Crazy 300/2.8VR question...

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Gordon Large, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Hi everyone -

    Santa somehow forgot the 300/2.8VR that was on my wish list. Has anyone used this for handheld action shots? (In my case they would be bird flight shots.) I know it is only a pound less than my 200-400VR but it's more compact and should be easier to handle. So I may get one.

    It may sound crazy to buy a new lens right in the middle of the 200-400 range, but here is my thinking. Handholdable (if true). Better in low light. Better for action/flight shots. My game plan would be to have the 200-400 on a tripod with the TC-17 and a rear lens cap on, and carry the 300 on my D2x for action. Then switch lenses when I need the extra length for a sitting duck (pun intended but lousy).

    Does this make any sense at all? How would I carry the 300 when not on the camera. And also when on the camera? I'm thinking of going to a belt system with a monster case for the 300 if I get it.

    All responses welcomed, cuz I think my brain is frazzled.

    BTW, I'm also going to post this in the Merritt III Announcement thread in the Places to Shoot/Special Sessions forum to get opinions of the birders who will be attending, so look for answers there too if you are interested.

    Thanks -
  2. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  3. PGB


    Jan 25, 2005
    You could also get to camera bodies, one for each lens and then not have to switch! That would be ideal I think.

  4. Gordon we must have been communicating "psychically" or something because I have had EXACTLY the same thought in mind about that 300/f2.8VR being just the ticket for hand-holdability, action/flight shots and low light situations.

    I don't do bird photog for anything but my own enjoyment, so I don't think it would be sensible in my case to have both the 200-400VR (which I already own) and the 300f/2.8VR. So, I would probably trade-in my 200-400VR on the 300VR.

    I have tried unsucessfully for the last 5 years to talk myself out of wanting to hand-hold a telephoto lens and wave it at birds in the air, but so far no luck. The tripod and the Wimberley sit unused and dusty in the corner. I hate 'em!! I would rather be crawling thru the swamps and streams and wet sand to get closer to the birds rather than setting up a tripod from further away. Well, whatever. We are who we are, aren't we?? :wink:

    I keep an old kitchen towel wrapped around the end of my 200-400 tied on with several wrappings of Ace Bandage.Then I can get down and balance the lens on available rocks or pieces of driftwood or even my knees without fear of damaging it. So with this methodology (or LACK thereof) for shooting birds, One Pound and a slightly Shorter Length can make a whole, whole lot of difference in terms of ease of use, I do believe. Hence my LL for the 300VR.

    The 200-400 is such an awesome hunk of glass, I will probably be very sorry to see it go, but I have also found that I never seem to use the 200-400VR at anything besides 400mm anyway, so I might as well go fixed length via the 300VR + TC1.4 to give me my 400mm.

    If I were going to have both the 200-400 AND the 300VR in the manner you describe, I would definitely get another cam body to avoid having to switch lenses. You will want your 300VR to be ready-n-waiting to grab-n-aim at those flying birdies, right???? [[Hey, I'll sell you my old D2H at a very reasonable price -- LOL.]]

    I don't know if the 300VR comes with one of those nice padded cases that has the shoulder strap like the 200-400's case? But you could just carry the 300VR in your 200-400VR's padded case with a camera already mounted. If you add some kind of UpStrap to that, you won't have to worry about it slipping as you tote the other lens/tripod combo.

    Well, I for one will be interested to see what you decide. It would be great if you could borrow/rent a 300VR to verify it is usable like you want. Please keep us all posted on your decision.
  5. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005

    I understand you plight and I went through the same this past year. I settled on the 200VR to go with the 200-400. I find myself leaving the 200-400 with either a 1.4 or 1.7 tele on it and use it on a monopod or tripod with sidekick, and the 200VR usually has the 1.4 attached so I have a 280mm 2.8 VR that is a great second flight rig. This lens is never on the tripod.

    There was a long detailed discussion with Ron R. on this forum regarding these rigs. Great read, and you probably remember it.


  6. All of these were handheld with the 300VR + TC17


    View attachment 22936

    View attachment 22937

    View attachment 22938

    1/30s !!
    View attachment 22939

    I imagine you get my point - pushing this lens with the TC17 still produces great results handheld. It is a handful to carry, but I can manage for a couple of hours easily and I am not that strong.
  7. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Andrea -

    I didn't edit anything out of your quote because I'm still ROFLMAO and want to give folks who missed your first post another chance. I am lucky to be able to keep the 200-400VR and buy the 300VR if it makes sense. When birding the 200-400VR at the long end would be my long lens (sorry, I don't think I'm with you in the goo and on the sharp rocks) and the 300VR my flight lens. And when I visit the Philly Zoo the flexibility of the 200-400VR, maybe on a monopod, would be great.

