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Archive for July, 2012

Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 review.

I bought a Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 (EDIF) in december 2008 because my FA*300mm/4.5 was often too short and was using it very often with a TC 1.4 X. I finally found one at a good price, but when i received it and i saw that it had fungus inside, i wanted to return it. I finally sent it for repair evaluation, the price to repair the lens was higher than what i paid for it, so i decided to use it like that and see how it would perform.

I’m happy i kept it like that, it’s a very sharp lens and the fungus doesn’t affect the IQ. It’s an heavy lens at around 8 pounds and you also need a solid tripod and tripod head, i use a Gitzo GT2330 tripod (aluminium) and a Manfrotto Proball 469RC (that head can support up to 28 pounds). I use it handheld or braced on my truck door on occasion but it’s hard to focus and stabilize the lens at the same time because of it’s weight.

It’s a very sharp lens, even at f/4 it’s useable but i prefer using it at f/5.6 unless i really need f/4 because of the light level. With the great performance of DSLR in high ISO f/4 is not needed very often. If needed i know i can use it stopped down all the way to f/11 and it’s still quite sharp, even f/16 is useable if needed.

That shot of a Coyote was taken at a local Zoo, the aperture was set to f/5.6 to blur the fence.

The Bokeh is quite good because the lens have 9 aperture blades, they are not round, but in most shots the OOF (out of focus) highlights are not distracting.

Here is a good example of the Bokeh, it was taken probably at around f/5.6-6.3.

It’s one of my favorite lens for photographing frogs since it can focus as close as  2.8 meters, so when i’m photographing frogs i can add extension tubes if i want to get closer to my subject. The focusing ring is precise, you have to turn it a full 360° to go from 2.8 meters to infinity.

There is some CA but you have to zoom in to really see it, in most shots you won’t notice it. The color of the CA is green, it is mostly visible in OOF areas especially the “beige” dead grass in autumn. In can show sensor flare (pale circle in the middle of the frame) when shooting in direction of the sun at longer distances, it doesn’t happen very often but it’s good to be aware of that.

The bad side of that lens is it’s weight (8.3 pounds), it’s the price to pay for a Pentax-67 lens with a full metal build. I wish it would be lighter since i’m not getting younger and it puts a lot of weight in my bag. Sometimes i wish that it was an AF lens, it would be helpful but i can live with it, if Pentax would came up with a DA*400mm/4 i would do the switch to have a lighter lens, AF and WR.

In conclusion it’s a great lens and i love it, sure there is better choices for wildlife photography, but until Pentax came out with a long lens in the 400mm to 600mm range and as a DA* i will continue to use that lens.

Here is a video i made about that lens and some shots as well:

400mm video

Taken from my truck and braced on the door with SR activated.

Pentax K20D at f/5.6.

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My favorite frog pond is drying quickly.

I have a favorite pond where i like to go for photographing frogs because i can found 4 species of frogs (Grey tree frog, Spring peeper frog, Leopard frog and Green frog) and American toads can be found in the forested area around the pond. In fact it’s an old beaver’s pond, but last year the beavers were killed and the dam was destroyed.

During the 2012 winter we didn’t received much snow, so the water level during the spring was already lower than usual and it didn’t rain much in June and July. Now the level of the lakes, rivers and ponds are very low. With all those events combined together the result is that the pond is almost all dry out and many tadpoles died when the water evaporated. In the newspaper they said that the lakes around here are at their lowest since the last 40 years.

I made 2 videos in July:

This is how it looked like on July 03:

july 3

Now this is how it looked like on July 15:

July 15

Some of the tadpoles had time to made it to the frog state and i was able to take photos of them! I hope that most of them will make it for the next reproduction season.

Young Gray tree frog.

Pentax K-01, DA35mm Macro Ltd, ISO 1250, 1/200 sec. at f/5.6, handheld with SR.

Young Gray tree frog.

Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR, ISO 1600, 1/13 sec. at f/8, tripod.

Green frog tadpole.

Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR, ISO 2000, 1/30 sec. at f/5.6, handheld with SR.

Young Leopard frog.

Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR, ISO 1600, 1/30 sec. at f/6.3, handheld with SR.

Adult Spring peeper frog.

Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR with TC 1/4 X-S, ISO 2000, 1/60 sec. at f/8, tripod.


Think Tank StreetWalker Hard Drive camera bag.

After several years of using my Lowepro Mini-Trekker (around 12 years), my equipment grew up in number and size, my old Lowepro was beginning to fall apart and i couldn’t carry all the lenses i wanted. I visited many wild areas and took many shots with the equipment i carried into it but it was time to replace it.

After reading reviews and opinions on the internet i decided it was time to go to the store and try some bags with my equipment. There is a big camera store in Montreal, which is a 30 minutes drive from my home and they have a large selection of bags. The thing that i wanted in my new bag was that my K20D attached to my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 would fit so that it’s always ready when a subject appears. In my Lowepro Mini-Trekker the 400mm with the K-mount adapter attached was barely fitting and my K20D was alone with no lens attached, not a quick way to react when a deer or a bird is in my lens range!

After trying my equipment in some bags and putting them on my back i finally decided for the Think Tank Streetwalker Hard Drive bag. The bag feels solid and well made and comes with a very good guarantee. All the equipment i want to carry with me fit in the bag and is comfortable when adjusted.

I have now used it in the field and i’m still very  pleased with my choice, i have yet to try it in the rain. When i will have more experience with it in the field i will post an update.

Here is my bag content (from upper left):

DA*50-135/2.8, K200/2.5, K-01 with DA35 Macro Ltd.

In the middle: Pentax-67 M*400m/4 with K20D.

Bottom: Extension tubes and TC 1.4X-S, FA20/2.8, DFA100 Macro WR, DA14/2.8.