Long lens alternatives


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Oct 9, 2007
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greater NYC
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Most of my shots are landscape - with some wildlife as well. Been gradually adding to and refining my lens inventory. Had started out with a D70 and 24-120 VR with the 70-300VR for longer shots along with a real cheap 500 that was a pain to use (but good for shots of the kids rockclimbing).

Current 'carry' inventory is a D200, 70-200 2.8VR, converters, a 50 1.8 (too small and useful not to carry), a Tokina 12-24 4 and a 24-85 2.8-4 (replacing the 24-120VR).

My wife usually carrys a D40 with an 18-200VR and my oldest carries the D70 with a Tamron 18-200, 10.5 fisheye and 105 2.8 macro (he's into lots of close-up and 'effect' shots).

Recently got the 70-200 VR 2.8 and have been thrilled with it. Picked up all three Nikon teleconverters (buy used - MUCH cheaper than new) and been happy enough with them so I can use this lens up to 340 with the 1.7 x with no issues and even as a 400 with minimal sacrifices (great for shooting kids soccer).

IMO, this makes this lens roughly equivalent to the Nikon 80-400 VR - a little less light maybe but probably faster focus with the AF-S. The Sigma 80-400 OS seems to be little different than the Nikon 80-400 and the Sigma 50-500 seems to be a tripod lens.

I've looked at other alternatives and am thinking that it might be better to get a fixed length 300. I could also get 420, 510 or 600 with the converters. To get the best possible use it seems like I'm better off saving up for a 2.8 instead of going for a 4, though the weight and size then become issues. Still, going for the new 300 2.8 VR seems to make more sense than spending the same for the larger 200-440 4 VR - roughly the same cost.

Thoughts, Comments, Advice? of course by the time I've saved up enough there may be another alternative available......

Most of my hiking is now of the day hike variety so I'm no longer carrying a full backpack and can carry more photo gear. The VR has been useful as many of the wildlife shots we've gotten are with little notice and hand-held. I've used a monopod for some but the tripod has come into play more for landscapes when you've got more time to set up. I shoot more large critters than bird so I'm not pining away for a HUGE prime.
Long primes and converters are my preference. I like the 300 2.8 (mine is an old AI-S MF version) and the 400 f/3.5 (also AI-S MF) arguably the sharpest long glass Nikkor has ever made. A couple of matched converters and my day is set. For shorter glass, I use a couple of non-VR 80-200 f/2.8 lenses. And you are correct, a good used lens is cheaper than new, but make sure it has no issues before buying. Know what to look for and you will be fine.

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