23 July 2010

Bird Outing with the DA 55-300mm

It's been a long time that I've been shooting birds, and I figured my DA 55-300mm needed the workout. Birding is a particularly challenging endeavour as one has to first of all find a good spot, know the best time to shoot and more importantly be able to execute when the time comes and the bird is in sight.

Well these images of the Olive-backed Sunbird were the result of the three ingredients coming together. This little bird is about 10 cm from tip to tail and fly very quickly with their short wings. With my camera on Auto ISO matched with a fast shutter speed and Quick Shift on the lens, I managed to get some nice shots when the birds made their hurried nectar hopping visit to a clump of heliconia flowers. Oblivious to my presence, I easily squeezed off frame after frame. And just as quickly they flew off. All shots uncropped on the K-7.

11 July 2010

Orchids at Mandai Orchid Garden

Our regular Pentax monthly user outing took us to Mandai Orchid Garden. This unique place and tourist attraction has been around since 1951 when the late John Laycock, a founder of the Orchid Society of Southeast Asia decided to acquire some land to keep his growing collection of orchids and later for commercial orchid cultivation. When news of a possible redevelopment with the ending of the lease for the land, it became an obvious location for a group outing to capture some of the many orchids on hand.

Shooting flowers means shooting up close and the choice I had was either to go with the DA 35mmf/2.8 Macro Limited or the DFA 100mm f/2.8 Macro WR. My instincts told me to go with the smaller lens and on-site, the DA 35mm Macro proved to be the perfect lens for the subject.

The wider field of view allowed me to move around quicker to obtain the best composition and as there was no distance limitations, it was easy enough to move up close to the flowers. AF is perfect in this situation, allowing me to shoot quickly in the warm day and take a lot of shots of the many varieties of orchids on hand.

Many traditionalists still cling on to belief that to shoot macro, it has got to be manual focus all the way and preferably with a tripod. Well there's definitely a place for this approach given the wide variation in macro gear and technique, and a lot of it has to do with the subject in hand and the magnification needed. But to steadfastly maintain that this is the only way is something I have serious reservations with. I have found the current crop of Pentax AF lenses with Quick Shift to be invaluable, even in the context of macro shooting. Obviously when shooting handheld having shake reduction built-in on the camera body makes a big difference in the number of keepers.

09 July 2010

All-in-one Wonder

Recently I decided to get two lenses that I had never used before. The two were the DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited and the DA 70mm f/2.4 Limited. For the longest time I had never seriously considered these two DA Limited lenses as I had other prime lenses which were either very close in focal length or I had zoom lenses that covered the same focal length. Well I'll start off with the DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited in this post.

First off like other DA Limited lenses, the build quality is reassuringly solid, perhaps not on the same quality as the FA Limiteds but nonetheless good enough. The lens is a 1:1 macro and focuses down to 0.139 m, has 9 aperture blades and covers an angle of view of 44 degrees. This ability to focus up close and coupled with the decent coverage make this a most versatile lens to use. From scenics to close-ups, this lens is a very capable all-rounder. I actually feel this lens allows anyone to come up with stunning images in a very short space of time.

There a lot to like with this lens: the bokeh from this lens is actually pretty smooth, the auto focus is by no means slow plus there's the very useful Quick Shift manual focus override. About the only thing negative I can think off about it is the slip-on metal lens cap and the short lens hood.