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Good, fairly inexpensive birding lens

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Bearded, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. Bearded


    Oct 2, 2006
    Naperville, IL
    I've been trying to decide on a good long lens for <$1000. I had a 300mm F4 for a while, and it just didn't give me enough reach. I figure if I'm never going to use it at 300 (without a TC), why have a 300mm lens? Are there any decent primes around 500mm for <$1k?

    Being able to handhold isn't really a big deal. I mostly use a monopod. I don't really need the versatility of a zoom, but I'm considering the tamron 200-500 and the sigma 170-500 just because they're in my price range.

    Nikon has cheaper versions of a lot of they're shorter primes, but it seems like once you get past 300mm, you're into pro-only glass.

  2. heard good stuff about Sigma 50-500 HSM. Perhaps give it some consideration? Around $800 if you look around.
  3. ultimind


    May 13, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    That's because not many consumers have a desire to shoot beyond 300mm. It also gets prohibitively expensive to produce adequate quality optics beyond 300mm for a consumer price range (sub $500). If you've ever shot with an off-off-off-brand 500mm F8 lens you'll see what i'm talking about. I'll throw my $15 500mm F8 lens on my D70 later and post some examples.

    A good alternative to get out to 600mm for reasonable price is mirror lenses. I used to have a Sigma 600mm F8 catadioptric lens that provided quite decent looking images for next to nothing (like under $200 used). Take a look at the Nikon mirror lenses too. I've heard they're top notch quality (as far as mirror lenses go).
  4. Bearded


    Oct 2, 2006
    Naperville, IL
    I thought about mirror lenses. You think I'd get better IQ with a mirror lens at f8, compared to say, the Bigma at 500mm stopped down to f8?

    Or should I just save for a 300mm 2.8 plus a 2x tc, even though I'll never use it at 300mm?
  5. Best choice optically is probably the 300 F2.8 + 2.0 TC but of course the cost is much different as well :wink:
  6. Sigma made a 400/5.6 several years ago. The AF Telemacro version is highly regarded and is very inexpensive when found. It is a bit short and light for its focal length and I can handhold mine on a good day.

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  7. JMO, I think you did have a good birding lens if your 300 f4 was a Nikon. It works very well with a TC. At least in that price range.

    For anything faster and longer, I don't think you will find it in that price range and still be GOOD.
  8. Hi, I can't pass comment on the 300 prime but I can say stay clear of the sigma 170-500, very soft all over. My brother has the Sigma (bigma) 50-500 he uses it for motorsport and gets very good results. Just my thoughts and opinions...
  9. I think the 300 + 1.4TC is a great way to go, and you can hit both around $1000 if you look. You won't find a Nikon 400 or 500mm lens for under about $3-4k used.
  10. The ABSOLUTE "best" Nikon prime for around $1K is the 400mm F3.5

    This lens can really generate some pics that pop. The only downside to this lens is that it requires the use of a decent tripod. No handholding this mini-beast!

    If you want to use a lens handheld the 300 F4 AFS is next best thing from Nikon.

  11. If you're trying to capture BIF, manual not be what you want. For static subjects, I'm sure this would be great! :smile:

    Here's a nice review on the 400/3.5.
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