Help me choose Nikon lens for safari photography at Kruger National Park

Joined
Oct 14, 2019
Messages
3
Location
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Hi all,

I am looking to buy a Nikon AFS lens for my Nikon D5100. As of now, the only two options available are the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR and Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR

https://www.dpreview.com/products/nikon/lenses/nikkor_55-300_4p5-5p6g_ed_vr/specifications
https://www.dpreview.com/products/nikon/lenses/nikon_70-300_4p5-5p6g_vr/overview

It seems that the 70-300 might be the obvious choice, but it was released a few years earlier than the 55-300 (2006 as opposed to 2010, of course both are old!). Which one would you recommend for wildlife photography? I will be staying at a private lodge and birding is not a priority.

Many thanks!!
 
Joined
May 27, 2013
Messages
3,068
Location
Cornpatch
The 55-300 is a DX lens, the 70-300 is an FX lens. The latter will allow putting the best part of the lens onto the sensor.
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
15,882
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
If it's really important to you to determine which is the best fit for you, buy both of them from a reliable retailer that has a no-questions-asked return policy, give both lenses an ample test drive and return the one you don't want.

Your personal information displayed on the left side of your posts doesn't indicate your location, but residents of America often choose B&H because of their return policy. As an example, years ago I had no way of determining which of two digital projectors would best meet my needs without using both of them. I bought both projectors from them and returned the one that didn't make the cut.
 
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
2,840
Location
Westmorland UK
My own instincts always point to a lens with a lower multiple of focal length as picture quality usually seems to be better. So I personally would go for the latest 70-300 you can get. I used the 70-300 you mention as my go-to long lens on a D7000 then D7200 for about eight or nine years before swapping it for the newest AF-P lens earlier this year. There is no question that the new lens is better but there's nothing much wrong with the old one. Do you have another lens or more lenses that could cover focal lengths up to 70mm?
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
Messages
1,493
Location
St. Charles, IL
Real Name
Andy
I am looking to buy a Nikon AFS lens for my Nikon D5100. As of now, the only two options available are the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR and Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
Two considerations that I would keep in mind for your decision:
  1. Compatibility. Nikon provides guidance regarding compatibility here.
    • Notably, regarding the D5100 they specifically state "This camera supports autofocus with AF-S and AF-I CPU lenses only," which seems to rule out all but the latest lenses, but there are some really good AF-S lenses that are so-called "D" rather than "G" designations. See below...
  2. Value. If you are willing to buy used, you can get a much higher quality optic within your budget. The following two options can be obtained on the used market for approximately the same price point as the DX lenses you mention, with the added benefit of being full-frame compatible, should you decide to upgrade your body at some point:
    • AF-S 28-300 f/3.5-f/5.6
    • AF-S 80-200 f/2.8 D ED-IF
    • If you purchase from a reputable seller on an established site such as FredMiranda.com or eBay, you can return for refund any items that fail to perform as expected.
 
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Messages
15,882
Location
Northern VA suburb of Washington, DC
If you purchase from a reputable seller on an established site such as FredMiranda.com or eBay, you can return for refund any items that fail to perform as expected.
If you purchase from a reputable dealer, you can also get a warranty. The warranty won't be as long as when buying new equipment but it will give at least a little peace of mind.
 
Joined
Oct 14, 2019
Messages
3
Location
Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #11
My own instincts always point to a lens with a lower multiple of focal length as picture quality usually seems to be better. So I personally would go for the latest 70-300 you can get. I used the 70-300 you mention as my go-to long lens on a D7000 then D7200 for about eight or nine years before swapping it for the newest AF-P lens earlier this year. There is no question that the new lens is better but there's nothing much wrong with the old one. Do you have another lens or more lenses that could cover focal lengths up to 70mm?
Thanks, this is good to know! I do have the kit lens that came with the camera originally. It covers upto 55 mm though.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
35,255
Location
Arizona
Real Name
Chris
... there are some really good AF-S lenses that are so-called "D" rather than "G" designations. ...
In my opinion, the best combinations of features. D lenses will function with every F-mount camera Nikon has ever made. The addition of 'silent wave motor' focusing makes lenses faster to focus and, as the 's' implies, quiet. Most of the screw drive lenses I've used are pretty quick, one in particular (and a lens I use a lot) the Micro Nikkor 60mm D f/2.8 AF, is dog slow. I think they made the gears out of cast iron or something in order to make them sound so grindy! It's a ggod thing the sharpness, contrast and bokey of this lens is so good (and it's very rugged) the noise and extreme extension of this lens are ... less desirable.) All my AF-S lenses are quiet and fast. The noise they do make {fwwwwh-fwwwwh) is hushed and you can't hear it at all a few feet from the camera. Even the most difficult focusing situation is resolved (or very rarely given up on) in under a second. Usually much faster.

Stepper motor focusing of AF-P lenses may be marginally more precise and measurably fasterthan regular of an AF-S lens. That alone does not justify eliminating any form of direct manual focusing. This limitation eliminates many of the best cameras made by Nikon. AF-P will probably remain an niche level category for years. After the older cameras are broken or irrelavent, stepper motor focusing may become a thing. As I said, it is a bit better than AF-S and no doubt cheaper to manufacture (and thus more profitable.) If you are working at the limits of focus speed and accuracy, you might want to check them out.
 
