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Equipment

From Pentax to Canon 7D + 400mm/5.6 L for wildlife.

I’ve been a Pentax user for the last 25 years and really like their cameras and lenses, but currently there isn’t a 400mm lens that is available with fast AF and also there is no autofocus TC-1.4X available . After some long thinking i finally decided to sold my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 EDIF, which is a great lens but it’s a fully manual lens and quite heavy at around 3700 gr. I wanted a lighter lens with fast AF  and a TC-1.4X, so i choosed the Canon 7D and the 400mm/5.6 L, the Canon 400mm/5.6 L  is only 1250 gr, so it is 3 times lighter than my Pentax 400mm lens was.

I went to the Ecomuseum of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue (on the western side of Montreal), it’s like a Zoo but the animals are either injured or born in captivity so they can’t be released in the wild, they use them for education.  I like that place to test a new camera, lens or TC that i will use for wildlife. I tried different ISO settings and aso the TC-1.4X II, wanted to know if my kit had BF or FF problems.

Good news, looks like my combo don’t need any AF adjustment. The 2nd photo is a crop of the 1st one.

ISO 500, 1/800 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

Testing the TC 1.4X II, taken W/O at f/5.6, sharpness is still very good !

ISO 800, 1/320 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

It’s little cousin had something to say.

ISO 640, 1/500 sec. at f/10, tripod.

Miam ! Miam !

ISO 500, 1/1250 sec. at f/6.3, tripod.

Close-up of the Wolf.

ISO 320, 1/1000 sec. at f/6.3, tripod.

Ducks on Ice.

ISO 500, 1/500 sec. at f/6.3, tripod.

Sleeping time for the River Otter.

ISO 640, 1/320 sec. at f/11, tripod.

First impressions

– The AF is fast and accurate, no needs to adjust it.

– IQ of the 400mm/5.6 L is at least as good as my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 EDIF.

– ISO performance is about the same as my K20D, need more experience with the 7D to draw more definitive conclusions.

– The IQ with the TC-1.4X II is very good even W/O.

– I will need some times to get faster using the 7D, but it’s easier than i thought it would be considering the differnt disposition of the buttons and menu with a Pentax DSLR.

– I like the silent mode and 8 Fps.

– I prefer the pad on the Pentax DSLR, with the 7D you have to turn the pad (like my NEX-3), i guess i will get use to it.

– The weather sealing is not as good as with Pentax but i ordered a waterproof sleeve for my kit.

– The lens release button should be on the other side of the lens mount, it doesn’t feel right on the left side ?!?!

I think i will like that combo for wildlife photography, needs some times to really get fast and efficient with it but i’m already pleased with it.

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Pentax K-01, one year with “The Brick”


“The Brick” is the nickname of the Pentax K-01 in reviews and on Forums, yes it looks like that but it’s the best looking brick i’ve ever seen! I’ve been using my K-01 for 1 year now and i wanted to talk how it performed in the field and if it was a good move to buy it immediately when it was available ?

FUN …….. that would be enough to describe the Pentax K-01!

If you read posts about that camera on Forums you will see that it’s the word that is used the most often to describe the experience to shoot with the K-01. It reminds me when i bought my 1st 35mm SLR, a Pentax K1000, same colors with big wheels and the minimum numbers of buttons on the camera. Sure the K-01 is not for fast action shooting when used in RAW format, just like the K1000 was not one either.

Does that means that the K-01 is a perfect camera ?

No, it’s not a camera for action photography if you shoot RAW format. This is my main complaint about the K-01, Pentax can certainly boost the speed to 3 Fps with a firmware update, but i don’t know if they will do it ? Pentax released a firmware update (version 1.02) for the K-01 and it helped the AF, it’s now faster with most lenses, certainly worth it. Would have liked to have an update for the 1 Fps drive in RAW at least up to 3 Fps. I did took wildlife photos with it when the animals were slow or not moving but i still prefer to use a DSLR for wildlife photography.

