights for a discontinued 'rare' lens as well. AF speed is 'ok', no slouch, but nothing to shout about either.
DA* is that bit faster at f4, silent focusing. Its also easily available and new (less repair problems if run into).
Optically, they are said to be the same.


No right or wrong. You just choose your preference between the two.
I chose the F* cause to be I prefer the above mentioned plus points.
 

sbc

New Member
Jun 27, 2005
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West of Singapore
#3
Go for the DA*. It is WR and focusing is silent. AF speed is about the same for both.
I had both.

...umless you can get a good price for the older F*.
 

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Anthony Lee

Senior Member
Feb 12, 2009
2,465
2
38
Shunfu Road, Singapore
#4
Actually, 300mm is on the really short end of birding.
You might want to consider a Sigma 50-500 or 150-500.
For the best avaliable new lens, I think Ken Goh has plenty of nice shots with his Sigma 500/4.5

I think its 1/3 stops between the DA* and the F*. Not that significant anymore on the K5 with its high ISO performance. On the K7, I'd say every bit helps ;)
F* is very small and easily hand holdable. Unique and convenient built in hood. Bragging rights for a discontinued 'rare' lens as well. AF speed is 'ok', no slouch, but nothing to shout about either.
DA* is that bit faster at f4, silent focusing. Its also easily available and new (less repair problems if run into).
Optically, they are said to be the same.


No right or wrong. You just choose your preference between the two.
I chose the F* cause to be I prefer the above mentioned plus points.
Thanks JK. I have considered and reviewed all the lenses below 500mm and because I hate carrying a huge tripod, which means all the 500mm biggies are out. I have narrowed down to 300mm with 1.4 TC if necessary. With the K5, shooting f8-11 at ISO 800-1600 in the day should be manageable. I will most probably use a monopod and try going closer. Infact I was considering the DA*200f2.8 with the 1.4 and AF 1.7 TC, depending on the reach necessary. At the same time, 200f2.8 can be use for bigger targets. The major disadvantage of owning Pentax is the lack of the rental market, which makes it diffcult to test lenses. I tried the Canon 300mm, both the F4 and F2.8 before, and the f4 is very manageable with a monopod but not the f2.8. Anything longer is definitely out for me.

Having scrutinized the photos of both the DA* and F*, I prefer the color rendition of the F*, much richer and classical than the clean and clinical look of the DA*. Also, with my limited Pentax experience, having used the the FA 31 Ltd lens, I feel the old body driven screw drive AF is more reliable in the long haul. I have a pretty good F* in mind and it will cost me about S$ 1.5K. Any idea whether this is a good or bad price.
 

CorneliusK

Senior Member
Jan 23, 2010
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#5
I do think that you will need a tripod no matter what - even if the weight is manageable, it will be difficult to get a sharp shot at 300mm even with a monopod. Especially since you will most like need to crop a lot due to the short focal length - you will need every bit of sharpness you can get.

The sound from the screwdrive AF may be another consideration.
 

creampuff

Senior Member
Jul 11, 2006
5,116
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Dover
#6
+1 to what sbc said.
If I had a choice I would go with the DA* 300 because the black finish doesn't show up any nicks (unlike the white finish of the F* and FA* versions), it is f/4, you can get it new with extended warranty, WR, focusing is silent and the honking big hood screams "pro" :bsmilie:
I've tried both DA* and F* and both are definitely hand holdable.
 

Ahren

New Member
Jan 3, 2009
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#7
If you do a search on Kengoh postings, before he got his Sigma bazooka. He was using the DA300. So it can give you an idea of the capability.

There is also a sale at TK from Simon's post in the other thread that the DA is going for $1600 which is a very good price. Last year, I asked, it was $2000+.

No idea on the F*...but I think there is a few guys here who have that.
 

Anthony Lee

Senior Member
Feb 12, 2009
2,465
2
38
Shunfu Road, Singapore
#8
If you do a search on Kengoh postings, before he got his Sigma bazooka. He was using the DA300. So it can give you an idea of the capability.

There is also a sale at TK from Simon's post in the other thread that the DA is going for $1600 which is a very good price. Last year, I asked, it was $2000+.

No idea on the F*...but I think there is a few guys here who have that.
Yes, I have communicated with Ken Goh and he was very helpful. Will check with TK for the DA*300.