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
1,726
Location
Utah
Real Name
Carl
I have used the "old", now discontinued 70-300 4.5-5.6 AF S lens on my D 50, D 90 and D7100. A Sharp, excellent lens! Used values now are about half of what I remember paying for it more than 10 years ago. You couldn't go wrong with a good used copy.

But...having replaced the old warrior with the Newer AF P 4.5-5.6E ED DX, I find it is sharper throughout the zoom range, about the same weight, and familiar to use. Of course, with the C 5100, and other similar series cameras, only interface with newer lenses that have the focusing motors built into the lens itself, and not the "older" cameras with the screw drive focusing motor in the body.

Pick a lens, any lens, that works with your camera, use it, and love it! You will be amazed at the pixes you will bring back! 👍
 
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
1,447
Location
Boston, MA
Hi all,

I am looking to buy a Nikon AFS lens for my Nikon D5100. As of now, the only two options available are the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR and Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
I have the first lens, and it's fantastic at like 70-150mm, but pretty disappointing at 300mm. If I went back to Yellowstone or a similar place, I'd just rent something for the week, like an 80-400 or 200-500. I think I've had no more than 5 trips where I used the 70-300 a lot, the $500 I spent could have gone to 5 rentals, and I'd have much better pictures. If you only use a lens when traveling just rent something.
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2019
Messages
89
Location
New Zealand & Fiji
Real Name
Maurie Hill
Back when the 70-300 was the latest and greatest, I spent 10 days with a personal guide in Kruger and got some good images. I would not have wanted anything heavier or more cumbersome. (D300, 70-300, Apr 2010)
RSA Kruger 10198.JPG
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
8,206
Location
Maple Bay, Duncan, BC, Canada
Real Name
Andreas Berglund
I'm actually not much of a proponent of the old 70-300mm AF-S lens. Mine is not that sharp wide open, the 55-300 is not that great either IMHO.

Have you considered the 70-200 F4 and a TC14EII? I have it and its a fabulous lens, light, very sharp wide open and a fast focus, with the TC14EII you get a 280mm F5.6 lens, essentially at 300 like the others.
 
A friend recently was debating about what new camera to buy, and asked my advice; I recommended Nikon and I mentioned a couple of bodies, including the D7200, within a reasonable price range, as she has a rather tight budget. She is also new at using a DSLR, so wouldn't be ready for a D5 anyway, no matter how much money she had. I later got an email saying that she had gone ahead and made her purchase -- the D3500, which comes with two kit lenses, a bag, an extra battery, etc., etc..... Anyway, I was surprised to learn that the second of the two kit lenses is that first-generation 70-300mm lens. Huh. I guess Nikon has an overstock of them and this is a way to get rid of them?! Anyway, she likes to shoot at zoos and aquariums, so is looking forward to this when the gear arrives. I hope she is not terribly disappointed when she finds that the slow lenses are fine outdoors in plenty of light but otherwise are problematic and not good in low-light situations. If further down the road she takes the thing off "scene mode," "program mode," or "auto" and really wants to learn photography, that is when it will really become apparent to her that faster lenses and a camera which has more dials and buttons for quick use rather than menu-diving every time she wants to change something can make all the difference.
 
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
22,384
Location
SW Virginia
-- the D3500, which comes with two kit lenses, a bag, an extra battery, etc., etc..... Anyway, I was surprised to learn that the second of the two kit lenses is that first-generation 70-300mm lens.
I'm sure it's the newer 70-300 AF-P DX. It's actually a pretty decent lens, and it's smaller and lighter than the first 70-400 AF-S VR.

There is another just like it that includes VR but that's not the one they put in the entry-level kits. Shame on Nikon.

The VR version makes Thom's Recommended list.
 
I'm sure it's the newer 70-300 AF-P DX. It's actually a pretty decent lens, and it's smaller and lighter than the first 70-400 AF-S VR.

There is another just like it that includes VR but that's not the one they put in the entry-level kits. Shame on Nikon.

The VR version makes Thom's Recommended list.
It's not the VR version, I think it's the original one which came out years ago. I don't think the D3500 can use the AF-P lens.... The whole package only cost my friend something like $500, so you know that Nikon's not putting one of their newer lenses in there! I looked at the description of the kit online and from what I could tell that 70-300mm was the old, first version. I only gave everything a quick glance so I'll take another look.......

Ah, you were right, Jim! It is the AF-P DX 70-300mm (non-VR).....

For $399.99 at Costo one can get (while available):
  • AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Lens
  • AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED Lens
  • 32GB SD Memory Card, Camera Bag & Extra Battery
  • 2 Year Extended Warranty on Camera Body Only
  • Nikon DSLR Educational Online Class

I also took the time to look up exactly what AF-P means, as I realized that I actually didn't know what that particular designation meant even though I've seen posts on here talking about the different AF-P lenses. It makes much more sense for Nikon to put AF-P lenses with their kits, as they are lighter weight and retractable, etc. It is too bad that they wouldn't have put the VR version of the 70-300mm in there, though, as beginning photographers even more than the rest of us could benefit from the stabilization features!

Also I realized that I was getting the AF-P lenses confused with the significantly more professional-level and expensive PF lenses..... Whatever!!
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Nikon Cafe is a fan site and not associated with Nikon Corporation.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Copyright © 2005-2019 Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom