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Why no VR on 300/4

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by onemorelens, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. onemorelens

    onemorelens

    742
    Jul 3, 2007
    california
    Someone wanting to start birding was asking me for recommendations and I'm about to recommend she go Canon! I only shoot people and the longest lens I have is 200/2 so I did some research on a package for around $2000.
    I found Canon has an optically good 300/4 IS for around the same price as the Nikon 300/4 with no VR option. My impression is there is little to choose from between the newer APS-C Canon and DX Nikon bodies so it's more about the lens.
    Can anyone suggest good Nikon options before I suggest a white lens to her? :eek: 
     
  2. whoateallthepies

    whoateallthepies

    393
    Jan 21, 2012
    Canada
    The Nikon 300/4 AF-S is a great lens but the design dates back to before there was VR. It just hasn't been updated yet. It's one of those lenses that have been over-due for a long time.

    I have one and I do wish it had VR sometimes. For birding, I don't find it terribly important though. Usually I have to keep the shutter speed up above 1/500s or faster anyhow because the subjects tend to move a lot..

    Honestly, if she doesn't have any gear yet, and she's not going to borrow your lenses or anything like that, she might actually be better off with a Canon 7D or something. Another factor is that Canon service doesn't suck as much as Nikon's....
     
  3. donski

    donski

    Jan 28, 2011
    canada
    If you are going to recommend she shoot Canon, it'd be better to tell her to get the 400 f5.6 for wildlife. Not sure if it has IS but it's pretty affordable and with the 7D, well within the $2000 budget or less.
     
  4. StefanSC

    StefanSC

    97
    Nov 12, 2012
    Romania
    Nikon D300(used) and new Nikkor 300mm f4 AF-S and Nikon T-Con 1.4 should wiggle it in 2k budget.

    The Nikkor 300 seems to be slightly sharper than the Canon equivalent and also take T-Cons better. It's also slightly cheeper.

    VR is a bit of a marketing ploy for this kind of lens as most of the time you'd be using it either at 1/500s or faster or on a tripod/monopod.
     
  5. Disagree.
    VR is more useful on a f/4 lens than on a f/2.8 lens. Actually, the (much) heavier and less prone to be used hand held 300/2.8 VR II does exist, but no 300/4 VR (a lens which could be used hand held often) has been introduced yet.
    I've used in the past the 80-400 VR extensively, and the VR system was VERY useful, in particular at the longer FLs.
     
  6. If she has no Nikon gear, an APS-C Canon body + EF-L 300/4 IS (+ 1.4X) is a better solution. The EF-L 400/5.6 is a very good lens too, but it has no IS system. Dont' forget to tell her that with a 1.6X crop camera, safe shutter speeds (for hand held shots) must be faster (by the same multiplying factor; 1/300 -> 1/(300*1.6)).
     
  7. onemorelens

    onemorelens

    742
    Jul 3, 2007
    california
    She's in her late 50's and I just cannot see her carrying a mono/tripod around so this was also my impression as her best combo. The sigma superzooms seems too optically compromised esp at the tele end for me to recommend.
    The Canon 400/5.6L seems ok but the 300/4 looks better based on Canon's own MTF chart.
    Thank you everyone for the input. It looks like I'll have to recommend a canon system.
     
  8. InTheMist

    InTheMist

    Aug 18, 2012
    Switzerland
    It's unfortunate that our enthusiast telephotos like 80-400 and 300/4 are so ancient.
     
  9. Well, I wouldn't classify the 80-400 & 300/4 as "enthusiast" telephotos.
    I know professionals using the AF-S 300/4 for the sole reason it's always inside their shoulder bags/backpacks. I know of several Canon pros using the EF-L 100-400/4.5-5.6 L for its versatility (and good quality).
    The Canon lenses we are discussing in this thread are more ancient, BTW.
    The EF-L 100-400 was introduced in 1998, the 300/4 IS in 1997.
    Both AF-S 300/4 and AF-D 80-400 VR were introduced in 2000, so the Nikkors are even "newer" :rolleyes: 
     
  10. StefanSC

    StefanSC

    97
    Nov 12, 2012
    Romania
    Ohh, that's gonna be a laugh...The only APS-C Canon that can track birds worth a damn is the 7D.
    And then is the Auto-ISO issue of the Canon APS-C's :D 

    Then, if she really gets into birding she'll have the pleasure of finding out how fun it is to have a stakeout with 3 kg of lens and camera in your hands :D . In the winter.
    Don't want to sound offending or anything, but for serious birders a good/great tripod is a must.

    It seems to me that a choice was made based on a single feature that doesn't really matter to in practice for birders (IS/VR).
    No attention has been given to various other(more important) issues, like AF capabilities of Nikon/Canon bodies, framerates and so on.
    Oh well, some people like sharp pictures of out of focus subjects :D .
     
  11. I just outfitted a 65 yr old Canon shooter with a used D7K and a new Import AF-S 300 f4
    for $1800. She's thrilled with the combo. Canon has nothing that'll touch this IQ for $2K,
    nothing. Now I'm focused on gettin' the hubby dialed in with a D600 solely on what he's
    seen from me with Nikon FX and available light. My work's never done. :biggrin:
     
  12. If weight is an issue, how about a Nikon 1 camera with the FT-1 adapter, and the new 70-200mm f/4 VR? That gets you a 190-540mm zoom lens, f/4 aperture, VR III system and very light weight.
     