    You and several others have suggested two bodies and that's a great idea, but I'm not sure I can afford a second body. I have a perfectly good D2h that I was planning to sell to pay for a small part of the 300VR, but I could keep it or sell it (ouch) and replace it with a D200. My D2x has totally spoiled me with it's 12MP - wonderful detail or big crops. Your thoughts?

  8. Kevin Rosenberg

    Kevin Rosenberg

    May 10, 2005
    Quite handholdable on a D2Hs

    Hi Gordon,

    I think the 300/2.8VR is quite usable for handheld action shots. Like you, I own a 200-400VR and have used it mostly at the long end of it's range. Santa was very kind this year and brought to me a 500/4 AFS II and 300/2.8VR. :smile:

    I shot with Ron Reznick in the Bosque del Apache this week. For bird flight shots, we both used a 500/4 AFS II on a sidekick with D2X for the longer shots and we also had a D2HS with the 300/2.8VR around our necks for handheld shots. I've done a initially culling of the preview JPGs. The 300VR on a D2Hs delivered very sharp panning shots tracking the bird flights.

    The answer to your question may depend upon the pixel pitch of the body you're shooting. Overall, I find the D2H/D2Hs better at handholding than the D2X.

    Now that I have the 200/2VR, 300/2.8VR, and 500/4 AFSII, I may decide to sell the 200-400VR. However, I'm tempted to keep it for daytime outdoor sporting events where I'm fixed in location but the subjects are changing distance.
  9. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Thanks for the feedback, Kevin. Wow, Santa was a lot nicer to you than he was to me! That's a great set of glass you have. If $$$ were not a concern, I would keep the 200-400VR. While I do mostly us it at the long end, on occasion I've also been very glad to be able to rachet it back quickly to get more FOV. It's perfect for my frequent trips to the Philly Zoo, and it has to be perfect for sports. If i decide to get the 300VR, and when (hopefully) Nikon comes out with a 500/4VR, then I'll have a harder time justifying the 200-400VR.

    I know how much RR loves the 300VR, so I'm not surprised that he was using it too. I'm glad to hear that you were both happily hand-holding. I have a D2h sitting on a closet shelf but I've become so addicted to the 12MP of my D2x (fabulous resolution, big crops) that it's gathering dust. After a whole lot of folks have told me to use a second body rather than my one-body scheme, I'm persuaded. I've gotten some awfully sharp BIF shots and a lot that weren't, but the bad ones were almost always the result of operator error. I had been planning to sell the D2h for whatever meager $$$ it will fetch these days. So I could keep it. Or sell it and get a D200 as a second body. Any thoughts on this? And can you steer me to some discussions of which bodies are better for hand-holding and why?

    Thanks -

  10. Kevin Rosenberg

    Kevin Rosenberg

    May 10, 2005
    Certainly kinder to me than to my bank account. :wink:

    I sold my D2H for $1700 on ebay last June to get a D2Hs. Overall, I enjoy shooting the D2Hs more than the D2X. Mostly because the 4.1MP are enough for my typical print size and that most of my photos are lower detail portraits rather than high-detail landscapes or such. Nikon Capture certainly works more quickly with the smaller files. Also, I like the high-iso performance of the D2Hs for indoor shooting.

    In regards to hand holdability, I believe the pixel pitch (and subsequently the angular size of the pixels) makes a difference. I can get the same sharpness at a lower shutter speed on the D2Hs than the D2X merely because of the difference in the angular pixel size.

    I'm quite a fan of two body shooting. I don't like changing lens in a windy or dusty environment if avoidable. Shooting two bodies, I can make the lens to the body characteristics to have two ready-to-shoot configuations to match expected shooting requirements.

    In regards to your situation, I really like having the flexibility of a low pixel camera along with a high pixel camera to match difference requirements. So, I'd be tempted to keep a 4MP camera with your high-resolution D2X. The small size and weight of a D200 makes for a tempting travel body, though.
  11. 200VR is a better option with the 200-400VR.

    Let me explain.

    I believe the 200 2VR is a better choice if you plan to keep the 200-400. Even if you pair it with the 500. Most likely you have a TC-1.4 which will get the 200 to 280 at f2.8 with very nice bokeh. The 300 is a great lens and I own the 200 2VR and the 300 2.8VR and plan on buying the 500VR when and if it comes out. The real winner is the 200 2 which will give you the option of shooting later into darker light by taking the TC-1.4 off. I recently spent a week shooting in CA with Ron and we spent much time talking about the options of these three lenses. The 200 is a real sweet lens. It's smaller and $500 less too. It works real well when carrying the 300 or the 500. Ron will carry the 300 when carrying his 500 in the Lowepro 600AW, however he says he is now leaning more towards the 200 and 500. He will travel with the 300 and 200 in a Phototrecker. You will also notice he has sold his 70-200VR since getting the 200. In Yosemite he had the 17-35, 85 1.4, 135 2DC and he kept a D2Hs on his 200 2VR in the bag it came with close by in case he saw any critters. When we went birding he brought the 500 and I had my 300 with me. I will also note the 200 slings very well on a strap on your shoulder. I tend to use the 300 on a mono-pod or tripod.

