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Weekly photo, 16 May 2015

This morning I went to a local pond where there is many adult Bullfrogs at close range. Some are more tolerant than others, I just need to find a Bullfrog in a beautiful setting and that will let me close. What I liked about this adult male American Bullfrog was the moss on the shore and the perfect reflection.

Taken with my Canon 7D and 400mm/5.6 L, I pushed my tripod as far as I could in the pond to have a water level point of view.

 


My yearly photo day at “La Rouge” river.

For some years now i like to go shooting photos along the ” La Rouge” river in Grenville sur-La-Rouge, there is a dirt road that runs along the river that offers beautiful point of views. My favorite time of the year to go is autumn not just because of the beautiful colors of the trees but also because there is often fog early in the morning. So this year is a great year for formation of fog, we have sunny warm days and colder nights without clouds, so i was able to easily plan my visit there.

I was up early so i could be there just before sunrise, it’s about 1h15 minutes drive from my home, it paid off, there was fog in the lower valleys and on the river !

Here is the sunrise i was granted from my early drive, i did use a Graduated ND filter, wish i had a stronger one.

Pentax K-01 with DA*50-135mm, tripod.

I finally got on the dirt road and was happy to see lots of thick fog over the river which gave me more time to shoot before the sun was able to evaporate all that fog.

I zoomed to about 250mm to get that perspective of the fog over the river.

Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, Tripod.

Island on the river in the morning sun.

Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, Tripod.

The opposite banks of the river also getting some warm morning light.

Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, Tripod.

I used a long enough shutter speed to show movement of the fog.

Canon T3i with 15-85mm IS, 1/2 sec. at f/11, Tripod.

I was near the end of the dirt road and the sun was getting higher in the sky and the fog was nearly all gone by now. I suddenly saw this field on my right with steam coming out of those hay bales, i stopped immediately and ran with my gear in the field!

Pentax K-01 with DA*50-135, Tripod.

I tried different lenses and point of view, here i used my 15-85mm at the 20mm setting and used the built-in flash to get some fill-in light in the shadow part of the bale.

Canon T3i with 15-85mm IS, Tripod.

I like the B&W conversion of that shot better than the color one.

 Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, Tripod.

It’s always a joy to shoot photos along that river and i get different opportunities each time i go there, it’s also a good place to see Deer and Turkey Vultures but this i didn’t saw any close enough for my lens. Well maybe next year !


Don’t forget to walk around your subject.

Often we take a shot and we walk away because we think we captured it the only way possible, but in fact we didn’t take full advantage of the situation and didn’t produced the best photo we could. This morning i finally had the occasion to photograph a scene that i was waiting to shoot, i wanted the Sumac Vinegar trees to change to their autumn colors.

I already knew i wanted to photograph them from to different point of view, i started with one of them and took some shots before the sun would hit the scene.

After that i walked to my other point of view and the sun broked through the clouds.

This last shot was taken from another point of view that i found while walking along the field. So even when you think you knew how you wanted to photograph a subject sometimes just a change of position or quality of the light and it can make a difference.

Just for comparison, here is a photo i took with a similar composition to the one just taken above but without the same light.

All the photos were taken with my Canon T3i and 15-85mm with a polarizing filter on a tripod, i took them before going to work within 15 to 20 minutes of each others. So keep your eyes and mind open when shooting in the field.


Canon 15-85mm/ 3.5-5.6, my impressions after 2 weeks of vacation.

I bought that lens just before going to vacation (New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) because i wanted a Zoom lens, taking photos with a complete set of Prime lenses during family vacation is just too slow and you always change lenses and kids don’t wants to wait too long while dad is taking photos ūüėČ

The comments below are based on that 2 weeks trip, so it’s not a long period but it was the lens i used for most of my photos and that 15-85mm was glued to my T3i. I’m not a fan of zoom lenses, so i’m critical about sharpness, habitually i found that zoom lenses are too much of a compromise in IQ but there is some very good ones out there. One of the negative point of zoom lenses is that their minimum focusing distance is not close enough when used at their shorter settings! This one focuses down to 35cm, not bad but when you’re at 15mm it’s too far, for comparison my Pentax DA14mm¬† focuses down to 17cm !

