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Nikon 300 f2.8 VR and TC's

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by wind_walker, Jul 7, 2007.

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  1. Does anyone have experience shooting the 300 f2.8 VR using a Nikon TC-20E or TC-20E II tele-converter? I’m saving for my first big (and expensive) lens, and am debating between the 300 2.8 VR and the 200-400 f4 VR. I currently only own zoom lenses, and particularly like the flexibility; but the selection of big Nikon lenses with VR is very limited. I like to shoot wildlife, mostly, and currently have the 80-400 VR. But I find the f5.6 very limiting for wildlife, as the most active time for the critters is early or late where the light is often lacking. I’ve read that the 300 2.8 VR with the 1.4 TC is really sharp . . . so that would give me a 420 f4 . . . and if the light is really bad, I can take off the TC and maybe get a shot, even though I’d forgo the reach. But I’d also like the ability to get out to 600mm with the 2x TC if it works well; or maybe 510mm w/1.7 TC. I have seen work Wade has done with the 200-400 w/TC, and the results are great; please understand, I think that’s a great lens too (it also helps that Wade is a GREAT photographer). I will only be able to afford (yeah, in my mind maybe) one lens in this class in the foreseeable future, so I need one that is great in low light, but can be made to get the reach with decent f-stop in a pinch. I wish Nikon would make a 500 f4 VR . . . when I’m out shooting wildlife, particularly in places like Yellowstone, the Canon 500 f4 IS USM is the most prevalent lens in the gallery, hands down.
  2. aman17


    Sep 27, 2006
    New Jersey,USA
    If this helps any.My 300 2.8 and a 1.7 Tc.

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    View attachment 104604
  3. general


    Apr 30, 2005

    I own a 300 f/2.8 and it is a very nice lens with or without the TCs. But since I bought the 200-400, the 300 stays in the closet. The 200-400 with the 1.7 is an excellent wildlife lens. If your subject was other than wildlife, the 300 with TC might be the best choice because of the wider aperture but with wildlife, the flexibility of 200-400 is unbeatable in that range. The image quality with the 1.7 is outstanding. Good luck either way.
  4. adrianaitken

    adrianaitken Guest

    300mm f2.8 with a 2x convertor gives you a f5.6 lens. If you don't like 400mm f5.6 can you really like a 600mm f5.6 lenses? Won't let you shot wider or faster (indeed, you should in theory need a faster shutter speed due to the longer lens). Similarly with a 200-400. A 2x on that is a constant f8 !!!
    Neither will let you autofocus according to Nikon but you might just get it in very bright sunshine.
    If you settle on a 1.7x then it'd be a f4.8 and f6.3 on the lenses. Again, marginal autofocus on the 200-400.
    If you need that kind of range you should really be looking at 500 or 600mm f4 along with their weight and cost !!!!!
  5. I have an AFS II 300mm and it works very well with Nikon TC's. TC14 and TC17 are virtually invisible and TC20 only softens image a skosh. Here is a 600mm shot from the 300+tc20

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  6. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Hello Mike,

    Since you travel and want to do some wildlife, and you shoot a lot in low light I would consider that 300 2.8 VR. when Nikon does finally get a 500 with VR you can always sell your 300.

    Now I know that it may sound weird comming from a guy who loves his 200-400 with 1.7, it does focus slower than the 300 with 2x on it. And I tend to recommend the 300 2.8 because of this. I would also suggest getting the 1.4 1.7 and 2x with the 300 and it will allow good flexibility and the ability to drop down as the light changes.

    Side Note: by the way everyone the 1.7 autofocuses well on the 200-400, just slower! I tend to get a bit defensive about this because folks think that is just awful, and it isn't. Just not as snappy, and you have a f6.3 lens. That is all. Image quality is still good (depending on the lens and converter because there are variances.

