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300mm F4 + 1.4x Kenko PRO300 for birding

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by ultimind, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. ultimind


    May 13, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    Is anyone using this combo w-i-d-e o-p-e-n for birding? Last time I went out with my Tamron 1.4x and my 300mm F4, I ended up being wide open most of the time. I'm not happy with the quality of the 1.4x Tamron adapter wide open (or stopped down for that matter) My D1X and D70 aren't the best performers at high ISO, so I have no choice but to open up the lens and stick to ISO800 or below. :frown: Some day, I'll have a D300 and I won't have this problem. :biggrin:
  2. One problem is that shooting this combo wide open is giving you a max aperture of 5.6 - not enough to adequately AF with either of those bodies.

    Unless you are shooting birds on a feeder or perch, you are going to find that the other issue is focal length. As I found out years ago, 300mm is just too short to do any amount of serious bird photography. I finally had to suck it up and budget for a 500f4P. I still use it happily. I still can't justify one of the newer AF models, but you'll find most pros shooting 500 and 600f4 lenses. 450f5.6 is just not going to give you consistently good results no matter how you slice it. I don't know that a Nikkor or Kenko TC would do much better...

    In other words, if you're after birds, a better glass combo would be money better spent than a new body. The 500f4P can be had for around the same cost as a new D300 - if you're willing to shop around a little. Of course, this is only my opinion...
  3. my 300/4 + 1.4 TC on my D50 AF's fine
    maybe it's the TC (I use the nikon version)
    Is your 300/4 the AFS version
  4. I had the Kenko Pro300 on my 300 a few times and didn't like it so I sold it
  5. ultimind


    May 13, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    I've got an old tank of a 300mm F4 AF. For $160, I couldn't pass it up. It's beat up for sure, but it makes plenty of pretty pictures.

    I'm ready to just buy a used Canon body for cheap and get a 400mm F5.6 on the dark side. It gets more frustrating by the day with the limited amount of options in the "over 300mm" category. [/rant]
  6. i am not a fan of non afs lenses for sports or BIFs but for most everything else it's not a prob especially on the d3 & d300
  7. ultimind


    May 13, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    I agree that AF-S is the way to go. I've played with several in the store and there's no doubt that AF-S is far superior to letting the camera drive the focus motor. It's pretty tough to drop $900+ on a 300mm AF-S when Canon offers a 400mm F5.6 USM for the same price.
  8. not when your choice in bodies is the 40d vs the d300 it isn't....
    and canon bodies are ergonomic nightmares
  9. I used the 300/4 and the Kenko 1.4 a lot when shooting eagles and other birds. While I was not fond of the combo wide open, I did like it at F8. Now, this does mean that you have to bump up the ISO a bit, and at the time I was shooting a D2h and D2x. So, it was frustrating at times to say the least. AF speed was OK, but not what I would call fast. The D300 you have will handle higher ISOs and has a good AF system, so you might be OK.
  10. ultimind


    May 13, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    Randy - While I agree with you mostly about the Canon ergonomics... the one thing I love about my cousin's 30D is the wheel the scroll through pictures on playback. Really really handy when you shoot a big sequence of pictures and want to look through them quickly.
  11. I used the combo and thought it was quite good. It is about the best you can do for the money. Anything better is gonna be much more expensive.
  12. Dr A

    Dr A

    Feb 2, 2008
    State College, PA
    I've used this combo on my D50 a lot and see no problem with AF at all.
  13. My friend and an avid birder uses the 300/f4+1.4TC, and she has no complaints. Her TC is I think Tamron. I will check next time I see her. She uses it on her D80, and I have seen her nail some nice BIFs. Please get your items checked once and perhaps a little bit of calibration can help.

    Good luck.
  14. There are two Tamron model's of TC's. They have a black version, less expensive and a pro white version, more expensive. I have the pro white version for my Tamron 300 2.8 lens and works great.

  15. ultimind


    May 13, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    Mine is the black less expensive Tamron teleconverter.

    What did birders use before digital? Surely not everyone could afford 500mm F4 or 600mm lenses?
  16. okcandids


    Jan 12, 2008
    Southern NH
    I agree with Ed---especially about the hand-holdability. I use the non-AFS 300 f/4 with the Kenko Pro 300, mostly on a D200 (though sometimes with a D50). I don't really shoot wide open, and get decent results (for my taste) in decent light (even rainy days that aren't TOO dark). That said, what I've learned is the most important aspect of shooting with this combo is to use a tripod. I use a Manfrotto 3021BPRO and 488RC0 ball head.

    If you look in this gallery, starting at frame 153, the photos were captured with this combo. You'll be able to recognize them by the EXIF showing "300mm@f/7.1"---which is my only gripe with the combo, as the extra 1.4x/1-stop isn't reported by the camera, meaning the EXIF should really show "420mm@f/10".
  17. Ol-Jerr

    Ol-Jerr Guest

    I can't complain about that combo. I use it quite often with great success. As well as the Kenko 2.0 Pro. which makes it 600mm F8 OK in daylight images.
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