Any advice please regarding longish telephoto lenses

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by rogerj, Aug 23, 2008.

  1. rogerj

    rogerj

    22
    Mar 4, 2008
    UK
    Hi,
    This is my first post so I hope it makes sense!
    I am a D200 and D300 owner, presently shooting widlife with a Nikon 80-400mm VR and Kenko pro 1.4 converter. I also use a Nikon 300 f4 and have a full set of three Nikon teleconverters for use with it.

    Living in UK, I have found that on occasion the available light has left me having to make compromises, with regard to shutter speed or ISO, that can affect my final result

    I shall be travelling to Norway in January 2009, where I hope to photograph birds of prey from a hide. I reckon that the light there at that time of year will be just as bad if not worse than UK. I have been told by the trip organiser that a 400mm lens should be OK, but that 500mm would be useful, and an extra stop of light invaluable.

    I am on a limited budget and am tempted to buy a Sigma EX 500mm HSM f4.5,...................... or may be a Nikon 300 f2.8VR ?

    Can anybody offer any help as to the best route to take.

    Thanks,

    Roger:confused:
     
  2. Gandalf

    Gandalf

    905
    Nov 15, 2006
    Arkansas
    Hi Roger,

    Welcome to the Cafe! There are lots of members who can provide you with some with great advice about lenses that would work for your shoot in Norway. I know a lot of the birders use the 400 or 500.

    As far as my input, I just got back from Alaska where I was shooting with a 300/2.8 with a 1.7 TC on a D3. I was hand holding it, and my shots turned out pretty sharp (for me, at least). Most of the time it was cloudy/rainy, and I had to open it up all the way a lot. I was mostly shooting whales from a boat outside of Juneau, and raptors at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka.

    This was my first real workout with the 300/2.8, and I really like it. I've noticed a lot of the members have good things to say about this lens. I highly recommend it.

    Good luck with your decision, and I hope you have great success in Norway!
     
  3. rogerj

    rogerj

    22
    Mar 4, 2008
    UK
    Gandalf,
    Thanks for your reply.

    I once owned a used Nikon 300mm AFI 2.8and liked it. There is this nagging feeling that changing the AFS f4 for a new AFS f2.8 VR is a viable alternative to upping the focal length to 500mm. I guess the 300 would also be slightly lighter!

    But my research so far seems to show that the Sigma 500mm is well thought of by those who use it as well.

    Roger
     
  4. Wileec

    Wileec Guest

    Tamron 200-500mm worth a look

    When I was thinking through reach options for use with my D300 - I settled on the Tamron 200-500mm f/5-6.3. It's not too fast, though I'm still just getting a feel for it. In good light, it does very well. When it's early morning, or evening, though, I reach for my Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 and it gets the job done.

    No substitute for bright glass - and especially with live subjects one typically needs decent shutter speed, so that leaves only ISO to tinker with. A TC might be useful, but it also cuts a stop to what it's added to - perhaps more, depending on the brand and amount of multiplication.

    Have read some posts about the Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6, but I'm guessing you need something brighter than this.
     
  5. Well a radical solution is similar what I have, which is a SH Canon 1D Mk II N (to retain AF with the TCon), 400mm 5.6 L prime and 1.4x TCon for use as needed. Will be cheaper than a SH 300mm 2.8 VR and IQ on the 400mm will be as good as the 300mm with a TCon. This combo can be shot wide open no problem and you'll get great results ... but you need some decent light. AF is super fast and accurate on this combo and that will help.

    You could also hire a Nikon super-tele via here

    But personally I think you are likely to be OK with what you have unless you really want to spend out. Depends on the wide open performance on your zoom. If it's not strong then I would go for the Sigma as very well respected, adds value length wise and cheaper than the 300mm. I'd just take that and the 300mm 4.0 and leave the zoom at home. You'll have to judge if pumping up the ISO gives acceptable results on those bodies.

    Tough call ... January the light will pretty much suck. If you know the range from hide to birds and is not too distant then could be you just bite the bullet and go for speed with the 300mm VR and a 1.4 TCon. A 2x is gonna be worse than using a bare 400mm 5.6 L!
     