Dickson Creek in Fundy National Park, NB.

The 15-85mm was very useful along that creek and around the waterfall.

At 15mm, ISO 100, 2 sec. at f/11,Tripod and a Polarizing filter.

The IQ of the lens never disappointed me at any settings, not always as sharp as a good prime lens of the same focal length but still very good in most situations. The versatility of that lens compensate for the little things that are not perfect like minimum focusing distance, some distorsion at 15mm and some vignetting at wider apertures especially at 15mm but easy to correct in LR.

The EF-s 15-85mm is a big and heavy lens compared to the 18-55 kit lenses but the built quality is higher and the 15 to 18mm range is very useful. I didn’t had problem with zoom creeping yet since the lens is brand new but i know from what i’ve read that it will come eventually. I really liked that lens for family vacation and will be using it for my regular photography from now on.

Some more shots taken with that lens:

Here is a shot to show the sunstar effect of that lens, i did use a Polarizing filter but the flare resistance is not bad, need more shots to have a final judgement and without any filter.

Handheld with IS activated at 15mm at f/8 at ISO 100.

The Confederation bridge, from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island in about 10 minutes.
This is a 12.9 kilometre (8 mile) long bridge, it’s the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water.

At 15mm, at f/13, ISO 100, tripod and Polarizing filter.

At 80mm, ISO 200 at f/6.3, handheld with IS.

Zoomed in at 100% to show the details, crop from above after PP and sharpening.

Baie des HA! HA!, Bic Park, Quebec

At 15mm, ISO 100 at f/11, tripod.

Corner crop of the shot above.

Acadien day on August 15, La grande Tintamare, they make as much noise as they can to commemorate that day every year, Bouctouche, NB.

15mm at f/8, ISO 200, Polarizing filter and fill-in light with the built-in flash of my T3i.

Old School in Avonlea, village of Anne of Green Gables, PEI.

19mm at f/8, ISO 400, handheld with IS.

Dickson Fall close-up, Fundy National Park, NB.

At 40mm, ISO 100 at f/14, Tripod and Polarizing filter.

Dickson Creek in Fundy National Park, NB.

At 85mm, ISO 100 at f/11, Tripod and Polarizing filter.


The little pond.

My favorite pond for photographing Green Frogs is in fact an old part of an ATV trail that is now filled with water. The pond is not wide so it’s easy to take photos of any Frog in the water or on the shore . When i can i stop at the pond before going to work, i don’t always take photos or came home with a good shot but the more i go the more i have chances to get a good shot. This is a big advantage to have a place like this that you can go often and try new technic are POF, if it doesn’t work the first time you can easily try again and again until you get what you want.

During the last years i got different perspective of Frogs at that pond by using different lenses. I will start by a short video i made this morning of the pond and the set-up i used to get the following photo.

This is the photo of the Male Green Frog that i’m showing in the following Video. unfortunately i couldn’t get the reflection of the Frog’s eye on the water because of the reflections of the plants surrounding the frog.

Canon 7D, 400mm/5.6L, 52mm of Ext. tubes, ISO 400 at f/9, tripod, LV was used to focus precisely on the eye.

Here is the video, you will see the whole pond and the Frog that is in the photo just above:

http://s47.photobucket.com/user/leopold44/media/IMGP1717_zps964efd90.mp4.html

Some more shots from that pond and i always keep an eye for insects on plants along the shore.

Canon 7D with EF 70-300mm IS at 300mm with Ext. tube, at f/11, tripod.

Pentax K-01 with DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 800 at f/7.1, tripod.

Pentax K-01 with DFA100mm Mcro WR, ISO 500, 1/500 sec.at f/5.0, handheld with SR.


2nd outing with NEX-3 and underwater case.

Yesterday i tried my NEX-3 with my 18-55 kit lens with my underwater case for photographing frogs. Well this morning i switched to my Sigma 19mm because it can focus closer than the Sony kit lens. It was a good decision, i got better shots because i could get closer to the frogs, 5 cm closer makes a big difference at 19mm !

