big lens time ideas

Joined
Nov 19, 2011
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i think I'm going to make the plunge, I have every camera and lens an advanced hobbyist can have, my longest reach is Sigma 50/500 and Nikon 300 F4D the 500 is an Ok lens but not stick sharp, but still good, I want to move up to 600 or 800mm with cost being a factor, so here is where I'm at.

a. Nikon 600mm f/4.0G ED VR II.......$10K

b. Nikon 600mm AF-S F/4.0 ...........$6300

c. Sigma 800mm f/5.6 EX APO DG HSM $6500

just can't decide which so I don't get disappointed, shopping for used will be my priority, what should i get?

btw D800, D7100
 
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Mar 21, 2006
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New Zealand
If you have never used the big teles before, I would also consider the AFS 500/4, since it's a little smaller and cheaper, and would be easier to handle. Add A TC-14E and you get a very nice 700/5.6 if you need more reach. Plus the quality is a step or two above the lenses you already have, so you could crop in if you need tighter framing.

I would not get an 800mm lens, unless you have very clear and particular requirements. Lenses this long require very good support and technique to get the best from them, and they are rather specialized lenses - you don't have the option of going wider if you need a shorter focal length. The 500/4 or 600/4 + TC14E would give you a much more versatile setup.

It would pay to rent first, so you get a good idea of their weight and size, and how they handle. If they end up being too big, or you don't have the right tripod/support for them, they won't get used, and that's a lot of cash for a paper weight.
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
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Miami, Florida
What is your intended use for the lens? Also, what experience, if any, do you have handling any of the bigger glass?

The first question will help narrow down the length and size. The second question may also help narrow things down. It is important to realize that the longer the lens, the more critical technique becomes; similarly, the longer the lens, the less forgiving it is when used improperly.

If you haven't had much experience with the big glass, I'll add a plus one to the suggestion about the 500/4. It's not as heavy, and not as long as the 600/4, but still long enough to give you good reach for most subjects.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2008
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Scotland
I have got to assume you want to use the big glass for something like wildlife. If thats the case then the 500 f4 is a fantastic all rounder. Its long enough and easily take the 1.4tc, it can be handheld for short times but a good support is best.

The 600 f4 is a beast of a lens, great for distance shots and take the 1.4tc very well. Its very long, heavy and not easily transported or handheld.

I have owned both the above and at the moment i still have the 600f4 which i think was sharper than my 500 f4 but that may be purely down to the individual lenses. I use a Gitzo 5541LS tripod and use the lens a lot from hides etc.If walking any sort of distances then the 500 would be my preferred choice.
 
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Joined
Jan 26, 2005
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Marysville, WA
I would highly recommend that you read this Picking a Wildlife Lens thread from last week. A lot of good advice. You can see my thoughts which are that a 400mm f2.8 gives you the most flexibilty of all. It is one of the few lenses that performs very well with all 3 TC's. Funny, you list the 2 bodies that I currently own. Here are the focal length ranges:

D800 - 36mp
400mm f2.8
400mm + 1.4TC = 560mm f4
400mm + 1.7TC = 680mm f4.8
400mm + 2.0TC = 800mm f5.6

D7100 (normal - 24mp)
400mm f2.8 * 1.5 = 560mm f2.8
400mm + 1.4TC = 560mm f4 * 1.5 = 840mm f4
400mm + 1.7TC = 680mm f4.8 * 1.5 = 1020mm f4.8
400mm + 2.0TC = 800mm f5.6 * 1.5 = 1200mm f5.6

D7100 (1.3 crop approx. 16mp)
400mm f2.8 * 2 = 800mm f2.8
400mm + 1.4TC = 560mm f4 * 2 = 1120mm f4
400mm + 1.7TC = 680mm f4.8 * 2 = 1360mm f4.8
400mm + 2.0TC = 800mm f5.6 * 2 = 1600mm f5.6

The penalty you pay for this flexibity is about 1.5 pounds of extra weight, or a bit more if you buy a used AFS-1, like I have, at about 2 pounds extra weight over the 500mm f4. Comparing it to the 600mm, it is a lightweight, saving you .5 - 1.5 lbs, depending on which 400mm you end up with.

