Minimum lens you would suggest for birding

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by zedin, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. zedin

    zedin TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Well I have been looking at getting a longer lens since my 80-210 Tamron lens is kind of soft. I was wondering what folks suggestions are for the minimum lenth for a good lens for birding/wildlife. I am shooting a d70s so I get the 1.5x factor. Also am a graduate student without unlimited funds (will be saving up no matter which way I go). My main choices I think are a nikon zoom 70-300 for around 350 (although from what I was seeing the G version got a better rating then the ED version at photodo.com) or the sigma 50-500 which costs almost 3x as much at 950 or so. (all prices in US) Mainly wondering if the 300 will work well or should I just stick it out and save for the 500.
     
  2. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    My experience with birding tells me that 300 is not long enough. I'm looking at a 400, and I have a 1.4x teleconverter to use with it also. It all depends on the bird size, how "skittish" it is, and also the landscape and how close you can get.
     
  3. kfoster

    kfoster TPF Noob!

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    The ED version is a much better lens then the G version. The G feels cheap even though the opitics arent horrible. However, neither of these lenses is spectacular above 200mm.

    If money is supper tight then the G version will probably do what you need. But it will probably be a throw away once you can afford something better. The ED lenses is a keeper even after upgrading.
     
  4. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've used an old Spiratone 400mm f6.3 successfully on a 35mm body.
     
  5. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    I gotta agree completely with Matt here. 200 is useless, 400 pretty good for domesticated type birds like swans and ducks, but 600+ is ideal.

    I would think something zoom that's 400 ish with an optional t/c would be perfect.

    Rob
     
  6. KMac

    KMac TPF Noob!

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    I think most serious bird photographers would use at least a 600mm f/5.6 or a 300mm f/2.8 with a matched high quality 2x teleconverter over any shorter focal length zoom.

    However, you can get by with less expensive equipment if you are willing to use a faster ISO film/setting and accept a slightly lower quality in your final print.

    Digiscoping (attaching a digital camera to a spotting scope) is also a less expensive option but the focal plane of spotting scopes is typically very curved so that you get much softer edges than with a photographic lens.

    I hope this helps,
    Kevin
     
  7. zedin

    zedin TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    k... Looks like I just need to stick it out and keep saving then for a good long lens. Will get suggestions on which to get when I have around 1k saved up =p
     
  8. cbay

    cbay TPF Noob!

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    Yes to get good quality bird shots without disturbing so you can shot for sometime and even shoot up trees etc, the best is anything over 400mm. but a 200mm would be okay aslong as it was used with an extender (Next on my wish list :p) But length does come @ a cost but will be worth every penny.
     
  9. slakker

    slakker TPF Noob!

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    I have a 80 to 400 VR and find it's good for small birds at 50 to 100 yards or so... so the larger the subject the farther they can be. Assuming light conditions, etc. etc.

    My buddy has a 600 and it's awesome to shoot with, but IMO it's pretty much useless without a very stable tripod, hence the cost is not just on the lens in this case.
     
  10. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    I don't know the nikon lineup, but it's a lot of money. 1k plus for anything useful.
     
  11. LWW

    LWW TPF Noob!

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    For the $350 end I would go to ebay and get an old, and great, Nikon 70-210 F4 AF, and a Sigma 400 F5.6 LD.

    This would give you a film equivalent of a 105-315 F4 and a 600 F5.6 without having to use TCs.

    For $950 I would go to ebay and get a Nikon 80-200 F2.8 ED, the Sigma, a decent tripod and monopod.

    Other than my D50 I've never bought a new SLR.

    LWW
     
  12. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

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    i've heard some good things about sigma's 50-500mm f4-f6.3. I believe some on the forum have them...


    it would be better to get a shorter lens with good optics and add a 1.4x extender than to get a longer lens of low quality because the nice ones are too expensive. for instance, a 300mm (or even a 200mm, depending on how close you can get) with a 1.4x extender provides a nice focal length when coupled with the 1.5x crop factor.
     

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