    I shoot a lot of sports also and the guys carrying the 200-400 carry either the 70-200 or the 200 2VR. Also it makes more sense to put a TC on the 200-400 to get you to 280-560 and have the 200 handy if something gets a little close. If it wasn't for the fact I shoot a lot of PJ I would also let my 70-200 go. Simply put the 200 2VR is most likely the best lens Nikon has ever made. The only one that competes with it is the 85 1.4D, however the 200 2VR has VR. When they come out with an improved 85 my feelings may change.


    Nikon D2h ,Nikkor 200mm f/2G IF-ED AF-S VR
    1/4000s f/2.8 at 200.0mm iso200
  12. Gordon, your ideal package here would be a new 300f2.8VR that’s sporting a nice new D200. But camera bodies come and go, so what’s the point in getting all lathered up over them? It’s not the camera body that makes stunning bird photos -- it’s your brain, your “eye” -- plus a good, heavy chunk of prime Nikkor glass in the form of a 300VR or similar. Good glass -- that’s forever. That’s what makes a photo a photo IMHO. The camera body is just the interface thingie between your eye and your extended eye, the lens. [[Side note: Oh dear, metaphor has crept in. That means I am up too late or up too early.]]

    So I would hang onto that D2H you already own and use it with your new 300f2.8VR. I think it can be soundly argued that the D2H’s potential use to you in the field is worth far more than what few resale $$ you might get for it (especially now that the D2HS and D200 are out) because keeping the D2H will allow you to make more and better use of your new glass. Duuude – think about it – if you are carting around TWO big heavy telephotos AND a tripod in the field, like, really, you are NOT going to be wanting to futz around switching the camera body. You’ll drop it in the goo and that’ll be the end of that !!

    I have thought since day 1 that the D2H/D2HS is the most underappreciated dSLR in the Nikon line up. The D2HS is just purely fun to shoot with and a real joy for telephoto hand-holding, and its colour is awesome. And given my admittedly "casual" bird shooting style, the D2HS is the only sane choice to go with my 200-400VR for duck hunting and songbird stalking. For me, it’s like this: the D2HS has One Handful of megapixels, so I can use the other hand for the telephoto lens and I don't need a tripod. The D2X, however, has Three Handfuls of megapixels, so I need extra hands in the form of a tripod + sidekick even when the lens has VR. [[Side note: What I really need is a caddy. Or a nice pack llama.]]

    That said, however, I do agree with you how nice it is to have Three Handfuls of megapixels -- for a variety of reasons, but particularly for some cropping leeway. And the detail ain't bad either -- here's my story about that:

    Last summer in Maine I was idly shooting from a porch balcony overlooking Somes Sound with the 200-400VR on my D2X -- there were sailboats and gulls, etc., your typical Maine scenery. Later when I was reviewing the photos, I noticed a couple of dark blobs in the pretty blue water between that balcony and the opposite Island. I figured I had picked up my first D2X Dust Bunnies. But imagine my surprise when I looked at those two Dust Bunnies at 100%, preparatory to cloning them out, and they turned into two Black Guillemots !! For those of you not familiar with the B. Guillemots, they are about a foot-long black, blobby little auk/duck with a small white wing patch. I measured and each Guillemot in my photo occupied an area of slightly less than one-half of one percent of the total 12 megapixels and yet was still identifiable as a Guillemot. THAT, I would say, is some pretty powerful detail. Well you obviously couldn’t have cropped for those Guillemots and had anything resembling a photo, but still…………..whew!!!! [[Side note: Idiotically I spent hours and hours after this Guillemot discovery doing a Where’s Waldo number on all my other photos from that day looking for hidden birds. Found a Yellow-rumped Warbler in a landscape photo. Found a crab spider in a flower photo. Perhaps this Unintentional Photography will become a new craze amongst D2X photographers.]]
  13. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  14. What did ya find in your photos Paul????
  15. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  16. Gordon Large

    Gordon Large Guest

    Kevin -

    Again, thanks for the feedback. I assume you would but the D2x on the pod and handhold the D2h. Makes sense. What, in a few words, does the D2hs give you that the D2h didn't?

  17. Kevin Rosenberg

    Kevin Rosenberg

    May 10, 2005
    If I'm shooting with two bodies and one tripod, yes, I'll mount the X and handhold the Hs.

    The advantages I've seen with the D2Hs vs. the D2H are:
    - Better high-iso performance, especially in the shadows
    - Better auto white balance (has ambient light sensor like the X)
    - Better colors
    - Better evaluative metering.
    - Better LCD.
    - Menu layout nearly identical to the X (helps when shooting both bodies)

    That said, I was very happy with my D2H. But, I found the advantages of the D2Hs worth the upgrade price to me.

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