Budget fast tele zoom recommendation for Z6

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Greetings everyone. I am currently very heavily considering purchasing a Z6 to replace my D700. It's been a great camera, but is officially ancient in electronics years. I will most likely get the Z6, 24-70 f4 combo with the FTZ. I enjoy shooting concerts/theater work, as well as wildlife and zoo photography. This is a hobby for me, not a job, so it's difficult to justify spending more money than I'm already spending on the camera, however, most of the lenses I have now will make things difficult with the Z. Currently my only AF-S lens is the OLD 70-300 VR. It works well, but for concerts and theater work, f4 or 2.8 would be much better. I Primarily used an 80-200 2.8 AF-D for those settings, and while the image quality was fine, focusing was a bit slow, and as I understand would be manual focus on the Z. I also have a 300 2.8 AI-S with teleconverters for long range nature and zoo work, it is also manual focus, but always has been and I've made it work so far. I'm mostly looking for something in the traditional 70 or 80-200mm range, that will work with the Z6, has good autofocus, and great image quality. I'm probably looking at used lenses either on here or KEH. Budget is as low as i can go and still get a quality product that works but ideally less than $1000-$1200. I would put $1500 as a hard upper cap. spending less means I may look at something for the wide end too. I've found two candidates around $800, and two around $1000-$1200. I guess what I need to decide is which of each category is better, and then if the winner of the more expensive category is worth the price difference. Then there's a plot twist wildcard at the end.

The original 70-200 2.8 and the 70-200 F4 are both about $800 used.
Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR. Pros: 2.8, easy to find. Cons: Older VR, older auto-focus, vignetting.
Nikon 70-200 4 VR Pros: weight, Newer VR and AF. Cons: F4 Not sure how much of a Con, I usually shot the 80-200 at F4, but that was due to softness at 2.8. I occasionally found myself lacking shutter speed at F4 and ISO 3200, but not often. If this lens is sharp, it shouldn't be an issue as with VR I can lower shutter speed a bit and or up the ISO to 6400.

Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR II $1150 Pros: Nikon brand, should work well with z6
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 $1200 new $1000 used. Pros: seems to have good focus and VR/OS. Has best score on DXO. (never really paid attention to them, until i started looking at this decision) Cons: hard to find used. Used isn't much cheaper than new. non nikon, any issues with the Z6?

Some other sigma, tamron, tokina, whatever 70-200 that I haven't listed.

Or the wildcard that doesn't fit in with the others, Sigma 120-300 2.8 NON OS version $1200. I've heard amazing things about the OS and Sport version. Is the non os version as good optically? Will it focus with the Z6? The only reason I'm even considering this one is that it would give me an autofocus (non VR) 300 2.8 (600 F5.6 with 2x TC) while keeping some of the zoom I'll be loosing from the 80-200. I feel it would greatly improve the nature and zoo options (especially with TCs) but I'm not sure I'd like the gap from 70-120 in concerts and plays.
 
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Take a look at the Sigma 100-400mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM. I use this on a Z6 and a D500 and very happy with the performance and speed of focus.
 
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In those setting you would want f/2.8 or better 1.8 or 1.4 if you would consider primes. But the 70-200mm f/2.8E (newest F mount) works wonder with the Z6 and FTZ adapter.

I even have one for sale on the forum here.
 
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70-200/2.8
You don't know how LOW the light will be in a theater, so given a choice, I would go with the f/2.8 over f/4.
Remember, IS will only compensate for camera movement, not subject movement.
YOU know the lighting in the theater where you shoot. Can you get a decent exposure with an f/4 lens? If so then things become easier.

I shoot with a f/4 only because of the weight is HALF the weight of the f/2.8 lens. That comes into play when I shoot field sports from 4 to 9pm. A heavy lens gets heavier as the hours go on. In a theater I use the 70-200 on a monopod, so the weight is not the issue it is on the field.

You can only AF the electronic AF-S lens via the FTZ on the Z6.
The mechanical (screw driver) AF lenses will NOT AF on the Z6+FTZ.

The Z6 has IBIS, so I would not worry too much about the lens having VR or not.
This effectively means there is no VR difference between the VR1 and VR2 lenses, if instead you use the IBIS.​
Then you don't have to worry about the lens VR on 3rd party lenses working on the Z6.

I would go with the 70-200/2.8 VR2, but if money is an issue, then the VR1.
Tamron is OK as an alternate. But given the price is close to the VR2 lens, I would go with the VR2 lens.

re Sigma: Warning, on the Sigma zooms that I have seen, the zoom ring turns in the opposite direction than the Nikon zooms. Depending on HOW you zoom, this may or may not be an issue. If you zoom with muscle memory this could/will be an issue.
I used a Sigma to shoot volleyball, and after 15-20 minutes of turning the zoom ring the wrong way, and losing shots, I was FRUSTRATED, and gave up and put the lens away. But volleyball is FAST moving, you do not have the time to correct and turn the zoom ring in the other direction. So I have to zoom with muscle memory.​
But you don't have f/2.8 between 70 (with the 70-200/2.8) and 120mm (with the 120-300/2.8). That might hurt.

Unless you are picking out individuals out of the concert or play, IMHO the 70-200 is more useful than the 120-300. Remember, you can always crop into a frame, you can't crop out beyond what was captured.
If I shot with the 120-300, I would also have a second camera with a 24-70, 24-105 or 24-120, to quickly switch to, for the wider shots. I would not be switching lenses during a play, you would miss the action on the stage. However, a concert yes, I can and do switch lenses, because the musicians are seated and in the same place for many minutes.

BTW WHERE are you in the theater?
Where I normally shoot from, behind the last row of seats, the 120-300 would give me extra reach to get individuals or smaller groups than the 70-200.
But when I shoot from the side, especially near the stage, I don't always need the extra FL. Unless I am trying to pick out an individual.


GP lens:
The Z-mount 24-70/4 and 24-105/4 are f/4 lenses, so there is no comparative loss in lens speed.
But you don't have a f/2.8 GP lens, like the 24-70/2.8, and that may be an issue in a dim theater. Is f/4 adequate?

The 24-105/4 would make the gap between your GP lens and the Sigma 120-300/2.8 small enough to be of little issue.
 
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Also consider B&H Photo. Their ratings for used equipment are accurate if not conservatively so and you can return any lens for any reason if you don't want to keep it. I trust them as much as KEH.
Thank you, I had been looking there, but couldn't get the used section to load. It seems if you have the Kelby one discount it makes the used store go away completely. opened in incognito window and it showed back up.
 
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In those setting you would want f/2.8 or better 1.8 or 1.4 if you would consider primes. But the 70-200mm f/2.8E (newest F mount) works wonder with the Z6 and FTZ adapter.

I even have one for sale on the forum here.
I hadn't considered the 2.8E as I thought even used it would be well above my budget. I'll have to consider it. Thanks.
 

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hmmmm....."fast" and "budget" are generally mutually exclusive. One is generally forced to either save, save, save.....or make compromises......
 
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If you don't have to have VR, get the 80-200mm AFS. Crazy sharp at 2.8 at all focal lengths and focus distances. Stupid fast auto focus.

I compared the one I used to own to a buddies 70-200mm VR II. In some images taken with both, it seemed as if my 80-200mm AFS was a tiny smidge sharper. In others, it seemed that his 70-200mm might be a smidge sharper. From that day on, I no longer dreamed of owning the 70-200mm because I realized I wasn't missing anything other than VR. The difference between 70mm and 80mm on the short end of these lenses is unnoticeable when you're out shooting. The VR is the only advantage.

The 80-200mm AFD that I now own is still nice but is lacking in every way compared to the 80-200mm AFS.
 
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First I’m going to also recommend looking at the f/4 zooms. Nikon 70-200/4 and Tamron has a 70-210/4. Both should be fully functional on the Z6.

I’m just going to throw this out there at the detriment of possibly getting my Nikon card revoked.

techarts and fringer make Canon EF to Nikon Z mount adapters. Full AF functionality. That could open up the options.

I’m looking at this adapter because I want some AF primes in the 135 and 200mm focus lengths for not only the Z mount but also for the Fuji X mount.

canon has a 135/2.8 and 200/4 that could fit the bill. This also opens you up to the zooms they have. Definitely check the compatibility tables for each adapter.
 
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70-200/2.8
...
YOU know the lighting in the theater where you shoot. Can you get a decent exposure with an f/4 lens? If so then things become easier.
...
The Z6 has IBIS, so I would not worry too much about the lens having VR or not.
This effectively means there is no VR difference between the VR1 and VR2 lenses, if instead you use the IBIS.​
Then you don't have to worry about the lens VR on 3rd party lenses working on the Z6.
...
re Sigma: Warning, on the Sigma zooms that I have seen, the zoom ring turns in the opposite direction than the Nikon zooms. Depending on HOW you zoom, this may or may not be an issue. If you zoom with muscle memory this could/will be an issue.
...​
...​
Unless you are picking out individuals out of the concert or play, IMHO the 70-200 is more useful than the 120-300. Remember, you can always crop into a frame, you can't crop out beyond what was captured.
If I shot with the 120-300, I would also have a second camera with a 24-70, 24-105 or 24-120, to quickly switch to, for the wider shots. I would not be switching lenses during a play, you would miss the action on the stage. However, a concert yes, I can and do switch lenses, because the musicians are seated and in the same place for many minutes.

