300mm f2.8 VR dilemma - What to do?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by travelerx, May 7, 2007.

  1. travelerx

    travelerx

    44
    May 19, 2006
    Finland
    Hi All,

    I've been now just shy of over a year in the Nikon DSLR world. Haven't been a frequent poster here but now I'm in a great need of either good advice or a sanity check. Hmm.... or may be both :eek: . The Café was the first place that came to mind as a Nikon shooter.

    I've been getting more and more interested in nature photography. My main targets are mammals and birds. At the moment I have no interest in small birds but more of the size of golden eyes for example. The problem is that my longest lens is the 70-200/f2.8 VR. I have begun to dream of purchasing a 300 f2.8 VR. I was stupid enough to go into a shop and ask for their price. They had it in stock and brought one out to show. The shopkeeper asked if it was OK for me to just check it out without mounting it on a camera. I have feeling that if he would have mounted it on a camera and given it to me for a short test session, I wouldn't be typing this message but shooting. :rolleyes:

    As relevant background information for this topic I have the following gear:

    Gitzo 3530LSV + Spikes + RRS BH-55
    Gitzo GM3550 monopod
    D200 body

    1) Does the VR really work with a sturdy tripod? Does the VR correct for mirror slap? There are reports that the VR degrades image quality when mounted on a sturdy tripod.

    2) What is the optical quality with extenders? The 1.4 is to my understanding nearly equal to the bare lens? How about the 1.7 and 2 teleconverter? This is a really important point for me. I plan to use the lens bare and with a 1.7 teleconverter stopped down to f5.6.

    3) Do I dare ask this? Does anybody have experience with the Canon counterpart 300 IS 2.8 and how it compares with the Nikon offering? The Canon takes teleconverters really well according to user reports. Also if I order from B&H I'll save around 600 € compared to the Nikon. Just add around 300 € more and I could get a 30D. I've fooled with 30D a few times in a shop but didn't feel the magic.

    4) The most important and final question. Am I solving a photographic problem with this lens? 150 mm is not that much but I think those mm are the critical ones and of course the lens is optically fit to take teleconverters.

    Nikon pros:
    -Excellent image quality with bare lens and 1.4 converter
    -3 stop VR
    -Automatic panning detection
    -It is a Nikon

    Canon pros:
    -Cheaper
    -Excellent image quality with teleconverters 1.4 and 2
    -Automatic tripod detection and secondary IS for mirror slap
    -The Canon big guns are cheaper and have IS

    This is a big financial decision for me and I've been questioning if I'm ready to take this step.

    If you have any advice, I'm very happy to hear it! Currently my lens lust is pretty bad and I think it is clouding my judgement. Summer is just around the corner!! What to do... what to do??

    Thanks for your help!


    Below are some images I've taken with 70-200 VR to show what kind of use the lens will be getting. They are partial crops but have enough quality to print big.

    [​IMG]
    1/640, f2.8, ISO 100

    [​IMG]
    1/60, f5, ISO 200

    [​IMG]
    1/60, f5, ISO 400
     
  2. You'll have to make your own mind up about whether to go Canon or stay Nikon. Both are good systems and will accomplish what you want. The Nikon 300 2.8VR is my most used lens for wildlife. I often hike with it and the d200. It works extremely well with 1.4 and very well with 1.7. The lens is sharp and focus is fast. When I mount it on a tripod, I turn the VR off. It's worth every penny.
     
  3. GeeJay

    GeeJay

    Jan 26, 2005
    Florida
    David,
    Are you comfortable hiking with the 300VR? How far do you go with it and what else do you carry--a tripod and backpack??

    Thanks, Gaye
     
  4. Hi Gaye - PM sent.
     
  5. ddubyaw

    ddubyaw Guest

    Not for me. Whether with the head loose or tightened, I get better results with VR off on a tripod with the 300/2.8. Others have reported otherwise, so maybe it's my technique. You'll want a Wimberly full head or Sidekick, or equivalent. VR works great for me handheld.

    I don't hesitate to use a 1.4x. You have to really look for image degradation with a 1.4x to see it. Haven't shot much with the 1.7x.

    You're getting much more than just focal length over the 70-200/2.8. The image quality (the 70-200 isn't at its best at the long end), handling, focus speed, everything is much improved at the obvious tradeoffs of cost, weight, and size. You're also getting a challenge -- the 300/2.8 sent me back to practicing long lens technique, but it's worth it. I haven't used my 70-200/2.8 for anything since getting the 300/2.8 (and it's looking more likely to get sold since my 200/2 came in...). It's an incredible lens, the best-balanced/best-handling super tele, and the investment (not just money -- toting any big lens is investment) can be good incentive photographically. Sounds like you're ready to take the step.


    - dww
     
  6. I don't know laws in Finland but isn't there something like an import sales tax like in many European countries? If yes, you aren't saving much when ordering in the US.
     
  7. David is right on the money, with an addition that it does not work that well with a TC20, but you didnt ask that...

    Your tripod is good, ballhead is good, consider getting a Gimbal head like the Wimberly or Kirk Photo's or Jobu's The advantage is that you cna just let go fo the whole thing and it cant fall, and also that it gest rid of the vibration.

    as for VR i have tested that and you get less detail with VR = ON when on a tripod. Same with a Canon, my local newsphotographer says so and he is really good, has used Canon for quite soem time...