  6. rogerj

    rogerj

    22
    Mar 4, 2008
    UK
    Wileec and Dave,

    Thanks for giving me your experiences.

    As you both say good light is no problem as AF & VR work on the 80-400 with the Kenko TC. But as you say, every time you use the TC you pay a price. That is what prompted the thoughts about getting a Sigma 500mm.

    Roger
     
  7. Johan

    Johan

    679
    Jun 18, 2005
    Belgium
    Hi Roger,

    As a very happy 300 2.8 VR owner, I can only say go for the 300. This is one heck of a lens. It delivers tack sharp images and superb bokeh even if you are using tc's. Most of the time I use it in combination with the 1.7tc, so that means you end up with a 500 4.8 VR. The IQ is more than just satisfying. I will give you some example images and with will list some camera info as well.
    The thing I'm going to do is, buying another tc namely the 1.4.
    Most of the time I'm shooting wildlife so therefore the 500 is needed. On the other hand, I also have been in the situation where the animal moves in too close for the 500, then I can just throw the 1.7 away and shoot with a ultra sharp 300 and at 2.8 when necessary.

    Nurburgring: 300 + 1.7, shutterspeed 1/1250, iso 1000+
    http://users.pandora.be/jokke1/Photography/Sports/DSC_0263_lr.jpg


    Nurburgring: 300 + 1.7, shutterspeed 1/1250
    http://users.pandora.be/jokke1/Photography/Sports/DSC_0275_web.jpg

    Roe deer: 300mm @ 2.8 no tc, iso 500+
    http://users.pandora.be/jokke1/Photography/stuff/DSC_1122_web.jpg


    Good luck with it and Take Care !!!


    Johan
     
  8. rogerj

    rogerj

    22
    Mar 4, 2008
    UK
    Hi Johan
    Thanks for your post. I must admit that the 300mm 2.8 VR sounds very inviting especially as I already have the 1.4,1.7 & 2.0 TCs. Love your shots! They are certainly a good advert for the lens.

    How would the lens fayre on a DX camera like my D200 or D300?

    Do you use a tripod with the 300. If so what kind of results are you getting and which tripod?
     
  9. triples2008

    triples2008 Guest

    likewise, I have the 300 2.8... my impressions

    Hi;

    Well, I have the 300 2.8 VR and we are still getting used to each other- I hear nothing but praise for this lens and am still working on my technique to get the most out of it- I have a Gitzo graphite fiber tripod with ball head, which was quite steady for everything up to now but noticed that it was too light for this lens with a D700.

    With a 2x, or even a 1.7x extender, I found that a sturdy foundation was paramount for clear shots- but I am sure it is just my unfamiliarity with long lenses (my first) that makes this an educational experience.

    At 300 mm, handholding was ok, but at 600mm.... hmmmm... I think I need that tripod.

    Bottom line- check out your support system - don't forget about that.

    Regards;
     
  10. Wileec

    Wileec Guest

    Tripod and/or other solid support always important . . .

    . . . for telephoto and super telephoto range lenses.

    Many good tripods have a hook on the center column. When I shoot out of the truck, I keep a 10-pound dumb bell with a Velcro loop and add it and it helps to keep things steady. Sometimes use a remote trigger, too, as, as the sun starts to go down, it's really pushing this camera and lens - even if I bump up the ISO a bit - usually dealing with critters that like to move.

    I'm shooting with a D300 and a Tamron 200-500mm f/5-6.3, which amounts to 750mm on this DX camera body. Gitzo GT2540 with RRS BH-55. RRS camera and lens plates.
     
