Question about telephoto lenses???

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Ramesses, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. Ramesses

    Ramesses TPF Noob!

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    Hi:

    I have a question regarding telephoto lenses. Presently I have a Nikon D40 with a 18-70 mm lens, which I love. However, I do need a telephoto lens especially when taking pictures of animals in Zoos. I’m getting ready to purchase one (1 to 3 months,) but have not decided which one I would like to get. My choices are between the 55-200 VR and the 70-300 VR2 (or any other one, but do not have the budget for over $500.00.) There are advantages and disadvantages with both, as a see it.

    55-200 VR Advantages

    1. Price $250.00, but is not the overriding consideration. It is probably the best lens for the money. Yes, it is made in China.
    2. Lighter than the 70-300, very important for a D40.
    3. The Focal range is very good. I hate to change lenses. Therefore, with a 55mm focal range, I could get away without having to change to a shorter one. I know what kind of lens I would need for most occasions. In a Zoo, for example, I just mount the telephoto.

    55-200 VR Disadvantages

    1. I’m not too sure about the quality of the optics. My main concern.
    2. I believe that a 200 mm focal range is enough. However, a 300mm might be better. On the other hand, I only had ~100 mm focal range in the past (or 135mm – film)

    70-300 VR2 Advantages

    1. I believe that it is a much better lens than the 55-200 optics wise.
    2. It is the companion of my present 18-70 mm.
    3. The D40 might not be my final camera. I will probably upgrade it, in about 2 years from now, to a D200 or the then version of the D200. Hopefully it would be a 20+ MP camera. Therefore, with the 18-70 and 70 300 VR2, I would be set with the lenses.

    70-300 VR2 Disadvantages

    1. Price ~$500 as compare to $250 with the 55-200.
    2. Bigger and longer, but quite light with excellent balance considering the focal range. It is lighter and better balanced than my 18-70. However, it is plastics.
    3. According to Thom Hogan, it is not that good over 200 mm.
    What do you think? Is the 70-300 worth the money or the 55-200 is good enough. Does anyone have any experience with either lens? Even though, the 70-300 is a very good lens (for the money,) it is not the lens either.

    Thanks and best regards,

    Ramesses
     
  2. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Ok, good questions.

    The optics of the 55-200 are quite good, no problem there. The VR is not as good as the 70-300. Even though the 55-200 is a newer lens, it uses first generation VR, which is why Nikon only lists it as a 3 stop improvement on shutter speed instead of 4.

    It also has a big advantage of having a 52mm filter, so one set of filters will work on it and the stock 18-55.

    The 70-300 is a better choice if you are serious about doing telephoto work with your D40, but not wanting to move to a pro lens.

    You mentioned the zoo, there is a big issue of "blow through" on cages where the 300 will allow you to blow past a cage much better than a 200 will... I know this, because when we do zoos my wife shoots an 18-200, and I shoot a 70-300.
     
  3. Ramesses

    Ramesses TPF Noob!

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    Hi Sabbath:

    Nice Pictures…really nice!

    Thanks for your response. I’m inclined to agree with you about the 70-300 lens. That was my original plan (18-70 + 70-300 VR2) and I will stick to it. The only reason I began to doubt my decision was that I read several reports praising the 55-200 and began to doubt if the 70-300 was worth the difference in price. It also means that I will have to wait a couple of months before getting it. L

    I was always a wide angle type of photo enthusiast. I always got very close to the objects (primarily to minimize the amount of people getting in front of my camera) and then going wide. However, my last two visits to the LA and San Diego Zoos, I was completely handicapped because of not having a telephoto. There is no way I can get around it except cropping the pictures, but it is not the same.

    Judging from your observations the extra 100mm reach is very important in photographing wild life, something I really enjoy doing.

    I have posted (just today) some of my pictures on the following site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ramesses/

    Thanks again for your response and very good advice:

    Ramesses
     
  4. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I figured that I could dig up an example of the difference between a 200mm (her 18-200 VR) and a 300 mm shot, and I found this that will show you what I mean. Same snow monkey shot within a few seconds of each other at basically the same angle.

    Neither shot is a keeper, they were both in the trash heap, but they show you what I mean by "blow through" on the cages.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. cumi

    cumi TPF Noob!

