Sunday, 10 May 2009


Didn't get time to do the long awaited Norfolk part 2 today, so you'll just have to keep hanging on the edges of your seats.

I want a Pentax K20D. Who's with me?

Here follows a chance for all of us to get geeky about cameras. Kind of a 'thinking aloud' post.

A camera that seems to punch above its price range while being roundly complimented for its ergonomics in every review I've read, and with a phenomenal 14.2mp CMOS sensor there should be plenty of space for judicious cropping of images. However, I'm new to all this 'camera bodies with seperate lenses' stuff so there are options to consider. All prices and packages gathered from

For bird photography I will certainly need a long lens, but I'm quite a keen photographer generally so I anticipate that I'll also need a regular lens for normal shooting.

First off, the package that looks like best value for money on the face of things, a camera + 2 lenses (18-55mm and 50-200mm) - £699.99
200mm sounds like a reasonable focal length for long distance photography on the face of things, but I hear 300 and 400mm bandied around the forums, and wonder how long it would take me to reach the limits of its usefulness.

Of course, the alternative would be to buy the camera body + a standard lens - £598.99
And then go for the long lens seperately.

Long lenses that fall within my price range for the whole kit (and this includes the extremes of my price range that I'd prefer not to go to) and have Pentax AF mounts are as follows:

Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 AF Di LD Macro Lens - £123.99

Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 APO Macro Super DG Lens - 178.99

Making the total cost:

£722.98 for the Camera + standard + Tamron
£777.98 for the Camera + standard + Sigma

The Sigma has the lower minimum focal length by just over half a metre, but I'm buying the lens primarily for distance work so this isn't a sticking point for me. The Tamron goes up to Aperture f/32 while the Sigma is only a paltry f/22. Weight is not an issue. Other than this, I suppose it's all down to the build quality you'd expect from the respective manufacturers.

The lens has 'Macro' in the name but as far as I'm aware, while this lens has macro capability, it is not exclusively a macro lens. Reviews on WHE seem to back up this assumption.

My thoughts:
I can definitely see the value in forking out an extra £20 for an extra 100mm of focal distance, particularly if I anticipate a lot of long distance photography. However, on paper I can't see any reason to spend an extra £50 on the Sigma over the Tamron unless the build/lens quality is a significant improvement, which I doubt. The high pixel resolution of the camera's sensor demands a decent lens - no point being capable of recording all that detail if you can't see the detail - and the specs on both are pretty much identical.

This isn't something I'm going to go buy tomorrow - this will likely be months of saving (barring lottery wins, tax rebates and other impossible events (I don't actually play the lottery)) so new equipment may appear, existing equipment may come down in price etc. At the moment though, my inclination is for a body/18-55 kit and a seperate Tamron long lens. If someone with experience of different makes of lens has anything to add, please do. I'm very much an amateur here.

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