In search of a good 300mm prime.

Lawmac2011

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Greeting folks,
I am looking to invest in a 300mm prime and would like some suggestions from those with more experienced than I. As of right now I am looking into Nikon 300 f4 & f2.8 (AFS), Sigma 300 2.8, and tokina 300 2.8 (if I can find one). This will be used on a D300s body with either 1.7 or 1.4 TC. I am open to other suggestions and ideas. To note, this setup will be used for wildlife photography. Thanks in advance for your help!
 

kundalini

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What's your budget?
New prices at B&H for those the OP listed range from $1370 to $5800 USD. Didn't see a Tokina though.


I've got the Nikkor 300mm f/4 and really like it. I have also added the Nikon 1.7 TC with good to decent results.


EDIT:
I should add that I can get excellent results with the lens on its own. I shoot with a D300 and D700.
 
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KmH

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With a 1.4x TC f/2.8 effectively becomes f/4, and f/4 becomes f/5.6.
With a 1.7x TC f/2.8 effectively becomes f/5, and f/4 becomes f/7.1

I would expect some image quality degradation using any TC, but in general the more a TC adds in reach the more image quality is degraded.

I'm not a advocate of using 3rd party gear.
So I recommend the Nikon gear. Look around for a Nikon AF-I 400 mm f/2.8.
 

coastalconn

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Just a guess but are you mentioning the Tokina because of me? I have had amazing results with this lens so I don't think you have to be a Nikon snob and only buy Nikon glass especially if you are on a budget.. if you haven't seen my results look at my flickr. I've tagged each image with either promaster 1.7x, Tamron 1.4x or nothing if I didn't use a TC. Of course I got my Tokina super cheap fwiw. My flickr link is in my signature..
 
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Lawmac2011

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Budget is <2000, ideally around 1200. Looking to buy used. Kris, yes I have taken interest in the tokina after seeing and hearing your success with it. It just seems like an awesome lens just hard to find one. I am no means a nikon snob. Open to all ideas and thoughts.
 

Derrel

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With your budget, the 300/4 AF-S is a good bet. I have one, and it's a good lens optically, and with the TC14e or TC14e-II converters, it makes a decent 420mm f/5.6 effective, with pretty decent optics. The converter is of course, a high-quality, not-that-cheapo-when-bought-new item. I do not have the 1.7x converter, but have heard it's pretty good.

The real drawback to the 300/4 AF-S is the way it focuses...it's a bit "nervous" you might say. With the 1.4x added, it's even more-nervous. Thom Hogan's review of the lens addresses these issues better than I can in this short space, but know this: the 300/4 AF-S will fail in focusing enough times in a day when used for "action" work that you'll soon come to curse it, and worry about its AF reliability. Not its AF accuracy, but the worry that it will suddenly hunt for focus on a shot you've been working your way into throughout the day, or that two-frames-then-gone kind of shot. I used to use mine for track and field on the D1h and the D2x; the D2x has maybe the best 'action' AF system of any Nikon ever made, a wide-area, amazingly complex system with two modes, 9 of 11 cross-type sensors, covering MOST of the whole frame, and a four-mode focus area/focus grouping style switch, run by the thumb; In most ways, the D2x focuses faster, and better than my D3x, with the 51 point AF system. Anyway...the 300/4 AF-S focuses well...maybe 85% of the time. It's accurate, yes, but it DOES go one "hunts", and with the TC added, it's much worse at that. The 70-200/2.8 VR for example, focuses about 98% reliably, on the same sports. The 300/2.8 AFS-II focuses maybe 99.9% reliably. Over 700 frames at a typical baseball game, and the 300/2.8 on the D3x or D2x will give maybe 3,4 missed focuses. Seriously. On the lowly D70, the 300/2.8 can NAIL one-shot AF acquisition almost every single shot,all day long. It is THAT good! The 300/4...is NOT.

The "real" difference between the 300/2.8 and 300/4 AF-S of the same,identical generation is that the AF system of the bigger lens is just simply MORE-RELIABLE. You never,ever expect it NOT to nail focus, fast. With the f/4, you expect that, each day, it will fail to focus right and cost your chances. At least on moving subjects. This is based on eight years of ownership of both. If you shoot mostly static targets, the 300/4 is fine.
 

Tailgunner

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Just a guess but are you mentioning the Tokina because of me? I have had amazing results with this lens so I don't think you have to be a Nikon snob and only buy Nikon glass especially if you are on a budget.. if you haven't seen my results look at my flickr. I've tagged each image with either promaster 1.7x, Tamron 1.4x or nothing if I didn't use a TC. Of course I got my Tokina super cheap fwiw. My flickr link is in my signature..

It's hard to argue with a 3rd party lens when we see your wildlife photos...most of which is nothing short of amazing!
 
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Lawmac2011

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I think a 300 2.8 is what I'm going to get just have to decided what brand. I appreciate everyones' input so far.
 

amolitor

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The older 300/4 manual focus (AIS) lenses can be had for a song. If you need AF, of course that's no good.
 

Tailgunner

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I think a 300 2.8 is what I'm going to get just have to decided what brand. I appreciate everyones' input so far.

2.8 is the way to go for sure, especially if you plan on using a TC. I've been looking into this my self and keep thinking either a 70-200 w/TC converter or a prime 300mm 2.8. I've seen a few used Nikon 300mm 2.8 AF around $1,700.
 

KmH

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.... I don't think you have to be a Nikon snob and only buy Nikon glass especially if you are on a budget.
When I posted it looked like there were no budget constraints at all since the OP said they were considering a $5800 lens.

3rd party gear is reverse engineered and when new camera maker models come out sometimes the 3rd party gear is not compatible.

To then find out the OP has an ideal budget of no more than $1200 was a revelation.
 

Derrel

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.... I don't think you have to be a Nikon snob and only buy Nikon glass especially if you are on a budget.
When I posted it looked like there were no budget constraints at all since the OP said they were considering a $5800 lens.

3rd party gear is reverse engineered and when new camera maker models come out sometimes the 3rd party gear is not compatible.

To then find out the OP has an ideal budget of no more than $1200 was a revelation.

Yeah, happens a LOT. I gave a detailed reply to a poster inquiring about a 1choosing between a Sigma 120-300 zoom, and two models of Canon 300/2.8 and one Canon 400/2.8 lens, with the comments from him that currently that he shot mainly indoor basketball and indoor soccer, then next thing I know, he says a few posts later, he was wondering about which lens for North American FOOTBALL, which he may,or may not shoot this season...

The thing is, when a "Nikon snob" drops $2k or $3k or $4k on a lens...he can use that lens for 5,6,7,8,9 years and SELL IT for what he payed for it originally, pretty much.

When you drop $2,500 on a Sigma or Tokina, within a year it's worth $1000 less, and in ten years, it's a $$375 e-Bay steal of a deal, like what Coastalconn got himself...
 

matthewo

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A nikon 300mm afs or afs ii are great lenses.

There is a 300mm af-i as well that usually sells for $1500-$2000 range. Of coarse auto focus is not as fast, but still its not screw drive.
 

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