BTW WHERE are you in the theater?
Where I normally shoot from, behind the last row of seats, the 120-300 would give me extra reach to get individuals or smaller groups than the 70-200.
But when I shoot from the side, especially near the stage, I don't always need the extra FL. Unless I am trying to pick out an individual.
...
I'm used to treating the 80-200 as an F4 most of the time as it gets noticeably softer at 2.8. I have occasionally really needed the extra stop, but would usually push ISO farther before opening to 2.8. I would certainly rather have 2.8 if needed, but F4 would probably work. For the theater stuff, it's very small local theaters and usually I can shoot from anywhere but the stage. I have been brought in during dress rehearsal so as to not annoy customers, or also just shot from the back and tried to be quiet (difficult with the D700s very loud mirror and shutter). Here's an example shot at ISO3200 and F4 1/250. I brightened the exposure a little, but overall I'm happy with it. It's more concerts that I have had issues and needed the 2.8 for.
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Is there an advantage to using both VR and IBIS at the same time, or does it really not make a difference?

I had forgotten about sigmas zooming "backwards" used to use one at work occasionally and it drove me crazy. thanks for the reminder.

I'm leaning away from the 120-300 now, I was mostly thinking of its advantages for wildlife, but I think the loss of the wide end, lack of VR/OS, cost, etc outweigh the advantage of the extra 100mm.

Again, most of what I've been shooting for plays I have pretty much free range of the venue, just not ON the stage. Concerts have been from the photo pit as well as an occasional soundboard. I think the extra 100 could help there, but I'm doubting it outweighs the disadvantages.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
 
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Very happy with the Nikon 70-200 f/4 G VR on my Z6.
Thank you both
If you don't have to have VR, get the 80-200mm AFS. Crazy sharp at 2.8 at all focal lengths and focus distances. Stupid fast auto focus.

I compared the one I used to own to a buddies 70-200mm VR II. In some images taken with both, it seemed as if my 80-200mm AFS was a tiny smidge sharper. In others, it seemed that his 70-200mm might be a smidge sharper. From that day on, I no longer dreamed of owning the 70-200mm because I realized I wasn't missing anything other than VR. The difference between 70mm and 80mm on the short end of these lenses is unnoticeable when you're out shooting. The VR is the only advantage.

The 80-200mm AFD that I now own is still nice but is lacking in every way compared to the 80-200mm AFS.
I will add that to my list of considerations, Thank you.

Wouldn't the 80-200mm be awfully large physically to be using in a theatre? Wouldn't the photographer want to be at least somewhat unobtrusive, even if he has been granted permission to shoot in the theatre in the first place?
Often times I show up for dress rehearsal, or will stick to the back behind the audience, or off to the sides. I do my best to make sure I'm out of the way and not bothering anyone. Currently I've been using a D700 with the 80-200 AFD, so I doubt the AFS would be any worse.
 
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First I’m going to also recommend looking at the f/4 zooms. Nikon 70-200/4 and Tamron has a 70-210/4. Both should be fully functional on the Z6.

I’m just going to throw this out there at the detriment of possibly getting my Nikon card revoked.

techarts and fringer make Canon EF to Nikon Z mount adapters. Full AF functionality. That could open up the options.

I’m looking at this adapter because I want some AF primes in the 135 and 200mm focus lengths for not only the Z mount but also for the Fuji X mount.

canon has a 135/2.8 and 200/4 that could fit the bill. This also opens you up to the zooms they have. Definitely check the compatibility tables for each adapter.
I'll check it out, thank you.
 
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Dual IS = lens VR + IBIS
Dual IS depends on the firmware in the camera and lens being setup for dual IS. Because the VR and IBIS have to work together as one IS system.
As of now, I do not think the Z6 or Z7 has dual IS in the firmware. So, it is an either/or situation, not both.
While the FW in the camera can be updated, I have not heard of a way to update the FW in the lens. Future Z lenses with VR may have dual IS capability in the FW.
But again, both camera and lens have to have the dual IS FW.

hmm, the 80-200/2.8 AF-S would work on the Z6, and with IBIS, it will be stabilized. :)

You will be happy with the e-shutter. TOTALLY SILENT. So no one is disturbed.
I recall one concert where a parent came up to us and complained about the camera shutter noise, disturbing the music.
With dSLRs, the only thing we could do was to space the shots out, so there wasn't a rapid sequence of 5+ shots.

I LOVE dress rehearsals. I have free access to walk the entire floor, with no audience to worry about. :)

If you shoot from the back or sides, the 80-200 won't be an issue. At least it isn't for me.
On the sides, the "white" lens might be an issue, because it is more visible. :D
Ha, one time when the white color is a negative factor.​

I have the Nikon 70-200/4 and have used the Tamron 70-210/4.

