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Looking for a new Telephoto lens

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by SRA, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. SRA


    Jul 29, 2005
    Orem, Utah
    Currently the need/desire for a new telephoto lens has given rise to a search for advice. I now find myself shooting my daughters’ outdoor sports events as well as wildlife in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. I am somewhat obsessive compulsive about detail.

    Currently I own a 70-200 and a TC-20E II and would like more reach, detail and cropability (academic license). My inventory also finds a disappointing, to me, seldom used 80-400. The new lens will be mated to a Nikon D2x and a Gitzo 3530 tripod with RRS BH-55 head.

    The Nikon 400mm and 200-400mm are looking like good contenders. I would also be willing to buy a TC-17E II to enhance range when needed.

    Any thoughts, contrasting viewpoints, and experience good or bad would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Yes, I've gone through that route as well. I currently own a 70-200VR and with the 2.0TC the shots are milky. I also have a Sigma 50-500 (Bigma) and it is great for daylight bright shooting. I coupled it with a Tamron 1.4 TC which was highly rated but in low light the Bigma and the TC rendered it unfocusable. :mad:  :mad:  :mad:  Alone it also had difficulty with flying fowl.

    The secret is the f-stop. You need a fast lense to capture anyting moving or in low light. The common lens for the budget minded is the Nikon 300mm f/4.

    I'm leaning towards the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8. They say the 2.0 TC is not as milky as the combination I mentioned above.

  3. SRA


    Jul 29, 2005
    Orem, Utah

    I agree with the milky on the 2.0 TC. I'll look at the 300mm too. With the D2x sharpness; a demand for higher quality glass becomes, how can I put this.... mentally disordering??
  4. I am looking too, here is a good link http://shutterbug.com/equipmentreviews/lenses/0204sb_sigma/
  5. What they don't tell you when you start in photography is that non-linear (exponential?) relationship of lens length and f-stop to dollars! :eek:  :Shocked:

  6. Yeah, I saw that yesterday when I was searching. So far the cheapest is $2,135.43 at a "Sigma4Less store"....but I'm always leery of the bottom dwellers. Tri-state is $2,213.47. Amazon is $2,289.99. B&H is $2,699:eek:  I wonder if they're al the same lens..Sigma seems to have a lot of lenses which have slightly different nomenclatures.

  7. Lens lust :frown:
    I also looked at some TC comments (pretty good) I'll still probably get a used 300 f4 and save my money for the Nice trip. :smile:
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2007
  8. I noticed yesterday that this combination is very well usable when stopped down 1.5 to 2 stops. f8 (or better f11) gives results that where OK (not as crisp as with 1.4TC but still usable).

    This combination was much better then my, obviously "lemon" AF-S 300 f4 with 1.4TC.....:mad: 
  9. My "current" arsenal is:
    Nikon 400 f2.8 AFS-I
    Nikon 200-400 f4 AFS VR
    Nikon 70-200 f2.8 AFS VR - (considering putting this up for sale real soon now)
    Sigma 120-300 f2.8 HSM (on it's way in the Big Brown Truck)

    What I shoot, birds, wildlife, lot's of youth sports, football, baseball, lacrosse soccer and such. Look at JR's Thread for some pretty good advice on a very similar subject. One of the prime things you need to decide is how important the difference is between f4 and f2.8. The other, since you mention sports, is how important the "zoom" feature is.

    Now, if I were in your shoes, my recommendation would be the 400 f2.8 plus the Nikon TC's for your wildlife stuff, and the "bare" 400 works great for sports as well, but the athletes have to be a fair bit off, you won't be doing close sideline shots. So, for the sports, I'd add the Sigma 120-300, which gets you both the f2.8 and the ability for a very nice zoom range. Coupled with the D2X and the ability to use HSC in a pinch, this is an incredible range and combination. If you look around, you can find this combo used for far less than the cost of a new 400.

    The last thing I would HIGHLY recommend, as long as I am busy spending your money :biggrin:, is that you look into a Gimbal for use with the 400 when shooting wildlife. My personal favorite is the Jobu Black Widow, but you should also look at the Wimberly Products. These work so much better than a ballhead when tracking animals and birds, and in my opinion are far safer for your gear as well, as you can completely eliminate "camera flop".
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  10. Bill is right on! I have the Wimberly and once you balance it on all three axes it makes tracking movement a breeze. Otherwise you're trying to follow action and holding as much as 12 lbs. in front of you and hoping that 10% of your shots are in focus.

