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On the hunt for long glass

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by RKnecht, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. While I am very happy with my 300 2.8 and TC performance, I just can't stop thinking about longer glass. I shoot with both a D2x and D3. I have a few in mind, and would like opinions from those who own them.

    400 2.8: From what I have seen, these are super sharp. However, not too much longer than what I have.

    500 F4: Getting closer. How does the lens perform with TCs?

    600 F4: This is what I think I am leaning towards. Again, performance with TCs?

    Sigma 300-800: The only third party lens I would consider. From what I have read on the net, this is a sharp lens which focuses fairly fast.

    I'm open to other suggestions as well.
  2. Gary Mayo

    Gary Mayo Guest

    First of all, I also am also looking for a Sigmonster, so BACKOFF!!! lol

    Maybe we should go in half, like time sharing a condo?

    I have a 500mm f/4 P IF ED lens. It is quite sharp even with a TC-301 between the lens and a body. With these lenses, you are going to want a major tripod and head. I tried the Gitzo route, ended up with a serious Manfrotto and a Wmberley Mark II head. For my liking the Gitzo tripod was just too light. I like a heavy tripod.

    So you are going to step into the four figure territory in the head and tripod alone to make these longer lenses work correctly.

    The picture below was shot with a smaller tripod and it shows in the image. You cannot get by with a small head and tripod. It needs to be an almost immovable object. IMHO.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

  3. Rich, I love the 400mm AF-S II, and can only imagine how sweet the newer VR version might be.

    Depends on what you shoot. I shoot some Saturday and Sunday mornings with a guy who owns the 600 f/4 after selling his 400 f/2.8, and he often laments the change. The 400 focuses quicker, and from his perspective has much better image quality (I know, this is wholly subjective).

    Sometimes I long for more reach, and that's why I picked up the D300, but that reach comes at some cost regarding attention to detail, long-lens technique, etc. It's amazing the difference in apparent movement/camera shake one notices when shooting FX at 400mm, and DX with same lens (much less with a 1.7x TC added).

    It's also a very real luxury, being able to see more field of view and crop in post-process if needed when shooting at 400mm in FX, rather than getting fast, quirky action framed right in the viewfinder when shooting effectively at 600 mm (400 w/1.54 DX crop). I cannot imagine my having any action-shot keepers shooting 600mm with DX (900mm equivalent).

    That said, some of the posts here by Jim Fenton and others have me looking at my finances and wondering if I can swing the 500 f/4 VR this year.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2008
  4. rolsen


    Apr 12, 2008
    I just sold my 300/2.8VR and TC17 today, because I got kinda frustrated with it. The added weight was more than gained F-stop for me. I'll be shooting with my trusty old 300/4 AF-S before I get into big glass...perhaps Sigma 500/4.5 will do the trick for me.

    500/4 is probably the most wanted serious birding lens on the market, and surely you cannot go wrong with it. If you need portability it is the right choice. If you have the muscle, and money to burn, you can't go wrong with 600/4 either. If you're into sports, then 400/2.8 is the gun for you. All of these lenses do well with TC14 and even TC17. Not that many good things said about the TC20.
  5. I dunno about that Rich.

    A 300 w/ 1.4 gives you 420 @ F4
    A 400 w/ 1.4 gives you 560 @ F4, I think thats a good stretch longer. The 400 also takes a 1.7 very well! Check this thread for some air shot shots I took at 680mm w/ a D3: https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=172950

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  6. This was with the D300, 400 f/2.8, and TC-17E-II.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  7. I don't mean to hijack Rich's thread at all, but I am interested in learning more about this. Can you please elaborate Mike?
  8. I guess I didn't write that clearly. What I was trying to say, is that we all want more reach, but sometimes once we get it we realize that there is no free lunch. Everything has some cost.

    As an example, shooting a D300, 400mm, with 1.7x TC gives what, 1047mm equivalent? At over 1000mm, mirror slap, breathing, heartbeat, all make the image wobble around like you're in an earthquake, so you buy a bigger tripod, take heavy bags along to suspend from the tripod deck, try a cable/remote release, and crank the ISO to get higher shutter speed to ensure image sharpness at the f-stop you want to use (of course, the D300 isn't as good as the D3 handling ISO, so that's kind of an odd conundrum). So you get "closer" but with more camera shake.