I like the flexibility. If you want to go really crazy, an easy modification allows you to stack the 1.4 TC with the 2.0 TC and still be at f8, you do the math :biggrin: It really focuses quite fast even with the combination, stability can be a bit of an issue :wink:

Several years ago I went through the same thought process, and picked the 400mm f2.8 for its flexibility. As well as finding one used at a really good price. Look to the work here, and comments in the thread I pointed to, buy Michael Fullina, as well as to the ariticle written by Thom Hogan on the Nikon 400 f2.8. Be sure to read his Final Word, strangely enough, I agree with him :biggrin:
 
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Joined
Feb 2, 2005
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Maple Bay, Duncan, BC, Canada
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Andreas Berglund
This is a very important choice, I understand that cost is a factor, but choose the wrong one and you are going to be disapointed for a long time. I own the 600 VR, have owned the Sigma older version and have shot the 600mm AF-S II. I also own the 400mm AF-S II and a 300mm F2.8 VR II for reference

The 600 VR is cleary the best lens of the three, the VR really helps to get great sharp images, works very well with a TC14EII for 840mm, fair with the TC17EII.

The 600mm AF-S II was a very difficult lens to get sharp images with at least the one that I shot with, I did not like it.

The Sigma had a sweet spot at F7.1, but was nowhere close to the 600 VR with and without a TC14EII.

But having said all that the most important part of this new lens is actually not the lens it is the tripod, ballhead and replacement foot, without that in place you wont get sharp images. For reference I have I have a Gitzo G5541LS tripod, a Wimberley gimball mount and a Really Right stuff replacement foot. That runs roughly $1600 or so on top of the lens itself. If that tips the scale I would suggest you look at the 500mm VR instead a nice lens too.
 
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May 11, 2006
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Randy
IMO the 600 is not worth the extra money and stress (weight and size) for another
100mm...i went w/ the 500vr

the new kid on the block is also worth considering, the 80-400afs
 
Joined
Dec 3, 2012
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I'd rent them first, try each of them out for a week and which one fits your needs - then buy.
 
Joined
Nov 19, 2011
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Central California
Wow, thanks guys and thanks for the COLD shower, uhhh, sure glad I posted my questions as I see others have done what I dream of doing, it seems like only yesterday I started Commercial Salmon fishing 25 years ago, spent lots of $$ buying the right lures, well in my last years of fishing I only used 2 styles, you don't need the tackle store to catch one fish.

I will heed the advice and walk slow, and thanks for that link, give me time and I'll get my wildlife photos posted.

Thanks again Darrell
 
Joined
Nov 19, 2011
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Well after taking all into consideration, and budget, I have been searching exclusively for Nikkor AF-S 500mm D, very hard to find, spent some time crying in my beer, and read some reviews on Sigma 500, some very impressive reviews, some claim sharper and lighter than nikon but no VR, but not so much needed for a tripod lens, so for giggles I went to E-bay and "BINGO" a Mint condition Sigma 500mm F/4.5 apo ex hsm for $3149. well it's on its way, yippie!! where is that Brown truck???:biggrin:
 
Joined
Mar 30, 2006
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. . . read some reviews on Sigma 500, some very impressive reviews, some claim sharper and lighter than nikon but no VR, but not so much needed for a tripod lens, so for giggles I went to E-bay and "BINGO" a Mint condition Sigma 500mm F/4.5 apo ex hsm for $3149. well it's on its way, yippie!! where is that Brown truck???:biggrin:

I'm very pleased with mine. Resolution is on par with the Nikkor and lack of VR is not a deal breaker on very long lenses IMO.

I'd like to see OS on Sigma big glass but am OK with it if they never do it.

I also have the 300-800/5.6.
 

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