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Osprey Help Ideas Solicited

Discussion in 'Birds' started by jryoung1947, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. I still don't know what to do with myself. I was walking the dog and 70-300VR today and spied this Osprey. Now ozarkshome (larry) has cautioned me from taking the dog while birding buttt. Before I met you all I would not have been looking at all.

    The 70-300 does not quite cut it. I am not looking for "flew" and others type shots but what is hand holdable that is a bit better? I've found setting auto-iso and shutter to ~ 1/800 is about right for walking around shooting birds.

    This had great potential but...

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  2. Nice pictures you just need to get closer

    I shoot Canon so I can't help with lens selection but Many use a 400 with IS Hand Held I personnally use a 300/4 IS Prime with a 1.4 TC
  3. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005

    The best Nikon lens for the money is the 300 f4. A bunch of Cafe shooters have posted a big bunch of outstanding images with this lens. As good as it is optically, its best feature is the price. I just bought one from a fellow member for $850. You can shoot all day with the 1.4 TC (gives you 420mm), and in good light it works well with the 1.7 (510mm). About as good a deal as you can get from Nikon.

    Another very good option is the 80-400VR. It doesn't work quite as well with a TC, but it does give you 400mm at f5.6, so the TC isn't as necessary. Also, CrystallP recently asked me about an auction on eBay for a 400 3.5 Nikon lens. It was more expensive ($1,500), and I don't have any personal experience with it, but Bjorn seems to like it.

    Finally, if you really want the ultimate, look for a good deal on a 300 2.8. This is as good a long telephoto lens optically as Nikon makes. I took over 100,000 shots with mine before I sold it to get the 400 2.8, and I have to say that I do miss it. It works well with the 1.4, 1.7, and even with the 2.0 TC's. The AF-S II version isn't cheap (look for a deal between $2,800 and $3,200), but it is the ultimate.
  4. First thing you need to ask is, what doesn't "cut it" for the 70-300? Is it reach? AF Speed? Aperture? Here is a handheld shot with a D70:


    Now, to be fair, this lens weighs a touch more than the 70-300 and costs an extra penny or 50, the superb 200-400 f4 AFS VR. AF is FAST, zoom is great, VR sometimes helps, but unless you are incredibly fit, you are not going to handhold this lens the way you would a 70-200 for example. One of the most often used examples is the Nikon 300 f4 AFS, which also works very well with the Nikon TC's. Much lighter than the 200-400 and with a much lower "entry cost". Not knowing the focusing characteristics of the 70-300 I am not sure how different that would be from the 300f4. Unfortunately Nikon does not make a "relatively" inexpensive less in the 400 f4 range as Canon does. One other alternative, which is handholdable in much the same manner as the 200-400 is the the Sigma 500 f4.5 HSM. The Sigma HSM lenses focus nearly as fast as the Nikon AFS and are built like tanks, and cost much less that the equivalent nikons. If AF speed is not the issue, then you can look at the 80-400's and the Sigma "Bigma", the 50-500, or even cheaper the Tamron 200-500, but the AF is REALLY slow, and I suspect that is your issue.

    Hope this helps, let us know what you are not happy with and we can be more specific with advice.

  5. So, you beat me by a few seconds, but you cheat, you run the place :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

    Not that I would ever disagree with Frank, and yes the 300 f2.8 is another great option, I personally put the 200-400 f4 at least equal, if not a touch above, due to the extra reach. The place the 300 wins, if you don't use a 1.4 TC, is the extra stop of light, which to be honest always helps a bit with AF.
  6. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005

    First off, I didn't cheat. I guess that I just think and type faster than you do. :eek:  :tongue:

    Seriously, I know that some of you get great images with the 2-4VR, but based on my limited shooting time with PJohnP's, I couldn't possibly recommend it over the 300 2.8. The AF on the 300 2.8 is much more solid (faster acquisition, better lock-on). It is an excellent lens, but it wouldn't be my choice given these options. :smile:
  7. First off, I don't believe that you don't "cheat". That is my conspiracy theory for the day, and I'm stickin' with it, don't care about any facts or truth, perogative of an "old fart" :tongue: :tongue: :tongue: :tongue: :tongue: :tongue:

    As to the 200-400 vs 300 f2.8, in all seriousness, and for the benefit of the poor fellow who asked this question :biggrin:, it really is a tough call. Trading off the extra 100mm at the long end for 1 stop of light as well as the zoom, a really tough to call to make. Best thing to do is to get one of each and then sell/return the one you like the least. If I tried to do that, I'd be living in a much smaller dwelling, my car, and would no longer have a wife :wink: Then again, I've even been know to handhold my 400 f2.8 on occasion .....