    At the Alabama dam I used it with my Sigma Bigma and actually got a lot more shots than last year (which was almost none). This is really mandatory if you plan on shooting birds in flight or outdoor sports. A good investment.

  11. Greg V

    Greg V

    Feb 19, 2007
    SE Michigan
    To your original question of a 400 or 200-400 zoom, the 400 f/2.8 is a large heavy lens that is not too portable (unless you're a body builder)! I have been contemplating getting a 200-400 to replace my 300 f/2.8 for the versatility. The 300 f/2.8 is an awesome lens and works well with both a 1.4 and 2.0 teleconverter. I would imagine the 300 f/4 would work well with the 1.4 but have no experience with the new 300 f/4.

    Depending on the cash flow situation, you may best be suited for a 300 with teleconverters.
  12. Rats! I checked my favorite local store Ace Photo in Ashburn VA (they recently moved) and they have them in stock and cost $2199. PM me if anyone needs their number. Check with Clix Pix (Connie) about Ace; they don't come any better as brick and mortar stores go.

  13. This is the 120-300 f2.8 HSM EX DG, correct? That is not a horrible price, and I'm glad to see how much I saved by sending Rex a check the other day :biggrin:. The difference, at least the latest one for the Sigma lenses, is the "DG" nomenclature. This added 2 things to the lens. First, it is a coating which is supposed to reduce flare. I never had flare issues with either my 120-300 or my 500. The second thing it adds is cost. So, for those looking at a 120-300, new vs. used, my opinion is that the DG doesn't really get you much, if anything.

    So, Rich, did you buy and when will you have it in your grubby mitts?????? :biggrin:
  14. SRA


    Jul 29, 2005
    Orem, Utah
    A most educational thread and my gratitude to everyone for their opinions, experience and views. In the short time this thread has been running I have learned something about my style of shooting, my budget, reality and the longevity of my hobby.

    - I love versatility when I don't have the million dollar budget
    - I desire tack sharpness and perfection from my equipment
    - The exponential factor of lens glass weight to price increase is indeed alarming but, understandable ..ie. since you already own the camera what else is there to buy :eek: 
    - There is no do-all perfect lens

    So... since I don't see my near future allowing the opportunity to stand for multiple hours and photograph wonderful birds and game I will probably take the versatile route and go for the 200-400 for now. This should spend my money well enough for now until the D3 comes out this August. :biggrin:
  15. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    What sports are you shooting Scott

    By the way great to see Ya:) ))
  16. If you plan to sell the 80-400mm, then I would replace it with the 200-400mm however, if you keep the 80-400, then I would buy the a 500mm.
  17. Correction. That was the price for their last old one. I went there and they wanted $2699....:eek:  Er..no thank you. Maybe with their move they decided to start charging full store price on everything.

  18. Not at all a bad choice, the 200-400 is hand-holdable, but not like the 70-200 :wink:. For sports it is great on a monopod, the only downside to this is f4 vs f2.8 if your daughter plays any "late day" or evening games. AF is very good, not quite as "snappy" as the 400 f2.8. So, now that we have helped you to spend some BIG BUCKS :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin: PUHLEEZZEEEEEE expound on the comment highlighted in RED above. No weasly words allowed, we want the Truth, the Whole Truth, So Help You NIKON!!!!!!!!! :biggrin: :biggrin:
  19. I suspect that is the increase from the non-DG to the DG version. Expension coating, eh??????

    Look around, they do pop up on the used market now and again, but you need to be pretty darned quick.
  20. If you check out the internet stores the model number varies. So far I've seen 135306 for the latest and greatest and 135110. B&H carries differing prices for the two models. A few stores are showing the 135306 for $21xx but frankly I suspect no one in their right mind would discount that much from B&H's price (also $2,699)...so I'm goning to guess you'll get the iten with the older model number...and if queried they will say...what number? :rolleyes: 

    I'll just keep an eye out for the prices. According to Elliott at the store this one not only has the newer coating but different electronics. I suspect prices will slide downward with time. I only "need" it for our June trip to the great white north to visit ToLady and Frits.

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