The rubber flap that covers the SD card door was a concern at first, but it proved to be durable and easy to close with some practice, will see if the rubber flap will survive many years of hard use.

I really enjoyed shooting with it in the field, i tried angles that were hard or impossible with a DSLR because you need to look in the VF. Sure you can use LV with most DSLR now, but the K-01 is more fluid and AF is accurate and faster with the new Firmware update.

This is one situation where the K-01 is king ! I was balancing on icy rocks while holding my K-01 with the DA14 just above the water’s surface. Even at an angle of about 45 degree i was able to compose my shot and the AF and SR were of great help also.

Another shot taken with the K-01 and DA14  from ground level, this Green Frog was tolerant because i was holding the camera at arm’s length which is less threatening than getting myself close with a DSLR  while looking in the VF !

Here is one advantage of the “Brick” , if you use it with a small lens and without a quick release plate you can support it on nearly any side .

As you can see it can be useful, you can support it on many flat surfaces like a table, ground or any other practical places. I don’t know if it was the goal of the disigner and/or Pentax but for photographers it’s a plus. The grip is not as good as a DSLR especially with bigger lenses but up to my DFA 100 Macro WR i have no problem handholding it for shooting in different positions. When i’m shooting at ground level or taking photos of frogs in water i use my thumb to press the shutter release button.

I always prefer to use a tripod but there is situations when a tripod is not practical and the K-01 is really a great camera , for me at least, with the SR, LV and very good AF performance !

Focus peaking

Well this was one of the main reason that i bought the K-01, because i was already using a Sony NEX-3 and liked to use  the focus peaking with my od manual focus lenses. At first i didn’t found the Pentax version as good as the Sony, but with practice now i found it easier to get exact focus especially when using the loupe at 6X. In low light the Pentax K-01 focus peaking is better than the one in the Sony NEX-3, the Sony is hard to focus in low light.

I wish Pentax will come with a firmware update providing a choice of colors for the Focus peaking like the NEX cameras. In most situations i had no problem with the actual color of the focus peaking but with some subjects having a different color would have helped.

Cold temperature

Since i live in Canada taking photos in cod temperatures, from autumn to spring, having a camera that can support very cold and humid environment is important to me.

One winter morning it was -27 C  (-37 C with windchill factor) and i went to the shore of a lake and took photos for 40 minutes before i had to go to work, i wish i had more times, but a good test anyway. The K-01 never failed, just slower to refresh the LCD after a photo was taken, at the end of the session. I turned it off a couple of times to cold it down to see if it would start again, no problem. So the camera temperature was ranging from 9C for the first shot (the sunrise photo below) to -6C at the end of the session. When you use it more the camera temperature goes up again, so i think that using a MLC in LV will generate more heat than a DSLR used with it’s OVF.

On another occasion it was -18C and took photos for more than 2 hours and it never failed either even with a mist coming from the Waterfall that frosted on it. I did use it on many other occasions in temperature from -15C to -20C and the K-01 comes out with great performances every time.

Here is the photo of  the sunrise taken on the morning when it was -27 C.

With Telephoto lenses.

With long telephoto lenses from 300mm and up a MLC  like the K-01 or other MLC with no EVF/OVF are not the best cameras to use, i still prefer a DSLR. Especially when you use a lens with a tripod collar on a tripod, the set-up is not as rigid because you don’t press your forehead on the camera because you don’t look in an EVF/OVF. You need a faster shutter speed to obtain a sharp shot. But when i use my Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6 which doesn’t have a tripod collar, it’s the K-01 that is attached to the tripod then it’s easier to get sharper shots.

The focus peaking really heps getting the focus where you want it with Telephoto enses for long distances shots.

Field on a frosty morning, this is one situation  where focus peaking is helpful to get the focus where you want it with long manual focus lenses like here with my Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6.