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  6. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm not familiar with the lenses but I think I would choose the faster one if, in fact, one is faster than the other. They have about the same zoom range so that shouldn't be a deciding factor. The VR is good option for zoo photography. Most photographers (myself excluded) tend not to carry tripods around the zoo.
     
  7. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Stay away from the first 2 they are junk. All you have to do is compare them side by side. If you look at the size of the glass on the 55-200 it is like 1 1/2 inches across for the front element. I am not sure abotu the differences with the last 2 but I know the last one is a good lens.
     
  8. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have taken pictures with it... it is not fast, but it is not junk.

    I don't care what a lens test says, or what it looks like, or what the front glass measures... the only think I care about is whether the images are sharp and distortion free.

    To me, it is all about the image. If I take an image with a lens wide open, and it looks clear and sharp when I blow it up to 20x30 prints, then it is good enough for me.
     
  9. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Respectfully (and I do mean this respectfully, your opinions on equipment are almost always dead-on accurate in my opinion) I want to disagree with you on one bit of your statement...

    You say they have about the same zoom range and that shouldn't be the deciding factor. I have to disagree, from personal experience on this if the person is shooting through cages/fences/bars/obstructions. The difference between 200mm and 300mm on these two particular lenses is dramatic, when it comes to being able to blur out the obstructions. I am not a tech geek, I don't know (or care) about the reasons, I can just tell you from the experience of literally shooting over 10,000 pictures in the last four months through obstructed cages (another 5,000 through glass and another 10,000 unobstructed) that there is a huge difference in the amount of what I call "blow through" (I am sure there is a technical name, I don't know what it is) between a Nikon lens at 200mm and one at 300mm, as my example showed. It's the difference between having a usable picture, and not. I see this exact thing all the time, and if I know nothing else about photography, I have learned what it takes to blur a fence/cage out of a picture so you can see an animal behind it.

    I offer as evidence My Website.

    Again, I do say this with all due respect, since I really like what you have to say about equipment and shooting in general.
     
  10. Ramesses

    Ramesses TPF Noob!

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    Hi Sabbath:

    Thanks for taking the time and your response.

    Yes, I am aware of what “shooting through a fence” means or rather I became painfully aware of it when I went to the LA Zoo. I shot some excellent photos of monkeys through the wire fence or rather some magnificent photos of a fence with everything else a blur. However, the details of the fence were spectacular. Needless to say that they were discarded without much fanfare or even a wake. J

    On my trip to the San Diego Zoo, since I’m in P* mode (most of the time – I’m lazy J,) I press the shutter half way to set everything and then manually focus on the animal behind the fence, if needed.

    I have an annual pass to the LA Zoo and other Zoos in the area (Not the San Diego one – 120 miles away – but a great Zoo.) However, I do need a telephoto badly! Oh well! I have to wait. As they say, “Rome was not build in one day and neither is my camera system.” J

    Thanks and best regards,

    Ramesses
     
  11. Ramesses

    Ramesses TPF Noob!

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    Hi FMW:

    Thanks for your response.

    Include me in your group of not wanting to haul a tripod throughout a Zoo. I love to travel light with only one lens – period. I have a waist belt where I carry all my photographic needs for the day and my camera around my neck. That is one reason I was looking at the 55-200 VR, because of its versatility.

    I can get away, if pressed, using the 55mm focal range. However, as you pointed out, the 70-300 VR is the faster lens. One problem I have is that I love the 18-70 lens. If I get a lens not of the same quality or performance, I will not be happy with it and eventually I will stop using it. Therefore, the 55-200 might become a very expensive inside the closet ornament. I only hope that the 70-300 is near the same quality and performance as my 18-70.

    Best regards,

    Ramesses
     
  12. Ramesses

    Ramesses TPF Noob!

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    Hi JIP:

    Thanks for your response.

    I agree with you that neither lens (the 55-200 or the 70-300) are of exceptional quality. However, I cannot go beyond the 70-300, at this point, for two reasons: monetary and my present camera is the D40. I do not have the photographic budget to go beyond $500 and I am very hesitant to mount a bigger or longer lens on the D40, a small camera.

    My priorities are:

    1. A telephoto lens to compliment the 18-70.
    2. A better tripod head.
    3. The SB800 Speedlight flash.
    4. The D200 or future equivalent (Preferably one with 20+ MP.) That is provided I take to photography and stick to it.
    5. Better lens system with bigger apertures and optics

    Best regards,

    Ramesses
     

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