  11. Johan

    Johan

    679
    Jun 18, 2005
    Belgium

    The 300 on a D200 & D300 produces superb images, especially if you consider that I used it on the D70 before and even those pics were very very good. Well, the thing was that when I had the right amount of light the images taken with the D70 were perfect.
    So, it will do just fine on your dslr's.
    It's nice to see that you already have those tc's, the 1.4 is the best !!! But even the 1.7 gives you stunning results. I wouldn't recommend using the 2.0 due to its softness. I don't have it myself and have never shot with it either.
    I have read a number of reviews of the 2.0, the final conclusion was that the images are too soft. As far as I know, the only lens that digests the 2.0 very well is the 200mm f/2 VR.

    When it comes to tripod or monopod; Well, I use both. It depends really. All images above are made with a monopod. I even shot a tack sharp image of a barn owl before where I set the D70 to an iso speed of 800 and the shutterspeed to 1/40 !!! The VR works soooo well. I hardly use a tripod, I prefer having monopod-freedom:smile:
    Which tripod ?? Depends on which lenses you have. If the 300mm 2.8 is the biggest you got than I wouldn't go for a very expensive gitzo with arca ballhead. I don't see why it's necessary.
    I don't have much experience in this field, especially when you are talking about types and brands. Therefore, I would like to pass this question through to other more experienced photographers on this board.

    You will not regret that lens !!!


    Regards

    Johan
     
  12. Hi I would get the 300 nikkor as you already have all the converters, the Sigma is better optically than the 300 with the converters, you need to stop the 300 down to get what I would call good image quality when the converters are attached.

    Phil.

    Ps yes I do you own the Sigma but no longer own the 300vr,and still own a couple of 300afs afi nikkors
     
  13. rogerj

    rogerj

    22
    Mar 4, 2008
    UK
    triples2008 and wileec,

    Thanks for your posts. I presently have a Marking M20 ballhead, a wimberley sidekick, and a set of benro CF legs(Gitzo copy) model C298. Has anyone experience of the Benro stuff? Will it be sturdy enough?

    I,m beginning to wonder when the sidekick will not be enough and the wimberley gimballed head would be necessary. Maybe the sidekick arrangement would be enough to support the Nikon 300mm f2.8??

    Thanks once again,

    Roger
     
  14. Depending on your ball head, the Sidekick will suffice and is recommended by Wimberley. I have the 300mm VR and if I'm not hand holding it, it goes on a Gitzo 3540 XLS, Markin M10 ball head, and the Sidekick. Work fine except that you can't elevate the lens as high as you sometimes need it. For full range you would need the full Wimberley.

    Also, I just shot an air show with the 300mm VR, TC 1.4, and hand held it. Almost all shots were in focus - more than I got with the 300 V2 or the 300 f4.

    Norm
     
  15. rogerj

    rogerj

    22
    Mar 4, 2008
    UK
    Many thanks to all of you for posting replies!

    There are some very positive vibs coming from Nikon 300mm f2.8 owners, but phillip200 makes a very good point ABOUT The Sigma. The important point for me is that I want a long lens to use in "hide" type situation, as I already take advantage of membership of both RSPB an NWT in Norfolk.

    I am getting a bit concerned that my Benro CF tripod may not be up to use of a big lens, although it does have the obligatory hook to hang my bag on.

    Roger
     
  16. Another vote for the 300 + 1.7tc. Its amazing how well the f2.8 can take teleconverters!
     
  17. rogerj

    rogerj

    22
    Mar 4, 2008
    UK
    Thanks to all who replied. I've more or less decided to go for the Nikon 300mm f2.8 VR, which has surprised me really as I was hooked on going for a longer focal length.

    I was also thinking in terms of a pre-owned lens but, having spoken to the boss, she and I have agreed that the more prudent choice would be to go for a new one.

    I'll let you know when I get it, and start posting a few images.

    Roger
     
  18. How about the 200-400VR, it is one of my favorites. Being a zoom it is also very long, with the DX bodies it would be equal to a 300-600.
     
  19. rogerj

    rogerj

    22
    Mar 4, 2008
    UK
    Thanks Dan,

    I think it might be too physically big for me! How much does it weigh??

    Roger
     
  20. you won't regret it. That lens is fantastic. I love mine but wish it weighed a couple of pounds less. Guess then I'd have the 300mm f4.