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Archive 2013 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding
  
 
BenV
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p.1 #1 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Quick question: I want to start doing more birding photography. The longest lens I currently own is the 300 f/4 AF-S. Obviously a lot of times I find myself wanting more reach. Is there any reasonably priced way to get 400mm? I don't have the budget for the 400 f/2.8 unfortunately. And I'm a few dollars short from the new 800 f/5.6

Anywho, back on track. Besides adding a TC to the 300 I already have, are there any good quality 400+ primes, from 3rd party manufactures I might have over looked, that won't break the bank? I'd really like to not go over $1500-$2000 as birding is a rare hobby I have.



Feb 05, 2013 at 04:16 PM
Zebrabot
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p.1 #2 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


If you don't need AF, the 400mm f/5.6 AIS is awesome. It plays nicely with old teleconverters too.



Feb 05, 2013 at 04:30 PM
plubbry
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p.1 #3 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Well, if your just a FEW dollars short of the 800 5.6 how about a 500 or 600 VR?

My only experience is with the 300 f4 AFS and can understand your desire for more reach. A 1.4TC will be the cheapest way to 400mm+ and will give decent results.

Another possible option, one that I have looked at extensively, is a used 500 f4 AI-P. Sure it is manual focus but is chipped for full metering and can occasionally be found for $2k or less. This lens wouldn't be as easy to use if your shooting BIF though.

What body are you currently using? Perhaps getting a high MP DX body (D7000 or the new D5200) to put more pixels on the bird would help.



Feb 05, 2013 at 04:35 PM
BenV
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p.1 #4 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Zebrabot wrote:
If you don't need AF, the 400mm f/5.6 AIS is awesome. It plays nicely with old teleconverters too.


Well I always prefer AF, but i will definitely keep an eye out for it. If the price is right I might just give it a go.



Feb 05, 2013 at 04:42 PM
BenV
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p.1 #5 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


plubbry wrote:
Well, if your just a FEW dollars short of the 800 5.6 how about a 500 or 600 VR?

My only experience is with the 300 f4 AFS and can understand your desire for more reach. A 1.4TC will be the cheapest way to 400mm+ and will give decent results.

Another possible option, one that I have looked at extensively, is a used 500 f4 AI-P. Sure it is manual focus but is chipped for full metering and can occasionally be found for $2k or less. This lens wouldn't be as easy to use if your shooting BIF though.

What body
...Show more

Ah forgot to mention, my main body is a D800. I'm really looking for perched birds, but birds in flight would be fun to shoot as well.



Feb 05, 2013 at 04:43 PM
asiostygius
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p.1 #6 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Zebrabot wrote:
If you don't need AF, the 400mm f/5.6 AIS is awesome. It plays nicely with old teleconverters too.


Agreed, but also I would add that if you are willing to spend up to US$ 2,000.00, with luck you can get decent conditions 500mm f/4 P ais EDIF or 600mm f/5.6 ais EDIF. For birding we always need more reach

Some samples:



Burrowing Owl with a 600mm f/5.6 ais by labecoaves, on Flickr

Burrowing Owl
Nikkor AI-S 600mm f/5.6 EDIF, support was a beanbag on the car window sill
D300 1/100s f/8 ISO 200 at ~8m





Colaptes campestris by labecoaves, on Flickr

The Campo Flicker unusually perched in an exotic pine tree.
D300 + Nikkor 600mm f/5.6 AI-S EDIF + TC14EII = 840mm f/8, @ f/8, ISO 800, 1/100s , tripod. The bird was at 30m, ~30% crop.





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Vermilion-crowned Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis by labecoaves, on Flickr

Vermilion-crowned Flycatcher.
D2x + Nikkor 500mm f/4 P AI-S + TC-16A first field tests.
AF is possible with D2 series cameras without any mod of the TC.
Consider this is a 60% crop of original image.



Feb 05, 2013 at 04:52 PM
binary visions
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p.1 #7 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


The 500mm f/4 P is an excellent lens. Manual focus only, which has some limiting of its utility (BIF are pretty tough with a manual focus lens), but it's sharp, not too heavy for a 500mm, and takes a teleconverter well.


Feb 05, 2013 at 05:19 PM
BenV
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p.1 #8 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


asiostygius wrote:
Agreed, but also I would add that if you are willing to spend up to US$ 2,000.00, with luck you can get decent conditions 500mm f/4 P ais EDIF or 600mm f/5.6 ais EDIF. For birding we always need more reach

Some samples:

Burrowing Owl
Nikkor AI-S 600mm f/5.6 EDIF, support was a beanbag on the car window sill
D300 1/100s f/8 ISO 200 at ~8m


The Campo Flicker unusually perched in an exotic pine tree.
D300 + Nikkor 600mm f/5.6 AI-S EDIF + TC14EII = 840mm f/8, @ f/8, ISO 800, 1/100s , tripod. The bird was at 30m, ~30% crop.


Vermilion-crowned Flycatcher.
D2x +
...Show more

Lovely photos. It looks like I'll be on the hunt for a 500/600 this month then. Thanks



Feb 05, 2013 at 05:27 PM
r_k_t
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p.1 #9 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


You could look at a Nikon 1 body and the FT-1 adapter with the 300 f4.

I have had reasonable success with a 70-300 VR.



Feb 05, 2013 at 06:15 PM
BenV
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p.1 #10 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


r_k_t wrote:
You could look at a Nikon 1 body and the FT-1 adapter with the 300 f4.