    But we sure do agree on all the rest. Heck, Andreas sold his 300 f2.8 and kept the 300 f4, and if you can't trust him, then who can you trust?

  8. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    I completely agree Bill, especially the 'old fart' part. :biggrin:

    I hate to do this, but to get serious, the 300 f4 is a heck of a good deal. That's why I just bought one to partner up with the 400 2.8. :smile:
  9. HappyFish


    Oct 19, 2006
    Flew, The old Nikon 3.5 is a super chunk of glass. It works well with the old tc`s and was much less bucks than the 400mm 2.8 and a few less lbs. I have it and both tc`s to go with it and still pull it out sometimes to shoot deer etc. It`s kind of like opening a box of 25asa kodachrome, it just feels good. I also have the 200 400 VR and just love it. Use it a lot hand held and your left arm will look like Popeye. I bought my X a Sigma 50-500 and was very taken with it. She took some very good shots with it. Yup, she took it when she split, rats!
  10. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005

    I'm not surprised concerning the 400 3.5. Just based on the pics on eBay, and Bjorn's review, it looked like a sweet lens. At about 6 lbs, it is a whole lot lighter than the 2.8. I wouldn't mind having one, but can't possibly justify the expenditure right now.
  11. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Frank :

    Interesting perspective, and while I don't disagree, you had the lens for a day, and a cloudy day at that. I've shot the 300 f/2.8, and while it's a superb lens, more importantly, it's a different lens.

    It took me several weeks to learn to use the 200-400mm to best advantage. Bill's comments are dead-on about most of the differences, especially the low light issues. But one of the largest issues, IMNSHO, is that the size and heft of the lens require "training" to get best use out of it, combined with getting a good feel for the zoom function.

    The primes (in some cases) have similar heft, but the zoom changes the balance when shooting. One's hands just have to be placed differently to use the zoom, and readjusting from a prime to the zoom can mean slower use in some cases.

    As for the speed of focus, the 200-400mm f/4 AFS/VR is a bit slower than some AFS primes. The added mass of the zoom lens changes the AFS speed a bit, but in my experience, when shooting at similar apertures, the difference is not large. Of course, if one is shooting at open aperture on an f/2.8 lens, they're going to have just that bit more light, and the focus lock will be just that much faster.

    But when it comes to ospreys (bringing us around to the thread question), the 200-400mm can deliver some nice shots...


    The old prime vs. zoom debate has many pieces and sizes to it. I think that the flexibility of the 200-400mm zoom has given me shots I couldn't have landed with a prime, especially in cases where the bird's flown directly at me and I've zoomed out, but there have also been some shots in low light I might have landed with the 400mm f/2.8.

    Shots like this one came from being able to zoom back quickly, and I'd have lost the shot with a prime.


    The 200-400mm lens suits my shooting style.

    And that's perhaps the key to the debate on all of this. The 300 and 400mm primes are great lenses, and the 200-400mm zoom is a great lens. And for some folks, one of those lenses will be their "best" lens. The only way to know for sure is to shoot with each of the lenses and decide what suits a person best.

    John P.
  12. Having used Mike Mac's 200-400 VR a couple of times last fall, I can say that at least for me, that would be as close to perfect as I could get for a wildlife lens. Although I do like photographing little birdies, I prefer to photograph large game such as Elk, Moose, Deer, etc. I also like the large birds of prey, etc. Having the ability to zoom out as they approach is a real plus.

    Having said that, I currently shoot with the 500 f/4 P lens with the TC16a. Together they cost just under 2 grand and fit my budget a bit easier. Gives me 800mm reach and a bit of AF. A couple of my Osprey 800mm shots:



    I also have the 300 f/4 AFS lens and it's a great piece of glass. I use the 1.4 TC with it at times and although the focus hunts a bit, it's still quite usable. Definately worth the money.
  13. This is the best. What a stroke of luck to find this group! My gripe with the 70-300 is poor focus in lower light and not quite enough sharpness. Although a TC works focus is even slower and the image less sharp. When I am using it "normally" as a walk around fun lens it is perfect.

    Super images, look for me on "For Sale"
  14. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Well here comes the poor girl that can't afford what those boys shoot.
    But I get some beautiful stuff

    You can do it with the 70-300VR and a kenko pro 300 1.4 tc and let the birds get closer.
    This is 80-400 vr not tc on this on
    D200 makes a big difference with this lens.