Conclusion

I never regretted buying my K-01 even if i paid the full price (some peoples have to sacrifice themselves ). The K-01 is really a camera that grows on you and put the FUN back into your photography ! With it’s great IQ, SR, excellent construction which should last many years and it’s particular design, the K-01 will become a classic Pentax camera. The K-01 really shines for photographing Macro and landscape for nature photography. Other photographers might not consider you a real photogapher when they see that you’re using a K-01, if they know which camera you’re using in the first place, but when they will see the photos you have taken with the Brick they wil be surprise.

My K-01 was supposed to be a back-up camera for my K20D, but the more i used that camera the more i wanted to photograph with it. It really grows on you and finally my K20D is now my back-up camera !

My K-01 is the camera that i reach for when i want to enjoy photography, it says a lot !

We don’t know yet if Pentax will continue with a K-02, Pentax never said that they will do another K-Mount MLC like the K-01 …. so chances are thin to see a K-02.


Pentax-645 FA 300mm/5.6 review

I was looking for a smaller lens to use when i don’t want to take my big and heavy Pentax-67 M*400mm/4. Sure, i could have bought one of the 300mm lenses available in K-mount but i was curious about that lens and how it would perform on my K20D and K-01. There is not much info or reviews on that lens, from what i’ve found it’s said to be a good lens, so i think it’s worth writing a small review on the image quality and my impressions of  how it feels to use it in the field.

Lens specifications and first impressions

This lens is not marked as a “*”  lens but the build quality is very good as usual with Pentax lenses. The focusing ring is large and smooth just how i like them on a lens. You can switch to AF by pushing it forward to the front of the lens and then pull it back toward the camera to switch to MF, like the FA* K-mount lenses.

– Weight: 775 gr

– 7 elements in 7 groups

– Filter size: 67mm (same as my FA20mm/2.8 and DA*50-135mm/2.8 certainly an advantage for me)

– Min. focusing distance: 2.20 Meter

– Number of aperture blades: 9 (nearly rounded)

– Range of F-stop: f/5.6 to f/45 (two position between f/5.6 and f/11, after that 1/2 f/stop between f/11 up to f/32 and full stop between f/32 and f/45).

Here is a size comparison with my Pentax DA*50-135mm/2.8:

The lens hood have a small part on the bottom that you can remove so that you can turn your polarizer filter that is attached to the lens, i like that feature (the DA*50-135 also have it). There is no tripod collar on that lens, i would have liked to have one on such a long lens but since it’s not that heavy in handles quite well.

The nights during the week were cold, between 0C to -6C, good conditions for ice formation around rivers and ponds. On that morning i tried different ISO and shutter speeds to see the effects and selected my favorite later.

K-01, 1/15 sec. at f/11, ISO 500, tripod.

What about the image quality of that lens ? 

I didn’t shoot brick wall or other set-up  for this lens, instead i decided to evaluate it’s IQ only from photos in the field since long lenses can be affected by the environnement like wind and haze.  Keep in mind that the comments apply to the lens used on APS-C cameras and that the IQ can differ if you use that lens on a 645D.

As for sharpness i tried it at every apetures, my conclusion is that it’s good at f/5.6 and it’s at it’s best  from f/6.3 to f/11. At f/16 the diffraction already shows it’s nose and from f/22 to f/45 i call it soft and unusable.

This photo was taken near the minimum focusing distance of the FA300mm/5.6. The lens was stopped down at f/8 and i found the sharpness to be very good. As usual the camera was attached to a solid tripod.

My goal when i bought that 300mm was to replace my big and heavy Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 (weighing 3700 gr.) so i could take a smaller camera bag for my photo outing when wildlife is not my primary interest. So i wanted to know how the sharpness of the FA300mm/5.6 would compare to the M*400mm/4. My guess before taking some shots was that the 400mm would be sharper at f/5.6 since it will already be stopped down 1 stop and the 300mm will be W/O. My guess was right, not a big guess since it is logical and predictable.

Most of the time i use my 400mm at f/5.6 but i also stop it 1/2 stop more when i can, so i tested both lenses stopped 1/2 stop more than f/5.6 and it’s probably at that setting that i will use the FA300mm most of the time.

OK, i said i wouldn’t take photos of brick wall …. well i cheated just a little here !