I have had reasonable success with a 70-300 VR.


While I have no personal experience with the Nikon 1, I don't believe it'll meet my needs or image quality wants. I'd like to just with my D800 and investing in more glass.



Feb 05, 2013 at 06:25 PM
 

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playerofwar
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p.1 #11 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Nikon 1 series is clearly underestimated by a lot of photographers, but it's just an amazing camera, very very nice sensor (with good iso performance), compact package and super fast focus. The ones that did try the 1 series for birding are astonisched by it's capabilities (btw nikon 1 sensor would make a 70+ mp fullframe body), 2.7 crop is very nice to have and you can crop down even more.


Feb 05, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Frogfish
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p.1 #12 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


You could also consider two excellent lenses in the Sigma 500/4.5 or Sigma 120-300/2.8. You can add a x1.4 TC to the former and both x1.4 or/and 2.0 TC to the latter. In all cases the lenses are superb with these TCs.

Prices are ca. US$2,000 - 3,000 for a nice used copy 500 and ca. $2,000 new for the current OS version of the very versatile 120-300. Both are very very sharp with decent AF (slightly faster on the 120-300).



Feb 05, 2013 at 07:58 PM
cohenfive
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p.1 #13 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Lots of good advice above. I bought a 500vr as the longest lens that i could reasonably hand hold for extended periods of time. Fantastic lens, takes my 1.7tc pretty well. It's just really expensive, but all the long Nikon glass is.


Feb 05, 2013 at 08:48 PM
BenV
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p.1 #14 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


playerofwar wrote:
Nikon 1 series is clearly underestimated by a lot of photographers, but it's just an amazing camera, very very nice sensor (with good iso performance), compact package and super fast focus. The ones that did try the 1 series for birding are astonisched by it's capabilities (btw nikon 1 sensor would make a 70+ mp fullframe body), 2.7 crop is very nice to have and you can crop down even more.


I'm sure in the right hands it can take great photos. I just don't want it and have no need for it



Feb 05, 2013 at 09:02 PM
BenV
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p.1 #15 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Frogfish wrote:
You could also consider two excellent lenses in the Sigma 500/4.5 or Sigma 120-300/2.8. You can add a x1.4 TC to the former and both x1.4 or/and 2.0 TC to the latter. In all cases the lenses are superb with these TCs.

Prices are ca. US$2,000 - 3,000 for a nice used copy 500 and ca. $2,000 new for the current OS version of the very versatile 120-300. Both are very very sharp with decent AF (slightly faster on the 120-300).


Hmm, didn't even know sigma made a 500. Will definitely give that some thought as I love the 35/85 from them. The 120-300 crossed my mind, but then I decided I already own a 70-200 and a 300, so I'd rather stick with a nice long prime.



Feb 05, 2013 at 09:04 PM
BenV
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p.1 #16 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


cohenfive wrote:
Lots of good advice above. I bought a 500vr as the longest lens that i could reasonably hand hold for extended periods of time. Fantastic lens, takes my 1.7tc pretty well. It's just really expensive, but all the long Nikon glass is.


Maybe someday I can splurge for the Nikon 500, but its just way out of budget for my usage. Birding is a rare hobby I have. So even $2000 is kind of pushing it for how little use the lens will be getting.



Feb 05, 2013 at 09:05 PM
davidnholtjr
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p.1 #17 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


BenV wrote:
Quick question: I want to start doing more birding photography. The longest lens I currently own is the 300 f/4 AF-S. Obviously a lot of times I find myself wanting more reach. Is there any reasonably priced way to get 400mm? I don't have the budget for the 400 f/2.8 unfortunately. And I'm a few dollars short from the new 800 f/5.6

Anywho, back on track. Besides adding a TC to the 300 I already have, are there any good quality 400+ primes, from 3rd party manufactures I might have over looked, that won't break the bank? I'd really like
...Show more

Just get a TC for your 300/4. It's 420mm and works wonderful. Or get a Canon body cheap and the awesome 400/5.6L

Those are your best bet.

Some from the 300/4+1.4xTC


DSC_1891 copy by David N Holt Jr, on Flickr


DSC_2329 copy by David N Holt Jr, on Flickr



Feb 05, 2013 at 09:15 PM
BenV
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p.1 #18 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


davidnholtjr wrote:
Just get a TC for your 300/4. It's 420mm and works wonderful. Or get a Canon body cheap and the awesome 400/5.6L

Those are your best bet.

Some from the 300/4+1.4xTC



maybe I can hold my breath and Nikon will come out with a 400 f/5.6 in the next month or two
at the end of the week I plan on purchasing the 1.4 or 1.7tc, just haven't decided which yet



Feb 05, 2013 at 09:20 PM
davidnholtjr
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p.1 #19 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


BenV wrote:
maybe I can hold my breath and Nikon will come out with a 400 f/5.6 in the next month or two
at the end of the week I plan on purchasing the 1.4 or 1.7tc, just haven't decided which yet



Yeah, I'd love if Nikon put out a nice 400/5.6. I miss my Canon one.

The 1.7xTC works well the the 300/4 also and if your using the D800, AF will be no problem since it does up to f/8.



Feb 05, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Vox Sciurorum
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p.1 #20 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


I like my Sigma 500mm f/4.5.


Feb 05, 2013 at 09:34 PM
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