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Archive 2013 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding
  
 
trenchmonkey
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p.2 #1 · p.2 #1 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


I've tried ALL the TC's with the AF-S 300 f4 and settled on the TC-17E II as having the best
bang for the FL (500mm) The TC-14 II was very good, but I wanted more than 420 sans crop.
AF brisk and accurate on a Pro body and I'll let y'all decide on the IQ delivered SOOC. Handheld
95% of the time and I shoot what moves, so YMMV with statics on sticks AND any post work.




  NIKON D800    500mm    f/9.0    1/1250s    320 ISO    -0.7 EV  




Feb 05, 2013 at 09:41 PM
binary visions
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p.2 #2 · p.2 #2 · 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


Given how good the IQ is from the 300mm f/4 + 1.4x teleconverter, I'd say there's not much point to the 400mm f/5.6. I do wish they'd update the 300mm with VR.

If birding is only an occasional hobby for you, I'd probably start with the 1.7x teleconverter and go from there. It's a really decent combo, extremely portable, with good image quality. I tried the 2.0x II version (not the new version) and the IQ degraded too much for me, but the 1.7x is good. That's been my birding lens up until my very recent acquisition of a 200-400 f/4 - and I will probably go back to my 300 + teleconverter after I get back from my safari.

Since you already own the 300mm, your investment is minimal, as is the storage/carrying space required.



Feb 05, 2013 at 09:58 PM
BenV
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p.2 #3 · p.2 #3 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


trenchmonkey wrote:
I've tried ALL the TC's with the AF-S 300 f4 and settled on the TC-17E II as having the best
bang for the FL (500mm) The TC-14 II was very good, but I wanted more than 420 sans crop.
AF brisk and accurate on a Pro body and I'll let y'all decide on the IQ delivered SOOC. Handheld
95% of the time and I shoot what moves, so YMMV with statics on sticks AND any post work.


ha, I knew you'd chime in sooner or later! right now that's looking like my best bet, without breaking the bank. I guess if I decide I 'really' need more reach, I'll just keep saving for a used 400 2.8 or something.



Feb 05, 2013 at 10:16 PM
dlabrecque
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p.2 #4 · p.2 #4 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Sigma just announced an updated version of their 120-300 F2.8 zoom. While this newer version wouldn't be within your stated price limits, it'll probably cause a number of current owners of this lens to abandon the previous version for the newer one. I believe the last version of this lens uses Sigma's image stabilization and their "used" prices would probably put them in your price range. Sigma makes it's own TCs for this model and a 1.4 would put you out to 420mm and still leave you at a respectable F4 maximum aperture.

Of course, don't take my word for it, ask trenchmonkey what he thinks of his.



Feb 05, 2013 at 11:05 PM
trenchmonkey
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p.2 #5 · p.2 #5 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


mine's gone...waiting for the new & (hopefully) improved release w/focus limiter


Feb 05, 2013 at 11:32 PM
tom lozinski
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p.2 #6 · p.2 #6 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


The sigma 150-500 OS is a very popular lens. I find that it does very well as long as there is enough light.


Feb 05, 2013 at 11:38 PM
saph
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p.2 #7 · p.2 #7 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Tried and gave up on the Sigma 150-500 OS.

The 500 F4P is affordable and just a bit less than the 800 5.6 VR The old 500 is super sharp, the sharpness just comes right through when you look in the viewfinder. Or maybe it was the contrast with several years of the 70-300VR + Sigma 150-500. And the f/4 ability at 500mm is a boon.

In flight pictures in manual focus are tough but perched birds would be great as Jose's examples above show.



Feb 05, 2013 at 11:54 PM
Chris Noyes
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p.2 #8 · p.2 #8 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


You ask a great question . . . what's the best bang for the buck when looking for a focal length greater than 400 mm?

I was asking myself that same question a few years ago and because of an odd set of circumstances, I ended up getting the 200-400 mm/f4 VR lens. Price tag is definitely more than $2K, but the results I get I think are better than what I could have gotten with my (now gone) 300 mm f4 with TCs. I get more utility out of the super-zoom than just birding, so I "justify" the increased expense of the 200-400 because of that.

Now I'm asking myself, "how do I economically get past 500 mm without sacrificing image quality?" . . .

I don't think this line of thinking ever comes to an inexpensive conclusion . . .



Feb 06, 2013 at 12:32 AM
Doug Maclean
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p.2 #9 · p.2 #9 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Have to chime in.The 300 f4 with the TC1.4 is sharp sharp sharp just lose a stop of light and other then bokeh you cannot tell the difference from 300 mm in sharpness.I bought a tc 2 111 and shot for a week with it but was not happy with the results and returned it.Have not shot it with the 1.7 yet. Doug M


Feb 13, 2013 at 02:55 AM
Danner
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p.2 #10 · p.2 #10 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


I use the 300/4 with the TC-17e. It focuses quit well, and is satisfyingly sharp. Althouh, it gives up a touch of sharpness wide open, but, a click or two of the aperture dial sharpens it right up.

I agree with the posters desiring a VR version. That's a lens I'll preorder.



Feb 13, 2013 at 03:33 AM
 

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Frogfish
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p.2 #11 · p.2 #11 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


BenV wrote:
ha, I knew you'd chime in sooner or later! right now that's looking like my best bet, without breaking the bank. I guess if I decide I 'really' need more reach, I'll just keep saving for a used 400 2.8 or something.


