02 August 2008

LBA—SMC Pentax DA 55-300 F4-F5.8

So, I did some statistics this morning, in an attempt to resolve an argument with myself:

Total Images: 6087

M-42 or No Lens 27
SIGMA 2120
smc PENTAX-DA 14mm F2.8 ED[IF] 46
smc PENTAX-DA 35mm F2.8 Macro Limited 420
smc PENTAX-DA 70mm F2.4 Limited 83
smc PENTAX-FA 31mm F1.8AL Limited 663
smc PENTAX-FA 50mm F1.4 586
smc PENTAX-FA 77mm F1.8 Limited 536
smc PENTAX-FA MACRO 100mm F2.8 1606

The "no lens" is my unsatisfactory experiments with digiscoping; the SIGMA is the 70-300 APO DG F4-F5.6 zoom.
What was clear from this is that while it is a fine lens, I just don't use the DA 70, preferring the 77mm Limited. (I think I have a relatively better instance, of its class, of the 77 than I did of the 70.)
The other part of this is that the softness at full aperture of the Sigma 70-300 has been driving me quite mad. I generally have dim light in the morning, trying to take pictures of birds on the feeder, since the balcony where the feeder is located faces north and there's this row of houses in the way of the direct morning light. (Not the row of houses this house is in; another one, perpendicular and east of it.)
So, when I found out that the camera bag I'd ordered and pre-paid hadn't come in because it was discontinued, I went down to Henry's, traded in the DA70, Sigma 70-300, and came away with a different bag and the Pentax 55-300. (And a lens pen, to avoid a 14 dollar credit.)
I don't like letting go of working things, but, well; the DA70 deserves someone who will love it, and the 70-300 someone who wants to play to its strengths. (It really is much better in blazing bright light.)

So I walked away from Henry's down to the St. Lawrence Market (always revictual last, if the victuals need refrigeration...) and of course went through the surrounding lawn and gardens of the Cathederal Church of St. James, since, hey, new lens, rain shower just past, this is usually a receipe for some good flower shots...

It was, but I also got quite lucky in observing a molting sparrow, I think a house sparrow but could not begin to assert any certainty about this, given the outright frazzled state of its plumage.
Feeling perhaps somewhat bashful at being observed at its dusty moulting ablutions, the sparrow stalked off.
And lurked at the edge of some grass, eyeing me warily—does that clicking noise imply some sort of predation strategy? Is the avifauna regarded as tasty, and good with ketchup?
Or is it just another damned primate voyeur with a camera? And the sparrow flounces off.
All of these, expect for the flounce (F6.3), are at F5.8, and all were taken at 300mm, full extension and wide open. I'm feeling like I made a good decision, in terms of getting myself something that would be sharper at 300mm.

I want the DA* 300 F4 rather much—many people taking absolutely gorgeous pictures with this lens—but it is not in this quarter's budget, and it is very much heavier, and I would probably benefit more from the 60-250 first, if it ever makes it on to store shelves, and, well. I'll always want a reasonably compact and light longish zoom, too, for those occasions where I don't really expect to need the reach but you never know....

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