    Your other options.
    * 300mm F4, superlight works well with a TC14, great for flight shots wont get you close enough.,
    * 500mm F4 AF-S i or II, reasonably light, good picture quality and range, does well witht he TC14 not as well with the TC17. you should absolutely have it on a Gimbal mount trust me!
    * 400 F2.8 the ultimate lens, does the TC17 like a charm, Haevy as H-l NO handholding.
    * 600mm AF-S, Requires bigger tripod (5540LS), requires Gimbal mount (Full Wimberley. Great rangem Keeper rate goes down dramtically, not as sharp as the other (makes sense since it is longer)

    So I say 300 F2.8 is a good choice but a bot heavy....
     
  8. travelerx

    travelerx

    44
    May 19, 2006
    Finland
    Yes, it is true that I would have to pay tax 22 % and some precent custom duty but even after that I would save around 600 €. After paying duty and taxes the USD is about one EURO. The Nikon lens is the same in dollars as it is here in euros. On the other hand the Canon is much cheaper in the US than here in Europe.
     
  9. travelerx

    travelerx

    44
    May 19, 2006
    Finland
    Thank you everybody for the advice. I still have some thinking to do. I've been very happy with Nikon but as an amateur the best bang for the buck is an important factor. I've also been thinking of the 200/f2 VR. It would be great to have a legendary lens, but the downside is that it doesn't solve the problem of not having sufficient reach.
     
  10. Doug

    Doug

    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    Taking as good a shot as you did in that last shot above? no way would I ask myself about changing systems! you use what works for you, and it's pretty obvious Nikon is working well for yo so far. The 300 2.8 is all it's billed and more. I've not truly mastered mine yet, nor have I had many photo ops in the last month, but I see the potential.

    Take a look at this Gazelle at 300mm 2.8 VR Monopod, VR active.

    .0125 sec f5.8 ISO 100

    Here's the small version: Dead on focus on crooked horn Gazelle.

    [​IMG]

    Cropped some but original size.

    http://fotogafer.smugmug.com/gallery/2812184#150221158-O-LB
     
  11. As I have a 200/2 since one week: have you thought about using the 200/2 and a teleconverter?
    With a 2x TC you get a 400/4 and the quality is still impressive
     
  12. Doug

    Doug

    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    2X TC good results? I'd want to see that Walter.

    But regardless, the 200 with a 1.4 is a kick butt 280, of course, the 300 with a 1.4 is a kick butt 420. 1.7 and 2.0 are gravey.
     
  13. Doug

    Doug

    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    I have a 1.4 and 1.7, but not the 2.0. So far, I've not been impressed enough with the 1.7 to get a 2.0 without cold hard proof there would be real benefit.

    Doug
     
  14. travelerx

    travelerx

    44
    May 19, 2006
    Finland
    About the shot, I just pressed the shutter release and panned. Nikon took care of the rest. :biggrin: Actually, I saw the golden eye taking off in the bushes. In a panic frenzy I pressed AF-ON and tried to follow through. I wasn't even sure if I was focusing on the bird as it was moving so fast. It was such a great suprise to see the results.

    I'm actually considering of becoming a dual user. :eek: My other lens is the AF-S 17-55/f2.8 DX. Both of my lenses are at least IMHO so good when used correctly that I would have a difficult time parting from them. Having two systems however, doesn't make much sense now that I think about it. Now, if I get the 300 2.8 or 200 2.0 I suspect my lenses won't be so good anymore. :rolleyes:
     
  15. travelerx

    travelerx

    44
    May 19, 2006
    Finland
    I'd love to hear more of your experiences with the 2x TC. What I've read about the Nikon 2x TC is that usually the performance is nothing to write home about. The Canon 2x TC to my understanding offer better image quality. The problem is I have no way of testing so I have to rely on very differing user reports and it gets extremely confusing.

    If the performance of the 200/2 with the 2x TC is truely impressive, I would have to consider it more seriously. On the other hand if one has to use a teleconverter nearly all the time the focal lens is originally to short for the intended subject.
     
  16. GeeJay

    GeeJay

    Jan 26, 2005
    Florida
    My experience with the 200VR is that the 1.4 and 2.0 TC work fine...the 1.7 was not good so I won't use that again. Others are good. In fact I bought the 2.0 just for this lens. I had stayed away from it before..
     
  17. travelerx

    travelerx

    44
    May 19, 2006
    Finland
    One thing still comes to mind.
    How would you rate the AF with the 2.0 TC?
    Thanks.
     
  18. Doug

    Doug

    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    Two systems just complicates so much.

    thanks for the info Gaye.
     
  19. GeeJay

    GeeJay

    Jan 26, 2005
    Florida
    Antti,
    Unfortunately I don't have any pictures available right now because in a different place. But if you go to the thread about the 200VR (the very long one in Lens Lust) then you can ask for pictures taken with the 200VR and the 2.0 TC. I know you'll get plenty of responses.
     
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