$2000 lens budget.. most/sharpest zoom???


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Dec 27, 2007
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Milton, ON
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I've got a $2000 (roughly) budget and I'm looking for the best zoom/sharness quality that I can get.
Hoping for 300 or 400mm, as I'm mostly shooting wildlife.

I'm shooting with a D200, so obviously I need a Nion setup.

Any one have any suggestions?
Best quality would be a prime lens at either 300mm or 400mm focal length. I know nikon make a very good 200-400mm zoom and for your focal range ideas that is what I choose if you want a quality zoom - however I think it is outside of your price range.
Look up the nikon lenses in the 300mm and 400mm focal lengths and have a look at what is on offer in that price range.
Thanks for the response. I think my biggest concern would be the speed.
I've owned a sigma 70-200 2.8 (which I'm selling) and I've used a Sigma 300mm 2.8 prime (which I'd love, but its still out of my range).

I think that anything decent in the $2000 range is going to be a 4.0..
Does anyone use a 4.0 (300 or 400 mm) for wildlife/ birds?
These are a few that I'm considering.. does anyone have any experience with these? Or something else in the same range?

NIKON VR 80-400F4.5-5.6 D ED AF


The sigma 120-300mm (I think its that one) actually gets better reviews than the sigma 300mm! (one of the few cases where zoom beats a prime in similar qualty areas)

Wildlife is certainly possible with an f4 lens - the only downside I would see is that its going to be less good (than an f2.8) in dimmer weather and it won't take a 2*teleconverter for added use - though a 1.4teleconverter would be a good way to get a 400mm+ lens (not as good as a 400mm prime lens, but with a good enough quality to be worth doing)
The Sigma 120-300 is a 2.8 (so $3500+ range).. It would be nice, but not this year.

I would consider a 1.4 TC, but I would never again use a 2x TC. I just sold mine yesterday after 6 months of use, I never earned a single worthy shot with it (2.0 TC with the 70-200 2.8 sigma).
Digi - even on a canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS lens the 2* is a tricky beast to use. They generally work best on the topend prime lenses only (the f2.8 sort) and do take getting used to. I found that stopping down can help a lot!
Being CDN with a $2000 budget and looking to buy new the Nikkor 300mm F4 with a 1.4 tele seems most logical...
I would look into a Nikon 80-200 AF-S 2.8 and a teleconverter. This lens has prime quality, and is effectively 120-300 on a D200. It also works nicely with teleconverters, and costs less than half of what you are willing to spend.
I use a 70-200mm and it is too short for normal wildlife work (I find).
Its great in zoos and such- but even with a 1.4TC its just a bit too short. A 300mm prime would be a better investment for a wildlife lens (f4 or f2.8 variety).
I consider my 70-200mm part of a set - which includes a 300mm --- I just have to get a 300mm
For that money I would buy a Nikon 70-200 VR and a TC-17 Teleconverter.

That combo would give you a 70-340 range at either f/2.8 or f/4.8 (depending if the TC was on it). The TC-17 does NOT degrade image quality, and it is the only one of the TC series that lets the VR continue to work (unless Nikon has updated that within the last 6 months) with the TC on.

I use this combo, you can get it new for about $2K and it not only would give you long/fast but also VR and an excellent shorter range option as well when you are not using the TC.
first I am a bit dubius as to the claim that the TC has no effect on image quality - I would expect there to be some degradation (all be it very minor).
But VR does not work with TCs? odd since the canon IS still works with teleconverters (though granted it might have less of an effect since the focal range is increased)
All TCs will degrade image quality. That is just the way it is. A good TC on a good lens like a 70-200 VR will leave you with quality images, but that's not because the image wasn't degraded, it's because it started with high enough quality that you don't readily notice it.

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