All photos were taken at ISO 400 and f/5.6.

I like that one because we can clearly see it’s legs and body that are under the surface!

This one was cropped on top and right side for composition purposes.

This morning it was sunny and i had difficulties seeing the LCD, too much reflections on the case.


Canada Geese in flight.

Canada Geese are coming back to Canada and they are flying everywhere this week, i even saw Snow Geese. So i went to the shore of the St-Lawrence river near my home where i knew i would find Geese, each autumn and spring there is a lot of them there. I positioned myself on a hill and the Geese were taking off and flying at different distances, some too close to fit in my viewfinder with my 400mm lens.

I was able to test and feel the 7D and 400mm/5.6L combo and see how the AF would perform handheld for BIF.

ISO 500, 1/1250 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.

For all the photos i did use the AF point expansion (manual selection) and AI servo, i uses the AV mode for exposure. For a first try it was good, will need more practice as i need to be smoother while panning to follow the birds. The AF worked well but at the beginning the light level was lower and my shutter speed was not fast enough, it was below 1/800 sec. When the sun came out my shutter speed was higher and my keepers were better. I really like the Joystick to select the AF points, it`s fast and easy to find with your thumb while keeping your eye glued to the viewfinder.

The biggest challenge was to expose the Geese correctly, they have black, white and brown feathers and the sky was partly cloudy so the backgroung was always different , ranging from darker blue to white. The bird were also flying at different distances and occupied more or less space in my viewfinder which affected the exposure, so i had to costantly correct the exposure compensation.

All photos were taken in RAW and cropped for composition purposes.

ISO 500, 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.

I waited until some Geese were flying in front of the moon, i would have liked the moon to be more evident.

ISO 500, 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.

Not their best profie !

ISO 640, 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.

Taking off over the ice.

ISO 640, 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.


Canon 18-55mm IS kit lens.

I’m not a big fan of Zoom lenses, i prefer prime lenses, so imagine shooting with a kit zoom lens for serious photography !!! I did use the Canon 18-55mm IS kit lens on my Canon XS for family photos but never for serious photography. Not long ago i bought a 7D and 400mm/5.6 L for my wildlife photos and also a set of Extension tubes. I like to try my lenses with Extension tubes to see how they performs, sometimes they are good but sometimes not so good.

So lets start with regualr distance shots without Ext. tubes, i took some photos with my 7D to see if that little lens can stand the 18Mp sensor ?

All shots taken in RAW and processed in LR and PS.

Here is a shot of my 2 young girls:

Taken with 7D and 18-55mm IS, handheld with IS activated.

Set at 32mm, 1/30 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 500, handheld with IS.

Here is a crop from the shot above, i zoomed-in to 100% in PS. From the TIFF files with no PP and sharpening, just resized and saved as JPEG.

Some tests with Extension tubes.

7D with 18-55mm IS with 34mm of Ext. tubes on tripod.

Set at 37mm, 1/80 sec. at f/8.0, ISO 200, tripod.

Some photos taken inside my house, sorry for the boring subjects!

7D with 18-55mm set at 44mm with 13mm Ext. tube, ISO 400, 1/200 sec. at f/8, handheld.

Zoomed at 100% and cropped in PS with no sharpening.

Same cropping but with PP and sharpening set at 90 % and radius at 1.0.

Close-up of my SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f4.0.

At 45mm with 13mm Ext. tube, ISO 125, at f11, tripod.

Zoomed at 100 % with PP and same sharpening as above.

At 24mm with 13mm Ext. tube, ISO 125, at f11, tripod, same crop with same PP.

Well at normal distances that lens is sharper than i was expecting and certainly can be use for serious work if needed especially from about 20mm to 45mm where i found it to be at it`s best on my sample. Also it`s not too bad for close-up work, sure not as good as a real Macro lens but can be useful to shoot close-up at 24mm.


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.


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.


K-01 and Macro-Takumar 50mm/4 (just a photo).

I just wanted to share a photo i took on my way to work with my K-01 and ¬†SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm/4. It’s a good combination, focus peaking help getting critical focus. It’s always a pleasure to use those old Screwmount Takumar lenses !