Many thanks to all who have contributed.
 

istDeS

Senior Member
Dec 7, 2005
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"River end"
#9
have both, here's some pics taken with both lens for your reference.

with F*300 f/4.5





 

sbc

New Member
Jun 27, 2005
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#11
+1 to what sbc said.
If I had a choice I would go with the DA* 300 because the black finish doesn't show up any nicks (unlike the white finish of the F* and FA* versions), it is f/4, you can get it new with extended warranty, WR, focusing is silent and the honking big hood screams "pro" :bsmilie:
I've tried both DA* and F* and both are definitely hand holdable.
Right on Creampuff! Forgot to mention the outer finishing. The black 'stuff' is tough, unlike the white/silver of the F/FA* which scratch easily.
 

ovaltinemilo

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Sep 12, 2009
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#12

Anthony Lee

Senior Member
Feb 12, 2009
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Shunfu Road, Singapore
#14
Hi istDes,

First of all, thanks for your photos. Personally, I prefer the rendering of the F* and your photos confirm my preference. If you don't mind my questions,

1. Were all the photos taken with the same camera?
2. Which of the them is more holdable?
3. If you have to pick one, which will you choose and why?

Once again, many thanks.
 

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Gengh

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May 6, 2007
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#15
Having scrutinized the photos of both the DA* and F*, I prefer the color rendition of the F*, much richer and classical than the clean and clinical look of the DA*. Also, with my limited Pentax experience, having used the the FA 31 Ltd lens, I feel the old body driven screw drive AF is more reliable in the long haul. I have a pretty good F* in mind and it will cost me about S$ 1.5K. Any idea whether this is a good or bad price.
I don't watch lens prices very closely anymore, but I believe S$1500 for the F* is within its fluctuation range. Maybe just a little bit on the higher side. In the US, I think the F*'s price should be US$200-400 cheaper than the street price of a new DA*. So TK foto's current clearance price of S$1600 (ref: http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/threads/846357-Pentax-price-list-need-everyone-help-%29/page4) for the DA* makes S$1500 for the F* comparatively ex.

I've tried the DA* and own the F*, and more or less second pinholecam's opinion. To me, the lens hood design, lighter weight and the smaller size of the F* are very nice plus points, it just makes the lens that much easier to handle and more convenient to bring around. The difference is not enough to make this a deal-breaking consideration, and if the F* hadn't appear on ebay just at the right time and price, I would have gotten a DA* sooner or later and probably be quite happy with it.

The F* focuses with a little quirk on my K-5 sometimes. It would AF really fast, and when it reaches the focusing point, it'll "shudder" a bit. Feels like it might have over-shot the focusing point a bit, so it tries to turn back but overshoots again, and repeats a few times. But all this happens really really fast, not quite the same as AF hunting. I've not experimented enough to figure out what the conditions are before this happens, and it doesn't seem to affect my shots. And birds have never flown away from me due to this or the screw drive focusing noise, the biggest challenge is still just physically getting close enough to them to shoot at 300mm.

I have posted a thread in the world of nature section where everything except #30 and #31 are taken using the F*: http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/threads/886240-Wildlife-from-the-Everglades. Didn't shoot enough with the DA* to have a good collection of pics to compare with.
 

Anthony Lee

Senior Member
Feb 12, 2009
2,465
2
38
Shunfu Road, Singapore
#16
I don't watch lens prices very closely anymore, but I believe S$1500 for the F* is within its fluctuation range. Maybe just a little bit on the higher side. In the US, I think the F*'s price should be US$200-400 cheaper than the street price of a new DA*. So TK foto's current clearance price of S$1600 (ref: http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/threads/846357-Pentax-price-list-need-everyone-help-%29/page4) for the DA* makes S$1500 for the F* comparatively ex.

I've tried the DA* and own the F*, and more or less second pinholecam's opinion. To me, the lens hood design, lighter weight and the smaller size of the F* are very nice plus points, it just makes the lens that much easier to handle and more convenient to bring around. The difference is not enough to make this a deal-breaking consideration, and if the F* hadn't appear on ebay just at the right time and price, I would have gotten a DA* sooner or later and probably be quite happy with it.

The F* focuses with a little quirk on my K-5 sometimes. It would AF really fast, and when it reaches the focusing point, it'll "shudder" a bit. Feels like it might have over-shot the focusing point a bit, so it tries to turn back but overshoots again, and repeats a few times. But all this happens really really fast, not quite the same as AF hunting. I've not experimented enough to figure out what the conditions are before this happens, and it doesn't seem to affect my shots. And birds have never flown away from me due to this or the screw drive focusing noise, the biggest challenge is still just physically getting close enough to them to shoot at 300mm.

