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Long lens envy - 300+

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Argent, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. I'm trying to find an inexpensive (yeah I know it's all relative) but good long zoom lens for my D50 - either that or I just dont know how to use my 70-300 because nothing at the long end comes out crisp or clear (even when shooting with a tripod)

    I can't always sneak up on them birds or animals....so I'm looking for something to bring them closer to me (besides a piece of fish or steak tied to my head)
  2. stephen99


    Nov 22, 2006
    Holland, Ohio
    A 300 f4 with 1.4TC is probably the best mid range choice. A used 300 f4 without TC the best inexpensive choice.
  3. wow - ok - that's still expensive hehe
  4. thrdprophet


    May 13, 2007
    Modesto, CA
    Edward is right,

    The least inexpensive way to go for tele and clarity is probably a 300 F/4. I was playing with one here in Modesto at the camera shop and it was selling for 400 bucks it was MINT CONDITION. If your close by Modesto I HIGHLY consider this choice. Though it is not the AF-S version, still 300mm Prime F4? from Nikon built like a Panzer Tank for 400 bucks?? that thing will blow that 70-300mm G lens out of the water.

  5. Theres a 300mm F4 (not an Af-s) selling for $825 CAD locally here, just so you have a "high" asking price,
    It looks quite mini compared to say the 80-200 F2.8, But its deceptively good quality from what i've seen!
  6. Hmm yeah $500 is a bit better.....

    This was taken at 300mm with my 70-300 and my tripod - you can see why I'm less than happy

  7. thrdprophet


    May 13, 2007
    Modesto, CA
    Holy smokes they want 825 bucks!! HALF THAT PRICE AND EVEN THEN its kind of high. For that price... the 80-200 AF-D 2.8 is quite rather nice.
  8. thrdprophet


    May 13, 2007
    Modesto, CA
    Hey Paul,

    Ever thought about maybe a Sigma 50-500mm?? It's just a little bit more than the 300 F4 but... ALOT MORE REACH, YOU WILL NOT BE Dissapointed.

  9. KEH.com has a 300 F4.5 AIS ($245) and a 300 F4.5 ED ($546) both manual focus
  10. snakeman


    Feb 26, 2006
    also consider the sigma 100-300m f4...very sharp wide open and works very well with a dedicated converter..I use mine with the 1.4x and still focuses fast and hardly any loss in image quality at all..superb lens.
  11. Or at least get the 70-300VR, if nothing else. Excellent lens!!

  12. Ideally this would be my last lens purchase for a long while - and I really can't afford $1000 for a lens.....is my 70-300 really that bad?
  13. I can't judge whether or not there is a defect in your 70-300. However, my "shootin' buddy" in Denver has a 70-300 and gets wonderful images with it.

    FWIW, my advice is to spend some more time with what you have and master it.

    Regarding the image you posted:
    - did you turn the VR off when you took that picture from your tripod?
    - What kind of tripod and head?
    - It looks like the picture was taken midday. That can be very challenging light.
    - The image looks out of focus. (There could also be some heat haze if indeed the picture was taken midday).
    - Could you post some exposure data for the picture?

    I have a new, very expensive Sigma 120-300 f2.8. I haven't had much time to start my learning curve with this new toy but my initial shots with it were pretty underwhelming. Hang in there and if you think there may be a problem with your lens, post some more pictures along with exif info and any other info about the circumstances of the shot and folks here will be glad to help. This is a very supportive group.

    And, just to reiterate, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the 70-300. It is capable of fantastic pictures.
  14. My 70-300 doesn't have VR - so yes it was turned off :p 
    My tripod is a Dynatran AT-CF94
    The photo was taken mid afternoon
    The camera's set to Auto - so it should have focused

    As for the exif stuff - hmmm

    300 dpi - f/5.6 - 1/640 - 300mm
  15. I pulled the jpeg into Lightroom and tweaked the white balance a little and added a touch of sharpening and the picture did look a little better. What I noticed are a couple of things:

    The focus appears to be on the branches at the front of the nest. f5.6 should have given you some DOF but maybe not enough for the entire depth of the nest. I don't own a D80 but I'm assuming it has a variety of autofocus settings and that might be the source of the slightly out of focus chicks. Some of the odd color cast in the picture seems to be the white balance.

    I've never heard of that brand of tripod. With a non VR lens, at the max focal length of the 70-300 a really stable tripod is really important. The tripod legs are important but the tripod head is critical. So is good technique releasing the shutter. If you've ever done any target shooting, that is the drill: get a good sight picture, deep breath, exhale halfway, and squeeze (except with the camera you sort of roll your finger onto the button).

    Also, consider getting out of Program mode. For that shot I would have chosen Aperture priority. It is hard to judge the light from the jpeg but f8 sounds about right. I would have shot RAW, not jpeg, to give me maximum leeway in post processing, especially with WB given the light. And, I would probably have bracketed like crazy, +- at least one EV in 1/3 EV steps.

    Bottom line is that there is probably nothing wrong with your lens. And, 300mm is long enough for a lot of wildlife. However, if you are serious about birds, get ready for things to get expensive. When you see folks adding TC's to 500 and 600 mm lenses....... :biggrin:

    To sum up my $0.02 worth, from the data available in your posts and the single image, the best path I see is to consider a good tripod/head, a remote shutter release, shooting in raw and in modes other that Program to give you more control and post process the images to get the best result. My web site is not complete yet or I would post my tweaks to your picture. It really doesn't look too bad with a little tweaking.
  16. I have a 500mm and use a 1.4TC. Great picture quality, no loss of IQ as far as I can see. If you are a birder, I'd consider the 50-500 Sigma: I've seen some really nice images from it. If you are doing wildlife, there aren't that many alternatives. I have the 300 F4 and it is really nice as well.

    Good luck,

  17. thanks Doug for looking deeper in to my shot for me - I will admit I am way more comfortable shooting my macros and closer subjects (100's of photos of my aquariums and my cats) than I am shooting distance wildlife so it's not suprising that perhaps I just need to learn to embrace my telephoto lens instead of getting by with just using my 18-135. The tripod is a nice lightweight carbon fiber/magnesium one from amvona.com and is very stable.
    I don't have a remote release - but I do know the whole breathing for still shots (I will admit having Papa Osprey dive bombing me while I was trying to shoot didn't help me be any more steady hehe) The camera has never been out of (M)anual mode since I got it - perhaps I need to learn to let the camera do more of the work. I shoot jpegs just for ease of working with them - although I do have Photoshop CS2 and Nikon Capture that I could use to process the NEF's. Once again I thank everyone for their input and for everyone's help in trying to help me be a better bird shooter.
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