Here is a 100% crop of a photo i took in the field to see how those 2 compares, this shot was taken stopped down 1/2 stop from f/5.6. Both shots were taken with my K-01 in RAW with no PP and i did use the 2 second delay with the help of a solid tripod.

Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6

Pentax-67 M*400m/4

But a photo taken in RAW needs some PP so i did that in the photo below to show how the final photo would looks like.

Same shot of the FA300mm/5.6 with some PP, amount 100 and radius at 1.0. This is a 100% crop.

Now a more interesting subject, a Golden Eagle portrait taken in a Zoo and a 50% crop after PP in Photoshop.

K20D at ISO 640 lens set at f/6.3, on a tripod (no cropping).

Here is the 50% crop of the photo above.

Aberrations and flare control

Older lenses can suffer of aberrations and flare because they were not designed for digital sensors, the coating on the rear lens elements can cause reflections on the sensor. I came across some Pigeons on a roof with strong backlit around sunrise. I took some shots to see if i could produce some CA, in that shot below taken with my K-01 and the FA300 at around f/8 we can see some CA but it’s not that bad at all.

It’s a 100% crop from a shot taken at  f/8.0 with no correction of the CA, not bad for an older MF lens. In most situations i couldn’t see any CA in my photos.

In most of the situation i didn’t encounter any problem with flare, but while i was taking photos of the Golden Eagle at the Zoo i did had problem with flare. I don’t know if it’s due to the lens (probably sensor flare due to the older coating) or reflections inside the K-mount adapter. My Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 also have flare problems in that kind of light, subject against a white sky are when the lens is pointing in the direction of that sky.

The flare i encountered with the P-645 FA300/5.6 on my K20D.

In the field

Even if it’s a Medium format lens it’s not heavy and handles well with my K20D and even my K-01. The biggest difference between the FA300mm/5.6 and my M*400mm/4 is that to focus from the minimum distance to infinity the FA300mm needs only 1/3 of a turn of the focusing ring where the M*400mm needs a full 360 turn! So the M*400mm is more precise and easier to obtain critical focus but with time i will get the hang of it like all my others AF lenses.

So how a lens handles in the field can have a negative effect on the sharpness also. Since this lens doesn’t come with a tripod collar it’s important to have a good technique. A tripod collar is probably not needed on a 645 camera since the lens is light enough to be supported and with the weight of the camera the handling may not be as good if a tripod collar was included.

After some practice in the field i now find it easy to use on a tripod with my K20D or K-01 and i’m getting sharp results without any problem.

Conclusion

Did i do the right thing when i bought that lens ?

The more i use it the more i like it and i’m getting to know how to use it to get the best out of it. I’m taking it with me everyday when i’m going to work, my kit is:

– K-01

– DA14mm

– DA35 mm Macro Ltd

– DFA100mm Macro WR

– Super Takumar 150mm

– Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6

A lot less weight than my regular camera bag and it feels so light, i think i will use that lens a lot and will take it with me for our yearly vacation instead of my Big M*400mm/4 and knowing that i will not loose any IQ! The  DA*300mm/4 would certainly be sharper W/O and at f/5.6 but the price is higher also, if a 300mm would be my main long lens the DA*300 would be my choice but for more occasional use the Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6 is a great choice.

Some photos taken with that lens:

A cold morning with frost and fog makes for great photo opportunities.

K-01, FA300mm at f/11, tripod.

Snowy Owl taken in a Zoo through a fence.

K20D at f/6.3, tripod.


Sigma 19mm/2.8 vs Pentax FA 20mm/2.8.

Two lenses with the same focal lenght and speed but with different purpose since the Pentax was made during 35mm SLR era and the Sigma is a brand new design optimized for APS-C MLC (and M 4/3 cameras). I bought my Pentax FA20 around 1995-1997 for about 850$ CDN (Canadian) and the Sigma just cost 240$ (CDN with shipping and taxes). The most evident physical difference is the diameter of the front of the lens, the Pentax takes 67mm filters and the Sigma takes 46mm filters ! The Sigma have 7 aperture blades and the Pentax have 6, they are more rounded on the Sigma so it should produce a better Bokeh.

The build quality is better on the Pentax , which is not a surprise, the Sigma comes with a lens hood and i had to buy it separately for my Pentax…. now, the Pentax lenses always comes with a lens hood. The minimum focusing distance of the Pentax is 0.25 meter and for the Sigma it’s 0.20 meter.

I will test both of them on my Sony NEX-3 to see how they compares to each others.

Here is a photo taken in the field with both lenses on my NEX-3 from the same place, you can see that the Sigma’s 1mm advantage is evident here, the plant is not cut in the upper part of the frame.:

– Pentax FA20mm/2.8:

– Sigma 19mm:

Now, here is my test set-up inside my house for sharpness and CA. My tripod was set to it’s lowest position and at 0.7 meter from “Fraisinette” . I use a bubble level to be sure that the camera was leveled side to side and that it was not tilted down in the front.

All the photos were taken in RAW at ISO 200 with the 2 second delay, manual focus was used with the help of the focus peaking. The photos were developed in Lightroom where i turned the sharpening to zero and nothing else was done in PP after that, only resized and saved them in Jpeg for the web.

Now the results:

Sigma at f/2.8.

Pentax at f/2.8.

We can see that the Sigma is sharper and have better contrast than the Pentax at f/2.8. After that the Pentax is always sharper than the Sigma all the way up to f/11, from f/16 diffraction kick in and they are very similar in performance.

Sigma at f/8.

Pentax at f/8.

The Sigma 19mm is knowned for it’s CA, but what about the Pentax ?

Well the Sigma showed CA at all apertures while the Pentax is free of CA from f/5.6. The CA is not that visible here but easier to see while zooming in Photoshop. You can see it along the white dress on the right side of the photo.

Sigma CA at f/2.8.

Sigma CA at f/11.

Pentax CA at f/2.8.

Conclusion:

If you need to shoot often at f/2.8 then the Sigma 19mm is the one to buy, Pentax lenses are not always the sharpest W/O but sharpens nicely when stopped down and the FA20 is no exception here. The corners in the Pentax shots are better since this is a FF lens but the Sigma is still very good when stopped down.

They are both very good lenses, the Pentax is a tad sharper and shows more details when viewed at 100% but in normal use and when printed you may have difficulties setting them apart. The Sigma have AF on an NEX camera and is smaller since the Pentax needs an adapter. So for the price the Sigma is a no brainer.

The Sigma is a modern lens and the Pentax is a legacy lens, i will continue using my Pentax FA20mm on my K-01 and my Sigma 19mm on my NEX-3.

Some shots taken with both lenses:

Sigma 19mm at f/5.6.

Sigma at f/11.

Pentax FA20mm at f/13 with Polarizer.


Keep shooting in the winter and dress for it.

Taking photos during winter is more demanding on you and your equipment, so you have to dress for the weather to keep shooting and getting the shots in the field. Having cold fingers or cold feet is not a good idea when you’re trying to concentrate to find subjects and compose your shots. I live in Canada so the major part of the year is cool or cold, i really like to take photos in cold weather, there is so much to shoot in winter.

Over the years i did learn how to stay warm and keep my cameras working in cold climate, i will share my experiences and tips in this article.

KEEPING YOURSELF WARM

Like i said earlier, if you’re fighting to keep yourself warm in the field you will not have energy to concentrate on your photography and all you will want is getting inside to warm up your feet or fingers. Dressing in layers is the best way to go, so if the conditions or your level of activity change you can add or remove layers. I prefer to use the warmest boots i can, currently i’m using rubber boots with a liner inside (they are rated for -74C) so i can get in the water if i want and still have warm feet.

Hands are more problematic because you want to keep them warm but still be able to use your camera without too much trouble. Instead of trying to explain all the gloves and mitts that i use i decided to made a video, other photographers certainly use different combinations depending on their needs:

gloves

If you are staying in the same place for a long period , like in a hide, you can use chemical warmers (hot pads) in your gloves or boots, they work quite well.

KEEPING YOUR EQUIPMENT WORKING

This is an easier thing to do, the main problem with using modern cameras in cold weather is “Batteries”. Always keep spare batteries in a warm pocket inside your jacket and switch them when the one in your camera is low and repeat again when the other one is getting low.

The thing is to keep your camera cold all the time, snow will not melt on your equipment if it’s cold. For protecting my gear when freezing rain is falling i use plastic bags when i’m not using my weather sealed lenses and camera.

When you go inside a house remove all your SD cards (or CF cards) and put them in a warm pocket inside yur jacket so you will be able to work on your photos when you go inside, i put my exposed SD cards in a ziploc bag in my pocket.

Your camera(s) and lenses should be kept in your camera bag when going inside, you can even put them in plastic bags to let them warm up slowly so that condensation don’t form inside your lenses. In all those years i’ve always kept my gear in my camera bags and never had any problem with condensation.

Tripod legs can get very cold, especially aluminium ones. My previous tripod was a Manfrotto 055 and i was using foam isolation for hot water pipe, now there is a lot of choice on the market for isolation for tripod legs in different camouflage colors.

Taken in autumn, it was around – 3C that morning, not very cold but cold enough to have frost on the ground and having to use my gloves.

Pentax K-01, Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR, ISO 320, 1/50 sec. at f/7.1, tripod.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

– Never blow on the front of your lens with your mouth because your breath can froze on it instantly.

– Watch those metal lenses, my old Takumar lenses are very cold in winter, especially when you screw or unscrew that metal lens hood.

– You can change your tripod’s feet with spikes for when you’re on ice.

One last thing …………… Don’t kiss your TAKUMAR lenses !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Pentax DA 35mm/2.8 Macro Limited.

The Pentax Limited lenses are well regarded among the Pentax shooters since the first FA Limited series lenses. The FA Ltd are faster than the DA Ltd which goal is to be smaller or pancake lenses. They are the modern incarnations of the old screwmount Takumar lenses, sure the Takumars were even better built but for modern lenses the Ltd are certainly different than most lenses produced these days where plastic is king. The DA35 Macro Ltd have a built-in metal lens hood, i like lenses with hood like that, and a beautiful metal front lens cap with velvet inside.

The DA35 Macro Ltd is my first, and only Ltd, that i own at the moment but i really like that lens. It’s a versatile lens since it can do landscape as well as Macro and it performs very well in both situations. If you buy it to do mainly Macro in the field, it’s not the best choice because of the close distance from the subject when you’re at the 1:1 repro ratio. For serious Macro i would choose the DFA 100mm Macro WR or the A*/FA* 200mm Macro.

Like i said, at the minimum focusing distance you’re almost touching your subject with the front of the lens, if i’m using that lens for photographing frogs i don’t use the built-in lens hood. I like the FOV that this lens gives to photos because you can see more of the background than with a longer Macro lens in the 100mm to 200mm range, but you have to careful that the background doesn’t look too busy and distract from your subject.

This shot above was taken with the DA35 Macro Ltd with aperture set at f/8. You can see that the background is too present and doesn’t help reading the photo, too distracting, even if i had selected f/4-5.6 the background would had still be too busy.

This shot was also taken with the DA35 Macro Ltd but this time at f/5.6 and i composed to eliminate the distractions in the background and it makes for a cleaner shot.

When you learn how to use that lens and control the background in your shots it will deliver beautiful photos with great colors and contrast. It also makes a good lens for landscape hpotography, it’s still plenty sharp for that purpose.

If you like metal lenses with great built quality and good manual focus feeling, then the Pentax Limited lenses are for you, sure they are not cheap but using such lenses is so much fun ! I will certainly buy at least another one of those Limited, pentax put a wide angle DA zoom Ltd on the roadmap that they showed for 2012/2013, hope that it will make it to production…. i will be one of the first to order one 🙂


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.