Noob asks "can you help me understand telephoto options please?"

boredredhead

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I am very, very new to DSLR photography and have been reading this forum, the Dummies book, other books, other sites, etc. to try to learn how to take decent pictures without using the Auto setting! Recently on vacation I found myself wishing for a telephoto lens (none was even available to rent, :sad anim:) so I started doing some homework about what's available for our Nikon D5000.
Please help me understand the technical differences between the $2,000 70-200 f2.8 and the $200 70-300 f4-5.6. I just don't understand how the larger aperture justifies a 10x price difference. What's happening inside? What are the comparative benefits of the more expensive lens (out of my current price range) vs. the other (which is less than I have budgeted)?
Maybe equally important, can I take good vacation-type photos (of, say, our daughter surfing or boats just offshore) with a 200mm lens? Is it a worthwhile investment?
Thanks for helping me understand!
 

The_Traveler

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the $2800 lens has magnificent build, image quality and vibration reduction and the high aperture allows for narrower depth of field to separate subject from background.
the $300 70-300 doesn't
 

Derrel

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The D5000 needs a lens that has an in-lens focusing motor. The ONLY Nikon lens to consider for the D5000 will carry the designation AF-S in its full name. The lens you want for the D5000 is not the f/4~5.6 model, but the AF-S G series model, which is an f/4.5~5.6 aperture, and has the Autofocus Silent-wave motor inside the lens (hence the name AF-S). It is smallish, about the size and length of 3/4 of a big can of Arizona Iced Tea, and is sharp. 200mm vs 300mm: 200 is long, whereas 300mm is 50% longer. The difference in reach is substantial.

A 70-200mm f/2.8 is BIG and heavy. The 70-300mm f/4.5~5.6 G is medium-sized and not-so-heavy. The 70-200 f/2.8 also has a smaller, lighter, less-expensive new baby brother, the 70-200mm f/4 AF-S VR-G.

Both the 70-200 models I would call "pro glass"; the 70-300 is a high-end consumer/prosumer. I own a 70-200/2.8 and the 70-300 VR. I carry the 70-300 more often when weight is an issue.
 
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boredredhead

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:) :) Thanks Derrel! That's exactly the kind of information I was looking for. With your recommendation, I went back to Adorama and compared a couple of models; I think the 70-300 you mentioned is the right one for me right now. Your information was very helpful; thanks!
 

Derrel

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:) :) Thanks Derrel! That's exactly the kind of information I was looking for. With your recommendation, I went back to Adorama and compared a couple of models; I think the 70-300 you mentioned is the right one for me right now. Your information was very helpful; thanks!

Oh, thank you for letting me know. Please be aware: the 70-300 AF-S VR-G lens is bought and sold by MANY amateurs!!! There are tons of them on the market used, and the used prices are VERY attractive--somewhere in the $329-$359 range, a savings of about $200 over "new". You might want to look at KEH.com for a clean, used example and save some serious coin. For a while, this lens was being recommended by Thom Hogan for use on the 24-MP D3x, and then a while later, the new 70-200 VR-II model replaced the old VR-i 70-200, so a lot of these were let go when the new, top-dog hit the market.
 

KmH

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The D5000 has manual focusing aids. (page 156 of your D5000 users manual)
Plus, auto focus is not a be all to end all. (page 55 of your D5000 users manual)

I just don't understand how the larger aperture justifies a 10x price difference.
A large part of the price difference is because the larger lens aperture requires all the lens elements have a wider diameter. Particularly when the lens is a constant aperture zoom lens.
Being capable of f/2.8 at 200 mm is what maximizes the lens element width. A Nikon 300 mm f.2,.8 prime lens (no zoom) is a $5800 lens.
Note also the professional grade $2400 AF-S 70-200 mm f/2.8G has 21 lens elements in 16 groups. Seven of the lens elements are made from ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) Glass.

The consumer grade $176 AF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6g only has 13 lens elements in 9 groups. None of the lens elements are ED glass. The Af 70-300 mm f/4.5.6G also does not have an auto focus motor in the lens and also has no VR (Vibration Reduction.)
So the quality of the lens elements used also factors into the cost of a lens. Indeed some consumer grade lens elements aren't made from glass, and are instead made from resin.

The glass in the lens constitutes the most expensive parts in the lens. As glass gets bigger, the more costly it becomes to make.
 
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