Pentax 400mm f/5.6 lens choices

Though I like my current set up in using a fast 200mm combined with a TC, I am looking for a prime with longer reach as in 400mm f/5.6 so that I can depend less on the use of TC. My current combo is small and lightweight and if offers the best in ease of use and pretty much less than 2 lb and it is very portable and I can grab and shoot quickly.

Soligor 200mm f/2.8 in m42 next to
Vivitar 200mm f/3.5 from Komine in K mount
Both are relatively small & lightweight

And I prefer quicker reaction in Av metering without stop-down and the M42 lens or an 'A' lens will do that. The Av mode, allows me to concentrate on the framing and panning when needed. I hear the plane after the cooper hawk this morning. And I practice on panning distant plane flying. It gives me the instant thrill to follow the plane in action. My 400mm combo usually does poorly for infinity object, perhaps I have good lighting today and that really helps in the shooting as I can stop down to f/8 and still have reasonable shutter for the panning. I used my K mount 200mm f/3.5 on Komine before on similar shooting and after the stop-down, the plane may have already turned to a different direction.

Soligor 200mm f/2.8 m42 +
Kiron 2x doubler
heavily cropped

1/125 sec, f/6.3, 400mm, iso 200, 0 Ev

Click on the image to view it in a larger size

1/125 sec, f/6.3, 400mm, iso 200, 0 Ev

Click on the image to view it in a larger size

heavily cropped
bird is way too far
1/1600 sec, likely f/5.6, 400mm, iso 100, -0.7 Ev

Click on the image to view it in a larger size

I hope I can find a good prime or zoom in 400mm f/5.6 that is both hand-holdable and offer better IQ that I can depend less on the TC.

I plan to get the Pentax DA* 300mm f/4.0. But for now, I am looking for inexpensive manual focus choices. My rough criteria:

  • I prefer lens that is hand-holdable, roughly less than 3 lb
  • less CA in working with tree branches in high contrast
  • good manual focus throw for precision and ease of focusing
  • good IQ when used with Pentax F-1.7x AF TC
  • lens with tripod collar when I need it
  • Ideal focal length is 400mm f/5.6 to work with similar to my 200mm f/2.8 + 2x TC.
  • Or a manual focus 300mm f/4.0 with good IQ.

As of now, I have these choices in manual focus:

  • Sigma or Tokina 400mm f/5.6 in manual focus with 'A' setting -- not sure on weight?
  • SuperTak 300mm f/4.0 in m42 -- about 985g
  • Pentax 300mm f/4.0 in K mount -- about 1020g
  • Pentax M*/A* 300mm f/4.0 in K mount -- lightest about 850g
  • Pentax K 400mm f/5.6 (or the Takumar 400mm f/5.6 equivalent in m42) -- about 1285g in K version
  • Tamron SP 500mm f/8.0 adaptall-2 mirror lens -- not sure it is suited for wildlife photography such as birds



Anonymous said...

I've just received a Pentax A 400mm f5.6 and after a quick trial it's clear that it significantly outresolves FA* 300mm. The CA is also much better than older Pentax lenses. A real beauty from the first glance.

I will post some pic on the pentax forum when I do more testing.

photogerald said...

Hin, I have a question about the following:

"And I prefer quicker reaction in Av metering without stop-down and the M42 lens or an 'A' lens will do that."

Are you saying that the M42 lens supports open-aperture metering on your digital Pentax? Is this true for just this particular lens, or do all M42 lenses work this way on Pentax digital bodies?

Hin Man said...

The Av metering for M42 lens only apply to certain models of digital bodies such as K20D. It works to some degree on K10D with some overexposure as long as I remember. And the over and under-exposure can also vary with individual lens. Perhaps more to do with center weighted metering when a manual lens is mounted instead of matrix metering.

In K20D, I mostly usemy m42 lens in Av mode so as to skip the extra step in reminding myself to hit green button. Unlike K-mount lens, the diaphragm is already closed down, reminding myself to go with green button is odd to say the least.

With K-x, the Av metering mode for M42 is unfortunately not reliable I have to use M mode. M mode + green button in general seems more accurate than Av mode but I like the Av mode for quicker access.

Anonymous said...

You should consider the Sigma 400mm F5.6 APO Tele Macro with the 77mm filter. It can be also paired with a Pentax 1.7x TC.

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