Best Wildlife Telephoto Option for $1,000?

Discussion in 'Nikon Lenses' started by Rafterman, Feb 28, 2018.

  1. nerwin

    nerwin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    200-500 5.6 for sure.


     
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  2. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Aw, man. A nice 200-500 just popped up for sale locally. must. resist.
     
  3. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.
     
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  4. Cortian

    Cortian No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Not if you have a strong CFO in the house ;)
     
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  5. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I struggle to have the most expensive lens in my bag be a specialty bird lens. Something that compromises a small but important percentage of shooting. Sure, there's some other uses, but...
     
  6. BrentC

    BrentC Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Ahh, but once you get the lens and start shooting birds/wildlife it will no longer be a small percentage of your shooting. It will suck you in.
     
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  7. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That is why my 500mm lens is an old used Nikon mirror lens that I got for about $150.
    Which is 10% of the cost of a new 200-500.
    I don't shoot LONG, enough to justify the cost of a $1,400, Nikon 200-500 lens.
    But, not having AF on rapidly moving subjects will seriously reduce your keepers. My tennis keepers were about 10% or less. Change to stationary subjects, and my keepers go up to 90+%.
    For ME, the manual 500mm lens is "good enough."
     
  8. Rafterman

    Rafterman No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I hear you and I can respect that. Each person uses their camera for different reasons. Some people are perfectly happy doing street photography with a $200 used 50mm and nothing else. Some of us would be happy with a 500mm f/4 and nothing else. :biggrin-93: For me, I don't do photography as a living, it's just something I enjoy and help other people enjoy through my photos. I've loved birds, especially raptors, ever since I volunteered at a wild bird rehab center for a semester in high school about 20 years ago. So in my case, it makes sense to spend money on a lens that allows me to shoot what I really love. My ancient 18-70mm that I bought used for $150 is my go-to walk-around lens for vacations and my 85mm 1.8G is for when I do free portrait sessions for family and friends.

    Now that I'm getting heavily back into photography though, I'll be adding a couple more primes to my arsenal, as well as a Tokina ultra-wide zoom of some sort. I had their 12-24mm f/4 when it first came out, and really loved that lens, and it rocked for landscapes and architecture. However, I got rid of it to finance another hobby I was more into at the time (car customizing). I'll probably get my hands on their 11-20mm f/2 or 11-16mm f/2.8 by this summer.

    In addition to shooting birds again, I'm going to start volunteering at my church doing photography for the various events going on there throughout the week. Understandably, they require you to have your own equipment, and let's face it, an 18-70mm kit lens isn't going to cut it for low-light situations indoors. I've been going back-and-forth between buying 35 and 50mm f/1.8G primes or a 24-70mm f/2.8. That's a whole other discussion though.

    As for what's going on with my bird lens situation, I'm starting to think more seriously about the Nikon 200-500mm over the 300 f/4 with 1.4 TC. Cruising around eBay, the best prices I could find for a nearly new 300 f/4 and 1.4 TC was about $985 total. That's just a couple hundred dollars less than a very nice used 200-500. I think I'm mostly worried about sharpness though, as I've read online in numerous places that the 200-500 loses sharpness at 500mm. Obviously, most consumer level tele-zooms tend to lose IQ at the long end anyway. However, all other things being equal, I wonder which would produce a nicer image: the 300mm f/4 and 1.4 TC at 420mm and f/5.6 or the 200-500 at 420mm and f/5.6?
     
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  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The one non-equal issue is that the 200-500/5.6 has Vibration Reduction, and the 300/4 AF-S does not. In the wind, or in lower light, I think the VR system could easily lead to much sharper shots than a non-VR lens. Also, VR is fantastic for shooting in the wind! Or when out of breath. But VR is also _superb_ for panning at slower speeds...something the bird shooter might really want to consider: panning, and keeping the camera steady as relates to up-and-down accidental movement. My experience is that VR is infinitely better than any tripod when panning. Or when shooting from a boat. I think the "sharpness" quotient from the optics is a lot less critical than the sharpness quotient that the shooting platform and shutter speed and f/stop and ISO put onto the shooter. Early and late in the day and VR starts to be an advantage.
     
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  10. Rafterman

    Rafterman No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Here's an off-the-wall idea: what if I were to buy the new Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 ($1,300) and then get either their 1.4x or 2.0x teleconverter (about $400 each) at a later date? Not only would I have a pro level 105-300mm f/2.8 lens for portraits after the DX crop was factored in, but I'd also have either a 147-420mm f/4 lens with the 1.4 TC or a 210-600mm f/5.6 lens with the 2.0x TC.

    If I went that route, I'd probably sell my 85mm 1.8G to help offset the cost of the Tamron and also because of the overlapping focal length.
     
  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    You're putting way too much emphasis on "equivalent" focal length,and omitting the fact that a _REAL_ 200-500 is actually wayyyyyyyy longer than a 70-200 with a 1.4x or 2.0x added. Real focal length is more important than adding 1.4x to a 70-200 to make a 280mm...and most 2.0x conerters on a zoom cause a major quality hit, and wide-open the lens is often NOT usable...meaning at f/2.8 with a 2.0x TC unit, the effective aperture is a nominal f/5.6 and actual T-stop is LESS...and the quality of f/2.8, meaning wide-open, is substantially below quality at 1-stop down (meaning f/4) and at 2 stops down (meaning f/5.6); adding the 1-stop or 2-stops' worth of light lost due to a 1.4x TC or a 2.0x TC, and the quality they also destroy....ehhhh...Conside that f/4 becomes f/5.6 with a 1.4x TC and f/4 is nominally f/8 with the 2.0TC on there...and I say "nominally" because the actual T-stop of a 20-24 element zoom + a 7-element TC is poor....Transmission Stop is important in exposure computing.

    Hey...I have SHOT a high-grade 70-200 f/2.8 with a 1.4x Nikon TC 14e-II Converter...with the zoom lens, the TC ruins the edges at wide-open, meaning f/2.8 to effective f/4 is sub-par; the main lens needs to be closed down 1-stop, so f/4 becomes an effective f/5.6...and it is mere a 280mm focal length. REAL focal length is the major factor here, esp. for birds. The zoom + TC 1.4 is not even as long as the 300mm prime, and any zoom I have _ever_ shot is lower in optical quality than the Nikkor 300mm f/4 AF-S prime lens.

    If you want to have a bird lens...a 70-200/2.8 is NOT a birding lens...with any TC added to it. The idea that you can add a converter to a 70-200 for sheer focal length is not a good idea. it's wayyyyyyyy shorter than a REAL 200-500. Which is, the way you keep referring to it a "300mm to 700mm equivalent" on the 1.5x FOV factor DX Nikon size sensor.

    This started off as "best wildlife telephoto option around $1,000". There's no place in that for a 70-200/2.8 and a converter.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
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  12. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The 70-200 f/2.8 + 2x TC is not an off the wall idea.
    I would go with the 2x TC, to eliminate focal length overlap, and to give you the most reach.

    But I am old school, and have trouble accepting that a TC will not significantly deteriorate your image quality.
    Granted the new TC are much better (and more expensive) than the TC back in my film days.
    And if it is a matched set, lens + TC, it should work better than a Tamron lens and a brand X TC.

    For portraits, just consider that the 70-200 f/2.8 is a LOT bulkier and heavier than your 85. So handling will be affected. There is no free lunch.
     
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