    I a lot of times when out birding go back to the 200-400 with 1.4 later in the evening because of focus speed. The 2x does work on the 200-400 but only in good light and it will sometimes hunt 15% of the time. Never will work on flying birds!

    hope these thoughts help you Mike,

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2007
  7. HHMM MY experience with the 200-400mm on small objects like birds is that it focus hunts with TC's on.
    That is the only ding I have on this lens, but it is a stopper for me with my shooting. It is sharp with TC's up to TC17.

    I have not had this issue with the 300 F4 AF-S, the 300mm F2.8 VR, 400mm F2.8 AF-S II nor the 500mm AF-S.

    I had Nikon check the 200-400 and they could not make it better in this regard....

    Was this my copy or do other have similar issues?

  8. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Interesting Andreas,

    I find that all lenses if you miss the focus point with busy backgrounds will hunt back and forth on birds in flight, my 300f4 AFS with 1.7 did it just as much as the 200-400 VR, and the 300 2.8 I owned, but none of them, would loose focus and then hunt if I had focus. I also kept the focus set to limited too.

    One variable may be that with my D200 for birds I use the wide focus points which combines several points into one larger one. Maybe that is the difference? The d2xs and D2H I have and or tried doesn't have that feature.

    also by the time it gets darker, I tend to have dropped down to my 1.4 too to keep the shutter speed up, but on static shots it never did hunt if I had the edge on a contrast.

    It could be lens variability, too. I bought two 1.7 converters at the same time, tested both, found one quite a bit sharper than the other and sent it back. FYI?

    good thread and posts. I didn't mean to come off mad or anything, just as a rule I don't like absolute statements like marginal autofocus, slower, yes, I will be the first to admit that! :biggrin:

  9. Why not consider a 500 f4 with 1.4tc. Works great for me, with great speed and tracking in "c" mode. Must use a tripod, but I don't know any serious wildlife photographer that doesn't.


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  10. I havent tried the 200-400 with the D200. Only D2X and I gave up on flightshots when it simply wouldn't lock on properly where other lenses would.

    But in general when I use the D200 I often use the Group dynamics with center priority, it works quite well on BIF's. I dont use center only on the D200 as I I have found it not to be as pinpoint exact as the D2X center only, however the D2X group dynamics doesnt work well at all for me. Never quite Happy it seems.

    On the D2X I use center only, espcecially when shooting sitting birds close up where i focus on the eyes, then move back to recompose and take the shot.. Hummer are prime example of this.

    And yes I find this to be an interesting and non contentious discussion as well...

  11. Everyone has their own experience with this lens, and often it is compared to the 200-400. Here's what I did. I bit the bullet and bought both to try them for an extended period. Both are beautiful pieces of glass. My 200-400 ended up staying at home most of the time, so I sold it. If there is anyway you can stretch to get both, you won't lose hardly any money if you sell one of them later. I think it depends on your main style of shooting as to which you will prefer. For my money, the 300 was much preferable for birding. I can handhold it or use it on a monopod with alot more flexibility than the 200-400. For tripod work, Andreas convinced me to sell my 500 f/4 and get the 400 f/2.8, which also is fantastic with all three TCs. The 200-400 might be the choice for larger animals, and I sometimes miss the zoom. To answer your initial question, my 300 works fantastic with the TC20EII, with hardly any noticable softening and very little difficulty acquiring focus in good light. I use it on both the D200 and D2x. In low light or cloudy conditions, it does begin to hunt some. It's not as easy to handhold it with the TC, but it can be done. It's very easy to handhold without the TC. And it also works great with the 14 and 17. I found the 200-400 worked well with the 14, but slowed dramatically and hunted often with the 17 and I never tried it with the 20. The 300vr is my favorite lens. It affords fast focus, is very sharp, flexible with tcs, and allows manueverability.
  12. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
  13. Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  14. Thanks everyone for the advice . . . I have always admired the 300 VR and the 200-400 VR. I may try and rent each online, and take them for a drive. I am leaning toward the 300 VR with a TC17 . . . sounds like that should make a pretty good all-around wildlife lens. Though the 200-400 is a wonderful lens as well. Decisions, decisions . . . oh well, still stuffing my coffee can with money

    Thanks again,

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