So i found a leaf laying on the ice and liked the contrast and details on the leaf.

Pentax K-01, SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm/4, ISO 100 at f/16, tripod.


Don’t be afraid to use different lenses.

Often we tend to take a photo with a lens and walk away thinking we got “the shot”¬†, i do it myself also. On a frosty morning i took photos of the same scene but varying my choice of lens. I did change the angle by walking around my subject to get the perspective i wanted.

Here is the lenses i used to take the following photos on my K-01:

– DA14

– DA*50-135

– Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6

 With those 3 lenses i was able to vary my compositions to get different effects.

Pentax DA14

Pentax DA*50-135 at 55mm

Pentax DA*50-135 at 135mm

Pentax DA*50-135mm at 108mm

Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6

They may not be all keepers but it’s always good for training your “Eye“. So give it a try next time you’re out shooting in the wild!


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.


3 of my photos published in Canadian Geographic’s “Best Wildlife pictures 2013”.

I’m very happy to have 3 of my photos published in Canadian Geographic’s “Best Wildlife pictures 2013” edition. Last year i had 2 of my photos in that special edition, good to have photos published in a magazine with such a good reputation!

So here is my 3 photos that they selected:


My yearly day off dedicated to photography .

Every year i took a day off at my job so that i can go alone taking photos during a complete day, habitually during the year i only go for 2 to 3 hours sessions on the week-ends or i bring my camera with me when i’m going to work, that’s all the time i have. My favorite place is to drive the dirt road along the Rouge river in the town of¬† Grenville-sur-la-rouge here in the Province of¬† Quebec, Canada.

I visited that river in every seasons and the fall season is my favorite, plenty of possibilities and often there is fog in the morning. So this time it’s in autumn that i went there, i was hoping to get good shots. The Meteo was on my side, it rained the night before and there was some fog in the morning with practically no wind !

Since i was not walking much, i packed my camera bag with more equipment than if ¬†i would have needed to walk long distances in the forest. I didn’t packed my 400mm since wildlife was not my main interest even if i always see deers along the road. I wanted to concentrated on the colorful trees and the river. An important piece of equipment for fall photography, especially when everything is wet, is a polarizer filter since it helps remove reflections off ¬†the leaves and give punch to the colors.

It started quite well, at my first stop i managed to get a good shot of the river.

I liked the small tree and the trunk on the shore of the river they made for an interesting foreground.

Pentax K-01, DA*50-135 at 50mm, ISO 100, 0.4 sec. at f/11, with a polarizer, tripod.

Here is another one taken from the same place, i just walked to the right of the tree trunk that you can see on the photo above.

Pentax K-01, DA*50-135 at 50mm, ISO 100, 1 sec. at f/11, with a polarizer, tripod.

Along the road there is a smaller river that crosses the road under a bridge, i always stop and walk along it to find subjects to shoot. As usual i did get some interesting shots, even found a Green frog that was cooperative!

I did a short video to show you my set-up of how i took the next photo:

river shooting

Here is the shot i got from the video, i cropped the upper part to remove distracting branches.

Pentax K-01, FA20, ISO 100, 2.5 sec. at f/11, with a polarizer, tripod.

Now, some more photos i took on this small river:

Pentax K-01, DA35 Macro Ltd, ISO 100, 4 sec. at f/13, with polarizer, tripod.

I tried different ISO to get the effect i wanted with enough DOF to keep everything sharp.

Pentax K-01, DA35 Macro Ltd, ISO 640, 0.8 sec. at f/14, with polarizer, tripod.

Pentax K-01 with DA14, ISO 160, 0.4 sec. at f/4, tripod.

Sony NEX-3 with Sigma 19mm, ISO 400, 0.5 sec. at f/11,  tripod.

Found a Green frog on the shore of the river, she was kind enough to let me get close with my DA14.

Pentax K-01 with DA14, ISO 1600, 1/30 sec. at f/8, handheld with SR activated.

When it started to rain i switched to my K20D with my DA*50-135mm.

Pentax K20D with DA*50-135 at 50mm, ISO 200, 3 sec. at f/14, polarizer, tripod.