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    I can not handle the lenses they are talking about or affort the tripod to put them on.
    Look through my wild life gallerys, with and with out the tc is what I have been able to do.
    This is not a low light lens.
    You really need the right light for any good images. With any lenses.
    I would up grade that camera to a D200 first before any more lenses if you are going to shoot action of any kind.

    Try going and practicing on seagulls and you will see what I mean. 70-300 VR is a very capable lens.
    Check flygirl pics she posted this week. 70-300 VR
    Go where the birds are and wait:>))

    I don't know what your budget is. But you can work within it. I have to.

    If I wasn't so dam sick this week I would go shoot a osprey in flight with the 70-300 vr and the 300f4 for you. But I can't for a few days.
  15. Thanks that is easy, cheap and quick advice. I can borrow a friend's D200. What exactly is the focus/performance advantge with the D200? It is a good first step but I am curious. I do have lens lust for the 300 f4. I can afford more I just don't want to bury myself too quickly.

    I take your word on the shots, don't get out of the death bed for me.

  16. Too much lens get clipped wings.

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  17. Chris_B


    Mar 12, 2006
    Arlington, VA

    Good to hear from another southern New Englander. I grew up and still have family in Waterbury and remember Litchfield quite well. I am probably going to pick up the 300 f2.8 VR. If you are interested, PM me about the 300 f4. I am probably going to sell it to finance the 2.8.

    take care,

  18. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    D200 is a more powerful camera and will drive the lenses better especially the 80-400 VR and I will use it with the Kenko Pro 1.4 tc which gives me 600.

    You can pick up an 80-400 for around a 1050 these days.
    D200 will dive any lens better:>))

    You might wonder when these newbee ask about a camera and I always say get the D200 and get over it. D200 has come wayyyyyy down in price. Have seen them for 1100.
    Well this is the exact reason.

    I know I will never need another camera for me. If I wear this one out, I would get another one.
    You know when your poor you make things work. I am danm lucky to have what I have.

    If you are even thinking of shooting birds go 80-400 VR
    Then on down the line get the 300 f4 woth tc's
    I think the 70-300 VR is turning into a nice lens. Perhaps get the tc for it
    But most important is the D200. You need the strength of the camera when it comes to action.
    The D2 cameras are good. (all D2's ) if you can afford them
    Here is an osprey 70-300 VR I took the other day
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    90 percent of my pics are handheld
    Patience and let them come closer to you
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2007
  19. JR, glad this info is helping, hope it is not too much "overload". Two things I have found with shooting birds and other moving objects that really help regardless of how quickly the lens will focus. The more you watch the subjects, the better you can get at anticipating what will happen. And I'll venture to guess that not one of the people who has popped an image into this thread, or who shoots these types of subjects with whatever lens, will tell you that they don't get their fair of "stinkers", I sure know that I do and sometimes they are great for a laugh :biggrin:. The second part is technique. Remember the 1/focal length rule for shutter speed, and don't forget that even with VR lenses good hand-holding technique is crucial. This takes practice, and then more practice, then you practice again and still complain about OOF shots! I don't know how long you have tried, but you may want to give this a bit more of a shot prior to a change.

    On the D200 and AF, remember that there are 2 parts to this equation. First is the AF module itself, and how quickly and well it can deal with focus. Both use the CAM1000 AF module, so I would expect that you would not see a big difference here. And the 70-300 is an AFS lens, so in-camera motor won't come into play here either. I think a test with a D200 can't hurt, and I'll be really interested in your results. From the specs, I would not expect much difference between them.

    Now, one other thing that I, and others, have found over the years is the use of the AF-On button on the back of the camera vs. using the shutter button for focus. Not sure if you do this or if you can with the D80, but if so give it a shot. I find it especially useful with VR lenses, so you are not constantly having VR engaged while you are initially tracking. I have myself screwed up shots with the VR on when using the shutter button for focus.

    Some people think this is a big "no-no". I am one of those who don't. We recently had a showing of award winning pictures at one of our local museuems. Almost every single image of a bird had a "wing clip". As a number of folks have told me over the years, judicious use of a "clipped wing" can add tension to the image and also help to draw your eye down to the main subject.

    Gale, see my comments re: differences between the D80 and the D200. As noted, I think it is an experiment worth doing. You bring up a GREAT point regarding patience, this can't be stressed enough. How many of us stand/sit for hours just waiting for something to occur? :wink: Do you have any feel for the AF speed difference between the 70-300 and the 80-400?
  20. Did someone mention clipped wings???


    F/F vertical...

    For big birdies in flight, I normally mount my big gun on the gimbal and hand hold the 300 f/4 AFS - sometimes w/TC, sometimes w/o. At Conowingo, no TC on the 300...
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