  13. whoateallthepies

    whoateallthepies

    393
    Jan 21, 2012
    Canada
    No tracking autofocus though.
     
  14. StefanSC

    StefanSC

    97
    Nov 12, 2012
    Romania
    You evil evil man :D 
     
  15. I agree that D7K is better than EOS 7D insofar as sensor is concerned.
    However, there are occasions where the lack of IS/VR might undo the better performance of a sensor ...


    Stalking wildlife is a common technique amongst nature photographers, and in that case no hide is needed. When stalking wildlife, tripod is not necessary.
    I took the following pictures without tripod (which is an essential tool for nature photographers, btw; I own three tripods ...), and I guess the lady the OP was referring does aim to take similar pictures, without using a tripod and by using hand held a light telephoto lens. All the following pictures were taken without any tripod, with VR switched ON, and VR was *necessary* to get sharp images (without increasing the ISO too much).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  16. StefanSC

    StefanSC

    97
    Nov 12, 2012
    Romania
    In my experience, stalking birds doesn't quite work...
    You might get lucky with a few shots now and then but it isn't a reliable technique as feral birds, when faced with a humanoid shape, tend to flee. And in case there are more than one bird, they tend to sound the alarm for the rest of the gang so.

    Best success I've had with birds was either with bait/feeders for birds that are at least slightly accustomed with human presence (and that only during the winter) and with camouflage during the rest of the time (wake up early, go to a known watering/feeding place, set up camp and wait it out).

    There might be the odd one of a bird landing on a half submerged tree trunk close to the boat, but they don't last long as the birds tend to move out quite fast.

    Regarding the images you posted, I fail to see how the last one benefited from VR and I wonder where the first two were taken (the first one seems to be taken at a zoo).
     
  17. Tha last one shows Peregrine Falcon attacking Starling Flock. It was taken (in Rome) with 80-400 VR @ 250 mm on DX, with 1/100 s (check EXIF data). VR was VERY helpful to keep ISO at 800 ISO.
    The California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) picture was taken in 2005 at the San Diego Wild Animal Park where one of the most important conservative initiatives has been run over the last years (see here and here).
    Anyway, why don't you suggest Nikon and Canon to remove the VR/IS system from their 300/2.8, 400/2.8, 500/4 and 600/4 lenses ?? :wink:
    I know, some of those VR/IS systems work also with the lens on the tripod, however those VR/IS systems would be even more helpful with a lightweight 300/4 because:
    1) as I have written previously, a lightweight 300/4 can be used hand held more often than heavier lenses (e.g. 300/2.8 or 500/4);
    2) a 300/4 (or 400/5.6, or 300/4 + TC14) is more prone to *critical* (i.e. higher frequency) vibrations when used on tripod, due to the lower mass.

    Last but not least, I use the AF-S 300/4 and I like it. However, I miss VR in that lens. VR would add A LOT of versatility to the lens. For the same reason, I kept my 105 VR when I bought the (much better) Zeiss ZF 100/2 Makro-Planar. When I need the maximum versality, I use the 105 VR; when I need the maximum quality, I use the 100/2 (always on tripod). A Zeiss 100/2 AF-S VR would be perfect! :smile:

    Best,
     
  18. StefanSC

    StefanSC

    97
    Nov 12, 2012
    Romania
    I fail to see why an increase in ISO could have been harmful there... It doesn't seem that the image contains details or a very large DR to begin with, that could be affected by the usage of higher ISO.

    Quite interesting, thank you. But it does prove my point since those birds seem to be used to a (small) human presence.

    Yaaay for marketing speak. What kind of versatility? In what specific situation?
    I also own a AF-S 300 f4 and it isn't what i'd call a walk-around lens. Yes, I can shoot it handheld. But I find myself more often than not shooting it from a tripod.

    As I said before: I don't find IS/VR as being a critical factor in a field where proper shooting technique is paramount.
    And there are other things more importan when shooting birds than IS/VR, like focus accuracy and spread and the ability to track, where the Canon bodies under the 7D (60D, 600D) are weaker than the Nikon equivalents (D300 tracks at the 7D level, or even better, D7000 of what I've seen tracks also at that level, or close, D5200 inherited D7000's AF and so on...)
     
  19. OK. You do not want to admit that SOMEBODY ELSE (= not you) find VR helpful.
    We could also discuss about usefulness of AF, which was not necessary before it was invented.
    We could continue discussing for days, but this would add nothing to OP question.
    I think he (and other fellows with similar doubts as well) got enough info to make his choice and give proper suggestion to his friend.

    P.S.
    I took the B&W picture (and the other two as well) using a D100. Its AF was not better than current Canon bodies ... :rolleyes: 
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2012
  20. StefanSC

    StefanSC

    97
    Nov 12, 2012
    Romania
    Nope... I do not want to admit that IS/VR presence in a 300 lens is enough to make someone choose a system over another (be it Canon, or Nikon or so on).

    Actually, come think of it, I can find one usage of IS/VR when birding (not critical, but can make a difference). And it hasn't got to do with keping a lower ISO :D .
    It's for keeping the viewfinder image steady and as such for keeping the focus point locked on the part of the subject you're interested in.

    Again with the B&W picture... Indeed tracking a flock of birds at infinity is a chalenge. Especially for fixed focus close-up lenses. And for those who are using macro extension tubes on their lens when the flock appears.
     
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