Need advice on a solid Telephoto


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Feb 15, 2006
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New England
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Im looking for a good telephoto lens. The main things Im looking for are fast focusing and sharp focus. I have Nikon D-50. Cost is an issue So I would like to keep it as affordable as possible, are there any quality lenses in the 500-1000 range? I was looking at the 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED AF VR Zoom-Nikkor lens, anyone know about this lens. Is the vibration reduction realy useful?
From what I've heard the 80-400 is pretty slow to focus and it hunts a bit. There are definitely quality lenses in the 500-1000 range they're going to cost big money. I just got a 70 - 200mm f/2.8 VR, awesome lens, but not cheap. Focus is fast and the images are very sharp. VR can be useful, but it depends on what you shoot. On a tripod it is not useful at all and needs to be off, hand held at slower shutter speeds it'll get you a few stops. It will help with camera shake, but not motion blur.
You might find some cheaper prices with the 3rd party lenses, but I prefer to stick to Nikkor.

Wait, you meant $500 to $1000 range not 500mm - 1000mm, ignore the comment above....
I've got the 80-400 and love it. Gives excellent results and is pretty fast to focus. Now if you compare it to the 70-200mm VR it is a little slower but not by much.

I've not had a problem with hunting either unless I'm shooting a bird in a tree or something and then it, like any of my other lenses, can hunt a little to lock onto the bird and not a branch behind it.

All in all it is an excellent lens and you will be very happy with it. It is heavy but the tripod collar works well.
How much did you get your 80-400 for?
if you're going to use it handheld anywhere other than in the presence of strong sunlight, VR will help A LOT.

take my canon 300mm f/4 IS for example, without IS you would need around 1/500s. IS can compensate for 3 stops, so multiply the time by 8 (2x2x2) you roughly 1/60s.
D-50 said:
How much did you get your 80-400 for?

I don't remember off hand but it was over a grand I think. I got it from B&H Photo. You can find a good deal on a used one sometime. Try the Nikonians Web site. I think there was one on there recently for sale.
Although no VR, people seem to really like the Sigma 50-500! Canon and Nikon people. About $900 from several stores (good ones). At that price its about $500 less than the Nikon 80-400. Best price on a discount store I might try was $1,369. Ones that I definately would buy from $1,429.

The Sigma will probably be my next lens.
The Sigma 80-400mm lens is also very good, and has IS. costs $999 from B&H.

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