I have posted a thread in the world of nature section where everything except #30 and #31 are taken using the F*: http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/threads/886240-Wildlife-from-the-Everglades. Didn't shoot enough with the DA* to have a good collection of pics to compare with.
Very grateful for your feedback. I have viewed your Everglades thread, very impressive. Though I prefer the F*, the current offer price at TK for the DA* is very attractive, but I am only worried about the size and weight. I switched to Pentax because of size and weight and I am very careful this time around. Anyway, a visit to TK should solve my problem. Thanks again.
 

fengwei

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Aug 25, 2004
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#17
Optically the DA*300/4 is slightly better with smoother bokeh, but the F*300/4.5 isn't far behind. Actually both are very sharp even wide open, but DA*300/4 tend to be a bit under exposed when used wide open.

I prefer F*300 for its smaller size, built-in hood and nicer look. But I do think the DA*300/4 is a better deal now considering it's selling at $1600 new while the F*300/4.5 sold for $1500 if in very good condition.
 

istDeS

Senior Member
Dec 7, 2005
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"River end"
#18
Hi istDes,

First of all, thanks for your photos. Personally, I prefer the rendering of the F* and your photos confirm my preference. If you don't mind my questions,

1. Were all the photos taken with the same camera?
2. Which of the them is more holdable?
3. If you have to pick one, which will you choose and why?

Once again, many thanks.
1) The one with the F* are taken with K20D and the DA* are with K-7/K-5.

2) The F* is more holdable. It is lighter and barrel is slightly smaller. The tripod mount can be grabbed to keep posture compact for a stable shot and the mount can also be removed to make the lens even more easily to keep into bag with other lenses.

3) Personally, I will go with DA*, for most of it have already mentioned by the bro’s here. I prefer the slightly closer focus of the DA* which has a slight advantage over F* when I can go very close up to shoot eg. small birds. Another thing not mentioned is DA* have quick shift and switching from AF to MF on the lens is easier on DA* as compared to F* push and pull.

The DA* is slightly heavier and the slightly bigger barrel and lens hood make it bulky to put into bag but I have no issue with it since I usually carry just the lens with the camera in a backpack. When using it and carry it around, I usually sling on my shoulder or mount it on the tripod since I don’t like the strain of the set up on my neck.

I ‘m not at all worried the SDM failure with DA* since the lens can be service with the spare parts ready available.
 

Anthony Lee

Senior Member
Feb 12, 2009
2,465
2
38
Shunfu Road, Singapore
#19
1) The one with the F* are taken with K20D and the DA* are with K-7/K-5.

2) The F* is more holdable. It is lighter and barrel is slightly smaller. The tripod mount can be grabbed to keep posture compact for a stable shot and the mount can also be removed to make the lens even more easily to keep into bag with other lenses.

3) Personally, I will go with DA*, for most of it have already mentioned by the bro’s here. I prefer the slightly closer focus of the DA* which has a slight advantage over F* when I can go very close up to shoot eg. small birds. Another thing not mentioned is DA* have quick shift and switching from AF to MF on the lens is easier on DA* as compared to F* push and pull.

The DA* is slightly heavier and the slightly bigger barrel and lens hood make it bulky to put into bag but I have no issue with it since I usually carry just the lens with the camera in a backpack. When using it and carry it around, I usually sling on my shoulder or mount it on the tripod since I don’t like the strain of the set up on my neck.

I ‘m not at all worried the SDM failure with DA* since the lens can be service with the spare parts ready available.
Appreciate your feedback and understand your preference. I came from Canon and the USM can have real time manual override. Can the SDM do likewise instead of switiching from AF to MF.

On another note to all of you out there. There are a couple of good A 300f4 on sale at pentaxforum. Will this be another good alternative for liveview shooting on a light tripod?
 

creampuff

Senior Member
Jul 11, 2006
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#20
Appreciate your feedback and understand your preference. I came from Canon and the USM can have real time manual override. Can the SDM do likewise instead of switiching from AF to MF.

On another note to all of you out there. There are a couple of good A 300f4 on sale at pentaxforum. Will this be another good alternative for liveview shooting on a light tripod?
The Quick Shift feature on DA series lenses is something I find useful when I need to manually override the AF. Personally, with a long tele, AF is a must imo because not only is the lens angle of view very narrow but even if you can get the subject into the viewfinder, trying to fiddle focus with such a thin DOF is a challenge, especially with fast moving subjects like birds in flight or an animal moving about. Simply put, there's just not enough time to catch such fast moving subject with a MF long tele imo = very low keeper rate. So for me I won't touch the A 300mm even though the optical quality is good, because practicality and usability comes first for me. That's my guess why so many manual focus long tele lenses show up in buy & sell sections.
 

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