Just note that for the same price as a new 300+ 1.7 TC you could also get a used Sigma 500/4.5 HSM (no OS but I haven't really noticed it's loss) on a mono + gimbal it's impossible to beat for the price IMHO.

Prior to buying into Nikon I used the Pentax 300/4 (a truly superb instrument optically - even if the AF isn't that fast) with their excellent AFA x1.7 (which has it's own mini-motor enabling partial AF on MF lenses) and the step up in IQ to the Sigma 500 (compared to the 300+1.7) meant the weight gain was more than worth it, YMMV.



Feb 13, 2013 at 03:59 AM
Javier Munoz
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p.2 #12 · p.2 #12 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


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


You obviously have the need for it, you just dont want it



Feb 13, 2013 at 03:40 PM
BenV
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p.2 #13 · p.2 #13 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Frogfish wrote:
Just note that for the same price as a new 300+ 1.7 TC you could also get a used Sigma 500/4.5 HSM (no OS but I haven't really noticed it's loss) on a mono + gimbal it's impossible to beat for the price IMHO.

Prior to buying into Nikon I used the Pentax 300/4 (a truly superb instrument optically - even if the AF isn't that fast) with their excellent AFA x1.7 (which has it's own mini-motor enabling partial AF on MF lenses) and the step up in IQ to the Sigma 500 (compared to the 300+1.7) meant the weight gain
...Show more

the last Sigma 500 that sold on the board here was $3600. Thats we'll above the ~$1200ish for a used 300 f/4 and TC,

Maybe someday I'll invest in the 500 if I ever have free money to burn and don't have other equipment needs.



Feb 13, 2013 at 04:18 PM
cohenfive
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p.2 #14 · p.2 #14 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


The other issue that some have talked about is whether you need image stabilization. I'm sure a lot of people have very steady hands and good lens technique (like Will), but lots of others would value having a stabilized lens which will definitely increase the amount of keepers you get when handholding or in less than ideal light conditions. That raises the price tag, but I think you should consider whether you will need it. Personally I would never get a long lens without it, but others disagree.


Feb 13, 2013 at 07:18 PM
SSISteve
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p.2 #15 · p.2 #15 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Well my most used lens is the Nikon 300mm f/4 and I have both the 1.4 and 1.7 TC's. to get you to 400 the 1.4 is a no brainer as it produces very sharp images and focuses well. It is a great combo and you wouldn't need to spend big $$$$. As far as the 1.7 you will still get sharp images but I find the AF is somewhat slower and at times it does tend to not want to lock on focus. With BIF in can be very frustrating. I would get both and they should do very well for you.


Steve



Feb 14, 2013 at 04:16 AM
BenV
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p.2 #16 · p.2 #16 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


cohenfive wrote:
The other issue that some have talked about is whether you need image stabilization. I'm sure a lot of people have very steady hands and good lens technique (like Will), but lots of others would value having a stabilized lens which will definitely increase the amount of keepers you get when handholding or in less than ideal light conditions. That raises the price tag, but I think you should consider whether you will need it. Personally I would never get a long lens without it, but others disagree.


I'm not worried about stabilization. I have a nice Gitzo 3 series tripod and a Arca-Swiss Z1 ballhead to keep everything nice and firm. Maybe if Nikon releases a VR version in the future, I will upgrade the lens, but for now, its a non-issue.



Feb 14, 2013 at 03:14 PM
BenV
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p.2 #17 · p.2 #17 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


SSISteve wrote:
Well my most used lens is the Nikon 300mm f/4 and I have both the 1.4 and 1.7 TC's. to get you to 400 the 1.4 is a no brainer as it produces very sharp images and focuses well. It is a great combo and you wouldn't need to spend big $$$$. As far as the 1.7 you will still get sharp images but I find the AF is somewhat slower and at times it does tend to not want to lock on focus. With BIF in can be very frustrating. I would get both and they should do very
...Show more

That's what I'm thinking about doing, just picking up both TC's and see how they work for me. Worst comes to worst I just sell one off. Or keep both. Who knows.



Feb 14, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Javier Munoz
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p.2 #18 · p.2 #18 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


BenV wrote:
I'm not worried about stabilization. I have a nice Gitzo 3 series tripod and a Arca-Swiss Z1 ballhead to keep everything nice and firm. Maybe if Nikon releases a VR version in the future, I will upgrade the lens, but for now, its a non-issue.


If you follow the sigma 500 route (which I would strongly recommend if you find the lens at the right price), I think that you will be happier with a gimbal head.



Feb 14, 2013 at 04:46 PM
BenV
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p.2 #19 · p.2 #19 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


Javier Munoz wrote:
If you follow the sigma 500 route (which I would strongly recommend if you find the lens at the right price), I think that you will be happier with a gimbal head.


If I ever do end up going down that route ($3000-$4000 used is a lot of money to someone like me, who only does this for a small percentage of my hobby, and I don't make a ton of money to begin with), I will probably invest in a little more sturdy tripod setup as well. No point in spending all that money on a lens just to get blurry photos,



Feb 14, 2013 at 06:09 PM
cohenfive
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p.2 #20 · p.2 #20 · Lens recommendation 400mm+ for birding


I guess I am in the minority in that i hardly ever use a tripod to shoot wildlife or birds. I have a tripod and gimbal setup but most of the time I end up holding the camera or taking pics out of a car window with a bean bag as I did last Sunday. For me stabilization is a must.


Feb 14, 2013 at 10:59 PM
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