    With the full frame D3, that same combo is only 680mm, and the tiny movements are simply not as noticeable. Less camera shake, but not as frame-filling.

    Lord help he who shoots DX, 600mm, with TC, for 1570mm lol.

    If one does not anticipate and take steps to mitigate the effect of more magnification, one ends up spending wads of cash and producing marginal images, until one spends more wads of cash. It's a vicious circle. :biggrin:
  9. general


    Apr 30, 2005
    Unfair to Gitzo

    Gary, it is unfair to blame Gitzo because you bought the wrong model of their tripod. Had you bought their top of line, weight and stability wise, the story would be different. Also, it does not take four figure cost unless you include the price of the lens which is four figures or more by itself.
  10. Thanks for all the input guys. I am aware that any shake will be amplified drastically when you shoot with longer glass. However, I don't mind perfecting my technique to get "the shot".

    Mike, I know "the cycle" very well. When I first joined here, I had a D70, 18-70, and a 80-200. Since then I have owned a D2h (sold) and now own a D3, D2x, and a lot of fast glass. Has this helped me? Absolutely. I find it easier to get the results I am looking for if I have the right tools.

    Thanks again for all the input. I value all the opinions.
  11. Rich, Drop me a PM if you ever want/need to play with my 400mm!

  12. if you shoot sports get the 400/2.8
    birds only get the 600/4
  13. Gary Mayo

    Gary Mayo Guest

    Hey Don!

    I think the Gitzo tripods are a bit over-rated. I also question the leg tightening apparatus. Just not my cup of tea. As for the proper model, you tell me what one I should have ordered and I will have it in the brown plane wining its way this direction to me today and I will test that one also. If I like it, I will keep it, if I do not, I will keep my Manfrottos. Fair?

    Gitzo sells a better tripod than a GT3540XLS? I was under the assumption that was pretty much the current cadillac in their line.

    4 figures? Wmberley Mark II Head $600. Gitzo GT3540XLS $800. Total $1,400. To me that is 4 figures.

  14. bogen/manfrotto gear doesn't compare well to Gitzo Gary.....

    this is in my wish list at b&h (after extensive research)
    I think this will work just fine & it's on sale

  15. Gary Mayo

    Gary Mayo Guest

    Hey Randy!

    Been there, done that. I returned it. For me, I was just not satisfied. Under a light wind the lens (500mm f/4 P IF ED) was not rock solid with all but the last leg sections extended at a normal height for standing. With all the leg extensions extended for say a hill or looking over a crowd, it was almost comical.

    I think part of the problem is design (lack of a center post to attach more stabilizers to) and the almost total lack of weight. It is so light you could carry it all day, granted. But it is so light, there is nothing to resist the forces of the lens and body atop of it. Sure I could have gotten a rock bag, but I preferred not to go that route to gain mass.

    I chose a Manfrotto 3258. It is built like a tank (and it is about half the price.) Price is not the issue, as I was also looking at tripods that cost around two grand. I just like Manfrotto tripods.

    For me the tripod is more important than the lens. A 500mm lens on a less than perfectly solid tripod is money wasted and good photographs missed.

  16. Gary,

    Maybe, you should take a look at Gitzo 5540 series.


  17. Friends, besides being a disservice to the OP, making personally-directed comments is against the rules of the Cafe. Please keep the conversation civil.
  18. Gary I agree with you. I use a 600 f/4 and you need a big pod and a Wimberly head to steady that lens. This is even more important with a digital body, because of the multiplying factor. You can also use a big ball head, but once you use a gimbal head you will not go back. I use a Gitzo G1549 legs with what ever head. Oh, I forgot to also mention that my investment in tripod legs and gimbal head is definitely a four figure number.
  19. Gary, I may take you up on that offer. I'd be interested to see how the 400 does with my TCs with both the D2x and D3.

    Let me add that I use Gitzo 1325 legs with my BH55/wimberly sidekick combe and find that setup to be quite solid. I get great shots with my D3/300 2.8/2.0TC mounted to it. I would just like more reach for smaller birds/animals without the need for a TC.

    Thanks again for all the guidance.
  20. general


    Apr 30, 2005
    Four Figures

    It must have been the new math, or late at night. I agree with the four figures but maintain the top Gitzo (my old model 1548 or its newer equivalent) is hard to beat. If cost were not an issue, I would probably look at the Sachtler line.
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