Buying a new lens for a trip to Alaska, advice sought

Jon_Are

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I'll be doing an inland Alaska trip in June. I'll be shooting landscapes, of course, but I'd also like to get some nice wildlife shots. Budget is $400-$500.

I am leaning toward the Nikkor 55-300 f4.5-5.6 VR.

Link:

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens 2197 B&H

I am open to suggestions, though. Any thoughts on this lens? Alternative choices? Other advice?

Thanks!
 

Trever1t

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I'll be cruising in July and contemplating renting a 500mm and maybe a converter. Can't help with that lens.
 

table1349

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This^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Wildlife in Alaska is not the "wildlife" found in most areas. Squirrels, Bunnies and little birds are just food for the wildlife there. Rent a 500mm lens for the trip. For the wildlife you will see there anything less than 400mm and you will be on the same buffet table as the squirrels, bunnies and little birds.
 
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Jon_Are

Jon_Are

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Hadn't thought of renting. I am going to look into that.

The Denali bus tours actually get pretty close to the wildlife, so 300mm should be plenty good enough. I was mostly asking about better alternatives, if any, to this lens.

And this:
This^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Wildlife in Alaska is not the "wildlife" found in most areas. Squirrels, Bunnies and little birds are just food for the wildlife there. Rent a 500mm lens for the trip. For the wildlife you will see there anything less than 400mm and you will be on the same buffet table as the squirrels, bunnies and little birds.

...makes zero sense. If I were shooting bunnies and squirrels, then I would need a bigger reach. Moose and bear, on the other hand, are generally a bit larger. :05.18-flustered:
 

Derrel

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A 500mm lens is a MAJOR pain in the ass for regular people. Period. Unless you wanna be Joe Photographer, 24/7 while on a cruise, a big 500mm prime lens is just not a reasonable item for most people. The sports shooter in gryphonslair99's DNA is making him think your photo ambitions are similar to him....he's spent wayyyy to many years shooting big glass to even notice a light little Nikon 500/4 prime... ( wink )

For $396, the 55-300 VR is going to be a lens you can easily carry around with you on a camera body. You have a Nikon D80 body....so get a lens that's fine on a D80 if you want convenience and ease as Priority #1. The 55mm to 300mm range will be okay for landscapes, seascapes, sunsets, sunrises, shots of the many things you'll see. If you were going there ONLY to shoot large wildlife, on shore, with a guide, sure...a massive lens the diameter of a 2-liter soda bottle, and twice as long as one, on a stout Manfrotto monopod would be a neat piece of kit to have.

Still...if you want to have a Nikon 500mm f/4 VR-G you could rent one for $278 for five days, or rent the new, somewhat light, relatively handle-able 200-500 f/5.6 VR-Nikkor zoom lens for a very,very reasonable $65 for five days. A zoom lens is nice for focal length flexibility--it gives you a lot more framing options when you're stuck on the deck of the ship: the 80-400 AF-S VR is a possible lens rental, as is the just-mentioned, 200-500 f/5.6 VR Nikon released recently.

Check Thom Hogan's reviews of the 80-400 VR and the 200-500 VR lenses. Those lenses, as well as the 500/4 VR-G, are well above the budget you've set out; the decision is to either buy something light and affordable, or to RENT something much better and more-capable, but also something you can handle and carry around. That's the deal with the new 80-400 AF-S VR lens--very good handling, VERY good optics, easy for most people to handle. The 200-500 is a much bigger, heavier, bulkier lens but a nice tele-zoom range, and large-ish size and weight, yet, do-able I think.

The 55-300 VR and 70-300mm VR lenses from Nikon are basically "consumer" lenses, easily, easily carried, so you can not fuss over or worry about a $10,000 lens or even a $2,500 lens. What to get for the trip depends on you, and how much of a big deal you want to make out of the trip, and what the "real purpose" of your picture-making will be.
 

SquarePeg

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Really enjoying my new Tamron 70-300. "That Nikon Guy" has a helpful video review comparing to the Nikon on youtube.
 

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