Every photo outing have an end, it was time to go back home. Here is one of the last photo i took of the river.

Pentax K-01 with DA*50-135 at 75mm, ISO 200,1/5 sec. at f/9, polarizer, tripod.


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 ūüôā


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¬į 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.


How i use the K-01 for ground level photography.

Many peoples on forums ask how well the LCD of the K-01 is useable because it does not tilt or swivel. So i decided to do a video on how i use my K-01 for ground level photography and to show you at which angle i can see the LCD and still being able to compose and focus accurately.

You will see that i use my thumb instead of my finger to press the shutter release button, it’s the best way to do it, i tried with my finger but from this position it’s not comfortable and not as steady.

Sorry for the model in the video, Brad Pitt was not available ūüôā

By chance i had a fresh haircut last night and i’m also freshly shaved from this morning…. i’m at my best !

Here is the video:

K01 viewing

Here is the photo i took in the video, more of a snapshot than a real photo.

K-01 with DA35mm Macro Limited, ISO 800, 1/200 sec.at f/6.3, with SR.

Here is another shot i took this week using the same combo and technique:

All photos on my site are copyrighted, property of Steeve Marcoux.


The Super Moon.

I went with my wife and my 2 young girls to see the Super moon at sunset, we went to the shore of the St-Lawrence river near my home where i hoped to have a good view for taking some photos. There was some elactrical pilone and houses but not too bad, luckily some Canada Geese were there to see the moon also, i included them in my shots.

On our way back home we saw 2 Barred Owl in flight, they flew just in front of my truck, we got a good view of them!

Here are my resulting shots all taken with my Pentax K20D and Pentax-67 M*400mm/4:


First bird shots with K-01 and Pentax-67 M*400mm/4.

I finally had a chance to try out how the K-01 would perform on my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 for photographing birds. I already took some shots of Rabbits, but they were not moving so it was easy for the K-01.

Yesterday morning i found 4 Greater Yellowlegs on the shore of a big river near my home, so i decided to use my K-01 instead  of my K20D. The positive part is that you now have a 3 inches viewfinder to focus and compose your shot with focus peaking to help manually focus your shots. The focus peaking is very accurate and if you need more precision you can always magnify the view to 2X, 4X or 6X.

The biggest drawbacks of the K-01 is the 1 fps in RAW and the image freezes between each shot so when your subject moves you can loose it on the LCD. That camera was not designed for fast action obviously but maybe the next K-02?

IQ is great and the performance of high ISO is better than my K20D is a plus for the K-01…sure i could have buy a K-5 but the K-01 is a great Macro camera and i think it’s where it is the best camera i have ever use for that purpose.

My Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 is an 8.3 pounds beast and i think it requires a camera that is bigger than the K-01 for the best handling, my K20D is a perfect match, sure i will use my K-01 again with that lens mostly for photographing frogs when they will come out for good. The K-01 might be easier to use for bird photography with the DA*300mm/4 or the FA* 400mm/5.6, on a tripod of course, i always prefer a good tripod.

Here is my shots i took with the K-01 all at ISO 1000, 1/200 sec at f/5.6, tripod.

Greater Yellowlegs

Canada Goose


K-01… the Pentax’s Black sheep ?

Pentax took a big risk with the design of the K-01, nobody is indifferent to that new camera, you either like it or hate it. It will certainly not be a camera that will appeal to the majority of photographer because it’s not like other MLC (mirrorless camera). But under that design there is a real camera that can certainly take great photos when you get to know it.

I wanted a second camera body with very good image quality, with good live view and not too big, Shake Reduction (SR) is a very welcome addition and didn’t necessarily needed an EVF/OVF. Sure it’s bigger than any other APS-C¬† MLC but it’s still smaller than a DSLR and because of it’s shape it’s easier to find a place for it in a camera bag than a DSLR. I have my Pentax DA35mm Macro Limited attached to the K-01 and it fit nicely in a section of my bag.

Here are my first impressions so far.

Ground level photography.