The Tamron lens is surprisingly easy to use. I had doubts about the front positioned zoom ring, until I used the lens. Call me convinced. The front positioned zoom ring is perfect for handholding. You just work the zoom with your thumb and fingers. Unlike an extending zoom, the zoom ring on the internal zoom is easy to turn with your fingers.
Because the 70-210/4 is an internal zoom, it is not as FAT as an extending zoom like the 35-150.
I have not done an AB comparison of IQ between the Nikon and Tamron lenses.
Tripod collar/foot is an option on both the Nikon and Tamron lenses.

But if you NEED the speed of the f/2.8 lens, the f/4 lens is a compromise; higher ISO level, or slower shutter speed.
 
Thank you both


I will add that to my list of considerations, Thank you.



Often times I show up for dress rehearsal, or will stick to the back behind the audience, or off to the sides. I do my best to make sure I'm out of the way and not bothering anyone. Currently I've been using a D700 with the 80-200 AFD, so I doubt the AFS would be any worse.

Ah, OK, if you're allowed to be there during dress rehearsal or in the back of the theatre during the actual performance so that you don't disturb others in the audience, that's fine.... Different situations, then, when community theatre and such as opposed to attending a theatrical production put on by a national company..... Usually the use of cameras is forbidden altogether or if it is allowed, it's only without flash, which is fine if one has a good camera.....
 
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Dual IS = lens VR + IBIS
Dual IS depends on the firmware in the camera and lens being setup for dual IS. Because the VR and IBIS have to work together as one IS system.
As of now, I do not think the Z6 or Z7 has dual IS in the firmware. So, it is an either/or situation, not both.
While the FW in the camera can be updated, I have not heard of a way to update the FW in the lens. Future Z lenses with VR may have dual IS capability in the FW.
But again, both camera and lens have to have the dual IS FW.

hmm, the 80-200/2.8 AF-S would work on the Z6, and with IBIS, it will be stabilized. :)

You will be happy with the e-shutter. TOTALLY SILENT. So no one is disturbed.
I recall one concert where a parent came up to us and complained about the camera shutter noise, disturbing the music.
With dSLRs, the only thing we could do was to space the shots out, so there wasn't a rapid sequence of 5+ shots.

I LOVE dress rehearsals. I have free access to walk the entire floor, with no audience to worry about. :)

If you shoot from the back or sides, the 80-200 won't be an issue. At least it isn't for me.
On the sides, the "white" lens might be an issue, because it is more visible. :D
Ha, one time when the white color is a negative factor.​

I have the Nikon 70-200/4 and have used the Tamron 70-210/4.

The Tamron lens is surprisingly easy to use. I had doubts about the front positioned zoom ring, until I used the lens. Call me convinced. The front positioned zoom ring is perfect for handholding. You just work the zoom with your thumb and fingers. Unlike an extending zoom, the zoom ring on the internal zoom is easy to turn with your fingers.
Because the 70-210/4 is an internal zoom, it is not as FAT as an extending zoom like the 35-150.
I have not done an AB comparison of IQ between the Nikon and Tamron lenses.
Tripod collar/foot is an option on both the Nikon and Tamron lenses.

But if you NEED the speed of the f/2.8 lens, the f/4 lens is a compromise; higher ISO level, or slower shutter speed.
A couple things - From the Nikon literature
"NIKKOR lenses that already have VR, like the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR, get the added benefit of roll axis for a total of 3-axis VR. Just add the optional Mount Adapter FTZ and you’re good to go."
So the Z series do take advantage of both VR and IBIS,

From what I could find, only the 50mm 1.8S lens has a firmware update. See this page.

Scan banding can occur with some theater lights, so silent shutter isn't always possible unless you do test images and adjust shutter speed accordingly.
 
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A couple things - From the Nikon literature
"NIKKOR lenses that already have VR, like the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR, get the added benefit of roll axis for a total of 3-axis VR. Just add the optional Mount Adapter FTZ and you’re good to go."
So the Z series do take advantage of both VR and IBIS,

From what I could find, only the 50mm 1.8S lens has a firmware update. See this page.

Scan banding can occur with some theater lights, so silent shutter isn't always possible unless you do test images and adjust shutter speed accordingly.
Thank you, does anyone know if this works with the tamron lenses as well, or just the Nikkors. I understand the literature says nikkor, but I wouldn't expect them to advertise that other lenses will work well. I know the tamron tap in lets you update their firmware, so if it's possible to update via that, I would think/hope it's either already working or would soon. provided nikon isn't blocking it somehow.

as for the scan banding, yeah, I had seen some of that with someone who shot a concert. The theater I have shot the most stuff with uses rgb leds for almost all their lights, which pose their own problems even without rolling shutters. I'll probably test it with silent shutter, to see if it's possible, but even the normal shutter will be significantly quieter than the D700.
 
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