I tried some handheld shots at ground level, with the help of SR it performed very well and getting sharp photos was easier than i thought it would be. Since you can’t hold it as steady as a DSLR because you’re not looking in a viewfinder and can’t brace the camera on your forehead, you learn to hold it differently. When i’m taking photos at ground level i can view the image and focus on the LCD from an angle of 45¬į from above the camera and press the shutter button with my thumb instead of my finger, seems to work fine for me. An advantage of a MLC is that it’s not as hard on your body (back and neck) since you don’t have to contort yourself as much to compose your shot, like trying to see something in the VF of my K20D while photographing frogs at eye level on the shore of the pond.

Here is 2 photos taken handheld with the DA14mm:

DA14mm, ISO 400, 1/25 sec at f/8.0

DA14mm, ISO 500, 1/20 sec. at f/7.1

Powerful Macro tool.

One of the reason i bought the K-01 was that i wanted a camera that would help me with manual focus, the live view and focus peaking were a big selling point for me. I shoot a lot of close-up and Macro and always use manual focus. When you combine a great sensor with very good focus peaking,¬† you get a camera that is great for Macro photography. Taking Macro shots at ground level will be easier, as discussed in the previous paragraph. Can’t wait to try out some frogs photos with my Macro and DA14 lenses.

DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 160, 1/100 sec. at f/6.3, tripod.

DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 200, 1/80 sec. at f/4.5, tripod.

With long lenses, i think i’m crazy !

One thing i wanted to try was how it handles with long lenses, because of it’s better high ISO performance than my K20D i want to use it for photographing frogs using my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 with extension tubes. The K-01 is bigger and have a better grip than other MLC so it’s not that bad on my 400mm, i can use it with good results, my hands don’t suffer from trying too hold and maneuver the gear on my tripod. If needed i will not hesitate to use my K-01 with long lenses.

That shot was taken around sunrise in a forest of Pine, this Cottontail Rabbit was relaxing under a big Pine. The good performance at high ISO and the focus peaking made that photo easy to get.

Pentax-67 M*400mm/4, ISO 1250, 1/80 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

Focus peaking:

This is one of the reason i bought the K-01, combine with the magnification (up to 6X), it makes obtaining exact focus easier especially with manual focus lenses. I selected the red button (customization menu) for turning On and Off the focus peaking, it’s useful to be able to turn it off quickly because sometimes the peaking makes it hard to compose your shots. Even without the magnification the peaking is accurate and i like using it that way when i’m taking photos handheld at ground level. If you want to see how it works you can take a look at my other post here:

https://steevemarcoux2.com/2012/04/07/peaking-feature-k-01-vs-nex-3/

What i like about the K-01:

– The buttons and wheels are well made with firm clicks and feel.

– The shutter is very quiet, the first time i tried the K-01 in the field it was windy and i couldn’t hear the shutter.

– Focus peaking is great and accurate.

– Battery life is also very good, i made over 450 photos and some videos as well as playing around with the camera on the first charge.

– Built quality is also very good and i like the feeling of the camera in my hand, i don’t have problem with the layout of the controls.

– Shake Reduction is very good.

What i don’t like about the K-01:

– 1 Fps in RAW is my biggest negative point on the K-01, hope Pentax will address that in a future firmware update.

– Rubber door flap of the SD card compartment. I learned to close it with relative ease but my concern is more if it will survive in the long term ?

– AF is not the fastest but i don’t use it often anyway.

Conclusion:

If i had to own only 1 camera the K-01 wouldn’t be my choice because i need a DSLR with a faster motor drive and a VF for wildlife photography. But as a second camera body i think it’s a great value for any photographer who want a MLC or a smaller camera than a DSLR with great built quality and with focus peaking,¬† you can’t go wrong…. and the IQ is superb!

About high ISO i can say that i like the results up to 1250 ISO, i did try it enough above that to make a conclusion how high the quality is good enough for my taste. Will make another post here when i will have more shots under my belt with the K-01.

Time will tell if Pentax made a mistake or not by coming out with the K-01, it is certainly a camera that is already controversial, it’s not for everyone, but i like that Pentax made that move since the market is already full of tiny MLC that or not always easy to use other than with small lenses.